Caring is showing kindness and concern for others. A person who is concerned about others and who does kind things for them is an example of someone who would be described as caring. That is a perfect description of Alicia P. Harris, owner of Brella Counseling Services, LLC.
Harris is a native of New Jersey. She moved to South Carolina in 2009 to care for her mother.
“My mom was from South Carolina, and she had Alzheimer's,” Harris says. “I moved here to be her caregiver.”
After moving to South Carolina, Harris got a job with Blue Cross Blue Shield. She also went back to school to obtain her Masters Degree in Professional Mental Health Counseling at Webster University. She then earned a Licensed Professional Counseling designation from the state of South Carolina. Harris said that going back to school and getting licensed was part of her life's mission.
“I have always had a passion for helping people,” Harris said. “I always did a lot of volunteer work as well as work in my church. I wanted to help people find the peace and the wholeness they are looking for. Naturally for me, that was the next progression in my career journey.”
To further progress in her mission of helping people, Harris launched Brella Counseling Services six months ago.
“Brella Counseling Services started in January of this year,” Harris said. “The term 'Brella' comes from an umbrella. When you think about an umbrella, an umbrella is usually used to shield you in the time of a storm – to protect you from certain elements that may bring harm to you. So with Brella Services, the concept is to deal and help people from a holistic standpoint – emotionally, spiritually, mentally. That's why my line is: 'Holistic services under one umbrella'.”
Brella Counseling Services offers one-on-one counseling and couples counseling. It also offers help for people suffering from depression, anxiety, stress, loss of a loved one or hair loss.
Harris says that she is not just an on-the-couch counselor. She likes to get out in the community and to bring healing services to individuals and groups. She also does motivational speaking.
“I have a leadership program called S.O.A.R.,” Harris says. “That stands for Speaking Outstanding Achieving Respect. I teach high school students the art of public speaking and leadership so that they can better articulate when they are in interviews when applying for colleges and jobs. So Brella is multi-faceted. Although we do specialize in counseling, my goal is to be more of a partner in the community.”
As part of her commitment to helping the community, Harris is hosting an Alopecia Awareness event on Saturday, September 29, 2018 from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. at EdVenture Children Museum. The goal of this event is to let those with the various forms of Alopecia, their families and supporters know that they are not alone. Alopecia is an autoimmune deficiency that causes the body to attack the hair follicles which can cause partial or complete hair loss. Many people suffer in silence because of the stigma that is attached. Children are bullied in schools for being different and ultimately contemplate suicide. Women go to extremes to cover up their deficiency by using wigs, weaves and other things. Men deal with balding as well as the loss of eyebrows and hair on their entire body. The statistics report that approximately 6.8 million people in the United States will experience this at some point in their lives and 147 million people worldwide.
Harris says that she wants to help people with alopecia because she has personal experience with it.
“I recently shaved the rest of my hair and revealed that I have Alopecia Areata,” Harris said. “I hid for 11 years trying to cover it up because I was afraid – but no more. I am now determined to break down the stigma that comes with it and assist those who struggle with it on a journey to emotional healing. I understand from my own personal experience when I deal with individuals who have suffered hair loss and the emotional, spiritual and mental affects that go along with that. Not only am I a therapist, I can self-identify with people who have experienced that.”
For those unable to attend the meeting, Harris has an Alopecia support page on Facebook.
“It's a private page for men and women dealing with Alopecia,” said Harris. “To be a part of it, people can contact me through my regular Facebook page.”
Harris says that what makes her unique is that she has a big heart when it comes to people who are in need.
“What motivates me is the quote that says 'People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.' A lot of us are intelligent, educated people. But when people are hurting, they could care less about your intellect. They want to know that you have compassion and empathy and that you are willing to listen and assist them in their journey to wholeness.”
To learn more about the Alopecia awareness event or if you would like for Harris to speak to your organization, please contact her at email@example.com. Brella Counseling Services is located at 1612 Marion Street, Suite 322A in Columbia. Appointments are available Tuesday-Thursday from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. and Friday from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. Harris can be reached by calling (803) 814-4011 or via e-mail at BrellaServicesLLC@gmail.com. To learn more, visit the Brella Counseling Services page on Facebook.