During the COVID-19 crisis the AFRO is celebrating Black practitioners who are continuing to serve their communities, either on the front lines or through amended means of working in the midst of this pandemic.
Is there a particular incident that led you to choose your profession? Or did you always know what you wanted to do?
Growing up, I was always interested in the thinking and behaviors of individuals.
Curious about the reasoning or the rationale that contributed to the displayed behavior. My entry into counseling came after the death of my brother from alcohol and drugs. His mental and physical decline impacted his family and ultimately our mother. My mother passed away three months after burying my brother, her first born. Her grief was inconsolable.
What has propelled you most and given you courage to excel?
Self-identification through multiple challenges. Not being afraid to learn about me, not just the functional human that shows up, but the thinking, feeling person inside. The receiver of rejections, criticism and discriminatory practices. Separating myself from what I am not, was “fuel” to provide what I was and what I could be.
How long have you practiced and how has your method changed over the years?
I have practiced for over 30 years. My first position as a drug counselor in a community residential program, was a “trial by fire.” I was determined to learn techniques, procedures and language that would assist individuals afflicted with drug addiction. The more I learned and did, the more I needed to add to my “toolbox.” In order to engage with an individual, you must meet them where they are in life. Expanding my understanding of psychology, cultural diversity, intellectual development, gender inferences, economics and medical issues. It was also important for me to include the treatment of children, in services rendered.
What is your biggest concern for people during this pandemic?
The biggest concern regarding the public at large during this very crucial period is that they will not take the severity of this illness seriously. The United States has a history of being sheltered in comparison to other countries.
What general piece of advice would you give to everyone?
Practice and maintain universal precautions. Utilize sanitary protocols as well as teach them to those who are not aware. Remain flexible, we are entering into a new normal. How we adjust to change will increase our growth, physically, mentally and spiritually.
Is there a specific tip you would like to share for surviving the quarantine?
Increase your gratitude. Being thankful helps you to recognize the things we so often take for granted. Begin to take inventory of yourself and your surroundings.
What do you do for fun? Do you have a hobby? Can I complete some unfinished projects? Implement prayer, meditation, laughter and creativity into your daily living. These are attributes that you possess personally. Use them to enhance your environment. Give yourself permission to adjust to the newness or awkwardness of this pandemic. Last but not least remain hopeful and positive about the future.
What’s next for you?
I would like to develop a non-profit family community center in the next year. Having a place to increase parenting skills, family adjustment, (social, education, domestic, coping) skills for adults and children.
Loretta Elizalde, LCPC (Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor), can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 410-484-3892.