Dr. Avis Attaway, PsyD, founder, Life Source Affordable Counseling

What is holding you back from having the love, and life, of your dreams? That is but one topic that Dr. Avis Attaway helps her clients understand. As a psychologist and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for more than 25 years, Avis is committed to helping people work through what’s keeping them stuck: confusion, emotional or physical pain.

Her mission: To help clients identify what’s interfering with their relationships and life plans, and find the hidden habits of thinking that continually disrupt the ability to maximize peak potential in each area of life. “As we uncover and rewrite the scripts that are running in the background and keeping you stuck in pain and frustration, you’ll find yourself experiencing a newfound peace coupled with creativity and motivation,” she says.

Learn more here: http://www.avisattawaylmft.com. And scroll down to read about Avis’ journey into becoming a mental health specialist — a career that ultimately helped her heal herself. 

My Journey To Healing: Life is Hard. Until it’s not. 

By Dr. Avis Attaway

I always wanted to be a counselor of some kind. My first career ambitions were to become an attorney. But in the 50’s and 60’s there weren’t any messages about becoming anything except a wife and mother. That was neutralized with the message of the late 60’s and 70’s to rebel against the “establishment” and whatever they were selling. In combination with my own personal story, I felt adrift for a number of years, knowing only that getting an education was a solid plan. Even this took me until my 30’s to get my Bachelors degree in Communications.

So my work history was primarily in sales and service, the latter at which I excelled, the former not so much. My short career in real estate wasn’t sustainable when I averaged the number of hours I worked on any one sale – I was better off with a minimum wage job. But my service industry jobs allowed me to use my “self” to provide people what they wanted or needed, whether steak and lobster or a truck stop burger, while having flexibility in my schedule and enough time off to pursue my own interests and still make the rent. Even better was the opportunity to travel for next to nothing as an airline employee.

It was when I hit 40 and my life got a major reorganization that I began to explore what I wanted to do with the next 40 years. I had met the man who would become my second husband and I was recovering from a series of losses that devastated me and was forcing me to re-evaluate everything. Therapy allowed me the safe space to explore everything I had believed and to discover that my life was the result of those beliefs and the actions I had taken. I realized that if this was true then my life could become the result of whatever new beliefs and actions that I would take going forward.

This sounds like a revelation, but it was actually a slowly dawning awareness. This grew as I dedicated myself to understanding my mind and how it intersects with whatever It is that sources and fuels it. My study of consciousness has been a constantly unfolding process of deepening understanding, but more importantly, a growing experience of the reality of the very real connection between our minds and that of a greater Mind. In quantum mechanics studies, the results of experiments have demonstrated that the act of observation of those experiments directly affected their outcomes. Said another way, consciousness has been shown to affect matter.

And, this brings the conversation back to consciousness or our dominant state of mind. If we are preoccupied with our pain and what’s wrong in our life then we’re unable to connect with the potential of our very own essence. The programming that we’ve been subjected to over the years has conditioned us to believe that we’re unworthy, lacking, not enough, or maybe unloveable. The pain of living from this place creates an obstacle in trying to experience our worth – our unique talents,  brilliance, and loving heart. And our inability to “think our way out of it” convinces us that we’re doomed to continue on in this way for the rest of our life, with more of the same problems we’ve always experienced.

Life is hard. Until it’s not.

It’s truly a matter of perception. When the conditions are right, our perceptions can change. This has been the focus of my work for 30 years. With myself as the guinea pig, I have dedicated my work to helping others discover who they are beneath the pain and the programming.

I have been honored by the trust that strangers have placed in me by allowing my presence in their most intimate inner world. And I’ve been gratified by the growth and empowerment that I’ve witnessed as they’ve shed their old limiting beliefs and stepped into the lives they’ve always imagined for themselves.

I returned to school in my early 40s with a new purpose – to become a therapist who could help others heal in the way that I had. My goal was a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and ultimately a license so that I could open my own practice, which I accomplished in exactly 5 years. That might seem like a long time, but I was engaged in the process and enjoying the journey.

My practice thrived because it was my goal to be able to support myself.

So I kept it affordable enough to be able to secure a solid client base. Over time I raised my fees for new clients and began to experience an overflow. This became the motivation for founding a clinic of therapists to whom I could refer these clients I was unable to personally serve.

During the 2006-7 economic meltdown there was a false start in trying to work with licensed therapists. I dissolved the corporation and created a new non-profit corporation for working exclusively with student therapists looking for a place to accrue their hours for school and for licensure.

In 2008 I founded Life Source Training Institute, Inc. dedicated to providing low cost counseling to the community while offering student therapists the opportunity to complete their clinical training. In 12 years, our staff has grown from 5 therapists to currently over 20 clinicians. We have done this without outside contracts or grants, relying solely on the uncommonly low fees collected from clients. Many highly qualified therapists have gotten their licenses and gone on to develop careers and practices of their own.

Future plans include expanding beyond the borders of our community, and ultimately the development of a national model. We (this includes my son who has joined the business alongside his father) and the rest of the board are committed to the concept of making affordable mental health services available to everyone. We believe that this is a universal right and not something exclusively for those with discretionary incomes. Our mission is to provide and deliver affordable quality mental healthcare. Our vision includes expanding this availability across communities and touching as many lives as possible.

The pandemic hit just as we were launching our telecounseling program.  We were situated to help right when the stressors of isolation and fear were taking hold. We are grateful to have been ready and able to accommodate the needs of so many during this unprecented time.

While running Life Source Training Institute, I have maintained a thriving private practice, finished a doctorate in clinical psychology, and expanded into performance coaching. The difference between therapy and coaching is defined by the goal of the service. Therapy is dedicated to getting people out of pain and is akin to the medical model. Coaching is dedicated to moving individuals through a process of personal development and into their potential. I utilize a customized psychological strategy that meets each client at their current level (of business, relationship or inner life) and takes them to the place where they begin manifesting their long-held goals and dreams.

I feel so blessed to have gone through the difficult experiences in life that ultimately led me to find my path. It’s like the analogy of the pressure on the carbon that creates the diamond. I always tell my clients that “No one gets through this life unscathed … It’s not what happens to us but what we do with it that makes the difference.”

In closing, I offer this thought from Wayne Dyer, “Don’t die with your song un-sung.”