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The Chapel Hill Office is Growing

There is currently a huge demand, within the mental health field, for psychological testing. Therefore, we are thrilled to add another clinician to our team to better meet this need and better serve our clients. Michael J. Reed Psy.D., LP, HSP-P, has extensive experience in psychological testing for a wide range of ages and specialties. He recently relocated to North Carolina and has joined the CPA team in Chapel Hill.

Continue reading to learn more about him. 

What led you to the clinical mental health profession?

I originally wanted to become an FBI profiler. My main goal has always been to be of service to my community as a psychological professional. 

What population of clients do you serve? Why that group?

My client population has changed drastically over the years. I first began working with adults who misused substances, then to men in a medium security prison, to adults/teens in a primary care clinic, and now providing assessments to children from age 6 to adults. I find kids challenging but in a good way. My first doctoral practicum was in pediatric neuropsych. and the rest, as they say, is history…

What type of work were you doing before coming to CPA?

My position was very similar to my work at CPA. I was the director of assessment services so along with conducting comprehensive evaluations I also oversaw staff, a budget, and was a clinical supervisor for students and post-doctoral psychologists. 

If you recently moved to NC (or the GSO area), where did you move from and what will you miss the most?

My wife and I recently moved to NC from Anchorage, AK in May 2023. I will miss a lack of humidity. and the mountains. Alaska has the tallest peak in North America. 

What is something that you enjoy doing for fun?

I love to hike and travel. Exploring new places and cultures is one of my passions. 

Share a fun fact about yourself!

I love sharks and if I was not a psychologist I probably would have been a marine biologist. Jaws came out the year I was born so it must be some sort of sign I was destined to love sharks. 

If you are currently in need of a psychological evaluation, please call our front office at (336) 272-0855 to be connected with a clinician. If you are currently seeing a CPA therapist and are interested in a psychological evaluation, speak with your therapist to determine if this is a good fit for you and they can connect you with a clinician from there. 

Introducing a new face here at CPA!

We are very excited to welcome a new clinician to the Greensboro office! Elbert “Jay” Hawkins, III, Ph.D., LCMHC-A, NCC has served school-aged kids and young adults in the school counseling role for over 20 years and recently made the jump into private practice. He brings a wide variety of experiences and knowledge in working with this population of clients and has hit the ground running here at CPA! He prioritizes creating safe spaces with energy and understanding to help all clients reach their mental health goals. Continue reading to learn more about Jay. 

Why did you choose the counseling profession?

Initially, I chose the counseling profession to be an advocate for children. However, I quickly learned advocacy is a part of the profession, but educating and promoting mental health and well-being is an even more significant part of counseling.

What population of clients do you serve? Why that group?

I serve children and young adults. Children and young adults keep you young and “on your toes!” Based on my experience, educating them on the positive effects of taking care of their mental health and managing life challenges early on will enable them to sustain a healthy way of living.

What type of work were you doing before coming to CPA?

I was a professional licensed school counselor. I served in the role for over 19 years.

If you recently moved to NC (or the GSO area), where did you move from and what will you miss the most?

I am a native to North Carolina, born and raised in the eastern part of the state. My college acceptance to UNCG brought me to the area, and I am still here.

What is something that you enjoy doing for fun?

For fun, I enjoy the company of family and close friends who have become family.

Share a fun fact about yourself!

I enjoy good food, so I am a “foodie!”

Looking for a clinician for your child? Contact the front office to see if Jay is a good fit for your family. 

How has 2023 been so far?

Do you feel like you blinked and 2023 is half-way over?

The months fly by, leaving little space to reflect on the time and events that have happened. But reflection is an important part of growth. Therefore, you might find yourself being intentional about scheduling time to reflect on past months and events. Do you have a routine for reflection? If not, now is a great time to start.

Looking back can help us as we move forward.  

For some, looking back might be painful and difficult, while for others it might be joyful and encouraging. If you feel it to be difficult or even painful, take your time. Schedule enough time to not feel “rushed” and allow ample time to address the difficult emotions that might come up during your reflection. 

Here are a few prompts to ponder as you look back on the first half of 2023. Feel free to do them by yourself or grab a close friend or significant other to reflect with!

List your strengths in the last 6 months.

Thinking from a strengths-based approach is so important. We naturally harp on the negatives and therefore must be more intentional about pointing out our strengths. You have endured many things over the last six months, and your strengths have helped you along the way. It is important to acknowledge them because they give you confidence as you navigate future events. 

