In addition to substance use and recovery-related services, Full Life offers counseling for issues as diverse as anxiety, depression, sexuality, spirituality, grief, life transitions, and marital and couples challenges. Clinicians use a variety of techniques to address these, including, but not limited to EMDR, hypnosis, and DBT. Other staff additions have allowed us to broaden our scope to provide care for those seeking a deeper spiritual life, healing and connections in the area of sexuality in recovery, chronic pain and trauma work.
Founded in 2008, Full Life began as a practice devoted to those affected by drugs or alcohol. Early on, Founder Ginny Mills, observed several families whose need for services was tragically complicated by their intense need for personal privacy. As they loved and tried to support the person in their families affected by alcohol or drugs, they did so in silence and virtually alone. Ginny sought to develop pre-treatment and aftercare services to support individuals and families achieve their own definition of “a full life” with the belief that a full life is achieved when our lives are free from addiction, despair and fear.
Fellow clinicians who shared that passion began to find their way to Full Life and more services were added. Full Life began offering relapse prevention services, recovery coaching, sober transport and, from 2013-2016, sober living services. Core services such as assessments, Love First-model interventions, parent support and recovery counseling services continue to this day, and they are complemented by a host of non-substance-related services to meet a variety of other needs.
Recovery coaching and sober transport are services that are new ideas to many in our area. We help those who need recovery learn what it really means to create a lifestyle of recovery. Whether it’s providing sober transport to admit to treatment, answering questions about 12-step recovery, accompanying clients to their first local AA/NA/DAA meetings, exploring non-12-step approaches to recovery, or being a sober companion through especially challenging times, recovery support services are an important complement to Full Life’s clinical programming.
Today, Full Life is best described as a team of passionate professionals, each dedicated to supporting our clients in one or more very distinctive niches. We operate with many shared values, a strong commitment to offering high-quality clinical services, and doing the work that makes our hearts sing. Remember that not everyone who is served by Full Life is affected by substance, so getting help here doesn’t imply that your issues are related to drugs or alcohol either.
No organization can survive without a strong administrative team to help handle all the details of scheduling, fees, insurance questions, superbills, finances and day-to-day operations. Our admin team are affectionately referred to as “Cat Herders” for the Full Life clinical team, but just like our clinical staff, their real passion is helping our clients.
That really is what it is all about. Offering hope, guidance, support and creating community in all that we do.
Our Clinical Values
Our team has a strong set of clinical values and is committed to maintaining fidelity to those values, as well as to our practice culture. These clinical values evolve as the field changes, as society changes, and as we all learn and grow.
Full Life Counseling & Recovery Clinical Values Statement
It is not only common but frequent for individuals of all ages to experience a range of needs, distress and challenges related to mood, anxiety, personality, relationships with other people, and relationships with alcohol, illicit drugs, and prescription drugs. Therapy, supportive counseling, education, coaching and clinical support resources are some of the ways Full Life team members can choose to aid and encourage healing and wholeness.
Use of substances is common in American culture and therefore not, in and of itself, a wrong, bad, sinful or shame-worthy behavior. Certainly, the laws of the land apply, but even these vary by location and culture.
While alcohol is legal for those over 21 years old in the US and many people believe marijuana should be legal, these most-commonly abused substances can cause very real and destructive problems in the lives of those who abuse them. Legality of a substance is not what defines whether or not it is acceptable or unacceptable. What matters is what happens in the lives of those whose use of substances creates pain, unhealthy relationships, and/or unmanageability in their lives.
Some people who use substances develop problems, but not all people who demonstrate the symptoms of substance abuse are destined to develop the disease of addiction. Our job as addiction professionals is to help such individuals understand their risk for developing more serious problems (including addiction) and introduce them to alternative methods for getting their needs met. This means helping them identify other ways to relieve stress, work through problems, set boundaries, accept personal responsibility, experience joy and fun, and find a peer group that supports healthier lifestyles and relationships.
Those who do develop the disease of addiction should be treated with the same respect and dignity afforded to any sick person. Unfortunately, the symptoms of the disease are often offensive to others. Symptoms include dishonesty, deception, manipulative behavior, irresponsible and/or impulsive behavior, denial, and minimizing, rationalizing and justifying their use of alcohol and/or other drugs. As distressing and challenging as these symptoms are, it helps us to keep in mind that they are symptoms demonstrated by a sick person in need of compassionate care.
