Grateful Bear Opens Office on Hometown Square
Yesterday I picked up the keys for a second office for my counseling practice. This one is a small one-room office on Marietta Square, two miles from my home. I’ll be sharing the office with my friend Tim Franzen, a Certified Addiction Counselor who works primarily with adolescents and families. Tim is the founder of Cobb For Peace, so he is definitely a kindred spirit.
Having an office within easy driving distance of Atlanta will increase my referrals from attorneys who weren’t comfortable asking their clients to drive all the way up to Canton. I’ve already spoken with several attorneys who were glad to hear I’m opening an office at a more convenient location. I’ll continue to court-related evaluations, but I’m also hoping this new office location will increase my opportunities to do individual counseling with gay and lesbian clients in Metro Atlanta. My new business card includes both:
--Pre-Trial & Court-Related Assessments
--Counseling for Personal and Spiritual Growth
I’ve also added the line, “Counseling Rooted in Mindfulness and Respect,” at the bottom of my business card. The respect part is especially important, I think. I’ve had many clients over the years tell me that in their dealings with the criminal justice system, I was the first person who treated them with dignity and respect. Unfortunately that’s not a surprise, given that our criminal justice system is still strongly rooted in the puritanical concepts of shame and humiliation. Witness the new car tags here in Georgia labeled “DUI Car.” The scarlet letter is alive and well.
As I wrote in a Letter to the Editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution back in 1999:
I am alarmed by the increasing use of shame and humiliation as a sentencing tool. As a counselor and former parole officer, I feel that when you attack a person's integrity, you attack the very foundation on which he or she can rebuild a positive, crime-free life. As a Christian, I believe that all people are created in the image of God. When we humiliate a person, we denigrate that sacred image and perpetuate the cycle of shame and crime.
Seven years later, unfortunately, not much has changed.