What REALLY happens in family therapy? ~Nedra Tawwab, LCSW

Want to know if family counseling is beneficial for you? 
 
Black people are starting to be more open and vocal about the benefits of the counseling process. Celebrities such as Charlamagne Tha God, Jennifer Lewis, and Keke Palmer have spoken about how their families impacted their mental health which led to them seeking counseling. Many of the issues that individuals face were observed in their family of origin. Too often, family counseling is used under duress or when an intervention is needed on a particular family member. Family counseling is not intended to be biased toward one family member over the other. It is meant to allow attendees to address issues in the family system. When one person has an issue with the family, the entire family unit is impacted. For instance, if a parent has issues taking care of the kids and leans on other family members for finial support, the other family members are now involved and therefore impacted. 
 
Who comes to Family Therapy?
Family therapy is a counseling process for two or more members in a family unit. A family is identified as a couple, siblings, mother-daughter, parents-children, etc. In many, cases families seek counseling to address communication issues, death, divorce, substance abuse or changes to the family dynamics. Family counseling is useful for families who have long-term patterns of dysfunctional such as substance abuse and sexual/physical abuse, changes in relationships structure such as divorce and those who want to learn how to be in healthy relationships with one another. 
 
What to Expect
Prior to entering counseling, families may not have the tools to sort through issues or they may not have the language to identify their needs and feelings. In a family counseling session, the therapist will establish rules and assess the expectations of the family. The biggest myth in family counseling is that  “my opinion will not be heard.” The therapist will allow everyone the opportunity to speak, will summarize relevant information and ask questions for deeper probing. Each family member is granted the opportunity to speak so that no one person is monopolizing the conversation. If one person seems to be talking more than others, the therapist will ask for others to speak and respond. The family will establish mutually agreed upon goals for counseling and identify how they’d like to function post counseling.  Therapists strive to be fair. Therefore, when working with families therapist will develop a structure to make sure the everyone is heard. 

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The Stigma of Mental Health in the African American Community ~ Leticia Reed, LCSW

The Problem

According to statistics more than 19 million are diagnosed with some form of depressive disorder and the numbers are continuing to grow. African Americans contribute to only 13% of the nation’s population and are over represented in most statistics in regard to most societal ills. Incarceration, HIV/AIDS, infant mortality, mortality rates for heart disease and the mortality rates breast cancer for African American women as well as Mental illness, are societal ills that are affecting the community. Due to the stigma surrounding around Mental Health, African Americans are most often left either undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, therefore not receiving adequate care needed to treat their presenting problems. As a result, most in this category may oftentimes endure chronic homelessness, substance abuse issues and a cycle of incarceration due to their mental health issues, becoming increasingly worst in some cases and posing a significant safety risk to self and others. Moreover, mental health related issues are masked by physical health issues such as: diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, stoke and obesity from depression related overeating which African Americans continue to be plagued with in very high numbers. However, many African Americans, like the rest of the population, most times, rather treat their physiological issues due to society’s acceptance of physical health versus mental health issues, which we have all continually witnessed the tragic ramification of mass shootings due to unaddressed mental health issues.

This continues to lead to circular and unresolved discussions about gun laws with the subject of mental health being swept under the rug in the end. Lack of attention to any issue will gives birth to growing misconceptions and myths which we have seen.

Historical Background of Current Stigma of Mental Health in African American Community

Issues contributing to the current myths and misconceptions deter many African Americans from seeking mental health treatment include, but at not limited to the following:

A) Distrust towards the medical system due to a historical deception of bureaucracy systems

ie. Tuskegee Experiment

B) Racial biases by medical professionals servicing African Americans

C) Lack of insurance and monetary resources to access and receive optimal care

D) Religious Faith beliefs

E) Fear of being labeled as “crazy” by loved ones.

How Myth are Perpetuated

In my years of practice, I’ve often had clients report that they were attending sessions with me in secrecy due to fearing being ostracized by their loved ones Read More


“Everyone can be part of the solution, if we know what to look for…” Q&A with Joanna Nunez for Dads & Depression Event

On June 24 Speak Away the Stigma is hosting Mental Health Conversations: Dads & Depression.  Mental Health Professional Joanna Nunez will be one of the speakers.  Read more about why Joanna knew from an early age she wanted to be in the Mental Health Field.  Find out why she believes that sharing stories can eliminate the stigma, and why Depression impacts more that just the person with the diagnosis.  The event will be held in Fayetteville, NC at the Cumberland County Headquarters Library Downtown from 2-4pm.


