“Your book helped me while I was going through chemo treatment!” These were the most powerful words uttered by a woman who read Vitamin C Healing for the Mind, Body and Soul: The Healing Workbook. Vitamin C was written because I wanted to highlight the need to address health and wellness from a holistic approach (mentally, physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually). More importantly, people who could not access HandinHand Counseling Services would be helped.
When writing the book I simply wanted to help those who were afraid to use their voice, unsure how to use their voice and those in search of their purpose. What do they want, need desire, fear and love? What makes them happy? What makes them cry? What brings them pain/pleasure? How can my story and experiences help the readers?
I entered the social work profession for the same reason I wrote Vitamin C; to help. As I evolved into this profession, I learned that just helping wasn’t a strong enough why to reach people who have experienced so much pain. Accompanying families to court hearings, school meetings and other interagency meetings to offer support and coordinate care with other providers was eye opening. I quickly noticed a disheartening trend; most families struggled to advocate for themselves or their children. This struggle was often connected to the stigma attached to families receiving social services. Witnessing this struggle, I spent time helping parents to get educated on the systems involved in their lives and building the confidence to advocate for their families. This experience also inspired the Family and Community Chapter of Vitamin C, where I delve more into how we can build stronger communities.
Being associated with the entities who founded the Indie Author Legacy Awards has been an empowering, yet humbling experience. Having the opportunity to be in the same room with so much success, passion, excitement, positivity, resilience and courage was surreal. Being honored as 2017 Author of the Year in the health and wellness category for a book written to inspire and encourage others felt like a win for the community as well as the helping profession.
Writing a book is an amazing accomplishment and your words become your legacy. Your words will transform lives. Your words become the solution to someone’s problem, the answer to a prayer, generational healing to intergenerational pain. Remember, healed people, heal people! “Your story can be the key that unlocks someone’s prison”~ Unknown
Share your testimony!!
If you have interest in getting started with writing a book, email Sharise Nance at

Sharise Nance is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Speaker and Award Winning Author. She is the co-owner and co-founder of HandinHand Counseling Services, LLC; and the founder of VitaminChealing, an organization that provides services to non-profit organizations, social service organizations, helping professionals, entrepreneurs and caregivers struggling with self-care, burn-out and work-life balance. She has worked with a diverse population of children, families, adults and couples. Her areas of specialization include Trauma healing and recovery, relationship building, self-confidence building, depression, anxiety, work-life balance and family systems. Sharise has presented keynotes, workshops and seminars nationally for young professionals, entrepreneurs, parents and adolescents. She has been featured on Pittsburgh Cable Television’s (PCTV) Women in Business segment, The Lynne Hayes Freeland Show, Hustle & Heart Podcast with Darieth Chisolm, Pittsburgh’s Soul Pitt, The New Pittsburgh Courier, honored with an Entrepreneurial Leadership Award at Vision Towards Peace’s 2nd annual Passion Meets the Road Award Gala, won a second place award for Vitamin C Healing for the Mind, Body and Soul in the self- care/medicine category from the Author’s Zone 2014 Pittsburgh Author Awards. The Vitamin C Healing for the Mind Body and Soul Healing Workbook also won author of the year in the health and wellness category of the 2017 Indie Author Legacy Awards in Baltimore, Maryland. Sharise resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her husband.

Confidentiality 101: Understanding the Basics of Confidentiality Requirements when seeking Counseling

images[7]“Will all the information I share with you in sessions be kept confidential”…is one of the most frequently asked questions when seeking counseling? While the relationship between the clinician and client is the most important factor that determines the client’s success in therapy; it is imperative that the clinician inform clients in the initial session that everything shared in counseling sessions may not be kept confidential. 

Informed Consent

When walking into any new situation, especially a life changing situation, we want to be informed of the risks involved. Informed consent is permission granted in the knowledge of the possible consequences, typically that which is given by a patient to a doctor/clinician for treatment with full knowledge of the possible risks and benefits. In counseling, clinicians are charged with the responsibility of highlighting potential risks associated with counseling, how counseling will be conducted, fee and payment structure, handling of emergency procedures, importance of confidentiality, ensuring clients are aware of their rights as a consumer.

Limits of Confidentiality:

In most cases, your written and signed authorization is required before information concerning your care can be disclosed to individuals outside of the counseling practice, including parents, roommates, friends, faculty, partners and other providers. Below are some of the cases in which the law dictates that your signed authorization may not be required in order for a clinician to release the following information:

  • If the clinician believes that you are likely to harm yourself and/or another person, he or she may take action necessary to protect you or others by contacting law enforcement officers or a physician.
  • If the clinician has cause to believe that a child has been or may be abused or neglected, the clinician is required to make a report to the appropriate state agency.
  • If the clinician has cause to believe that an elderly or disabled person has been or may be abused, neglected, or subject to financial exploitation, the clinician is required to make a report to the appropriate state agency.
  • If your records are requested by a valid subpoena or court order, the clinician must respond.
  • If you are a minor (under the age of 14).

