Managing Your Practice

10 Tips for Using Video Like a Pro

Level Up Your Therapy Practice & Client Experience With Video

As more clients are looking to work with therapists through telehealth options, knowing what technology to use, and getting it set up, can feel daunting. A great remote video appointment doesn’t have to be difficult. In this webinar replay, we’ll teach you how to professionally and easily incorporate video into your practice for better telehealth sessions.

Cory will teach you simple techniques to:

Enhance your video experience with colleagues and clients alikeSelect the right technology to support effortless remote sessionsImprove sound quality with effective and inexpensive methodsAdopt simple lighting techniques

Webinar Transcript


Hey everybody, welcome back to another live webinar. I’m excited to talk about and share 10 tips for using online video like a pro.


You know, the past couple of this whole year 2020 has been pretty tough on a lot of people. But I know therapists in particular, transitioning to telehealth and remote therapy and using the tools and at All Counselors, we get it: you spend the bulk of your career and your work time, knee to knee in the same space, same air with your clients. And this has been a drastic change for most every therapist we’ve talked to. So with that, going to telehealth and having to embrace online tools and technology like that, I wanted to share these tips for helping you think through how to just “up” your online presence in your video. And so we’re going to talk about these tips right now.


And I want to say a special thanks to our sponsor, Integrative Life Center in Nashville, Tennessee, a full service, mental health and substance abuse program in Nashville, Tennessee, great people over there at ILC.


So real quick, my name is Cory Miller, I’m the founder and CEO of doing good work in the world for you,  therapists to be your sidekick, to be your BFF to help you with all those things around your practice. You work on, you know helping people heal and their journeys. We want to help you with all this other stuff to make your life better at but my past real quick is (and why I’m qualified maybe just to talk about these things) I started and grew a multimillion dollar business over 10 years. Sold that business in 2018, now I teach on entrepreneurship, digital marketing, these type of topics, these are actually what helped me build my software business over a decade before it was acquired.


And then you know, my life purpose and calling is to champion mental health in the world, and to obliterate the stigma of mental health. And part of the exponential impact I know we can have it is helping you, freeing you to reach more people, help more people, and help them better. So that’s part of our little spiel there and why I’m sharing this today.


Okay, we already said thanks to our great partners over Integrative Life Center. But so in this, some of the outcomes, everywhere, whatever we did on All Counselors, we want to make sure we have an outcome in mind, that we’re helping you take key steps to go from point A to point B to improve everything around your practice in yourself and your career.


And so in this one, we want to help you specifically, really up your game with remote video and your presence there. And then you know, so that you feel more confident about what you’re doing with technology (and we get it you’re kind of been forced to transition a lot of your practices to fully remote or fully online). And so and also just giving you some some thoughts about these and helps.


So I’m going to go through these fairly fast. If you have questions, you can always put those in the chat and or ask a question at on what we talked about today. But first step is always , you have to have good fast internet. So a lot of people don’t do this. The reason why I actually have an office that I’ll work out of my home is because we don’t have access to good reliable internet at my house. It’s what’s called point to point there’s an excellent antenna on top that shoots over to some big television channel. Antennas were the other signals there. And they’re hooking us into the internet. So we don’t even have a lot like, you know, plug in type for Wired internet. And so that is absolutely key though a lot of you, you know, it works for Netflix, it works for Hulu. Before all this happened, it was just fine. But now that you’re doing video all day, every day, fast, reliable internet, it might be a time to say let’s let’s upgrade our internet package. I’ve actually heard lots of counselors talk about that it’s time to do that.


But a couple of things you could do to ensure speedy, reliable internet, and we’ll talk more about this, is to pause all your downloads on devices and things like that. I’ll talk about shutting down your alerts and stuff and actually quitting apps and things. But one of the best ways you can figure out how fast your internet is just simply go over here to Google and type in speed test and run this little speed test that comes up. So you can see this is this is really fast internet. This is the download speed. That’s super, super awesome. Which by the way, go Cox.


I spend a lot of money on this internet at the office for this very reason. And then you can see this, okay, once it does all this, it’ll give you a little thing to say okay, this is really really fast or it’s really really slow and what to expect. So you can tell here like it’s very fast. That’s good, because I paid pretty good money for this, you should be able to do all these things. So take that speed test and see what comes out and see if it might, that might be a quick way to see if it’s time to upgrade your internet.


So, I know this might feel awkward because you’re so used to being in the same room with people breathing the same air, helping people seeing their facial reaction, full body, all this stuff. But headphones to mimic as best as possible, to get as close as possible to the real face to face type scenario. You really need to up your game in a lot of areas and audio video is one of the best ways to do that. So we talked about good internet, that’s a must. Second is using headphones. You’ll see I’ve got headphones in right now. And I’ll talk about this actually, this is a headphone and mic setup. We’ll talk about mics in a second. But headphones because let’s say like I actually have the window open here. I know during your cleanse client sessions, you’ve got to be really careful about privacy anyway. But there’ll be somebody driving up to the office. And that that’s a distraction for me.


Now, that doesn’t help with the mic setup, necessarily. But having headphones where I can just hear the person and not rely on my laptop speaker is so key. So removing distractions, and being able to focus is so absolutely awesome. But if you do have headphones for your clients, by the way is this something you might suggest them to if they’ve got a smartphone, and they’ve got like this, this is an iPhone, but they’ve got the wired or the air pods to use those for your remote counseling sessions because they helped just minimizing distractions. And I think one of these sites I’ve got like airpods are for from Apple are fantastic. The airpod pros are worth the money. Now if you’re using the airpods all day, you want to be careful how because they are rechargeable, so the batteries will deplete. Of course, this is for instance, a plugged in mic so it doesn’t need power. So that’s one of the benefits of having something like this. But airpods are awesome. Again, they instantly up the quality for everybody involved.


Okay, number three is to consider a mic. So it’s the yin and yang of this is a headset for you to be able to hear the person, your clients, but also a mic so they can hear you well, hear your voice crisp and clear. So this is actually a, it’s about $80, it’s actually a gaming video game headset. But one of my partners was saying  you got to go buy this Cory, I use this all the time, I actually bring it from home when I’m doing stuff at home to my office back and forth. And it always goes with me because I can just, you know, pull it over my head walk in plug in. It’s just a fantastic mic.


