BLOG

Member Spotlight

 

 

Member Spotlight


What is your name?
Jonathan (Jon) Buffington

What TCA Chapter/Division are you a member of?
South Tennessee Counseling Association and TAAOC

How long have you been a member of TCA?
About 1.5 years.

How has TCA influenced your career or practice?
TCA is allowing me to network with different providers with a different background in practice. This allows for diversity of thought and consideration with the populations we work with as well as better collaboration in advocacy for the clients I (we) serve in this rural area.

Share a little bit about your background and your journey to becoming a counselor.
Counseling is a 2nd(or 3rd?) career for me. In my 20’s I was in hospitality management and also a chef. Working nights, weekends and holidays along with 60-70hr work weeks left me very unfulfilled. I wanted to do something meaningful and after a long period of soul searching and consulting with family and friends, I decided to pursue social work. I knew I wanted to work in addictions primarily however I have had the opportunity to work with severe and persistently mentally ill homeless persons in Nashville, I have worked in collaborative recovery courts, inpatient/detox centers as well as in outpatient settings as both a primary therapist and a family therapist. I am an alumnus from MTSU with both a bachelors and a masters in social work, a licensed clinical social worker and also a licensed alcohol and drug abuse counselor.

What is your current work setting?
I am currently the program director at Bradford Health Services in Manchester.

Do you have a specialty or a particular area of interest?
I love working with addictions as well as with families and family systems.

Take us through a typical day for you in your current position.
My day varies depending on the current needs but generally managing the clinical operations of an outpatient substance abuse facility. I provide supervision, training, hiring, develop and maintain programming, ensure compliance with state and regulatory requirements as well as with MCO requirements and often fill in as needed for group therapy. I love direct care and family systems work with the family members of our clients weekly and also facilitate an alumni support group weekly.

Do you have any career or practice aspirations moving forward?
Yes! My current schedule has me working a 4 day work week (4 10hr shifts) so I am in the process of beginning a part-time private practice which I hope to launch in February. I would also like to continue to offer my experience in diverse workplaces with consulting as well as continue to deliver educational presentations at conferences.

What advice would you give a counselor-in-training entering the field?
Make self-care your top priority. I have seen fantastic counselors leave this career due to the inability to maintain proper self-care. This is a tragedy. Understand this is a job and it cannot be your life. Have things in your personal life that bring you joy, meaning and value.

Is there anything that I didn’t ask you that you would like to share with your fellow TCA Members? Understand that we work in an underappreciated, underpaid and overworked career. I want to validate that you provide a most needed and valuable service and are doing noble work. I am honored to be amongst you all in this profession of serving others.


 

Do you know a TCA member who is engaged in leadership, research, innovation, or service? If so, we would like to feature them in an upcoming blog post! Fill out the link below to nominate someone to be featured in the Member Spotlight section today!

Member Spotlight Nomination Form: https://forms.gle/uciVkHwEDpYhTbg96


 

Publications Committee

Do you have content you would like to contribute to the TCA Blog? Email [email protected] with your ideas, submissions, or suggestions for improvement!

Read More

Member Spotlight and Holiday Self-Care

 

 

Member Spotlight

What is your name?
Lindsey Blevins, LPC-MHSP

What TCA Chapter/Division are you a member of?
West TN (WTCA)

Tennessee Mental Health Counseling Association (TMHCA)

How long have you been a member of TCA?
A member for about 6 months, but have attended meetings for the past couple of years.

How has TCA influenced your career or practice?
I learn a lot from other members and enjoy the continuing education it provides along with networking.