How have you grown and what have you learned?

We are always changing and learning, whether we feel it or not. In what way have you grown this past six months? Odds are, there has been a lesson learned, or two. These lessons are often uncomfortable, but not always! Look back at what you have learned and how you have grown through the process.

What have you done to “fill your cup?”

Have you ever heard the phrase, “You can’t pour from an empty cup?” Well, believe it or not, it is true. So, what have you been doing to fill your own cup? This might be a game night with friends, a morning walk, or a simple phone call to catch up with someone you care about. If you haven’t filled your cup, what is something you can commit to doing for the rest of the year? You are important and deserve to fill your cup before pouring into others. 

What is one habit you want to do consistently the rest of the year?

As you look towards the end of this year, what habit do you want to create? This is a habit you will show up consistently for, like reading 10 pages each day, drinking a certain amount of water daily, walking a certain number of steps, seeing a friend each week, going to bed at a specific time, sticking to a financial budget, etc. The options are limitless!

What does “success” look like over the next six months?

Defining what “success” means for you is vital. We can’t measure ourselves by someone else’s version of “success” because that, so often, leads to feelings of failure and disappointment. You decide what success is for yourself, and then you work towards that. This can improve self-esteem and keep us going when motivation is low. 

How have you felt during this reflection? Has it been helpful? Difficult? Feel free to revisit this each month, or again in December. 

Taking Care of Yourself this Summer

Many people prioritize mental health during the winter months because this is when they need to the most. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs during the fall and winter months, but typically subsides with spring and summer. This can result in individuals engaging in therapy and prioritizing their mental health during the fall and winter, but not throughout the rest of the year when they are feeling better.

What if there was preparation you could do in the summer to help mitigate the impact of the winter months?

Let’s look at a few practices you can do during the summer that can carry over into the harder, darker days of winter.  

Prioritizing time outside:

The sun shining on your drive home from work can immediately make you feel better, but are you intentionally spending time outside? The warmer months are a great time to soak up all the vitamin D you can get. This can look like a quick walk on your lunch break or after work. Maybe you decide to eat lunch outside or spend time on your porch or in the backyard in the afternoons. Feel free to have friends join you outside, it can be good for their mental health too! 

Setting boundaries with screen time:

What is your daily screen time? Don’t know? Head over to your settings and see how much time you spend on your screen. If you find yourself mindlessly scrolling social media or watching video after video, then setting a boundary for screen time might be helpful. The boundaries you set now will help you during the shorter, winter months when endlessly scrolling might be even more appealing.   

Move your body regularly:

Do you have a consistent routine to move your body? This can be as simple as stretching in the morning or before bed. Or maybe taking a 5-minute walk on your lunch break or a short bike ride when you get home. Have a friend you want to catch up with? Maybe they will join you! Using the summer and warmer months to build a consistent routine can help this carry over into the winter, when the motivation to start a habit might be an all-time low.  

Be strategic about therapy:

Do you stop going to therapy when you feel better? While it’s amazing that you’re feeling better, consider spacing out your sessions further during months you feel good instead of stopping all together. This can make it much easier to transition back into more frequent sessions in other months or seasons when you feel like you need more support. This is a great conversation to have with your personal clinician, as they can recommend what they think is a good fit for you!

All these strategies can be started during the summer months, allowing you to carry them over into winter. Use this summer to start habits that you want to keep throughout the rest of the year!

Maybe I should go to therapy?

Are you interested in therapy but not sure when or if you should go?

Reaching out for mental health services can be very daunting. And, you might not know when to take that step.

Fortunately, it is never too early to go to therapy. However, there can be some signs to look for when determining if therapy is the right, next step for you.

Isolation:

Do you feel like you are pulling away from those around you? Maybe you feel like others don’t understand you or understand what you need from them. Isolation can lead to feelings of loneliness, which can make navigating life challenges and transitions even more difficult. Going to therapy can help you feel less alone and give you the language to help communicate your needs with those around you.

Difficulty sleeping:

Are you having trouble going to sleep or staying asleep? Maybe you’re waking up and not feeling well rested, despite getting 7+ hours of sleep. Insomnia or hypersomnia can be signs of mental illness. Sleep is vital to your wellness and difficulty sleeping can be a good indicator that therapy might be helpful.

 

 

Emotionally “dumping” on others:

Are you going to the same person to vent, day in and day out? Maybe you feel like you’re becoming a burden to others? Venting to friends and family can be helpful, but venting occasionally to a friend can quickly turn into venting very often, which might not always be helpful for you or your loved ones. Therapy can be a great place to talk through your current struggles while providing you with skills and strategies to help navigate them more effectively.

