Author: Joy Choquette

Book discussion groups have a long history in America. In fact, Anne Hutchinson, a traveler on a ship headed to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, is purported to have begun a book study onboard in 1634. And in 1727, Benjamin Franklin organized a literary society made up of 12 members. Book discussion groups remain popular in today’s culture.

But what if one could pair a book discussion with other professionals, creating a more cohesive, effective system of services for community members? Trevor Jewett, a St. Albans-based registered mental health and substance abuse counselor, thinks this is entirely possible. In fact, it’s the very reason he started leading book discussion groups for other professionals recently.

Trevor is an individual counselor within the Healthy Minds Counseling, Consultation and Education network and splits his time between a St. Albans and an Enosburg office. He hopes the book discussion groups will help break down barriers and get professionals from different areas working together. It’s easy to become saturated in one’s own profession and area of expertise. From school teachers and paraeducators to physicians; from clinicians to case managers; from mental health counselors to nurses, each tends to work in silo of sorts. This can cause a missed connection with others dealing with similar issues or problems across service areas.

Trevor hopes that by working together and getting to know one and other better, these professionals will be able to better collaborate for the community’s health. “The intention {for the discussion group}is integration of knowledge, expertise, perspective, skill and hope,” said Trevor.

“I believe that humans in their conditions don’t exist in silos, therefore our treatment can’t,” says Trevor. He’s successfully led two professional book discussion groups to date. The third will be held on September 24th, and focuses on the book titled, The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity, by Nadine Burke Harris, M.D. Trevor will continue to offer the book discussion groups on an every-other month basis. He is encouraged that the numbers at each event continue to grow.

September’s group centers on learning more about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) and how these early situations manifest in everyday life. They might show up at school, in a counselor’s office or at a medical appointment. According to the ACE model, issues such as ADHD, depression, MS, cancer and even criminal activity, frequently stem from undealt with trauma. Adversity in one’s childhood can underlie that traumatic experience.

RiseVT – Franklin & Grand Isle Counties was very helpful in supporting this most recent book discussion, Trevor noted. It offered to loan books to participants who needed them. Because of that, at least two participants will attend the book discussion who otherwise would not have been able to join.

How does a book discussion such as this tie in with the mission of RiseVT? Trevor says that it’s actually a perfect fit when you realize the importance of looking at the entire person as a whole. “We have to incorporate all of these together. Mind is body and body is mind. In order to treat the whole person, we can’t not address these things together,” said Trevor.

What does Trevor do to take care of his own health? He enjoys spending time with family, gardening, music and playing drums—a lifelong interest—and being out in nature to name just a few things. Trevor states that his spirituality is also an important component of his healthy life.

Because he and his family recently moved to the area from St. Johnsbury, they are looking forward to exploring the community more fully and taking part in future RiseVT – Franklin & Grand Isle Counties events. “Being new to the area, we’re absolutely looking for those types of community engagement things,” Trevor said.

Trevor has been practicing counseling for the past two and a half years. He hopes that the book discussion groups offered to professionals will help to break down barriers and spark a dialogue. And that this in turn, will ignite further conversation and collaboration.

The next book to be discussed will be, “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts; Close Encounters with Addiction,” by Dr. Gabor Mate. Professionals interested in learning more about the role between trauma and addiction—this book’s focus—will meet on October 21st from 4:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. at Healthy Minds. The event is free, but space is limited. Those interested should call Trevor to register at (802) 766-1561, extension 4.