Inspiring Conversations - Voyage Dallas
Today we’d like to introduce you to Andrea Wise-Brown.
Hi Andrea, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
I’m often asked why I’m called the “Power Starter.” The answer is simple; I was born to identify and show others the Unique Power that they possess, then help them strategize how to use it so they live the life that they truly desire. I empower and educate people on how to IGNITE the POWER they possess which is often ignored due to family of origin trauma. I am a licensed Mental Health Expert/Psychotherapist.
The journey began in elementary school while living in the “hood” inner city of Newark, New Jersey when I was in the fourth grade, just before my peers began calling me “Miss Know it all”, and I would be reprimanded by teachers for talking too much. One day I overheard my teacher telling another that his students were not as smart as the students in the other fourth-grade class. In that moment I began to look at myself differently. I realized that I was one of his “not as smart” students which I interpreted as, “something is wrong with me, I’m not smart”. My mode of operation switched; I became intrinsically motivated to learn nonconventional ways to make it in the world. I went into Survival mode.
However, fifteen years later I decided that I was going to Stop Living to “Survive “and Start living my Dreams! I was a Cosmetologist who lived off of exactly what I earned daily, did not have financial literacy however I was determined to survive as a hard worker, who was intuitively good at manifesting. I owned a hair salon where my staff and patrons were women who I loved; they were my family. I’ve always connected to others in a way that was deeper than most. I’m interested in people’s stories, choices and helping them strategize for better outcomes. I enjoyed the women who frequented the salon; however, I hated the work. I was torn; surviving and seen by many as successful yet not fulfilled in my purpose to empower and educate the masses.
As a salon owner, I had been married for three years and recently had my beautiful baby. I was now running a business that I did not like and suffering from postpartum depression. This was a pivotal time for me. This was the time in my life when I made a decision to co-create my happiness by going after my dream of becoming a motivational speaker who helps others to live their dreams. I made a choice to jump! I had always been the person that everyone would come to for advice and motivation, I was already doing the job for free which I loved, but now it was time to make a career out of it.
It became clear to me that as a motivational speaker I would need to know all about the brain and the pathology to complacency. I needed to know why people get stuck and stay stuck. Why they are not motivated and what happens in their brain when they become motivated. I needed to study the brain. I needed to be able to decipher the difference between how the brain works when it is functioning and when it’s dysfunctional. I needed to understand the state of the brain when a person is intrinsically motivated and the state of the brain when they are not motivated at all. I realized quickly that I needed to go to school which I was avoiding. I figured out that I had to pull all the strength that I had to face my fears.
I feared going to college. I began to look up colleges that had psychology programs that were close to me. The first hurdle was getting admitted to a college after being out of school for 10 years. As I began to look, I found a school that was near the salon that I owned and near my baby’s nursery school. I applied to a program that the university had for adult applicants and I got accepted!!! I was so happy because I could see that things were working in my favor, but the next five years was a struggle. I almost lost myself, I gained 60 pounds because at that time I did not have the coping skills to process the added stress. It was an unhealthy defense mechanism to ignore my emotions with the distraction of food, but I’m grateful because I believe it helped me keep my sanity at the time. For those five years, I strategized taking care of my baby, my husband, my home, my business and now my education, but I did not lose my mind! I graduated with a dual degree in Psychology/Psychiatric Rehabilitation from Kean University and University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, with honors and top of my class. The same girl who was told in the fourth grade that she was “not as smart as” the other class. At that point, I understood how the brain worked and what stimuli it needs to get motivated and stay motivated.
I then moved to Texas where I was able to lose weight and maintain my pursuit of education. I obtained a master’s degree, then became a Licensed Professional Counselor and National Certified Counselor; I have Mastered how to motivate the brain! I connect people with their purpose, teach couples the tricks that keep relationships together, help people find a better quality of life and businesses strategize to increase their bottom line by employee retention and shifting culture. I have gained a wealth of knowledge and experience working with people while helping them break cycles, face challenges, and overcome barriers to live the life that they desire.
