Channeling Support: Melissa Cavanaugh, PLPC

Meet Melissa Cavanaugh, PLPC, clinician specializing in play therapy at Counseling and Recovery Guidance in Lafayette, LA. Having come into the practice under supervision of Jessica Kendrick, LPC, in October of 2019, Melissa is getting settled and making home in her new workspace. 

For Melissa, the time of transition into Counseling and Recovery Guidance and the licensure process serve as opportunities to create and lean into channels for support both in practice and outside of practice. She notes that oftentimes the support from which she benefits most is an outside reminder that she is indeed adequately equipped to handle the challenges that come up in practice. Dr. Irv Esters, Melissa’s Board-approved supervisor, provides precisely this kind of hands-off support, which allows Melissa and other supervisees the space to practice reliance on their own capacities and ask questions if the need arises. 

“I reached out and met her for coffee.”

By way of a Facebook page, Melissa first came in contact with the founder of Counseling and Recovery Guidance, Jessica Gibson Kendrick, LPC, about six months before she graduated with a Masters degree in Counselor Education from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Unsure of how she wanted to move forward professionally and seeking networking opportunities, Melissa reached out to Jessica.

“I just really liked the energy that she [Jessica] put out and how she talked about recovery in the addiction community.”

Upon their meeting, Melissa and Jessica found that they shared the experience of being personally affected by addiction within their families of origin. Personal experiences in the realm of addiction informed both of their decisions to pursue careers in behavioral health and have oriented them toward wanting to help people in this space. In this initial meeting, Jessica also communicated to Melissa her experiences in private practice, the struggles and successes, and offered guidance to Melissa as she moved forward.

3 women sitting on couch

“Our personalities mesh really well, and she’s a great site supervisor.”

In finding a similar value-alignment and sharing more supportive experiences for professional development, such as carpooling for conferences or simple chats over coffee, Jessica offered to bring Melissa into Counseling and Recovery Guidance as a practitioner. Jessica’s support as a caring colleague and, now, as a site supervisor have been and continue to be essential in Melissa’s growth as a behavioral health professional.

Also essential in the licensure process for Melissa has been learning actionable ways to support herself in the profession, that is, learning what works and what does not work. Managing time with intentionality is a big piece of this puzzle. For instance, she makes sure to actually schedule in time during the day for rest, such as an hour for lunch or time between client appointments in which she can lie down on the couch. Likewise, working no later than 7 PM on a typical workday and getting eight hours of sleep every night are important time management practices in favor of self-care.

“I know I look really young. I get that a lot from my clients.”

Melissa acknowledges her youthful appearance and how that sometimes can present a challenge in that clients can be doubtful of her expertise or life experience. For Melissa this is merely an opportunity for learning and validation for the skills she already possesses. When I asked Melissa to speak to what she values most as a practitioner, she replied that furthering her own education for the service of her clients took the cake. She also emphasized that willingness and knowledge to refer out and suggest outside resources are indispensable to the continuing education process.

Melissa’s work of creating opportunities for support extends not only to herself and her clients but to other behavioral health professionals as well. Reflecting on her experiences with Jessica Kendrick, support could be as simple as a chat over coffee or lead to extended mentorship and partnership in practice. For Melissa, being a channel through which support can flow means making herself available for consultation and being willing to share her lived experience with other people. 

Sharing experiences is not about having all the answers but rather cultivating the space for supportive community in a profession where individuals can be prone to compassion fatigue and burnout without healthy supports. Melissa also notes how important it is for recent graduates and those just entering the field, like herself, to not only have outlets for support from other professionals but to also take ownership of their own competence, experience, and capacity to find solutions.

Start connecting with Melissa and other clinicians in Louisiana by creating your own TPN.Health clinical profile!

Strengthening Voices: TPN.Health Spotlights Charles Strong III, LPC-S

“I figured [counseling] would be the best way to apply my desire to help people who need to be helped, people who need a voice that may not be able to speak for themselves.”

When Charles Strong III, LPC-S, began hashing out ideas for career paths in his youth, a desire to help people in some capacity was at the crux of decision-making. As he got older, he began to observe a pattern in his own experiences as well as those of peers. He found that youth and adolescents tended to have silent voices in the worlds in which they lived, or, if they spoke to advocate for themselves, the senior figures in their worlds did not take their voices seriously. This recurring experience served to refine Charles’ desire to help people and has been foundational for his orientation in the behavioral health field. 

“I’m pretty introverted, and to go out and get clients has been a little challenging.” 

