A new perspective.
Advocacy for LGBTQ+ Older Adults.
In 2012 I was honored with Lexington Fairness’ “Out for Fairness” award for my work in bringing attention to the unique needs of LGBTQ+ older adults in long-term care. While Lexington as a city is widely recognized for its openness, it is not uncommon for LGBTQ+ older adults to return to the closet when accessing a variety of health care and social services. As the Director of Programs and Services with the Nursing Home Ombudsman Agency, I felt I was in a unique position to address these concerns.
Through collaboration with a team of concerned social workers and community members, I organized the Senior Pride Initiative, a grassroots effort to bridge the gap between services and mature members of the LGBTQ+ community. The efforts of the work are continuing to benefit the lives of LGBT Q+ older adults throughout Central Kentucky.
This work allowed me to connect with a select group of LGBTQ+ advocates across the country in programs like SAGE, the LGBT Elder Initiative, the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, and Center on Halsted’s Senior program in Chicago, where I worked directly with LGBTQ+ older adults.
While my work now focuses on the mental health needs of members of the LGBTQ+ community and those with diverse perspectives, this experience has informed how I see being LGBTQ+ across the lifespan.
Traces of my work in LGBTQ+ aging remain strewn across the internet. Here is one of my favorite moments from this work. Live Mic with Mark McNease.
My mental health experience began in 1992, many years before earning my MSW from the University of Kentucky in 2009.
As a young adult, I worked on a clinical team as a psychiatric technician, providing in-patient care and support for children, adolescents and their families. It was there that I found the work of therapists to be an integral part of helping families understand how to adapt to the behavioral health needs of their children.
My fascination with human behavior was fixed.
My clinical training has included in-patient psychiatric care for adults, community mental health with minority groups, and direct services for LGBTQ+ older adults in Chicago. My clinical work has been supervised by seasoned and expert Licensed Clinical Social Workers in Tennessee and Illinois.
In 2006, I returned to the University of Kentucky to graduate at the top of my class with a BASW (C’08) and advanced standing MSW (C’09) in Social Work. As a non-traditional student, my experience working in mental health and programs for children gave me a unique perspective on what I was learning and how I was actualizing the knowledge in my life and community.
The purpose of therapy sessions.
Therapy sessions are a space for you and I to construct an individualized therapeutic alliance that allows you to gain clarity into your greatest concerns and to create lasting change in how you think, connect, and self-actualize.
It’s in these sessions, through empathic listening, that I am able to understand how you understand “self” and the “world”.
Through a humanistic understanding of belief systems and behavioral conditioning, we will reconstruct your childhood experiences and relationships from a present perspective – clarifying how past experiences are brought forth in your present life and end the “cause and effect” link between past experiences and present life.
In each session, I will coach you in the practice of changing harmful thought patterns and behaviors, by constructing a new narrative about your past, present, and future life.
An accurate and compassionate narrative is key to ending years of emotional distress and unfulfilled living.
My psychoeducational and goal oriented approach, informed by Adlerian Psychology, places you at the center of your life, and allows us to identify how you see yourself in current relational, social, and cultural contexts. It’s common that all of us have some inaccurate assumptions in our thinking and perspectives on life – held over from what we learned in our early lives.
These patterns directly inform how we think, what we do, and how we feel in the present. Many believe that which was imprinted on them as a young child is unalterable, because “I’ve always been this way.” Yet, through a humanistic and goal oriented understanding of these patterns, we are able to reconstruct our current problems and see clearly the path forward.
Come prepared to focus more on the present and future, rather than the past. Our patterns of the past have a way of letting go on their own when we don’t need them anymore.
Engagement. We will agree to focus on a problem you’d like to address. I’ll ask some questions to understand how you see the problem.
Assessment. We will talk about your history with this problem, ways you’ve tried to address it, and what life would be like without it.
Insight. We’ll explore some new ideas and ways of seeing yourself more accurately in relation to the problem. This allows us to realize the core of the situation and see it clearly – sometimes for the first time.
Reorientation. So you can return to the routines to life with new insights and skills, I’ll give you some very specific actionable items to practice before your next session. This is key in your recovery.
We will start this process over again when we see what worked and didn’t work in your new ways of problem solving.