Most people seek counseling in order to get an objective and professional opinion; with the hope of this information being kept confidential. Some clinicians may find themselves in a vulnerable position when attempting to earn their clients trust by ensuring that all information will be kept confidential.  The best way for clinicians to establish trust from the time clients walk through the door is to inform them of the limits of confidentiality in order to allow them to decide how they would like to proceed with treatment.  It is not our role to “catch our clients doing something.” It is our role to inform them of the bounds of our professional relationship.

Sharise Hemby-Nance is a licensed therapist and award winning author with 15 years of experience in in assisting individuals, families and couples with day to day situational issues to those struggling with more pressing mental health illnesses.   For more information on seeking counseling, please contact us at


Work Hard, Play Hard: Tips for finding Work-life Balance

cbeb6ba46e18660129e7ddbef8420f5c[1]Most of us struggle to find balance in our professional and personal lives. The struggle to find balance can hurt relationships, health and happiness. The demands from both our personal and professional lives can make finding balance seem like an impossible goal. So, what is the goal of work-life balance? If you ask several people, you are likely to receive several different answers. In my experiences, I have learned that most people want at least 2 things from both their personal and professional lives: achievement and enjoyment.   However, most people struggle to obtain either of the aforementioned goals. Some of us may find ourselves working 60-70 hours per week and not feel a sense of achievement or enjoyment. When this occurs we must stop and ask ourselves “Why?” What are you hoping to accomplish as a result of working long hours? Are you keeping your end in mind? When we struggle to connect with our “why” in relation to work, our personal lives will suffer; thus making it difficult to find balance in both facets of our lives.

Work-life balance does not require us to find an equal balance such as scheduling an equal number of hours for our work and personal activities. Work-life balance is the proper prioritizing between career and lifestyle (health, pleasure, family, and spirituality/religion). This balance will vary over-time. The right balance looks different for each individual. The right balance today may change tomorrow. The right balance when you are single may change when you marry and have children. Remember we are not striving for perfection, but searching for the tools to combine a sense of achievement and enjoyment in our careers and personal lives.

The following tips can help you juggle the demands of your career and personal life:

  • Leave work at work: We devote over 1/3 of our lives to work. The time we invest into work also includes preparation for work, the commute to and from work as well as time spent ruminating on the work day long after work is complete.  In fact, most of us probably spend more time with our colleagues than we do with our families. If you find yourself feeling emotionally and/or physically drained from over-working, look for ways to re-arrange your work schedule, do not take work home (if you work from home, designate an area from work and use it only for work), schedule time off.
  • Rest and Recuperation (R&R): I used to subscribe to the sayings, “I’ll sleep when I die” or “No one ever died from lack of sleep.”  While we may not actually die from being “sleepy,” our bodies need adequate rest to heal and recuperate. Just as our smartphones, laptops and iPads need recharged; so do we! Do not wait until your battery is in jeopardy of dying. If you are working, do not wait for your boss to suggest that you take time off. You are in charge of your self-care, take the time off and do not feel guilty. If you are an entrepreneur, it is okay to take a day off to take care of yourself. Remember, you are no good to anyone else if you are drained. Is it fair to your customers to experience the “burned out version of you?” Don’t they deserve you at your best?
  • Let go of perfectionism: Most perfectionist tendencies are developed during the school age years when the demands of life are limited to hobbies, school and maybe a part-time job. As we grow older and gain more responsibilities, life becomes more complicated making perfectionism impossible to maintain. If this habit is left un-checked, it can lead to burn-out and become destructive. Remember, striving for perfection is an unrealistic goal but striving to do the best you can with what you have is attainable.
  • Exercise/Meditation: When our schedule gets full, exercise is usually the first to get pushed to the bottom of the priority list. We make time for many other important things to our health such as eating, sleeping and going to the bathroom. Exercise is just as important to our heath and has other benefits such as excellent stress reducer and “anti-depressant” (release of endorphins). Taking into account that time plays a huge role in whether most people choose to incorporate exercise into their schedule; you can take the stairs instead of the elevator, park a few blocks away and walk to your destination or take a walk during half of your lunch break. Other self-care practices can include yoga, quick breathing sessions in the morning and before bedtime. Remember, we only have one body to live in and we must treat it as such.
  • Limit distractions: This can include activities and people. Social media can be one of the best marketing tools and one of the biggest distractions. If you find yourself spending countless hours browsing social media networking sites yet tasks fall incomplete; it may be time to monitor the time you spend on these sites. Are the people in your life assets or liabilities? Do the people in your life drain you? Take the time to reflect on your top 3 distractions and ways you can limit those distractions.
  • What changes can you make today? As creatures of habit, we are comfortable in our daily routines. It takes great discipline to maintain a daily routine. However, it is quite difficult to recognize when the routine is no longer effective and change is needed. If your current routine is adding stress; how can you lighten the load? Do you consistently over-book your days? What tasks can you delegate or outsource? Sometimes, a minor tweak in our routines can be the change we need to help us find more balance in our lives.