Now, regarding mics, most newer laptops do have great mics. And even speakers, I mean, they’ve come so far. But if you want to up the level too, and again, a mic, so my mics over here for my laptop, if sometimes I’ve worked, I’ve done meetings where somebody can’t hear me on this mic, but I’ll instantly put my headphones on with my mic and they’re like 100 times better. So just think about that if you’re using a laptop for your telehealth sessions. And airpods are so fantastic. If you can upgrade for the airpod pros, that’s the way to go. Because those are noise cancelling. And so even if you know somebody is out there, or honking their horn, you’re not going to be distracted going like this, like you can actually really cancel out a lot of the noise. They’re awesome.


And I’m going to put a link to this in the show notes, the webinar notes for this headset. Right here, see, I thought I had all these organized better, right there. Okay, I’m gonna put that in the chat for you. So you have that. And then we’ll go in the show notes to where you can buy that core master. You can see I’ve had it since August, and I love it. So 80 bucks. Okay.


Next, minimize the background distractions. So, you know, you’re at home, and you know, really  let’s say you’re at home or your office. Be careful what you’re seeing looks like behind you, if you can see me to the side here. So see how I’m trying to minimize distractions. Like, books are awesome, but I want to make sure like if I’m with a client or something, people always mentioned my Lego thing. That can be a distraction, right? So minimize the background distractions where they’re not trying to read, let’s say you know, your, your diploma on the back wall or something, whatever you think could potentially be a distraction for somebody, make sure you minimize that, but I’m always working on my backgrounds. So we can focus on what we’re talking about and not on things that aren’t important. So I’m always tweaking my setup.


So there’s another idea, like if you’re in your room, wherever you’re sitting, doing your sessions, where you can minimize background sessions, I’ve seen, actually people buy these little changing screens, and put directly behind them. So therefore, you know, that screen might be right directly behind me here. But that’s all you can see, you can’t see personal items, if I’m in my house, things like that. And these little screens are pretty affordable. And that’s one option. I’ve seen people do this and it pulls off, I think, pretty well, if you’re sensitive to other, you know, background distractions.


So my counselor for instance, right now is currently having to operate out of his home for most of our sessions. And you know, he’s always got it framed really well, because I know there’s issues you want to be careful of not, you know, having, having details about your personal life and potential like that. But that’s for you all to figure out, I just want to say, here’s some options for minimizing the background distractions.


Okay, have good lighting. So this is absolutely key to again, just the whole experience, see  little things we’re trying to use and build up so that the whole experience is just like, wow, this person, professional. I’m not distracted by the technology, things on the background of the wall, the ambient noise and stuff that’s coming in, you know,  all these little things just to make the whole experience just up a notch like really, truly professional. So good lighting goes with that.


So you can see, for the most part, my face is lit right here. That’s because I have a light, you can’t see it, it’s right up there like, specifically for this. Now, my natural light windows over here, and that’s actually one of the best ways to light your face. And you can see over here, you can see some of that’s coming in over here. But most my face is lit from this one right here. Now when I’m at home, I actually face the window. Because the lighting isn’t that good there and I don’t have a ring light, like I’ll show you here in just a second, at home. So if you face a window, you got that natural sunlight, and then you can use curtains and kind of soften the light, if it’s too bright. This light, the ring light advantage there I can just turn it down or up. In fact, it probably needs to turn it a little bit down. So have good lighting, that’s a couple of ways you can do that. And I’m going to get you. Let’s see here links.


There we go. (shared in chat)


This is this is one of those two, and I’ll put that in the chat for you as well. Kind of a ring light, that’s what’s up right here that you can’t see. So if you want to go and spend a little bit of money, that’s a good option for you.


Okay, next one is, I see this all the time, they’re on their laptops, and so they’re looking down, you know, looking down at the camera, at you, and I always like to get straight on, I want my eyes looking straight on at the camera as best as possible so that when you see it on the flip side, you think you’re looking straight at me. So get eye level as best you can. So like this camera is is on the top of my external monitor hooked into my laptop, but I get it and I’ve got a couple books you can’t see. But to make sure like I’m looking more straight onto the camera unless instead of down.


Now there’s another thing you can do to get this if you just have a laptop, there’s a you can buy a stand at Amazon. I bought this stand right here, it is not for sale anymore. Okay. But let’s see, like this right here. You can see I’ve purchased it two times purchased it for my wife to for this exact reason. But this little stand sits under your laptop sits on top of that. And they’re like 20 bucks or so. Like this one. I don’t know why this is out of the out of stock, but I’ll put this here too. So you can look at this, this laptop stand. That can help you raise up a little bit and get more straight on with the camera, if possible. But I use that quite a bit. And then you know, I just stack books and things like that to get it more eye level. So there’s number six.


Number seven, turn off all alerts and notifications and quit all your apps. Now alerts and notifications are two sides of one coin. The alerts are just about distractions. And you know you’re trying to see here on zoom, but then you see the little notification bar come up and your eyes go up and just the same principles when you probably, in your in person sessions, put your phone in airplane mode or do not disturb. Same thing with your computer. And this has probably might have happened to you like for instance, I get calendar alerts on mine. So in big meetings, I’ll turn off my, or webinars like this, I’ll turn off my notifications. So I don’t get distracted.


Quitting the apps is key, because you need more processing power. So oftentimes, like zoom, for instance, a lot of the video stuff is very heavy on processing on RAM. And so you want to quit all the apps that you have to free up more resources for the video application. Now you can see here I’ve got a bunch of tabs, I’m the tabs guy. But that also means winnowing down all your tabs, in addition to quitting all your apps. They all take processing power from your computer that they can slow down and cause less than favorable audio video results for you.


