Specializing in Grief and Loss: Allison Durant, LPC

“I feel a really strong connection to destigmatizing grief.”

Through a journey of professional re-alignment and education in her own healing processes, Allison Durant, LPC, is doing work centered around therapeutic support and education in experiences of grief and loss. Her passion for addressing the issues of grief and loss stem from a personal encounter with loss at a young age and the resulting attunement to societal intolerance and stigma surrounding the issues. Having worked as a CPA in healthcare for the majority of her career, she began to consider a career shift that would allow her to cultivate this passion as well as facilitate meaningful experiences for people.

headshot of allison durant

Seeing the benefit of receiving counseling services in her own life, Allison became curious in the behavioral health field as an option for a career-shift. Curiosity turned to action when she enrolled in a Masters in Counseling Education program at UNO in 2012. Working diligently since that time, Allison celebrates completion of the LPC licensure process as of January 7, 2020! Allison reflects that the experience of re-committing to a degree program after having spent so many years away from academia was uniquely challenging and rewarding. Going back to school was difficult in the realms of mindset-shifting and balance with other areas of her life, such as working and being a mom. However, her commitment to the behavioral health path was and is fueled by a vision of specificity, which makes the arduous process worthwhile.

Today, Allison is manifesting the intention to address grief and loss stigma in the community and provide therapeutic support to grieving people by opening the New Orleans Grief Center. In addition to providing one-on-one counseling services, she is facilitating two weekly therapeutic groups with a psychoeducational component through the spring. The “Grief” group is open to all people who have experienced a significant loss, and the “Motherless Daughters” group is geared toward women who have experienced the loss of a primary caregiver before the age of twenty-five.

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As her practice is still in a fledgling stage, Allison notes that this time is about evaluating the nuanced needs of the local community in the way of grief and loss support. So far, the general grief group has been geared toward loss relating to death as this is what the participants seek. However, Allison also emphasizes the breadth of grief and loss work, such as in the loss of a job, anticipation of a loss, or life transitions.

As it stands, New Orleans does not have a centralized location for grief and loss support services, specifically nonprofit services. While attuning to the community’s needs, Allsion’s goal is to open a non-profit center, that offers support specifically for children and families who have experienced a loss. She hopes to model the center after the Dougy Center: The National Center For Grieving Children and Families in Portland, Oregon.

 “I’m not afraid to reach out.”

In the process of entering the behavioral health field as a practitioner, Allison sees no shortage of avenues for support including her classmates at UNO, a supervisor who understands her path, and colleagues with whom she offices. If she has a question or needs additional resources, she feels confident in reaching out with a phone call or email for that support. Likewise, having years of professional experience as a CPA in healthcare, Allison is primed to engage with the business-side of building her practice. She acknowledges that her body of life experience both personally and professionally serve to support her in the practice of counseling and in creating a new career pathway.

“I’m really curious.”

In the spirit of future possibilities, Allison considers doing research on early caregiver loss and its long-term impacts, as this is an area that lacks exploration in current peer-reviewed literature. Also on the long-term, she is excited for the prospect of an opportunity for a 4-day retreat on early mother loss in the New Orleans area. Author of New York Times Bestseller Motherless Daughters, Hope Edelman, with whom Allison connected on a trip to Peru, would co-lead the retreat in 2021. Fingers crossed!

Allison and Hope Edelman on the Peru Trip
Allison Durant, LPC, and Hope Edelman in Peru
Allison Durant, LPC, and Hope Edelman in Peru
Allison Durant, LPC, and Hope Edelman in Peru

Connect with Allison Durant, LPC, on TPN.Health.

Building Your Network in TPN.Health

“By clinicians for clinicians.”

TPN.Health is a collaborative and comprehensive platform. The platform serves as a digital network-secure tool which serves to support the work of professionals navigating behavioral health systems. We have discovered the value of an effective tool can be accredited to community engagement, and we seek to create a community that promotes intentional engagement with TPN.Health digital features. These features, such as the personalized clinical profile and the endorsement, enable members to actually build an accessible network of trusted professionals within the digital space of TPN.Health. In this way, we truly are built “by clinicians.” 

We understand that the goal of a behavioral health professional throughout the referral process is finding the best clinical fit for each client. Behind that process is not only access to enough of the right clinicians and providers but a way to find them and keep track of them. Today, we are addressing network-building, which lies behind the TPN.Health referral process, and how you, an active TPN.Health member, can make the tool work to its greatest potential. 

