Family Counseling & Psychology Center
2485 Tech Drive, Bettendorf, IA. 52722
Phone: 563.355.1611 | Fax: 563.355.6617

Employment Opportunities

Employee of the Month

Melissa Estes, MA, LMFT, LCPC

Melissa has been a wonderful part of FCPC since 2002.  She is known for her compassion, humor, and wonderful dedication to her clients.  She is dedicated to her family and a loving friend to many.  It has been a pleasure to work with her throughout our years together at FCPC and I look forward to many more.  I asked her to write a little about her personal story.  In her writing you can see the qualities that make her such a good therapist and colleague….Collin Lodico, Ph.D. 

 I grew up in Moline, the youngest and only child of my parents.  Both of my parents were married previously and had two children each from those marriages.  My dad was an over-the-road truck driver and squeezed as much love, fun, and attention into his time with us as he could between trips.  Oh yeah, and yard work.  We did lots of yard work when Dad was home. When I was a bit older, about five, I got to go on a few trips with him. I wore flannel shirts and cowboy boots and couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just strip out of my shirt the way he did on a hot day.  My mom worked in customer service at Turnstyle Department Store.  She was good-humored, loving and always busy with work and managing the household.  I remember discovering that crayons melted really easily by touching them to a hot iron one day when Mom’s attention to Days of Our Lives afforded me an opportunity of experimentation. The partnership, mutual respect, and easy affection between my parents created a secure early life for me. We were blue collar, connected, and values driven.  We went to church with my mom on Sundays, had hand-me-down play clothes to preserve our school clothes, and ate evening meals consisting of a protein, a starch, and a vegetable.  We sat at an oblong table, a good representation of our democratic household: enough space for everyone but not so round that there wasn’t clearly a head.  On my parent’s date night, we got a bottle of Pepsi and a bag of M&M’s to share so we were always happy to see them go.  We had traditions and routines that made life predictable and happy.

 My eldest sister graduated from the University of Illinois the year I was born and taught kindergarten for thirty-two years.  Throughout my childhood, her visits home coincided with holiday and summer breaks.  She was the sister who corrected my grammar, taught me to think critically, inspired a little rebellion by suggesting I could change the spelling of my name, and taught me to shuffle cards.  She died in 2009 and I miss her hugely. My brother, eighteen years older than me, was in the military for a while and then mostly on the edges of things in my world.  He raced cars and drove trucks.  The coolest thing he did was having my nephew when I was in third grade.  I loved the sudden spike in status and used to prop the fat little guy on my barely existent hip and show him off to my friends.  My brother lives in Arizona with his wife so I don’t see him as often as I’d like.  He looks and sounds exactly like my dad and makes me laugh with his gift for storytelling.  I still adore my nephew but he protests now when I try to carry him around.  I grew up with my other two sisters who developed my interest in art, gymnastics, and softball.  They also taught me the rules of sibling combat: how to cause minor pain without injury, how to taunt to the point of tears of fury but not to the point of getting Mom or Dad’s attention, how to form alliances, and how to make up and become best friends again.  They taught me about loyalty and humility

 When I was six years old, nearly seven, my world changed abruptly when my father was killed in a work-related accident.  That early lesson in loss, in the unpredictability of life, is probably at the root of my decision to become a therapist.  I discovered that my mom was really a superhero disguised as an over worked widow.  She started a seasonal business and made a success out of it.  I started working when I was eleven in the business.  We were never wealthy but she kept us stable and even made one of my dreams come true by giving me a horse when I was thirteen years old.  I was able to compete in horse shows and trail ride with friends. Horses and books were my favorite things as a teenager. My mom taught me the importance of self-responsibility, of resiliency, and not buying into a victim mindset.  I learned early that humans are hardy creatures.  

 All of that being said, I think being a youngest child, a child whose dad died, caused my older siblings and mom to go a little easier on me than was probably helpful.  I could argue my way out of trouble and doing the dishes pretty easily; I didn’t push myself or get pushed if I struggled in a class; and I quit things if I wasn’t mastering them fast enough, like the clarinet.  My mom often heard teachers saying, “She’s not working up to her potential.”   If I liked a subject, like English or Science, I excelled.  If I didn’t, like Algebra, I floundered.  I took a year off after high school and worked as a medical assistant for a physician in Moline.  I got bored with filing charts and swabbing throats.  So, I enrolled at Blackhawk College as a psychology major and I started acting like the straight A student I’d never been.  I was organized, driven, and successful.  I set goals, persisted, and achieved.  Who knew that applying oneself was rewarding? It was a blast!  I started working in the counseling department as a peer counselor.  I was president of Phi Theta Kappa, an honor society for two-year institutions.  I participated in Psi Beta, an honor society for psychology majors.  I transferred to the University of Colorado in Boulder and graduated with honors in skiing, hiking, and white water rafting.  Just kidding.  I applied to Northern Illinois University to attend the one accredited graduate program in marriage and family therapy I knew of close to home.  I’d learned that instructors watched students through two-way mirrors when they were learning to conduct therapy sessions so I included a Far Side cartoon in my application materials. It was a cartoon of scientists looking through a two way mirror at a bunch of clowns, “Yes, gentleman, they’re all fools.  But what kind of fools are they?”  After getting to know my professors better, I’m pretty sure it was the cartoon and not my GRE scores that got me into the program.

 After graduate school I returned home to Moline and began working as a marriage and family therapist for a community agency and then later as a therapist and clinical supervisor for a foster care program for the same agency. I started being the last unmarried adult at the weddings I attended. I got really good at elbowing past the pre-teens competing with me in the bouquet toss.  I eventually met my husband, a psychologist, to the great relief of my mother.  I bought my first house in Rock Island just up the hill from where I worked and enjoyed gardening and hanging with my roomie, Jack, an adorable, short-legged, big-headed mutt.  We were joined by my husband, step-daughters, and in 2000 my daughter was born and joined the party. I started working in private practice with FCPC in 2002.  I also worked concurrently in a juvenile correctional facility with mentally ill young men until leaving to work full-time in private practice.  My professional interest is in fostering resiliency through healthful practices, like mindfulness meditation and positive psychology principles.  Having been born into one and creating one of my own, I also enjoy working with blended families.

 I’m grateful for a life centered in meaningful relationships with people I care about personally and professionally.  Currently, I live with my husband, youngest daughter, and a poodle named Charley. I’m blessed with having extended family and old friend’s nearby, an easy walk to a church and spiritual community I value, and a family that perseveres through the challenging times, finds fun as often as possible, and shares my love for adventure, books, music, and the natural world.  I spend as much time outdoors as I can and keep my office window open when I’m working.  Oh, and if you didn’t know it, Saturday is rugby day, and given that my husband coaches for the University of Iowa, my middle daughter plays for the women’s rugby team, and my youngest plays for high school select teams, I’m always on a sideline somewhere which is fine by me.