Our member spotlight this month is on Alex Barnette, LMFT-A, Supervised by Blake Howard Norton, LMFT-S. Learn more about Alex below:
What are your favorite books of all-time?
The Dance of Anger by Harriet Lerner is kind of my go-to when I’m feeling confused about a client or when I need to get more systemic in my view. There are a few pages I can flip to and instantly feel more clearheaded.
When I need inspiration or confidence I revisit anything by Brene Brown, usually I Thought It was Just Me (But it Isn’t) Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I am Enough”. As a therapist I am so much more comfortable being human and connected to my clients thanks to her work.
My favorite non-therapy book that is actually kind of a therapy book is Furiously Happy byJenny Lawson. Some of her tangents are a bit much, but my husband has caught me belly laughing to this book multiple times.
By the way I think all of these authors endorse each other’s work.
What is your niche? What types of clients do you like to see?
My passion is working with couples that feel stuck or are struggling to connect—primarily couples transitioning into marriage or considering divorce. I also really enjoy working with individuals looking to empower themselves in relationships or create resilience to feelings of shame and loneliness.
What has been a private practice success for you so far?
Canva and Unsplash are amazing. I could easily spend far too much time on these apps.
What is a private practice goal you hope to achieve in 1 year? 5 years?
I'm committed to continuing to strengthen my “therapist tribe”. We’ve got a great group started at Austin STRONG: Relationship Building Center, and I’m looking forward to developing our presence and connections in the community.
What’s something you commonly say to your clients?
Hmm two of my favorite questions are “When you observe ___ what’s the story you tell yourself about it?” and “How do you notice yourself responding to that emotion?”.
I tend to do a lot of clarifying boundaries with clients so maybe “You are not responsible for _____’s feelings or reaction”.
How would your clients describe you in 3 words? What about your closest friends?
I think clients would describe me as warm, logical, and a little goofy. My closest friends would probably describe me as hard-working, quirky, and genuine. I used to hear cute, sweet, and high strung a lot more often.
What’s a song lyric or quote that you find meaningful?
The first ones that come to mind are “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen” from Brene Brown and “Substantive change does not occur in one hit-and-run conversation" from Harriet Lerner. Actually, this about sums up what I ask of clients—a willingness to show up and understand that change is a process.
What’s something you feel passionate about?
The importance of connection. In my personal life that means connecting with my close friends and family through quality time, connecting with myself through self-care (running, reading, being mindful and mindless), and connecting to the God/spiritual world through meditation and prayer. When I neglect any one of these areas, I always feel the difference.
Who’s in your fur tribe? Are you a crazy cat lady or one of “those” dog moms? Or are you more of a reptile or rabbit person?
I have two rabbits that I’m pretty obsessed with, Dutchess and Dexter. They’re litter trained and roam freely. They’re the most innocent creatures and they’re silent observers like me (a lot of the time). Most people don’t get it so it’s ok if you don’t either ;-)
Alex's contact information:
Interview by Sara Paules
Hannah Eubank is an LPC Intern and LMFT Associate under the supervision of Tammy Fisher, MA, LPC-S, LMFT-S. Hannah is a therapist at a new group practice in the area, Austin Relational Wellness, along with two other colleagues. https://www.austinrelationalwellness.com/
Tell me about your ideal client.
I'd have to say couples, mainly because of the dynamics and energy in the room when you're working with them. Specifically, young adult couples that love each other and are just going through a tough situation. I've been more interested in doing premarital counseling as well and really enjoy the energy they bring in the room. They're really working together towards the same goals and the intention is very present.
I also have an interest in working with men. I think there's something so powerful about the type of change you can see in men when they come to therapy and start to feel comfortable in feeling vulnerable maybe for the first time in their lives.
You are involved with a new group practice with two other clinicians. I want to know, what's been your favorite part of working in a group practice so far?
Definitely the creative part. I also think that working in a group practice in general has just made things so much easier overall. We all really even each other out and have our own talents to contribute. I love that, if I get stuck on what direction to take with something, that I can always just bounce ideas off of them instead.
Do you have a favorite social media outlet you like to use?
Instagram. I really like the therapist community aspect of it and that it has such a positive vibe overall.
What has been your most successful or favorite way to get clients so far?
Right now I'd have to say word of mouth from previous clients. I've gotten most of my clients from mental health awareness talks at various companies where my colleagues and I just come in and talk about mental health and sustainability or self-care.
What is something you feel proud about so far in your journey?
Definitely helping with the creation of the website.
What made you want to pursue counseling as a career?
I just always knew that I wanted to be in a helping profession, and I also really wanted to do something creative. There's always something new coming in the door with therapy, so that's where I get to use my creative side.
More personally, I had a child life specialist as a kid because I had some of my own health issues. Because of that experience, I thought I wanted to work with kids, until I started working with them and realized that I actually connect more and have a bigger desire to work with adults.