Improving work-life balance is one of the most challenging tasks faced by many. When making any changes it is imperative that we start small, celebrate the small successes and continue to build.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with finding work-life balance contact us at

Our Thoughts Become Our Reality: The Power of Positive Framing


Last week I had the pleasure of being invited as the keynote speaker at a women’s conference. I was charged with captivating an audience composed of diverse, wise, sophisticated, spiritual and compassionate women. I was honored, excited and slightly nervous as this was the first time I was asked to be the keynote speaker for an event. I would not allow my fear to overtake this moment as I had powerful and life-changing information to share with this beautiful group of women; and I am not a hoarder of information.

What is framing?

Framing is seeing the world without distortions. It is not putting on our “rose-colored” glasses and being oblivious to what is happening around us.   It is merely viewing life through a different lens and being open to seeing things differently.

How can positive framing improve your quality of life?

One of the main differences between successful and unsuccessful people is the way they view the world. Successful people see opportunities, while unsuccessful people see problems. When we utilize positive framing, we can see the facts in the clearest light. We will not allow negative feelings to distort our view of reality. We widen our lens to gain the strength and clarity to face the problem and find solutions.

I remember how tough the transition was for me from high school to undergraduate school. I felt unequipped with the tools needed to be successful in undergraduate school. My peers had a slight advantage over me as they took college prerequisites in high school. I’ll never forget meeting with my English professor during the first semester of my freshman year. She told me that I would have to work really hard to graduate and she was not sure if I had it in me. At the time, I almost believed her and even questioned if I belonged in college. Sure, I graduated from high school with high honors, rarely studied and had tons of success; but college was new territory. I had poor study skills and struggled with the transition to college throughout the first semester. To my “surprise,” first semester grades reflected my struggles. I was placed on academic probation and in jeopardy of flunking out of college. My parents were surprised and disappointed. I was disappointed in myself. Then 2 things happened. I remember my English professor presenting me with the challenge to graduate college and my dad gave me 2 options, return to school and improve my grades or withdraw from school and get a job. I had the entire semester break to reflect on what would be a life changing decision. I chose to return to school and hit the ground running. Instead of being intimidated by my peers, I joined their study groups and picked their brains. I wanted to learn what they learned. If you want to be successful, spend time around those more successful than you. I had a big piece of humble pie over the semester break and I was okay with not being the smartest person in the room. As a result of my humility and hard work, I found myself on the dean’s list nearly every semester and graduated with honors in 4 years. I do not share this story to impress anyone with my accomplishments, but to press upon you how a shift in thinking can change our lives. Remember, life is 10 percent of what happens to you and 90 percent of how you respond to it.

How are thoughts, self-talk, actions and habits connected?


The way in which we choose to live our lives ultimately begins with our thought process. In “How Remarkable Women Lead,” authors Joanna Barsh and Susie Cranston discuss 2 types of mind-sets; growth mind-set and fixed mind-set. People with a growth mind-set believe that nothing is predestined; their work determines their success. They look for opportunities to learn and grow; understanding that adversity, setbacks and failures are a part of the process; utilizing these lessons as blueprints for success. People with limited mind-sets are stuck and often see their talents and abilities as limited and are threatened by fresh thinking that challenges their beliefs. People with growth mind-sets see the gain, the possibilities and “make it happen.” In contrast, people with limited mind-sets see the pain, the problems and “let it happen.”

What do you read?

If you watch television, what are you watching?

How do you frame setbacks?

Who do you spend the most time around? How do they impact you mentally and spiritually?

For more self-reflection, check out Vitamin C: Healing for the Mind, Body and Soul: The Healing Workbook here.


Be careful how you talk to yourself because you are listening.

Do you speak life into yourself?

What is the first thing you say to yourself when you wake up in the morning? Are you thankful? Do you practice positive self-talk (prayer, recite daily inspirations, etc)? Or, do you practice self-defeating talk (I hate my job. I hate my boss. I have too many bills and so on)? Imagine the direction your day can take by your choice in positive self-talk or self-defeating talk.

Do you talk yourself in or out of success? Which statement best describes you? “It may be difficult but it’s possible.” OR “It may be possible but it’s too difficult.”


