Brenda Emery, Owner/Director

Brenda attended Idaho State University and then finished her Bachelor’s Degree at Buena Vista University in Iowa.  Her degree is in Human Services and Psychology.  She is also certified s a psychiatric rehabilitation practitioner.

Brenda has been with Joshua D. Smith and Associates since 2001.

If you ask Brenda the best part of her job-she will tell you she loves watching folks grow, change and get better.  “A smile says it all.”


According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality. Although schizophrenia is not as common as other mental disorders, the symptoms can be very disabling.

Symptoms of schizophrenia usually start between ages 16 and 30. In rare cases, children have schizophrenia too.

The symptoms of schizophrenia fall into three categories: positive, negative, and cognitive.

Positive symptoms: “Positive” symptoms are psychotic behaviors not generally seen in healthy people. People with positive symptoms may “lose touch” with some aspects of reality. Symptoms include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Thought disorders (unusual or dysfunctional ways of thinking)
  • Movement disorders (agitated body movements)

Negative symptoms: “Negative” symptoms are associated with disruptions to normal emotions and behaviors. Symptoms include:

  • “Flat affect” (reduced expression of emotions via facial expression or voice tone)
  • Reduced feelings of pleasure in everyday life
  • Difficulty beginning and sustaining activities
  • Reduced speaking

Cognitive symptoms: For some patients, the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia are subtle, but for others, they are more severe and patients may notice changes in their memory or other aspects of thinking. Symptoms include:

  • Poor “executive functioning” (the ability to understand information and use it to make decisions)
  • Trouble focusing or paying attention
  • Problems with “working memory” (the ability to use information immediately after learning it)

Because the causes of schizophrenia are still unknown, treatments focus on eliminating the symptoms of the disease. Treatments include:


Antipsychotic medications are usually taken daily in pill or liquid form. Some antipsychotics are injections that are given once or twice a month. Some people have side effects when they start taking medications, but most side effects go away after a few days. Doctors and patients can work together to find the best medication or medication combination, and the right dose. Check the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website: (, for the latest information on warnings, patient medication guides, or newly approved medications.

Psychosocial Treatments

These treatments are helpful after patients and their doctor find a medication that works. Learning and using coping skills to address the everyday challenges of schizophrenia helps people to pursue their life goals, such as attending school or work. Individuals who participate in regular psychosocial treatment are less likely to have relapses or be hospitalized.

Coordinated specialty care (CSC)

This treatment model integrates medication, psychosocial therapies, case management, family involvement, and supported education and employment services, all aimed at reducing symptoms and improving quality of life.

How can I help someone I know with schizophrenia?

Caring for and supporting a loved one with schizophrenia can be hard. It can be difficult to know how to respond to someone who makes strange or clearly false statements. It is important to understand that schizophrenia is a biological illness.

Here are some things you can do to help your loved one:

  • Get them treatment and encourage them to stay in treatment
  • Remember that their beliefs or hallucinations seem very real to them
  • Tell them that you acknowledge that everyone has the right to see things their own way
  • Be respectful, supportive, and kind without tolerating dangerous or inappropriate behavior
  • Check to see if there are any support groups in your area

SOURCE: Schizophrenia (National Institute of Mental Health)

Bipolar Disorder

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Bipolar Disorder, also known as manic depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shift in mood, energy, activity levels and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.

There are four basic types of bipolar disorder; all of them involve clear changes in mood, energy, and activity levels.  These moods range from periods of extremely “up” elated and energized behavior (known as manic episodes) to very sad, “down” or hopeless periods (known as depressive episodes).  Less severe manic periods are known as hypomanic episodes.

Bipolar I Disorder:  is defined by manic episodes that last at least 7 days, or manic symptoms that are so severe that the person needs immediate hospital care.  Usually, depressive episodes occur as well, typically lasting at least two (2) weeks.  Episodes of depression with mixed features (having manic and depressive symptoms at the same time) are also possible.

Bipolar II Disorder:   is defined by a pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes, but not full-blown manic episodes of Bipolar I.

Cyclothmic Disorder (also called cyclothymia):  is defined by numerous periods of hypomanic symptoms as wells as numerous periods of depressive symptoms lasting for at least 2 years (1 year in children and adolescents).  However, the symptoms do not meet the diagnostic requirements for a hypomanic episode and a depressive episode.

Other Specified and Unspecified Bipolar and Related Disorders:    is defined by Bipolar symptoms that do not match the three categories listed above.

People with Bipolar disorder experience periods of unusually intense emotion, changes in sleep patterns and activity levels, and unusual behaviors.  These distinct periods are called “mood episodes”.  Mood episodes are drastically different from the moods and behaviors that are typical for the person.  Extreme changes in energy, activity, and sleep go along with mood episodes.

Sometimes a mood episode includes symptoms of both manic and depressive symptoms. This is called an episode with mixed features. People experiencing an episode with mixed features may feel very sad, empty, or hopeless, while at the same time feeling extremely energized.

Bipolar disorder can be present even when mood swings are less extreme. For example, some people with bipolar disorder experience hypomania, a less severe form of mania. During a hypomanic episode, an individual may feel very good, be highly productive, and function well. The person may not feel that anything is wrong, but family and friends may recognize the mood swings and/or changes in activity levels as possible bipolar disorder. Without proper treatment, people with hypomania may develop severe mania or depression.

