Lisa Bessette, LCSW
Lisa Bessette, a licensed clinical social worker, completed her undergraduate and graduate studies from the College of William and Mary and Virginia Commonwealth University respectively. With over 10 years of experience she has provided counseling to individuals, couples, groups, and families. Lisa’s clinical experience has involved work in multiple settings including community mental health, private practice, and inpatient hospitals.
Lisa specializes in the treatment of adults with personality, mood and thought disorders, as well as those struggling with relationship and substance abuse issues. She has extensive experience in working with individuals who struggle with depression, anxiety, adjustment and mood disorders and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Lisa has helped clients with issues surrounding relationships, separation and divorce recovery, parenting and co-parenting, ADD/ADHD, grief and loss, panic, and anger management. Lisa also welcomes the opportunity to provide counseling support for the families and loved ones of those suffering from chronic mental illness.
Though her preferred treatment modality is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, her therapeutic approach is a collaborative one that is based on the development of a strong, genuine rapport with her clients. Motivational Interviewing and Narrative Therapy are also techniques Lisa frequently utilizes in her therapeutic work. Lisa is skilled in the use of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy which has proven very effective in work with individuals with certain personality disorders.
Lisa has made her home in Richmond for the past 15 years, but has lived in Michigan, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, and Virginia. She is a parent to four adult children and a grandparent. In her free time she enjoys reading, art, online shopping and her dogs.
Melanie Black, LPC
Melanie Black, a licensed professional counselor, completed her education and professional training at the University of Richmond and The College of William and Mary.
She works with children, adolescents, adults, couples and families. She enjoys empowering clients to learn more about themselves and create balance in their lives. Melanie works with children as young as 3 years old utilizing a variety of play and expressive therapy techniques. She is trained in Applied Behavioral Analysis which is extremely effective when working with those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders, as well as, the promotion of language, play and social skills in children and adolescents.
Additional areas of focus include trauma recovery, grief and loss, anxiety and depression. Melanie specializes in LGBTQI needs offering individual, couples and group counseling resources. Melanie has expertise addressing the unique needs of adoptive and foster families. She welcomes the opportunity to work with youth currently in the care of Department of Social Services.
Melanie enjoys teaching clients mindfulness meditation techniques and healthy parenting, social and coping skills. Pet Therapy will be incorporated as a treatment intervention by Melanie Black, LPC. The therapy dog’s name is Luna and she is a Coton de Tuléar. Pet Therapy can benefit clients of all ages. Pets provide physical and mental health benefits including lowering blood pressure, reducing anxiety, providing comfort and reducing depression Luna and Melanie are a registered therapy animal team through Pet Partners, a national animal assisted therapy organization
At home, Melanie enjoys dancing,hiking, crafts, and spending time with her family, friends and her dog Luna.
Kirby Patmon, PMHNP-BC
Kirby Patmon, MSN, PMHNP-BC is a nurse practitioner who obtained psychiatric training and education from University of Virginia. She has 10 years of nursing experience and uses this to help guide her practice in treating mental health conditions. She has been a psychiatric nurse practitioner since 2011 and believes that medication management is a helpful tool in treating symptoms, but not the only method in helping individuals improve their mental health. Her treatment philosophy includes a comprehensive and multi system approach to wellness. The philosophy is used to help individuals reach an optimal level of functioning and includes in-depth initial assessments, health education and promotion strategies, collaboration with therapist, stress management tools and supportive counseling.
Kirby works with individuals 18 and older and specializes in the treatment of mild and major depression, Bipolar Disorder and Personality Disorder. She also has expertise in treating anxiety disorders to include, post traumatic stress, obsessive-compulsive, social anxiety, and panic attacks. Kirby welcomes the opportunity to work with individuals suffering from complicated grief and adjustment disorders that frequently accompany loss or major life changes such as divorce, relocation and job change.
When away from work, Kirby enjoys spending time with family and friends, trying new restaurants and running.
What are three terms that best describe your personality style as a psychiatric nurse practitioner?
What does your initial assessment look like for clients who come seeking psychiatric services?
What interventions work well for clients suffering with depression and/or anxiety disorders?
Tell me about your passion working with clients who suffer from mental health conditions
Linda Carey, LPC
Linda Carey is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) with over 12 years of experience. Linda is a bilingual (English/Spanish) Therapist who works with children as young as 6, adolescents and adults. She has gained clinical experience working in emergency services, intensive in-home, mental health skills building and with survivors of traumatic injuries. While she has extensive training in multiple therapeutic methods, she focuses mainly in Motivational Interviewing and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to foster change and support emotional wellness.
