Ooreeel Flowers-Chandler (Intern Therapist)
Ooreeel Flowers-Chandler (she/they) is an Intern Therapist at The Center for Growth in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania [05/31/22-05/05/23]. She is currently a graduate student working toward a Master's degree from the Clinical Counseling program at Alvernia University. Ooreeel obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Cornell University. She remains determined in her goals to graduate with a Master of Arts after her fourth year and obtain the licensure to be a mental health professional, specifically a Licensed Professional Counselor. Ooreeel is passionate about and committed to making the benefits of therapy more accessible to historically marginalized and oppressed groups.
Since her teenage years, Ooreeel has wanted to help individuals experiencing mental illnesses and other concerns with their mental health. She recognized that there were many of her peers and others within her community who might have utilized the support of therapy if there were more access to services and a positive perception of therapy. For some communities, there is a stigma surrounding therapy and addressing mental health. In those cases, therapy is often considered taboo, unnecessary, or a sign of being “weak.” In addition to that, for some populations, the mental health field has historically targeted or neglected them. Because of that, individuals may feel distrustful and wary of trying to get help. In regards to these concerns, Ooreeel wants to assist in reducing the barriers to care and to see individuals be able to safely get the help that they need without being harmed. Thus in her work supporting clients, Ooreeel aims to combat misconceptions about therapy and to empathize with clients’ initial hesitancy towards beginning therapy.
Mental Health, Music, and Art
Ooreeel has a special interest in the healing aspects of the arts, especially in the ways that music can improve mental health. Her interest in mental health first began with understanding the relationship music had with listeners and how it could be healing to listen to music. Music has the ability to help listeners feel emotions through sound and lyrics. Music can also be a way to distract oneself from what they are experiencing. She saw that many individuals used music as a method to cope or express what they were going through, especially younger people. Paying attention to messages within music that individuals listened to in addition to speaking with them allowed Ooreeel to realize that individuals sometimes used music to express themselves when they felt they could not do so otherwise. Clients of Ooreeel can look forward to her asking them to bring in music or lyrics from songs that they emotionally connect to and discussing that in session. She has a future goal to become certified in music therapy which would involve a music therapy bachelor's degree and master’s level education for that specification.
Around this time, Ooreeel also noticed the impact that other forms of art could have on mental health. This included visual art, writing, dance, and theater. Those who engaged in these disciplines could use their chosen art form to express themselves in a way they might not have been able to do with words. Ooreeel realized that people were able to use their interests to help them navigate their world and personal experiences. She encourages clients to use their art to express their emotions, thoughts, or current state of mind and bring that into the session. Clients of Ooreeel can expect her to ask them to bring in clips of scenes or dances that they resonate with if they have an interest in those forms of art. Ooreeel hopes to attend further education programs in the future for licensure to become an art therapist.
As an Intern
At The Center for Growth, Ooreeel provides in-person and virtual therapy sessions. When it comes to providing therapy, she strives to create a warm and welcoming environment for all clients. Ensuring that clients feel comfortable and open is extremely important to her. Her goal is to empower her clients to become authentic and unapologetic versions of themselves. Individuals might have been in situations where they were unable to talk about their lives, identities, or concerns freely. With a sensitivity to multicultural issues and LGBTQIA+ concerns, Ooreeel seeks to work with clients of all backgrounds.
Ooreeel is interested in Person-Centered, Cognitive-Behavioral, and Psychodynamic approaches to providing counseling and validating client experiences. Using these approaches, Ooreeel aims to help clients uncover underlying issues that they have been struggling with, followed by providing support in processing and coming to terms with those issues, so that clients may move forward in their lives. She encourages clients to reconsider and unlearn maladaptive behaviors that have helped clients in the past, but now hinder client progress. In addition to that, she strives toward being compassionate to each client's situation, while remaining sensitive to the various aspects of each client’s experience. Because each person has their own unique experience, Ooreeel will offer a non-judgmental presence and utilize skills suited to address each client's therapeutic concerns.
Person-Centered therapy focuses on what clients are able to do, their strengths, and how best to support them in their journeys. It is called Person-Centered, because the client is the one who sets the tone of the session and is empowered to discuss what they need from the therapist. This approach also involves working with the client and taking into account their full experience within the world which may include age, gender, culture, socioeconomic status, race, and many other aspects of an individual’s identity. The client is positioned as an expert in their own life and what they would like their lives to become. By putting the client at the center and allowing the client to have power over their therapeutic journey, they are able to change their own lives with the help of the therapist.
