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Meet Lystra Lewis, Family Therapist

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Tell us a little about your background and what inspired you to pursue the career you have today.

I have always worked in some capacity in the helping field. Looking back, my job as an active listener on a 24-hour domestic violence hotline service in my early 20’s was my official entry into the helping field. This was truly an eye-opening experience. I was initially terrified by the stories I heard but motivated at the same time to make a difference. Later on, I worked several years as a family court mediator. Additionally, I have also always been active in my faith community leading women, youth groups as well as facilitating retreats and workshops on varying social issues and empowerment topics.

What traits do you feel are the most important to be successful as a family therapist?

I am a good listener, possess a natural knack for reading people, and am able to create a sense of safety, which allows me to gently challenge clients and their families to have those difficult but healing conversations.

In what ways do you see how the Family Program Weekend Events you lead bring families and loved ones closer together?

It is heartwarming to witness a family member begin embracing the idea of addiction as a disease. This enlightenment creates the space for families to understand that although their loved ones are ultimately responsible for the choices made on their recovery journey, many factors impact this choice. As a result of this shifting perspective, empathy grows, leading to the deep connection family members and their loved one’s experience. The weekend also allows for difficult conversations, the opportunity for families as a collective unit to commit or recommit to the journey of healing, take accountability for behaviors, and begin making amends.

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What advice would you give someone who is hesitant about seeking addiction or mental health treatment for their loved one?

Although scary, the decision to get help for your loved is one of the best choices you will ever make. Why? Treatment empowers your loved one to take their life back from the grips of addiction and/or unaddressed mental health. Families often voice fear of their loved one’s anger. Remember, your loved one is not in the place to make those healthy choices. They need your help. It has been my experience although initially angry, loved ones are grateful for their family’s support and insistence they get help. So, summon your courage and make that call! We are here to support you and your loved one.

Tell us about some of the new additions this past year to the Family Program at DH.

Since launching our monthly family program in July last year we have added our online Virtual Family Forum which provides support for all families, particularly those unable to attend our weekly onsite family nights. In addition, the quarterly In-The-Know series launched a few weeks ago. In-The-Know is an open platform for the community that engages professionals on the frontlines in the behavioral health field bringing to community not only cutting edge, but practical information to support those struggling with addiction and/or unaddressed mental health.

What does a typical day look like for you?

It depends on what’s happening for our upcoming events.

What is one thing you wish more people knew about Destination Hope?

That Destination Hope is truly a dual diagnosis facility with the capacity for long term stay. Some time back I worked with a client who stayed with us for approximately 3 months. Unfortunately, many treatment centers claim to be dual diagnosis facilities but lack the staff with the experience to address mental health issues.

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What is something you love to do in your free time?

I love riding in our local parks with my nephew. Hugh Birch Taylor state park is one of my favorites. Recently, I picked up gardening which is surprisingly quite relaxing. So excited about my tomato trees that are bearing. Yayyyy!!!

Do you have a favorite motto or quote?

“It always seems impossible until it gets done.”

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