Framing also includes unlearning self-destructive behaviors. If we have been accustomed to negative thinking and self-defeating talk, it is highly likely that we will engage in self-destructive behaviors. Undoing these behaviors will take some time as these behaviors were not learned over night. If we are committed to unlearning these behaviors, we must take action by having the courage to broaden our lens and remain flexible in our thinking which will impact our self-talk and actions.

Our actions are based on past learning experiences. Raise your hand if you ever failed a test! Most of us experience an unsettling feeling in our stomachs when it’s time to take a test. Some call it test-anxiety. Our fear of failing another test is based on past experiences, and may affect how we take action, or if we take action. People who are discouraged and struggle with limited mind-sets tend to live in their fears. When we can reframe our experiences, we see the world differently, allowing us to pursue opportunities. In other words, feel the fear and do it anyway!

Habits-doing something religiously day in and day out. A regular practice that is hard to give up.

Good habits can include looking both ways before we cross the street, bathing, practicing awareness of your negative thoughts throughout the day, taking a few minutes per day to express gratitude.

If we make a habit of practicing good habits; these good habits ultimately become our reality. How wonderful would it be to make positive framing a habit?!?!?! “We first make our habits and then our habits make us.” John Dryden

Framing is an approach utilized in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)-a goal oriented, short-term therapeutic approach used in psychotherapy to challenge one’s distorted thinking, inviting individual(s) to change thinking and behavior patterns that are keeping them stuck. We use this approach at HandinHand Counseling Services, LLC, and click here for more information.

Framing is hard work. By no means am I trying to simplify this process.   In order to get better and experience change, you must to set an intention to practice this approach to life. Remember, you are competing with yourself daily to be a better person. You are the wild-card. You have the power to make positive changes; if you desire.

“Our fear is not that we are inadequate. Our fear is that we are powerful beyond measures.” ~ Marianne Williamson

What are some ways that you can use framing to improve your quality of life?

When the leaves turn brown, does your mood turn blue? Tips for preventing seasonal depression

The summer is coming to a close, the mornings are getting a bit brisk and the days are shorter. The turning of the leaves, the images of crisp colorful tans, oranges, and browns creates images of fire places and hot chocolate. Although these are very common and likeable images, the change in season can cause seasonal depression in some of us.

What is seasonal depression?

Seasonal depression, often referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D), is a form of depression that occurs each year at the same time, usually starting in fall, worsening in winter and ending in spring. It is more severe that the winter blues or “cabin fever.” In order to be diagnosed as having S.A.D rather than a first occurrence of depression, one must have a pattern of recurring depression during winter months.

What are the causes of seasonal depression?

S.A.D has been linked to a chemical imbalance precipitated by shorter days and decreased sunlight in the winter; with January and February being the most difficult months. Our moods are partly influenced by sunlight, melatonin, serotonin and Vitamin D. With that being said, melatonin, the hormone associated with sleep decreases when it is light. Serotonin, the hormone associated with elevated mood increases when it is light. Vitamin D helps the body maintain increased levels of serotonin during the winter. Residents of snowy, northern U.S. cities are at risk of vitamin D deficiency, and may not even know it.

What are the symptoms associated with S.A.D?

The symptoms of S.A.D mirror those of depressive disorder, which include




Loss of interest in regular activities

Withdrawal from social activities

Inability to concentrate

Extreme fatigue/lack of energy

Heavy, leaden sensation in limbs

Increased need for sleep

Craving for carbohydrates and accompanying weight gain

Preventative measures for S.A.D:

Exposure to light-get outdoors and enjoy the natural light, open the blinds and turn on the lights.

Exercise regularly-one of the most natural “anti-depressants” is exercise! There are many studies that show exercise can improve the mood in people with mild to moderate depression.

Balanced diet-I know, sometimes we want our comfort foods to take away the pain. There is nothing like comfort foods on a cold, wintry day. By no means am I suggesting that we shouldn’t treat ourselves once in a while. However, we must be able to differentiate between treating ourselves and emotional eating. Eating a well balanced diet will increase energy levels.

Social Support: Stay connected with your social circle; continue engaging in regular activities and daily routines.

How is S.A.D treated?

Treatment approaches to S.A.D are dependent upon the severity of your symptoms. Exposure to light (Get outdoors early in the day to expose yourself to more natural light), during winter months light therapy is recommended by some doctors and/or anti-depressants.

The change of seasons is yet another life transition that most of us experience at least quarterly. Although each of us experiences some sort of change in seasons, it affects us differently. If you are experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, please talk to your doctor, contact a licensed therapist at HandinHand Counseling Services, LLC or reach out to family and friends. Please know that you do not have to suffer through this alone.

If you are interested in a free 15 minute consultation, I can be reached at

The Myths & Realities of Conflict: Tips to Managing Conflict in the various facets of our lives

What is conflict?