Difficulty relaxing and being present:

Are your muscles tense or does your mind wander when you’re trying to focus? Do you have a difficult time relaxing to unwind from the day? Difficulty relaxing can impede stress management and prevent you from adequately resting from the day. Mind wandering and difficulty being present can increase stress and create difficulty doing daily activities or tasks at work. Therapy can help you learn relaxation and mindfulness techniques to help manage your stress and improve your ability to be present throughout your day.

Not experiencing any of these, but still interested in therapy? Feel free to find a clinician you like and schedule an appointment. 

Again, it is never too early to go to therapy!

Autism Awareness Month

Are you wanting to learn more about autism? 

Maybe you are suspecting an autism diagnosis in yourself or someone you love? 

Beverly Henkel, PsyD, LPA, is one of two providers at Carolina Psychological who can provide testing for an autism diagnosis. Continue reading to learn more about her work with autism and some other important information. 

How often do you see an autism spectrum diagnosis during your work with clients?

Autism spectrum testing is the most common referral question I receive for completing evaluations of all ages – children, adolescents, and adults!

What are some things to keep in mind if individuals are suspecting an autism diagnosis in their child or themselves?

Some things to keep in mind, for both adults and parents of children who suspect autism, are any sensory issues, social difficulties, or repetitive behaviors with heightened emotions (think anxious, happy, angry). Hand flapping is often the most thought of repetitive behavior when talking about autism but is certainly not the only one. These behaviors can also be related to other diagnoses as well, so if there is any concern, an evaluation is always helpful in determining the most appropriate diagnosis to help inform treatment.

What do you recommend for individuals who are not currently in therapy, but suspect they have an autism spectrum disorder?

As mentioned above, an evaluation is the most helpful tool to find an appropriate diagnosis. However, if you are not currently in therapy, finding a therapist is a great place to start. You can begin creating a relationship with a therapist, address current concerns, and after an evaluation, they can begin working through a more specific treatment plan with you.

What is a good resource for individuals wanting to learn more about autism?

A great resource to learn more about autism is the Autism Society of North Carolinahttp://www.autismsociety-nc.org/

Autism Speaks: Autism Education & Resources | Autism Speaks

Introducing a New Clinician!

We are thrilled to welcome Elizabeth Brown, MA, MS, LCMHC-A, to the practice. She has extensive work experience in the school system and brings great knowledge and skills to serve clients here at Carolina Psychological Associates. She came on board the beginning of March and has hit the ground running. Keep reading to learn more about Elizabeth!

How long have you been working as a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor?

I received my licensure in January 2023. Prior to my current position, I spent 23 years working as an elementary school counselor with both elementary and middle school age students. I retired from Guilford County Schools in December 2022.

Why did you choose this work?

Working as a mental health therapist gives me the opportunity to work intensively with my clients and their families.  I love the age range that I serve (ages 4-18) and the array of challenges and situations each day brings.  The families and youth I serve are highly motivated to work toward their goals and I am honored to help facilitate this in my role as a therapist.

What population of clients do you serve? Why that group?

I have loved working with young children and teens since I was in middle and high school myself. Perhaps because I consider myself a child at heart, I easily connect with the younger population I work with. You are never too old to play and learn new things!

What is something that you enjoy doing for fun?

I love to exercise and move my body whether through yoga, strength training, walking, biking or hiking.  I love to travel to new places and visit state and national parks. I am a “nature girl” and I love time outdoors, especially enjoying the beautiful hiking and biking trails in Greensboro. I love to spend time with my husband, Ray; our adult kids, Nicholas and Austin; and my goldendoodle, Scout. Every day is a gift and I try to celebrate the small events and never take them for granted.

Share a fun fact about yourself!

Fun fact, I went skydiving with my best friend from childhood to celebrate my 50th birthday.

Spotlight: Two Familiar Female Leaders

Did you know that Carolina Psychological Associates is a female owned practice?

Well now you do!

The familiar faces of Sarah Gates, MA and Heather McCain, Psy. D have worked together to build and grow an already strong private practice. They are both still practicing clinicians in the Greensboro office and do a large amount of behind-the-scenes work to ensure CPA is providing quality services. 

They both prefer to stay out of the spotlight, but agreed to share some information about their personal experiences as women in leadership. Continue reading to learn more! 

Who is a female inspiration to you?