Fresh in the world of private practice, Charles opened Strong Counseling Solutions in May of 2019 in Gretna, LA. With a decade of experience in work environments where colleagues and a paycheck were always given, including in-home and community-based services, a behavioral school, and a mental health hospital, Charles notes the effortful nature of the business side of private practice. Unlike other business realms, the behavioral health field does not permit professionals to solicit referrals from clients in any capacity. Given this challenge, the process of building a practice from scratch “requires a lot of outreach and ingenuity,” according to Charles.

“I went to this conference, back when it was press only, called E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo, where pretty much everyone who makes video games would meet in LA, show everything off, and trade business cards.”

Charles recalls that the last time he had to be concerned about networking was when he worked in the video game industry years ago. Today the responsibility of running a private practice makes intentional networking indispensable. Noticing that a listing in the Psychology Today directory was insufficient as the sole means to get clients, Charles has used his past experience of running a video game website as well as consultation with friend in PR to effectively use social media platforms in marketing his practice. Since he has started creating and pushing out video content online, he has noticed a fairly significant uptake in client outreach.

Today his caseload consists of mostly adults, but his hope is that this will shift to include more adolescents and children as he is learning Child-Parent Psychotherapy, a trauma-focused modality that works on building the dyad between the caregiver and the child specifically when the dyad has been affected by traumatic events. Completing training in this modality will allow him the opportunity to focus on the target age group 0-5. In addition to this training, Charles seeks out continuing education opportunities that provide knowledge and skills in areas about which he would not organically know, such as gender identity and race.

“One of the ways I’ve changed is I’ve come to accept that I don’t know how to help in every single way. [It’s] acknowledging where my deficiencies are, adopting the task of pouring more energy into those deficiencies, and learning more for the sake of the clients we serve.”

Part of Charles’ internal shifts in his orientation as a counselor is the realization of the limitations of his own experience as it relates to meeting the experience of his clients. For instance, in exposure to significant recent and ongoing civil movements, such as Black Lives Matter, Me Too, and that of identification and respect in the gender spectrum, he acknowledges that being a white, heterosexual male has made him subject to a certain level of lifelong privilege of which he was not aware. 

Identifying when his experience is insufficient to meet the needs of a client is essential to the original intent of his path in behavioral health, that is, the work of making sure silenced voices are heard. If he himself cannot effectively be a vehicle for the resonance of those voices, then he takes the action to refer to a clinician who is adequately equipped and to educate himself on measures he can take to become a more sound vehicle for meeting the unique experiences of clients.

“75% of my caseload is online.”

Part of appealing to the population he is serving is the incorporation of online counseling services, which tends to work efficiently for members of busy families who are trying to juggle afternoon appointments, school pick-ups, and a myriad of other activities. Charles’ use of technology in practice began with completing assessments through video to test out the process. Upon discovering that the video process was smooth, he started seeing clients through encrypted platforms, namely Zoom.

Charles spoke to the benefits of online counseling, including flexibility and the ability to see clients who are homebound or do not have reliable transport. Over the course of Charles’ online counseling experiences, he encounters the challenge of connection disruption most frequently. Likewise, there is a lack of control in the realm of confidentiality, which is a given in an office-setting. He notes that it is especially important in online counseling to lay out the guidelines the same as one would in traditional counseling.

“We really need to have people at our fingertips, whether we need advice on something or to refer out. I am eager to see how TPN.Health can fill that gap.”

Introduced to TPN.Health a few weeks ago by colleague Adam D’Arensbourg, LPC, Charles has created a robust clinical profile with up to date content in Scopes of Practice, Focus Issues, Modalities & Interventions, and Biography. Likewise, he has begun sharing the video content from his blog on the TPN.Health Newsfeed. In anticipation of TPN.Health’s growth as the referral and networking service in behavioral health, he is making full use of the platform’s features. 

Watch Charles’ most recent videos covering the themes of gratitude and loss, and connect with him on TPN.Health!

TPN.Health Clinician Spotlight: Taryn Couvillion, LCSW

Having developed a disposition toward the spiritual realm from an early age, Taryn remembers begging her parents to send her to the Academy of the Sacred Heart, an all girls’ school in Grand Coteau, LA. Having access to Catholic spirituality in formative years created the opportunity for Taryn to grow a spirit of omnism as well as a desire to pursue social work. When Taryn was just fifteen years old, her life shifted a great deal as her brother lost his life by suicide. It was his death that solidified her desire to pursue social work and, specifically, to cultivate opportunities of connection and healing for people.

“I learned a lot from my father about compassion and service to others and forgiveness. I think it was the foundation of spirituality for me as a child.”

