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Local Therapist Finds Novel Approach to Helping People in Their Lives

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Cognitive behavioral therapist Richard Killion seated center speaks to some of the visitors at the launch event for his Wisdom Cards a set of 52 colorful cards each containing a simple phrase that helps people address challenges in their lives

For the past 20 years, Richard Killion has counseled countless people out of his Mount Kisco cognitive behavioral therapy practice, dispensing the best advice that he can based on his extensive training.

Sometimes the gems of wisdom can even come from clients, who seek help on any number of issues in their lives.

To help them between appointments, and really almost anyone else who needs a bit of a pick-me-up regardless of whether they are in therapy or not, Killion has captured some of his best pieces of advice in small phrases, which he has included in a new product that he unveiled last weekend – Wisdom Cards – at a launch party at Bobo’s Café in Chappaqua.

Similar to a deck of playing cards, a 52-card set of Wisdom Cards, with a tie-dye pattern on the back of the card, uses four different categories or suits – therapeutic, spiritual/holistic, common sense and questions – each with its own color that tap into different aspects of people’s personalities. While there is no absolute correct response or reaction to each card, the set contains an explanation booklet that has Killion’s thoughts on what each phrase entails.

“So, what I’ve done is draw upon the training that I received as a cognitive behavioral therapist,” Killion said. “The holistic/spiritual theme has to do with how do people really take care of themselves in really tough times.”

One example, under the therapeutic category, is a card that reads “All of Nothing.” Killion explained that it’s a thought description when people think in all-or-nothing terms, where they don’t see gray area. Something or someone is good or bad; something should be done always or never.

“I think for anxious people, when you have all-or-nothing thinking, it’s a little comforting because you think about it in this way or that way, and you don’t open your mind to the possibility that it could be any number of things,” he said.

One of the most thought-provoking phrases that Killion used on the cards – “Redirection, not rejection” – actually came from a client, who thought he was on the verge of landing a job that would have had him relocate to London. It would have been a great personal and professional opportunity, but ultimately, he failed to get the offer.

“He said, ‘You know, this isn’t a rejection of me; this is a redirection of where I need to go.’ And I thought, why do you need me?” Killion recalled.

The idea for the card set also came from clients. Some of the people Killion has seen the longest have marveled at how he can help them with a fresh perspective with simple, straightforward but sometimes profound “Richard-isms,” as they called it. One woman urged him to write a book, but he thought the world doesn’t need another self-help tome.

It was then suggested that Killion should at least put his favorite sayings on cards, so others could benefit. He gave it some thought, and about a year later, with the help of friends, he has produced decks of Wisdom Cards.

A box of Wisdom Cards

One of Killion’s friends, Vicki Lin, said she is “in awe” of Killion’s ability to take something that can seem overwhelming in someone’s life and help them with a succinct phrase or sentence.

“It’s second nature to who you are,” Lin said while interviewing Killion at last Saturday’s launch party. “You have such insight and wisdom and generosity.”

Like many people, Killion found his calling after a rocky start in life. He was born and raised in a tiny Wyoming town, and flunked out of school his first year at the University of Wyoming. As a young gay man, that environment was even worse as he felt forced to stay closeted.

At 19, he took a job to run a homeless shelter because the facility could get no one else. One of the first things Killion did was buy some bright-colored paint to replace the drab institutional beige walls. Soon there would be sunshine yellow, magenta, a bright blue and a stark white, depending on which area of the building you visited. He has drawn upon that chapter in his life with one of his cards with the phrase “Color me happy.”

“What I noticed immediately, people came to that shelter and their eyes lit up, they smiled at me, they look at me like ‘Wow, where am I?’” Killion said “And it made it a safer place because they knew they were in a safe, secure place. It was friendly, it was cheerful. It was just like we’re going to hang out here for the next day or so until you get on your path.”

Although not immediate, that experience led Killion toward a life of helping others. He returned to college, earned a master’s in social work at Boston College and eventually obtained psychotherapy certification at the Institute for Psychoanalytic Education at NYU. Killion also worked in the corporate world by helping companies in their human resources departments by administering Employee Assistance Programs.

One of the close to 40 people who attended last Saturdays’ get-together, Barbara Hines, a Jersey City, N.J.-based therapist, said Killion’s Wisdom Cards should be successful because it helps people think for themselves on a range of topics. She said it was a novel idea and believes they will be enormously successful.

“You can lay them out by colors, you can mix them up, you can do two of each, so everybody can individualize their pathway to healing, with a little bit of a motto, or a little bit of a theme that says where I am,” Hines said. “So the uses of this philosophy are endless.”

To learn more about Richard Killion and the Wisdom Cards or to order a set, visit







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