Tamara Houston

by Terry Watson | July 17th, 2019
Tamara Houston (Photos by Harold Marshall)

Tamara Houston (Photos by Harold Marshall)

Some people seek the services of a professional counselor for various reasons including marriage and divorce, career and employment, and even depression. For whatever reason, the common need for most is assistance to manage the problems and stressor they face every day. Fortunately, there is someone who has dedicated their life and career to meeting the needs of such individuals.

Tamara Houston of Greenville, SC is the owner of Renewal Life Counseling, LLC, a multi-specialty, multi-provider group practice. She is a graduate of Berea College in Berea, KY, and the University of Georgia. She is also a Clinical Social Worker and has enjoyed entrepreneurship for six years as the owner of Renewal Life Counseling, LLC and contractor for other mental health practices.

Tamara launched her practice in 2015, while doing contract work for a psychiatric group practice. “I was familiar and comfortable with going into my clients homes, as I had worked in hospice for eight years, and supported patients and families while they dealt with the impacts of a terminal illness. There were components of operating a private practice that I was ignorant to. Still, I stepped out on faith and took care of the logistical needs to start seeing clients in their home,” she shares.

Renewal Life Counseling, LLC initially began as a mobile mental health practice. About a year into her venture, Tamara contacted a friend and local entrepreneur to ask about obtaining her business license. On that call, her friend offered to sublease Tamara an office space. “There was no well-thought out plan to start the practice. The path I took presented me with a number of opportunities to learn various aspects of business, and now I’m able to teach that to others,” Tamara says.

While the practice is owned and operated by Tamara Houston LISW-CP, other clinicians affiliate with the group to offer services they specialize in. Tamara offers individual and family therapy to both children and adults. The group specializes in areas of trauma, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, work-life balance, grief and bereavement, parenting support, and stress management. Medication management services are offered by a nurse practitioner on a short-term basis.

Tamara shares that any therapeutic service begins with a psychosocial and mental health assessment to gather more information about the client and the reasons why they are seeking assistance. The other purpose for the assessment is to ensure the patient-client dynamic is going to be a good fit. “From the assessment, there is time spent working on a treatment plan, which is a documented map of what the client wants to work on, and how that will take place, and its duration. These treatment plans are ‘living documents’, so the direction of treatment can change at the agreement of the clinician and client. This same process takes place in groups as well, but the treatment plan looks different because the goals and objectives of the groups are already defined by the person facilitating, and those are discussed at the start of the group,” she says.

Another important product that Renewal Life offers is information. “Clients are considered to be experts on their own ‘stuff’ or what they bring into the office. This is combined with a toolbox of strengths they’ve accumulated over their lifetime. The clinician is there to help the client sift through their stuff, and provide information about ways to manage it better, and perhaps remind them of the tools they have, and offer ideas on more effective ways to use them,” she says.
Tamara shares she enjoys consulting with and mentoring women, who are either at the initial stages of starting a business or feeling stuck and simply need support and encouragement to pursue their life’s passion. “I am passionate about helping people work through life stressors to maintain a more sustainable mind-set and drive to manage life more effectively and efficiently,” she said.

Tamara is equally passionate about the additional services Renewal Life offers which include an on-site women’s empowerment group that meets several times during the year, and a new, one-day workshop for adolescent girls, both led by Kemeako Dillard, LPC. Other group and support offerings include individual parenting/coaching sessions and group opportunities that are led by Angela Gaines, LBSW, and grief support and consulting services for other private practice owners.

Tamara shares her greatest accomplishment is her family. She has been married for 14 years, a union that has produced three children. “Serving in my family has been the best training ground for what I encounter daily in my work. It has taught me how to balance the need to adjust to difficult situations, be flexible in thought, and make self-care a priority. One of her favorite sayings is ‘you can’t give to others something that you don’t have’. Therefore, it is important for me to maintain balance in all areas of life,” she says.

Tamara says she is inspired mostly be her grandmother, Birtie Gaines. “She was a business owner and cosmetologist for 18 years and I saw how diligent she was in her work and how proud she was of her work. I always admired her perseverance to grow in her skill set. I do not take for granted the example of perseverance that she is. Even today, she understands business and continues to offer me great advice is also quick to tell me when I’m doing too much and need to sit down somewhere,” Tamara shares.

Moving forward with Renewal Life Counseling, LLC, Tamara plans to add some additional services to her practice that will include yoga and stress management workshops. She also hopes to bring on more clinicians, with one starting in the fall. Most recently, she launched a Facebook group for professionals to engage in dialogue and activities to support their self-care needs, and to allow her to interview other helping professionals, and provide another level of exposure on the services that are offered within the community. This fall, Tamara will be serving as the President-Elect of the South Carolina Society of Clinical Social Workers, which is an organization that promotes clinical education, support, and networking to all clinicians across the state. Additionally, she will work on some material to present on HIPAA – compliance and building private practices.

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