Similarly, when addicts and alcoholics demonstrate the symptoms of the disease, it is our responsibility as addiction professionals to take steps to encourage treatment as soon as possible. While waiting for the addict or alcoholic to “hit bottom” is well-established conventional wisdom, failure to make every effort to encourage treatment (even for those who don’t know they are sick) could result in considerable unnecessary suffering or even death. Compassionate, respectful intervention is a loving and responsible act for families and friends to consider when the individual truly cannot see their disease.
All strategies for helping individuals, couples or families must demonstrate professionalism, respect and dignity. “Hot seat” confrontation methods, shaming intervention approaches, and deliberate stripping away of defenses of the addicted person are not appropriate at Full Life. Such methods may be appropriate in some contexts under other circumstances, but not here. Our intervention services follow the tenets of the Love First-model.
Full Life is deliberately open to a variety of strategies and therapeutic interventions to help individuals and families experience a full life in recovery. Traditional interventions include talk therapy in groups and individually, EMDR, Comprehensive DBT, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Gorski/CENAPS Relapse Prevention strategies, and mutual support groups.
We feel strongly that the need to get relief from specific stressors, symptoms and distress often contribute to our clients’ use of substances. We are committed to being willing to both take that need for relief seriously and to explore alternative therapeutic solutions. For that reason, we offer some alternative services “in house” and refer out for others. Activities such as equine-assisted psychotherapy, clinically-directed aromatherapy, therapeutic breathwork, yoga, mindfulness training, Reiki, and experiential therapy can be helpful ways for our clients to safely find relief without having to use alcohol, illegal drugs or prescription drugs.
For some though, symptoms of depression, insomnia, anxiety, ADHD, OCD or bipolar disorder can complicate recovery and may necessitate prescription medication to manage symptoms. While use of intoxicating medications, like benzodiazepines, should be avoided whenever possible, use of antidepressants, mood stabilizers, non-habit-forming anxiolytics and sleep aids have their place in the spectrum of care.
For those without a history of substance use concerns, psychiatric and naturopathic medications can provide additional relief from symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia, rumination, and other mental health conditions. While some may be reluctant to consideration medications, our clinicians may recommend collaborating with an appropriate healthcare provider to explore symptom relief as part of a comprehensive plan towards relief, growth, and wholeness.
For those with substance use concerns, the use of non-addictive medications to assist recovery may be appropriate for some individuals. Vivitrol, Trazodone, Campral, naltrexone, Neurontin, Topamax, Antabuse and other medications that can support recovery and be appropriate when administered by a physician who is well-versed in addiction medicine.
Use of some prescription and over-the-counter medications can begin legitimately and evolve into physical dependency with or without psychological dependency. Those who have physical dependency without psychological dependency and who have never abused other substances may be excellent candidates for physician-only care, including the use of opioid maintenance programs such as Suboxone. Those who have developed dependency on opioids as part of a larger experience of substance use with symptoms commonly associated with addiction are better suited for a more comprehensive plan towards relief, growth, wholeness and sustainable recovery.
While we are hopeful that all our clients can achieve sustained, abstinence-based recovery from all intoxicating substances, we accept that some individuals may actually need medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and harm reduction strategies to stay alive so that they have a chance at recovery. While we are hopeful that all clients on MAT eventually choose to move towards abstinence-based recovery, we partner with MAT prescribers to provide the essential therapeutic and recovery-focused aspects of care.
While we all have something to learn from those who are different and there is value in a diverse culture, often the best recovery experiences occur in the company of one’s peers. Full Life makes every effort to match those needing services with a treatment or recovery group who is of similar age, professionalism, recovery experience and/or gender whenever possible and most therapeutic.
Professionals providing counseling on behalf of Full Life are all seasoned and credentialed. Despite our experience, we are all are in need of support, objective perspective and clinical supervision. When the stressors of the job get the best of us, we are all challenged to take care of ourselves by reaching out, taking time off and striving to maintain meaningful relationships outside of work.
It is the responsibility of both the addiction professional and the person in recovery to explore and develop a full array of activities and practices that support recovery. While 12 step groups are well-recognized as the most accessible, most affordable and highly effective for many, there can be various paths to successful, sustainable recovery. Generally speaking, mutual support, structured self-reflection, sober fun, productive/purposeful lifestyle, and some form of spirituality are ingredients for successful recovery, regardless of what path or program is chosen.
