Now accepting clients
Life has its' challenges. And at times, family and friends don't have the skills to truly listen and help you through difficult moments in your life.
Hi, I'm Samantha Abernathy, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Masters of Addiction Counseling. I have 30+ years of counseling experience and have worked in outpatient, inpatient and in residential settings. I will provide you with a confidential environment in which to express your thoughts and emotions. And together, we can create the changes in your life that you are very much wanting to see.
Areas of Expertise
Treatment of Anxiety Disorders, Depression, Family and Couple Counseling, Addiction Counseling and Interventions
Treatment of children/teens involved in child custody court, divorce, domestic violence, parental alienation syndrome
My ultimate goal is to decrease your emotional suffering. There
are strategies to minimize your emotional pain.
My specialties include treatment for: anxiety, depression, family and
couple counseling, addiction and addiction intervention. Treatment
of children/teens who are involved in court (custody), divorce, PAS.
Court representation (best interest of the child/teen).
Anxiety: Anxiety can feel like you are caught in a rip tide. "Nobody
realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be
normal." Overwhelming, paralyzing, suffocating are a few descriptors.
It's difficult to control and hard to fully participate in life.
Depression: Depression can feel like you can't see a way through or
out. A feeling of being 'lost at sea' with no land in sight. Feelings of
hopelessness, helplessness and feeling stuck, like quick sand.
Addiction: "Addiction is an increasing desire for an act that gives
less and less satisfaction." And it's difficult to imagine living life
without it, but also, wanting a different way of living.
Intervention: An intervention is a planned meeting where family
and friends have open communication with a loved one about their
addiction and ask them to accept treatment. It's a powerful way
to assist a loved one towards change.
My office is located in Juneau, Alaska at 416 Harris Street, Suite 228.
The Arcticorp building. Reserved parking available.
"I’ve known Sam 20 years, worked with her. She is a friendly person with warmth, plus a great sense of humor. I admire how welcoming she is, and those who do their part in counseling can know she’ll do hers. She is highly trained and current with strategies to personalize therapy. People who choose to truly engage with her do find positive changes in their life. Seek the consult and discuss your needs. She’s really one of the best in the entire state."
How does counseling work?
Counseling provides you a place to talk about your thoughts and feelings without judgment or expectation. You are free to say whatever is on your mind, no matter how strange it may sound. By doing so, there is a sense of inner acceptance. All Information that you share is kept strictly confidential.
You will learn to identify patterns in your life, recognize your unique needs, and learn how to get those needs met in a healthy manner.
Am I weak if I see a counselor?
Entering counseling is a courageous act. It shows strength. It says that you are willing to look at your life and see how you can make your future better. It involves taking ownership of your choices, forgiving and loving yourself, and learning the skills to move forward.
Anyone can talk about problems, but that doesn't mean anything changes.
Counseling can involve deep work, work that bypasses your defenses. A lot of our behavior is subconscious, meaning we aren't aware of why we do what we do. With experiential therapy, you can learn to change the feeling, which changes the belief, which changes the behavior.
If I start sharing my feelings, I fear that I can't stop.
It might be feared that if you start talking about how you really feel, you will lose all control. Typically, what you will feel is a sense of relief. Like a pressure value has been opened. People report an increased ability to focus and be mentally present in the moment.
When will it end, it's not like a broken arm that will fully heal.
Once you learn and can practice healthier ways of meeting your needs, you are on your way to a life with less emotional suffering. It might take one person two months and another person two years, however, lasting change can happen.
Most traditional therapies go after thoughts, believing that all stress comes from our thoughts and if the thoughts are fixed, the condition will resolve. While cognitive therapies help for a while, the research shows the effects of talk therapy fade over time. If the alarm in the body is not addressed directly, it is only a matter of time until that alarm rises up and begins skewing your perception. You can’t think your way out of a feeling problem.
Analogy: If there is a hole in the bottom of your boat and you learn better techniques of bailing water, things will appear to get better, but you still have a hole in your boat. Trying to fix the anxious thinking alone is like bailing out the water with a hole in your boat. The underlying cause and main source of emotional pain is the alarm feeling in the body. Fixing the thoughts will not fix the problem. The alarm in the body must be repaired before thinking strategies will be able to “hold water.”
What is the alarm in the body? Our alarm is activated as a learned response. The body has learned how to activate the alarm without the input of the mind. Like the groove the body falls into when we drive our car or ride a bike, the body has learned to launch a fight-or-flight alarm response without much input from the mind.
When we experience trauma, we develop a hypersensitive alarm system. And it doesn’t take much to fire it back up. Everyone experiences some trauma (loss, verbal- physical-sexual abuse, abandonment, rejection, shame) in childhood. The key is the repetitiveness of the experience and if we had an adult to support us. Children naturally blame themselves for family dysfunction. This is due to the need to view the parent as competent, as we are dependent on them for survival.
Worry is a type of dissociation from the body. The alarm in your body drives you into the survival brain. The hypersensitivity is the legacy of childhood trauma and cannot be fixed by just talking about it.
We as humans have two main drivers: the drive to physically survive and the drive to emotionally connect. If you grow up in secure attachment (child feels safe, seen, heard, comforted, valued), you learn life is about connection. If you do not grow up in a non-secure attached environment, you learn life is about survival.
Worries are like a drug we develop a tolerance to. Over time, anxious ruminative thoughts become more frequent and more intense. The goal is to keep you in your head and out of your body, even when the threat is no longer present.
It’s analogous to a scab on a cut. Thinking worrisome thoughts is like picking the scab. When you pick at it, the wound can’t heal. When we starve our worrisome thoughts, we are leaving the scab alone to heal.
Function of anxiety/worry:
A way of keeping you safe—to warn you of potential danger. Once you see and feel that, you are no longer need to worry to be safe, you can begin to release it.
It’s always about the future. When you know it depends on you being mentally transported into the future, you can neutralize it by focusing on, and staying in, the present moment.
It’s a way of avoiding uncertainty and creating a sense of control. When we worry, we are creating a story of the future that makes the uncertain appear certain. Uncertainty was often a facet of our childhood. When we accept uncertainty as part of life, we can begin to release the worry.
It’s a way of explaining the alarm felt in the body. Worrying is a way that we create balance between the body and mind. If we are standing at a cliff, we feel balance between the body and mind, however, if we are lying in our bed, the mind must match the response from the body. Once we know what is going on in our body, we no longer need to use the mind to drum up a feared situation.
It distracts us from the painful alarm in the body. We feel a temporary reduction in the perception of the body alarm. However, the worry creates more alarm and we get trapped in the alarm-anxiety cycle.
The trauma energy must be felt, absorbed and neutralized in a supportive environment. At this point, it can no longer remain a trigger with the power to reignite alarm. Staying with the feeling in the body and out of the mind will allow us the ability to process past experiences. Experiences that we may have been carrying around with us our whole lives.
Let me know how I can help. Please fill out the form below, email, text or call me, and I'll get back to you quickly. Appointments can generally be made within 7 working days. Thank you ~Sam
416 Harris Street, Suite 228
Juneau, Alaska 99801
Tel: (907) 209-0451