Tamara Hubbard, MA, LCPC
Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor
FoodASC Member since 2018
Please tell us about yourself and why you are interested in food allergies.
I am a food allergy parent, as well as a licensed clinical professional counselor/family therapist that welcomes those managing food allergies. While I do see clients without food allergies as well, my heart led me to begin focusing more on helping those needing guidance with the psychosocial aspects of food allergy life.
Because I truly do get it, and speaking with a clinical counseling professional that “gets it” can be extremely beneficial.
Please tell us about your practice.
After initially just blogging about food allergy mental health topics, it became very clear that there was a gap within this space – a lack of accessibility to identify and/or locate a food allergy-knowledgeable clinical counseling professional.
Not only was it hard for those within the food allergy community to find these professionals, but when I looked to connect with my peers working with food allergies, it was hard for me to locate them as well.
That unmet need led me to create two resources related to food allergy mental health: one for the food allergy community, and one for food allergy-knowledgeable clinical counseling professionals.
The Food Allergy Counselor Directory is a state-by-state listing of food allergy-knowledgeable clinical mental health professionals utilized by those managing food allergies as well as allergists looking to refer patients.
There are currently listings in over half of the states in the US, as well as Canada and Australia. New listings are added weekly, so I encourage people to check back often.
The Food Allergy Behavioral Health Association (FABHA) is a professional network food allergy-knowledgeable clinical behavioral healthcare professionals dedicated to positively impacting the lives of those who manage food allergies.
FABHA also welcomes psychology/health-based researchers focused on the psychosocial aspects of food allergies.
Whether it’s sharing resources, or collaborating on food allergy mental health and counseling efforts, FABHA serves to strengthen the food allergy counseling niche – currently a much needed and under-developed niche.
Additionally, I created a Food Allergy Mental Health Resources section on my Food Allergy Counselor website, which houses links to articles, webinars, and research related to the psychosocial aspects of life with food allergies.
These resources are useful for both the food allergy community, as well as clinical counseling professionals hoping to learn more about food allergies.
What motivates you to do what you do?
What motivates me to do this work is the food allergy community itself, and my heart.
I am a big believer in giving back to your communities however you can.
My heart led me to combine my professional training with my food allergy experience and knowledge so that I could help others through their own food allergy journeys.
The unmet need that I described above led me to start the Food Allergy Counselor Directory and FABHA – both of which are quickly gaining lots of support from the community, food allergy organizations, and even allergists!
If I can help positively impact the food allergy mental health and counseling space, both for the community and my fellow peers, then I’ve achieved my goals.
Do you have a go-to resource? If so, what is it and why is it useful?
I wouldn’t say I have a particular go-to resource that encompasses every aspect of food allergy life; rather, I tend to recommend various food allergy resources, based on the need. We are very lucky to have access to a variety of great food allergy resources now!
If people were to ask me about online support groups, my main piece of guidance would be to find one that fits with the place you currently are at on your own food allergy journey. If a support group leaves you feeling more anxious or exhausted, it may not be the right space for you at that current time. Don’t be afraid to try various groups until you find the one best for you (and those needs may change at various points in your journey).
I also tend to recommend groups or websites that offer encouragement, empowered mentalities, and evidenced-based advice, especially for those that are newly diagnosed.
What do you wish other people knew about food allergies and what’s one action that can be performed to increase knowledge and awareness in the general population?
Food allergies impact emotions no matter what. With that said, some are able to navigate those overwhelming emotions on their own, while others may need guidance or support, especially when feelings become overwhelming.
My hope is for everyone to know that it’s okay to have the wide range of emotions you likely have about food allergies, and it’s okay to ask for help.
Those emotions are all part of your food allergy story – but they don’t have to define it.
What is your food allergy narrative? What is your goal with food allergies?
Is it to teach your child how to navigate life safely while living life to the fullest?
Is it to build your food allergy knowledge and become an advocate yourself, within your school/community or elsewhere?
You get to decide your journey, and what you need to do to be successful on that path. Don’t feel you need to judge your journey based on everyone else’s.
What advice would you give to someone just embarking upon this journey?
My advice for the newly-diagnosed, or those who are still acclimating to food allergies would be this: building blocks create a strong foundation, and time is your friend.
Building Blocks Create a Strong Foundation– If we think of the construction of a house, the foundation needs to be completed and built solidly before moving on to the 1st or 2nd story.
The same is true with building food allergy confidence.
When you’re first diagnosed, you may feel like you can’t get information quickly enough – that is a normal feeling!
But make sure to walk before you run. Focus on the food allergy information you need in order to help you acclimate and adjust, and then once you feel your foundation is solid enough, branch out to additional topics you may want to learn about, such as treatments.
You’ll likely feel less overwhelmed by taking this approach than if your goal is to learn every piece of food allergy information overnight.
Time Is Your Friend– Over time, you’ll gain confidence with food allergies.
Confidence in your food allergy knowledge; confidence in how to navigate various scenarios and situations; confidence in assessing risk.
While new stages of life may cause you to reassess and adjust your confidence, time truly is your friend with food allergies.
Speaking of time – try not to focus too far ahead in the future. If your child is in Kindergarten, you don’t need to think about or worry about high school right now. You have time to prepare for that and to get to a place of confidence!
Is there anything else you’d like us to know?
Thank you for asking me to be part of the Member Spotlight section – it’s truly an honor.
I love Food ASC and the support it offers those managing food allergies.
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