Welcome to today's edition of my blog series on holistic and alternative methods complementing traditional talk therapy. I use a holistic perspective in my work with clients to address the needs of mind, body and spirit. My interviews with a number of therapists and healers have taught me that a variety of methods are available to help us heal from the inside out.
Chonteau McElvin was trained as a social worker, and she now practices as a naturalist, energy worker, life coach, folk healer and herbalist. I was fascinated to interview her and hear how she helps her clients nourish their souls by cultivating self-care practices. This is one of my passions and the subject of another blog series. Read on below the photo for the full interview with Chonteau!
Tell me about your work. How do you incorporate being a Social Worker, Naturalist, Energy Worker, Folk Healer and Herbalist into your work with clients?
What I love about mixing my "medicines," medicines being our talents and good offerings we offer our community, is I get to pull in nontraditional schools of thought into each soul recovery session. I am of the belief that the absence of spirituality in our lives perpetuates the illusion that we are not all connected. When I say ALL I mean all things including nature, people and things. If this is true, that we are all connected, then how can I leave any part of the ALL out of the experience of healing. My social work degree was merely a piece of paper that said I can do what I was born to do. However, by having that piece of paper I was able to work with some pretty incredible populations which further reminded me of my life's calling. Much of my work is very intuitive in nature. There are not set rules that need to be followed, it really is about both parties showing up and trusting the process. Some of my clients pull on all of my skills while others may require only one or two of my offerings.
What benefits are expected with Herbalism? Are there any risks? Who is a good candidate for this work? Who should not participate in Herbalism?
When I refer to herbalism I am referring to folk herbalism which is different than clinical herbalism. I do not use herbs like drugs. I encourage the development of relationships to any plant you are going to journey with. My view of folk herbalism is understanding what plants grow around you and introducing yourself to those plants slowly and with deep respect. When done in this way herbs tend not be be harmful. I do not use herbs as pills, but in ways one can still taste the plant or experience its essence such as in herbal teas, bath blends or extracts. Every client I meet with in person, we always have a cup of herbal tea. Before they come to my office I will get an impression of what herbal blend will support their healing. If I am working with someone through correspondence I will often send them a personal blend to support our work. Herbs are not for everyone and not everyone drinks the tea I make and that is fine. Remember I trust the process and I trust the Spirit of that person to know what is best for them. I have seen herbal formulas support my clients emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I am not a doctor so I can never say herbs should replace what you have been prescribed. I am able to say that herbs are here for us to get to know and begin to explore how they can support our whole being.
Many people who come to me for therapy services are affected by trauma, anxiety and depression. How do you help people with these issues?
I am not a therapist so people do not come to me for treatment of depression or anxiety. I am a Life Coach and I have a degree in Social Work which helps me be able to detect when I am not enough and therapy is needed. I do have clients that come to see me who struggle with numerous emotional challenges and we begin with a soul self care evaluation. Basically I listen to their story. As they are talking I began to intuitively assess what direction we need to take in supporting that persons movement forward. Spiritual Healing Sessions or Soul Nourishment Sessions are very different than traditional therapy. My approach to supporting my clients heal and move forward, is rooted in using mindfulness, visualizations, earth-based spirituality and other shamanic methods. I teach my client the tools they need to maintain whole healthy living. I also focus on their energetic anatomy, they may be carrying around unwanted energies in their field, often this acts as a barrier to forward movement. We also work on getting in touch with and healing their archetypes or inner communities. Everyone is different. We trust the process.
Having worked in the Social Work field for a very long time I have a passion for supporting other practitioners. I have seen so many of my colleagues burn out in their field and in life because they have not taken good care of themselves. The self care that I promote goes beyond the typical taking a day off or going on vacation. The self care I promote with Healers is the process of looking within and taking the time to connect with your Spirit. I have worked with several groups of employees of high stress professions, they have been very open to learning ways to "connect with the one precious thing called their life".
What else would you like people to know about you and your services?
I think one of the most important things about my service is that it is organic. There is no script or protocol that we follow. We tap into Guidance and allow for the process to unfold. This includes when I work with groups or individuals. Everyone comes to me for their unique needs and it is a reciprocal relationship. I learn and expand just as much as the person or group I am guiding does. I would also say that it does not matter if we are working in person or at a distance the benefits are still transformative.
Chonteau McElvin is a naturalist, life coach, energy worker, folk healer and herbalist based in Winter Garden, Florida. She offers services in person as well as via phone and video. To find out more, visit her website at www.chonteau.com.
I'm so grateful to Chonteau for agreeing to be interviewed. I am fascinated with her approach to healing and I encourage you to visit her website for the resources available there. I found it to be a very soothing, calming site.
Thanks for reading this latest edition of the blog series on integrative mental health! If you're interested in knowing more about what I do to help heal mind, body and spirit, contact me via phone at 443-510-1048, follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest, or subscribe to my e-mail newsletter for occasional updates!
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this article. Please leave a comment below! And if you like this article, please share it with others who might be interested!
Laura Reagan, LCSW-C