Anna Yates, 39

Licensed clinical social worker, Thriveworks

Therapist and social worker Anna Yates believes that trauma can deeply impact us in ways we don’t quite understand. “It impacts our brain and our behavior and our relationships,” she says. “And dealing with it is a really important part of figuring out how to get along with people.”

Yates is a licensed clinical social worker at Thriveworks, a national mental health care company with locations in Richmond, but she spent several years doing child welfare work at Children’s Home Society of Virginia and the adoption group Extra Special Parents. Her focus was mainly on foster care
and adoption family preservation. “I do a lot of work today on trauma and how it affects the brain and how to use that knowledge to help people heal. That was developed from the child welfare work.”

Yates, who is also an adjunct professor in the master of social work program at VCU’s School of Social Work, is parenting her 14-year-old niece, who is transgender. It’s only a coincidence that she specializes in treating LGBTQ+ patients. “They experience poor treatment a lot when it comes to mental care and that can discourage them from seeking help if they need it.” She adds that this population, an ongoing target of political extremists, is at much higher risk of substance abuse and suicide. “It’s an area I care very deeply about.”

Her cognitive behavioral therapy sessions often combine talk therapy and physical activity. “Anxiety and trauma affect us on a very deep and primitive level that has to be addressed by learning to retrain your brain as well as calm your body down.” Thriveworks offers online therapy to patients, and she thinks it’s an important option. “It’s very important for people to have
increased access to telehealth services.”

In her own search for calm, Yates likes to hang with her niece, play trivia games with close friends, and take her dog, Remus, on long walks. The budding gardener is also raising three chickens, but declines to give their names. “They were named after Harry Potter characters,” she says. “But since J.K. Rowling
turned out to be transphobic, we’re probably changing them.”

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