Sarah: I have been fortunate to have a few female figures in my life who have inspired me. Two that stand out however, are my mom and my internship supervisor, who both inspired me to be kind, compassionate, to always persevere and stand up for what you believe is right (especially when there is adversity), to take the time to learn someone’s story, and to be an approachable leader who values those around them.   

Heather: In graduate school, I completed a 3rd year practicum at Elmhurst College in the counseling center.  Tamara Levinson, PsyD was my supervisor during that year.  She was dynamic, free spirited, kind, incredibly intuitive, confident, and therapeutically gifted.  She was the one who helped me see that what I thought I needed to accomplish in my training was never going to fit me as a person.  She helped me to see my strengths, embrace them and harness them.  I still look back on my time there and my luck at having her as a mentor and hold her influence as one of the most meaningful and impactful to me.  

If you could go back and tell your younger professional self (25 year old you) one thing, what would it be?

S: If I could go back, I would tell myself to not sweat the small stuff so much and to trust my instincts. I would also cheer myself on and tell myself to keep working hard in my pursuit of my goals and dreams!

H: Ha!  I don’t know if I would tell her much.  That was around my favorite time.  I was really finding myself, finding my path, about to meet my husband, taking risks intentionally to challenge myself, and it was crazy scary, so exciting, and so meaningful.  I think even the things I could change I wouldn’t because you learn from those things and carry that forward.  I think I would say to enjoy it, be in the moment, soak it in, the future will come, and keep challenging yourself and pushing yourself to grow; which I like to think I’ve done.

When you started your career did you ever imagine yourself in this position?

S: I always envisioned myself in a private practice setting and being surrounded by a group of warm, kind, supportive and amazing colleagues. So, I guess the answer is yes because that is exactly what happened! I suppose I would tell my 25-yearold self that too! 

H: Yes! I knew my dream job was to work in private practice.  In training, I worked in a Community Mental Health Center, Inpatient Psychiatric Hospital and College Counseling Centers, including Duke’s Counseling Center for Internship.  I thought for a moment, that I might really find my home in college counseling, but I wanted to flexibility and independence of private practice.  It’s not as flexible as I anticipated when you are scheduling out further than your personal life, but I love it as much as I imagined!  I know that no other setting would come close to what I have at CPA.

What led you to step into this leadership/ownership role?

S: The opportunity to join management/ownership was offered to me back in 2010 by the owners of CPA and of course I could not turn it down! I was fortunate to receive mentorship and support from the experienced members of the management group until they retired, and Heather and I have been an excellent team since then! 

H: I’ve always been the kind of person who wanted to max out my opportunities and continue pushing myself to learn and take on different challenges.  I shoot for the top rung of the ladder if I can, and leadership is that for me.  To create a working environment that feels fun to go to every morning, to have decision making ability about the direction of my career, to try and create a place that offers to others what I find in it, and hopefully an opportunity to mentor others in a similar way that I received because those lessons and those words of guidance still remain in my head today.

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?

S: My advice is to never give up and to trust your instincts along the way. Stay true to who you and surround yourself with people who build you up and support you.  

H: I think the greatest advice I received was don’t strive to be like everyone else, strive to be yourself, the best version of it you can, and you will stand out from the rest.  Create your own goals for yourself and then keep moving them further out when you achieve them.  Don’t be afraid to work and work hard, it is true that goals are worth the effort put into them and nothing is accomplished without effort and sacrifice that is meaningful.  Ultimately, don’t ever let your fear make decisions for you.  If fear is the only thing stopping, you; then you have to do it.  Growing opportunities always come with discomfort; the payoff is most certainly worth it.

How do you balance career, personal life and passions? Is there such a thing as balance?

S: If there is a way to balance, could you let me know? Just kidding My family always comes first but I think that for me, my career and passions intersect and so they become entwined and I find passion and joy in my career. So, if I am not spending time with my husband and son, you will find me working either in the office or at home, meeting with clients or writing evaluation reports, or working on continuing to uphold the strong reputation that CPA has built for itself over the decades.   

H: When I was younger, I was determined you could have it all; why not??  I’ve learned there is no balance, and no one has it all; women or men.  It’s a balance beam you are always teetering on and it’s always moving so you never quite get settled.  There are times when your career demands more of your time, energy, focus and periods when your interests and family claim the majority of your resources.  It’s always shifting; like the waves in the ocean.  Enjoy the calm, there will be periods of choppier seas, but they pass.  Accept everything won’t get 100% of you but you can give the best you can to what’s important to you.  Maybe in the end the average is what balances out.  I try my best day to day.  On the harder days I remind myself how lucky I am that there’s not a thing on my plate I would cut; I love them too much.   That’s the best problem to have really.