After college Taryn was able to nurture her interest in working with the adolescent population when she accepted a position from a former headmistress to teach dance and mentor students at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Upstate New York. Upon returning to Louisiana, Taryn remained steadfast in her desire to build a career path in social work and received her Masters degree from Louisiana State University. Following graduation from LSU, she served as Director of Services in several psychiatric hospitals in the New Orleans area. When Taryn had children, her life took another shift as she began the work of being a mother.

Over the years of raising children, Taryn grew a passion for the process of experiential psychoeducation. Certification in ontological and spiritual divorce coaching informed Taryn’s engagement with leadership opportunities in and outside the realm of experiential psychoeducation. Grounded in the trainings as well as her own lived experience as a human being, Taryn leads annual women’s empowerment retreats, a monthly co-ed spirituality group, and has designed and facilitated Teen Empower, a psychoeducational program for teens.

taryn face

“You can’t be inauthentic and do really good work at the same time.”

In our conversation, Taryn spoke to the necessity of congruence in the work that she does. Intentionally practicing honesty with herself and self-compassion allows her to show up authentically for the spaces in which she facilitates groups. Accompanying these practices for Taryn is acceptance of the light and shadow sides of her humanity. Ultimately her work in experiential psychoeducation is centered on creating opportunities for people to access a new perspective of themselves and realize their greatness. Taryn’s own inner work combined with practiced skills from training enable her to create these opportunities.

The psychoeducational venture for which she is most excited is her Teen Empower program, a course that she designed to implement training in life skills, empathy, suicide prevention, and bullying awareness for adolescents. Taryn herself has experience facilitating Teen Empower at several Louisiana schools, but she has not launched the program in a regularly occurring manner. It is her hope to use TPN.Health as the platform on which to showcase Teen Empower and become visible as an experiential psychoeducator.

We’re cheering you on, Taryn! Welcome to the network.

Connect with Taryn as she begins her journey in TPN.Health. If you have not yet begun your journey of connecting, growing, and discovering in TPN.Health, click here to get started.

TPN.Health Clinician Spotlight: Foley Nash, LPC-S, LMFT-BAS

Before Foley Nash, LPC-S, LMFT-BAS, entered into the behavioral health field formally, he was (and still is) a linguist and teacher. Upon acquiring a BA of Spanish with a German minor, he continued studying language in the pursuit of a Masters degree in Spanish Philology & Applied Anthropological Linguistics. Near the end of his Masters degree, Foley decided to get a teaching certificate upon the realization that no one was going to pay him to study the development of Pidgin and Creole languages of the Caribbean from French & Spanish.

From 1975 to 1988, Foley taught English, Spanish, French, and German in the Monroe, LA school system. He recalls with interest experiences of being newly exposed to working with the Black community, as he began teaching during the onset of Desegregation in the Monroe school system. Ultimately, serving his students while coming up against institutional stringencies within the school system presented challenges that would prime him to become a counselor and eventually lead to full transition into the behavioral health field.

profile pic foley nash

“In some ways, counseling is a different form of teaching. One of the things I find most appealing–I guess a part of my teacher personality–is when I see somebody grasp stuff and be able to put it to use with their own insight.”

Even with a career change to behavioral health, Foley has certainly not left behind his orientation as linguist and teacher. For instance, in his clinical supervisory role, he cautions supervisees that their insight to the client’s needs is irrelevant unless the client sees what they need and are willing to make some kind of change themselves. In Foley’s experience, witnessing the client gaining their own insight is one of the most rewarding things of practice. His background in linguistics plays an active role in practice today as he sees several Spanish-speaking and French-speaking clients. 

“One of the most important things for me is to keep a fresh perspective.”

Over the course of forty-four years in the workforce, Foley has always been inclined to take measures to avoid stagnation. For instance, while working within the school system, Foley saw it advantageous to get a Masters degree in Adolescent/Adult Counseling to better support himself financially and with student interactions aside from teaching. Avoiding stagnation has also manifested in the form of willingness to change jobs if his current employment position ceased lending itself to change and growth. 

He recalls poignantly an instance of supporting a student who shared a suicidal ideation with Foley. Ultimately, the governing figures in the school appeared more concerned that the student missed class to speak with Foley than the fact that the student had a need for support in a difficult time. The experience of incongruence with the school to keep the student from being punished made Foley realize that he could do more effective work outside of the constraints of the school system. Shortly after the event, he made the full transition to behavioral health.   