Share a little bit about your background and your journey to becoming a counselor.
I grew up in Wisconsin and when I was in high school was really impacted by my school counselor (she helped me graduate early!). It was at that point that I wanted to work with adolescents/children. I went to college for my undergrad at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. My major started out as education, but I quickly realized that I was not cut out to be a teacher, so I changed to Psychology and Human Development. Upon graduation, I went to work for a non-profit that worked with adolescents in the juvenile justice system who were out in the community awaiting their court date (24-hour supervision) as a case manager. I then returned to graduate school at Concordia University-Wisconsin to become a school counselor. I took classes in both school and professional counseling. Upon graduation in 2009 (and wanting to get out of cold Wisconsin) I took a job at Youth Villages in Memphis working with children in foster care. My tenure was 8 years and during that time I was a counselor in foster care and residential, then provided crisis assessments, and ultimately for about 4 years managed the specialized crisis program for West TN. In the summer of 2017, I transitioned to a role with Lakeside in Business Development. My role was to be a clinical liaison for schools in the greater Memphis area (Lakeside serves 60+ kids on a daily basis both inpatient and outpatient on our campus). In this position, I would provide training to school staff, help with referrals for treatment, answer questions for parents/families seeking treatment with us, present to students on mental health/substance abuse topics, and ensure that there was active communication between Lakeside’s school (Brunswick Day School) and the child’s home school. I am now the Director for the entire Business Development Department at Lakeside and am responsible for all units and not just child and adolescent. When I first got into the field, I never expected to be a counselor in a “marketing” role, but I find my clinical experience to be invaluable in this position. I can really be an asset to the people who are calling me as I have experience working directly with the patients they are calling to refer. I can also help them to navigate the process and provide referrals to people in the community when needed.

What is your current work setting?
I am currently the Director of Business Development for Lakeside Behavioral Health System in Memphis. Our department works as the liaison between the patients and the professionals who work with them. We also provide a lot of outreach and education for the community.

Do you have a specialty or a particular area of interest?
I spent all of my professional career working with children and adolescents up until I started at Lakeside in 2017. I spent a lot of time working with children who experienced trauma and were in crisis. I am particularly passionate about children. I feel as though if we intervene and provide the support needed as a child we truly can make a lifetime of a difference.

Take us through a typical day for you in your current setting/position.
Currently, I spent about half of my time at Lakeside managing the department. The other half of my time I spend out in the community. A typical day can include an in-service in which I am providing some mental health or substance abuse education to school staff, parents, community members, law enforcement. My phone will ring with a professional on the other end of the line requesting assistance in getting their patient some treatment. I also have patients who call in to me to access services. I really want to be seen as someone anyone can call if they are looking for help for mental health or substance treatment, even if it is help finding a referral for an outpatient provider.

Do you have any career or practice aspirations moving forward?
I really enjoy my current role. I feel like I get to interact and connect with many different professionals who work a variety of patients.

What advice would you give a counselor-in-training entering the field?
Spend time working with many different populations which will help give some insight as to a path to follow. There is so much that someone can do with a counseling degree! And, find a mentor…someone who can give you advice, teach you things, and you can ask questions of who has been around for a while.

Is there anything that I didn’t ask you that you would like to share with your fellow TCA Members?
I have a real passion for helping people. I tell people all the time that I spent a long time working with individuals and their families and feel as though I reached a lot of people. But now, I train people in mental health who go out and work with others. I can feel the ripple effect of how many lives I am touching!

I am involved in the TN Suicide Prevention Network (TSPN) and it is through this involvement that I provide suicide prevention training to the community. QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) is one of those trainings in which someone can learn life-saving skills without the need to be a trained counselor. It looks at how laypeople can recognize warning signs of suicide, encourage them to get help, and then educate on the resources available in the area to serve that individual. This past year, I won the Ken and Madge Tullis Suicide Prevention Award. I felt honored to be recognized for the work that I am doing in the community for suicide prevention.

My goal is to reduce the stigma of mental health in hopes that more people reach out for help and get the treatment they need BEFORE they are in crisis.

For more information, contact Lindsey at [email protected]


 Do you know a TCA member who is engaged in leadership, research, innovation, or service? If so, we would like to feature them in an upcoming blog post! Fill out the link below to nominate someone to be featured in the Member Spotlight section today!

Member Spotlight Nomination Form: https://forms.gle/uciVkHwEDpYhTbg96


Self-Care During the Holiday Season

The holiday season can be a stressful time of year, even for mental health professionals! Here are five tips on how to handle holiday-related stress, create some time for yourself, and engage in self-care over the next couple of weeks.

  1. Set aside a few minutes for yourself. Try to engage in some of the self-care activities that you already do on a regular basis such as exercise, mindfulness, or medication.
  2. Take a break from the family. Family gatherings can come with stress and tension. Engage in prevention planning and have a plan of action if conversations take a turn for the worse. 
  3. Schedule some time to unplug. Consider turning off your electronics or sign out of your email to truly have some time away from work and maintain healthy boundaries.
  4. Check-in with yourself. Pay attention to the warning signs that indicate you are becoming stressed. Do you feel overwhelmed or notice a change in your sleep/diet? If so, problem-solve to find ways to decrease your stress. 
  5. Focus on the present. The holiday season can be a good time to reflect on the past year, but can also bring worry or fear for the future. Instead, give yourself the gift of the present and immerse yourself in the present moment.