Number seven, and then number eight, I got this actually from my coach, so I can’t see a coach every week. And she told me one time she said, we’ve never met in person, by the way, but I’ve been working with her for almost two years now. And when we have our sessions, she puts, in zoom, my face specifically in full screen mode. And she said that helps because you can see nuances in face and stuff. Body language, reactions, all that kind of stuff. And she’ll she’ll make notes about it, hey, when you said that it looked like you looked like this. And by having my photo, you know, my video fullscreen on her site, one it’s alleviating distractions, but also gives you all this space, let’s say if you’re using an external monitor, with a keyboard to go like I’m focusing just on this person. So full screen mode is another way to enhance your video online video presence.


So this is kind of on the internet thing, but get as close as you can to WiFi. So most of us have WiFi works probably well for Apple TV and the different devices and Hulu and streaming on your on your Netflix. But I like to use every edge we can to up the quality and one is if your WiFi. Let’s say think about where you are now and your WiFi and you’re just over the network, right? Cruising the internet, if there’s something between where you are and your, your router that can cause problems, particularly like a brick wall, or a metal metal in a wall, or so try to get as close as you can to the WiFi. And even the plus one to that is, and I do this typically at my office I don’t right now I’m actually on WiFi. But I typically plug into the router straight into the router. So then I’m not even worried about the space between my laptop and the router to get in and out back and forth. Right. So plugging in might be another option for you, too. If it’s feasible with your home or office setup. So that’s number nine. get as close as you can to WiFi.


Okay, number 10 is one that I don’t always say it with pride. But it’s such an essential tip: I have a backup plan. Technology, I’ve been working with technology for a very long time, can pull in will glitch and cut out on you. So always, always, always from your website, to the way you store your documents have a backup plan, specifically for online video. So I know a lot of counselors we talked to, their backup plan is, you know, FaceTime on the phone. So having a backup plan obviously means I need to have the person’s phone number Do they even have that, you know, and that can be in your intake and your scheduling, you know, emails that you send and stuff like that is like, hey, if for some reason, our internet, my internet goes down, what’s our backup plan, and you lead that conversation. So I’ve heard a lot of people they do FaceTime or Google meet, Skype’s another option too, of course, but I would highly suggest let’s say you use Zoom for all your telehealth having another platform like Google Meet is actually free. If you have Google what’s called Google workspace now used to be  called G Suite. You get Google Meet for free. So that could be a backup or FaceTime. Whatever else I promise you, you’re gonna be better off if you have a backup plan for these things. You’re not fumbling around. So you tell people ahead of time if internet cuts out for any reason, here’s my phone, or here’s how here’s our backup backup option. I highly recommend that so you make sure and ensure continuity within the session.


Okay, so that’s my 10 tips. Let’s go over them real quick: ensure speedy reliable internet. Use headphones. So I’m going to talk next about the mic, but have some headphones around that always ups the quality for it and a mic. So this is the Coolermaster Mh 751 version. It’s about $80, I love it because it’s headphone and mic and it doesn’t have to have batteries. It plugs straight into the mic port on my laptop.


Minimize the background distractions. This is actually paneling. four by eight paneling, I got at Lowe’s, that looks like wood. But  it took me five minutes, it took me longer to carry it up to my office than it did to hang it. So minimize your distractions, if something’s in the background that’s going to cause someone for their thought to wander or to be distracted. cram that down, push it down, quiet that as best you possibly can. And I mentioned the changing screen. Number five is have good lighting. So again, we talked about natural window light coming in, or buying a ring top light that illuminates your face better, just another way.


And by the way, most of these things people don’t know, they don’t need to know, they don’t need to see, you know, but you’re just taking incremental steps to up to up the quality of it. I love what we said straight on. So I’m straight on here. Looking out level into the camera. And by the way, when I do my video myself, I put it right here, I don’t think you can see it. But right, that’s my camera right under my camera is the video I would see of somebody else. So I’m actually looking at a picture of myself right now. But see how it kind of appears that I’m looking straight into the camera. So that’s a little hack there is putting the video if you don’t do full screen for the video as high as you can toward wherever your camera is.


Turn off alerts notifications on your phone, you already do that probably but also your laptop and then quit all the apps you can don’t have your calendar app don’t have you know, Microsoft Word setting up, quit everything you can but your video application. That will free up processing power and reduce distractions for you. Put your video in full screen mode, get close to Wi Fi or better yet plugged in. So you just need one of these little cables typically, and they’re just called Ethernet cables, so you need one that plugs probably straight into your router. And you might need an adapter for your laptop for the other side. And that’s another way to increase the quality of your internet and thus your video. The ten is always have a backup plan. Always, always, always have a backup plan what happens if everything hits the fan, and the cannon will with technologyand thinking through that.


Alright, so your homework is take one of these tips and just take one incremental step between now in the next seven days. Now in the next seven days, just take one of these tips and say hey, I’m going to improve  my online video presence with my clients. And this is what I’m gonna do. I’m going to pick one of these suggestions and implement it in your practice. As always, this is this is a part of a members webinar, members training event. And so we invite you to sign up for a membership at, you’ll get an access to events like these and more replays of these videos. We’re rolling out guides, courses, tutorials to help you do things around business, marketing, technology, eventually self care, and in 2021 will have CE credits for one out very soon. So please come join us. We’d love to have you at Thank you for being here today as so much appreciate and look forward to you to be at our next event. So I hope you’ll sign up for sure. I’m Corey Miller, thank you so much for being here.
Managing Your Practice

A Practice in Awareness & Recapitulation

It can be hard to know where and how to focus, especially as clinicians during the holidays. Learning to master your attention can help you live fully and authentically at all times. In this webinar replay, Lee McCormick as he uses twenty years of experience to teach you the power and responsibility you hold in your own attention.

Webinar Transcript

Speakers: Lee McCormick, Cory Miller

Everyone, welcome back to another web webinar live event at I’ve got my friend and partner Lee McCormick, a legend in the recovery space. I’ve known Lee for about a year now. I got to spend numerous conversations and hearing his heart, his work in the world. He founded the ranch way back in the day, it’s in a little town outside of Nashville, where he’s actually right here. You’re close to the treatment facility you founded called the ranch at your actual family ranch right now rightly?

Yeah, yeah.

And then Lee is also co founder of I’m sorry, an amazing mental health Substance Abuse Treatment Center in Nashville right off of Music Row. You founded that in? I want to say 2010

Yeah, 2010’s when we started.

