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Meet Shakesha (Shai) Evans of Steven A Cohen Clinic-Metrocare Services in Addison

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shakesha Evans.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Shakesha. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
My story started when I married the military. My life was full of adventure and transition. However, after 9/11, my world was turned upside down. I was like many military families, scared and worried. I remember my family and I just moved to another state and did not know anyone. I found out I was pregnant and my husband just received orders deploying to war. He left and I found myself pregnant and raising our 4 year old alone. I started thinking about the mental and emotional strength one needed to survive in such an unfamiliar terrain. As I navigated the new challenges I was faced with, I started to volunteer and help other spouses in similar predicaments.

Fast forward, it seems like years came and went as so many military families cycled through deployments. To witness the strain and fatigue not only from the soldiers, but from their families, were shocking. I decided I wanted to do more; thus, I started exploring the mental health field. Before I knew it, I enrolled in a mental health program, started volunteering more with spouses, such as taking an active role in FRGs (family readiness groups) and training with some of the finest military officers in mental health. I respect the dedication, I respect the warrior’s spirit, I respect the commitment and the sacrifice that most of our military families endure on a daily basis. With all that, good mental health is vital to surviving in the military. For this, I take my career as a psychologist compassionately and seriously!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has never been smooth. Dealing with multiple transitions; to include deployments, re-integrations, raising children, pursuing higher education, parents falling ill, all while working full time, came with a plethora of challenges. There was always a deadline, an emergency, an abrupt change in schedule, or something/someone requesting your time. I remember burning that late-night oil most of my life. While I was completing my PhD, I went four years straight, getting 5 hours or less most days of sleep. My days were consumed with working 8 to 12-hour shifts, taking and making games and dance competitions, helping with homework, cooking and cleaning, and completing my own assignments and studying into the wee hours of the morning; just to turn around in 4 more hours to start the day all over again. Everything required time, effort, ability, and sacrifice. There was always some expectation and time frame to meet. In my case, it was my degrees, license requirements, work requirements, children’s school requirements, and etc. The concept of time felt like a cloud in the sky. It became thinner and thinner until it disappeared.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I work at the Steven A. Cohen Military Clinic-Metrocare Services in Addison, TX. We are a comprehensive mental health clinic where we provide individual, family, couples and group counseling to veterans and their families, active duty family members, including to the National Guard and Reservist soldiers and their families. We also offer adult psychiatric medication management and case management. We use evidence-based approaches to treat a myriad of emotional, psychological, and behavioral issues. I am a provisional licensed Psychologist, a marriage and family therapist, and a chemical dependency counselor. I provide individual, couples/marriage/family counseling and facilitate an anger management group called Creating My Chill. I specialize in adolescent care, couples and families, and in groups. Outside of the clinic, I also do public speaking on mental health, in which I truly enjoy.

What I am most proud of as a company is the ability to help others regardless of their discharge status and inability to pay. Regarding what sets me apart, my drive and commitment to veterans set me apart. I was blessed to set both sides of the military, personally and professionally. I was also blessed to receive training from military officers in mental health. In addition, I enjoyed public speaking and had the pleasure of speaking for large venues throughout Texas.

What were you like growing up?
I was a rambunctious Tom-Boy, a true daredevil. I enjoyed wrestling with the boys in the neighborhood, climbing trees, and flipping on old mattresses. I would rearrange big items in our homes and build things. My parents called me a she-man, lol. I grew up on cartoons like ThunderCats and Transformers; thus, I thought I could do anything. As I grew older, I started singing and dancing and even won some talent shows. I was a real, busy body.

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