Steven and Renee Crouch have worked together in the health care industry since the beginning of their marriage in 1992. Steven graduated from California State Bakersfield with a Master’s Degree in Counseling while Renee graduated with a Master’s in Business Administration. They met while working at college in the same department and married 6 months later. Renee’s MBA was a perfect fit for Steven’s Counseling degree if for no other reason than Steven’s worst subject is Math.
Together they went into healthcare from the administrative side working in a large physician organization providing general healthcare services as well as specialty services to well over 200,000 patients in Southern California. This job gave them both experience in network development, provider relations and insurance contracting. Their lives moved them back to the mental health world when they formed the consulting firm S.R. Crouch and Associates. The consulting projects ranged from; building and managing locked psychiatric units in med/surge hospitals to managing emergency room physician recruitment. During this period of their marriage Steven had a small private practice but it was not doing well nor was it what he had envisioned private practice to be. In 1997, Steven was encourage by his dad to attend a “Psychology of Mind” workshop. His dad had attended a similar workshop in La Conner Washington with Dr. George Pransky of Pransky and Associates. The workshop was a sort of “unveiling” of a new approach to the helping profession and had been proven effective in Santa Clara County with community revitalization, department of corrections, drug and alcohol treatment centers and schools. Steven and Renee went to the workshop at UC Berkley and the world of Psychology as they both had known it took a huge leap forward into a realm never imagined.
Dr. Mark Howard was the speaker at the workshop which was located on the back of the Berkley campus in the historical Faculty Club building. The building was amazing with all of its’ oak paneling, over stuffed leather chairs and fireplace. The sense of retreat and quiet contemplation was all around. Psychology workshops were never something that Steven particularly enjoyed because they were in his mind a redundant take on old college theory, “been there, done that”. Renee waited out in the lobby knowing it was not going to be long until he signed in and left. To her surprise he did not come out. The workshop was something completely different. There was only 6 other people so leaving immediately would have been too obvious but the desire to stay was more because of unique format. There was no overhead, power point, handouts, no board with written notes to copy and Mark encouraged all of the participants to just be comfortable with hanging out. Everyone in the room was content with this approach while Steven tried to make sense of what it was all about.
Mark spoke about a man who discovered something new that was changing everything we had ever known in the world of psychology. The unique find that he spoke about was the importance of the “nothingness” vs. all the “something” we had been taught. His entire talk was so simply focused on common sense basics that it was unique. Steven did anything but enjoy the talk because it did not have a theoretical orientation, it was not based on techniques or helping people overcome their past. It truly was nothing. When lunch time came Steven went out of the room to meet Renee their conversation went something like this: Renee: “So how is it?”
Steven: “To be honest, it is really annoying because it is all about ‘nothing’.”
Renee: “How can it be about ‘nothing’?”
Steven: “I am telling you the truth. Everyone in the room is in such a good mood and so calm with talking about nothing. They all think it is great. I’m telling you he is in there selling ‘air’ and everyone is buying it. It is really frustrating and it is making me angry because I can’t figure it out…this ‘nothing’.”
Renee: “I really can’t imagine it. I really have never seen you so upset. You are usually much more certain about the things that make you mad, but to be this angry about ‘nothing’ is not like you!”
Steven was even more confused than before. Renee was right. How could ‘nothing’ make anyone that mad? What Steven learned in that moment was the amazing power of a “THOUGHT”. Leaving Berkley and coming home was truly the beginning of an entire new way of seeing people and their problems. It was a new way of seeing the world itself. Recognizing that his own thoughts were making him feel so intense and causing him to react was so powerful. Mark was right when he talked about the power of a thought to create a feeling and how everything started with a thought.
Albert Einstein once said, “Never lose a holy curiosity. Stop every day to understand and appreciate a little of the mystery that surrounds you, and your life will be filled with awe and discovery to the very end”. This is how Pine Meadow began its journey of discovering how everyone creates reality from the inside out. Steven and Renee continue to point to thought as the source of our experience. The team at Pine Meadow has grown greatly and in many locations. As more discover how such a simple truth can change their lives from the inside out the work will never become dull or boring. The transformative power that comes from the awareness that we were created to think thoughts and that every thought creates a new experience of life is the driving force of why Steven, Renee and the team at Pine Meadow is forever blessed to do what we do.