Joanna Nunez MSW, LCAS, LCSW, CCTP
Hometown/Current City:  Fayetteville
Education:  UNC-Charlotte, East Carolina University (graduate)
Name of Practice: Square One Counseling PLLC
Q:  Why did you choose a career in Mental Health?
A:  From about the 8th grade on I was fascinated by the nature vs nurture debate. How could two people from the same household experience the same event and have different outcomes? I was hooked from that point on.
Q:  What makes you a great Mental Health Professional?
A:  I am extremely non judgmental, to the point where I don’t think I’m shockable anymore. I won’t judge your past, your lifestyle or decisions you’ve made. I’m just here to help.
Q:  Why do you believe there is a stigma surrounding mental illness and mental health?
A:  I think many people don’t fully understand that there is a spectrum of levels of care- and that most people have received outpatient therapy in some form or another in their life.  Unfortunately, we tend to glamorize and seek out the negative, so people associate mental illness and the help that comes with mental illness in the extremes they see on the news- 1 out of 4 people suffers from a mental illness, but they aren’t all going to be on the news involved in a mass shooting, or as a serial rapist, or a police standoff, thank goodness. We need to put more focus on what is the norm, not the extreme.
Q:  Do you think it is possible to eliminate that stigma?  If so, how?
A:  I think if more people shared their stories, even a anonymously, that would help. I’ve had so many clients get relief when they realize there is a name and treatment for their disorder and they are not alone.
Q:  In your opinion what is the biggest obstacle when it comes to men getting care for their mental health?
A:  I think in many cultures, men are told to be strong, and part of asking for any kind of help is seen as weak. In Fayetteville, so many people are connected to the military and there can be clearances involved. So many people think that going to therapy will make them lose their job or their clearance.
Q:  What is a common myth people have about going to therapy?
A:  Other than the aforementioned immediate loss of job and clearance, so many people think therapy is “just talking” and that there’s no way that it can help help them. It’s so much more than talking.
Q: It is estimated that Depression affects 6 million men per year, how would you say that impacts communities or families?
A:  In communities its loss of productivity, loss of resources, loss of creativity. In families, its the loss of a parent from time to time, putting all the parenting responsibilities on one parent. Its children walking on eggshells and wondering what kind of mood the depressed parent is going to be in today.
I choose to Speak Away the Stigma of Depression because…….everyone can be part of the solution, if we know what to look for and how to help.

Dads & Depression Event speaker, Travis Andrews, LPC believes in “Challenging men to reduce levels of ego, pride and identifying the importance of mental health.”

On June 24 Speak Away the Stigma is hosting Mental Health Conversations: Dads & Depression.  Licensed Professional Counselor Travis Andrews will be one of the speakers.  Read more about why Travis feels there is a stigma surrounding Mental Illness, the obstacles that prevent men from seeking help and how Depression impact the entire family.  The event will be held in Fayetteville, NC at the Cumberland County Headquarters Library Downtown from 2-4pm.

Travis Andrews, LPC

Hometown/Current City:  Wilmington, NC

Education: NC A&T State University; Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling

Name of Practice: Andrews Counseling & Consulting (He is mobile and he will come to you!) FullSizeRender (3)

 

 

Q:  Why did you choose a career in Mental Health?

A:  I chose this profession because I believe in helping people and that everyone can reach their goals by identifying and addressing current issues, adopting new habits and developing an effective action plan.  I have the experience and the passion for helping you put the plan in place for the life you want.

Q:  What makes you a great Mental Health Professional?

A:  I have a passion for helping people improve their emotional well-being by providing solution-focused counseling services.  I am committed to helping people identify the root cause of their challenges and working with them to develop attainable and sustainable strategies to resolve those issues.

I am a Licensed Professional Counselor who has provided individual, group and family therapy to children and adults in the North Carolina, South Carolina, and Military Installations in North Carolina and Japan for nearly 10 years. 

Q:  Why do you believe there is a stigma surrounding mental illness and mental health?

A:  Society, in general, has stereotyped views about mental illness and how it affects people. Many people believe that people with mental ill health are violent and dangerous, when in fact they are more at risk of being attacked or harming themselves than harming other people.