Linda’s specialties include anger management, anxiety disorders, attention deficit disorder, bipolar, brain injury, chronic pain syndrome, complex regional pain syndrome, conduct disorder, depression, grief, post traumatic stress disorder, trauma, relationship/marital issues, parenting, self-harming behaviors, and LGBTQI issues. Linda also has expertise providing Workman’s Compensation evaluations and follow up.
Linda graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Pre-Med and a minor in Sociology and later she obtained her Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling with an emphasis in Mental Health and has a Certificate in Gerontology, also from Virginia Commonwealth University. She has a Behavioral Health certificate specific to Serving Our Veterans and specializes in working with active duty military and veterans.
When away from work and school, Linda enjoys traveling and spending time her family and friends.
Chelsi Simmons is a licensed professional counselor and certified rehabilitation counselor, received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology from Longwood University, and completed her master’s degree in counseling from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Chelsi has an extensive background in the mental health field providing a wide range of therapeutic services to individuals, couples, and families from diverse backgrounds and cultures. Chelsi specializes in individual and family therapy for trauma, depression, anxiety, relationship issues, and situational stressors (Attention Deficit Disorders, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, Anxiety).
Chelsi has expertise in working with children and adolescents who have experienced abuse and/or trauma (physical, emotional, and sexual) which includes expertise in infant mental health, defined as children 3 years of age and younger. She also has a passion for marriage and family counseling including work on building authentic relationships, open communication patterns, and healthy boundaries. She has helped clients with issues surrounding relationships, separation and divorce recovery, parenting and co-parenting. Chelsi welcomes the opportunity to work with couples who have experience or are at risk for emotional or physical violence in the relationship.
Chelsi uses a person centered approach to therapy incorporating her training in psychotherapy as well as evidenced based practices, specifically utilizing cognitive behavioral techniques. Chelsi’s style promotes the development of a genuine rapport with her clients engaging in a warm, collaborative, open, and authentic exchange. It is her belief that the presence of a solid therapeutic relationship is essential to any journey toward self-discovery and healing. Evening and weekend availability is designed to accommodate the working family.
Outside of counseling, Chelsi enjoys spending time with her family and going to the beach.
Katy Webb, LCSW
Katy Webb, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, received her bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Richmond, and her master's degree in social work from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Her work in the medical and mental health fields has involved providing therapy to a range of populations with a focus on children, adolescents and young adults.
She provides emotionally-focused marital therapy to help couples work through a range of struggles. She also has experience working with children with special needs (Autism, Intellectual Disability). For Asperger's Syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorder, she uses evidence-based cognitive behavioral interventions to support depression, anxiety, social skills, daily living skills, and conversation skills. Additionally, she is a certified Parent Trainer and teaches Co-Parenting Seminars.
Katy has worked extensively with individuals who are experiencing severe mental illness, chronic physical illness and those who are living with chronic pain.
Katy believes in working collaboratively to assist individuals establish goals to work toward the increased life satisfaction. She focuses on empowering individuals to take their most challenging circumstances and transform them into a turning point of personal growth.
Whether the topic is building stronger relationships, career-related or habit-building, inspired change is possible. Holistic wellness, physical health, nutrition, sleep and stress management are also a focus of Katy’s, as she believes strongly in the synergistic relationship between the mind and body.
Katy’s approach to therapy is one that is client-centered and strengths-based in an effort to find workable solutions and inner peace. She uses evidence-based therapy frameworks such as applied behavioral analysis, motivational interviewing, family systems and cognitive behavioral therapy. Her style is casual but directive.
Personal hobbies include running, her dog and her family.
Based on your experience, can outpatient therapy be effective with children and adolescents who have been diagnosed with Asperger's Disorder?
What does your first session look like with clients and families who come to you looking for support?
For a first session in couples therapy, my job is to take a neutral approach and create a positive environment despite any challenges the relationship may currently present. I work to create a safe space for each client to simply express what they are feeling without intellectualizing, analyzing, or criticizing each other. I work to give each person a chance to educate me, one at a time, on how he or she argues or handles conflict. Every couple argues differently and most of the time what individuals are fighting about on the surface isn’t the core argument. The final goal of the initial meeting is to uncover deeper, hidden emotional needs that each person feels are not being met in the relationship. This knowledge will set the stage for the couple to gain greater emotional intimacy. Having both individuals feel heard and validated is the ultimate goal.
What 4 tips would you offer to couples looking to counseling as a last resort to saving their marriage?
- Radically increase the positive energy that you direct toward your partner each day.
- Look back on past memories that are positive and happy – this is a sign of hope and possibility for change.
- Make mental or written notes about what you can work on personally in addition to what can be improved as a couple.
- Be prepared to set aside defensiveness and fears in order to work together with a mediator.