In addition; I’ve worked for Department of Family and Child Protective Services, truancy offices, emergency psychiatric services, inpatient facilities, facilitated group services, worked as a trained hostage negotiator, mental health expert, trainer, and team member for the police department, educated and empowered corporations, churches, colleges, groups, etc. I also have a private practice where I am able to empower individuals, couples, and families to face dysfunction and soar in their goals to live a better life. Today I have the privilege of sharing my expertise all over the world through speaking engagements, seminars, and appearances on the Oprah Winfrey Network, Fox 4 News, Tom Joyner Morning Show, Good Morning Texas, Sirius XM, and many more media outlets.
I am Living My Dreams and providing classes where I teach others how to do so too. I teach others how to make money while following their dreams!!!
We’ve been impressed with Intrinsic Motivation Counseling LLC, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I am a Licensed Professional Counselor, a National Certified Counselor, and a formerly trained Hostage Negotiator. I am a member of Psi Chi, and Texas Counseling Association who provides individual, couples, and family counseling using research-based therapy approaches for adults and families. I utilize a non-judgmental approach to therapy. My method of practice is contingent upon each individual and centered around that person’s need. The goal of therapy is to help each person find healthy solutions to lead full and productive lives as they see it. My commitment is to create an environment in which my clients feel comfortable and safe to explore their innermost thoughts, needs, and emotions.
My professional experiences include; Keynote speaker, corporate workshops, College and High School Seminars, Relationship classes, Empowerment panels, Team Building, providing strategies and skill training for overcoming life’s barriers. I have provided home-based treatment for high-risk youth and families, drug abuse, truancy, and domestic violence. I served as an investigator for Child Protective Services. In addition, as a Mental Health Expert, I educated local and federal law enforcement agencies on identifying mental illness within the community.
I am the author of the book, “6 Pillars To Power Up Your Mind, Mental-Health is a Lifestyle.” It’s a “go-to” guide that provides specific tools for keeping the mind healthy and strong. I have presented nationally on topics such as; Psychology of Prejudice & Racism, Mental Health, Relationships, Powerful Living, Resilience, Trauma, Self-esteem, Parenting, and The Impact of the Media on Body Image. I have appeared as an expert on OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network), FOX4 NEWS, SiriusXM, Tom Joyner Morning Show, Blackamericaweb.com, Get Up Erica! Good Morning Texas and other national media outlets. I have been featured in “Heart & Soul” magazine. I have written informative articles promoting mental health for “Healthy You Now”.
I am currently providing workshops and masterclasses where I teach people how to make money while building the business of their dreams.
What are your plans for the future?
1. Eradicate Stigma surrounding Mental Health in the Black Community.
2. Continue to create masterclasses and workshops where I teach and empower others.
3. Continue to mentor
4. Sell more Mental health Products. I currently sell merchandise with my logo “Mental health is a lifestyle!”®️
5. Expanding my current business so that it impacts the world.
Access the full article from Voyage Dallas here
Heart & Soul
Use this Father’s Day to fix and heal your broken relationship with Dad -The Grio
Father’s Day is recognized in over 40 countries and has since the Middle Ages. In the U.S., the third Sunday in June is always designated as the one day in the year where we put all of our energy into celebrating dear old Dad. Except Father’s Day isn’t always a happy one for many of us.
Some fathers have deliberately decided not to be a part of our lives, while others are physically there, but are pathologically distant. Factors such as systemic injustice in the criminal justice system, or drug and alcohol abuse has caused fractured relationships between Black fathers and children for generations. Even as adults, it’s possible to find a way to cope with what may be a very painful time of year and discover the tools needed to heal those fractured relationships between children and their estranged fathers and vice-versa. It’s not too late for fathers to take the necessary steps to get closer to their children. TheGrio spoke to licensed psychotherapist, Andrea Wise-Brown, who specializes in working on family issues and says the process won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
TheGrio: What are some ways that adult children can initiate a new relationship with their estranged father?
Andrea Wise-Brown: I work with people on accepting being open and honest. Ask questions, “What’s your
experience, Dad and why am I experiencing you in this way?” Perception is everything. Let go of your ego.
Reach out and start the discussion. That shows emotional maturity. Take accountability for yourself, and
don’t personalize his response, if he doesn’t answer or respond right away. Separate your hurt from his
reality because a lot of times, men become shameful and feel guilty.
TheGrio: How can adult children broach the idea of therapy with their estranged father?
Wise-Brown: Just talk about it without judgement, but with empathy and the intention of reconnection by
saying, “Dad, maybe we should talk to someone without bias to help us.” There is power in love and
TheGrio: What about coping strategies for those who find Father’s Day difficult?