Maybe Couples Counseling is for Us?

When you hear someone say, “we go to couples counseling,” what thoughts pop into your mind? Maybe you assume they fight a lot. Or maybe something traumatic has happened in their family or relationship. Maybe you wonder if they are contemplating a separation. 

While those things are a possibility, it is equally possible that there, actually, is nothing wrong. Couples counseling tends to get a bad reputation because people often assume that couples seek help as a reaction to a strain in their relationship. However, some might argue that couples counseling works best as a preventative measure, therefore starting before there is a large relationship strain. 

What are the chances you and your partner will experience conflict, grief, parenting style differences, job loss, etc?

Very high.

So why not work together to be better prepared for life difficulties as they arise? 

It can feel….well… odd, reaching out for therapy when there isn’t a large “issue” at hand. Continue reading as Dortch Mann, LCHMC, a clinician in our Greensboro office, shares some insight from his experience and training as a couple’s counselor. 

Is it ever too early to start couples counseling?

It’s never too early to start and you don’t need to have a strained relationship to benefit from couples counseling. I’ve worked with couples who had no significant problems or challenges yet found they improved their relationship by concentrating on it and by learning ”advanced” collaboration skills. The most successful couples keep this Zen-like notion in mind…everything is fine AND there’s room for improvement. Yes, they can understand and become comfortable with that paradox.

What are some good “signs” that a couple might benefit from couples counseling?

  • Lack of intimacy (and it’s not just about sex).
  • Avoiding talking about issues due to a lack of trust.
  • A ”cycle” of arguments that go unresolved.
  • Navigating a new phase of life.

What is one small thing couples can do daily to enhance their emotional connection?

This almost always works for couples to feel closer and more connected. I suggest they find an ideal time for each to share the highlight of the day with the other. While the ”sharer” is speaking, the other is only listening, not asking questions or making comments. The listener is truly listening to gain the other person’s perspective. The listener then demonstrates how well they listened by being able to paraphrase the gist of the “sharer’s” experience as well as imagining how they felt. Each person becomes a ”sharer”, then a ”listener”. Feeling heard and understood by each other always leads to emotional connection.

Feel free to head over to our website bios and learn more about Dortch Mann, LCMHC and his clinical specialties. You can reach out to our front desk at (336) 272-0855 if you are interested in scheduling an appointment. 

New Year, Same You?

The start of a new year tends to bring this “sprint” towards big goals and lasting change. But have you ever kept a resolution…all year?

Odds are, you haven’t. But, you’re actually in the majority, because most people haven’t either.

The slogan “new year, new you” sounds great and all, but nothing magical happens from December 31st to January 1st to make that slogan true. So, lets change it.

“New year, same you.”

No, it doesn’t sound nearly as transformative and might actually sound…well, sad for some. But, it is much more realistic and, arguably, more motivating.

Stay with me here.

It is indeed a new year, and you indeed are the same person. However, with the new year can come new patterns, habits, and goals. And you, yes, the same you, have the potential to create new patters, habits, and goals in the new year.

But how? You might ask. Keep reading for a few things to keep in mind this year.

Dream big. Start small.

Many people have big, lofty goals, yet they can’t tell you how they’ll achieve them. Dreaming is absolutely the best first step. Allow yourself to color outside the lines and imagine big and bold dreams. Then, using those big dreams, narrow them down to create smaller and smaller goals.

 

 

These small goals will provide you realistic steps in achieving your bigger goals. So often people set goals that are too big, without realistic steps to get there, and ultimately feel like a failure. This can compound over time, resulting in low self-esteem and little desire to set new goals. So, after dreaming big, create a plan with smaller steps to help you get there!

 

Motivation will come and go.

“I’ll get to it when I feel like it.” Unfortunately, motivation is not a constant. It comes and it goes depending on many different life factors. If you always rely on motivation to accomplish something, how often will it get done? Odds are, not as often as you may want. Knowing this ahead of time can be helpful, because in setting your goal you are committing to doing something regardless of how motivated you are in that moment. 

Reward yourself.

For some, checking it off a list is enough of a reward, but others might need a little extra. Feel free to reward yourself along the way as you accomplish hard things, consistently. Start with smaller rewards for the smaller goals, and feel free to increase them as you move closer to your big and bold dreams!