Chatham Business Roundup

Northwood grad opens unique chronic pain counseling practice in Raleigh

BY ZACHARY HORNER, News + Record Staff
Posted 9/20/19

Here we are at the third edition of Zach’s Corner Store, and we have our first business feature. I enjoyed connecting with Northwood High School graduate Jennifer Sutton about her new chronic pain counseling practice, which leads off this week’s column. There’s also a couple of other business notes.

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Chatham Business Roundup

Northwood grad opens unique chronic pain counseling practice in Raleigh

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Helping people she can relate to

In 2014, Northwood High School graduate Jennifer Sutton was diagnosed with Lyme disease and, in the midst of her pain, struggled mentally as well as physically.

She’s decided to do something about it on a bigger scale.

Sutton recently opened Chronic Hope Counseling in Raleigh, which she says is the first counseling practice designed for sufferers of chronic pain, driven by her own experience.

“I was dropped into this world of pain and illness and had to relearn how to navigate life from this new perspective all on my own,” Sutton told me in an email. “I battled over the mental strife that came along with my chronic illness. I came to terms that my life now revolved around pain, I wouldn’t ever be completely healthy again and had to grieve the life that I thought I was going to have. I decided I wanted to change the way those with chronic pain and illness navigate their new life.”

In 2016, Dr. W. Michael Hooten of The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota wrote a paper arguing that “epidemiological studies suggest that a bidirectional relationship exists” between chronic pain and mental health disorders. In non-science jargon, that means that studies exploring why people feel a certain way or suffer with different conditions show a connection.

Exact statistics are hard to come by — Dr. Hooten’s paper says the prevalence of depression in people suffering with fibromyalgia could range from 21 percent to 83 percent. But Sutton’s experience showed her, she said, that pain and mental illness are definitely linked, and she wants to help those who are suffering.

“There are two different kinds of pain, primary pain and secondary pain,” she said. “Primary pain is what the doctors handle, it’s the physical pain that stems from tissue damage. Secondary pain is the suffering and mental anguish that comes along with pain. For those suffering from chronic pain, secondary pain can take over their life. That’s where we come in. We aim to lessen suffering by helping people with pain change their relationship with their illness/pain and learn to live their best life despite their pain.”

Chronic Hope Counseling opened on Aug. 1, and while Sutton’s training is in counseling, she’s had to learn the business side of things too as the owner of her own practice. She said she “tend(s) to go back and forth from being excited to being terrified” about starting her own business from the ground up.

“Every time I think I have everything figured out I’m quickly reminded there is always more to learn,” Sutton said. “When the nervousness takes over I take comfort in knowing that I am doing everything I can to change the way pain is treated and to help those in the chronic pain community, and that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.”

For more information on Sutton’s practice, visit or call (919) 238-1113. Chronic Hope Counseling is located at 1013 Bullard Court, Suite 102, Raleigh.

New orthodontics practice in northeast Chatham

Morgenstern Orthodontics opened Sept. 6 in northeast Chatham County and was celebrated by the Chatham Chamber for Commerce.

According to the Chamber’s Facebook page, Dr. Ashley Morgenstern, a graduate of the UNC School of Dentistry, “is dedicated to creating beautiful, healthy smiles for patients of all ages, children and adults, using traditional braces as well as Invisalign.”

The availability of dental care in Chatham County is relatively sparse compared to the state. According to the 2018 Chatham County Community Assessment, there are only 1.87 dentists in Chatham per 10,000 residents, compared to 4.98 dentists for 10,000 residents in the state.

Chatham Chamber’s annual meeting coming up

I have a separate story on this in this issue of the paper, but I’m going to say personally here that I’m interested to hear from Amber Smith, the guest speaker for next Tuesday’s event at the Chatham County Agriculture & Conference Center.

Smith is the founder and executive director of Activate Good, a Raleigh-based nonprofit that connects volunteers and organizations in the Triangle area. According to the organization’s website, Activate Good has “facilitated over 55,000 volunteer connections to area causes” since 2013.

The event invitation states that the inspiration for the nonprofit was a two-and-a-half-month cross-country road trip Smith took with a friend, “volunteering and conducting acts of kindness in over 20 states, during which she discovered her power to make an impact.”

If you have an item you’d like featured in “Zach’s Corner Store,” email Zach at, or connect with him on Twitter at @ZachHornerCNR.


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