Lake Norman Counselors

Prepared Not Scared

It’s a funny thing, being a Katrina survivor. I always found it amusing that people would ask me so casually, and upon meeting no less, about Katrina. It’s rare that in meeting a stranger you would ask them about their greatest traumas and losses in life so casually… unless you’re a therapist, maybe. But I had my “ready responses” – well rehearsed. “Yes, we flooded.” “About 4-6 feet in the house.” “No, it really wasn’t that bad considering some of my friends had a foot in their attics!” “Yes, my family is still there.” Blah blah blah.

I’ve lived through a disaster before, and I came out of it stronger; I believe it positively shaped my life, and I was a part of a community that was able to come together to support one another and bounce back stronger than ever, so I wanted to lend my personal and professional expertise.

-Jamie L. Cheveralls, MA, NCC, LPC

What was always so hard to impress upon people was the community impact – the daily impact of Hurricane Katrina. There was truly no escape. It’s not like a personal tragedy or loss where you’re affected, but you can go out in the world and forget for a minute. There was no way to forget Katrina. It’s literally how we measure time now in New Orleans: pre- or post-Katrina.

Katrina impacted every person I knew: my family, my friends, my teachers, my neighbors, my hair dresser, the grocers, the mailman. Everything was closed! There was no where to go. Or very limited options. No movies. No malls. Very few restaurants. And it was like that for a long time. Too long.

Until recently, this was the most difficult aspect of describing post-Katrina New Orleans. Suddenly, I have a feeling people will understand or will be able to better empathize. Because I can’t help feeling a certain sense of de ja vu… I can’t help feel like I’ve been living in the days leading up to “the big storm.”

I lived through the worst natural disaster to hit US soil before, and I came out stronger as a result. I believe that it positively shaped my life (and certainly influenced my profession – which I love!), and I was a part of a community that was able to come together to support one another and bounce back stronger than ever, so I wanted to lend my personal and professional expertise. My goal is to help prepare – not scare – in my analogy to Katrina. Because like a Hurricane, there is a lot that we can do to be proactive and stay safe in this storm.

One of my favorite therapeutic skills is radical acceptance. When I teach my clients about this skill, I always use the example of my office being on fire. You see, the longer we sit in the burning building, the more dangerous the situation becomes. If we ignore the alarms, the heat, and the smoke coming in from under the door, there’s only so long before we’re in serious trouble. Denial is dangerous. Which is why the burning building analogy is such a great analogy for radical acceptance. The sooner you come to a place of acceptance, the sooner you’re able to utilize the tools at your disposal. If you sit in the fires of denial, you’re in danger. But the moment you come to accept the situation, you can get up and run, you can call 911. You can save yourself, others, maybe some valuables. You can call your insurance company, etc. Now do you have to be happy about this situation? Hell no. In fact, radical acceptance usually indicates some level or relationship with pain.

With COVID-19, the sooner we all accept that this is our new normal, the healthier and happier we’ll be in the short & long term. Please, read that again…

Now, you don’t have to like it. I don’t have to like that my office burned down in my example. But the sooner we all accept we’re in a burning building, the less likely we are to get burned and the sooner we can utilize the tools at our disposal to make the best of this situation! Now remember, radical acceptance usually implies a relationship with pain – this is a grieving process. So please, give yourselves time to grieve. Some of you are grieving major milestones like prom, graduation. Some of you just miss the sense of normalcy, your friends, and coworkers. We miss being able to go outside, to the movies, shopping whenever we want to. Some of us really miss our baristas at Starbucks… but jokes aside, many of us have lost jobs, stability, and financial security. Allow yourself to grieve for these significant losses!

One of my biggest concerns about our community as we face COVID-19, especially having been through Katrina, is not about illness or physical health, it’s about our mental health. It’s about grief and the ways I’ve seen people “handle” (not using the word cope there) with their grief and loss. So utilizing these proactive measures is important, because it wasn’t the Hurricane that flooded the city of New Orleans and it certainly wasn’t the flood waters that was taking lives years later. It was addiction. It was unresolved complex grief and trauma. There were failures on systemic levels. Levees literally broke. So, I would much rather see preventative measures put in place now, than see too little done too late. I’ve already lived through that once & that experience is why I am in the profession that I am in today. It’s why my profession is helping people.