Happy holidays TCA members, I hope the next few weeks are filled with cheer and joy!



Publications Committee

Do you have content you would like to contribute to the TCA Blog? Email [email protected] with your ideas, submissions, or suggestions for improvement!



 

Read More

Member Spotlight and Human Rights Day

 

 

Member Spotlight

What is your name? 

Trent Hughes 

What TCA Chapter/Division are you a member of?

Middle Tennessee (MTCA)TN Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (TACES)

How long have you been a member of TCA?

Approximately 6 months

How has TCA influenced your career or practice?

TCA has provided me opportunities to learn from other clinicians and has provided invaluable resources to advance my work in counseling with my clients. I have also recently been provided the opportunity to present at the TCA conference in October 2019, which influences my passion to continue sharing about counseling in our field.

Share a little bit about your background and your journey to becoming a counselor. 

I began my journey to become a counselor at age 18. I have always been intrigued to understand human behavior and have always been interested in being a therapist. I entered college to begin my undergraduate degree in psychology and just before my senior year, I left and returned home because of family issues, causing me to pursue other opportunities. While I was in my hometown, I began traveling the country and playing music. During my time traveling, I remained unhappy because I had stepped away from my passion for psychology. During my last year of traveling, I returned to school and finished my undergraduate degree in psychology. Immediately after completion, I entered Trevecca to pursue my master’s degree in counseling.  After completion, I immediately enrolled to pursue my Ph.D., which I am about to complete in clinical mental health counseling, teaching, and supervision.

What is your current work setting?

I currently work at Cedar Recovery as the Chief Clinical Officer. In this role, I oversee operations of our offices, an internship program, support lead therapists in each of our offices, implement counseling programs to enhance opportunities for success in recovery, and I also have some opportunities to provide therapy to patients within Cedar.

Do you have a specialty or a particular area of interest? 

Currently, I specialize in trauma and addiction work. Although these are two of my particular areas of interest, I remain interested in finding new counseling strategies to help those in addiction, specifically Medication Assisted Treatment. 

Take us through a typical day for you in your current setting/position.

A typical day begins with chart review with therapists and physicians, for patients who will be coming into our offices for the day. Throughout the day, I provide therapy for patients when possible because I enjoy keeping a small caseload throughout the week. I also provide support to our lead therapists, interns, and office staff, as needed throughout the day. As often as I can, I finish the day with seeing clients of my own in a private practice setting.

Do you have any career or practice aspirations moving forward? 

I am currently working to complete my Ph.D. in clinical mental health counseling, teaching, and supervision.  I also teach Chemical Use and Abuse at Trevecca Nazarene University and I would like to always teach in some capacity. As a very specific aspiration, I am also interested to train in psychoanalysis. Most importantly, I would like to continue becoming an effective therapist to help provide the best clinical care for those I treat in a therapeutic setting.

What advice would you give a counselor-in-training entering the field?

For those entering the field, I highly recommend participating in any event TCA provides, and/or other education/training opportunities. While we learn invaluable knowledge in graduate school, we really learn application when we begin working in the field. The most important piece of advice I maintain for self is, never stop being teachable!

Can you tell us a little bit about the innovation you are providing in the field of Medication Assisted Treatment and counseling? 

I initially gained training in the addiction field by working in an abstinence-based program. The program where I trained and worked remains an excellent abstinence program and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work as a “tech,” an intern, and a therapist. During the time I was there, however, I was also trained that MAT was “bad” and there was no place for it in treating addiction. I feel this has been a standard belief in the treatment community for quite some time, until recently. While working in abstinence-based treatment and after much reflection, I determined there must be additional approaches to helping people with MAT. Since beginning Cedar Recovery, I realized that with evidence-based counseling approaches parallel to the model(s) that abstinence-based programs developed, recovery is possible for those who use MAT. MAT can be an extremely vital part of helping those suffering with opiates. With a comprehensive counseling program, the work in MAT has proven to have efficacy for those struggling with addiction. Since beginning the comprehensive treatment program at Cedar Recovery, we have seen people struggling with addiction in our communities begin to feel better, get better, and stay better. 


