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TRISTAN PETTY, MA, LPC/MHSP

My professional experience started in the early 1990s working in human services, mostly within non-profit programs. Areas of focus were domestic and sexual violence, drug and alcohol dependence, children and adult children of neglect and abuse, people with a myriad of life-altering experiences, and LGBTQ+ challenges. Simultaneously, I began my undergraduate studies in criminal and justice studies in Providence, Rhode Island. A few years later I attended graduate school at Rhode Island College, where I earned my master's degree in agency counseling and chemical dependency.

 

After receiving my M.A., I moved back to Tennessee, where I completed additional requirements to acquire my Licensed Professional Counselor, Mental Health Service Provider credentials. At the time I was working with an agency in Nashville, where I stayed for a little over six years; eventually, the time came for me to change the course of my professional career. 

 

This is where Hope In Healing, Inc. came into existence. It was never my intention to work in private practice. Fear was a huge factor for me, but it was also the motivator to launch a new endeavor that today has me more excited and passionate about this profession. It was not of my own doing, though. Through my own spiritual awakening—not to be confused with religion—the path was laid out and I just followed the path.

Just more proof that you can overcome and achieve even what you never planned to pursue.

 

My heart and compassion stem from personal experiences more than what I learned sitting in a class room, although it was very helpful and important. My life experiences with alcoholism, domestic violence, other abusive behaviors, and mental health issues (along with their long term effects) have helped prepare me for a calling that I had not planned for but am truly grateful for the journey it has taken me. Seeking counseling and doing the hard work helped free me from the awful way I thought of myself, self-destructive behaviors, many broken relationships, and internal stigma that prevented me from self-acceptance.

 

Today, my goal is to pay it forward and help those who seek to feel a sense of hope and freedom and achieve mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness.

MY PERSONAL JOURNEY

I was raised in Hendersonville, Tennessee, back when it wasn't so commercialized. Childhood for me and my five siblings mirrored much of what my clients have experienced. Our dad was an abusive alcoholic, and our mom struggled with untreated mental health issues. I believed this to be the norm.  

 

Luckily, I also saw how other families lived. They were different: There was affection, laughter, not a lot of drinking, no screaming or hitting, no cops showing up at their houses. At times food was scarce, and walking was the only mode of transportation, unless dad wasn't working—and even then it depended on his mood. There was also a secret I kept because it was not safe to share: my orientation.

 

Of course, there were some really good times, too. It wasn't always scary and bleak.

 

After getting married—which sounds really weird to me now!—having a beautiful son, and leaving Tennessee, growing up finally started for me. There were things I had never seen, done, or even heard of before. It never occurred to me just how big life was outside of the world of Tennessee. I was out at all hours of the night, drinking, clubbing, and other not-so-healthy behaviors.

 

It was also when I had my first adult relationship and when my secret life surfaced.

 

I moved to Rhode Island, following that relationship like a blind puppy dog, with so many plans: I was finally going to have the love, life, and family I had always dreamed of! But things got bad, then good, then bad again, then worse, then good again. That was the first time I went to therapy.

 

When I first thought about seeking counseling, it was more about trying to "fix" that relationship. It wasn't long before I realized that my life was a mess. My struggles with anxiety, poor self-image, and self-destructive behaviors brought me to a place that felt dark and unmanageable. Life had become what I swore it never would: lonely, chaotic, and at times controlled by abusive relationships. 

 

I admit that when I first engaged in counseling, I was skeptical. I thought, "What in the heck is talking gonna do!" However, after a few sessions, I felt a sense of safety that I had never felt before. With time it became easier to dig into the core and figure out why life had become what it had for me. It was not easy; sometimes it was very emotionally painful. Memories began to surface and secrets unfolded—along with shame, anger, and resentment. It certainly was a journey with peaks and valleys… and then more peaks and valleys… but with that one step (and steps to follow), there was a feeling of freedom, liberation, and a spiritual awakening. Through that, and periods of refinement and emotional tune ups, I discovered some pretty cool stuff about who I actually am and how my life has great possibilities for me.  

 

As life always provides an opportunity for discovery, I have now come to the realization that I personally identify as Transgender and continue to discover possibility, openness, and loving myself for the authentic person I am. Today, we are blessed with a wonderful son, two beautiful grandkids, and a loving and wonderful marriage of over 16 years.  

 

It can work!