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Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

Spotlight on Four Corners Center for Counseling and Well-Being

May 31, 2016 10:45PM

Offering Mind-Body-Spirit-Relationship Support

by Robin Fillmore
Four Corners Center for Counseling and Well-Being has found an important but underserved niche among wellness centers in the greater D.C. area. Founded by Hetty Irmer in 2008, with a stated mission to provide support for mind-body-spirit-relationships at the four corners of life, her team helps Silver Spring and NW D.C. residents (and beyond) find balance and wholeness in their lives.

Irmer has a deep background in helping others find their way through difficult and sometimes devastating situations using the therapy model Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFST), which is based on the flowing process of integrating self and parts. The working assumption is that we all have a core self—the spirit or soul—and we also have parts of ourselves—thoughts, feeling, beliefs—that make us human and define our personality. The process in this therapy is to develop self-leadership. A helpful metaphor that Irmer offers is contained in quote by Louisa May Alcott. “I’m not afraid of storms for I’m learning how to sail my ship.”

According to Irmer, this orienting quote offers “the idea that we are learning to be the captain of our own ship. We will have storms—whether it is internal, emotional storms or external situations. It is about feeling confident in navigating through that. It’s not that you aren’t going to feel things but you are going to get through it. All of our parts are like our crew, with our core self as the captain. Our anxiety might take over—which is kind of like a mutiny. When you learn the tools to be self-led, you still feel the feelings and you are still going to struggle, but you will get through it.”

Irmer established her solo practice on a part-time basis in Silver Spring initially, but over the years, grew the business organically by offering more services that resonated strongly with her clients, who visit her for both individual counseling as well as for groups and workshops. By 2014, she was working full-time in her own practice and added more therapists to her staff. The following year, her standing grew even further when she won the grand prize in the StartRight! Business Plan Competition sponsored by the Maryland Women’s Business Center which awarded the honor (and the grant) for her innovative business plan and pitch. In addition to her extraordinary skills as a psychotherapist, becoming a business owner helped Irmer discover that she also has an entrepreneurial spirit.

Early this month, she will be opening her second location in the Manor Park neighborhood, south of Takoma. In this new location, Heidi Vanderwerff, LCSW-C, will be working primarily with new mothers, both individually and in groups—helping them keep balanced and healthy as they manage their pregnancies and move into their new role as mothers. She also works with young adults who are dealing with major life changes. Candice Peggs, LICSW, LCSW-C, RYT brings mindfulness and meditation using yoga-based movements to help her clients focus on the “here and now” as they deal with pain and chronic fatigue. The three therapists will soon be joined by additional staff, including another therapist, an acupuncturist and a nutritionist, which will help the center round out its capacity to provide holistic wellness to their clients. As they expand into this new location, a whole new series of groups on a variety of topics will be offered for young mothers, for unpartnered professionals who are considering motherhood, for those experiencing chronic pain as well as more traditional therapy groups.

Irmer, whose professional moniker is “The Thinking Woman’s Therapist” notes that while she offers a great deal to her work with couples, her main focus and real joy comes from “working with women who are achievement-oriented. These are women who are successful but want to grow emotionally. As they deal with the emotional and the professional, they are dedicated to doing the personal work and building their skills. There is courage involved.”

Locations: 10000 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring and 6230 3rd St., NW, D.C. For more information about Four Corners Center for Counseling and Well-Being, visit


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