Mental Health Spotlight: Alphonso Nathan, LPC, LBS

Mental Health providers may not be thanked often, portrayed in movies as superhuman or wear capes to work but make no mistake, they’re heroes.

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They’re responsible for helping those who need it most, which can be a tough challenge when patients struggle with mental health conditions, often resulting in poor engagement, motivation, and treatment compliance.

This is our effort to do a little for them and recognize the group of professionals that do so much for us.

To all of the mental health providers out there, thank you.

Next up in our Mental Health Spotlight: Alphonso Nathan.

Alphonso Nathan, LPC (Photo Courtesy of Brightside Counseling)

Alphonso Nathan is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Learning and Behavioral Specialist (LBS) at Brightside Counseling, located in Philadelphia suburb Lederach, Pennsylvania.

He is a very versatile clinician who works with individuals from three years old to geriatrics. He specializes in many needs for improving behaviors like anxiety, depression, ADHD or dealing with divorce; and is well-versed in sports psychology.

There is clearly still a stigma facing many potential patients from embracing mental health treatment. How do you build trust and get more patients, who are at-risk, into the right hands?

There is a stigma regarding mental health treatment but it has lightened over the years. I’m very down to earth when it comes to my clients and that makes me much more approachable, as I can relate to them. When we let the clients know that they are not alone regarding the thoughts, they feel much more comfortable.

When people find out that there is a person who can relate — someone who empathizes with their situation — they process issues more effectively.

I’ve even had situations where they inspire others to come forward or refer in patients with similar symptoms.

Stress and anxiety can lead to lack of productivity in the workforce, straining the way we perform our basic duties. But in the sports world, athletes need to tap their full potential during certain high pressure situations. What are some of the tactics you deploy to help athletes stay composed under duress?

I have been an athlete for the majority of my life. Playing college football gave me the most stress and anxiety regarding performance. I tell the athletes that I see in my office two main rules:

Play with amnesia and trust your muscle memory.

Athletes have a talent in their body but some face obstacles in their mind which affect their play. If you mess up the last play, do not carry over the guilt into the current play, because you cannot change the past, but the present can help to improve the future.

Patients are most vulnerable at early ages and into young adolescence. How does your approach differ in diagnosing and treating a teenager as opposed to an adult?

You can’t ignore the constant emotional roller coaster of a teenager — it’s something I take into constant consideration. It is a very confusing time and you have to go in the session with a non-judgmental mindset.

In order to work with teens, you need to be up-to-date with the culture and current events; things like technology and modern peer pressure. Many teens feel disconnected with the older generation because they feel the older generation doesn’t understand the common issues they have now.

Technology is changing the way we interact with patients in both a clinical setting and remotely. What value do you see in bringing these tools into an engagement with a patient?

Technology has brought great value for mental health. I’ve always considered myself ahead of the curve with new innovations to help the therapeutic process. Technology isn’t going anywhere so we need to find a way for it to help our business grow or risk being obsolete and forgotten.

If you had a magic wand and could fix one element of the healthcare system, where would you begin?

I would begin by making it easier to communicate with insurance companies. I spend countless hours trying to track down claims.

Why do you love what you do?

Pablo Picasso said the meaning of life is to find your gift, but the purpose of life is to give that gift away.

I went to the Milton Hershey School, a boarding school for underprivileged youth, and without their interventions in my life I wouldn’t be where I am today.

I’m the living proof of how interventions can change your life, so it’s only right for me to continue that gift.