Leigh-Anne White & Company LLC
Toombs County Prevention, Treatment,
106 East Second Street
Vidalia, Georgia 30474
P: 912.585.5504 F: 912.525.3026
An ongoing series of counseling related information
from our staff
Leigh-Anne White & Company
by Maggie Hofmann, MFT
November 8, 2017
The business dictionary defines professional development as:
“Process of improving and increasing capabilities of staff through access to education and training opportunities in the workplace, through outside organization, or through watching others perform the job. Professional development helps build and maintain morale of staff members, and is thought to attract higher quality staff to an organization.”
Recently, I attended the annual American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) conference in Atlanta, GA, as my own attempt at professional development. Initially, I was hesitant to go. Will I learn anything? Do I want to miss out on two days of work (two days of money)? I believed it was the “right” thing to do. It looked good on paper, but I wasn’t sold on the idea of professional development.
The conference had over 1,600 mental health professionals in attendance. Before talking to anyone, I was encouraged by the amount of people who not only gave up their own workdays to attend but also saw the potential benefit of learning and developing within our profession.
Professionals of all ages and races, with various experience levels, came together to learn. They shared. The questioned. They listened. I think as therapists, we sometimes become overwhelmed with the notion of helping. I, like every attendee, work to help others with a myriad of needs. I give my undivided attention toward someone who is reaching out for help, and together, my clients and I create goals for recovery and progress. I attended multiple seminars and break out sessions during my three days in Atlanta. I also had various discussions with other professionals in attendance. Throughout every event and conversation, there was a theme. We all go to work to help. We all want to help our clients discover their own sense of resiliency to recover from whatever led them to our office. We want to incorporate interventions that promote progress and restore a sense of personal power and choice for our clients.
I was hesitant to attend the AAMFT conference because I believed it was just a box I needed to check. I needed to be able to say, “I attend trainings.” I needed to be committed to professional development. After returning home, I now believe professional development is more than just attending a training or conference. It is allowing yourself to take the time to engage with peers within your field, which is the greatest form of development because it involves empathy and understanding. I could say, “you get it” or “I’ve been there too.” I felt validated and understood, so I no longer needed to question, “is this worth it?” Yes, I learned new interventions and tools to use in future sessions, but surrounding myself with other mental health professionals was the greatest source of “professional development.”
Professional development can come in many forms; through conferences, trainings, clubs, or just a group of friends that engage in similar careers or activities. I encourage everyone to take time to listen, learn and discuss.
Expecting the Impossible
by Leigh-Anne White, LPC, CPCS, NCC
November 29, 2017
Parents: Are you Expecting the Impossible??
Have you ever wondered what your kid was thinking when they made that decision?
The answer is: They were NOT! Because they CANNOT!
Parents: They need your help here.
Until a child reaches their mid-20’s, they are not fully capable of FORETHOUGHT, or seeing into the future and considering the consequences of their choices. That means they just cannot do this yet and will require some examples from you.
That part of the brain has not developed, and that’s why they have you– their parent– to be their forethought until they can do this on their own. Children need help to slow them down and consider the consequences of their actions.
Parents: Remember, they were not thinking, not because they didn’t want to be thinking about those things nor were they defying you. Your child was not thinking because they cannot think on that level yet.
Parents: They watch you and learn from you and often figure things out just like you. This thought can be terrifying or gratifying depending on how you handle your own problems.
Every time you help your child to consider their choices, and the consequences of those choices they get better at it and actually develop new neural pathways of managing stress. You can help this process by demonstrating what you want to see from them and helping them problem solve.
Our children will ALWAYS default to what they see you do…
If you get ANGRY... They will likely get ANGRY
If you get ANXIOUS... They will likely get ANXIOUS
If you turn to SUBSTANCES...They will likely turn to SUBSTANCES
BUT, If you make positive thoughtful decisions...
Guess What? So will they!
Stay Tuned... There is more to come!
Substance Abuse Disorder & First Responders
by Elizabeth Hickman, Student Therapist
October 30, 2020
Over the past two months the staff at Leigh-Anne White & Co. have been putting into place a grant that is designed to help individuals and families suffering from substance use disorder. One of the key aspects of the grant is training the local first responders on the use of Narcan and stigma reduction. During the week of October 26, 2020, we provided training twice a day to ensure that all first responders were able to attend the training and receive the Narcan.
The training took a deep look at the difference between a substance user and substance use disorder. We looked at how individuals with substance use disorder can come from every walk of life and every socioeconomic situation. Then looked at the brain and how substance use changes the way it functions. The training discusses how the substances pass through the blood brain barrier and work in the limbic system. Effecting the thalamus, hypothalamus, amygdala, mid brain, and spinal cord. The training then showed how Narcan nocks the opioids off the receptors and blocks them from receiving more opioids, ultimately reversing the overdose.
