Lonny Miller Interview Notes
Interviewer: Lonny, tell me about what you do.
Lonny: Sure, I’m an associate in marriage and family therapy, and I have a Master’s in clinical psychology. I currently work mostly with young adults, so that’d be 15-25 years old. I’ve spent the last 3 years working in a community health center, and that was a real privilege to be able to do that and see the variety of people who are suffering with mental health issues. It was a community center where if you had $5 you could walk in and see somebody – so it’s really great work and a great organization. That allowed me to decide which area I was really skilled in, and in what area I truly had a passion for. It really comes down to this young adult group.
Interview: So, how do you help? Explain how your program works.
Lonny: Most of the clients I see – not all, but most, have co-occuring conditions, and usually it’s addiction and trauma, or a variety of other things they face, and what we do is really work with the client to figure out what they want to do with their lives. Are they living the life they want, or how do they want to change their life? And – helping them kind of move into the direction that they want to move in. We can do that with some clinical work and integrating them into their community at large that that supports them and moves them in the direction they would like to go. So it’s really a collaborative effort, and meeting the client where they are and taking them where they would like to be.
Interviewer: Understood. So how did you get your start here?
Lonny: I got my start here when I was in my early 20s. I am part of the LBGTQ+ community and I was struggling with the institutional trauma and cultural trauma of trying to find my way through that. I really became…I don’t want to say suicidal, but I will say very blue and very removed from culture in general. I started to drink, and the two of those things collided. I sought professional help with a young woman and the experience working I had working with her was transformative and changed the entire trajectory of my life. I really wanted to go back at some point in a professional capacity, like I am now, and help others with that. All of this is born out of my own experience of having a great role model and professional help – in helping me with the life I wanted to lead. I spent the last 28 years personally in my own recovery and that’s been focused on a 12-step model for addiction. It does work with a lot of people and it’s effective but there’s a good portion of people that doesn’t really help. But through my own studies and clinical work, there are a lot of other interventions that help too. We can talk about doing mindfulness and coping skills and trauma intervention and harm reduction…so it’s not just a 12-step model. Some people come in and are stuck in that idea, but there are lots of other modalities that are very effective.
Interviewer: I want to ask you about the business side of things. What are some of the challenges you face when you’re trying to establish the business or run it in general?
Lonny: Such a great question. I am new in the business section of this so the part I am struggling with is the financial part with clients. I need clients and they need help and I want to help them. I am passionate about it. I am empathetic. I don’t want the cost of treatment to be a barrier to them getting the help they need. So that is where I struggle. Trying to balance this against creating and owning and running a business and demands – at the end of the day I have to pay rent and keep the lights on so I have to have clients who can pay the fee. It’s an emotional business struggle. How am I effective in my community and run a business?
Interviewer: Yes, at the end of the day you want to help as many people as you can but you still need to make a living.
Lonny: That’s exactly right.
Interviewer: So Lonny, what are some of the things you want to do in the future? What are your goals?
Lonny: That is also a really good question! It’s taken me a while to suss that out…to figure out where I can give back in the most profound way. And you don’t have to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community to be an ally or effective, but it does give you perspective and that’s really the area of focus I’ve been on and want to continue on – helping people who have struggled in this community where addiction and the co-occurrence rate is 20-30% and the general population is like 9%. So it’s a lot higher and they face a lot of barriers others don’t face. I want to focus continuing helping that group and bringing them into a life they would like to have.
Interviewer: It’s a noble cause and I appreciate it. So Lonny, what’s the best way for people to contact you if they want more information?
Lonny: The best way for people to contact me is through my website, lonnydmiller.com. You can see the type of work I do, the approaches I make – and it gives you a good feel. It’s really about a clinical alliance. People who are seeking help from me or another clinician, it comes down to finding someone you can create an alliance with – someone on your side and there for you – and helping you move in the direction you would like to go.
Interviewer: Thank you, Lonny Miller. Good luck to you.
Lonny: Thank you for having me!