TIFFANY LONIS-SHUMATE, MS, LMFT
My Personal Journey
I was born and raised in Lubbock, Texas and moved to Auburn in 2005, three months after marrying my husband. I consider myself to be a risk-taker and I like a good challenge. When I got married, I not only gained a husband but three daughters (then ages one, two, and four). In one fail swoop, I had changed everything in my life - new college, new state, new husband, new kids! I understand first-hand that love often calls us to take big risks and face challenges we had never dreamed of. My marriage was not conventional. I married my husband seven months after we started dating, he was ten years older than me, and I was instantly a mom. It has taught me that it is important to take risks, that love requires commitment and work, and that we all have different paths we take to finding happiness. It has also taught me that doing the "work" of marriage can bring you more joy than anything else in life, but it does take work and choosing your partner time and time again.
Since marrying my husband, we have added three sons to the family, our first grandbaby, and thirteen chickens. Our six children currently range in age from twenty years old to one year old. We recently moved "to the country" on six acres and value being outside as often as possible. Life is crazy and it often does not go how we imagine it to, so we work to enjoy the moment and live our lives with intention and authenticity. Some days we rock it, other days we fail miserably...but we try all over again the next day.
My Professional Journey
I hold a Master of Science degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Texas Tech University. I have been in private practice for the past eight years and prior to that, I worked with incarcerated teenage boys and their families for six years. I use an Emotion-Focused approach to treatment and believe that my role as a therapist is to assist clients in understanding the vulnerable feelings driving their behaviors and healthy ways of expressing those feelings and needs. In doing so, I believe people create more genuine and nurturing connections with others in their lives.
In my couples therapy, I utilize an Emotion-Focused approach as well as the Gottman Method Couples Therapy. This method is based on over forty years of research by Psychologist John Gottman into what makes successful relationships. It provides concrete tools to help couples communicate in effective ways to help each partner better hear and understand one another. I have completed two of three levels of training in Gottman Method Couples Therapy and am working towards certification as a Gottman therapist.
Do the Work
Over the last several months, I have realized that with each kid we have added to our family, I have turned my focus more on caring for them and less on caring for myself. Sounds okay, right? Yes and no...I felt like I had to sacrifice myself and my desire and passions for my kids and their needs. But what I've realized is that in doing this, I am doing all of us - myself, my husband, and my kids - a disservice. I have to take care of and nurture me to stay who I am not only to model this for my kids, but also to be the person my husband fell in love with and to feel happy in my life and marriage. Although I struggle with feeling guilty at times, I am working to spend time on myself, to not take myself too seriously, and to trust that everyone will be just fine without me while I do some self-care.
STEVEN LONIS-SHUMATE, PHD
My Personal Journey
Around the time I turned 44, I realized that for most of my life my decisions were controlled by things other than me. Most of what I had done (going to college, getting married the first time, the jobs I pursued, etc.) were all based on external forces such as family and societal expectations. Society said you get married right after college…that didn’t work. My family taught me to earn titles, power, and money…that never felt like success.
That’s not to say that things haven’t gone right either. At 34, I married my dream girl and we have been married for 15 years. I have six awesome kids that range from ages one year to 20 years old (and a brand-new grand baby). I live on six acres in the country. I am 2½ years sober.
But the thing is, I had to learn the hard way the importance in doing things when it is right for me and that titles, money, and stuff doesn’t make the person who they are. These realizations led to feelings of being unfulfilled over the past couple of years which has led me to focus on what really matters to me…relationships.
I decided to take more control and do things that felt more like myself…to journey closer to my true calling. This process began with enrolling in seminary at Asbury Theological Seminary and continued with pursuing coaching credentialing through JRNI and the International Coaching Federation. In the search to become myself, I became passionate about helping people to start this journey for themselves sooner rather than later. I want people to learn from my mistakes, confusion, and hardship…learning to be who you actually are, pursuing the career you want and fostering the relationships that you want to be in.
Life is a journey and states of flourishing require work. But it’s good work and I look so forward to walk with you through it.
My Professional Journey
I hold a PhD in Educational Research and Measurement from the Educational Psychology Department at the University of South Carolina. For over 20 years, I have served in various faculty, research, and administrative positions at post secondary institutions including Texas Tech, Auburn, and Tuskegee. I am also currently completing my Masters of Divinity at Asbury Theological Seminary and my coaching certification and credentialing through JRNI Coaching (led by John Kim i.e. the Angry Therapist) and the International Coaching Foundation.
I utilize techniques gleaned from Positive Psychology and Appreciative Inquiry to help my clients move from being stuck or functioning at baseline to states of well-being and flourishing. Coaching is a partnership and is focused and directed by the client. It is an action oriented and measurable process that helps the client to discover where they currently are, where they want to be, and clear any roadblocks that may be getting in the way of the life that they want to be living.
Do the Work
Imagine your life as a pie. Now slice that pie into eight equal pieces. Probably one of those slices is your work. Over the past four years, I have experienced work-place trauma and career crisis. I've realized that these work place troubles have carried over into other aspects of my life. It has at times made it difficult for me to be happy or joyful and has taken me out of enjoying the moments of my life that are separate from my job altogether. I'm working to remember that this one slice does not define the whole pie, it is only a slice. I'm working to tolerate and share the feelings I have about this part of my life and not let it control who I am and what I do. I'm working to show gratitude for the pie as a whole and not let one slice take me out of a posture of gratitude and appreciation for all the other parts of my life.