Expert Profile - Teenya Creswell
Teenya Creswell’s Bio:
Hi, I’m Teenya and I’m a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified in Nutrition & Integrative medicine through the Leslie Korn Institute. I am currently a student working on a certification in functional medicine. I am licensed in Texas and Nebraska. During my career as a mental health professional, I have worked in an autism clinic providing ABA services for children on the spectrum, I was a therapist at a psychiatric hospital for inpatient adolescents, I spent five years as a Military Family Life Counselor on various military bases and am now currently in private practice. I work mainly with adults and adolescents struggling with anxiety, depression, autism spectrum, life transitions, and personal growth and self-esteem.
What life events or challenges that you’ve experienced (could be minor, could be major) – whether you’ve experienced them directly or via someone close to you, have had any type of impact on your desire to pursue a career in Psychotherapy?
When I was in high school, I was not a very motivated student, no one in my family had ever attended college so why would I, and besides my school counselor told me I would never amount to anything. Not sure why a school counselor would say that to a student. I later learned that he said the exact same thing to quite a few other students. His words stuck with me for years and they created a lack of self-esteem, a lack of self-confidence, lack of direction, and unworthiness. After high school I tried college and was kicked out after three semesters of very poor grades, confirming my school counselor’s words. My father used to teach positive attitude classes to women at the local jail and installed that positive attitude in my sister and me. I’ve always had a very supportive family that encouraged me to follow my dreams however that clashed with the words from my school counselor.
At 21 I felt lost with no direction and not knowing what to do so I decided I didn’t need to be in this world any longer. I remember the day clearly, I kept playing my departure out repeatedly in my head. I would go home, take a handful of pills, the end. I got home, sat on my bed with the pills in my hand ready to go. Then divine intervention, the phone rang, it was my dad just calling to see how I was doing. I began to cry and told him what I was getting ready to do. He told me to go to the toilet, drop the pills in and let him hear the toilet flush, so I did. I knew nothing of mental health or where to get help or who to talk to, I had no idea it even existed. I move back home, went back to college, and was way more successful than my first attempt. And with that came self-confidence and some direction.
How did those events impact you emotionally/morally? How, if at all did those events impact the way you view how our current system teaches us to treat patients with mental health challenges?
My experience led me to realize how powerful and hurtful words can be and telling someone they won’t amount to anything is just cruel. It made me look at the way I communicated with others, and I started to understand my father’s passion for teaching a positive attitude. I took that positive attitude and ran with it. I still didn’t know much about mental health, most of what I knew was people were either crazy or not. I didn’t think I was crazy when I wanted to end my life, I was discouraged, frustrated, lacking direction but not crazy.
When and why did you decide to actually focus on practicing Integrative Psychotherapy, specifically, and how was your decision shaped by the experiences above?
It wasn’t until years later and after I understood that life is full of ups and downs and a whole lot of challenges that I decided to pursue a career as a licensed professional counselor. I never wanted anyone to feel like I did at 21. People need to know there is help and feel safe to reach out for that help.
After being a counselor for a while and getting older I had some minor health issues which later turned out to be perimenopause and anemia. I went to the doctor he ran labs and said, “Your labs look great you’re in good health” and that was it. However, it did not change how crappy I was feeling. I started working with a nutritionist who open my eyes to a world of functional nutrition. She went over my labs with me and explain what was going on, recommended some iron supplements and a few other supplements. I soon felt much better and was intrigued by what I was learning. Later in my practice, I had a client come to me with symptoms of depression and her symptoms sounded how I was feeling before finding out I simply had anemia in which an iron supplement brought me back to life. I suggested the client go to the doctor and have some blood labs so we could look at their iron just to see. While at the doctor to get labs the doctor suggested some antidepressants to help without waiting for the lab results. That didn’t make sense to me. Later when the labs came back the client had very low iron levels. A few days later I signed up for blood chemistry class through Dr. Weatherby to learn everything I could about blood chemistry and mental health. That one class open my eyes to so many things and let me down the path of lots of other training in integrative medicine and eventually to get a certification in functional medicine which I am currently finishing up and have a long list of other training to pursue.
What methods or practices do you utilize to help individuals get/feel better?
My approach is from an ACT modality (Acceptance & Commitment Therapy) which incorporates mindfulness techniques that can help reduce anxiety, depression, and other difficult emotions. ACT facilitates change by challenging old thought patterns, creating self-acceptance, and learning to become more present within our lives and live more fully in the here-and-now.
I mix it up with Integrative Medicine which is a complementary and alternative therapy (CAM) that uses this relationship between the body and mind to enhance the effects of psychotherapies, herbal medicine, yoga, mindfulness, and other alternative therapies. I look at diet, stress, sleep, exercise, and supplements.
How did people react when you share this Integrative/Holistic approach with them – whether it be patients or other doctors?
When I speak to my clients about my approach to therapy using acceptance and commitment theory and integrative nutrition they are intrigued and want to learn more.