Dr. Shanita Brown was named the assistant director of Meredith’s Counseling Center earlier this year. Brown has been working in mental health and counseling for over 20 years. She always knew she wanted to go into a helping profession. But originally, she was working toward becoming a lawyer.
“I began to work with people who were severely injured as a result of automobile accidents and work-related injuries,” Brown recalled. Her clients were facing drastic changes in their lives because of their injuries; many would not be able to return to work or would be out of work for a long period.
Part of Brown’s job as a paralegal was to talk to the clients about these life-altering situations, and it was not long before her clients started to point out how much better they felt after talking to her. Even her boss at the time recognized her natural skill for understanding people’s situations and suggesting helpful ways to process them. He asked her if she had ever considered becoming a counselor. While she loved her job as a paralegal, she realized that changing her career path and becoming a counselor would allow her to do what she loved most as a legal professional – being of service to her clients.
In 2016, Brown graduated with her Ph.D. in Counseling and Counselor Education from North Carolina State University. Since her start in the mental health and counseling field, she has not looked back. Brown has served in private practices and a multitude of community agencies.
“I enjoy working with college students because they are emerging adults; they don’t quite have the tools and skills,” she said as she smiled empathetically. “I like to be a part of that journey. I feel very privileged to be an adjunct professor, being able to train other students to do this work. I can bring my real-world and life experiences of working with college students into the classroom.”
Before starting at Meredith, Brown was the director of counseling services at Virginia Union University for a year and a half. She also taught at Wake Forest University as a visiting assistant professor her first year after getting her Ph.D.
“I enjoy leading; I enjoy collaborating with colleagues. Partnership is so important; it is essential to who we are as education professionals, as administrators,” Brown said. “When we think about student mental health, we think about student success.”
One of Brown’s strong assets is building partnerships, and she looks forward to connecting with faculty, staff, and student organizations at Meredith.
Brown highlighted the need for counselors to be culturally competent in serving all students, especially students of color. “It’s important to be open and aware of diverse backgrounds, and when I’m not aware of it, making sure that I’m doing my due diligence and training to make sure I stay abreast of what’s happening in the counseling field to be able to continue to serve effectively.”
Brown specializes in Eye-Movement Desensitization Reprocessing, a type of therapy used with survivors of trauma. She continues to give back to the community by writing scholarly articles and presenting her research on intimate partner violence at psychology conferences. She has been featured in news and media outlets as well as various podcasts.
“Being able to partner with my clients, provide them with a safe, non-judgmental space, create an environment for healing and transformation – that is my heart,” Brown affirmed. “I don’t tell clients what to do,” she said. “A lot of this is helping clients and providing them with the psychoeducation about what counseling is and what counseling isn’t and empowering them to make that decision that they already have, and they’re just not really sure about it. We give them the confidence, the boost, and the strength to do that.”
In February, Brown received the North Carolina Counseling Association’s Jane E. Myers Wellness Counseling Award. This award recognizes a member who has encouraged clients to increase their holistic wellness and exemplifies leadership and advocacy.