Then the training explored the statistics for the nation and Georgia concerning the opioid crisis. Georgia ranks 11th in the nation for opioid use and last year alone we prescribed 541 million opioid pills to Georgia residents. That is approximately 54 pills for every man, woman, and child living in Georgia. We used these statistics to discuss how unsafe prescription medication is and the dangers of blindly using even doctor recommended opioids.
Next, we discussed stigmatized language and its alternative. Looking at how stigmatized language hurts not only the individual but also the family. It causes a barrier to treatment because healthcare professionals are hesitant to get involved. Leading to a lack of action which breads further shame. This lack of action also increases the likelihood of cooccurring mental disorders, medical complications, and possibly death.
Finally, administration of Narcan was covered, as well as what to expect as the individual comes back from the overdose. We discussed orientating the individual to the place, time, and events that occurred during the overdose. We discussed possible safety risks involved as well as information that needs to be passed on to EMS upon arrival.
The training was very well received, and I feel that the officer walked away with a better understanding of substance use disorder. I am hoping that officer, armed with this knowledge, will see individuals suffering with substance use disorder in a different light. They might be able to recognize substance use disorder and direct these individuals to the help they desperately need. Only when we work together as a community, will we make an impact on the opioid crisis in our community. Luckily, for Toombs county, awareness is being raised and the community is stepping up and pulling together to help those in need.
by Shameeka Kent, Student Therapist
November 25, 2020
I was blessed with an inspirational book and encouraged to pay it forward once I obtained sustenance from it. So, I am going to drop a few literal breadcrumbs in the hopes that some of you may find them beneficial.
The book is filled with a collection of letters author, Mary Pipher, wrote to a young therapist whom she took a liking to. The book is actually titled, “Letters to a Young Therapist.” Mary said, “In the end, therapy consists of people talking things over.” As a current Student Therapist, I found that simplified definition of therapy very comforting. While in the middle of a health pandemic, social injustice, and political unrest, who couldn’t benefit from “talking things over?”
I have always thought of therapy sessions as a safe place to be your true self where you can explore your thoughts, emotions, experiences, and develop solutions to what you view as problems. And what better way to explore all these different aspects of life than to talk about it?
I want to use this opportunity to normalize therapy. Feelings of stress, overwhelm, sadness, anger, frustration, grief, etc. are normal responses to daily living; we all experience a multitude of emotions. When equipped with the right tools, we can respond appropriately and effectively to those feelings. Therapy can seem like a scary concept, but it does not have to be.
Think of it like this…..when you are physically sick, you go to your primary physician; when you’re having car troubles, you seek help from a mechanic; or when you’re experiencing technical difficulties with any of your electronic devices, you call on I.T. Right?
Well, it should be the same for your mental health. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. So, when you are experiencing increased stress or mental difficulty, why not call a therapist? Therapy is not some complex and intricate process. You’ll find most solutions are quite simple after having genuine conversations that are led with love.
So, are you ready to talk it over?
If you are interested in reading more from “Letters to a young Therapist” you can find it for purchase here!
By the Time You Are Real
by Jared Sharpe, Student Educator
December 22, 2020
I was thinking about a passage I read from The Velveteen Rabbit that was quoted in Brené Brown's book, Daring Greatly, that said, "Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out, and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real, you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
The natural appeal for children to love stuffed animals is partially due to the smallness and adorability of the toys, but I feel the stronger underlying reason children become attached to stuffed animals is that the toys afford them the opportunity to express and experience unarmored and unconditional love.
In adolescence, our cultures quickly teach us to equate our worthiness of love and belonging with how well we can perform on social, academic, athletic, and creative platforms. Then we get a little older and we discover the currency of our friendship seems to become more valuable when we have something to offer to others. And by the time we become adults, we're conditioned to hide our inconvenient flaws and frayed edges to avoid the risk of someone thinking we're not beautiful.
We move from being children who project our love into stuffed animals who will love us unconditionally to adults projecting our fears on to people whom we fear will decide we're unworthy of love.
After reading this excerpt from The Velveteen Rabbit, I realized we all really just have a deep desire to be loved in our smallest forms without the need of any qualifiers or armor. I want my hair loved off, my stitches to show, and my joints to get loose. I want to be Real, "Because once you are Real, you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
If you are interested in reading "Daring Greatly" by Brene' Brown, her book can be found here!
Are You Resilient?
by Hannah Fordham, LPC, CADCII
January 29, 2021
Have you ever noticed that you can tell a lot about a person by the background image or design on their mobile device? A couple of years ago, my computer background featured the word “ADAPT” placed boldly and plainly in the center of the screen. At the time I had been feeling overwhelmed and challenged by life when I found that for some reason this word reassured me and motivated me to keep pushing forward.