Conflict can be defined as 2 or more parties with opposing views having a disagreement or debate.  Examples of where conflict shows up include parent-child conflict, workplace conflict, couples conflict, peer conflict.  Some of us attempt to avoid conflict as if it were the plague.  Others welcome conflict as if it were a long-lost friend.  The purpose of this article is to enhance your tool box so you are prepared to manage conflict as it occurs in your personal and professional lives.

What are the myths?

“It’s better not to talk about conflict?”  This statement may speak to what we were taught about conflict.  What are your views about conflict?  Can talking about conflict make the problem worse?  Discussing the problem that resulted in conflict is likely to cause both parties to escalate.  However, the things we do not discuss have no chance of getting resolved.

“The other party must change!” Take a minute to reflect on your last conflict.  Did you spend time attempting to convince them why your way was “the” way? Did you spend time convincing them that you were right and they were wrong?  Maybe you were on the other side of this conflict where you were the receiver of this convincing and persuading.  Did this strategy effect change in you or the other party?  We may be able to temporarily convince or persuade someone to see things through our lens but it is nearly impossible to sustain this behavior.  Remember, change comes from within and is sustained by internal motivators.

What are the realities?

“Conflict is a form of communication.” I see many clients who seek our services stating “they want to learn to communicate with each other.” I remind them that they are in fact communicating with each other, conflict is a form of communication and conflict occurs in the healthiest relationships.  Combat, however is not a healthy form of communication and occurs when each party is gearing up to take on the other on the battlefield.

“We can change how we respond to conflict.”  Conflict is 10 percent of what we absorb from our party and 90 percent of how we respond or react to our party.  As mentioned previously, we cannot change our party, but we can change how we think and respond to conflict.  Be the change you want to see.  I discuss this further in my book, Vitamin C: The Healing Workbook, available for purchase here.

Managing Conflict in our personal and professional relationships

Use the conflict as an opportunity.  Our perception is our reality.  If we view conflict as combat, each time conflict arises we will gear up to battle our party.  However, if we view it as an opportunity to learn, grow and connect; conflict may not have such a negative connotation associated with it.

“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” Although conflict is normal in all relationships, it is still uncomfortable for most of us.  We must have those necessary, but uncomfortable conversations where conflict will arise in order to grow in our relationships.  Helping professionals who advocate for social justice on behalf of their clients encounter conflict almost on a daily basis.  Co-parents disagreeing on child rearing practices, colleagues disagreeing on company projects, business partners disagreeing      on the structure of the company are more examples of relationships where each party relies on the other for a bigger cause; and their ability to manage conflict can have a profound impact on society.

“It’s not what you say, but how you say it.” When managing conflict we need a healthy balance of emotion and logic in order to be successful.  Emotions allow us to have empathy and logic allows us to reason.  Being empathetic is acknowledging the other party’s position.   Lead with “I” statements in order to avoid blaming.  For example “I feel hurt when you call me names.” “I’m hearing you say.”  Applying logic to conflict is using discernment and determining when it is okay to agree to disagree.

When approaching a situation that may result in conflict, take a deep breath and ask yourself these 2 questions, “What is going on within me that will impact this conversation?”  What am I hoping to accomplish from this conversation?” Remember, conflict is inevitable; combat is optional.

Are you seeking techniques for managing conflict in your life?  Click here for more information on managing conflict.

A Holistic Approach to Mental Health Wellness: Examining 4 components to maintain a balanced lifestyle

We live best when we are in balance!  Oftentimes life can come at us fast; resulting in most of us losing our center in search of balance.  Most of us seek work-life balance and when one facet dominates our lives we can become imbalanced. This article will discuss strategies for finding balance from a holistic approach in a fast paced society.

As a mental health professional, I have learned that treating patients from a holistic approach is imperative to get to the core of the problem and assist them in developing or enhancing the tools to manage life’s complexities.  There are many components that factor into treating the whole person. In this article, I will highlight the physical, emotional, mental/ psychological and spiritual domains.

Physical Wellness: This may be the most important area to obtaining mental health wellness.  Before we can address the other components, we must he aware of any physical symptoms that may be affecting an individual’s ability to function.  Assessing the physical symptoms before the mental health symptoms is essential.  Most patients present with physical symptoms that mirror mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression (problems sleeping, loss of appetite, panic attacks, and shortness of breath).  When this occurs, patients should be referred to their primary medical doctor to rule out any medical conditions before continuing mental health treatment.  Some questions to consider:

How much sleep are you getting at night?

Do you exercise regularly?

Are you getting proper nutrition?

Do you see your doctor regularly?

