Lametria Johnson joined the ParTNers Center team just as the pandemic was driving most people to stay home. That she couldn't see patients in person didn't slow her down though. In fact, the uncertainty and stress many people were feeling made her work even more valuable.
Lametria began leading weekly (now monthly) emotional well-being check-in calls where state employees use their lunch hour to connect with others feeling the strain caused by the pandemic. Those calls are now called Third Thursday wellness check-ins.
Before coming to the ParTNers Center, Lametria has worked with children as young as four, but most recently, she counseled adults, many with chronic mental illnesses. In college, she planned to study early childhood education but found herself pulled toward psychology. Now she has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s in professional counseling and a doctorate in counseling psychology.
We asked Lametria to tell us more about herself and why she thinks counseling is such an important health tool. Here’s what she said:
What sparked your interest in behavioral health?
I always tell people this is my purpose. I have the ability to build rapport with people from all walks of life. That’s not something anyone can teach you. Even going to the store, random people start talking to me about their problems. That says to me it’s beyond just a job. My purpose is to be a helping hand, a listening ear. Sometimes people want to know that there’s somebody out there who really does care.
"Sometimes people want to know that there’s somebody out there who really does care."
What is your professional counseling background?
I started work as a case manager to ensure children and their families received needed mental health services. Then I was a school-based, in-home therapist, working with families of children with ADHD, conduct disorders and other life-altering behaviors. I was offered a job in an outpatient hospital specializing in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and anxiety, where I was trained in exposure and response prevention techniques. That extra training helped later when I worked with inmates who frequently struggled with PTSD, anxiety disorder and depression. I still work in private practice in the OCD/anxiety realm.
How do you believe counseling can help people?
I like to help people find the piece that is missing in their life. I especially like when I can lead them to an “aha" moment, because I’ve had those myself. People feel isolated because the world is moving so fast that they feel like they’re on their own. At the ParTNers Center, our integrative approach encompasses the whole person, so a physical medical problem might also reveal an underlying stress-related or mental health problem we can deal with.
"I like to help people find the piece that is missing in their life."
What would you say to someone who is struggling but is hesitant to seek counseling services?
I liken it to sweeping things under a rug. You can get away with it for awhile, but pretty soon you’ll have a big pile spilling out from under that rug. First, you have to acknowledge that something is going on that you need to deal with. Sometimes people aren’t ready to admit that. Then, if someone is unclear about what services might look like or is uneasy about going, I can give them information on the process and they can make an educated decision. We can take away the stigma of seeking support from a counselor or behavioral health professional.
Describe your role at the ParTNers Center.
As behavioral health counselor, I will help people get a fresh start on their mental health. I offer onsite behavioral health visits, and can refer patients to other services or specialties if needed. I also offer onsite counseling services through the ParTNers Employee Assistance Program.
I will also work in conjunction with our nurse practitioners on the medical side to deal with issues that may relate to physical problems people might be having.
Lametria sees patients at the ParTNers Center Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., both in person and via telehealth. She looks forward to leading the Center’s Lunch and Learns when they resume.
Call the ParTNers Center at 615-741-1709 if you would like to make an appointment with Lametria.