On the flip side of his thirst for growth, Foley encounters a challenge in keeping up with a rapidly evolving field, in which new evidence and opportunities for reevaluation surface daily. The challenge of keeping up with the pace of the field arises specifically in satisfying the CEU requirements for dual licensure as an LPC and LMFT. 

“In private practice…you can feel like you’re out there on your own.”

In Foley’s experience, maintaining a well-integrated perspective while meeting the disruptive nature of the behavioral health field requires much support. He expresses that he would like to see prevalence of CEUs on that cover a breadth of ethics topics for practitioners and the business-building side of private practice. He notes the importance of learning to cultivate interactions with other professionals in the field for supervision and consultation.

Over the course of his career in behavioral health, Foley has created opportunities to be involved in a variety of roles, including systems management, leadership development, work in systems of care, EAP services, consultation, appraisal, clinical supervision. Today, Foley maintains three private practice locations in Baton Rouge, Slidell and works in an administrative role as Director of Clinical Services: Behavioral Health for Aetna Better Health of Louisiana (ABHLA).

Connect with Foley in TPN.Health! If you have not yet begun your journey of connecting, growing, and discovering in TPN.Health, click here to get started.

TPN.Health Featured in Uptown Messenger

Originally published in Uptown Messenger by Tyree Worthy

Business Profile: TPN, a modern clinician referral platform

By: UptownMessenger.com

A New Orleans-based startup is working to match verified behavioral health treatment providers with patients who need their help. The Trusted Provider Network (TPN) platform is just that: an online network of licensed clinicians across the state, connecting their clients with specialists that would benefit them the most.

According to their website, “TPN offers a local community with a national reach to providers who meet the highest code of clinical services, ethics, and professional standards.”

TPN CEO Trevor Colhoun

CEO Trevor Colhoun, who has a background in capital markets and private equity, saw an opportunity with TPN to fix some of the issues faced when dealing with the behavioral health system.

“Two years ago, I started getting very fascinated with behavioral health. We had some family members go through different aspects of the behavioral health path,” Colhoun said. “It was awful to see the process and how it was occurring. On an advocacy and philanthropic side, we got involved.”

When Colhoun stumbled on TPN about two years ago, it was based in Georgia, with one of the co-founders living in New Orleans and running an intensive outpatient addiction center. After meeting and discussing the current system, the two decided to work together to reorganize the company, focus on clinicians, and build what providers need to be successful.

“Let’s focus and build for clinicians,” they thought, “and from there, we can build out all the tools in the behavioral health space to change and improve outcomes.”

With this in mind, TPN began to restructure on January 1st of this year, partnering with capital investors from New Orleans and medical programs like Tulane University. They aimed to start with the clinicians—those who connect and refer the best clinical fit for their clients.

Trusted Providers

The Trusted Provider Network platform helps behavioral specialists keep track of, and actively stay current with, the professionals they know or have worked with. While using the platform, verified licensed clinicians are able to make and accept referrals, connect with other clinicians, endorse colleagues, and browse relevant articles and topics in their own personal newsfeed.

The platform features profiles that may include a video, biography, photo, specialties and referral stats for each provider. Clinicians can sign up and create their own profiles. The data is used to inform other professionals about the work you do, not a resource based on data collection like some digital outlets.

“The data that people put on here is sacred—sacred to us, sacred to them,” Colhoun said. “The relationship that we’re creating here is, the customers are not the product like with Facebook or Google. Our product is the platform.”

This is for clinicians, by clinicians. These are behavioral healthcare providers who care about the successful treatment of their patients, clinicians who want results for their patients. For TPN, a clinician’s work is based on referrals and recommendations by people they know and are connected to. Everyone on the platform is a licensed professional, and their fields of expertise are listed and vetted.

Clinicians can build their own profiles and networks to better connect patients with other professionals.

A professional network online

Say a counselor has five to ten offline connections they refer to for most services. Some do this, and others do that, but there are limitations that arise. First, the network is small, and the counselor only has so many service options. Secondly, they need to know if and when their connections are taking new patients. The counselor or patient would have to get specialist on the phone or stop in to talk directly.

 

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TPN clinicians can build their endorsement network of people that they’ve used in the past. They can see people that they trust on TPN, and their endorsement networks as well. A counselor can look at a connection’s profile and send a confidential patient referral that both professionals can access anytime.

“The only people that are in this are professionals. They have a licensure by a state board governing body. They have an ethics standard they have to live by. If I’m giving someone else an endorsement, it’s powerful, so I’m putting my name out there.”

