Learn to How Manage Your Mental Health with Expert Melissa Douglass, Owner of Goal Driven Counseling LLC

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Meet Melissa Douglass, an experienced, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Distance Credentialed counselor (DCC), and now owner of Goal Driven Counseling, LLC. The mission of her business is to support young adults through challenging transitions and improve their mental health through secure video conferencing.

Melissa is a woman who turned her passions into a career, and now a thriving business. In our latest spotlight interview, we talked with Melissa about how she got started, tips to live an emotionally healthy life, and what it takes to work in this industry. Read on to learn more.

We love that you help young adults. Tell us more about your business and what inspired you to start it?

I became inspired in my adolescence to work with teens and young adults in some supportive capacity. I believe when we are fully supported in these early adulthood years we can do amazing things. Fortunately, I had people support me at that time of my life, and if I didn’t have those people I could have went a different route. I’ve worked with youth and adults in a variety of settings over the past 7 years, but I wanted to start my own business and do something that could reach young adults and millennials in an innovative and accessible way. We value technology and have integrated it into our everyday lives; so combining that with my clinical experience felt right.

What health topics are you passionate about and what is your focus area?

I’m passionate about all things mental health. There is a stigma when you think about mental illness and I want to normalize the conservation amongst young adults. Two of my most prevalent focus areas are high functioning depression and anxiety, and uncovering what that looks like. I also focus on chronic stress, and the fact that we take stress too lightly. We don’t realize the effect it has on our bodies. It’s important to understand the difference between what’s normal and what is not. In particular, black women have been pressured into this idea that we have to be Superwoman at all times and it’s killing us. That narrative and norm that has been placed on us, we have to change.

I definitely agree with that. What prepared you for working in this industry?

I originally wanted to be a lawyer for the juvenile defense, that serviced young adults. However, when I started taking pre-law classes, I felt this discord in my spirit. The classes made me feel uncomfortable because the law is very black and white. I talked to my advisor and she encouraged me to look into social work. I did more research, and I said ‘Oh my God this is so me!’ So I changed majors and got my Bachelors and Masters degrees in Social Work. Early in my career as a social worker, I largely worked with young adults helping them reach diverse goals.I loved how holistic social work is and I was very big on the counseling component. I couldn’t effectively help my clients reach their goals without first talking about their challenges and how to improve their mindset. That’s when I realized that was my WHY. Over the last several years I’ve held different positions and improved my skills and the end of 2016 I decided I was ready to prepare to start my own business.

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What advice would you give someone to live emotionally healthy?

First, I like for people to know to seek support your life does not have to be in any type of distress. It’s ok to talk to a 3rd party professional. They can give you objective feedback and help you work through everyday things. Don’t feel afraid to connect and talk.

Second, once you talk to someone you might realize that it would be helpful to open doors for healing that you thought were closed. You might have experienced a challenging situation or past trauma that could be causing distressing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Sometimes emotional health means healing past wounds.

Third, have positive outlets to exert energy as well as connect and spend time with people you enjoy and are positive supports. Physical activity, healthy communication, and bonding with others can be very helpful.

Lastly, emotional health includes beneficial self-care. Sometimes we fall into routines of doing what everyone else is doing for self-care, such as getting our hair, nails done, or taking trips. Those things might work for you and are great avenues for self-care. But if you do those things and you don’t feel fulfilled or emotionally recharged after, that might not be the best outlet for you. It’s ok to play around with what makes you feel good. Try things you feel internally connected to such as yoga, meditation, massage therapy,etc.; and it doesn’t matter if the people around you aren’t interested in those things, you can still enjoy them for you.

 

With all the recent school shooting and incidents, it’s important to pay attention to the signs that someone may need help. What are the signs that someone should seek your service?

Regarding school shootings, anxiety peaks around those times. We get very anxious and afraid to send our kids to school or we constantly check on them and worry about their safety. It’s normal to have this stress response, a little overprotective, on edge, and wary during these times.

There are 3 ways we examine and assess a possible mental health condition:

The first is the intensity of symptoms on a quantifiable scale. How anxious, how scared, or how sad does a person feel? Pay attention to anything that feels out of the norm.

The second is duration. How long do those emotions last? Do they come and go? Take symptoms into account over a couple of weeks.

The third is impact. How does your emotions impact normal life? Are you isolating or withdrawing for normal activities? Are your routines affected out of fear or worry?

What is the biggest sacrifice or challenge you’ve experienced running your own business, and how did you overcome it?

I’m a wife and a mother of 3 so time is a big sacrifice. I’ve done away with trying to find balance, it’s a fallacy. In this phase of building my business I prioritize and ask myself ‘What can I give more time to?’ and ‘What can I let go of temporarily?’ I’ve learned to be comfortable with saying No. I look at my schedule and gauge what’s most important and things can always shift as well. Sometimes I have a little extra time to hang out with friends and do social things. It’s all about managing my time intentionally and strategically.

 

What advice would you give to women who aspire to have their own business?  

Just go for it. A lot of times what stops us from moving forward is fear. We are busy trying to figure it all out and get everything perfect because we fear failure or rejection; essentially people not being attracted to what we’re offering. If we manage our relationship with fear it could work for us as we push through it and become open to new things and view everything as a learning opportunity. I think it’s important to build relationships with people who have done what it is you are trying to do as well. Find people who can answer questions, mentor, and support you. Most importantly you have to believe in yourself and know you can do it and that you have value.

 

More about Melissa...

 

What is your personal or professional motto.

In this season my motto is faith over fear. It’s about having faith spirituality, as well as the self-esteem that I can do anything that I set my mind to and work hard for.

Name something on your bucket list.

Definitely, world traveling and there are too many places to choose from. I’ve had to be very responsible in my life and career, especially as a mom, and now I want to see more of the world.

Name a woman, past or present, whom you admire.

Michelle Obama. I love how she carried herself as the first lady, how she stood for something and took action on initiatives. Plus she went to my high school, so it’s personal for me because we walked the same halls. She’s a great role model and I’m reminded none of my dreams are too big.

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