How can counseling help children and adolescents coping with parental separation and divorce?
What types of interventions have you seen work well with young children?
What 3 terms best describe your personality style as a Therapist?
John Sears, Ph.D.
Dr. John Sears offers psychological testing for children, adolescents and adults. Dr. Sears offers personality and neuropsychological testing for childhood and/or Adult ADHD. His psychological assessment services are designed to identify the underlying causes of difficulties with emotional control and impulsivity, chronic problems sustaining healthy interpersonal relationships, academic and job performance related concerns. They also provide data necessary for accurate diagnosis of behavioral health conditions, medication protocols and effective treatment planning. Dr. Sears also performs educational testing to include learning disability assessment, as well as, cognitive testing often used for private school admission. Dr. Sears is able to perform fitness for duty and readiness for retirement evaluations.
Dr. Sears offers individual and family counseling and coaching services for adolescents and adults. Dr. Sears specializes in treating a wide range of psychological issues to include clinical depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder(s), post-traumatic stress disorder, personality disorders and gender identity issues.
Dr. Sears is a Department of Transportation substance abuse professional. He specializes in private and court-ordered substance abuse assessment and treatment. An additional area of particular passion includes parenting capacity evaluation, collaborative divorce counseling and the development and monitoring of co-parenting contracts for juvenile and family courts.
Dr. Sears earned his undergraduate degree in biology and pre-medicine at Transylvania University, and his master’s and doctorate degrees in counseling psychology from the University of Kentucky. Dr. Sears has practiced clinical psychology since 1986. He has been certified in the state of Kentucky, licensed in North Carolina and has been licensed to practice clinical psychology by the Virginia State Board of Health Professions since 1994.
Activities of enjoyment include fresh water and deep sea fishing and camping with his family, touring historical sites and national monuments, watching professional football and college basketball, and reading fiction and nonfiction novels.
Jenny Warne, LCSW
Jenny Warne is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who completed her graduate studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. She has had extensive training and experience in individual, group, couples and family counseling. An area of particular passion includes work with young adults with a wide variety of presenting concerns including depression, anxiety, substance abuse, spiritual and religious questioning/seeking and LGBTQ identity issues. Additional areas of focus include self-injury, trauma and sexual assault recovery.
Jenny has many years of hospice experience. She welcomes the opportunity to work with those in need of grief and bereavement counseling. Jenny also has expertise working with the primary caregivers for persons with chronic and/or terminal illness. She is experienced in the provision of treatment services for older adults facing phase of life issues.
Jenny approaches clients with compassion and acceptance. She takes a collaborative approach to therapy, starting with where the client is and facilitating movement towards client-centered goals. Jenny primarily works from object relations theory, which examines how people experience themselves and others based on relational history. She also utilizes motivational interviewing and aspects of dialectical behavioral therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy as appropriate. Jenny recognizes that each person is unique in his/her experience of the world, and tailors her approach to each client.
Outside of counseling, Jenny enjoys spending time with her husband and their two kitties. She loves to read, entertain friends and family, attend live theatre, and is enjoying being a first-time gardener.
Why are you so passionate about working with women who have histories of trauma?
What types of trauma recovery do you specialize in treating?
How do you approach working with teens who are self-harming?
Can you offer 3 tips for parents of teens who self injure?
- Do not respond with negative judgment or shaming statements, as this will likely increase the self-harm.
- Tell your child you love them and that you are sorry they are hurting.
- Understand that this is different from a suicide attempt, and that it is most likely your child trying to cope with his or her feelings.
How do you define codependency?
What types of treatment goals do you think are important for someone to overcome codependency?
How do work with clients who are dealing with substance abuse issues and do not want to take a 12-Step approach?
Why do you recommend counseling for those who are grieving?
Lonnie D. Smith, LPC
Lonnie D. Smith is a licensed professional counselor with more than 10 years of experience providing therapy to adolescents and families. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication from Grambling State University and a Master of Science in Rehab Counseling from the Medical College of Virginia. Lonnie specializes in the assessment, diagnoses and treatment adolescents (ages 12 and older) and young adults. Areas of clinical focus include anxiety, depression, Bipolar illness, ADHD, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, anger management and substance abuse. Lonnie is able to provide ADHD assessment and diagnostic evaluations. He also works closely with inpatient substance abuse and psychiatric treatment programs providing outpatient therapy to patients returning home after an inpatient stay.
Lonnie conducts court ordered and private referral substance abuse evaluations. Cognitive behavioral training, motivational interviewing and motivation enhancement therapy are among those therapeutic approaches Lonnie employs in outpatient work. He is an expert in the use of moral recognition therapy when working with conduct-disordered adolescents. Anger management, character development and job readiness are among those areas of focus.
