TPN.Health MIND/CLINIC: Dr. James Flowers

TPN.Health introduces James Flowers, PhD, LPC! Dr. Flowers will be speaking at TPN.Health’s upcoming MIND CLINIC Conference December 5th, sharing twenty-eight years of experience designing programs to evaluate the total health of a person from a biopsychosocial approach.

A world-renowned expert in the treatment of chronic pain, Dr. Flowers is the founder of J. Flowers Health Institute in Houston, Texas and owner of Kemah Palms Recovery and Cypress Lakes Lodge, addiction treatment centers in Texas.

Why a chronic pain speciality?

The youngest of four siblings, Dr. Flowers witnessed two of his middle sisters’ struggles with health, including drug addiction and a painful cancer ending in death. Witnessing these struggles, specifically his sister’s journey with cancer, cultivated Dr. Flowers’ interest in suffering and the diagnostic process. This also meant that Dr. Flowers had first-hand exposure to the dynamics of treatment providers working to address complex issues.

Essential to his interest in diagnostics was the fact that his sister’s cancer went undiagnosed for years as it did not appear on any particular test. Despite the lack of visibility, the cancer still affected her health in the meantime and perhaps could have been addressed earlier had she had access to a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation. Upon living the progression of his sister’s cancer to her death and seeing the effect on his family in the process, Dr. Flowers decided to alter the trajectory of his life. When she died, he knew that he wanted to develop programs designed to help as many people as possible to truly uncover and understand their diagnoses.

“I believe when someone is suffering, we should do a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation, which means developing a living MRI of a person’s life.”

Twenty-eight years ago when Dr. Flowers first began his training to develop chronic disease management and treatment programs, he noticed quickly that not everyone in healthcare was on board with this idea. In the U.S., the concept of evaluating the total person was widely accepted in the Northeast and Northwest, but in other areas of the country it was not considered a necessity. For instance, if someone had twelve back surgeries a provider might think it preposterous that the focal issue could be with anything other than the back.

Fast forward to 2019. The total-person medical evaluation is more widely accepted in the whole of the United States. What Dr. Flowers has seen over the years are unintentional treatment failures from qualified providers. Despite the best efforts of providers, oftentimes the true diagnoses of a person can go undiscovered because providers have not been systematically enabled to develop a whole picture of the client’s health, brain and body, working together. Moving beyond the surface work of assessment, in comprehensive diagnostic evaluations both provider and client have access to ongoing conversations with one another about the intricacies of each body system and how the systems themselves are in conversation.

James Flowers headshot on white backdrop

“The thing that keeps me going is that this is truly my passion in life. My work is my passion.”

In living out his passion of helping people find real solutions through his work, Dr. Flowers balances his recreational activities with an equally passionate spirit. For him, these activities manifest largely in running long distances and piloting airplanes. Whether his feet are hitting the pavement or floating in the clouds, he values that engagement with these activities does not allow for him to have self-defeating thoughts. For instance, when flying the plane, he must support himself constantly in order to uphold responsibility for the lives on board. In running long distances, total self-support is a necessity, or else he won’t finish!

Underpinning all of Dr. Flowers’ work is the fact that people are not fragmented parts working independently of one another. We are whole systems of systems, and we can honor the moving parts by addressing them in a way that contributes to the overall health of the whole person. Join us at the TPN.Health MIND CLINIC to unpack the processes of creating a true living MRI in integrated healthcare and what this means for you as a provider today.

TPN.Health Clinician Spotlight: Taylor Farris, LMSW

TPN.Health first connected with Taylor Farris, LMSW, at our DBT Skills Training. We’re excited to have followed up with her as she shared on her work at the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center today and in the world of corrections as a whole.

Taylor’s pathway to work in corrections began with law, which first piqued her interest while working for the District Attorney in high school. She transitioned to college with the intent of studying law, but soon found that studying law singularly was lacking something, so she supplemented the gap with psychology coursework. Eventually, her growing interest in psychology won over and prompted her to pursue a Master of Social Work degree.

It was during Taylor’s graduate internship that the worlds of law and psychology met to create a launchpad that sprung her career. Taylor engaged in a program called Project Hope in which interns taught parenting classes to offenders. While the offenders were appreciative for the ability to partake in the class, they also expressed a need to have more behavioral health assistance built into their days within corrections facilities.

“I really don’t know if I could work outside of corrections at this point. It’s something that I’m really passionate about.”