Wise-Brown: Go to therapy or at least go to someone and talk about it. Just remember, not everyone
around you will know what to do with your feelings. Unlike friends and family members, a therapist is
TheGrio: How can dads who aren’t close to their children begin to repair that relationship?
Wise-Brown: Dads must look at themselves. They have a story too. Dads can become very defensive and very hurt. A lot of times, they may have allowed the mother to break the bond. Still, they have to take accountability for the role they played in allowing the bond with their children to be broken.
I have a five step system that dads can use to reconnect with their adult children:
Validate your children. You have created a king or queen. Let them know they are kings and queens. Tell them the things that are special and unique about them, as you know it.
Be trustworthy. Don’t say that you are going to do something, and then don’t do it. Come through on your promises. This teaches your children that you are strong and stable.
Teach your children. Share age-appropriate stories of your mistakes and successes in life. This helps you be someone that they can relate to and see themselves in.
Ask questions about their lives. Show some empathy. Get to know your children.
Have fun. Create new memories through new experiences.
TheGrio: What are some ways people can begin to forgive their dads?
Wise-Brown: Forgiveness is not about accepting behavior. It’s not about telling someone ‘I get it.’ Forgiveness is letting go of the hope that something should be different than what it is. Forgiveness is accepting what is. When a connection is lost, we often become bitter, angry and resentful. We can let that go through acceptance. Accept your father for who he is, and then try to move forward.
“Mental Health Needs To Be Our Lifestyle”: Psychotherapist Explains Why More Women Need To Share Their Mental Health Stories -MadameNoire
Last week, Mariah Carey went public with her bipolar II diagnosis. And while she thanked fans for the support and love, many are also thanking Carey for sharing her story. When she opened up about it, she pulled the veil off of another type of bipolar disorder that people may not have known much about, and still may not be that aware of. And it’s important that we know what type of issues are affecting people in the hopes that we can keep an eye out for symptoms and seek treatment, unashamed, if necessary.
And while people tend to easily classify bipolar disorder, both I and II, as you’re go from being very happy to sad most of the time, it’s much more complex than that.
“Usually that is what people think. ‘This person is emotional. One day she’s mad, one day she’s happy, she must be bipolar.’ No, it is not diagnosed like that,” says psychotherapist Andrea Wise-Brown. “For bipolar I, we’re talking about someone who’s experiencing manic episodes that last for at least seven days in a row and then they switch to depressive episodes that last for about two weeks. And it continues to cycle back and forth. But in between there could be times of feeling normal, so the mood kind of comes back down. But the difference is, in bipolar II, the manic episodes don’t last as long and they’re not as extreme.”
And while Carey admitted that for quite a few years following her 2001 diagnosis, she didn’t seek out treatment and was in denial about her situation, that doesn’t mean that she was necessarily functioning fine in the meantime.
“In neither of these states are you functioning fine,” she says. Wise-Brown said that in the state of hypomania, one operates impulsively.
“You feel like you can take over the world, you are erratic, and you take risks that you wouldn’t normally take,” she says.
And it’s during that time that people find themselves
operating on little sleep, which they confuse as a time of
productivity — until they end up crashing into the
depressive state, which is classified as a state of feeling
powerless. “When they’re having a hypomanic episode,
they don’t sleep for days,” she said. “They just don’t get
tired and they love that feeling. But of course, you know,
at some point, when it comes down, it crashes. When
they’re depressed, they’re dealing with major depressive
disorder. Major depressive disorder is not just, ‘I just feel
bad.’ No, it’s hopeless. ‘I feel helpless, I don’t want to
But what is the culprit behind bipolar disorder? Wise-Brown
says there isn’t one-size-fits-all answer. “Now research
shows that people with certain genes are more likely to
develop bipolar disorder than others, but you have to be
careful and cognizant to know and understand that genes
aren’t the only risk factor,” she said. In terms of treatment,
patients can see psychotherapists who, through therapy,
help you learn how to function with bipolar II, including through guided imagery and coping skills. Exercise and mediation are also highly recommended to cope. But the medication, psychotropic medication provided by a psychiatrist, has the greatest impact.