Proper diagnosis and treatment help people with bipolar disorder lead healthy and productive lives. Talking with a doctor or other licensed mental health professional is the first step for anyone who thinks he or she may have bipolar disorder. The doctor can complete a physical exam to rule out other conditions. If the problems are not caused by other illnesses, the doctor may conduct a mental health evaluation or provide a referral to a trained mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, who is experienced in diagnosing and treating bipolar disorder.


SOURCE:  National Institute of Mental Health


Substance Abuse and Recovery

Substance abuse is when you take drugs that are not legal, or you take legal substance and use them in a means not prescribed or in the wrong way.

Substance abuse is different than addiction.  Most people, who get help, can change or stop their unhealthy behavior.  Addiction on the other hand is a disease.  Addiction means you cannot stop using even when your condition causes you harm.

All substances, legal and illegal can change how your mind and your body work.  They give you a pleasurable “high” to ease stress or otherwise help you avoid what is happening in your life.

Alcohol affects every individual differently.  If you drink too much and too often,  your chances of injury or accident increases.  Drinking heavily can lead to serious health problems such as liver damage or other serious disorders.

Heavy drinking differs even among the sexes.  For an adult male if you drink more than four  (4) drinks on any given day or more than fourteen (14) in one week it is considered excessive.  For an adult female excessive drinking means more than three (3) drinks in one day and more than seven (7) in one week.

Prescription and Over the Counter Medicines can be just as addictive as illegal drugs.   You are considered to be abusing these substances if you take any that was prescribed for someone else; take extra doses or take it in a manner that was not prescribed or take it for a non-medical reason.

The most often abused substances are Opioid pain relievers, Anxiety medications and medicines used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

The most common abused OTC drugs are cough and cold medicine that have dextromethorphan, which in high doses can make you feel drunk or intoxicated.

Heroin  is the natural version of he man made prescription Opiods.   Herion will give you a rush of good feelings when first used.  Yet, when it is wearing off the world seems to slow down and your body may have chills, nausea and nervousness.   The world around seems to slow down.   These effects are what will draw a person to another dose  as the Heroin will make things feel faster, normal again.

Cocaine is a drug that speeds up the entire body.  A person with this substance in their system may talk fast, move fast or think fast.  A person may feel happy and full of energy but mood may shift to anger.  Paranoia, the feeling that someone is out to get you may set in,  and it can cause you to do things that do not make sense.   Using Cocaine for a long time will lead to strong cravings for the drug.

Although a growing number of states have legalized Marijuana, it is still a substance with side effects.  It can make you feel silly and laugh for no reason.  Or you  may be sleepy and forget things that have happened.  Driving while on Marijuana is just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol.   Heavy use of Marijuana can leave some people “burned out” and not thinking or caring about much.

Many people do not think of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products as drugs.  However, these products contain a chemical called nicotine that gives a rush of pleasure that eventually will wear off an leave a person “craving” more.  Cigarettes and other tobacco products are addicting just like other drugs.

Signs to Watch For:

When you first taking a substance it is easy to convince yourself that you can control how much you use and how it will effect you. However, over time you may need more and more of the substance to obtain the same high you initially experienced.  This can lead beyond abuse to addiction.  Signs of problems include:

  • Lack of interest in things you used to love
  • Your friends frequently change
  • You stop taking care of yourself
  • You spend more time alone than you used to
  • You eat more or less than normal
  • You sleep at odd hours
  • You have problems with work or with family
  • You switch quickly from feeling good to feeling bad


Joshua D. Smith and Associates offers help!    We recognize that substance abuse affects every part of a persons life.  It hurts both the user and those around them.  It ruins relationships, finances and more.

We have several programs to help you.  Please feel free to call our office or our crisis line should you find yourself in need.

SOURCE:  Substance Abuse and Addiction (WebMD)





Mathew Karinen, Peer Support Specialist ( Idaho Falls)

Mathew has been working with Joshua D. Smith and Associates for about seven months.

Mathew has a Bachelor of Science in Marriage and Family Studies with an emphasis in professional and clinical work.

Mathew’s favorite part about working with Joshua D. Smith and Associates is the feeling of caring for the people they serve.    He also enjoys the variety of people he gets to meet and the learning that comes from just being at work every day.

Cherla Randall, Peer Support Specialist (Idaho Falls)

Cherla Randall received her Bachelors and her Masters Degree at Colorado Technical University.   Cherla’s degree is in Business Administration with a concentration in Healthcare Management.

Cherla is the Team Leader (Assistant Manager) at Joshua D. Smith and Associates.   She is a Certified Peer Support Specialist.  She also does Case Management.   Cherla has been with the agency for almost two (2) years.

Cherlas favorite thing about her job is helping others, then watching them progress and succeed.

Patti Matthews, Peer Support Specialist (Idaho Falls)

Patti graduated December 2000 from Idaho State University. Patti worked in children’s mental health for 8 years and then moved to Joshua D. Smith and associates where she has been for 9 years.

Patti has 4 daughters and 12 grandchildren.

What she likes most about her job is the flexibility and connections to the community. She enjoys the personal relationship I have with my clients that makes connections special.