MFP Fellow Seeks Safe Space for All Bodies
MFP Fellow Seeks Safe Space for All Bodies
The start of a new calendar year also comes with a bombardment of ads about diets, weight loss, tips for keeping those new year’s resolutions, and of course discounted gym memberships with incentives to sign up and even bring friends and family to join. In a society where “thin is in” and mainstream culture is obsessed with the latest fad diets and often unhealthy and triggering rhetoric around bodies, there is one counselor-in-training creating safe spaces for those who don't often find typical gym clubs and exercise classes as an inviting space for all types of bodies.
Lore McSpadden-Walker (2022 NBCC MFP Addiction Counseling Fellow) along with their wife, Christine Walker-McSpadden, live in rural upstate New York and together founded Positive Force Movement (PFM), a now mostly virtual space, where they work to empower and educate individuals who are systemically marginalized on ways to incorporate movement and body experiences into their everyday lives. Their services are specifically for folx who belong to the LGBTQ+ and/or BIPOC communities as well as for those who have a variety of physical abilities.
Positive Force Movement was dreamt of and ultimately birthed out of the experiences that Lore, Christine, and other trans or non-binary individuals faced when they participated in more traditional exercise or strength training and conditioning settings. These were often experiences that did not serve their own bodies and did not consider the physical and mental health impacts on LGBTQ+ folx as it relates to body movement and intentional body positivity. Though Positive Force Movement had to transition during the pandemic to strictly online classes and session meetings, Lore shares that the community has continued to support each other and maintain a strong connection.
Connection with one’s body, mind, and the world around them is incredibly important for Lore, as they are not only working with individuals through Positive Force Movement but are also in school full time pursuing a master’s in clinical mental health counseling at SUNY: The College at Brockport with a particular focus on studying substance use and addiction counseling.
While still working on fleshing out exactly how they will incorporate their future practice as a counselor into their ongoing body movement and positivity work, Lore shares that their work will absolutely focus on an ecotherapeutic lens and how nature and the earth can help clients connect with themselves and the world around them in deeply rooted ways.
As a part of their individualized fellowship plan, Lore presented at the 2022 American Herbalists Guild National Symposium in October 2022 on herbalism, inequity, and body justice, and they also have plans to write a paper with literature review that they hope to develop into further publication. It will focus on developing a “horticultural group counseling program for LGBTQAI2S+ individuals who wish to heal their relationship to substance misuse.”
As a current NBCC MFP Fellow, Lore and their cohort will attend two NBCC Foundation Bridging the Gap Symposium events and the NAADAC Annual Conference, and they will gain a deeper understanding of addiction and mental health counseling for underserved populations through webinars and other professional development opportunities.
While continuing their educational journey toward becoming a licensed addiction counselor, Lore is also heavily focused on ensuring they are operating with a trauma-informed lens. This is because so many individuals who hold marginalized identities have suffered years and possibly decades of trauma or abuse due to their desire to live fully accepted and authentic lives. For many, higher risk factors for developing an addiction often stem from chronic trauma or traumatic life events.
In 2018, they completed a Trauma-Informed Fitness Professional certification through Lemon Tree Counseling and Wellness. Since completing this training, Lore shares that they “have developed a vision for the services that they would like to be able to offer: an integration of physical movement coaching, mental health counseling, and opportunities for creative expression.”
It is a deeply ingrained passion and sense of calling that helps Lore continue to be inspired by their work as they share that “on a near-daily basis, I bear witness to the ways that a supportive and sustainable movement practice enables my clients (including those with a history of substance use disorder) to access greater levels of self-esteem and self-efficacy; I know that combining my current work with mental health and substance abuse counseling will enable me to inspire my clients to even deeper levels of healing and empowerment.”
For Lore, their work and personal life are all centered on advocacy and addressing the pervasive systemic issues facing LGBTQ+, BIPOC, fat, disabled, and neurodivergent folx.
Before starting Positive Force Movement, they worked for several YMCA associations around the Greater Rochester and Greater Boston areas and served on multiple committees focused on making these spaces more equitable and inclusive for all people.
Lore’s voice as an advocate and queer trainer and coach has been featured in a variety of national media outlets including USA Today, VICE, Well and Good, SELF, Livestrong, and Medium. They have also presented at numerous conferences and events on topics related to body dysmorphia in the trans and non-binary community; utilizing the body as a space of resistance; movement accessibility and acceptance for queer, fat, and disabled folx; and have more recently begun offering a training entitled "Healing the Harms of Sizeism in Mental Health Spaces" that is approved for 2 CEUs through the New York Mental Health Counselors Association.
All of Lore and Christine’s entrepreneurial endeavors also center on equity and inclusivity whether it relates to their intentional community agreements for Positive Force Movement members or sliding scale fees for many of their services. These sliding scale fees, based on a person’s privilege and ability to help cover costs, are for those who cannot afford certain services and for those who belong to historically marginalized groups.
Because of Lore’s passion and deep convictions to serve, their future as a counselor shines bright. No matter the challenges they may face ahead, they will no doubt continue positively impacting their local community to serve those living with addiction or seeking recovery as well as help enact change in the larger mental health and movement spaces for those most highly in need of support and resources to live out their most authentic and thriving lives.