Emotional Wellness: People in good emotional health are not exempt from adversity.  However, they are resilient, having the ability to recover effectively from illness, change or misfortune.  Emotional wellness is the groundwork for what is necessary for identifying and nurturing your feelings, your intellect and your conscious inner-being.  Some strategies for enhancing our emotional wellness include Positive affirmations, practicing self-love, find a hobby, don’t be afraid to say no, and don’t be afraid to say yes, practice forgiveness.

Emotional health also involves the people around you.  Conduct an inventory of the people you spend the most time around.

Are they supportive?

Do they challenge you?

Are they draining or discouraging?

Mental/Psychological Wellness: Individuals who have good mental and psychological health are able to use their cognitive and emotional capabilities to function in society and meet the day to day demands of life. If an individual finds himself or herself suffering from symptoms such as difficulty sleeping, lack of appetite, feelings of hopelessness that persist for several days, irritability, suicidal thoughts, hallucinations (hearing voices), delusions seek medical attention immediately. Again, medical conditions should be ruled out before patients begin treatment with a mental health professional.  Most mental health disorders are a result of chemical imbalances and some are genetic.  When an individual has a chemical imbalance, he or she may have a mental health disorder.  Seeking mental health treatment is extremely important in assisting individuals in tapping into their strengths to enhance their coping skills in order to manage their conditions.  It is also important to take any medication prescribed by your doctor and report all side effects in counseling and to your doctor.  Do not stop taking medications without speaking to your doctor.  Other strategies for enhancing our mental and psychological wellness include joining a support group, journaling, reading a self-help book and practicing relaxation techniques.

Spiritual Wellness: The activity we engage in to find and nurture a sense of connection to a higher power and deeper meaning for our lives.  Spiritual wellness involves the values and beliefs that provide meaning and purpose in our lives.  A huge part of spiritual wellness is understanding “Who Am I?”  When the gap between whom we are versus whom we think we are narrows; we begin to have good spiritual health.  The process of spiritual wellness also includes what is real within our own experiences on our journeys to discover our truths.  Consider the following questions for developing spiritual wellness:

Do you make time for relaxation in your day?

Do you make time for meditation or prayer in your day?

Do your values align with your decisions and actions?

Do you accept the values and views of others?

When treating the whole person, the goal is to assist individuals in finding balance in each facet of their lives.  It may take time before one is ready to divulge the information needed to take the steps to achieve the desired results.  There are many different ways to assist individuals in achieving this goal, but the one variable that does not change is meeting individuals where they are!

More information on a holistic approach to mental health wellness can be found in Sharise Hemby’s book Vitamin C: The Healing Workbook for the Mind, Body and Soul, click here

For a consultation, contact Sharise Hemby at

Change your thinking, Change your life: Tips for shifting your thoughts into assets.

Have you ever spent time around someone who seems to never have anything positive to say?  When asked how their day is going, brace yourself for a laundry list of everything wrong in life.  An uncle of mine used to say these people were “happy to be mad.”  Oftentimes they have alienated quality people from their lives because of their negative outlook on life.  The good news is there is still hope for this group to transform their negative thinking into positive thinking.  One may question the benefits if they view life as unfair.  Life is unfair, but what if I told you that life is 10 percent of what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond.  If my math is correct, this adds up to us having huge control over our lives.  Will you choose to traverse through life expending energy with a negative attitude?  Or, are you ready to transform your thoughts to positive thoughts and experience a paradigm shift?

One of the distinguishing characteristics between successful and unsuccessful people is their mindset.  Successful people do not succumb to the seduction of victimhood and sing the “Woe is me” blues.  Successful people choose to stare in the eyes of adversity as their unwavering commitment to their goals will not allow them to quit.  When problems arise, successful people view problems as “possibilities” or opportunities to learn and grow.   The more successful people have actively taken steps to make their thoughts assets instead of liabilities.  You may be wondering; how do they accomplish such a simple but powerful task?  Based on my experiences, observations and conversations with the more successful people in life; I have learned that their answers to the following questions separates them from others.

Who do you spend your time around?  “If you’re the smartest person in the room, find another room.”  Do you spend time around people who inspire, encourage, challenge and motivate you?  Or, do you spend time around people who criticize, discourage and drain you.  We are the sum or our 5 closest friends and oftentimes we can find at least one quality that we share with those friends.  We attract who we are and where we are in life.  If your desire is to shift your thought process and become more successful, take a look at your circle.  I discuss this concept further in my book Vitamin C: The Healing Workbook, which can be found here.

How do you spend your time?  Time can be our ally or our friend. I am a firm believer in “work hard, play hard.”  However, I also come from the generation where parents told us “if you are too sick to go to school you are too sick to play.” The purpose of this concept was to instill work ethic.  The ways in which we choose to spend or invest our time will determine our level of success.  You can also read more about the impact time has on our level of success in my blog about balancing full time employment and part time entrepreneurship here.