Since her first hands-on experience of corrections within Project Hope, Taylor has continued to work passionately with incarcerated individuals, mostly men, first at Raymond Laborde Correctional Center a state prison in Cottonport, LA and today at the jail in Lafayette, LA. Taylor’s passion for the work lies in continuous opportunities for problem-solving and asking questions regarding mass incarceration as a whole in the United States.

In this setting, both client and practitioner face environment-specific barriers, such as a lack of confidentiality. Meetings are held in the hallways, so the offenders are often fearful of backlash from other offenders who may be in earshot. Taylor notes that many of the offenders with whom she is in contact have a long history of misusing substances while appearing to or claiming to have diagnoses which require the dispensation of substances. Given this dynamic, the line between malingering and actual need is frequently blurred, a difficult hurdle for the mental health department.

In the midst of the numerous challenges of the corrections environment, Taylor experiences support from both her co-workers and the offenders in the jail. She describes the relationship between the deputies and the mental health department as one of trust and positivity. She relies on the observations and reports from the deputies, who have the most contact with offenders, to inform her of anything that could affect her relationship with offenders. Within the culture of offenders in the corrections facilities, Taylor experiences a sense of protection, as there are specific individuals who are mindful of her and will support her safety.

Taylor Farris, LMSW

Most of the work that Taylor does with the incarcerated individuals at the jail is that of crisis management. Given the brevity of the inmates’ stay and the acuity of the present environment, crisis management is often the only intervention for which there is space and time. The other part of her work is the search-and-find of referring offenders to mental health services once they leave the facility.

It is her hope that teaching the offenders skills for self-regulation in a stressful environment can prime them for the deeper work they will do in a therapeutic setting outside corrections. According to Taylor, the process of making referrals to outside providers from her position is often “a toss-up.” She is excited to make use of TPN.Health to bring clarity and scalability to her referral process and, hopefully, the referral processes for the rest of the mental health department.

“I’ve had some men who have been incarcerated for thirty years and they say, ‘Ms. Taylor I don’t know. I don’t wanna go. I don’t know what to expect.’”

Taylor sees great need for services that facilitate transition from life in corrections facilities to life outside this environment. This facilitation would include some form of mental health check-in or therapeutic services, similar to the protocol for probation. She recalled her time working for the state prison in which there were offenders who had spent so many years incarcerated that the culture of incarceration is all they know. She frequently considers how the corrections system can better support them not only in recovering from the trauma of the system itself but in the extensive work of setting up life outside, such as finding jobs and using technology.

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TPN.Health Clinician Spotlight: Layne Roland, LCSW

On the evolution of her work in nutrition and behavioral health

Here, Layne Roland, LCSW, reflects on her arrival in both personal and professional spheres and how these two spheres interact with one another.

Early in life Layne recalls having an overall enriched relationship with food rituals, from learning “country style” cooking and baking from her grandmothers to having a mother who prepared regular healthy meals for the family. Likewise, her parents encouraged participation in sports, which initially spurred Layne to pursue strength-building and physical fitness.

Within the physical and emotional shifts that accompany adolescence, Layne’s relationship to food and body began to shift as well. In this changing relationship, she encountered the challenges of disordered eating and poor body image. Upon receiving outside help at the end of high school, Layne began a journey of healing which she sustains and cultivates today.

Layne Roland, LCSW, in a white shirt on a background of trees

Navigating the relationship with food and body has not only been a thread in Layne’s journey as a human being, but it has also shaped much of her professional life. She decided to pursue a degree in nutritional counseling upon the desire to help others as well as herself create lives of balance in relation to food and body.

Upon receiving her undergraduate nutritional counseling degree, she worked largely with folks seeking weight loss counsel. In the work, she found that nutritional counseling alone failed to address the whole of the clients’ struggles with food.

“Our society makes it hard for young women and men to feel comfortable and proud of their bodies and appearances. We also live in a diet-obsessed society that is constantly marketed through media and social media outlets.”

Ultimately, Layne’s goal was to orient herself professionally to help people with eating disorders, and to do this she needed another piece of the educational puzzle. To complete the picture, she took the steps to pursue a Masters degree in social work. Exploring work with people who had food struggles, Layne spent time as an employee at Palmetto Addiction Recovery Center. There, she gained experience treating people with co-occurring eating disorders and substance use disorders.

Today, Layne practices privately in Baton Rouge, LA and works primarily with women, ranging from adolescence to adulthood, who struggle with disordered eating and body image. After having worked in the treatment center environment, where protocols can sometimes take on a punitive air, Layne places principle importance on her clients’ own self-determination and sense of autonomy. In this mindset, she acknowledges that her purpose is to support clients in finding the ways of being in the world that work best for them.

