Counselor Spotlight: Leslie Moseley

By Rebecca Smith

Leslie Moseley recalled one of her counseling clients who had many ups and downs over the course of their sessions at Nacogdoches County Juvenile Probation.

The client had been to alternative school and had gotten caught with marijuana. Others might have written her off, but Leslie saw something in the young woman that she sometimes didn’t see in herself. Even though the client is now in a residential facility, Leslie and the probation officer had seen a lot of progress and still have hope for her.

“She has so much potential,” she said. “That’s what I would tell her ‘You have so much potential, just hang in there.’”

Leslie is part of a program at Next Step Community Solutions that places licensed professional counselors at schools and juvenile probation offices. According to experts, about one in five students need mental health services; that number jumps to 60 percent at juvenile probation offices.

Leslie has been with the Next Step program since January 2019. She also sees clients at Shelby County Juvenile Probation.

“It’s so much fun to see clients grow and change and want to do the good things again that they’ve missed out on or didn’t think they could do again,” Leslie said. “The first time they are able to come to me and say ‘Ms. Leslie, I thought about what we talked about when I was about to get into an argument with my brother,’ or whatever the case may be. When they say ‘I did what you talked about and it worked!’ Then it’s like ‘Yes! The seed was planted and they’re following through.’

Though there are some unique challenges with seeing clients through juvenile probation, there are some big rewards, Leslie said.

“Some JP kids aren’t coming into counseling aware of why they need counseling,” she said. “They say ‘Why do I have to talk about how I feel?’ Sometimes breaking through that wall they have up can be a challenge, but once you break through that wall with them and have the patience to do it, the work that can be done is amazing.”

Leslie said even though she works in Nacogdoches, she feels connected to the Next Step staff.

“I like the work Next Step does overall, it’s just good work,” she said. “We’re all so spread out but I still feel very connected, especially with doing Zoom meetings during the stay-at-home orders, oddly enough. I love the excitement level of everyone on staff in general. I enjoy the leadership and the comradery I have with the other counselors.”

Leslie said even though seeking mental health treatment can “feel scary,” she hopes people do.

I don’t mean it to come across as cocky, but I know I’m good at what I do; it’s a calling for me,” she said. “There’s others who are good at what we do. I work with great people. Please reach out. We’re still fighting the stigma everywhere.”

Leslie has the data to back up her claims; Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which she and the other counselors use in combination with other therapies, has a vast body of research that proves its effectiveness for substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and many other mental health disorders.

“I try to encourage people to reach out and say ‘I’m sad, I’m depressed, I’m off my medication and seeing things or hearing things,’” Leslie said. “As scary as that is for people, I want them to know it’s always OK to reach out to people who care about you who hopefully can connect you to resources like us. I believe so much in what we do and the importance of it. When you have a medical condition, you go to the doctor. If you’re a diabetic, you use your insulin. Mental health should not be any different. Through the years, people have struggled with mental health and tried to hide it. They didn’t want their friends to know, they didn’t want their employer to know. It’s getting better, but it’s still hard for people to be vulnerable and get help.”