So, you’ve come to a place of accepting this is the new normal. You’re coping with grief and loss in healthy ways. Now what? It’s time to create routine and structure. Routine is your friend. Especially if you have kids. Children thrive and feel safe when there is structure, order, and they know what to expect. That doesn’t mean you need to have every minute planned or color coded. But a general sense of the familiar and routine is helpful – we wake up, make our beds, eat breakfast, brush our teeth, walk the dog, two hours of school work, lunch, hour of play time, two more hours of school work, hour of computer time, dinner, shower, bed. Vague but you still get a general sense of a day.

With all of the transition and change, it can also be helpful to focus on the familiar. What is the same? Even if it’s something as simple as the same scented body wash or perfume that you use. You’re in the same bed. Have the same stuffed animal to sleep with. You love to make tacos on Tuesday. Whatever those little traditions are that feel familiar and safe – now is a good time to practice mindfulness and really relish in those moments!

One of the other big themes around COVID-19 that has been coming up is control. And I am happy to report that there are a lot of precautions that you can take that are well within your control. The most important is setting healthy boundaries. If the news is scary or overwhelming, shut it off. If Karen’s Facebook posts are getting on your last nerve, unfollow her. You can control the amount of social distancing you’re doing, which is helping to stop the spread of disease. You can focus on your self-care and keeping yourself healthy by getting extra sleep, exercise, and sunshine. Sleep, exercise, and sunshine/vitamin D are all helpful in boosting your overall mood and fighting anxiety and depression as well. Which is important because a reduction in stress is correlated with better immunity. So your mental and emotional health are paramount, which is why we’re also focusing on maintaining clients’ appointments and continuity of care at this time at Lake Norman Counselors. So call your therapist and book a therapy appointment. There are plenty of proactive and preventative steps within your control that you can actively take to feel safe right now.

So to recap:

  • come to a place of acceptance
  • allow yourself to grieve
  • cope with loss in a healthy way
  • create routine & structure
  • focus on the familiar & what you can control
  • set healthy boundaries
  • remember that safety comes first but self-care should come a close second!

We realize that any one of these steps, alone, can be overwhelming and challenging and that this is an incredibly stressful time. As an essential business offering mental health services, Lake Norman Counselors will remain open. We are committed, as we have always been, to serving our community and providing extraordinary care and luxurious amenities. We are doing everything in our power to keep our staff and clients healthy and safe. Even with the stay-at-home order, you can leave your home for therapy appointments. But for our existing clients, who it is therapeutically appropriate for, we are offering telehealth services. We are abiding by the recommendations of the CDC & World Health Organization, have implemented a health screening questionnaire for all clients prior to the start of sessions at the office to limit community spread, and have implemented additional sanitary measures, especially in the play room.

We have always prided ourselves on creating a warm and welcoming safe space for everyone who has walked through our doors. Our mission remains the same!

Counseling, Lake Norman Counselors

“I Am Enough.”

The new ideals surrounding body positivity and empowerment are growing on many social media platforms, helping teens and young adults create a stronger sense of self-esteem and confidence.

While the recent trend has been positive, we all still face many problems with daily use of social media and peer pressure. The constant comparison, negativity, and judgment on social media are still present. The nature of Snapchat, Instagram, Tiktok and many other social media platforms make it hard for teens to find validation, empowerment, and confidence within themselves. Instead, these platforms are conditioning us to seek external validation and praise: how many likes, how many followers, how many new comments do I have today? The numbers game is toxic.

When self-esteem is created through likes, comments, and posting what seems to be the “ideal” self or lifestyle (even if Instagram getting rid of likes) the need for external validation seems to follow teens and young adults everywhere. Yes, even in picturesque, Davidson, North Carolina.

Growing up in Davidson might seem like a dream – close to the lake and the hustle and bustle of Charlotte. But too often we hear about nightmare scenarios instead of dreams in our office. The desire to maintain a certain image, both in person and online, leads to anxiety, bullying, and negative self-talk. 

