Meet The Parenting Through Addiction Team

Ginny Mills - Lead Consultant and Program Director - Ginny brings 25+ years of clinical and leadership experience to share with parents at all stages on the journey with their sons and daughters. She is both a professional and a parent of a daughter in recovery and the face of many of the courses and Parent Guides on Parenting Through Addiction: The Other PTA. Ginny holds credentials as a Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist and Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor in NC and is Clinical Director and Founder of Full Life Counseling & Recovery. In her role with PTA, Ginny serves as Parent Consultant and Lead Instructor.

​John Mills - Technical & Administrative Director - A proven non-profit leader and healthcare consultant himself, John maintains the membership website, records and edits video, serves as the administrative director for PTA, and offers encouragement, support and ideas for Ginny and all the members of the PTA Team.

​Jimmy Tunstall - Parent Consultant and Mindfulness Instructor - Jimmy brings 10+ years of recovery wisdom and 3+ years of experience consulting with parents of those in the first year of recovery. He holds the Certified Peer Support Specialist and Certified Substance Abuse Counselor (I) credentials, but in his role with PTA, he serves as a Parent Consultant and Mindfulness Instructor.

​Leigh Zick Dongre - Parent Consultant - Credentialed as a Licensed Professional Counselor and as a Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist (A), Leigh holds a PhD in Addiction Counseling from the University of NC-Charlotte (one of the few addiction-specific doctoral programs in the country). She has counseled individuals and families affected by addiction in both acute hospital and outpatient counseling settings. She counseled patients and families in both the Trauma and Burns units at Wake Forest Baptist Health, and she counseled undergraduate students through her work at the University Counseling Center at Wake Forest. Leigh's previous work experience as a consultant at the Center for Creative Leadership -- as well as her experience as a parent -- helps inform Leigh's work with PTA families.

AN OPEN LETTER FROM GINNY

I'm so glad that you are here. Problems associated with alcohol use, medication misuse and drug abuse affect everyone around the individual ~ family, friends, neighbors, employers and even church members. The alcohol or drug aspect is often hidden, but the conflicts in relationships, struggles to meet responsibilities, absences from important events or problems with health, performance or communications are known by many. For family members, the truth becomes undeniable. As we love and try to support the person affected, we often do so in silence. I believe that a full life can only be achieved when our lives are free from addiction, despair and fear --- our own or someone else's.

This letter is a way of helping you get to know me better, to know my experience and training. I am a Wake Forest University graduate for both undergraduate (BA, '85) and graduate school (MAEd in Counseling, '96), and I have worked in the behavioral health field since 1986. I am recognized in North Carolina as a Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist. In my role with Parenting Through Addiction, I serve as Lead Consultant and Consultant Supervisor. 

In addition to extensive experience in “front-line”counseling with adolescents and adults, I have also served on the NC Substance Abuse Professional Practice Board, served as the Chief Clinical Officer for the Partnership for a Drug-Free NC, and served as the Program Manager for a residential addictions program modeled after a program developed by Hazelden. I received over 2,000 hours of mentoring and training through the Hazelden Professionals in Residency program and other formal training. Before opening Full Life, I served on the mission field in Mexico and returned to open Full Life Counseling in early, 2009. Now, in order to serve more families with an online platform, I have created Parenting Through Addiction.

Like all professional counselors, I take confidentiality very, very seriously. As the daughter of a prominent elected official and granddaughter of a judge and a pastor, I understand the need for privacy in sensitive matters. I have special appreciation for those who have achieved success and prominence in their communities and how that success increases the perceived need for discretion and privacy.

I do not believe that anyone sets out to develop problems with alcohol or drugs, and I make no judgments about a person's character, morals, intelligence or upbringing if such problems develop. I believe that teenagers and older adults are especially prone to develop these problems accidentally, and I have a special place in my heart for those special populations.

Not everyone who experiences problems with alcohol or drugs is addicted but I do believe that earlier detection reduces the risk of developing an addiction and may reduce the risk for major health, legal, school or employment consequences due to use. I strongly disagree with the myth that people “have to reach 'bottom' before anything can change.”

When working with families, I incorporate tools from Jeff & Debra Jay, Beverly Conyers, David Sheff, Krissy Pozatek, among others. I am always looking at situations through the lens of understanding addiction as an unintended disease with unfortunate symptoms that disrupt lives, families and reputations. But I am also a firm believer in the hope for recovery and the chance to live full lives, free from addiction, despair and fear. I allow people to choose recovery while retaining their dignity whenever possible. All participants in my family consulting work will be advised and encouraged to take responsibility for their own actions, communicating lovingly but firmly, and recognize the health and well-being of everyone in the family. I actively encourage each member of the family to take actions for their own recovery and self-care, even when the person who is abusing substances does not make that choice for themselves.

Most of all, I do not want people to suffer alone simply because they guard their privacy so much that they will not ask for help. That's why we developed Parenting Through Addiction: The Other PTA to allow families everywhere to have accessible, affordable and convenient online access to inspiration, education, resources, support and consultation. It's not easy, but it's easier with help. 

In my role with Parenting Through Addiction, I am here to consult and serve parents to improve the chance for the whole family to recovery. There are no guarantees, but the information, resources and support you find here will help. Recovery, in general, means enjoying loving and supportive relationships, productive activities, a sense of power and control over your own destiny, and opportunities to have fun. But just like the fingerprint, each individual is unique. It's your definition of a full life that matters most of all.

With hope,

Ginny