“I do believe my experiences with an eating disorder and poor body image gives a level of insight, empathy, and understanding for my clients. It also drives me to learn more about effective treatments and provide the best therapy I can for my clients.”

Layne’s lived experience of navigating her own relationship with food and body positively informs how she sits professionally. It prompts her to presently witness what her clients are experiencing, keep her treatment protocols person-centered, and remain open to continual reevaluation.

In the same thread, Layne is ever-mindful of self-disclosure as she keeps the focus on her clients’ needs and experiences and avoids shares that could breed countertransference in the therapeutic relationship. Over time as a practitioner, Layne notices positive changes in the way that she sits across from clients. Through a lens that has evolved over time in practice, she sees that she herself, clients, and fellow therapists alike are simply people navigating life.

“Having a background in nutrition allows me to educate my clients on what is healthy in order for them to make smart, informed decisions for themselves regarding their diet and physical fitness.”

When meeting clients who are struggling with disordered eating and body image, Layne practices selectivity around how she will approach the details of nutrition and food. As these topics are often charged with strong emotion, addressing them to specificity can impact the therapeutic relationship, impeding the progress of the client. This is why treating eating disorders can often demand a coordinated team of providers to address the different faces of the issue, such as meal plans and emotion regulation.

Integrated into her personal life and professional practice are modalities and conversations that honor the mind-body relationship. Layne is trained in EMDR therapy and, most recently, Reiki, a modality of energy healing involving touch. Outside of her practice, she is a yogalates instructor an avid runner, and a gardener. It is her experience that physical activity, when possible and safe, can be an important piece of navigating the relationship with one’s own body.

Layne's English Cocker Spaniel Whobe

“Whobe is her name — like ‘Who be at the door?’”

Making use of the tools and support at her disposal when seeing clients, Layne includes a furry co-facilitator by the name of Whobe. With a nose-touch or the spread-eagle offering of a belly, Whobe frequently serves to console clients. Likewise, Whobe’s presence can prompt clients, many of whom have dogs, to express their own love for animals — a great bridge to begin a dialogue in session.

Reflecting on the fledgling stages of her private practice, Layne acknowledges how important it was to involve a mentor in the process. Tanya Stuart, owner of Genesis Behavioral Health Services, LLC, played this role for Layne by offering office space and a source for referrals.

Having built a successful practice with the guidance of a mentor figure, Layne still desires support and consultation in the context of a clinical community. We are excited that Layne, a creator of solutions, is an active user addressing the gaps she encounters and sharing what she is building within the TPN.Health clinical community.

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TPN.Health Clinician Spotight: John Antonucci, MEd, LAC, LPC, NCC, CCS

“There are many many paths to recovery. I believe that as a clinician. I believe that as a recovered individual.”

After working for eleven years at treatment centers in the New Orleans area, John decided it was time to begin practicing privately. He opened his practice, Counseling and Recovery, LLC, in February of 2019. Having over a decade of experience working with addiction in treatment centers, making the transition to a private practice was the logical next step upon evaluating his goals.

John Antonucci in an office

In John’s experience at treatment centers, he worked with clients who had progressed to varying severities in their struggles with addiction. Opening a private practice is allowing him to come from a place of preventative care, through which he can work with an individual to address issues before they progress to a need for intensive outpatient treatment or detox.

“I want to empower my clients. They know themselves way better than I will know them.”

John now enjoys the liberties to be able to meet clients where they are by exploring a plethora of potential solutions, which can sometimes be subject to constraints in agency work. In the action of meeting clients where they are, John makes a point to remain open to an informed trial-and-error process of finding what does and does not work for each individual client.

John practices within the model that the different manifestations of addiction, whether in the arenas of substances or processes, are still under the same umbrella of addiction. One of the resources to which he directs clients is Smart Recovery, a mutual aid group addressing all addictive behaviors.

Having brought the first Smart Recovery meeting to New Orleans two and a half years ago, John explains that the Smart Recovery program centers around “the idea that we are responsible for our own recovery.” When people have access to specific tools and use them, they can help themselves navigate not just early recovery but the continued daily work of long-term recovery.

“This country is multicultural. Well, one culture is the recovery culture — people with recovery status.”

A recovered person himself, John acknowledges that his lived experience can often provide him with the opportunity to tap into empathy when he sees clients, for instance, when clients are encountering the specific mental and physical taxes in early recovery. Likewise, in both his personal and professional relationships with recovery topics, John values the issue of cultural recognition for the recovery community in the United States.