Stigma and discrimination can also worsen someone’s mental health problems, and delay or impede their getting help and treatment, and their recovery. Social isolation, poor housing, unemployment, and poverty are all linked to mental ill health. So stigma and discrimination can trap people in a cycle of illness.

The situation is exacerbated by the media. Media reports often link mental illness with violence or portray people with mental health problems as dangerous, criminal, evil, or very disabled and unable to live normal, fulfilled lives.

Q:  Do you think it is possible to eliminate that stigma?  If so, how?

A:  Yes, it is possible to eliminate the stigma, the best way to challenge these stereotypes is through firsthand contact with people with experience of mental health problems.

Q:  In your opinion what is the biggest obstacle when it comes to men getting care for their mental health?

A:  The biggest obstacle, in my opinion, is challenging men to reduce levels of ego, pride, and identifying the importance of mental health.

Q:  What is a common myth people have about going to therapy?

A:  A misconception that only certain type of person or “crazy” people seek help.

Q:  It is estimated that Depression affects 6 million men per year, how would you say that impacts communities or families?

A:  Depression is not just a medical matter. It’s a family one, too. The behaviors and mood of a depressed person affect the whole family. There’s the irritability, which sets off conflicts and derails family dynamics.

I choose to Speak Away the Stigma of Depression because…….

As a man, I want to bring community awareness and psycho-education to the male population.


“Men are the backbones of our families…” Q & A w/Richale R. Reed MA, LPC, LCAS for Dads & Depression Event

On June 24 Speak Away the Stigma is hosting Mental Health Conversations: Dads & Depression.  Therapist and author Richale R. Reed will be one of the speakers.  Read more about why Richale decided on a career in the Mental Health field, what lead to the stigma around Mental Health and why she is speaking away the stigma of depression.  The event will be held in Fayetteville, NC at the Cumberland County Headquarters Library Downtown from 2:00pm-4:00pm.
Richale R Reed
Hometown: Linden New Jersey  Current city:  Raeford, NC
Education:  Masters in Professional Counseling Liberty University
Title or Name of Practice:  Richale R Reed PLLC aka CateRRRflies Lifework

 

Q:  Why did you choose a career in Mental Health?

Due to my mother’s battle with mental illness, it greatly molded my life.  I too have battled mental illness, specifically, depression in the past.

Q:  What makes you a great Mental Health Professional?

A:  I love what I get to do everyday!!

 

Q:  Why do you believe there is a stigma surrounding mental illness and mental health?

A:  Simply because we don’t talk about it…we were taught that it’s taboo!  I know I was! I  learned that there was no one there to listen as a child and it’s easy to keep that idea as an adult but I choose not to believe that.

 

Q:  Do you think it is possible to eliminate that stigma?  If so, how?

A:  Forums like the one you are creating. We need a safe place to share our hearts.

 

Q:  In your opinion what is the biggest obstacle when it comes to men getting care for their mental health?

A:  The stigma that they are weak for seeking help is a major barrier.

 

Q:  What is a common myth people have about going to therapy?

That its for “crazy” people when its for a any person who simply needs support.

 

Q:  It is estimated that Depression affects 6 million men per year, how would you say that impacts communities or families?

A:  Men are the backbones of our families so it would naturally negatively affect the family on all levels and the community.
I choose to Speak Away the Stigma of Depression because…….
I am now a part of this community and this is a way to share my support for it and my love for all people using the gifts I have been given. I want the men to represent on June 24th and let’s speak away the stigma!!!

“Mental Health Advocacy is my life’s work.” ~ Dr. Cindy T. Graham

 

Why did I choose mental health? My decision to become a psychologist began with my love for fashion design. I know, I know…the two don’t seem to go together. Well, as long as I can remember I wanted to pursue a career in the fashion industry. Since I stopped growing at 5’4” tall at 10 years old, my dream of becoming a model was ended quite early on. “If I can’t model, I can surely design.” I always had a knack for needle and thread so this made sense. Most of my doodling during my middle school years were sketches of dresses, blouses, bathing suits, skirts. At this point you are probably thinking, “Well why did you shift to psychology?” The answer is simple: Princeton University. The only thing I wanted more than going into the fashion industry was to go to Princeton University…and Princeton did not have anything remotely close to a fashion design major. Becoming a psychologist was third on my list of career choices behind being a model and a fashion designer.