What book(s) are your reading?  Are you reading? Our brains are like gardens and the seeds we plant in our brains by the material we choose to read can impact our thoughts.

What thoughts dominate your mind?  Do you focus on the problems or the opportunities?  If we remain problem focused, we are more likely to view life as problematic.  The more successful people are problem solvers.  They identify the problem and use their resources to find solutions.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?  What legacy do you want to leave behind? Are you living or existing?  Do you go through the motions or apply yourself?  Another characteristic of successful people is they have long-term thinking.  They begin with their end in mind and work in the present to plant seeds for their legacy.

Who inspires you?  Who do you look up to?  Do you have an accountability partner?  As aforementioned, the more successful people are mindful of whom they share space, time and energy.  Most successful people started their journey with a mentor, someone who tells us what we need to hear, not what we want to hear.  I encourage you to reflect on one person you look up to.  If you haven’t already, reach out to them and pick their brains.  Successful people are usually not hoarders of information and are more than willing to share their knowledge with people who are open to learning.

The direction of our lives can begin with one thought! Our thoughts become our words, our words become our behaviors, our behaviors become our habits, and our habits become our values, which can ultimately determine our destiny.  Remember, whether you think you can or cannot, you are absolutely correct.

How do you keep negative thoughts at bay? How has your life been impacted by positivity and/or negativity? Please share your experiences.

If you are ready to transform your thoughts to transform your life, contact me for a free 15 minute consultation @

From the military battlefields to our backyards: The impact of Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on our communities

In the wake of the increased neighborhood violence throughout the country over the past several months, my heart compelled me to dedicate a blog to discuss the correlation between neighborhood violence, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the residual effects it has on our youth, families and communities.

Most, if not all of us have experienced or witnessed some form of trauma.  Trauma is an experience that overwhelms our ability to experience a sense of control over ourselves and our environment, maintain connection to ourselves, others and make meaning of our experience.  Trauma impacts our relationships with ourselves and others, our safety, our understanding of humanity and our core beliefs.   Trauma can be caused by a variety of events including, but not limited to the untimely death of a loved one, neighborhood violence, domestic violence, chronic pain, natural disasters, physical, emotional and sexual abuse and military combat.

What is PTSD?

PTSD is an intense physical and emotional response to thoughts and reminders of the traumatic event that last for weeks or months after the occurrence.  Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, uncontrollable thoughts, uncontrollable shaking, heart palpitations, tension headaches and increased arousal (overly alert, easily startled, difficulty sleeping).

What is the difference between Trauma and PTSD?

Many people who encounter traumatic events have difficulty coping for a while but they do not have PTSD.  Time and good self-care allows the condition to improve.  However, if symptoms get worse, interfere with daily functioning, last for months or even years; you may have a diagnosis of PTSD.

What happens when we experience or witness a traumatic event?

Traumatic events impact our bodies, minds and relational networks.  It is also imperative to consider the age of the person at the time of the traumatic event.  Children, adolescents and adults may view traumatic events through different lenses.

Common responses to trauma include:

Fight: Examples include crying, clenched fists, feelings of anger rage, fight in eyes, grinding teeth, suicidal/homicidal ideations, nausea and knotted stomach

Flight: Restless leg/foot movement, anxiety, shallow breathing, sense of feeling trapped, tense, excessive exercise, sense of running in life and big darting eyes

Freeze/Dissociation: Sense of stiffness heaviness, feeling stuck in some part of body, feeling frozen, numb, pale, increased or decreased heart rate, holding breath, difficulty breathing and  sense of stiffness, “out of body experience,” and emotional numbness

Chronic Hyperarousal: A sense of always being under extreme attack; or a chronic sense of fight or flight.  The longer our fight or flight system stays active, the more draining; both physically and emotionally.  This is common in those who experienced or witnessed rape, natural disasters, military combat, beatings and/or neighborhood violence.

In the 21st century, Americans in violent neighborhoods are developing PTSD at rates similar to combat veterans.  The experience of neighborhood violence in our country can be compared to the loss of life on the battlefields in the military.  More recently, Harvard doctors have created the term “hood disease” to describe a complex from of PTSD threatening the well-being of inner-city youth.  I go into detail about PTSD in the community being redefined as the “hood disease” in my book “Vitamin C: The Healing Workbook, which can be found for purchase here.

It pains me as I think about the experiences of the youth, particularly the youth in the African American community.  Our youth are experiencing traumatic events in the form of neighborhood violence at alarming rates.  Most of the youth in the 21st century have consistently experienced the untimely death of friends and family members as a result of neighborhood violence.  Death is a difficult concept for children to understand.  As adults, oftentimes we struggle to manage our emotions and behaviors when experiencing the death of a loved one.  However, we are still charged with the challenging task of helping our youth process, manage and express their emotions, thoughts and behaviors during these trying times.  You may be questioning if I struggle to discuss death of a family member due to natural causes to my 9 year old; how in the world do I explain to my 9 year old who is beginning to conceptualize death that his or her friend was gunned down in a drive-by shooting?  Most of the traditional therapeutic models are not geared toward neighborhood violence or black-on black crimes.

