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Life & Work with Channing Clark

Today we’d like to introduce you to Channing Clark.

Hi Channing, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers?
From a very young age, I experienced several traumatic events that provoked me to have a lot of emotions and thoughts that I was too young to be able to comprehend and express. Without the guidance of an adult to help me sort through those experiences I was left to find my own escape and remedy.

Full of a variety of emotions that I didn’t truly understand I found the outlet of expression through writing, imagination, and theatre arts. I believe that when we find ways to truly express ourselves we can feel heard and when we feel heard we can unload our burdens and embrace our healing. Expression was and continues to be one of my journeys to healing.

My love for expression and heart for people led me on the path to becoming a licensed clinical professional counselor. I went on to receive a Bachelor of Science in Family Science and a Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling.

In 2018, I started my private practice named Restore You Counseling and Consultation, LLC serving clients in the Washington D.C. and Maryland area.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It has not been a smooth road at all. I believe and typically encourage my clients that there is beauty in our struggles. I am of the opinion that our struggles help to highlight our strengths and give us insight that we may not have had if we were on the “smooth road.”

During my childhood, I experienced a lot of ups and downs and one of my main outlets or coping strategies was to engage in journaling and writing poetry. It was my safe place to air out my frustrations and to try to process all of my feelings. I remember one day I felt God challenging me to begin to share my poetry with others.

There was this strong push to share my poetry because it was what others needed to hear. Yet, I didn’t understand why God would want that from me because anyone that knew me knew that I was shy. I hated speaking in front of crowds of people. I was afraid to share my intimate thoughts with others because I didn’t know what they would say or do afterward.

But, the desire to help others was stronger. I signed up to perform at my church and it was such an emotional experience. I remember taking off of work the day before just to be able to prepare myself emotionally. I was drenched in tears thinking about all the missed opportunities in my life. All the times that I allowed fear to prevent me from doing the things that I really wanted to do.

That day, I made a decision to fight through the feelings and get my victory in that area. I could feel the anxiety in my stomach and I said to myself “today you will not be anxious.” I realized that I owed it to myself to follow through with this. And I did. When I opened my mouth the words fell out and people were in awe that little ole me could perform with such vigor.

As I overcome my fear to perform in front of others, I gradually began to overcome the fear that resided in other areas as well. Taking on challenging positions, starting a private practice, and so on were slightly easier to pursue because I started the process when I began performing spoken word.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
While many know me as a mental health therapist at my core I identify as a creative or more specifically as an expressionist. At a very young age, I found the power in words and one’s ability to express themselves it’s a powerful tool that can be used to build one up or to tear someone down.

In my therapy sessions, I aim to help clients to find their own voices. It’s my belief that sometimes experiences in life can taint one’s genuine self and cause one to develop defense mechanisms that prevent their true nature from being shared with the world. I have a passion for helping others to navigate through life’s experiences and difficulties in order to embrace and nurture their true identity. I’ve found within therapy asking the right question or using the right words at the right time can serve as a pivotal moment in someone’s healing journey.

I believe what sets me apart from other therapists is the fact that I enjoy stepping outside of the office to provide people with other creative safe spaces where they can heal. This was the premise for one of my favorite poems titled “I am Depression” where I depicted an evil queen that was the embodiment of the attributes of depression. Through this poem, I was able to creatively unpack all the lies and strategies that depression uses to infiltrate our minds.

It’s one thing to talk about it in session, but to actually hear it and see the character of depression come to life was a powerful experience for myself and others. This evolved into the creation of a play titled “Confessions of the Hopeless” where I was able to provide even more detail on the strategic way depression can impact our lives.

Most recently, I wrote a children’s book titled “Ari Meets Her Feelings” along with an activity journal to help children identify and cope with their feelings. I am determined to ensure that even more safe places are created for both adults and children to be able to express their authentic selves.

Any big plans?
There is so much that I have planned for the future in my journey of creating safe places for people to heal.

Coming this fall, I will be adding an additional service of providing Clinical supervision to up-and-coming mental health therapists. In addition to this, I’m currently building additional children’s books on various mental health topics.

My vision is to help to build a mental health curriculum that can be implemented in school and daycare facilities.

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Image Credits

Doug Wilson, Barrington Smallwood, Veronica Andrews, Regina Hockaday, and Arianna Wilson

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