CTG_Pic2_April2017

Find Dr. Graham on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and YouTube  @cindytgrahamphd

Why did I continue on with mental health as a career? Many people choose a career as a child but then abandon that dream at some point in their process of maturity. This goal of becoming a psychologist was rooted in genuine intrigue and fascination with human behavior. I have always been interested in social studies (the study of human cultures and societies) and science (the study of the world through experimentation). Psychology is defined by Merriam-Webster as “1: the science of mind and behavior; 2a: the mental or behavioral characteristics of an individual or group; 2b: the study of mind and behavior in relation to a particular field of knowledge or activity.” In this way, psychology is the perfect blending of the studies of science and human society. Not to mention I’ve always been interested in interpersonal interactions. As a child I was always listening to adult conversations and marveling at the ways in which people told stories and reacted to those stories. I was eager to know about how people handled different situations in their lives. Also, I was the one in my friend group that everyone would talk to about the problems in their lives…and about 90 percent of the time my advice was well received. Hey, nobody’s perfect.

Why did mental health advocacy become my passion? My parents immigrated to the United States from Haiti so I am a first generation American. As is the case with many Caribbean cultures the expectation in Haitian families is that children will grow up to become one of three types professionals: a lawyer, an engineer, or a medical doctor. Psychology tends to be frowned upon as a profession. I never understood why this was, but this experience in part led me to want to help others become more aware of the benefits of psychotherapy. Then in college I had my first experience working in the psychology field, as a behavioral therapist for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Our interventions led to positive changes for the children including skill acquisition, increased interaction with others, and decrease in behavior problems (like tantrums). Being a part of a team of individuals who worked with children diagnosed with ASD solidified in my mind that mental health treatment and advocacy was what I would be devoting my professional life to. Almost 20 years after my first experience working in the psychology field, it is evident there continues to be much stigma both in the United States and internationally that surrounds mental health despite the obvious positive outcomes for pursuing such services. I feel compelled to be one of those voices advocating for the benefits of mental health services.

Why didn’t you major in psychology at Princeton and then attend a fashion school for an advanced degree? Twelve-year-old me did not realize this was an option at the time. Quite frankly, I’m glad that I didn’t. Mental health advocacy is my life’s work. But yes, I do draw sketches every now and again.

If you are in need of Dr. Graham’s services, please contact her at

Waypoint Wellness Center

1190 Winterson Road, Suite 160
Linthicum, Maryland 21090

Not “Eliminate”… but “Manage”

Last week I shared my story about meeting my first therapist.  That post has become the most read post to date-THANK YOU!  Due to the response, I received via email and text, I wanted to share a blog post from mental health professionals.  I came across Dr. Amber Thornton on Instagram and I thought her blog post ‘Not “Eliminate”…but” Manage” would be a great follow-up to “Her Name was Jane”

Dr. Amber Thornton is a  licensed clinical psychologist, currently practicing in the Knoxville, Tennessee area.  Read more about Dr. Amber Thornton and her professional approach to mental health.

Not “Eliminate”…but “Manage”

Whenever I meet a new client who comes to me for mental health counseling/psychotherapy, one of the first things I say is this:

“I am not a magician, so I cannot make the difficult things in your life go away.  I cannot make your difficult emotions go away either.  But we can work together to help you manage them because they are a valuable part of life.”

Every day, both personally and professionally, I meet people who attempt to stuff and suppress their difficult emotions, with the hopes that this process will make them all go away.  Within our families, friendships, and even through the media, we are taught that we should be able to “control” our emotions.  We are also taught that if we avoid feeling our difficult emotions, that they will eventually go away.  Unfortunately, none of this is true.

Many days, I can’t help but wonder what our lives could be like if we embrace the idea that life will include both ups and downs, happiness and sadness, joy and dismay.  I truly believe that if we are able to accept our difficult emotions as being an integral part of life, then they may begin to feel and look much different.  I realize this can sound confusing or paradoxical even, but many times, the very thing we try to avoid is what we need to embrace the most.  It’s like the elephant in the room: it is big and takes up so much space while we try to ignore it, but once we acknowledge that it’s there, it’s not so big anymore.  It becomes quite manageable and we eventually learn ways to manage the discomfort.  Sometimes it may eventually fade away.  Believe it or not, our emotions operate in the very same way.

So what contributes to difficult emotion?  The list is endless, but a few of the most common contributors include:

Continue reading here


COMING SOON!

WE WILL FEATURE THERAPIST FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY!

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE FEATURED PLEASE EMAIL US  AT SpeakAwaytheStigma@gmail.com