Lonnie has a passion for working with individuals and families struggling with parenting concerns. Additionally, He welcomes the opportunity to work with individuals and families who are beginning the healing process associated with abuse and trauma. Trauma informed work includes work with Veteran's , survivors of abuse, accidents, violent crime and domestic violence.
Lonnie grew up the greater Kansas City, Missouri, metropolitan area, and is an avid baseball fan, with an affinity for the New York Yankees. He enjoys spending time with his family, barbequing, listening to classic hip-hop, buying shoes and making people laugh.
1. Tell me a little bit about your passion for working with youth:
2. What approach do you take when working with parents of teens that have had behavioral problems in the home, school or community?
3. Why do teens tend to relate to you so well?
4. What 3 words best described your style as a Therapist?
5. What types of goals do you consider important when working with couples?
- Taking responsibility for your actions
- Take an honest look at things you can do to make things better
- Being honest about what you want
- Accept and communicate how you view the relationship
- Find common ground
- Develop a willingness and ability to look at things from each others perspective.
6. What 3 tips would you give to couples considering divorce?
Karen Jones, LCSW
Karen Jones is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Karen brings 20 years of experience from the field of children and family services. She will provide a safe and open environment for people seeking clinical support with issues from depression, anxiety, grief and loss, and post-traumatic stress disorder related to abuse/neglect.
Years of working with children and families has prepared her for treating late teens, and adults. Karen specializes in working with families, particularly blended families and couples. Karen works with parents and co-parents on issues relating to childhood behavioral issues, adult mental health issues, and other issues involving family and marital conflict.
Karen has worked in the community and inpatient psychiatric hospitals providing clinical and assessment services for individuals, families, and groups. One of her clinical approaches is based on system theory which guides people to find purposeful connections for healthy functioning. Karen’s treatment perspective values individuals’ goals and works towards maintaining balance in a society that demands more than most of us have to give. She understands the need for people to go on their individual journey towards healing and will encourage them along the way to find their direction and strength. For some it may take a life time of journeys, but quitting is not an option.
On a personal note, Karen enjoys the outdoors, running, sailing and mud obstacle races. She and her husband raised two children and are enjoying time together as empty nesters.
Christie Blaylock, LCSW
Christie Blaylock, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, has been providing comprehensive psychological services for adults, couples, and adolescents for more than 15 years. Christie specializes in the treatment of substance abuse and non-chemical addictions and offers discrete counseling services for those affected by addiction including those is the healthcare field. As a Department of Transportation substance abuse professional, Christie provides substance abuse assessments for employees and employers throughout the Richmond Tri-Cities area.
For individuals, Christie specializes in the treatment of codependency, establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries in relationships such as marriage, dating relationships, and with children and extended family.
You might be right for coaching or counseling in the area codepedency if you:
- Are you unable to find satisfaction in your life outside of a specific person
- Giving support to your partner or family member at the cost of your own emotional, and physical health
- Overfunctioning in your family or work life to “carry the weight” for someone else in your life
In addition to codependency, Christie also has a clinical focus on parenting skills training and navigating through often complicated blended family issues. Christie’s approach most often involves work with the parent(s) of the blended family unit, giving them the tools necessary to bring routine and healthier interactions to their daily lives.
Christie has a master’s degree in clinical social work. In addition, she is a certified addictions counselor. Christie has provided resident instruction for several universities to include Virginia Commonwealth, Regent and South University.
Because Christie recognizes that the fit between client and therapist is essential to success she offers free 15-minute consultations for prospective clients.
Her personal interests include a love for animals, music, the beach, and spending time with family.
Luna, Our Pet Therapy Dog,
Luna is a pet therapy dog that works with clients of Thriveworks Chesterfield. She is a Coton de Tuléar. Pet Therapy will be incorporated as a treatment intervention by Melanie Black, LPC. Luna and Melanie are a registered therapy animal team through Pet Partners, a national animal assisted therapy organization.
The Coton de Tuléar is a breed of small dogs named for the city of Tuléar in Madagascar and for it’s cotton like coat. Cotons are cousins of the Bichon and Havanese breeds and legend has it that they survived a ship wreck and escaped to the island of Madagascar off the coast of Africa in the 1600s. The Coton is playful, adventurous and affectionate.
Although generally quiet, Luna can be vocal-grunting, barking, yodeling and making other noises when having fun. Luna has hair that grows instead of fur. She is 4 years old and has lived with Melanie since she was a puppy.
Luna has completed obedience and temperament training as part of her Pet Therapy certification. She loves children and adults. Luna visits the office on specific days and is always under the direct supervision of her handler.