In the mental health profession, we often use the word “resilience” to describe how readily and effectively a person adapts to their life circumstances. Resilience is what helps people to adjust to the normal ebbs and flows of life as well as to overcome the unexpected events that make life feel unfamiliar and scary at times. Resilience is a trait that enables individuals to blossom and grow from experiences that one would suspect to be crippling.
Within each person is a measure of resilience. For example, if you are reading this that means that you have faced the challenges of learning a language and you have prevailed! Because of resilience we are always learning new skills and new ways of looking at things that will help us along life’s journey.
Here are some ways that you can build resilience in yourself (and in your children if you are a parent):
• Acknowledge your accomplishments and the accomplishments of your children.
• Learn how to recognize the difference between stress and distress (E.g. new job vs car accident).
• Be willing to reach out for help when necessary.
• Try to focus on the “big picture” and remain flexible when faced with unexpected life events.
• Understand that the impacts of major life events are not always immediately obvious and be willing to make small corrections and adjustments if the need arises.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic I have seen resilience on an individual, national, and global level. Within the first few months of quarantine, I heard the phrase, “the new normal”, and was immediately reminded of the amazing capacity for human nature to adapt and change to meet the demands of life. My hope is that when faced with recent challenges that you have found that incredible strength within yourself as well.
Journaling Can Soothe The Soul
by Gwen Banks, Student Educator
February 28, 2021
Journaling is one of my very favorite ways to communicate with myself. Personally I like to use a sketchbook (no lines) and an assortment of thin line markers.
I can remember as a nine year old child keeping a pink journal with a lock and key inside the drawer of my bedside table. I would slip it out just before bed and write very simple messages inside. Even to this day what I write in my journal often is simple and to the point.
I write because my life has purpose. I want to record all aspects of my journey. In my own handwriting I record events, thoughts, feelings and even questions I want to ponder. I like to read back through what I've written. I often discover patterns of growth as well as struggle. Another way I use journaling is to keep quotes from books I am reading or notes from a podcast that really spoke to me.
I have bought sketch books and markers for our grandchildren. they for the most part draw pictures and maybe write a short paragraph.
There is no wrong way to journal. I would encourage you to give it a try.
Be The Light
by Elizabeth Hickman, Student Therapist
April 29, 2021
Over the past year we have been forced into a new life of social distancing and face masks. We have been told where we can and cannot go. The frailty of life has been plastered on every news station, with death and violence as the running headline. For many Americans, the television or internet has been their only lifeline to the outside world. A world that has become hard to recognize. Over time we become discouraged and wonder, do I really want to rejoin such a society?
I shout with a resounding, YES! I want to rejoin. I know that I am one person, but I am one person that is willing to step out of the safety of my home and make a difference. I desire to wake up every morning and doing my best to make this world a better place through the kindness of a smile, holding a door, saying thank you, or simply being kind. Not just to the people that I know but to everyone I see.
Just as one person can discourage, one person can encourage. Every day we face the choice; what type of person am I going to be today? For the person that you are today, will shape the tomorrow that our children enjoy.
I am saying as we re-enter society after months of sad discouragement, let us be the difference. Let us be the light that this world needs to see, so the next generation is not walking in darkness. Encourage one another, edify, love, and build each other so that we all might grow and flourish together.
So, who will you be today?
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
The Power Of Thoughts
by Shameeka Kent, Student Therapist
May 28, 2021
Have you ever heard the saying, “You are what you eat?” I am pretty sure most of us have. What if I suggested, “you are what you think?”
You know, it took me a while to find the therapeutic approach that felt most authentic to me. And then, one day, during a conversation with my clinical supervisor, I was describing different therapeutic approaches along with my growing anxiety about not finding “my approach” as I was nearing my Internship in Marriage & Family Therapy master’s program when she asked, “Well, how do you look at problems? How do you think when trying to solve a problem?”
Suddenly, it clicked! I believe how we think about life, relationships, problems, etc. influences how we feel about them, and our feelings influence how we interact in the world and with others. That is the basic principle of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT); thoughts trigger our feelings or emotions; our emotions influence our actions, and our actions influence our life circumstances or outcomes.
Who knew our thoughts were so powerful?! Let’s put it to the test. Close your eyes. Think of your favorite food. Were you able to do it? I’ll bet you thought of how delicious it is and how it tastes in your mouth and then came the feelings of enjoyment, delight, and satisfaction…or perhaps thinking of it made you feel hunger.
