Substance Use and Family Preservation Services In the Texas Child Welfare System

Some of the papers I have been working on the past few months for TexProtects have been published! Pamela McPeters, our Vice President of Public Affairs gave testimony on Thursday, Aug. 9, to a joint hearing of the Texas House Committees on Public Health and Human Services on the impact substance use has had on the Child Protective Services (CPS) system and the children and families it serves. I helped work on the two written testimony briefs we submitted to legislators at the hearing. I am very proud of the work we're doing at TexProtects to advocate for the state's most vulnerable children and families. Below are a sampling and links to the briefs.

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My Identity and Future Growth in the Counseling Profession

I want to counsel survivors recovering from sexual and domestic trauma. I started volunteer work as a sexual assault advocate in October 2017 and am painfully aware of the need for working with this population. I also want to work with clients in monogamous and nonmonogamous intimate relationships, and people who are part of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual (LGBTQIA) community. I want to become a certified sex therapist, although certification is not the most important part of that--what is important to me is the education that goes into becoming a sex therapist that will help me navigate counseling the populations I want to serve.

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My Experience as a Sexual Assault Advocate with the SAFE Alliance

I'm sharing here an essay I wrote for my Professional Counseling Orientation class this past semester. It details what I do as a sexual assault advocate at the SAFE Alliance. Advocacy work is an important value in the counseling profession and I am honored to get to help people who have had their autonomy, their sense of safety, and their consent violated. 

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please call either the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or, if you are in Austin, the 24/7 SAFEline at 1-512-267-7233. A common misconception is that to get a forensic examination and resources you need to report to the police. While reporting your assault to the police can help build a case against the perpetrator(s), you can also opt for a non-report visit to SAFE to get help. You will then have five years to decide whether to report to police or not, after those five years your forensic kit will be destroyed.

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End of Semester Update

My first semester of counseling grad school is over and I came out of it with a 4.0 GPA! After all the networking, extra training, and classes I did this semester, I'm confident in my choice to change professions and seek a career as a therapist. 

As the semester's work intensified, I wasn't able to write as many posts as I had planned. I have a short break now until the summer semester starts, and am able to take a little bit of a breather but am still quite busy (I'm also moving in with my partner of three and a half years, so that's a big step). 

I've completed at least six solo sexual assault accompaniments in my time volunteering with SAFE since I began in November. How I approach helping survivors varies from case to case, as does the emotional toll that comes with being an advocate. But with a solid self-care plan, I've been able to balance school, advocacy, and home life. My work at SAFE is also preparing me to provide direct service to clients who need crisis management. It's been a great experience and the sexual assault advocacy team at SAFE is fantastic. 

Stay tuned for more blog posts in the near future! 

As a reminder, if you or someone you know needs help, below is a list of phone numbers to call:

  • (Austin only) Mobile Crisis Outreach Team for Travis County through Integral Care: 1-512-472-4357National
  • Suicide Prevention Helpline:  1-800-273-8255
  • Self-injury support: 1-800-366-8288
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration treatment referral helpline: 1‑877‑726‑4727
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−7233 
  • National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
  • (Austin only) 24/7 SAFEline for domestic violence and sexual assault: 1-512-267-7233
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender National Helpline: 1-888-843-4564
  • Trans Lifeline: USA-1-877-565-8860, Canada-1-877-330-6366 
  • National Eating Disorders Association Helpline: 1-800-931-223
  • Panic disorder information and support: 1-800-647-2642

Instagrammers Who Explore Mental Health Through Art

Stigma about mental health and mental illness is pervasive in American society. One way to combat it is through art and social media. These Instagrammers are using both to talk about mental health in a way that is relatable, positive, and often humorous. I’ve followed some of these for years and others are newer finds, but all are helping to reduce stigma in unique and creative ways.

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7 Ways to Help Manage Your Mental Health

Mental health is important for everyone to regulate, whether they have diagnosed mental health challenges, like I do, or not. It’s part of the idea of integrated health--taking care of your mind and your body together. But there are a lot of mental health tips out there, and they’re hard to sort through. Here are some tools that have helped me out of a few of my dark places. I’ve learned these tools through my own experience using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I use some of these tools every day, others I use a few times a year. 

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Setting My Intentions

This week, I started classes for my second round of grad school. I'm attending Texas State University for their Marriage and Family Therapy professional counseling program. It's a big change from journalism (although I'm always going to be a writer and hope to spread my new knowledge to the public through some written form). I have two years or so of school to complete before I can get my intern license, then I have up to five years to accrue 3,000 hours of supervision to get my full license. It's going to be a long journey, but one I'm excited to start. 

In this blog, I'll share essays, resources, and musings on mental health, sexuality, gender, and intersectionality.

Welcome to MyND: My New Direction