By Amy Nicole Tangel
With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, many people may be checking in and asking themselves how they are dealing with everyday life and the struggles along the way; wondering if therapy is the answer to a better quality of life. Nationally renowned counselor and author Ron Villano, who has dedicated his life to helping others after suffering his own personal tragedy, said he believes mental health is necessary for everyone in good times and bad.
With offices across Long Island and beyond, Ron Villano M.S., ASAC is the current Director of Family and Personal Counseling in St. James, N.Y., and additionally operates a private psychotherapy practice in Bohemia. Ron has built his career in personal and professional counseling based upon his heartfelt life’s mission to help people, and eventually he became an inspirational speaker to help grieving parents after the loss of his youngest son Michael in a tragic car accident on July 22, 1998.
Although Ron said he had practiced therapy part-time before the loss of his son, it was after going through his own healing process and darkest hours when he had the revelation to make not only celebrating his son’s life his focus through helping others, but to truly build a platform to spread awareness and speak to people who have also suffered the loss of a child.
“There is never a good day to die, there is never a good day to get divorced, and never a good day to lose your job. It took me a long time to get to this spot, but that’s how I help them,” he said.
Ron is also the author of, “The Zing: The self-discovery guide to help you go from living life to loving the life you live,” a book which he said was already in his head before the loss of his son, but after Michael’s passing the book took on a whole new meaning and in 2006 the book was published. Alongside Ron’s trademarked motto “Embrace the Power of Change,” the book is broken down into seven specific topics of mental health each with its own analogies to help readers easily remember and learn.
In the book and throughout Ron’s practices, “The Tunnel” is a concept Ron said he uses with patients to learn how to take something negative and get through “The Tunnel” to get to where the light is. He said most people when going through a darkest moment run back to the more comfortable and less scary place at least a few times before breaking through to the other side.
“You want to go through that light tunnel, because you want something new, something different; you’ve had enough,” he said.
Ron works to share his insight and compassion any chance he gets and in addition to counseling, writing, and motivationally speaking, he said he is also the top psych contributor for WCBS (880 AM) Newsradio nationally. You can also find expertise from Ron in 26 newspapers across the country with his column, “Ask Ron Villano,” which he describes as a “Dear Abby” type of help for readers.
Going above and beyond to help anyone who knocks on Ron’s door seeking help is the foundation of his work, but he said he doesn’t do it on his own. Ron said his life is led spiritually to not only celebrate his son’s life, but by the calling to continue to serve others. Helping others doesn’t just go for his patients, but Ron takes great pride in his staff and said he works to make sure everyone makes a decent living. For Ron, he said it just feels good to help others, and he wants to keep doing more by being as relatable as possible to every person he counsels.
Ron goes to therapy every week himself, and said it is important for him to let people know as much as he helps others with their own mental health. He is just like everyone else and continues to work on his own life’s struggles in the most positive ways possible.
“I will always tell the patient, ‘The only difference between you and me today is you’re on that side of the couch,’” he said.
When it comes to public speaking about the loss of his son, Ron said he only goes according to his spirit. If he doesn’t feel that connection with his son for a particular event, he said he simply won’t do it no matter what the venue. He said he always makes sure to tell the people he is speaking to he is there to honor them and what they have gone through by his signature opener of asking people the names of their children who passed on and making that connection.
“No big talk, no big speech. Just asking them names for the first fifteen minutes. They all tell me it makes them feel so terrific,” he said.
What Ron experienced with the loss of his son is what he calls, “forced change,” and he said that can also be applied to life changes such as divorce. He said any change is difficult, but when we are forced is when we are truly challenged to get through it. Ron said human nature leads us to believe these things can happen, but “not to me.”
“Divorce is another forced change; a death where you were living with someone and now you are not,” he said.
Whether it is dealing with grief, divorce or any other issue in life that causes emotional struggles, Ron’s compassion and commitment to those he interacts with shines through in the stories of countless people he has helped over the years. Most recently, Ron has also been utilizing social media to reach people near or far with regular posts offering simple steps for people to take on their own to help them with various topics of interest such as, “4 Ways to Recover from Disappointments,” “4 Ways to Get Closer to a Partner,” “3 Ways to Respond to Anxious Thoughts,” and “Dealing with Mistakes.”
Ron said he tries to bring everything down to a “6th-grade-level” when working with people to make it as simple as possible for them to grasp the help he is trying to provide. For himself included, he said breaking things down is the best way to learn new ways of thinking and that is why his book has no repetition. Instead of telling people how they should think, Ron said the book is a tool to provoke people to think for themselves.
“This book was made to give you zing, give you life, give you passion, and embrace change; start enjoying every moment you have” he said.
To purchase a copy of “The Zing: The self-discovery guide to help you go from living life to loving the life you live,” you can order through www.thezing.com and the book can also be found on Amazon. If you are interested in learning more about the services Ron and Family and Personal Counseling provide, additional information can be found at www.familyandpersonalcounseling.com, or by calling 631-758-8290.
Photos courtesy Ron Villano