“There’s a stressor that comes in. When it’s triggered, the neurotransmitters in your brain are off-kilter, the right side and the left side,” she says. “In a brain that’s not experiencing symptoms, they’re connecting and that electricity is going from one side to the other. But when you are experiencing an episode, that connection is stopped. Research has shown that after people take medication, it reconnects the neurotransmitters. So when you are experiencing an episode, you definitely need to be taking medication so that it can restart your neurotransmitters.”
In the end, Wise-Brown says more stars like Carey who battle with mental health, as well as everyday people, need to share their stories in the hopes of lifting the stigma surrounding mental health. This is especially true for African-American women who tend to endure so much silently.
“The more that you normalize this, the more that you normalize mental illness, then the more people will seek treatment and get help,” she says. “Mental health needs to be our lifestyle. With all of the things that we have to endure and push through, we definitely have to check on our mental health. We have to stay healthy. We have to stay strong. We have to stay in our mind. Our minds need to be healthy because we have a lot on our backs.”
So if you find yourself dealing with symptoms that are similar to those of bipolar II, or just feel mentally overwhelmed in general, she says we need to make the push to seek out help.
“Seek treatment when you’re not feeling like yourself,” Wise-Brown says. “We look at it as a sign of weakness when it’s actually a sign of power.”
Seeking Therapy, No Shame -Heart & Soul
It was a Thursday morning at 9:55am when the doorbell of my suite rang. I went out in the waiting area where a man pushed me into my office while introducing himself. He said,” My name is Dr. Stevens*, I’m your 10:00am appointment, I wanted to get out of your waiting area before someone else sees me.” I asked, why that would be a problem and he responded, “I don’t want people to think I’m crazy and need psychotherapy.”
I had to talk to Dr. Stevens about the importance of taking care of his mental health and that he shouldn’t feel shame. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time a client rushed into my office to avoid the gaze of others.
In the United States there is a stigma attached to anything “mental health”. There needs to be a shift because for many Americans, mental health services are necessary for quality of life. Research shows that over 49 million Americans are prescribed psychotropic medication and most of them are also utilizing psychotherapy. According to Medco Health the use of psychotropic medications grew 22 percent from 2001 to 2010.
When people are diagnosed with mental illness such as, Bipolar disorder, Schizophrenia, Depression/Anxiety, and or Personality disorder they are prescribed both psychotropic medication and psychotherapy, which is beneficial to their recovery. However this is not the only population that I serve in my practice. Most of my clientele have other types of life stressors and/or confusion that may be impeding on their ability to function at their highest level. There is no specific look or lifestyle to the average psychotherapy client. On average clients are gainfully employed with a myriad of professions such as, doctor, nurse, lawyer, CEO, entertainer, teacher, and athlete.
All of my clients have the same underlying goal; to overcome barriers in hopes of learning lessons that will bring them closer to their authentic selves. There is nothing weak or dysfunctional about seeking psychotherapy, the contrary is true. The dysfunction lies in the space where help is needed and available and it’s not sought. Here are some common reasons some people seek psychotherapy:
Stress/ Coping strategies
Addiction (sex, drugs, alcohol, food)
Change of Career
My hope is that you feel empowered to get the help that you need as Dr. Stevens does. After being educated Dr. Stevens continues to feel uneasy when seen by others in my waiting area however he continues to come weekly and has referred several other clients. Do not allow the stigma attached to mental illness to deter you from taking care of yourself. If you have a need you should address it. Seeking mental health treatment is much like seeking treatment for any other ailment that you are diagnosed with (diabetes/high blood pressure). Remember, no one is perfect; we ALL need some type of support to live our best lives. Show your smarts, reach out and take care of your mental health needs.
*Name has been changed
Managing That 'BahHumbug' Feeling -Heart & Soul
While waiting in line at a grocery store which was adorned with overbearing Christmas paraphernalia,
a woman asked me, “Am I the only person who hates the holidays?” I quickly responded, “No, there
are many people who don’t like the holidays and for many different valid reasons.” The woman sighed
and smiled while displaying a look of relief as if I had alleviated some of her holiday guilt.
There are many people who share the “Bah Humbug” mentality or “Holiday Blues.” The University of
Iowa hospital and clinics found that an estimated 10 percent of the population suffers from holiday
depression to some degree. In the U.S. we are taught from a young age that somewhere between
November 14th and January 2nd we are supposed to be blissful while being bombarded with love and
gifts as we attend family events for the holiday season. This western societal norm causes much
anguish for some. Many families are disconnected and are not open for kinship. Others are struggling
to make ends meet so participating in holiday rituals can add to their stressful life circumstances.