“We, over the years, have kinda lived in the shadows.”

He notes that in the socio-cultural sphere, involving issues like law-making, the recovery community does not often exercise its voice. For John, it is a passion to speak to this issue when he has the opportunity. He has made several recent state conference presentations of his research on the implications of including recovery status as part of multicultural America. Likewise, in his private practice he will approach this topic with clients when appropriate by exploring the question, “How can you advocate for yourself?”

“I think there are a lot of resources out there. And I think you have to plug yourself into them.”

As far as John’s clinical community, he values taking part in an organized monthly consultation group as well as calling on colleagues for consultation as needed. Occasionally, he will need to involve medical or law professionals in his work in the way of consult or referral, so he notes that there is need to cultivate connections to these professionals as well.

Today, John feels grateful for the opportunity to be connected to so many effective behavioral health professionals in the New Orleans area to support the growth of his practice. You can connect with John today on TPN.Health.

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TPN.Health Clinician Spotlight: Jessica Gibson Kendrick, LPC

“We’ve noticed through both our work and personal experiences that either you or the person you care about is struggling with substances. There aren’t that many degrees of separation anymore.” -Counseling and Recovery Guidance, LLC

Jessica G. Kendrick, LPC, and her colleagues are celebrating the opening of Counseling and Recovery Guidance, LLC, an outpatient private practice serving families affected by substance use issues, in Lafayette, LA. Over the years as a practitioner in the Lafayette community, Jessica has observed a gap in resources for the family members of those with substance use issues.

The dream to address this gap community-wide has been in the works for about a year and finally became a reality in the opening of the practice. Jessica’s experiences, personal and professional, have worked together to orient her in the field of addiction/recovery and ultimately to find the resources and community necessary to manifest Counseling and Recovery Guidance, LLC.

Jessica Gibson Kendrick profile in purple sweater

Like many, Jessica’s experiences in the world of addiction and substance use began close to home with a family member using substances. In the context of these experiences, Jessica and her family utilized programs such as 12-Step Recovery and Celebrate Recovery to help them find solutions to living in contact with someone struggling with substance use. Upon experiencing the loss of her brother to overdose, she was certain that she did not want addiction and substance use to be the focus of her work.

However, addiction and substance use, regardless of Jessica’s preference at the time, seemed to involve itself in her work. While starting her private practice and facilitating several residential and outpatient groups, she worked as a yoga teacher at Red Lerille’s, a health club in Lafayette. In class, students would frequently share emotional experiences, many of which were surrounding substance use. So the conversations kept coming up, and in the process informed the direction of Jessica’s practice. Likewise, Jessica has always loved yoga and acknowledges the connection between yoga, recovery, and personal growth.

“It was always present, but I just resisted it for a while.”

In the spirit of curiosity, Jessica accepted a public relations position at Victory Addiction Recovery Center in 2015. There she took part in facilitating the Family Care Group, in which she helped families of people struggling with substance use to find alternative, more adaptable ways to relate to the using members.

What she found over time, to her own surprise, was a sense of joy in the experience of working with these families. In Jessica’s words, the initial time at Victory served to “slowly switch on the lightbulb” for work directly involving addiction and recovery. Her continued experience at Victory has fueled the realization of building a practice to support the entire family, not just the struggling individual, around substance use issues.

“Probably the most fulfilling part of what I do is being able to interact with the entire family, not just the person.”

At Counseling and Recovery Guidance, LLC, Jessica and her colleagues’ mission is to serve the entire family affected by addiction. This means that when addiction or issues around substance use come up with clients, the clinical team at Counseling and Recovery Guidance, LLC, is prepared to explore the territory as they operate under a standardized understanding about what addiction is and how it affects the family.

The other side of private practice

When I asked Jessica if there was anything particularly challenging or helpful in private practice, she replied without hesitation: Media. A large part of building the practice has been finding the time and resources to market it. In 2019, this means adapting to the arenas where people are spending their time, that is, digital media.

“Now, we have to talk about it.”

The reality is that the use of digital media is so pervasively woven into the nuances of life that to not talk about it is to ignore an essential piece. In the realm of private practice, digital media use comes up in marketing through social media platforms, website-building, and learning to properly use HIPPAA compliant technology. For instance the team at Counseling and Recovery Guidance, LLC, utilizes Telehealth to meet with clients who are unable to travel to the office space. So, the relationship between technology use and private practice is as a conversation that deserves continued exploration.

