Welcome, Jennifer Flanders

Jennifer Flanders, LMSWThe Fountain Hill Center is pleased to welcome Licensed Master Social Worker Jennifer Flanders as a full-time member of our permanent staff! Jennifer comes to us from InterAct of Michigan, where she amassed a significant amount of experience treating clients with chronic mental health conditions, substance use disorders, and psychosis.

According to Amy Van Gunst, Executive Coordinator for The Fountain Hill Center, “We are excited to welcome Jennifer to the Center, and are eager to support her as she builds her private practice. Jennifer has many gifts and skills that will allow us to better serve our community. Her experiences coordinating care for clients with multiple healthcare providers, her expertise at treating psychosis, her background in Dialectical Behavior Therapy, are all wonderful things for us to be able to offer our clients.”

From Fine Art to Therapy

Jennifer began her professional career in the fine arts in 2003, doing sculpture maintenance and installations. She enjoyed the scope this gave her for critical thinking, observation, and self-expression, but over time, found herself increasingly dissatisfied by the static nature of her creations. “Sculpture is interesting, but typically, it is not meant to evolve and change. I longed for this dynamic process, and this led me to become a therapist.”

Jennifer enrolled in Grand Valley State University’s Master of Social Work program, eventually graduating with her degree in 2014. While enrolled at GVSU, she interned at Spectrum Health Hospice & Palliative Care, where she specialized in bereavement social work. At Spectrum Health, she provided grief counseling to individuals and groups, placed initial bereavement phone calls, conducted assessments of the newly bereaved, and attended trainings on end of life topics.

Treating Psychosis Involves Widely Applicable Skills

Jennifer finds herself drawn to private practice by a desire to diversify the clientele she works with and to grow as a therapist. She is interested in continuing to work with clients experiencing psychosis, but notes that the skills she has developed treating psychosis would be of help in treating many other issues, including anxiety, depression, grief and loss, life transitions, and more.

“Psychosis is defined by hearing, seeing, smelling, or feeling things that are not experienced by others. Also included is having strongly held beliefs that are not based in reality.” However, she notes that we all have these experiences from time to time, and there are times when it is normal for these experiences to intensify. Probably all of us at some point have heard a tap on the window and thought, It’s a burglar! instead of a tree branch, or have walked into a room just when people begin to laugh and wondered if they’re laughing at us. These experiences are not, strictly, rooted in reality, but are also quite normal. “Psychosis is a more intense experience that interferes with day to day living, but there are times in life that it’s very normal to have unusual experiences, such as after the death of a loved one.” At such times, it can be helpful to have someone to talk to and process our experiences with.

The Benefits of Mindfulness

Jennifer incorporates mindfulness practices into much of her work with clients, not least because it often helps with this cognitive processing. Mindfulness is the practice of non-judgmentally experiencing moment to moment living. A wealth of science supports the benefits of mindfulness, which include: 1) greater mental focus, 2) decreased stress, depression, and anxiety, 3) lower blood pressure, 4) decreased chronic pain, and 5) improved sleep. Practicing mindfulness for even as little as five minutes a day has been shown to confer some of these benefits. As Jennifer notes, “When people pair therapy with using mindfulness, I find that they make discoveries about themselves quicker and are able to incorporate new skills with greater ease.”

To schedule with Jennifer, or to find out more about the services she provides, please call The Fountain Hill Center’s main office at (616) 456-1178 or email contact@fountainhillcenter.com.