Graduation Year: 2008
Education after High School: M.A. in Counseling at UNO.
Tell me about your job and what you enjoy the most about it: I am currently a Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner and President of Complete Wellness. The mission of Complete Wellness is to provide exceptional care centered on allowing individuals to achieve a fulfilled mental, emotional, and physical life. I have been a mental health practitioner for 6 years. I actually attempted to be anything but a therapist, and eventually realized it is just who I am. What I enjoy most about therapy is getting to assist others in helping themselves reach a fulfilled life. Additionally, I have a performance coaching business called Think Shrink Performance Coaching, in which I help people maximize their potential through enhancing mental and emotional health.
As a mental health practitioner, how has COVID-19 affected your job so far? I recently transitioned to 100% telehealth with about 20 appointments per week. There’s certainly some individuals who don’t feel comfortable doing telehealth right now because it is still relatively new, but the majority of my families have reached out and thanked me for making the decision because it’s more convenient, easier, and more in-line for what we are hearing is best practice right now.
Are there any tips you have for individuals and families to stay mentally well during this time? The first thing I talk with everyone on a daily basis about is mindfulness, which means the importance of staying in the present and focused on what we can control within our own circle of influence because so much of what we are facing right now is outside of our control and unknown. Even with all of the data that’s out there right now, most of it leads to an answer of ‘we don’t really know how this is going to impact and affect things.’ If you go down that rabbit hole, all that’s waiting for you is anxiety and chaos. Staying focused on what you can control and what you can do to keep yourself engaged is important.
The second thing I’ve discussed with many students and families is the opportunity this time presents to use technology in a way that’s meaningful and powerful. So much of technology gets a bad reputation today and now we have a chance to find some positives like telehealth, telemedicine, or just kids learning to use technology to stay connected in a time where they can’t have physical connection. I think if you stay focused on those things, you can actually teach kids a lot of healthy things. In addition, with schooling right now and e-learning, technology has a lot of good in it as well. It can help build the future in a more positive way so that we can deal with pandemics or things like this that are outside of our control. I think that gives parents a little more hope during a time like this.
Looking back at his time as a Bennington student
Favorite Memory during your time at Bennington Public Schools? The countless hours spent from grades 5-12 playing pick-up basketball at the outdoor court near the BAL baseball fields with the same group of guys that eventually made up the varsity basketball team is a cherished memory. We used to create state tournament qualifying games as children and eventually made it to the state tournament as a team in 2008.
Activities you were involved in during school? How did participating in those activities impact your life in the future? I was involved in athletics, stage crew for one act play, NHS, and FCA. Being an involved member of extracurricular activities allows a safe environment for youth to learn valuable life skills that are used daily to help individuals reach fulfillment. Lessons like how to handle success and failure, how to communicate effectively with others, and how to manage time effectively are all essential skills to pursuing your passions later in life.
Did you have a favorite teacher(s)? Why were they your favorite? Mrs. Lukowski would be my favorite teacher for sure. Her modeling of how to treat others with empathy and respect are life stories that I continue to share with individuals on a weekly basis.
Other family members who are Bennington alumni? Zach Byrd – 2005, Christina Byrd – 2009, Hayden Byrd – 2009.
Family members? I am married to Katie Byrd, a CPA in the audit department at Lutz, and have a bernedoodle named Schmidley.