Now, let’s take that same principle and apply it to a life situation. Ready? Let’s say you were invited to a party. You receive your invitation. What is your first thought? For some of us it would be, “Yes. I’m definitely going. This is going to be fun!” That thought will likely result in feelings of excitement, acceptance, happiness, hopefulness, etc. So now that you’re feeling positive, how do you think you will act? You’ll likely go to the party, socialize, laugh, eat and be merry, right? The outcome is that you had a fun filled night and maybe even met someone new; your experience was positive.
On the other hand, some of us will receive the invitation and think, “There is no way I’m going to that party. No one will talk to me and I will not have a good time.” What feelings do you think those thoughts brought to the surface? Likely you feel lonely, sad, upset, hurt, unaccepted, etc. And since our feelings influence our actions, you’ll probably not even attend the party. And there goes a missed opportunity for you to get out, find some enjoyment, treat yourself or meet a like minded individual.
Up for another exercise? What if I told you to get angry? Right now, get angry. Could you do it? Probably not. And if you did, you likely had to THINK of a situation that triggered the feeling of anger. Am I right?
So you see, our thoughts are extremely powerful and ultimately determines our interactions and experiences. Looks like famous French philosopher and mathematician Rene Descartes was right when he said, “I think, therefore I am.”
Will you try something for me? Please! Treat yourself by thinking positive; and remember, if you cannot change your situation, try changing the way you think about it. Be blessed. Be kind.
Referenced & Relevant Reads:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Made Simple: 10 Strategies to Managing Anxiety, Depression, Anger, Panic, and Worry by Seth J. Gillihan
The CBT Toolbox: A Workbook for Clients and Clinicians by Jeff Riggenbach
How to Be a Good Friend
Leigh-Anne White, LPC, CPCS, NCC
Being a friend takes heart. Do you notice a friend withdrawing from regular activity? Has their personality changed? If a friends moodiness continues, they may be overly stressed or depressed and may need real help, possibly more help than you can provide. This is when you need to provide a listening ear. You can begin a conversation with... "you don't seem like yourself..." Simply listen without judgment, without interruption. Ask them how you can help or what they need you to do, or what they think is the next step?
This is where friendship might get tricky. Many times your friends might ask you to keep things a secret but some situations need parental or professional help. Remember, you are neither of these. Therefore, it's important that you not take on these consequences. Be honest by telling your friend that you are not certain that you can promise that, but you are certain that you will stand beside them the whole way through. Meaning, if you have a friend who might be cutting, developing an eating disorder, or someone is harming them, help them tell a parent, teacher or counselor. By assisting your friend they are able to receive help to work through the issues and develop forms of healthier coping skills.
Be your own friend: Say nice things to yourself, encourage yourself just as you would encourage your own best friend. Love yourself.
And don't forget to laugh: Laughter will help you keep a solid balance to enjoy the life you have been given.
How to Be a Good Friend
Leigh-Anne White, LPC, CPCS, NCC
Friends Stand by each other. A good friend protects and stands up for you. A friend helps to stop you from placing yourself in harm's way. So, when you find yourself in a pickle, as friends you are able to say no together. It makes it easier to say no when you have a friend standing next to you. When you select friends who have the same values as you do, you know that you are not alone in your decisions to say no to the pressure of your peers. This can also develop a super self-esteem that will be an asset for years to come.
Being a friend takes courage. Think of the people you know who are bullied. They need their friends to stand by them and help them know that they are good people. Encouraging those being bullied to report what is going on and remind them that the one who is doing the bullying is the one with the problem. As a friend convicing your friends not to reply to hurtful messages sent to them and turning the bully in to a parent or principal so that the bullying can be stopped. As a friend having the courage to tell a friend that certain behaviors or actions may not be in their best interest. Tell your friends to "stop," to all the video games or live streaming and get out of the house for a while. Challenge your friends to go with you and be with people. Take time to share with your family. Good friends take notice of what is going on in our lives.
How to Be a Good Friend
This is a 3 part series to remind us of the importance of being a good friend
Leigh-Anne White, LPC, CPCS, NCC
It takes one to know one:)
I have found this to be an important topic as we embark on a new school year. This time of year reminds me of the new school year jitters. Here are some ideas that you might like to review with your kids.
Friends are the people you trust with all of your secrets. They are the people who help you through hard times and laugh with you until you cry and can laugh no more. Once you become friends though, the real work begins. It is a difficult but rewarding task to deepen and maintain relationships and is considered a great responsibility! Working hard at being a good friend is just as important as working hard to be a good student.
A good reputation is more valuable than the most expensive perfume.
Friends are honest. They don't just tell you things that they believe you want to hear but they make the difficult decision to be honest even when it's different from what others may say to keep you happy. That kind of behavior can lead to a fake friendship. To be a good friend, you need someone to tell you like it is: to be frank not hurtful, but unappolgetically honest. Those that have your best interest at heart, help you succeed and craft the best you possible!