Tools for clinicians

This startup wants to grow from New Orleans roots and revolutionize behavioral healthcare through elevated clinical connections. Addressing and solving the problem in New Orleans and Louisiana would help TPN branch out into serving clinicians and patients in other cities and states.

This is a tool that will continue to build in order to increase outcomes for clients. “How you make this work is… if we don’t have integrity and trust, we don’t have a company,” Colhoun explained. “We don’t have the clinicians to come on and give and share their information and connect with other people.”

Plans for TPN extend far beyond the platform, starting with continued education events for credits nurse practitioners, doctors, and physicians need to maintain licensure.

They host professionals from around the region for events like their Mind Clinic on December 5, 2019. This featured presentations by Dr. José Calderón-Abbo, Board Certified in Addiction Medicine and Psychiatry and Certified in Mind-Body Medicine, and Dr. James Flowers, owner of J. Flowers Health Institute, and Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluations and Pain Management expert.

Colhoun added: “Every clinician or social worker, counselor or addiction counselor, psychiatrist or psychologist…They’re in this to improve people’s lives, and they do this because this is a passion work that they do and they do great work for.”

“For the family members who suffer from behavioral health, we want loved ones to get the fastest help possible, get to the recovery that they can have, so they can actually live and fulfill good lives.”

There’s space to grow a platform like this in New Orleans. There is room to build here, and opportunity to advance behavioral health and improve outcomes.

This content is credited to UptownMessenger.com. Click here to read the original post from Uptown Messenger.

TPN.Health Clinician Spotlight: James Wagley, LCSW

“It all started as a scam to get me back into school.”

A freshman at Northwestern University in 1968, James was kicked out of college on an account of marijuana possession. His options were three years of hard labor at Angola or probation, and he was granted probation. In order to be admitted back into school, James had to appear before the discipline committee. It was before the committee where he encountered Dr. Millard Bienvenue, Dean of the Social Work Department. At the time, Dr. Bienvenue was conducting research on the “hippie scene,” and took an interest in James as an instrument to his research projects. 

James Wagley professional heashot

Dr. Bienvenue and James came to an agreement that if James would assist him with projects, he would make way for the discipline committee to admit James back into school. The endeavor was successful, and James, unable to proceed in his pre-law pathway as a result of the felony, continued school under the mentorship of Dr. Bienvenue. As it turned out, James enjoyed his experiences of speaking to and working with people under the guidance of Dr. Bienvenue so much so that he has spent the past forty years building a career from these experiences. 

Upon obtaining his Bachelor’s degree, James worked within the Georgia state psycho-educational network, a system that at the time serviced children with behavioral health issues of high acuity. This experience put him in contact with the school system and served to prime him for later work in school systems and with children. 

In 1997 James returned to his birthplace of Many, LA to care for his mother in the wake of a stroke. Over the years leading up to and following the move back to Many, James has worn many hats in the breadth of behavioral health, including that of clinician, consultant, and grant-writer. Since living in Many, James has worked to integrate behavioral health and primary care at a state level, supervised pupil appraisal in the school system, and directed a coordinated system of care for children at risk for hospitalization.

TPN.Health first made contact with James at the 2019 Integrating Primary and Behavioral Healthcare Through the Lens of Prevention Conference (IPBHC) several weeks ago. Recently, the need to attend to his own health has prompted James to retired from primary and behavioral healthcare in the clinical setting. In retirement, he works primarily in community interventions at the level of prevention to reduce underage drinking in Sabine Parish. Although James has found great fulfillment in the bustle of the clinical setting, retirement enables him to better integrate self-care measures that are specific to this season in his life. In addition to prevention work, James also sees several clients at his home private practice, Vanguard Behavioral Health.

“When I’m not doing work, [music] is my therapy. It keeps me out of trouble.”

Professionally, James incorporated his expertise in music into management of Positive Alternatives for Learning Success (PALS), a program in the school system. Within the PALS six-week summer program, James partnered with his musician friends to take kids through the processes of writing, recording, and performing songs. The program always ended in a concert, which the children produced and parents loved.

three musicians posing with their instruments

Since James was twelve, music performance and production have played an active role in his life for enjoyment as well as a second source of income Throughout high school he played in a band from which eventually sprung a social worker, two primary care physicians, and an anesthesiologist. Today, he plays guitar and bass guitar semi-professionally in a band called the Turnups, not to be confused with the vegetable. You can catch James and the rest of the Turnup crew rocking out at the Bayou Crawfish every third Saturday of the month in Many, LA! 

Create your TPN.Health clinical profile to connect with James Wagley, LCSW, and other clinicians in Louisiana.