We are pleased to introduce our Providence House counselor, Mark McNary, to our network of supporters. Mark recently sat down to explain Providence Network’s approach to mental health care. Along with that interview we asked him a few questions to share on our blog. Enjoy!

How did you become a counselor at Providence House?

When I was looking for an internship to complete my counseling degree from Walden University, I conferred with a mentor of mine. He said, “Mark, If you really want to develop your counseling skills, and learn how to not take things personally, work at Providence House.” That suggestion was pivotal in my career. 

What was your career prior to working in counseling?

I’ve had few distinctly different careers. When I was in my 20s, I was a Navy helicopter pilot. In my 30s I worked as an economist. In my 40s I was an investment advisor. In my 50s I felt that I had one more career change in me and that led me to mental health counseling

What do you enjoy doing outside of work? 

My wife and I love to travel and spend time with our two adult sons. I also play in a rock cover band. The band is where I get my laughs

What approach to mental health care do we take at Providence Network?

My theoretical orientation as a counselor is existential. That means that problems for which residents seek help are not thought of as pathologies. Rather, all humans encounter difficulties in living. My job is to help each client sort out who they are in terms of understanding their preferences, personality, limitations, and strengths; and then help them manage the tradeoffs involved in moving toward the most vital life possible (Mark’s video explanation here). 

Are there mental health commonalities among those we serve at Providence House?

There are some common themes. Often there is some early loss or trauma. Impulsivity and isolation are also common. Despite some commonalities, my experience indicates that it is best not to assume that I know anything about a resident until I get to know them as a unique person. 

Can you share some lifechange you’ve witnessed through our counseling program?

Our most recent graduate came to Prov after having been imprisoned twice, homeless, alienated from his family, with a long history of alcohol misuse. By the end of his two years, he was transformed: dedicated to sobriety, stability, and personal growth. The key was a dedication to persevere through the inevitable challenges. He was able to use negative emotions as a starting point for gaining an understanding and responding thoughtfully rather than reacting rashly.  

How can we support Providence Network’s counseling program?

Of course, financial support is helpful in enabling Providence Network to maintain the support staff and facilities that serve the residents. It is also helpful if someone is affiliated with other support services like local churches, detox centers, halfway houses, and so on, to spread the word about the services offered by Providence Network. Even more valuable support might come from a mental health counselor who would be willing to volunteer a few hours per week to be part of this rewarding work. 

Access more videos from our May is Mental Health Awareness Month playlist on YouTube. You too can help someone take the first step toward healing from trauma with a one-on-one counseling session by joining The Table, our monthly giving community.