Creating Change from Within with Jessica Chouinard, LMHC - Handel Behavioral Health
Mental Health Blog

Creating Change from Within with Jessica Chouinard, LMHC

June 9, 2024

Since she was a child, Jessica Chouinard, LMHC has always enjoyed helping others. 

“I’ve always liked listening to people go through life challenges, and witnessing the amount of resilience and growth they can develop from these challenges,” says Jessica.  

With her master’s in Professional Counseling and post-master’s degree in Trauma Counseling, Jessica has experience working with people struggling with anxiety, depression, PTSD and other trauma disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD), ADHD/ADD, grief and loss, eating disorders, and substance use disorder/addictive disorders among many other challenges. 

Her approach to counseling is person-centered and integrative. Jessica believes that the client is the active and engaged agent of change in their treatment and lives, while the clinician serves to safely support their journey. She will help clients develop new tools to meet life’s challenges, and forge new insights into their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors with compassion and understanding. 

Jessica has received extensive training in trauma-informed counseling, and when working with trauma and other life stressors, she treats the body, mind, and spirit collectively to promote balance in all areas of the client’s life. 

We sat down with Jessica to learn more about her background in the field and approach to working with clients online.

What inspired you to become a therapist?

Mental health has been a big theme in my life, from working through my own mental health struggles to showing up for loved ones with compassion and empathy when they’re going through difficult times.

I’ve always enjoyed listening to people and witnessing the amount of growth and resilience people can develop through the challenges that life throws at them. I’m compassionate and empathic by nature, so when I discovered that I could make a difference by helping others work through their emotional struggles, I dove into the field. 

I received my master’s in Professional Counseling and post-master’s degree in Trauma Counseling from Grand Canyon University. Complex trauma was intriguing to learn about, as it’s something that many people struggle with but often goes unrecognized. 

What is complex trauma?

Complex trauma is defined as the exposure to multiple, often interrelated forms of traumatic events, as well as the difficulties that arise as a result of adapting or surviving these events. 

Typically, complex trauma occurs during a vulnerable period of development, like early childhood or in the context of a person’s formative relationships. The traumatic experiences can be severe and pervasive, such as sexual abuse, interpersonal violence, emotional neglect, community violence, racism, discrimination, or war. They may also be chronic or repeated, giving the victim or survivor little time to recover and make sense of their feelings. As a result, complex trauma can disrupt a person’s healthy development: leaving them unable to form secure attachments to others and sense of self.

Helping people recover from complex trauma:

I’ve developed a trauma informed care perspective which shifts the focus from “what’s wrong with you,” to, “tell me more about what you experienced.”

Traumatic experiences cannot be understood in isolation, but rather must be considered in the context of the person’s efforts to manage and adapt to life’s challenges. 

I’ll take into consideration the individual’s behaviors, interpersonal difficulties, identity and self image, and psychiatric diagnosis- all of which can be understood as adaptive strategies to survive overwhelming experiences. 

My approach to working with trauma is integrative: I focus on the mind-body-spirit connection to promote balance in all areas of the client’s life. Trauma, as well as many other mental health challenges, not only affect the mind, but also the physical body and personal belief system. Developing compassion and strength in the mind, body, and spirit is essential to improving mental distress and life stressors.

What experiences have you had in the field prior to HBH?

For several years, I worked in community mental health, supporting individuals with a dual diagnosis of mental health disorders and substance use disorder/addiction. I enjoyed working with adults in both inpatient and outpatient settings, treating a wide range of mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, PTSD and trauma, OCPD, ADHD/ADD, grief and loss, as well as substance use disorder/addiction.

How would you describe your therapeutic style and approach?

My approach to therapy is person-centered and trauma informed. Every client is in the driver’s seat of their own lives, and I’m here to safely support and guide them along their journey. 

The overarching goal of our work together is to develop new tools to meet life’s challenges and explore thoughts, emotions, and behaviors with compassion and new insight, resulting in greater self-awareness and self-empowerment. 

I’ll utilize cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help clients identify and explore the ways in which their automatic thoughts can result in unhelpful behaviors. We’ll learn how to change our thoughts and behaviors, while developing healthier coping mechanisms. 

I’ll also utilize dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) to help clients process their emotions through feeling and accepting their emotions, without letting them control their lives. 

I may also bring principles of mindfulness, meditation, and self-compassion practices in the work we do together.

What mental health conditions/life challenges do you offer counseling for?

I’ll help people work through the following mental health and life challenges, 

  • Trauma
  • Anxiety/Panic/Phobias
  • Depression
  • Substance Related/Addictive Disorders
  • Grief/Loss/Bereavement
  • Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorders (ADHD/ADD)
  • Eating Disorders (Anorexia/Bulimia/Binge Eating)
  • Peak Performance/Performance Anxiety
  • Academic/Occupational/Work Issues/Career

What’s your favorite part of your job?

The coolest part about being a therapist is to see people come into therapy for the first time, with certain perspectives about who they are and how they handle difficult situations, and watch them grow and overcome those challenges. 

The perspective shift in clients, from thinking they’re unable to handle or make sense of life’s challenges, to developing the self-esteem and confidence to get through difficult situations is really invaluable to witness. 

Start working with Jessica Chouinard, LMHC today:

Whether you’re taking the first step to improving your mental health, or you’re looking for a new therapist to work with, Jessica Chouinard, LMHC is here with the tools and compassion to support you through your journey. 

To start working with Jessica online, please contact us today at (413) 343-4357 and we will set you up with an appointment!

About The Author

Nettie Hoagland Headshot

Nettie Hoagland is a writer with experience in local news reporting, nonprofit communications, and community development. She earned her bachelor of arts degree in Media Studies, Journalism, and Digital Arts from Saint Michael’s College in Vermont. Nettie believes in the healing power of the arts to create connection and community. She is passionate about using writing as an instrument for personal and social growth in the field of mental health. She is currently based in Brooklyn, NY.

Jessica  Chouinard Headshot

Jessica’s approach to therapy is based off of a client centered and trauma informed perspective. Her belief is the client is the one in the driver’s seat and the clinician is the passenger, helping guide and support where the client wants to go. Jessica believes that the client takes on an active and direct role in their own treatment and lives, while the clinician helps guide and support that journey. More About Author →