I work closely with my clients to build up their self-esteem and confidence, so that they can be the best version of themselves. I encourage my clients, teens especially, to take pride in their independence and ability to work through challenges, including the challenge of navigating the digital world.

Counseling is beneficial at all life stages, but I truly believe it to be fundamental to the success of today’s teens. With a strong sense of self-esteem and confidence, teens are more likely to engage with their family and community and create a positive network of support. Counseling can help combat the thoughts telling us “I am not good enough,” or “I am not likable,” and reframe them into positive, reassuring thoughts that promote a strong sense of self-esteem. Counseling can provide a lifetime of skills to carry into many phases of life with a happier, healthier self-image. 

 

 

Lake Norman Counselors, Providers

Transforming Tiger

Hi everyone, Victoria here! I am new to the Lake Norman Counselors team, and am excited to start my work counseling teens, adults, and families.

I received my Master’s in Clinical Mental Health right here in the Charlotte area. However, Davidson is an area outside of Charlotte that is new to me, and I am loving the beautiful views and being so close to the water. As my love for Charlotte grows, home to me is in Columbia, South Carolina. Even though I am from Gamecock country, I received my Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Clemson, and I am a huge Tiger fan- hoping for another national championship this year!

I have learned how a little bit of self-reflection, and taking time to take care of myself can be incredibly handy for getting through obstacles life presents us. I would also say, having a dog and a wonderful support system can help too! I come from a big family, and having their support means the world to me, but there is nothing compared to the love and snuggles I receive from my dog, Ollie. Ollie will soon start training to become a therapy dog, so he can join me in my passion for helping others. 

Becoming a counselor has been a lifelong dream of mine, which is why perseverance is a big attribute that has helped guide me through life. I am a big believer in working through the many challenges life may throw at you. This is where mindfulness comes into play, which is another aspect of my work as a counselor.

I appreciate taking time to “be in the present moment.” When practicing mindfulness, we can realize challenges are only a temporary part of our life, and like so many times in the past, we can get through them! 

I am looking forward to helping others work through their own obstacles and find time for self-care!

 

Lake Norman Counselors, Providers

Mazza’s Moving Mountains

Hello everyone! I’m Madison Mazza, and I’m the newest member of the LKN Counselors family. I’m very excited to start working with teens, adults, and couples in the Lake Norman area!

I just moved to North Carolina from West Virginia, so there has been a lot of change in my life recently. Although change can be scary, it can also be very exciting and necessary to lead a more fulfilling life. I know many clients who come to counseling will also be experiencing or trying to enact change, whether it be in their personal life, work life, or social life! I think it’s comforting to know that we all go through periods of change (and growth!) and having that validation and support from others can make a world of difference. I look forward to working with clients who feel like they’re in a transitional state and want guidance and support through that process.

Speaking of support, I come from an Italian background where family has been such an important part of my life. I think having any type of support system (this does not have to be family whatsoever!) can help us navigate through life’s twists and turns. Support can come in all shapes and sizes and can even include your counselor, which is a big component of the therapeutic relationship in my eyes.

Being Italian, we also have a huge love and passion for food. Anything with carbs will do. I love to cook and bake, and I especially love to eat and try new foods!

As a native West Virginian, our motto “Montani Semper Liberi,” which translates to “Mountaineers are Always Free” has really resonated with me throughout my life. Being free from life’s pressures and stress takes time and a lot of hard work. But I truly believe this is possible! We often prioritize our physical health and leave our mental health on the back burner. We value beauty and physical fitness as a culture, but forget how important it is to put the same value on our self-care and mental health. This is especially important since we can get lost in daily stressors so easily. Freeing yourself from the stressors and chains that keep you from being the best you possible is the ultimate goal, and I’m excited and honored to be a part of that journey!

The LKNC family has welcomed me with open arms and it feels so close to home that I know the change that is happening will be well worth it. And the changes that you can make through counseling will also be well worth it! Country roads will always take me home, and I’ll always be a “Mountain Mama,” but being a Lake Norman girl sounds pretty great too!

