Those words describe the work of Dr. Shana D. Lewis, an NBCC Foundation mentor, 2014 NBCC Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) Alum, and winner of the 2019 Bridging the Gap Vanguard Award for Advanced Advocacy from the NBCC Foundation. Dr. Lewis’ passion for social justice advocacy for survivors of domestic violence was born out of the work she did in private practice with female clients in violent relationships. Her passion for mentoring was born out of her own experience in the MFP program.
From her private practice in Bellaire, Texas, Dr. Lewis uses various platforms to reach those who are affected by domestic violence and the stakeholders who can contribute to solutions. She has made concerted efforts over the last several years to engage the social media world in this conversation by hosting a live talk show, “Real Life, Real Talk,” and other social media webinars. In her work, Dr. Lewis says she makes sure to provide solutions, as people often feel helpless when faced with this type of violence.
Dr. Lewis is the founder of Her VOICE, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering survivors of domestic violence to live healthy lives through mentorship and education. Another innovation includes her co-creation of Project Help, a program that teaches friends and family how to assist a loved one who is in an abusive relationship. Beyond this, she has been seen on television, radio, and print media as a domestic violence expert. Her reach speaks to her passion as a social justice advocate for the voiceless.
Dr. Lewis credits her successful career to her experience as a mentee and a mentor. For Dr. Lewis, mentoring is an experience of both imparting and learning.
“Mentoring is invaluable,” she says. “It is an experience that I feel everyone should have for their academic and professional career.”
She is a board certified counselor heavily involved in the community through her nonprofit organization and through her work as an adjunct professor, licensed clinical supervisor, and motivational speaker. In all those roles, Dr. Lewis is a strong voice in the battle against mental health stigmas, particularly in minority and underserved communities, as she challenges all professionals to be culturally competent.
Dr. Lewis also is a mentor who helps make sure her mentees are well equipped as culturally competent counselors. Her mentoring philosophy embodies the values of community awareness and self-awareness: knowing the community one serves and knowing one’s own biases. She says this is a key element in the counseling field that is often overlooked.
“I feel it is my responsibility to instill those principles,” she says. “It is my way of affecting the masses and making a greater impact in the disenfranchised communities that I may not be able to touch, but my mentees can.”
“Making sure the counseling profession is forever growing in the right direction is why mentoring is so important. Mentoring helps to set those goals for the mentee and the mentor to grow both together and individually.”
Dr. Lewis encourages ongoing involvement with NBCC as a marker of one’s professional identity as a counselor.
“I feel it is important to be connected to the national board in my career. I present my mentees with opportunities to help advance their careers, as well as making sure they stay connected to the NBCC Foundation.”