by Kristina Domitrovich // photos by Lindsay Pace
Back in college, Mississippi State University football player Edward Yeates earned his undergrad in kinesiology; he wanted to be a physical therapist. But after he graduated in 2001, his scholarship was extended and he started thinking about masters programs; he realized something else may suit him better — counseling.
“My purpose is helping to heal,” he said.
He earned his masters in counseling in 2003, but he didn’t go straight into opening his own practice. First, he founded a nonprofit, the Father’s Child in 2004.
When Yeates was growing up, his father wasn’t around. In college, he said he found Christianity, and that’s what Father’s Child is based off of: “a ministry (where) we equip, encourage and empower.”
“I grew up without a dad, without a father at home, and I had a lot of issues and struggles with that. And then ultimately, I found my heavenly Father in college,” he said. That’s why college was such a turning point for me.”
Father’s Child works with families on all fronts: mentoring children, empowering mothers through providing them with community and encouragement, and equipping the fathers with tools Yeates created, like his training and accountability program, “Operation Manhood.”
Through Father’s Child, the organization has served over 2,000 people, and Yeates goes to “just about every school in Mississippi” to talk to the students. With the Father’s Child program continuing, Yeates found a way he could help even more people. In 2014, he opened his own practice, Yeates Counseling, LLC, in Columbus. There, he has six therapists and a nurse practitioner on staff to help clients. His practice works with adolescents, families, couples and elderly. For Yeates, he prefers to take a holistic approach with his clients.
“I believe that mind, body, spirit are connected. If one part is off, it affects the other parts. I take that theory with my therapy approach,” he said. “I believe it’s more than what meets the eye when it comes to a person who hurts.”
He implements this theory through encouraging his clients to practice mindfulness and meditation, along with what he calls “exercise therapy.” For this, Yeates doesn’t take his clients to the gym and blow whistles while they do sprints; instead, he implores his clients to just find any way to get up and move.
“Movement is really good for anxiety, depression. It gets your body connected, your mind stimulated,” he said. “It gets you that feeling of accomplishment, well meaning, and feelings of, ‘It’s going to be okay.’ Your body burns that energy off, helps you see more clearly.”
A tip from the pros: For Yeates, it’s mind over matter and finding each individual’s spiritual and emotional peace can lead to a better life
“I think staying connected with what’s going on with your spirituality, I think that would help. I think that will keep you grounded and centered, and help you with the problems you have to deal with.”
Yeates implores practicing this through prayer and meditation.