The New “Not Most People” List

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The old model of work isn’t …well …working.

Just ask the school counselors, or the clinical managers at your local mental health center.  Ask the recent graduates as they look for employment, strike up a conversation with someone at DSS, or talk with private practitioners as they watch other industries slowly take away market share.

What were once seen as safe, traditional, and clearly defined career paths for mental health are now very risky propositions.  It’s easy to box yourself in and see little in the way of opportunity.  I know this because I’ve fallen victim myself.

Which is why I enjoy connecting with people who refuse to go down that path.  Twice a year, I take a moment to recognize a few of these amazing folks.  I admire their creativity, dedication, and uniqueness. In my mind, they represent the driving force behind our profession, and you find them in organizations large and small.

I say cheers to them all!

Deborah Blalock  (The Art of Overcoming the Unthinkable)

Deborah Blalock is the executive director of the Charelston/Dorchester Mental Health Center, which employs several hundred people and services two large counties.  But this is not the whole story.  Not even close.

In the face of crippling budget cuts, her center now employs less than half of what they once had a few years ago.  And yet, somehow, someway…the Charleston/Dorchester Mental Health Center continues to be recognized throughout the state for the quality of care provided.

Deborah and her team are innovators and change agents.  Over the years, they have shown an ability to thrive in an environment that shifts almost daily.  One day they receive a directive for more devastating budget cuts, and the next day they define a plan that will not only keep the doors open, but will add new services in the process.

How does she accomplish this feat?  I believe part of it has to do with her relentless pursuit of new ideas and innovations, coupled with a willingness to form essential strategic partnerships both locally and at the state level.  Deborah’s team approach gives her the ability to lead an entire community so everyone can effectively address the problems of mental health.  Hospitals, law enforcement, schools and families look to her center to problem solve and address the needs of the community.

Deborah simply will not shy away from the problem.  She believes in the power of community and has used this belief to create incredible new programs in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

When the budget hits the fan…I’m calling Deborah Blalock.

Ulash Dunlap (Pay my dues?  What dues?)

Born in London (UK), Ulash spent several years working in the field and eventually attended graduate school in San Francisco, CA.

She is the face of the new mental health professional.  A new bread of clinician existing in a place where markets have fragmented, and where the entire world is within reach when armed with a laptop and internet connection.  Ulash has no intention of paying her dues and every intention of working hard to live and share her passion.

Her newest project can be found at The goal of Understand My Mind (UMM) is to offer simple and useful information about the behavioral sciences through podcast interviews, articles and resources.  Ulash’s desire is to critically examine how societal trends affect individuals’ perceptions, thoughts and behavior.

Her podcast series is a lesson in just how powerful new technology has become.  Ulash leverages this form of communication to reach out to an ever-expanding audience.  She produces these newscasts with the skill and determination of a fully manned production crew.

If you were to ask Ulash what she does within the profession she might present you with a tapestry of service offerings and practice areas.  Psychotherapist, teacher, trainer, consultant, writer and founder of Understand My Mind are just a few on that list.

In Ulash’s mind, the opportunities are endless.

Debi Lynes (Turning Dreams Into Reality)

Debi Lynes is passionate about helping young women. I don’t mean passion in the obvious sense.  I’m talking about a form of the word that is indescribable.  When you spend time with Debi, you internalize her energy.  And that is when you realize how and why she has been able to live her dreams so fully.

Debi’s vision of a state of the art, nationally recognized recovery center became a reality a few short months ago.  Tulifinny (which means “healing hands”) is a 47-acre rural campus that was originally built five years ago as an equestrian facility and site for the former owner’s ministry.

Tulifinny was founded as a two-tiered Recovery Management Program for young women offering both early intervention and post-rehab care in a supportive, safe, and nurturing environment.

You can see and hear from Debi right here on this video.  And you can learn more about her amazing treatment center at

Avrum Nadigel (Thinking Different)

Avrum is a youth and family therapist with a gift for connecting with young people.   He has over 15 years of specialized experience working with adolescents, young adults and families in Montreal, Vancouver, and Toronto. His approach combines Family Systems, Psychodynamic and Mindfulness perspectives.  You can learn more about his work on his website at

Avrum is constantly feeding his creativity, and essentially redefining what being a “mental health professional” means.  When he is not directing energy towards a screenplay or his music, Avrum is giving talks on issues affecting adolescents and families.

And yet this is not enough for Avrum.  He finds powerful and innovative ways to reach out to at-risk youth through a series of unique initiatives.  Most notably would be, MN8 SOUND, a record label/recording studio for at-risk youth, sponsored by Universal Music Canada.

Oh and did I also mention that Avrum is using the power of new technology to reach out to families and other mental health professionals?  He currently produces a well respected podcast series titled Teens & Tweens.  The podcasts feature experts in adolescent mental health and addictions.  You can listen to and download these podcasts by clicking HERE.

Geez…I sure wish Avrum managed his time better.  🙂

Liana Lowenstein (The Power of Community)

Liana Lowenstein is an author, sought-after speaker, and practitioner with 20 years of specialized work with children, adolescents and their families. She has a reputation as a dynamic workshop leader and has presented trainings across North America and abroad. She is founder of Champion Press Publishing Company and has authored numerous publications including, “Paper Dolls & Paper Airplanes: Therapeutic Exercises for Sexually Traumatized Children” (with Crisci & Lay, 1997), and “Creative Interventions for Bereaved Children” (2006).