Acknowledging the rapid progression of technology from her childhood to today, she remembers hearing the first internet dial tone when she was in primary school while her daughter never known life without smart devices. On her preparation in graduate school for addressing digital media, Jessica shared, “We were told that these were things you need to look at but we weren’t told how. And so that’s a challenge.”

office space with desk and bookshelf

Today, Jessica meets the challenges and excitement of living in a world where digital media directs the moments of people’s lives — quite different from the world in which she grew up. To work with the world as it is, she independently seeks out resources to inform her navigation of technology’s integration into her business.

Outside of the digital media realm, Jessica works to grow and inform her own experience in practice by hosting a monthly consultation group for clinicians in the Lafayette area. The group meetings were born from a time when Jessica worked in a building full of financial advisors and attorneys. Here, she realized how much she missed and benefited from working alongside other therapists. Today, the meetings provide clinicians in the Lafayette area with the space to mutually share experiences and, in doing so, support one another and build referral sources.

As we work to integrate the behavioral health space through digital media at TPN.Health, we look forward to hearing more about experiences of clinicians in the community to inform our platform. We are especially grateful for Jessica’s sharing on her navigation of technology in behavioral health and community-building, as this is the territory in which we are working!

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Meet Rachel Hammond, MA, ATR, NCC, Clinical Outreach Liaison

TPN.Health welcomes Rachel Hammond, MA, ATR, NCC, to the team!

“We’re all part of this ecosystem, and I think it’s important to take care of those in the helping profession so we can support each other in the greater community.”

Rachel, a newly Registered Art Therapist, is actively seeking licensure as an LMHC/LPC. In the meantime, she is using her clinical orientation as well as an empathetic insight into the needs of her fellows to inform TPN.Health’s mission to support clinicians as they navigate behavioral health.

“The arts were something that I always knew.”

Rachel’s parents served as a vehicle for her access to the arts at an early age. Her father, a self-taught guitarist, and mother, whose has a background in the fine arts, filled her upbringing with artistic expression and creativity. Rachel was introduced to art therapy in high school, cultivating her interest in the field and ultimately her attendance at Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA where she received her B.A. in Art Therapy.

Rachel Hammond Holding a small ceramic plate reading "ART SAVES LIVES"

“It was the first week of September — a beautiful, fall day in my last year of college at MU and I was given the news that my dad’s sister completed suicide. Within that same week my mother’s younger brother was diagnosed with Stage IV esophageal cancer… I found myself holding these two, complex elements of grief and loss leaving me with a lot of questions as I was finishing my degree in a helping profession.”

Rachel’s encounters with illness and loss have informed her creative processes as well as raised curiosity in the healing power of art therapy and counseling. In attending to this curiosity, she felt propelled to pursue a Masters degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a Specialization in Art Therapy at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. She sought answers both personally, and professionally to better inform her work of serving individuals from a variety of experiences and backgrounds.

“Any role I’ve looked for in life revolved around a team for support and a space to bounce ideas. I think that it’s really important in the work that we do.”

Within the graduate program at Lesley University, Rachel experienced a real sense of interconnectedness with a human community, one where she and her fellows had the space to explore curiosities, co-create, and learn. It was this sense of interconnectedness with her community that grew her art-making processes.

“I’m a big ripper. I love to rip stuff up.”

Rachel can’t emphasize enough the value of engaging in the work herself as a member of the ATR community. Engagement in the work of art-making materialized for Rachel in a new way way when she explored her own experiences and biases in personal counseling sessions with an art therapist in Boston, MA.

As a vehicle to explore themes of identity, space, and healing, Rachel’s therapist presented her with an open-ended directive to create a portal to a a place that embodied a sense of space, openness, and peace — a place where she could transport in any moment.

Pilot Knob gazebo lookout

For Rachel, this space was back home in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York on the Pilot Knob hike. She recalls a vivid memory of laying on the wooden floor of the gazebo lookout on Pilot Knob during the summertime. At that moment, she felt the sun on her skin and with it a sense of freedom and grace. So there on Pilat Knob was her portal to space — the place to which she physically returned every time she went home and, now, the place where she could find solace through visual representation.

“There’s this one hike when I go home — It’s called Pilot Knob — that I have to do. I don’t care If it’s snowing or raining. I don’t care what season it is.”

Rachel's art project depicting her portal of Pilot Knob

“I have permission to feel, to heal, and to create my own palette to guide me home.”

Today, Rachel’s representation of Pilot Knob hangs in her new home apartment in New Orleans, where she is forging pathways under the guidance of creative processes and cultivating supportive community in the spaces where she finds herself.

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