Counseling, Lake Norman Counselors

Stronger Than Ever: A Wellness Approach

I’d like to think we’ve come a long way as a society in fighting some of the stigma around counseling, but I know we still have a long way to go in the mental health field to de-mystify what happens “on the couch.”

Most of our healthcare industry operates on the “medical model” – what I consider the “What’s broke? Let’s fix it” approach. And that’s fine if we’re talking about a broken arm; which a doctor would assess, diagnose, and then treat appropriately. A broken arm is pretty straightforward.

But mental health issues don’t get treated as neatly, on a perfect timeline, or get processed by x-ray machines. So why would mental health care operate on the same model?! We can’t operate under the same assumptions or on the same model for a number of reasons.

Most importantly, because you and/or your children are not broken!

Counselors practice by utilizing a wellness model rather than the medical model. The best comparison is to say that counseling is just like going to the gym! You don’t go to the gym because your biceps are broken. You go to make them stronger! You go to build muscle, endurance, flexibility, strength. This is the essence of the wellness model: a strength-based and goal-oriented approach.

Counselors (practicing some modalities more than others) offer clients skills and tools to help them navigate through life! Just like everyone would have different goals at the gym (toning vs building muscle vs endurance training, etc) everyone has different goals in counseling.

Ultimately, regardless of who you see, counseling is strength based and goaloriented!

Counseling, Lake Norman Counselors, Providers

Who Dat?! ⚜️

Who Dat?! 

Hi Everyone! I’m Jamie, the owner of Lake Norman Counselors.

As an entrepreneur and small business owner, I wear many hats simultaneously. But of all my roles, the clinical work is the part that I’m most passionate about, that brings the most joy to my life, and that makes the administrative tasks worthwhile. The interior design piece is a close second! I’m one more request away from opening LKN Interior Design as my side gig.

But joking aside, I absolutely love working with my clients. I’ve worked very hard to create a beautiful, calming, peaceful space where clients can feel comfortable being vulnerable & open to the process of counseling. I truly believe in the power of the therapeutic relationship & am honored by all of those who have allowed me to be a small part of their lives. I love what I do and hope to bring the same passion and energy that I have into the lives of my clients.

If you’ve been in the office, seen any of our marketing materials, or talked to me for more than five minutes, you might have heard that I’m from New Orleans. This is another aspect of my identity I’m incredibly passionate about and if you’ve been to NOLA, you might understand why, since you already know about the amazing food and music and history and culture and did I mention the food?! (I’d give anything for a beignet right now!) What is most important about New Orleans and the spirit of the city is the love of life. We celebrate everything – even the funerals are fun. Dead serious.

One of my favorite journalists, Chris Rose, wrote about New Orleanians, “We dance even if there’s no radio. We drink at funerals. We talk too much and laugh too loud and live too large and, frankly, we’re suspicious of others who don’t. But we’ll try not to judge you while we’re in your town.”

Told ya the funerals were a good time…

But again, joking aside, it’s hard to find a more accurate statement of the New Orleans mentality. My mentality. I’ve learned to celebrate my victories. I’ve learned to celebrate my losses. It’s really the only way to be a Saints fan (bless you boys – love you, Drew!).

At LKNC, we work with clients to help them find their passions and what brings joy into their lives.

Not only can I offer my clinical training & evidence-based treatment, but I was raised in a culture of people who embrace the spirit of Laissez les bon temps rouler. Who are always ready to “let the good times roll.” My experiences growing up taught me how to come back stronger and more resilient after hardship. I learned the importance of being united with your community during hard times, especially if the odds are against you.

I also spent four winters in Boston during undergrad at Northeastern, so I truly believe that people are resilient and can survive anything! Y’all, Boston is really cold… this southern girl had no idea that winter was just starting in December… so if you can’t change your attitude, change your situation.

I am a proponent of change. The lure of warmer, longer, sunnier days and sweet tea is what brought my husband and me to Charlotte, where I attended graduate school. It was my second move across the country, and I’m so glad I escaped the cold. My hope is that I can help others escape their own harsh winter landscapes (metaphorically – if Charlotte actually freezes over, I’m visiting my brother in Florida to defrost) and help them find the passion and joy in their lives!