How To Build Your Network in TPN.Health

1. Create a robust clinical profile. 

SEARCHABILITY. Filling out specific fields when creating your clinical profile is essential because it allows you to be filter-searched in TPN.Health. Filter-searchable fields include:

  • Referrals: Indicate whether or not you are “Accepting Referrals” with the button
  • Specializations (Scopes of Practice)
    • Age/Gender  
  • Focus Issues
  • Modalities and Interventions
  • Insurances Accepted
  • Languages

Other fields that are not filter-searchable but that contribute to your identity in the TPN.Health community include:

  • Biography
  • Photo
  • Education
  • Publication list
  • Link to your website if you have one
  • Video of:
    • You
    • The space in which you practice
    • Other facets your work

The goal is to create a clinical profile that accurately reflects and showcases your identity as a professional in the behavioral health field!

2.Connect.  

Now that you have created a robust clinical profile, you can begin to reach out to other members to make them a part of your network. When you click “Connect” on another member’s profile, they are notified and can accept your connection request. Once they accept, both parties have access to the direct messaging feature. Note that your connections are only visible to you.

3. Endorse.

You can endorse other community members with whom you have worked for a specific specialization or scope of practice. Be as detailed as possible when endorsing because sent and received endorsements are visible on your profile! Endorsements are visible markers of living relationships with other trusted professionals in the network. In this way, they are key to creating strong networks supporting the referral process in TPN.Health. 

Alongside the endorsement feature, we are excited to announce the first iteration of the endorsement pool, which is simply a collection of your outward-endorsements made visible on your TPN.Health profile. With the endorsement pool, other members can see inside your personal network of providers and the specific scopes of practice for which you are endorsing those providers. Stay tuned for a blog on the endorsement pool as a key feature of building a reliable referral network in TPN.Health. 

Do you have questions about how to effectively build a network that supports the referral process inside TPN.Health? Reach out to us here!

Haven’t started building with us yet? Take the first step here.

Social Work and Law and Airtime, Oh My!

Featuring TPN.Health Member Ranord Darensburg, JD, MSW

ranord darensburg profile

“While I was in social work school, I met the dean of the law school, and he called me on the telephone and said ‘would you like to do a dual degree–law and social work?’”

A simple phone call during undergraduate studies at Tulane University set Ranord Darensburg, JD, MSW, on a dual-path in law and social work, a path that he has cultivated for the past twenty-six years. Although Ranord’s career has largely revolved around practicing law, he has remained in touch with his social work background through involvement with Orleans Parish Juvenile Court. Positions within Juvenile Court, such as traffic referee, hearing officer, public defender, grant writer, and CASA volunteer have served to bridge the spheres of law and social work for Ranord, so much so that today he cannot see one sphere operating outside the other. 

“A large part of my job is the attempt to change how we operate the juvenile justice system.”

As a culmination of his diverse experiences in the court system and practicing law, Ranord serves today as the Judicial Administrator, working closely with Chief Judge Anderson and handling all non-judicial functions, including the budget, staff, hiring and firing, and grant-writing. For Ranord, the purpose that drives and directs this largely administrative role is to create “a court of equity.” Having many processes and moving parts, creating an equitable court manifests partially in removal of unnecessary roadblocks in a person’s trajectory through the court system. For instance, last year they worked to eliminate fines and fees as well as bail for juveniles and were successful in this endeavor.

The skill of grant writing, which Ranord learned out of necessity alongside other roles in court, assists him in a key component of the juvenile justice system overhaul, which is creating and/or implementing court-led programs. Programming allows opportunities for people to engage with the court in a way that supports and fairly reciprocates their own growth and activity as citizens. For Ranord, this means paying attention to the nuanced gaps in resources or education within the court and creating or updating court programs that address those gaps. 

For instance, when the court saw a greater number of girls entering the system, Ranord worked with them to create Girls Reaching Out Works Wonders (GROWW), a program tailored to prevent girls from reoffending when they are in the program and enable them to show up at their court dates. Since the launch of the program, one hundred percent of the girls have shown up for court at their appointed dates, and two percent have reoffended. The program is so appealing to participants that many girls do not want to leave the program once they have completed it.

“Part of what we’re doing is trying to develop a relationship of trust. We have a mission to [have] a court that is procedurally fair, [where] people feel that they have been treated fairly and feel, whether the outcome is positive or negative, they’ve been heard and understand what happened to them.”