We stand firmly against racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, white nationalism, white supremacy, and religious intolerance. We acknowledge that the predominant models of psychotherapy originate from White, upper-class, cis-gendered, heterosexual men, therefore we seek to explore and embrace models that recognize differences in culture, race, sexual orientation, gender identity and an array of spiritual traditions in our work.
Last revised, November, 2020
Our Commitment to Underserved Communities
We recognize the importance of providing quality services to those often forgotten by society.
Full Life offers opportunities for reduced fee counseling with women served by Annie’s Hope Center for Growing and Healing, a non-profit organization dedicated to women affected by domestic violence.
David Spillman, Cristina Mounts and Ginny Mills work together to provide counseling and support for referrals from the Forsyth Jail and Prison Ministry’s Transition to Work Program. David provides pre-release assessment and post-release counseling for men who have completed the program and who are returning to live and work in our community. The Transition to Work program strives to prepare men through a variety of spiritual and practical training programs such as Steven Covey’s 7 Habits, Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace, Project ReEntry, Employability Skills, and Employment Placement. David offers short-term counseling and assistance with accessing community based resources to support continued abstinence from substances and engagement with recovery resources when needed.
Similarly, David, Cristina and Ginny collaborate to serve the Forsyth County Drug Treatment Court with comprehensive assessments to determine what treatment is needed for those referred to drug court. We apply the exact same standards and quality of care for Drug Court Comprehensive Assessments as we do for impaired professionals referred by the NC Physicians Health Program.
Our Commitment to the Profession and Each Other
To live and work towards the goal of equity for all. This means to practice inclusion, renounce racism and all other forms of discrimination, seek to recognize our own privilege, stay open to the insights of our coworkers when our actions or words reflect insensitivity or bias (unconscious or not), and actively explore ways “to move beyond acknowledgement and guilt, and to start living, working, organizing, consuming, and loving differently.”
To demonstrate collaboration by striving to communicate with each other, our client’s family members, and other providers (fellow Full Life team members, psychiatrists, treatment centers and other healthcare and recovery professionals) with adherence to both HIPAA and 42 CFR Part 2 confidentiality protections.
To practice commitment to our own personal health and wellbeing. This means taking vacations, mental health days, and honoring days of personal significance with time off (i.e., Martin Luther King Day, Passover, Good Friday, Juneteenth, National Coming Out Day, Veteran’s Day, Kwanzaa).
To demonstrate open-mindedness and willingness regarding differences in Full Life practice philosophy and expectations as they compare to other programs we have worked with in the past. .
To demonstrate generosity by sharing ideas, protocols and recommendations based on past experiences with other programs to help us learn about new procedures, perspectives, services or solutions that could help us improve.
To support each other and work as a team by attending team gatherings; encouraging and celebrating each other; offering insights; “pinch hitting” to help a team member who is feeling overwhelmed or needs time off; and assisting with minor housekeeping tasks as needed.
To demonstrate honesty and courage by disclosing any concerns about the professionalism, well-being or actions of fellow team members. This is about the importance of being accountable to each other and to doing the next right thing, even when it is hard.
To demonstrate responsibility and consistency of professionalism, work ethic, and honoring professional boundaries.
To responsibly refer when a client’s needs are more than we can provide as outpatient therapists and/or outside the scope of our training, credentials and clinical experience. This means knowing and understanding what is available at all levels of care (i.e., psychiatric, other therapists, inpatient, residential, IOP). When we refer, we only consider those we would entrust with our own loved ones.
Our Commitment to the Next Generation of New Therapists
All of us were students once. We needed to complete assignments to interview professionals, find and complete field learning as students through practica and internships, and complete research projects. We were helped by more seasoned clinicians then, so we are committed to supporting the next generation of new therapists.
We are, however, quite selective for those pursuing field training experiences like practicum or internships and only select those with lived- or professional experience in the field. When our clients receive counseling from a graduate student counselor, it is because we know that the experience that student has is far beyond just the training they are receiving in graduate school. They have a level of clinical maturity beyond their skills training in graduate school. They are truly ready to provide independent counseling services with clinical supervision from our Clinical Director. They also get the benefit of our full clinical team in group supervision.
Full Life has offered field training opportunities for students from Wake Forest, Lenoir Rhyne, Montreat and Syracuse universities.
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983 Mar Don Drive
Winston-Salem, NC 27104
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