Dear Community Member,

Last month we kicked off our 2021 - 2022 season of Healing Conversations with the topic of The Wisdom of Healing Through Mindfulness. You can watch that conversation here.

The intent of our Healing Conversations is to engage in safe and engaging conversations that inspire healing, hope, and awareness around issues that impact our own lives and the lives of others within our communities.

For our next episode in the series "The Wisdom of Healing Through...", we explore the idea of paying attention to one's mental heath.

Sometimes we recognize in ourselves and others a desire to release old patterns and move toward a stability of mind. Attending to one’s mental health allows us to move away from fear and pain. It allows us to open our hearts, which in turn allows us to be more receptive to healthy relationships with ourselves and others. Having “good mental health” makes us better receptive to joy and better able to cope with life’s overwhelming moments and all its consequences.

The experience of COVID-19 pandemic allowed us to free ourselves from the burdens of our “masks” as it became crystal clear that so many of us were struggling with our emotions and with assisting our friends and loved ones in attending to their mental health. No longer a forbidden topic, mental health and wellness is now on the forefront of numerous news and media channels. Attending to one’s mental health is vitally important in our own healing process. Themes of unresolved feelings of self-worth, unresolved trauma and interpersonal conflict are all topics that we can easily find information on but there’s still reticence to engage in the formal practice of setting time aside to work on our mental health. 

“It’s Ok Not to be Ok!” We’ve learned it is healing to engage in a therapeutic relationship with a trained clinician who allows us to shed the layers of self-protective bravado which we often wear like a badge of courage and to ultimately gain compassion for ourselves and each other. Studies show that attention to one’s mental health has an overwhelmingly positive impact on the physical healing processes in our body. Plausibly, if we begin mental wellness practices earlier, we may be able to decrease the severity of chronic illnesses associated with chronic stress.

To register for this Healing Conversation, click on the link below:
Geneva Riley Tiggle
Geneva Riley Tiggle is VOACC's
Executive Director Organizational Excellence.

She graduated from Barnard College in New York City with a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies, minor in Psychology and earned her MSW-Clinical Social Work degree at New York University. Geneva is an advanced practice licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW-C) and a board-certified clinical supervisor.
Geneva has been in the field of Behavioral Health and Human Services for over 25 years and joined the executive leadership team of the Chesapeake and Carolinas affiliate earlier this year in March. Geneva loves her work at VOACC and is proud of the whole-person integrated care we provide for the people we serve.
Xenia Johnson Bhembe, MD
Dr Johnson Bhembe practices General Adult and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, is Board Certified and has been in practice for over a decade treating a broad range of diagnoses.

Her experience includes Medical Director of a Child Inpatient Facility, and developer of, advocate for and consultant to community service entities providing mental health care to pediatric populations.

She is a school consultant to the public
and therapeutic school settings, is a consultant to family medicine practices and is versed in safety assessments for at risks youth in schools.

Dr Johnson Bhembe sits on the Board of ROAD, a supportive structure for low-income community women managing depression. She is Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and currently serves as the Director of Behavioral Health at the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center. Dr Bhembe is also the founder of a nonprofit organization, The Race Recovery Project - a community based initiative to aid Black Americans to combat the internalized effects of anti-black racism.

For more information:
David Goode-Cross, PhD
Dr. David Goode-Cross is a licensed psychologist in Maryland, DC, and Virginia and the owner of East Towson Psychological services--a group practice that specializes in working with BIPOC and LGBTQ+ clients in Maryland. Prior to starting the practice,

Dr. Goode-Cross worked both as a faculty member in counseling psychology programs and as an administrator in college counseling centers.
His research has been published in the Journal of Homosexuality, the Journal of Black Psychology, the Psychology of Men and Masculinity as well as other peer-reviewed journals.

He is fortunate to work with many amazing adults, as both individual clients or part of an gay/trans couple. He also helps people on their transition journey by providing letters explaining the medical necessity of surgical interventions to treat what is labeled as “gender dysphoria.”

John Duggan, EdD, LCPC, LSATP
Dr. Duggan is a graduate of Marymount University in Arlington, VA, with an Counseling Psychology (CACREP) and of the Washington Theological Union in Washington, DC, with an Theology. 

John is VOACC's new Clinical Director, for our Behavioral Health Services in Virginia.

Dr. Duggan brings 25+ years of
professional practice and clinical experience to diverse stakeholders. John is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC). Dr. Duggan also completed Clinical Pastoral Education at the Ohio State University Medical Center, Columbus, OH. 

John brings a broad and deep Behavioral Health background to VOACC, this fact combined with his prior work in pastoral counseling will add a unique lens to our conversation on healing by attending to one’s mental health. 
To learn more about our upcoming Healing Conversations, visit

For questions, please email us at