GROWW, Men Engaging in Leadership and Opportunity Works (M.E.L.O.W.), which is GROWW’s male equivalent, and other programs create opportunities for juveniles to have positive engagement with the court system, engagement that supports them in moving forward rather than feeling stuck. Of the programs Ranord has brought to Juvenile Court, he specifically notes Teen Court as it enables teens both in and outside the justice system to engage with the processes of the system. Here the teens in question, once innocence or guilt has been decided, have the space to process and explain their actions to a peer group, and the peer group decides what the consequences will be. According to Ranord, the program serves as a source of positive peer pressure that promotes honesty and openness in the room of participants.

“We really have worked hard to build a team of people who work well together. We play to our staff’s strengths, so if you’re good at something or like something, we make sure that there’s a lot of that on your plate.”

For twenty of his twenty-six years working in law and juvenile justice, Ranord has been managing people. In this way, he is primed to pay attention to individuals’ strengths and how they will fit in certain roles. In the position of Judicial Administrator, he emphasizes the importance of a team-oriented environment as part of the equation to create change in the court system. Ranord notes that the team members with whom he works at court tend to respond to things they enjoy and, in this way, are able to develop their own niches in court. 

Within the context of Families in Need of Services (FINS), a case management and referral process within the court, Ranord hopes to implement TPN.Health as a tool for the entire staff to utilize. The team frequently uses the FINS process as there is always a need for referrals to outside services, particularly in neighborhoods where services can be more difficult to locate. It is Ranord’s vision that staff members’ use of TPN.Health as a local referral source can make the FINS process scalable and much more effective.

“I want social workers to take ownership of Juvenile Court.”

Today Ranord’s education and involvement in social work informs the direction he sees for Juvenile Court. The social work principles underlie so much of what the court provides in the way of services, including but not limited to the areas of behavioral health, conflict resolution, and rehabilitation. So it makes sense that those with a social work background could be highly instrumental in the service-providing function of the court. In the realm of social work, Ranord also serves as the Regional Representative for the National Association of Social Workers Louisiana Chapter (NASW-LA). In this role he organizes the monthly NASW-LA New Orleans Regional Meetings which include free CEU opportunities for social workers. Coming up on Tuesday, January 21st, the next New Orleans Regional Meeting CEU, entitled “Call to Care Report,” will cover the topic of childhood trauma.

Ranord’s monthly CEU organization for the NASW-LA caught the attention of longtime friend and colleague, Dr. MarkAlain Dery, infectious disease specialist and founder of 102.3 FM WHIV-LP. Dr. Dery and Ranord are partnering to loop social work into WHIV’s Resistance Radio discussions, which take a hard look at society through the lens of racial, gender, housing, and educational justice. Funded through a grant from the Aids Education & Training Center (AETC), the program will serve as a free General CEU Credit, approved by the NASW-LA. 

Dr. Dery, Ranord, and the rest of the production team plan for every third Monday of the month, called “Movement Mondays,” to feature a new social work topic on Resistance Radio. Launching on Martin Luther King Day, the first topic will be “Social Work and Civil Rights,” new and original CEU material which Ranord is writing for the purpose of the show. Ranord will co-host the broadcast alongside Dr. Dery and present alongside Judge Calvin Johnson and Deidre D. Hayes, DSW, BCD, LCSW-BACS. With Lenney Raney (aka DJ Chinua) DJ-ing the and TPN.Health providing the snacks, Ranord remarks, “It’s sure to be a party!”

“Your voice almost put me to sleep.”-guy from Cafe Luna

When I interviewed Ranord for TPN.Health over coffee at Cafe Luna, a nearby patron approached us and sang praises of Ranord’s soothing voice. In addition to having a naturally pleasing tone, Ranord is no stranger to the soundboard as he hosted a weekly radio show for two years on the Westbank called “Issues of Life: Solutions For Living Well.” The show gave people practical information about making their lives easier, better, or less stressful. As soon-to-be co-host of Resistance Radio’s “Movement Mondays,” Ranord will be bringing with him not only a uniquely pleasant voice but years of experience hosting a radio show and creating CEU presentations.

“My purpose [is] to use all the talent, skills, and education I have to enlighten, educate, and inform people about ways to live better and be stronger.”

Underlying all of Ranord’s roles, that of practicing attorney, people-mover, public speaker, and radio host, to name a few, is the theme of enlightening people from lived experience and his own education. In this way, these roles do not operate singularly. Rather, they continually work together and inform one another to serve as vehicles for Ranord to grow and expand on the overarching theme of his work.

Want to intentionally expand your network of trusted professionals? Create a TPN.Health clinical profile to begin making connections to Ranord and others like him in the behavioral health field.

