When Lashira Council was growing up, her father was convinced that she would grow up to be an attorney. She would advocate for other people, always seeking justice. She was voted “most outspoken” in middle school because she stood up for what was right. But Lashira had other ideas. As she explains it, “I’ve always been interested in the connection between thought and behavior.” And that gave her the direction for her passion to help others – behavioral health.
Immediately after graduation from college, Lashira began her career in behavioral health as a residential worker at Devereaux, a behavioral health organization with multiple residential facilities in Pennsylvania and around the country. Later, she became a mental health case manager at Crozer Health. Here, she found her true vocation. She obtained a master’s degree and completed an internship in drug and alcohol counseling. In 2017 Lashira became Service Coordinator and Youth Prevention Supervisor, for Crozer-Keystone Recovery Center, developing policies and procedures for the center and supervising staff while continuing to counsel patients directly. She has also served as a group facilitator for Healing and Strength, a program offered by the Chester Community Coalition that provides trauma-informed group settings where children, youth, and adults can process trauma and grief and learn skills to move toward healing. Lashira joined ChesPenn in August as our Behavioral Health Manager. She will supervise ChesPenn’s other Behavioral Health Consultants and also provide direct care to patients at our Eastside location.
Lashira continues to have an interest in working with patients with substance use disorder (SUD) and has been certified in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy. This is an approach developed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories. She hopes to be able to offer this treatment to patients at ChesPenn. Lashira shared that she is learning the Behavioral Health Consultant model and is excited about building mental health services at ChesPenn.
Lashira shared the story of a patient with SUD who had been mandated by the court to receive therapy and was very resistant to working with her. They worked through the patient’s trauma history and the patient learned new, healthier ways to process his trauma and communicate with others. During their time together she was able to witness the transition from an external requirement for her patient to seek change to a true internal motivation to change his life. At the end of their time together, the patient gave her a plaque that reads “With God all things are possible. Thank you, Lashira for being an inspiration in my life.”
Lashira’s prescription for responding to the stress of our times: “Practice empathy and grace for yourself and others. Acknowledge progress and change. Ask for help. Stay hopeful.”