I had the pleasure of speaking with Stephanie Davis with the Mental Illness Prevention Partnership for their podcast “Can You Hear Me” recently! They are based in Orlando, FL, and you can check out their website HERE.
You may check out the podcast HERE or see below for my written responses. I do recommend listening to the podcast though as she shares some interesting statistics and information!
What compelled you to pursue a career in counseling?
It’s actually a long story, so I’ll avoid the details- I am writing a book about it though! Years ago, I learned someone close to me at that point had abused several children. That began my journey to wanting to help survivors of child abuse. I got the honor to develop a program from the ground up at a local Children’s Advocacy Center for adult survivors of child abuse, which expanded to co-occurring substance abuse, domestic violence… basically anything involving trauma. I’ve since expanded into other areas of practice to help fill the need in our area as we lack access to mental health services.
What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
I had my son when I was 17- he was not an obstacle- going to college for years was the hardest part because I felt like I had to choose school over spending quality time with him. I am very career-driven, so to work on being centered, I’m trying to save work for when he and my husband are not around, which is a difficult dance with Covid thrown in there! A second obstacle would definitely be learning to overcome my own trauma. As a counselor, I feel like we need to learn how to face our own past if we ever expect to help someone through theirs. I heard the quote, “the difference between knowledge and wisdom is experience.” I feel my journey of finding peace within the chaos helps me have the wisdom to truly understand the brokenness clients experience at their worst moments. My journey helps me be incredibly non-judgmental and empathetic to their suffering.
How long have you worked with persons involved in domestic violence; victims of child sexual abuse; and those who were involved in substance abuse and the court system?
I have been blessed to work professionally in the mental health field with these populations for over four years. I had done volunteer work specifically with substance abuse off and on since 2011. It was then that I saw the connection between substance abuse and trauma.
Have you seen an increase in inquiries for counseling services during this health pandemic?
Oh definitely! A major influence in anxiety is the concept of control. There are a lot of aspects of the pandemic that are uncontrollable, which can cause anxiety to spike even further. Unfortunately, I’ve heard there is a rise in divorce cases. I have also seen an increase in couple’s therapy requests. I believe this extra time together can make or break relationships because it brings out aspects that were already there, they were just less noticeable because of all the other distractions in life. When the world came to a standstill, it was a moment to finally look at those aspects. How people handle that process has defined many relationships’ outcomes.
What can we do to maintain our mental health in this current environment?
We have to give ourselves grace during this time- our stress has increased, there are constant changes, issues may be surfacing, it’s difficult to feel calm right now. So, take a breath- and don’t be scared to reach out in new ways. Take this time to actually look at your mental health. See what you’re happy with and see what needs to change- maybe you want to shift your perspective? Just face whatever it is- keep in mind there are professionals to help if that feels too overwhelming. I actually wrote a blog post called “A Covid Thanksgiving” that goes into this a bit if anyone wants more information. There is also information there for my online Anxiety Training you can do from the comfort of your home!
***What’s next? I did a written interview that will talk about practices to optimize mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being that should go live on the journalist’s websites January 10th. I will post that information as soon as it’s available!***