Mental health professional uses business to remove negative attitudes around seeking counseling services
Published 9:00 am Friday, February 24, 2023
EDITOR’S NOTE: In recognition of Black History Month, The LaGrange Daily News is featuring Black-owned businesses in our community.
Who said dreams can’t become reality? Samantha Thomaston, owner of SLT Counseling Services, said her dream was to own her own practice.
“I’ve been in practice now for two years, and it’s always been my dream to own my own counseling practice,” Thomaston said. “I’ve been doing counseling for 30 years and initially started with the Department of Juvenile Justice right out of college.”
In her time as a licensed professional counselor, Thomaston has worked with Pathways, Odyssey Family Counseling Center and the Troup County School System.
“I had been working with TCSS for about 17 years and early retired because I felt like it was time for me to do my own thing,” Thomaston said.
As a one-woman team, Thomaston provides counseling services for couples counseling and individual counseling for adults and children.
Thomaston said in her time working with clients in-person and virtually, one thing remains the same — the stigmas around mental health.
“Stigma associated with mental health affect not only Black people but people of color in general. One thing I learned is that people in the islands, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Japan — a lot of cultures see issues with mental health as a weakness, and that’s a big struggle,” Thomaston said.
Thomaston said anyone apprehensive about seeking counseling should look at it like going to a medical provider.
“One of the number things my Black clientele love to tell me is ‘I can talk to Jesus’ and I tell them, ‘Please do, but you can talk to me as well,” Thomaston said. “You still go see your doctor about your diabetes, your blood pressure, while you’re still talking to Jesus, then see me in that same vein — just as that person you come to talk to about your mental health issues.”
She said everyone needs to be more open in discussing their mental health.
“Everybody has mental health issues from time to time and there’s no shame in any of it,” Thomaston said. “The main thing is coming to get help for those things so that you can be better and feel better.”
In the community, Thomaston has been working to be visible to those looking for counseling services.
“In the past, I’ve talked to people in the community, worked with April Ross during Mental Health Awareness Month and with my pastor who owns a funeral home, letting him know that I was there as a resource and letting people know that as well,” Thomaston said.
For more information on SLT Counseling Services visit, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/samantha-dukes-thomaston-lagrange-ga/856800.