What advice would you give to new therapists just starting out?
Don't be afraid to get out there. Also, find someone who you can go along the journey together with and bounce ideas off of, even if you don't go into group practice. Connecting with other therapists going on the same journey can be so helpful to keep you going.
Okay last question: what are you eating and what are you reading?
Oysters on the halfshell and red wine is always my "go-to" meal, and I'm currently reading "Daring Greatly" by Brene Brown and "Self-Compassion" by Kristin Neff.
This month we are getting to know one of our newest members, Kimberly Paulson. Kimberly is passionate about helping women overcome past struggles and guiding them towards their best life using Christian principles and practices. We are grateful to have her on board.
What would you say is your focus/niche?
As a Life Coach, I get the honor of helping women find their authentic freedom from all the areas of life that are binding them up in negative ways. Most of my clients come to me because they simply want someone to hold them accountable for what they already know they want to accomplish or let go of, but they know they need someone to assist them along the way. I love seeing the moments of accomplished goals arrive in a smile across their faces as their time with me ends. I offer 6, 9, or 12 week packages based on what my clients needs. I am a Christian Coach and incorporate scripture as well as prayer into each session and send various forms of weekly encouragement to each client via text as part of their package and the feedback on that has been very positive! They love to feel thought of and encouraged between sessions.
What is something about you that would surprise us to know?
I am an avid HIIT( high intensity interval training) and Kick Boxing junkie and with five kids and two dogs, it keeps me in a good place!
Your main goal for the coming year:
To increase my client base to 5-7 clients per week. I am just part time one day a week so that's a big goal :) [I'll achieve that] through local marketing and business card placement as well as local sponsorship of church related women events (my target).
If you were to travel anywhere in the world, where would it be ?
Santorini, Greece in a villa with blue tiles roofs nestled in the hills overlooking the Aegean Sea.
What is one of your favorite novels and why?
Anything by Danielle Steel! She's written over one hundred novels and I plan to read all of them (I am currently around 43).
To find out more about Kimberly:
This month we are highlighting Dixon Parnell, Licensed Professional Counselor. Originally from Memphis, Tennessee, Dixon has made his home in Austin. After obtaining a degree in Philosophy and Religion, Dixon obtained two Masters in Christian Education and Clinical Mental Health. Dixon has recently launched his own Private Practice and brings years of experience working with Eating Disorders professionally, a kind, calm, inquisitive demeanor personally. We are grateful to have him on board. I posed a few questions so we could learn more about Dixon.
Tell us about your specialization in therapy and how you chose it.
While my main area of specialization is eating disorders (ED), within mental health overall, I am very, very interested in ways in which religion and spirituality may play roles in folks’ mental health-eating disorder or not. I myself have a religious background (my undergrad degree was in Philosophy and Religion, and in addition to my mental health grad degree I have another from a Christian seminary), so I see everything from a highly contemplative place, asking ‘why?’ all the time. However, I don’t approach mental health issues with the assumption that spirituality is what’s missing, or that anytime someone brings up religion in the counseling office it’s a negative thing. I’ve found those approaches are overly simplistic, and reflect more about my passion for those things than the reality of what a client’s story actually may be!
I got into eating disorders in graduate school after an internship at a women’s clinic, literally around the corner from my mom’s house. Not knowing anything *at all* about ED, I soon came to understand it as the intersection of all that it is to be human. I think of us as people as sort of a cupcake, or a smoothie if you’d rather, that is a function of all of the aspects of a what makes a person-the pure physiological body “stuff,” the thinking/cognitive “stuff,” and the emotional “stuff”-and produces who we see and who they are.
All of those things have to be tended, and the proportions of them are never more clear than when doing ED work. How spirituality or religion may show up in folks’ lives, I believe those things must be unraveled and questioned gently and slowly, as they are very rich threads that run throughout all of the “stuff” in folks’ lives in all sorts of ways, sort of like a color dye.
What is something that may surprise us to know?
At one point, I could read the Bible in Hebrew, Latin and Greek proficiently (Latin and Greek quite well!).
If you were in a different profession, what would you choose and why?
I used to do live concert sound and spend a lot of time around sound systems (speakers, mics, long cables, processors, all that). I’d always daydreamt about touring as a band’s main “sound guy.” I think I’d still enjoy having a standing local gig doing that, even if I know my ears are very out of shape for that sort of precise listening! In a similar vein, I still daydream about being a touring musician in a band. Not the star-just one of the guitarists on the stage whose names you don’t know and whom you hardly ever notice. I’d just want to play with precision and get the job done at the highest level. That’d be enough for me.
What is your Love Language?
If you could go anywhere, where and why?
I read something about someone taking a bike tour around a volcano in Iceland this morning—that sounds like a good way to spend some time right about now!
To contact Dixon Parnell, LPC.
Click here to visit his website