How do we begin the healing?

As parents and caregivers, it is important to express feelings and emotions such as shock, disbelief, sadness, anger and guilt when dealing with our children.  Sharing these feelings helps in reducing children’s sense of isolation and reinforces caring and validation, even in times of grief.

Support system: Seek out the natural support of family and friends, seek local support groups.

Seek counseling:  Even in the 21st century, there is still a stigma attached to counseling, especially in the African American community.  I encourage you to seek the help of a counselor who has a good understanding of trauma.  If you or your children are experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, please seek help.  You do not have to suffer alone in silence.

Get involved in the community: Be the change you want to see.  If you see the need for community outreach, counseling, community meetings; initiate the process.  There are people who watch things happen and there are people who make things happen.  Our youth are hurting and being taken away from us way too soon…time is of essence.

Although most of us, especially our youth are hurting from the acts of violence in neighborhoods across the country, our youth are resilient and all of us are survivors.  Parents, teachers, caregivers, counselors, community leaders, law enforcement are charged with banding together for the common goal for a safer, more stable and family oriented community.

Instead of asking “What’s wrong with you,” let’s begin to ask “What happened to you?!”

If you or anyone you know is in need of counseling services please contact HandinHand Counseling Services, LLC at 412-414-7782 or 412-607-4805.



The Vitamin C Healing Book: A holistic approach to healing for the mind, body and soul

The Vitamin C Healing Book:

A holistic approach to healing for the mind, body and soul

I have learned that one of the most defining moments in our lives is the moment we find our reason “why.” Your why is your purpose, your passion, the cause that is bigger than you.  I chose the helping profession because I wanted to effect positive change on many levels.  I always knew I wanted to help people in some capacity.  As I evolved in my profession my “why” became clear.   As a social worker, one of our major responsibilities to the communities is to advocate for social justice.  After working for various organizations in the helping profession I began to notice a common trend of individuals struggling to advocate for themselves and their families.  Two of the most common settings where this trend occurs include school meetings and doctor appointments.   Picture the principal, vice principal, dean of students, teacher, teacher’s aide and possibly the cafeteria aide on one side of the table and the parent and child on the other side of the table.  This setting can be intimidating and can influence the parent to become too aggressive in  his/her defense of the child or too passive out of fear, guilt and/or lack of knowledge of the education system.  A doctor’s office can also be an intimidating setting for patients.  Doctor’s appointments are designed for physical wellness and preventative care.  In my experience, most patients have avoided the Doctor’s office due to being overwhelmed by the difficult medical terminology used to describe their condition, the measures needed to treat the condition and ultimately not knowing what questions to ask in regards to their health.  Often times questions are not asked and concerns are not raised as patients do not always feel heard by the medical professional.  Although the settings are different, the individuals in both settings want to feel heard.  In each scenario, my role as a social worker is to ensure individuals know their rights and are prepared for the best and worst case scenarios during the meetings.  More importantly, during these meetings it is my role to find the balance in advocating for individuals while also allowing them the space to use their voice and advocate for themselves.

Vitamin C: Healing for the Mind Body and Soul is a spin off from my private counseling practice, HandinHand Counseling Services, LLC.  HandinHand Counseling Services is dedicated to promoting Hope, Health and Healing to individuals and families struggling with situational concerns to more pressing mental health issues.   At HandinHand, our mission is to assist individuals in seeking clarity, restoring hope and experience healing through the course of treatment.  Understanding that there are individuals who are unable to receive services in our office for a variety of reasons; but would benefit greatly from a resource that offered the tools to facilitate positive change in their lives inspired me to write a book.

Have you experienced disappointments, pain from losing a loved one, or divorce? 

Have you ever struggled with balancing the joys of life and emotional differences? 

Are you struggling with finding your voice?

Are you ready to interrupt the generational patterns that have been keeping your family stuck?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, The Vitamin C Healing Workbook provides resources and life applicable tools to facilitate sustainable change.  Each chapter includes a thorough workbook section that allows you to work through some of your most pressing issues and experience the healing you desire.

I invite you to join me for The Vitamin C Healing Meet and Greet Book Signing event where you can purchase a new copy, get your copy signed and your questions answered!   The event is being held this Saturday, May 16, 2015 from 12:30pm-2:30pm at the Union Project Building, 801 N. Negley Avenue Suite # 5 Pittsburgh, PA 15206.

Books can also be purchased at or

I can also be reached via email at

I look forward to meeting and conversing with both new and familiar faces!

See you there!