Do you know a TCA member who is engaged in leadership, research, innovation, or service? If so, we would like to feature them in an upcoming blog post! Fill out the link below to nominate someone to be featured in the Member Spotlight section today!

Member Spotlight Nomination Form: https://forms.gle/uciVkHwEDpYhTbg96 


 

Awareness Highlight: Human Rights Day

This year, Human Rights Day is on Tuesday, December 10th. Human Rights Day is observed every year on December 10th, which is the day the United Nations Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1984. The UDHR states the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being regardless of race, color, religion, sex, language, political or other opinions, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. 

With this date coming up, it is important for us to remember that promoting social justice is one of the core professional values of the counseling profession. Currently, ACA has approved three statements on social justice and human rights which can be found here. These statements contain links to helpful articles, publications, webinars, and other educational resources. 

Why is taking a moment to acknowledge Human Rights Day important?

  1. It is a time for reflection. Take some time to reflect on how you treat others and the impact it has made.

  2. It serves as a reminder of our values. Promoting social justice is our third professional value in the ACA Code of Ethics and is defined as the promotion of equity for all people and groups for the purpose of ending oppression and injustice affecting clients, students, counselors, families, communities, schools, workplaces, governments, and other social and institutional systems.

  3. It empowers us. To advocate for our own rights and our profession, as well as the rights of our clients and our communities. 


Publications Committee

Do you have content you would like to contribute to the TCA Blog? Email [email protected] with your ideas, submissions, or suggestions for improvement!

Read More

Introducing TnSCA: Tennessee School Counseling Association

 

 

Introducing TnSCA: Tennessee School Counseling Association 

Tennessee Counseling Association Members,

The TCA Presidential Board, along with the Executive Director, were notified on 11/12/19 that "on Oct. 29, 2019, the TSCA Executive Board voted to no longer be a division of TCA and instead become an independent organization effective Dec.1, 2019."

The TCA Leadership stands hurt, saddened, and blindsided by this decision from TSCA leadership to disaffiliate from the state branch.  We have always believed in the importance of the unity of the counseling profession.

Regrettably, the TSCA Executive Board did not have a dialogue with the TCA Leadership before they made their decision on October 29th. It was not a collaborative decision. In other states where disaffiliation has occurred, they have put the question out to their membership to vote.  In this case, there was no vote, no open forum for membership, and no collaboration with TCA Leadership.  

As it has become clear that the TSCA Executive Board was willing to disregard the policies and rules we have all agreed to abide by, our Governing Council realized that this group is better off being independent and we wish them well. However, we also want to reiterate TCA’s decades-long commitment to our state’s professional school counselors.  

We bring all of this to you to state that we are and will remain what we always have been – the home for all counselors.  Our services will not change.  Your membership will remain with the Tennessee Counseling Association unless you decide to not renew. 

We look forward to continuing to serve our school counselor members, as we always have, in the same fashion as before.  Therefore, nothing will change on our end except that we will change the name of our current school counselor division:

Previous Name: Tennessee School Counselor Association (TSCA)

New Name: Tennessee School Counseling Association (TnSCA)

Our mission remains the same:

The mission of the Tennessee Counseling Association is to promote the development of all counseling professionals, advance the counseling profession under a unified association, and to use the profession of counseling to promote the well-being, respect for diversity, and human dignity of all Tennesseans. 

Our TCA goals and division goals remain unchanged.  Our focus will be on looking forward to the future and leverage the best of TCA and Tennessee School Counseling Association to meet and exceed the needs of our members. The leadership of TCA is in the process of structuring our new division and we welcome your input in this process. We will focus on developing a set of goals for the renamed Tennessee School Counseling Association Division, objectives, and commitments to strengthen our Association as we continue in our commitment to serving school counselors.

We believe that we are better and stronger as a unified voice and have no plans for school counselors to lose that opportunity within our organization.  If a member’s needs are not being met, we have numerous avenues and opportunities for changes to be made. We remain dedicated to all counselors who serve in any setting, especially as the value of partnerships across divisions increases often.  LPCs and School Counselors can certainly work collaboratively to serve the needs of the whole child. TCA will continue to focus on this goal in the future. 