So Lee, would you tell us just for those of us that might not know you, as well, you just tell us a little bit more, I gave you some of the highlights there. But I know you’ve written books and things like that. But your journey goes back as one in recovery. And then you started trying to make and you’ve made an incredible impact in the world through your, your work in recovery.

Yes. So the journey started, oh, 24, 23 years ago. Now. When I checked myself into a treatment center in Arizona, I actually went to Sierra Tucson 23 years ago, and that opened the door. And that gave me the baseline of realizing that realizing that it been I was long overdue, and really questioning myself questioning my life. Like most people in treatment, I landed in treatment out of a mess. That was a result of the behaviors that I had been living by. And it was a, you know, I had a really great experience. And it just opened a lot of doors. For me, that was the beginning of the of the door opening journey, and the questioning things journey. And then a few years later, I started the Ranch – I owned the ranch for 10 years 11 years, and then started integrative Life Center in 2010 with Holly Cook. And that’s still rolling. So I’m still a partner in ILC, as we call it.

And during that time I have lived I’ve lived this ongoing relationship in multiple realities, I guess I would say. So I met Miguel Ruiz, the man that wrote the Four Agreements, read his book, signed up for a journey to Teotihuacan, Mexico, gosh, 20 years ago now. And that experience in Mexico, just really blew me open. So I was a couple years into the recovery experience. And my whole experience in Mexico opened the recovery experience that I was living up to a much broader array of points of view, and perspectives and the tools that are available to us and, and our learning how to recover our power, how to recover the power of choice, the power of, of the beliefs that we hold. And that led to other ceremonial connections, doing some work with Native American people that I’ve known over the years and getting involved in in sweat lodge ceremonies and medicine wheel ceremonies and going back and forth to Peru. I don’t know seven or eight times now. So I’ve lived a real broad array of experiences. That all was launched from my original having checked myself into a treatment center and starting that journey of opening up my life.

And I know like you, you have embraced, I think it would be the word but you dove in to the ancient wisdom that’s out there. Like you mentioned, sweat lodges. It’s something that you do I think a weekly basis i’m not mistaken at ILC for clients in in treatment at ILC because I think you told me one time you’re like, Hey, I got to do this every I got to do the sweat lodge experience, for instance, every so often because it’s like a resetting, you know, it’s just something you need in your life, and then you just got back from Teotihuacan. Yeah. Last week.

well, you know, the ceremony. Um, that’s, that’s really one of the it’s one of the principal aspects and one of the principal relationships, for me in the journey of recovery. And that’s what led to the topic of, you know, this, this conversation today, around awareness around the practices of recapitulation and realizing, realizing the power that we hold in the quality of the life that we’re living based on the level of awareness that we literally have the level of awareness that we hold with ourselves, in regards to the things that we give our attention to. And that can literally be as simple as the thoughts that we give attention to the thoughts that we have the random thoughts, the stories that we tell about ourselves, that we give our attention to the emotions that come up in us, that we give our attention to. So the the Shamanic world as such, that’s how we culturally identify it. The Shamanic world is really a world of awareness, directly related to how we hold our energy, the things that we give energy, life attention to, and the quality of relationship that we live with every single aspect of our life. And it’s, it’s the Shamanic world is I was introduced to it the ancient Mexican toltec based mystery school. It’s, it’s, it is a it’s a mystery school.

So there’s perspectives and beliefs around it, you know, there are stories around it, there’s a fantastic mythology associated with it. And what was so powerful to me and different from other Mystery Schools as such, were the tools that that had been created over 1000 years for us to use in practice, in realizing what the mythology is telling us, so the mythology tells us something, it informs us and I’ll look at the recovery journey, even traditional recovery, disease model recovery, it’s a mythology. It’s a story that’s been made up by people based on real experience you know, based on quote unquote science, based on opinion based on all the stuff that we humans weave into the way that we tell our stories. So, you know, traditional recovery to me is is a mythology. It’s not right, it’s not wrong, it’s not true, it’s not untrue. It is a story. It’s a story about who we are, what we’re doing here and definitions and labels and roles and diagnoses that are offered to us that we then as unique individuals we each as individuals then are responsible for how we choose to respond to the information that’s conveyed to us from the mythology of recovery from the story of recovery.

you know, I early on in recovery the the identity the My name is Lee and I’m an addict thing. There was some relief to that because it gave me an explanation for the pattern of behavior that that I was really stuck in. And at the same time, it wasn’t but a couple months I think that the feeling of my name’s Lee and I’m an addict didn’t feel correct and I wouldn’t I didn’t have a resistance to the fact that I was addicted to a drug and to a pattern of behavior that was a completely realized that but what didn’t feel correct to me was me defining myself by my behaviors, as though the totality of what I am, is defined in my name is Lee and I’m an addict.So I, you know, I questioned that it didn’t, it just didn’t feel correct. And again, there was no argument that I was addicted to the issue was that that doesn’t define what I am, it defines the way I’ve been living.

Mm hmm.

So, you know, when I bringing that with me to Mexico, on my first journey, to the pyramids, and Teotihuacan, and my introduction to the whole energetic realm of the toltec mystery school, the mystery school basically says, We’re an aspect of the mystery. That’s what we are. And for all of our knowledge, for all of our science for all of our beliefs, the truth really is, we can know a lot about a lot of aspects of this material world. But we don’t actually truly know what we are, we do not know where we come from, for a fact, we have a lot of beliefs around it. But we don’t know where we come from, we don’t know where we go, when we leave our bodies. If you believe we go anywhere, you know, could just be that when the body dies, we die with it. I don’t subscribe to that. But you know, we’re we each have our own choices and how we hold our relationship to life.

So recovery to me rapidly became about self discovery. Even though at 40 years old, I thought I knew myself, you know, I had a pretty compelling story about myself, I had done a lot of things. You know, they’re My name’s Lee, and I’m a rancher, and I’m a cowboy. And I’m a commodities trader, and on blah, blah, blah, I could have given you, I would have given you a whole bunch of the roles that I live as my reality as my identity. And when you scratch the surface of all that stuff, really underneath, I clung to that, like we all do, we cling to the roles that we live, because they offer us an identity in this world. And it that gives us a sense of security, that gives us a sense of belonging gives us a community of people that live like roles. But underneath all that, is that is it really true. Is that what you are, or is that just what you’re doing. Right.