TPN.Health Clinician Spotlight: Joy Couvillion Louis, LCSW-BACS, PMH-C

On Continuing Education and Perinatal & Postpartum Care

Heads up! On January 17th, Joy Couvillion Louis, LCSW-BACS, PMH-C, will be facilitating a Board Approved Clinical Supervisor (BACS) Renewal CEU at the Harbor Community Collaborative. Joy has come into the world of CEU facilitation from aptitude in raising awareness within her community of clinicians. When facilitating CEUs, she values creating opportunities for clinicians to actively engage in what they are learning by providing ample opportunities for interaction and encouraging audience participation.

joy profile image

For this particular BACS Renewal CEU, Joy is collaborating with her colleague Dr. Katie Godshall, LCSW-BACS. Co-facilitating quality CEUs is something about which they have been dreaming, as they both share a passion for continuing education that actually challenges and helps them to grow as clinicians. Now, they are making the dream of being a collaborative force in clinical continuing education a reality, starting with BACS Renewal CEU. More to come!

“It’s a constant struggle, but I wake up every day and think about how I am going to make sure I am always taking care of myself so I can have the honor to be present with people on their journeys.”

In her supervisorial role, Joy pays particular attention to self-care awareness in the clinical lives of her supervisees. For instance, every six months she administers a quality of life survey centered on compassion fatigue. The attention to self-care in the role of supervisor stems from her own experience of intentionally cultivating self-care patterns. Over the past two years, she has honed a specific mindfulness practice that is essential to her routine. Likewise, she has learned to truly not work when she is not working; this means taking small decisive actions like setting her phone to “Do Not Disturb” and declining to answer emails.

“In some ways it has been easier than I thought, but in a lot of ways it has been harder than I thought.”

The most prominent distinction between starting a practice and working for someone else is that now, Joy is the only one deciding what exactly to do with time and resources. This means that accompanying the responsibility of making decisions is the freedom of making decisions. For instance, Joy notes that, since starting her own private practice Joyful Thoughts, LLC, she has had the time to take care of herself in a way that she was never able to do in eighteen years of working in agencies and community organizations. 

“Knowing I have support from other people in private practice makes all the difference.”

As Joy is the sole proprietor of her practice, having a network of colleagues with whom to consult or to whom she can call has, in fact, proved essential. Although support and resources abound, the greatest challenge by far has been knowing when to outsource. As a person who learns by doing, knowing what she can accomplish on her own and when to involve another set of hands or technology, such as an electronic medical record, is an experimental process.

Joy is passionate about her work in infant mental health as well as perinatal mental health and holds certifications in both of these areas. Early in her career, getting hands-on community experience in at Early Childhood Support and Services solidified her desire to serve the population ages 0-6 and their caregivers. Today, although she is still able to tap into a level of community work through opportunities like postpartum visits for the clients she is seeing, she dearly misses the in-depth community involvement that was built into a day’s work at some agencies.

In actuality, the seeds of Joy’s desire to work specifically with families and children were present long before Joy had any experience working in the behavioral health space. Born with a visual impairment, Joy’s parents advocated for her and provided her with access to the interventions she needed. She knew that having supportive caregivers who made way for her needs to get met regarding her impairment was a personal fortune and something many people did not experience. So, being a vehicle for other families and children to have the same kind of access to care that she experienced has been the bedrock to her journey in behavioral health.

At Joyful Thoughts, LLC, creating opportunities for client access are nuanced and begin well before a client sets foot into her office. For instance, it is principle to have an office with clear signage that is accessible to public transportation and to provide specific directions to the exact location of the office. Nuances like these as well as accepting Medicaid make a world of difference that can often be overlooked when one is opening a private practice.

Joy’s involvement in the postpartum and perinatal worlds as well as her valuable contributions to continuing education in her community have bred great excitement over the Postpartum Support International (PSI) Conference 2020, coming to New Orleans in July. “The conference is not just for social workers!” Joy emphasizes. Its purpose is “to bring together and inform mental health providers, childbirth professionals, support and resource providers, caregivers, policy-makers, researchers, volunteers, families and educators who want to improve their understanding of PMDs and improve their ability to serve pregnant, postpartum, and post pregnancy-loss families” (Postpartum Support International)

Joy notes that her work with different providers often sheds light on the level of integration within primary and behavioral healthcare, the gaps and the bridges. Ultimately, the conversation on perinatal and postpartum care is multidimensional and ongoing. In service of continuing the conversation, Joy highly recommends attendance to the PSI Conference in 2020 for anyone who is in contact with these areas in their profession. 

Have a passion for quality continuing education? 

Connect with Joy on TPN.Health to see how she is contributing to continuing education for providers. 

Want to host your own CEU event?

 We can help! Reach out to TPN.Health for sponsorship.