We welcome your thoughts, comments, and/or questions as a comment below.  Your feedback is important to us!  

Dr. Steve Zanskas - TCA President 

Dr. Janet Hicks - TCA President-Elect

Dr. Nicole Cobb-  TCA President Elect-Elect

Dr. Eva Gibson - TCA Past-President

Kat Coy - TCA Executive Director
Read More

My First Rodeo

 

 

My First Rodeo: A Reflection from A First-Time TCA Conference Attendee

I'm Andrew Arehart, a graduate student in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling track at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. I'll be starting practicum in January with a local thirty-day substance abuse rehab facility here in Chattanooga and expect to graduate this time next year. I'm looking forward to the transition from the classroom to the clients in the coming months and decided to attend the TCA conference in order to learn from and connect with my colleagues throughout the state.

Two of the most memorable breakout sessions I attended were on grief in the substance abuse recovery process and on applying Maslow's hierarchy of needs to recovery work. Interestingly, in that second one the projector failed and so instead of being read to from a powerpoint, we had a much more personal presentation and discussion. Something my advisor told me some time back was that if addiction isn't part of your client's own problem, chances are it's a problem for someone in the satellite of their lives, be it a spouse, child, friend or neighbor. As such I was so pleased to have a chance to learn from the experiences of others working in this critical field.

I was also struck by the tidbits...little things veteran counselors mentioned that encapsulated lessons learned over the years. Things like, "get 'why' out of your vocabulary as a counselor. It puts your client on the defensive. And watch out for "but" it sets you up as an adversary." I feel that in learning complex skills, such as counseling work, we move from simplicity, through complexity and back to simplicity. I believe that as we mature in our capacity to do something, we come to recognize essential patterns behind the procedures that illuminate and guide our practices. Comments such as those felt like insight into such patterns.

I would have enjoyed spending more time at the poster presentations, where recent research is most accessible, the presenters being in the thick of their masters and doctoral work. Unfortunately, I was distracted by lunch, which is also dear to my heart. There being a presentation going on over the top of all this kept me from giving this aspect of the program the attention it deserves, so I will watch out for ways to make more time for this at future conferences.

Thank you so much to all of the organizers, presenters and hotel staff who coordinated to make this event possible. I’ll look forward to seeing you again down the road.

Andrew Arehart
[email protected]


 

Member Spotlight

Do you know a TCA member who is engaged in leadership, research, innovation, or service? If so, we would like to feature them in an upcoming blog post! Fill out the link below to nominate someone to be featured in the Member Spotlight section today!

Member Spotlight Nomination Form: https://forms.gle/uciVkHwEDpYhTbg96


Publications Committee

Hi there! My name is Erin MacInerney and I am the 2019-2020 TCA Publications Chair. I am currently a M.Ed. Candidate in Human Development Counseling at Vanderbilt University finishing up my final year of graduate school. I am excited to take the TCA publication in a new direction this year by transitioning from a quarterly newsletter to a blog post format.


I am always looking for members to spotlight, recently published articles, and interest pieces. Do you have content you would like to contribute to the TCA Blog? Email me at [email protected] with your ideas, submissions, or suggestions for improvement!

Read More

2019 Grad Student Poster Session Winners

Congratulations Graduate Students: 

Dr. Eva Gibson, Poster Session Chair, honored 1st and 2nd place winners from the TACES 2019 Graduate Student Poster Sessions at the TCA Conference. 

1st Place Doctoral - Natae Jones Fenstra (University of the Cumberlands): “Running Therapy: A Revival of Theory & Technique

1st Place Master’s – Lisa Buchanan (Milligan College): “Measuring Psychotherapy Outcomes in a Small College Counseling Center

 

2nd Doctoral – Jeffery Bass (Tennessee State University): “You Are Only As Strong As Your Program

2nd Master’s – Charlene Sanderson (Austin Peay State University): “Art Therapy in Schools: Drawing Self-Portraits to Understand Self-Concepts

    

 

 

Read More

Welcome to the TCA blog

Welcome to the TCA blog!

 

The TCA Leadership team is busy developing great plans for the 2019-2020 Fiscal Year and we want you to know all about it.  This year, we plan to update our blog with Chapter insights, Division highlights, membership spotlights, updates on relevant research, and more!

If you have something that you think is blog-worthy, please email our TCA Publications Chair, Erin MacInereny.