But what makes Liana so very unique, in my mind, is her deft use of new marketing models, and her understanding of the shifting marketplace.  Rather than lose control of her intellectual property through a traditional publisher, Liana chose to go right around the publishing gatekeepers.  Liana’s solution – create her own publishing company so she could do it her way.  The results speak for themselves with over seven books and numerous articles.

Liana has also benefited from having built a large following and community (see her website here).  It is a community she has worked hard to foster and grow. People want to hear from Liana!  So they sign up to receive her monthly newsletter, or they sign on to read her fantastic free eBook, “Favorite Therapeutic Activities for Children and Teens: Practitioners Share Their Most Effective Interventions”.

When you have something to share, something you have put your heart and soul into, it is easily recognizable.  I was introduced to Liana because the value she was offering was so impressive I could not ignore her.  People in my community, people who never met Liana, were talking about her and sharing her content with others.

Liana epitomizes the new marketing model.

Daniel A. Franz (The Linchpin)

Daniel is a doer.  It is this fact that puts him ahead of the curve, as he works hard at making himself indespensible.   Several years ago, Daniel decided to start a private practice.  He created a “5 year plan”, and within 11 months his doors were open and business was good.

But Daniel also knew he could not rest on his laurels.  The new economy rewards innovation, creativity and a commitment to excellence.   And Daniel spends day after day exploring ways to improve himself and his counseling practice so he can help more people in unique ways.  He recently started a live meditation group in his office that has been extremely well received.  Daniel is working to expand this service offering by making a more concerted effort to understand the needs and wants of his clients.  One area worth exploring – the fact that people often do not have the time to make it for a group even when they want to.  Daniel sees this challenge as a golden opportunity, because he knows if he can solve this problem, if he can remove the barriers and offer a unique solution, then he will have hit on something special.  This is why Daniel is indespensible.

Daniel is hard at work building a website ( that fully integrates the social aspects of the Internet.  He has already succeeded with the recent launch of his blog at  The articles are full of excellent information.

When you find yourself faced with a daunting task or a seemingly unsolvable problem.  Find that new direction, open yourself up to the possibilities, and became a doer as Daniel has become.

Tamara Suttle (Markets Are Conversations)

When I browse the Internet and find a great clinical discussion happening online I almost always find Tamara.  There she is, offering resources and sound advice for families and clinicians alike.  You can find Tamara gently helping a graduate student find her way, or she might offer invaluable clinical advice and resources to a family in need.  I can set my watch to Tamara’s conistency and generosity.

A little over two months ago I got greedy.  I wanted a short cut to building an audience.  So I hired some folks to promote my free eBook, and I sent some of my own unsolicted and self serving messages all over the world wide web.  I became…yikes…a spammer.  People let me know what I had done very quickly!

And as I was learning my lesson the hard way, I would smile as I watched Tamara in action.  Here was someone who truly understood the role of social media.  Her conversations commanded attention because they were genuine and valuable.  Tamara takes the time to be a real part of discussions within communities.  She stays commited to the process and it has paid off in spades.

Tamara has been a Licensed Professional Counselor since 1991.  She started her private practice before therapists ever thought about having a presence on the web.  But Tamara recognized the value of the Internet and learned quickly.  In no time at all she was participating in a wide variety of online discussions. Eventually, Tamara turned to blogging.   It connected her in new ways to potential clients, and to the greater mental health professional community.

She recently started her second blog at, which is primarily for her counseling clients, but you can also interact with her at

When you do reach out to Tamara, pay attention to the experience.  You’ll learn that nothing, and I mean nothing, compares to being genuine.



  1. Avrum  May 25, 2010

    David – thanks for the mention. Also, perhaps you should gather a few “purple cow” therapists for a Skype chat. Share ideas… market your book 😉 I’d be interested.

  2. Brenda Bomgardner  May 25, 2010

    I agree with you totally about Tamara’s blog. I look forward to recieving her blogs as they seem to be apply to whatever I am working on at any one particular time. Brenda

  3. Cordes Simpson  May 25, 2010

    Hey David! I am enjoying your book. Thanks for all inspirational names! You know I will add them to my list and check out their websites to learn how to grow my practice!

  4. Ulash Dunlap  May 25, 2010

    David, again, thank you for inspiring me. Your book and website is brilliant! Wow, people are doing amazing things!! I look forward to checking out everyone on the list!

  5. Rosalyn Adams  May 25, 2010

    Hey David,

    Thanks for introducing me to such awesome people and the innovative work they are doing. This is exciting and motivating.

  6. Pam Dyson  May 25, 2010

    David, thank you for profiling these innovative professionals. Building a private practice can sometimes feel like a lonely journey but these profiles are very encouraging to me.

  7. David  May 26, 2010

    I am glad people enjoyed the post. I have a lot of fun learning about all the great things other folks are doing. It can be quite inspiring!

  8. Pam Dyson  May 27, 2010

    I’m very unconventional in my approach to marketing my practice. I’ve attempted many different approaches some have worked and some have not. Yet no matter what the result I learned something valuable each time.

  9. David  May 27, 2010


    I really like some of the things you are doing on your website. Folks should go take a look! Being a parent of two young boys, the video clip on tips for getting your children to bed on time was fantastic! I can see parents being motivated to call you from that video.

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