So that’s what that actually is. What inspired me in recovery was the questions. You know, the questions were compelling. The questions were intriguing. During my walk every Yeah, well, I wanted there to be more than just My name’s Lee and I’m an addict. I was like, right, like, Okay, well, shit if that’s it, then it didn’t gonna take a whole lot to do this. Just do what you’re told. Which has never been a strong suit of mine anyway. Right, you know, so my recovery journey taking me or me, taking me and me taking me and me taking my recovery journey into Mexico, opened up this whole paradigm. And this whole perspective, and the mythology of the ancient toltec awareness, which is as valid today as it was then, because the majority of what the toltecs realized 1500 years ago, is the basis of much of the quantum physics realizations that have occurred over the last 20 years.

Okay, you’ve talked about Toltecs. And just for those of us that might not be aware of that culture, or civilization, what what could you tell us a little bit background about toltecs and then link it to the awareness and energy that you talked about?

Sure. If, if you’ve heard of the book, The Four Agreements or you’ve heard of Don Miguel Ruiz. Miguel’s family lineage goes back to the toltecs were a tribe. They were a conglomeration of tribes and peoples that started to band together something like 1000 1200 years ago, in central Mexico. You know, there were a couple tribes and they’d run into another small group or tribe and they’d absorb them. And then they’d run into another one and absorb that. And it grew and grew to where the city of Teotihuacan will come outside of Mexico City where the Pyramid of the Sun and the Moon are, was the capital as such, of the toltec world, and the toltec people in there were, it’s it’s estimated now by the archaeologists that they were around 200,000 people that live there 1200 years ago. So it, it was a city you know, 1000 1200 1300 years ago. The, the term toltec translates to artists of the Spirit. Artist of the Spirit, is reflecting on their perception, their perspective, that each human being each one of us, is an Artist of Life. And that the canvas that we are painting is the actual life that we are creating. So each one of our individual lives, each one of our individual realities is literally a living art installation. And we are the consciousness that is 100% responsible for what we create as our life.

And all of this existed for them outside of the right, wrong, good bad judgment orientation that we that I guess the puritanical Christian world brought into everyone’s perception. so powerfully, you know, over the last couple, thousand years or 1500 years, that the acts of judgment, the fact of measuring and gauging and judging seems to have just grown more and more powerful. And the toltecs lived with awareness, but they also saw life as a reality of cause and effect of action and reaction, that is the basis of how we humans do the dance of life in this world. In this duality, if I do this, I get that, if I choose this, then I eliminate that and I get this, you follow me, it’s just simple cause and effect, it’s action reaction. So they really had a mastery of simplifying the nature of our relationship with ourselves and simplifying the nature of our relationships with the world. And there was a real beauty to that, that was really appealing to me. And the tools that the toltecs developed, were tools of personal empowerment, that also came with with a powerful personal responsibility. And I am 100% responsible for the choices that I make. As adults, I’m 100% responsible for my choices. I am 100% responsible for the beliefs that I subscribe to. I am 100% responsible for the thoughts that I give my attention to, for the emotions that come up, and how I respond to them. I’m literally all of these millions of interactions that happen within us and around us, between us in the world and between us and ourselves. All of this continuous living, evolving fabric of interaction that we live with, on a day to day basis. We are 100% responsible for our side of every one of those actions, and reactions and causes and effects.

So from their point of view, there’s no such thing as a victim. There, there are experiences that one person can put on another person, you know, we we can do terrible things to one another. We can do terrible things to ourselves. We have to deal with the energetic of that we have to deal with the actual experience of that and the emotional reactions to that. And from their point of view, that doesn’t make us a victim. It makes us responsible for how we have chosen to respond to those heartbreaking experiences or those traumatic experiences. Um, and that made so much sense to me. Because what I’ve realized and witnessed over 20 years of work in in, you know, in the mental health addictions world is that seeing ourselves as a victim really tends to disempower us. When I cast a victim shadow on myself, and I take on a victim’s attitude, that can, that can very easily become a poison, it can become a limiting factor it can become, it becomes a series of filters that I then see the world through, that I see myself through. And it distorts my opportunity to realize myself separate and apart from the experiences that I’m living in the world. One day at a time, I’m the one living the experience. I’m not you experience that I’m living. Does that make sense to you? Like, I was just out sorting cows, right, I’m in the cow pens in the mud. And we’re sorting some sorting heifer calves from bull calves. And I’m the guy standing there, thinking the thoughts, seeing what I’m seeing, making the decisions I’m making, say, in sort this one this way. So this one goes to the left, this one goes to the right, this one goes straight through. I’m the one in the middle of that experience directing the traffic of that experience. I’m not the experience of what was going on in the cow pens, I’m the one that was present for it, and with it, and the one that’s directing it. But what I am, is something else, something greater, something more. And it just happened that for that hour and a half or two hours, that’s where my focus and attention was, that’s where my physical body was, that’s what I was doing.

Mm hmm. But you weren’t in it. You were Yeah, directing and experiencing kind of above it while things are happening.

Well, I know myself, apart from the roles that I live, you know, and in that is, I think, is a great opportunity. And it’s something that I work with the clients at integrative Life Center on in groups that I do in ceremonies, and stuff is to give them experiences of realizing. Realizing that for all the things that we do in our life, all the places we go, all the labels that we attach to ourselves, all the roles that we play, that we’re subscribing to these activities, we’re subscribing to these beliefs. And we exist separate and apart from that, it’s, it’s, um, well, it’s not unlike the Shakespeare statement about All the world’s a stage, you know, and we’re all the actors, we’re really the characters in our own little personal movie that we live on Earth. So I’m the lead character, who chose to go into the cow pens and sort those cattle today, um, and the quality of my day, and my peace of mind. And my presence in in the day, can go two ways I can, I can get so enmeshed in that activity, that I can make myself miserable. If things don’t go the way I want. Or I can make myself great if everything does go the way I want. Or I can just get in there do do my job, do the best. And when I’m done, I’m done. And then I shift my attention to something else. But my value, the quality of my day, the quality of my experience is not going to be determined necessarily by the outcome. Because my sense of who I am. And, and the quality of my relationship with myself is not determined by the world around me. The quality of my relationship with me, is something that is determined by the quality of my relationship with me. Does this make any sense to you?

