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Your Guide To Holistic Mental Health & Wellness – Exclusive Interview With Buffy Andrews

Buffy Andrews is your very own wellness buff. A licensed mental health therapist, a board certified natural wellness practitioner, and functional mental health coach. Buffy believes in radical hope and honesty for more aligned healing from all mental health disorders. Buffy takes a holistic approach to mental health and helps her clients heal on multiple levels since mind, body, and spirit are so intrinsically connected. Buffy has dedicated her life to breaking the stigma, and educating people so they can cling to the possibility of healing.

Image photo of Buffy Andrews

Buffy Andrews, Functional Mental Health Coach

Introduce yourself! Please tell us about you and your life, so we can get to know you better.

My name is Buffy Andrews. I am a wife, a mother to the most fun and handsome little boy, and I am a multi-passionate functional mental health + wellness coach. I have been in the mental health field for over 11 years, and have a wide range of experiences in working with high crisis cases, community mental health work, school based counseling, and now in private practice working with frontline workers struggling with trauma, anxiety, or couples/relational issues. I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and Board Certified Functional Wellness Practitioner. I own the Made Well Center for Wholeness based out of Wilmington, NC, and founded a non profit called This Whole Life Foundation that seeks to provide scholarships for individuals who cannot afford their mental health and wellness services. Social work is a core tenet of who I am which is why I give back in this way, and I also seek to integrate a wide variety of evidenced based modalities into my mental health + wellness coaching sessions. As a healer and helper I seek to help other helping professions (non profit leaders, healthcare workers, ministry workers, etc) know that they have a place they can go to feel seen and heard, and actually find reprieve and nervous system regulation.

What inspired you to pursue a career in mental health therapy and natural wellness practices?

I honestly loved helping people. Ever since I was little I remember wanting to serve others and believed wholeheartedly that’s what I was put on this earth to do. I actually majored in film and media production in my undergraduate role though. And it wasn’t until I got out of school and was working with non profits trying to help tell their stories that I realized I actually wanted to work with people in a very different capacity. Once I started looking around for my first “big girl job” out of school, I quickly realized all the jobs I thought I would love to do or thought I would be really good at said that I needed a social work degree that I did not have. So naturally I went back to school to get that. It wasn’t until I was in my practicum however that I even realized that therapy was what I was made to do with people. I LOVED sitting there with people in their most vulnerable moments, and walking alongside them in their journey to healing and wholeness. As I navigated my career and learned more I also started realizing that integration of natural wellness practices was CRUCIAL for individuals to actually get well. When you learn more and know more, you have to do more. So I set off trying to actually help people get well.

How do you integrate your various certifications and expertise into your approach to helping clients heal?

It’s interesting, you know, once you start learning such a wide variety of information it’s almost like your brain begins to just truly synthesize it and it helps you become extremely discerning when working with individuals. Having a wide variety of certifications and expertise helps you take all the pieces of information you know, and start to apply it to the clients you are working with. Ultimately your clients are coming to you as a giant puzzle, and sometimes there seems to be pieces missing or broken and that’s why their puzzle doesn’t feel complete. Having a wide variety of knowledge allows me to start to see how we can find those missing pieces and make them feel whole again.

Can you elaborate on what "radical hope and honesty" mean to you in the context of mental health healing?

Sure thing! To me - radical hope is the innate BELIEF that our clients can get well. Too often I see practitioners or clients who come to me and they have an innate belief that they were born this way, or they are stuck with their diagnosis. I’m here to tell you that belief will ultimately leave you the way you came in. But having radical hope automatically shifts the biology of your cells to a trajectory of healing. However, sometimes we also have to get radically honest with ourselves about where we are coming from. Sometimes we have to get honest about the fact that maybe just maybe that label or diagnosis served me in some way, and that it is hard to let it go because we might feel a little lost without it. So sometimes in order to adopt radical hope, I have to help my clients get radically honest with themselves about their chaos in order to help them navigate into freedom from their mental health + wellness struggles.

How do you address the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit in your holistic approach to mental health?

Education. Education. Education. People dont know what they don’t know. And sometimes we as practitioners really have to lean into psycho education in order to give people the skills and tools they need to understand their own mind, body, or spirit. Once we can provide some psycho education about what it seems our clients are struggling with, THEN we can start asking the deeper questions to help clients lean into their own spirituality or deeper sense of self. It is my sincerest belief that many of the mental health struggles we face today come from a culture shift towards individuality rather than one of community, and purpose beyond ourselves. If we can help people identify purpose beyond the four walls they are sitting in, we’ve cultivated a deep and lasting shift in their mental health space.

Could you share a success story or memorable experience from your work that exemplifies the impact of your approach?

Yes! I had a client once who came to me with extreme suicidality. Many other practitioners had given up on this client, and would frequently just admit them back into one behavioral health hospital after another. There is definitely a time and a place for this, but it takes having your own confidence and integration of your own mind/body/spirit as a practitioner to see that this repeated admission into behavioral health hospitals was actually doing a disservice to this client. It was make them worse. When they started working with me, I was able to lean into the radical hope, radical honesty, and build rapport from this standpoint. And then over time was able to provide deep education about the interconnectedness of their mind, body, and spirit. And even help re-correct some of the unhealthy religious views this client had in order to help them identify a deeper sense of trust in God, and themselves in order to realize and recognize that they truly were capable of healing. Now this client has few to no suicidal ideations, only comes to therapy about once every other month for maintenance, and is working towards their career. This client had a very dismal outlook on the world, and now can see the hope in the day to day because they found purpose outside of themselves.

If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be and why?

I wish so badly that I could change the way the insurance world functions. The need to diagnose, and cultivate illness for people in order to get reimbursed for services is what is ultimately creating worse mental health patterns for people. When we are forced to diagnose in order to have people receive the care they need, we are creating individuals addicted to their labels, and on top of that graduate schools don’t always train new therapists on how to diagnose from a root cause perspective. Instead we are taught how to synthesize symptoms. I wish that our systems were designed to help people heal. Instead they are designed to keep people sick in order to perpetuate their money market. It’s abysmal. I wish I could change the whole mental health sick-care system.

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