NEW ALBANY — Glynita Bell, founder and clinical director at Heart 2 Heart Wellness Center in New Albany, comes from a family of helpers, a gift she’s using to help others navigate what for some is an especially challenging year.
Her parents, Glenn and Dawn, instilled in her early in life a drive to help others navigate challenges they may be facing. A middle school guidance counselor later inspired her to follow her heart into the realm of psychology, and she’s never looked back.
“Once I started looking into psychology, I was bit by the helping bug,” she said. Bell, now a licensed clinical social worker with a Master of Science in social work who’s working toward a PhD, took that support and inspiration and ran with it, creating a culture of calm and holistic wellness at the New Albany center where she opened the first physical location several years ago.
“The ultimate goal for everyone that comes here is to create the best version of themselves,” Bell said. “Because of that, I think therapy is absolutely for everyone. We are seeking to help our clients to create the tools that they need to take care of themselves.”
Bell was guided to focus on cognitive behavioral therapy, which she said means understanding the connection between mind, body and spirit. It’s this that’s led her and her team to focus on a holistic approach to treatment, something she saw a need for early in her career while working at larger community health agencies.
“We were very focused on one specific thing,” she said of those earlier experiences. “So if you came in and identified that you had anxiety at work, that’s what we talked about, that’s what we dealt with.
“The reality is anxiety manifests itself across your entire life because we operate across many systems.”
Thus Heart 2 Heart was born, and can incorporate things like talk therapy, yoga, massage and treatment from a nurse practitioner into a client’s own personal plan, based on goals set with a therapist.
“It’s so important to have the ability to access spiritual wellness — whatever it looks like for you — and yoga is an excellent vehicle to get there,” she said. “Massage makes sense because anxiety, depression, it lives in your tissues.”
This year, of course, has brought new challenges for people across myriad backgrounds, which Bell said she and her team are focusing on helping clients work through.
The COVID-19 global pandemic may have been a catalyst for increased anxiety and depression among people of all ages, and disrupted some of the necessary structures child clients may need to work through certain behaviors, she said.
But even if that’s increased, Bell said she’s been amazed at the resilience of people in the face of the life-changing issues of 2020.
“I have been really impressed just watching people navigate the world turned upside-down and finding their strength and finding their drive to just keep going,” she said. “I’m just proud of them and I’m constantly reminding them of their strength.”
Bell said she understands too that going through this pandemic in summer could look a lot different than what the fall and winter months bring, especially if it leads to increases in depression and isolation. The Heart 2 Heart staff is cultivating ideas that she hopes can be moved to online groups when outdoor activities become limited in the colder weather, such as yoga.
The business moved to telehealth appointments only in March, and began in August having the first in-person sessions again. She plans to soon expand to Louisville, which will start with online sessions before a brick and mortar space opens.
And there’s been new pain brought the surface this year with the police-involved killings of Black Americans George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others across the country. And with the subsequent demonstrations and conversations on racial inequality, she said there’s plenty to unpack.
“It’s been interesting to watch how different people are navigating that space,” Bell said. “I think for me, being an African American woman, it just opened up pain that I didn’t know I was carrying. I’m a helper.”
Bell said especially in the beginning, she had to make sure she was using her own therapeutic skills to focus on self-care. And it’s brought up important, courageous conversations among her staff — half of whom are people of color and half who are not.
“Some of the conversations I appreciated the most were from my staff who are not people of color who wanted to know ‘how do I navigate this with clients who are hurt and they’re upset,’” she said.
“Those were some really beautiful conversations that I don’t think we would have ever [otherwise] had, and I think that they were really prepared as much as they can be to help people handle their feelings through such a difficult time.”
“I think collectively we’ve all been through a lot this year and I think collectively we all have our own stories and journeys that deserve — and often require — speaking to someone. Everything is not about trauma or horrific life experiences; it really is just about processing through some life situations that we may have gone through and some things that may be rumbling around in our brains.”