Yeah, I mean, the part you said about the roles separate you from the roles you play in your life. Yeah, I think that pretty much can cover all of us, especially this time, what a good thought to think. And so, you know, I’ve heard this I think in recovery and I can’t remember where the source comes from, but what you focus on, your attention expands and we’re talking about attention in all this and it seems like one theme that you’re talking about is choosing, choosing these things very deliberately. What your awareness is being there like in sorting the cows and things like that, like being, your awareness was there in that moment? I’m curious what other thoughts you have around awareness? in particular what we put our focus on?

Okay, good. That’s a great question. So if you think about this, whatever you’re focusing on, you’re giving your attention to, okay? What I give my attention to I give energy to my intention is, like a, it’s like a light beam. If I focus my attention right now on on this conversation, then I’m giving energy to this conversation. Okay? When I give energy to something, I’m giving life to it. I’m making it important, because I’ve chosen to give it my attention. This is really reflective, if you consider the stories that we tell ourselves. And in particular, for instance, the reactions that we have during the day. So someone could say something to me, that I find offensive. Okay, I can hear their words, I can, I’ll have a reaction. So when I have when I hear their words, and take the words, and that triggers an emotional reaction, and a feeling comes up of anger, or resentment, or, or fear, or not good enough, some, you know, there’s an emotional response, it comes up, I can feel that emotional response come up. In that experience, I have the opportunity number one, when those words are spoken to me that I found offensive, I have an opportunity to hear the words and to consciously say, Okay, that was a jackass thing to say, or that was rude. And so what, who cares? Right, because my sense of well being is not determined by what anybody else thinks. For the most part, that’s true. I mean, my children, my wife, they’re kind they are exceptions to that. There are very few people in this world, if whatever their opinion of something I say or do is it’s going to change my mood or my feeling in the moment.

And I’ve just learned that over the years, because if we’re if we’re not 100%, responsible for ourselves, then we end up living at the mercy of the next opinion, the next reaction, you know, the next expectation how well that goes. And what I’ve realized is I can bring a much cleaner, clearer effect much more effective presence of myself into situations, if I do not need to be validated by them. If my self worth is not going to be determined by what the outcome of that interaction is, just You follow what I’m saying, like the quality of my day, the quality of my moments, the quality of my experience, I don’t offer it up to the outcome. Although we all have feelings, we all have reactions, it may not, you know, something could go great, or something could turn into a mess. And the mess is not fun or pleasant. But I’m not going down a rabbit hole of oh my god and drama. Because something didn’t work out the way that it potentially could have. I am the I am responsible for how I respond to all the interactions in my life. When we give our attention to a thought, to an emotion, to an external interaction, when we give our attention to it, we’re giving life to it.

As we do trauma work with people, or as I have conversations with people about the experiences in their life that haunt them. That’s the way I put it, you know that we literally are haunted by the heartbreak or the pain or the suffering of traumatic experiences. When those stories come up, when those memories come up, if I am conscious enough to realize that that old story every time it comes up, it triggers an emotional reaction of fear or anger or sadness. If I can realize the cause and effect between the story coming up in my mind, the memory coming up in my mind and the trigger of the emotional reaction. Then I can look at that and go Okay, yes, it’s true. I have the thoughts, the thoughts triggered emotion, my attention goes into my attention first goes to the thought, I believe the thought, that triggers the emotion, I feel the emotion, the emotion starts a spiral. And that spiral takes me back down into the guilt, the shame or the rage or the anger or the whatever is in my spiral around that memory and that trauma. And in each one of those interactions, there are tools that we can use to learn to stop to break to intervene on the automatic nature of how that whole series of events clicks in place. Mm hmm. Do you follow me?


So, um, and I’m telling you, it works. And it is a practice. So one of the practices that we use at integrative Life Center that I’ve developed over the last few years is that the journaling practice what I call the first mirror. So and there is a video on this, you guys, you can

I just put a link into the chat.

Okay, cool. So that that video actually is fully self explanatory, so I’m just going to touch on it. Um, but I introduce people to the practice of at the end of each day, take 30 minutes, take a journal, and a pen. And sit down somewhere at the end of your day, you’ll take yourself back to the morning when you woke up. I the way off typically frame it is I’ll say I want you to see yourself like the only person sitting in a movie theater, you’re in the movie theater. And as the lights come up on the screen, there you are in bed that morning, and you are the witness in the theater to you waking up that morning. And you are the witness to you walking through your whole day being the witness to all the interactions. And in any interaction that you really got hooked. That something that you got real angry, or that you got real happy in kind of crazy happy. Any interactions where you got hooked by anger, you got hooked by fear. You just scan through the day. And you begin to acknowledge those interactions that you gave energy and attention to that caused you suffering. Okay, develop the ability to be the witness to how we respond. Because our responses become automatic.


there’s, there’s really no thought in there. This happens, this comes up, the emotion happens, I go with emotion is like bam, bam, bam, there’s no pause anywhere in that when we first start. But in the recapitulation, you give yourself the opportunity to be the witness. Just see how you function during the day. If you’ll do that for a couple of weeks, I guarantee you, you’ll get to a point to where in real time during the day, something will happen that will trigger you or hook you. And you’ll feel your reaction coming before it completely before it completely takes you over. And you’ll have a moment in there that you’ll have the realization Oh my God, I’m doing it. Mm hmm. I’m going there right now. Does this make sense to you? And if y’all have any questions or anything, ask them please

just gonna take this point almost halfway or over halfway through is if you have questions, please put those in the chat or the q&a button for Lee and we’re here for you at great to have Lee McCormick on today to talk about all of this and experiences coming off of Teotihuacan too just recently, I you know, I’m curious for you to talk about specifically the energy part. So I get this like, one is awareness and, you know, it’s a it’s a popular topic too, with awareness with all the mindfulness stuff, you know, all the apps out there and everything but I get that I think you went a layer deeper for me. And that is recognizing I’m spending energy putting energy in out into certain things and to be able to reflect I was he when you said I was trying to reflect this one and going okay.


but it seems like you’re that’s a way like we’re not cars but if you see a car and you see a car you know a mechanic puts it up on the stand searching around. And like you know, listening for things and seeing for things seems like that’s what you’re dealing with this exercise to is just looking at where did where those little outlets were in the day you’re exhausted or and something happens particularly in, in recovery, right you get there’s something a cue trigger, you know, and you get this opportunity, but you’re saying throughout the day is see where you’re expending this on, potentially, to say negative things?

