After working in healthcare for many years, Shawnee developed a desire to become more active in helping people overcome the challenges in their lives. This desire soon transformed into a passion, which led Shawnee to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Addiction Counselor. She named her private mental health practice Alpine’s Empowerment Agency, both as a tribute to what she works with her clients toward—self-empowerment and overcoming their challenges—and after her grandmother, who has been a spiritual guide and angel for Shawnee, guiding her life long after she’s passed.
Versafi: Healthcare is one of those industries where nurses, doctors, health aides and RN’s are always needed! Especially in this crazy pandemic we are living in right now, the healthcare industry has gone up in staffing. What was your inspiration in your career path in healthcare?
Shawnee: I’ve worked in different areas of the healthcare field since the age of 18. I started working in a hospital in their medical records department and I was there for five years, then I transitioned to a certified nursing assistant position in a nursing home. While working on my nursing degree, I recognized that I did not enjoy nursing as much but loved talking to patients in nursing homes. I changed my degree to social work then started to work in several fields that confirmed that would be my place in the healthcare industry.
Versafi: Now that you are a licensed clinical social worker and addiction counselor, you already have your feet in the door in where you want to be career wise. Take us on a journey of what your job consists of and some of the daily activities you encounter?
Shawnee: I conduct all components of my practice, which includes the administrative and billing components in addition to the counseling. I offer 15-minute consultations for potential clients to see if they’re a good fit to work with me. I think it’s important to be sure I’d be able to meet their needs and have effective treatment sessions. I meet with about 25-30 clients a week for in-person or virtual 45-minute sessions. I also do the billing and write notes to keep track of their progress. I accept insurance so this is a requirement to keep medical records for the population. I also collaborate with physicians and psychiatrists as needed to improve my client’s quality of medical care. I assist my clients with community resources so if they need information on housing or finding providers, I help them obtain it. When I have clients who have missed appointments, I outreach to them to follow up about rescheduling their appointments. On any given day I may do all of those things or just work with client’s alone.
Versafi; What exactly is an addiction counselor and what are some of the responsibilities and challenges?
Shawnee: It’s providing counseling to individuals who struggle with any addiction rather it’s sexual, gambling, drugs & alcohol, or food. I personally only work with those who have difficulty with drugs and alcohol, that’s my niche. As an addiction counselor, I work with individuals on either harm reduction or abstinence from substances. With harm reduction, it’s about the client reducing their substance use so that they can function in society for daily living activities such as working, taking care of their hygiene, and being functional in relationships. They ultimately want to control their use and when a person is abusing a substance, they have a lack of control over the frequency and quantity of the substances they are using.
I assist my clients with learning healthy alternatives to managing their stressors. Alcohol and drugs aren’t typically the problem, the problem is unaddressed pain and unhealthy management of stressors. I also work with clients on creating a prevention plan so that if their goal is to maintain sobriety, they have a strategy to follow. For example, a person’s environment and the people they are around can trigger an episode where they aren’t able to fight an urge to use a substance, I’d work with them on identifying which environments to avoid and activities they can engage in, which can be very challenging!
Other challenges include helping them identify a healthy support system. Typically individuals who have substance use issues, have unhealthy relationships due to broken trust with family and friends. I help them identify accountability partners who are sober and willing to be supportive.
Versafi: A multi-entrepreneur indeed! You started your own private mental health practice called ‘Alpine’s Empowerment Agency.” Why did you choose to start your own practice?
Shawnee: I have always been an entrepreneur at heart from my childhood-teen years.I always knew I’d own my own business, I just wasn’t certain what it would look like. When working for an employer, I noticed that I was good with pointing out their weaknesses and I would always tell myself what I would and wouldn’t do. I knew that people needed to work for someone like myself but I’d have to start my company from scratch to build a healthy foundation, where the people who worked for me would feel supported and at peace to work in an establishment.
Versafi: How many years has your practice been in business?
Shawnee: I’ve been in business for 4 years, however, 2 years full-time!
Versafi: What message of self-empowerment are you trying to teach to patients and to other people?
Shawnee: My focus is on building healthy emotional and mental mindsets so that people can truly walk in their power. I want people to feel whole in the decisions that they make about themselves rather that be the people they have relationships with or the business they start.
Versafi: To you, what does empowerment look like?
Shawnee: It’s all about waking up every morning and feeling like you can take on the world, being comfortable within your own body, and radiating confidence in everything you do.
Versafi: Let’s talk about your new book “Shifting Your Mindset: A Guide to Overcome Depression, Anxiety and Trauma.” This book I feel is much needed because it goes hand-in-hand with the importance of mental health and what’s going on in the world today. What inspired you to write this book and on this genre?
Shawnee: As a therapist, I noticed that the calling in my life required me to reach a larger population of people and I wouldn’t be able to do that in this life only through 1:1 therapy. Expanding my influence through books assisted me in connecting with more people. I’m a big advocate for people healing so I wanted to be part of many people’s healing journeys.
Versafi: How important do you think learning about mental health is?
Shawnee: I think it’s very important to remove the stigma that “you’re crazy or need to be isolated” if you have mental health issues. People should learn what it truly means to manage your mental health because it’s connected to the physical health and the issues that derive physically, can be managed better through healthy mental wellness practices. Stress is a major mental health issue that many do not have the proper tools to address.
Versafi: What do you hope that the readers gain from reading your book?
Shawnee: My goal is for readers to learn more about themselves and ways to address their hidden pain. I want them to explore it from a different perspective so that way they can get the healing that they need.
Versafi: Wellness is another important topic as well and I know that you have your own wellness company called “Love and Serenity Wellness” Can you tell the readers a little bit more about that?
Shawnee: Love & Serenity Wellness is a company that provides natural, chemical-free body, and skin products. Within this company, the mental health sector is addressed through books and consultation services that aid in healing, understanding, and gaining wisdom that guides individuals to fulfill their true purpose in life.
Versafi: Are you working on any current projects at the moment?
Shawnee: I have several projects in the works for 2021! First, I am working on some workshops, courses and collaborating with others on panels to educate others about mental and emotional wellness. My biggest launch will be my non-profit, “Kindred Youth Foundation.” The mission is to build healthier emotional and mental wellness foundations through education and support for teens in underprivileged areas who have challenges with a parent or caregiver who have battled with substance abuse.
Versafi: Let us know how we can connect with you
Shawnee: You can find me on:
YouTube: Shifting Mindsets with Shawnee https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8xUxlR-Bd5sgJuVf7HaEfQ