Psychologist Seeks To ‘Destigmatize’ Mental Illness; Offers Therapy During Pandemic


Tribune Features Reporter


THE most rewarding aspect of Shavonne Lightfoot’s work as a clinical psychologist is seeing an improvement in a clients’ ability to manage their lives after facing a serious challenge or life-changing event.

“I enjoy helping clients make discoveries about themselves that lead to emotional healing. I have also had the pleasure of speaking to a number of community groups about the psychological benefits of self-care during COVID-19 because I see it as a paramount tool in our arsenal of coping strategies,” she told Tribune Health.

“We must take care of our spiritual, emotional, relational, physical and spiritual health to buffer the deleterious effects of this pandemic.”

She is the proud founder and owner of Tranquil Spaces Online Counselling, where she provides confidential counselling services to clients who do not ever need to leave their home.

“Psychological support during COVID-19 is pivotal to helping persons cope with the stress, anxiety and depression during these uncertain times. Tranquil Spaces seeks to provide talk therapy that is flexible, available and accessible from an environment that is most familiar. I feel most passionate about destigmatizing mental illnesses. I think it is so important that Bahamians feel confident in accessing mental health services without the fear of stigma. For far too long, persons have been discouraged from accessing psychological intervention because of the fear of discrimination, or they have been shamed by being called ‘crazy’ and other derogatory names,” she said.

“It takes great courage to acknowledge the need for help, therefore these persons should be applauded for seeking intervention and not marginalised. Another point of consideration is that no one is exempt from experiencing psychological issues and we should work harder to empathise with those who are finding it difficult to function as result of mental illnesses or any emotional issue.”

Shavonne started her journey as a clinical psychologist in 2008 after graduating with a Master’s of Science degree in Clinical Psychology from Alabama A & M University in Huntsville, Alabama. A rewarding career at Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre commenced in 2008 and continues until to today. There, she currently serves as senior clinical psychologist.

She is also licenced as a clinical psychologist by the Health Professions Council in the Bahamas and previously held international credentials in the field of mental health.

Her services include providing talk therapy, which is also known as psychotherapy. This is used to help people identify issues that are causing emotional distress.

She also conducts psychological evaluations, which are used to assess personality, behaviour and mental processes. She further offers education through public lectures and by collaborating with the media to raise awareness of mental health issues.

“My work also entails me working alongside a multidisciplinary treatment team to help persons manage the symptoms of mental illness or any emotional challenges,” she said.

“I help people return back to optimal functioning by helping them develop healthy coping mechanisms. Stress reduction is also an important health benefit.”


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