Well, and and imagine during the course of your day, how much energy you put into situations that are in truth absolutely irrelevant.


they don’t mean squat. Yeah, I’m not using my cow pens language, I’m using my professional language. It doesn’t mean squat, right? If in the shamanic world, the key to living an amazing, fantastic life of intent is that we must break the patterns of all the ways we bleed energy into the world, with no positive result for ourselves. So it’s a re-collection recollection. It’s a conscious practice of awareness of what am I giving my energy to, because what I give my attention to I give energy to and what I give energy to I give life to. So apply that to old memories, to old trauma loops to old stories, my name is Lee and I’m an addict. Okay, I could carry the story, I don’t, I don’t refer to myself that way. I’ve not indulged in what my addiction was, for 20 years or something. 22 years, I don’t count days. So say I haven’t indulged in the behavior. That was my addiction. And now I was addicted. Like, I was, I was addicted. I haven’t indulged in that pattern of behavior or that substance in over 20 years. So what in the world would be the benefit to me continuing to identify myself as an addict? I mean, and some people will say, Well, if you don’tconstantly remind yourself, you’ll go back to it, what I say is, if if you constantly remind yourself, you have a far greater chance of going back to it, because you’re keeping that option of behavior that you created, it didn’t exist apart from you.

We create, we each create our addictions. We didn’t catch them like a cold. They’re not random. It takes a lot of time and energy and intent, and typically money to create an addiction. So we manifest it not knowing any better. And going through the recovery process of literally divorcing myself from the entity that was my addiction, and unraveling the behaviors that were rooted in the addiction, unraveling the thoughts, the fears, the judgments, the justifications, unraveling everything that was rooted in that addictive pattern of behavior, and unraveling, the true source of that addictive pattern of behavior, which was probably life experiences, you know, that led to the addiction being such an attractive way of avoiding feeling what I was feeling, okay. How in the world does it really serve me to, to continue to give energy to something that hasn’t been relevant in my life for 20 years, or for five years, or for eight years? My perspective, is that the recovery process is really an opportunity of waking up in the moment of realizing, oh, my God, look how much time and energy and attention I have given to this pattern of behavior that is my addiction over the last number of years. how powerful the presence it has held in the middle of my life. Because I said so. Every time a craving came up, every you know, my reaction to a good day to a bad day was about the same thing, go out and party and get high. You know, the insanity of those patterns and behaviors that we have created that overwhelm our lives that overwhelm our opportunity to make other choices. We can’t make other choices, because so much of our energy is invested in that addictive pattern in the stories that support it. Okay, that I don’t have enough energy available to go do life a different way.

So the recovery journey is the unraveling of all that stuff. Breaking the patterns of behavior, breaking the pattern of the addiction, which for instance going into a 12 step meeting is intervening on the pattern of the addiction, where you go to a meeting in the evening instead of going to the bar, or the whatever, right? So I’m redirecting my attention from thinking about getting high, or whatever my behavior was, I’m shifting my attention from that pattern of behavior. And I’m taking my attention into a meeting, I’m taking my attention to a meditation group, I’m taking my attention to a yoga class.

Like you’re acknowledging that, you know, at some point, you know, you had a problem with certain substances, or drugs or something like that. Well, I think what you’re saying is you’re not, you’re switching your daily awareness from, okay. Yes, I’ve come through this to say, this is a problem. These are things, but you’re saying, like living in the old identity, perhaps what I hear is not the best for you going forward, like the and, you’re hitting that I think identity without saying it by saying the roles that you have in your life, like, you know, an hour ago, you’re out there, directing cattle, you know, now you’re doing this live event. And, but you’re, you’re simultaneously not being attached to the old life, it feels like, but also not just re– reattaching those in other areas that don’t serve you too.

Absolutely, because my responsibility to me, and my responsibility to the life that I am creating. Okay, I create my life. Every day. From the time I get up in the morning till I go to sleep at night, I am actively engaging in the creation of what the life of Lee McCormick looks like and feels like it amounts to. Right? You do the same thing?

Yep, absolutely.

And I’m, and we all do the same thing. What’s missing is that there are most people are not really completely conscious, that they are actually creating the life that they’re waking up to and stepping into in the morning.

Mm hmm.

See, because we’ve not been taught to understand the power we hold, we’ve been taught to be compliant with the rules and the judgments and the expectations and the values of our culture.

Mm hmm.

So my value can only be achieved through how well I perform according to the rules of my culture.

That’s good.

And that’s extremely applicable in the recovery world.

And it’s gonna take a couple days for me to digest that.

But well, it’s true. So, you know, in a sense, we say that, well, we can say, you know, my, my first priority is God. But who do you give more attention to? What holds more sway over your self judgment over your self value over your identity? Who actually holds the bigger hammer, in your day to day life and in the mood you’re in? And in the quality of how you show up for the things that you do? Your relationship with God, or your relationship with the culture of your life?

Mm hmm.

I mean, if you’re going to be really honest about it, right? Did Did somebody have a message? Did I see a message?

Yes, somebody asked about CEU, and this is this is not a CEU webinar. So I answered them. If you have questions for Lee McCormick, please press hit the chat room or the q&a, the chat button right below our videos or the q&a button. Either way will work, I’m monitoring these as we talk.