If you are not one of the persons who fit in that “blissful box” that society has prepared where ALL is joyful during the holiday season, here are some tips that may help you get through the season.
Have realistic Expectations. If you are reuniting with family and friends, remember that people don’t change just because of the holidays. Sometimes it’s best to get along while choosing not to declare your righteousness.
Be Honest about how much you have in your budget to spend. The goal of the holidays is to connect with others not try to outspend them.
Don’t take on too many Responsibilities; ask others for help when hosting a holiday event. Trying to do it all yourself can be overwhelming and anxiety provoking. By delegating task, others will feel included in making the event pleasurable.
Focus on the “here and now”, let go of the past and/or the ideal of how things should be. Express gratitude for what is. Enjoy each holiday in its’ own way; create new traditions each year as you choose to celebrate.
Volunteer and share your time with others who are less fortunate. Do not isolate yourself. If you don’t want to be around familiar faces, give your time by packing toys, serving/delivering meals and/or visiting residential homes or hospitals.
There are several satisfying ways to spend the holiday season, including Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Thanksgiving. View the season as a time to create new traditions for yourself. In addition the holiday season is at the end of the calendar year which is the perfect time to reflect on your accomplishments and reevaluate your goals. Look at this time of year as a time to connect with yourself and your future. Commit to the idea that the holiday season is beneficial for your personal growth because it allows for time to pause and assess what really matters you. So sigh, smile and relieve yourself of any feelings of guilt about having the “holiday blues” as the woman who I met in the grocery store did. She came to the realization that a “season” is just that, a “season”, you are the one who gives a season whatever meaning you want it to have.
Throw Out Resolutions, And Add A Vision -Heart & Soul
New Year’s Resolutions are a thing of the past! Researcher John Norcross, PHD, found that approximately 50 percent of the population make resolutions each New Year, however they do not keep them. Among the top resolutions are weight loss, exercise, stopping smoking, better money management and debt reduction, all of which take brain rewiring and may be extremely difficult to maintain. People set resolutions to motivate themselves but yet are not truly ready to change habits. Why set yourself up for disappointment? Other research describes how unfulfilled resolutions lower self-esteem and change how the people who set them see themselves. I suggest to let the New Year’s Resolutions go in 2014 and create a plan to work toward your dreams for a better quality of life.
Create a “Vision Board”! Take time to reevaluate your past accomplishments, regrets and reassess your goals. When reassessing goals and dreams, deciphering how they will align with your current lifestyle can often be challenging. Moreover, contemplating whether or not your dreams are realistic or obtainable may be debilitating, therefore confirmation from your intuition is useful. Creating a vision board is an intuitive process that helps you find your way back to your purpose and reason for being. A vision board is a road map that can be used to aid you in finding your way to your dreams. Follow the steps below to create your 2014 vision board and be on your way to creating your future.
Purchase a large poster board, scissors, glue or tape, and a writing utensil (most dollar stores have these items).
Purchase a few magazines with pictures of different categories of your interest (ex; fashion, real estate, automobile, popular, geography).
Create a quiet space where you can work without distraction (music can add to the energy of the space).
Take your time while perusing the magazines, cutting out ALL things of interest to you. Cut pictures of places you dream of visiting, people you wish to meet, careers/relationships you want to fulfill and objects you want to obtain.
Paste/tape ALL of your cut out pictures on the poster board in NO specific order, but in a way that is pleasing to you.
Applaud yourself, you have just created a vision board! Take time to review it with the belief that all things are possible.
After completing your vision board assess to make sure you included pictures of everything you want in your life. New interests or goals can always be added to your vision board at any time.
Put your vision board in a place where you can revisit it frequently.
A vision board is an effective tool to clarify one’s goals in order to plan the necessary steps
to then accomplish those goals. Many of my clients have discarded the old idea of making a
“new year’s resolution” and instead have adapted the idea of creating a vision board. The
results speak volumes as my clients enjoy the success of accomplishing many of the goals
that they’d placed on their vision boards. Make 2014 the year you create a vision board in
order to improve your quality of life and bring your visions into fruition.