The psychodynamic approach acknowledges that what happens to an individual during childhood can impact their development and experience well into adulthood. The thought processes, behaviors, and emotions that individuals have may be connected to experiences in their childhood. Ooreeel works with clients to recognize patterns within clients’ lives, where those patterns began, and how those impact clients currently. Some of those patterns may have been taught while the client was a child or the client was able to observe how their parent(s) interacted with others. Lessons taught from those observations can be so integrated into an individual’s life and way of navigating the world that they may not be able to easily identify it. Ooreeel assists in spotting the patterns and having clients consider how those past experiences have shaped them. She helps clients be able to do this and then begin unlearning patterns and behaviors that are unhelpful.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
The Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approach focuses on thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. When events happen, individuals have thoughts about them and those thoughts can bring up emotions. Individuals then behave in certain ways in response to those emotions. The behaviors may not always be appropriate, or they could sometimes be harmful to an individual. CBT allows the therapist and client to work together to interrupt that process and help the client approach it differently. Ooreeel utilizes cognitive challenging and reframing techniques to assist clients in altering thoughts and beliefs. This may involve asking a client about a negative belief or thought and then challenging that by asking what evidence they have that supports that thought. She might then ask what evidence the client has that supports a thought that is in opposition to the original one. By having the client identify what evidence exists, they might be able to learn if a thought is realistic or has a basis. In interrupting and slowing down the thought process, the client may be able to analyze what they are feeling and behave in a way more beneficial to them. This approach is collaborative in that Ooreeel and her clients work together so that clients will be able to challenge negative perceptions on their own, decrease their distress, and behave differently. Ooreeel frequently uses this approach in assisting clients with anxiety.
Ooreeel’s Approach to Anxiety
Anxiety, for example, can present itself as a response to stress or distressing thoughts. For some individuals, anxiety might exist a majority of the time or only in specific instances such as leaving the house or being in social situations. This is because there are numerous types of anxiety. To name a few symptoms, a person with anxiety might experience increased heart rate, nausea, restlessness, and shortness of breath. In therapy, Ooreeel honors the fact that clients are going through this and that it can be overwhelming. She also helps clients explore what physical sensations they have when the anxiety occurs. In addition to this, she encourages clients to identify which situations make their anxiety worse or better. Clients are prompted to pinpoint which thoughts are anxiety-provoking and what actions they tend to take when they do experience it. Some behaviors we use to cope with anxiety, such as avoidance or isolating from others, might not be appropriate for every situation. Ooreeel helps clients explore this so clients can find behaviors that are more fitting. She also works with clients to gently confront anxiety-provoking thoughts that might be replaced with alternative thoughts that ease the anxiety. In addition to this, Ooreeel provides clients with tools to help them stay grounded in the face of anxious thoughts so that they have more control whenever they do experience anxiety.
Ooreeel’s Approach to Grief
Grief is something that the majority of people will experience at some point in their lives, and for some individuals there may be an overwhelming sense of grief and loss. Ooreeel approaches grief by understanding that there are multiple forms of loss. Loss is not restricted to a loved one's death, but also includes losses of relationships, jobs, or the ways we are used to seeing the world. Ooreeel assists in processing grief by honoring the pain clients are going through. She focuses on the emotional experience and allows clients to express how they feel about the loss in whatever words they have to do so. In working with grief, clients might undergo intense sadness, numbness, and anger. She reminds clients not to dismiss their feelings and that they are not wrong for feeling or not feeling an emotion. Grieving can be a cycle and so Ooreeel approaches clients with understanding and patience. The grief cycle usually includes denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, but individuals may also alternate through those states. Ooreeel listens to clients working through these and lets them be the experts of their own experience. She provides assistance in clients recovering their level of functioning as well as rediscovering their identity after the loss.
Ooreeel's Approach to Depression
Depression could have a single cause or be from a combination of causes. Numerous circumstances can cause an individual to feel low or hopeless about themselves, their reality, and the future. These circumstances can include major life changes, grief, trauma, medical issues, etc. Ooreeel understands that when individuals are in this mental space, it can be difficult to see any positives in life and one's self. Often, people experiencing depression describe feeling hopeless, stuck, and detached. An individual's self-esteem can also be very low because of depression. Ooreeel assists clients in seeing the positive traits within themselves, which may include working with the client to alter negative thoughts that they have. She helps clients identify what they would like their life to look like and how to get them there. Ooreeel works with clients to identify hobbies that they can engage or re-engage in as methods of being mindful and building confidence. She also encourages and supports clients in finding communities they would love to join or in rebuilding their support networks. Through this, clients can increase self-esteem, rediscover sources of happiness, be able to move toward life goals, and have a larger support network to rely on.
You can self-schedule an in-person or virtual therapy appointment with Ooreeel Flowers-Chandler at the Society Hill Office: 233 S. 6th Street, Suite C-33, Philadelphia PA 19106
- Pennsylvania: Currently in graduate school, working under supervision
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