So you know, somthing else Cory, that to bring this awareness. I am 100% responsible for the life that I woke up to this morning. Okay, I was 100% responsible to the life that I was waking up to 25 years ago, when my life was a mess. Okay. I didn’t understand that 25 years ago, because that’s not the way I was raised. It’s not what I was taught. I was taught to live life based in judgment. I was either doing good or I was doing bad. I was either right or I was wrong. So I was always dancing with, you know, the kind of like the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other shoulder and which, which way do I want to go and what do I want to do?


But as long as we live with judgment, as our, as the overlay of our choice making, we can’t help but live in conflict because living by judgment disempowers us Living by 100% responsibility for my choices in my actions, that empowers me. And it says that it what it makes real evident is that the quality of the life I’m living of the energy that I carry, of the choices I’m making, the quality of my life is going to be determined by the quality of responsibility that I’m willing to take over my choices. And running into that awareness a couple years after going to treatment. It just, like slammed me, I was like, oh my god. So that shit show of a life that I lived for 10 years. It wasn’t anybody else’s fault. It actually, it was my responsibility. But it really wasn’t my fault. Because I had no clue what I was doing. I’d never been introduced to the fact that life is this living, energetic back and forth exchange of cause and effect. And that I really do hold the power and the grace, and the responsibility and ability to create a life I love living, if I’m willing to own if I’m willing to own my choices, and the consequences, and the cause and effect 100%.

You know, and I think we get so beat up in this world. We our sense of like the God granted innate sense of value that each of us has, that we were born with, to ful- for me, for me to fulfill the reason for me, even being in this world, I’m going to have to discover the inspiration, or follow through on what the creator gave me as gifts and tools, and unique points of view. Like for me to really honor my Creator for me to honor God, then I need to figure out who am I really? And how do I live my life from that unique place of inspiration within myself that the creator gave me as the purpose for me being here. Makes sense?

Mm hmm. For sure, I mean, when I hear you talk about and I was looking at the Four Agreements, you talk about, like about personal responsibility, about control, power, energy, and that control. And it’s this perspective, it feels like the toltec teaching for for instance, and application to your life is I’m not my I’m not the roles I’m in. But I have personal but I have personal responsibility to live. I don’t know it feels very empowering. Like, I think you actually used it, you said empowering.

It is empowering. See, I’m not the role that I play. But I’m 100% responsible for the quality of myself that I bring to play. It’s literally, it’s literally, we’re all character actors. And I’ve accepted this role as Lee McCormick, a cattleman, a rancher. And so the only person responsible for how well I live that role is me.

Mm hmm.

Right. My name is Lee, I’m a recovering person, the only person responsible for how I characterize that role, how I choose to live in relationship to that role, what I bring into that role, the only person responsible for any of those things is me. Yeah.

And, and that’s that, back to it empowering. And then your review your first journaling experiences is reviewing what happened during the day, which a lot of this I mean, I don’t do that. Yeah, I was trying to think back what I even had for breakfast, or if I had breakfast, but counting those things and being that’s an awareness that I don’t have currently, you know,

well imagine if you did that, like now in this time of COVID. We’ve all had this big wake up call to how how, how incredibly important our health is.

Mm hmm.

Okay. And that our health, our health is based in the relationship we live with our body and the relationship that we live with the food that we eat, what we drink, how we care for ourselves, okay. If If I’m journaling, if I’m recapitulating my day, and I’m going through the day and realizing Well, I was in a hurry this morning, so I got a taco. I got a breakfast taco at McDonald’s. For breakfast, and I didn’t really have time for lunch. So I, I ate some crackers and some cheese for lunch and drank a coke. And I got home for dinner, but I was really tired. So I just threw some frozen thing. And I look at that over a couple week period of time. It’s like, dude, you’re like, eating garbage. And you wonder why you don’t feel good in your body. And you wonder why you’re gaining weight. And you, you know, it’s like, it’s all just cause and effect. And I could say, Oh, god, I’m such an idiot, what’s wrong, I could go into the judgment thing, and just burn more good energy after bad, judging myself. Or I could look at this and go, you know, what, I need to take responsibility for how I’m eating, and what I’m drinking. And I’m going to get up a half hour earlier in the morning, and I’m gonna, I’m going to cook a couple tortillas and fry an egg and eat some sauerkraut with it. And then you know, I’m going to take responsibility for these moments in my life and raise the quality of the experience that I’m giving myself.

It’s just so it’s like, everything in life is for me, everything in life is a relationship. So what is the quality of relationship I live with my body, really? What’s the quality of it? What’s the quality of, you know, you can look at exercise in our culture. What’s the quality of relationship we live, you live with exercise? Well, you can either not exercise at all, that’s one choice. Or you can be one of those people that works out all the time, incessantly that that’s really your coping mechanism is working out and working out working out. And you’re really abusing your body. Because it’s, it’s it’s a coping mechanism like drugs or alcohol are a coping mechanism. Is it really good for you. So this recapitulation, at the end of each day, I call it the first mirror. Because it gives us a mirror to look at the quality of choices we’re making in our life, and the patterns that we have established, that we have given power to, if you think about it, the patterns that you establish, tend to own you until you wake up and go, Oh, shit, that really has become a pattern. And I keep doing it that way. And I really don’t want to do it that way anymore. So I need I need to break this pattern. And allow myself more flexibility.

Yeah, in starting, I think this is, this is great. And I’m more and more understanding because it’s a high sense of personal responsibility. There’s no blame. It’s, this is my life, starting out from it, taking account of it, and being intentional about how I direct that energy. From what

judging judging myself. Takes zero responsibility.


judging yourself is an absolute complete waste of time. it accomplishes nothing. Doing nothing. Yeah. If I want to change my life, if I’m if I, if I basically if I don’t like the choices that I’m making, right, then put the attention and the energy on changing the pattern that directs your choices. not judge yourself over what you’ve already done, which hasn’t changed anything.

Yeah. That’s good.

Well, Hey, everybody, we’ve been talking with Lee McCormick, co founder,, Nashville, Tennessee, and then I’ll put a link here into your book to the heart reconnection

heart reconnection guidebook.

While I do that, any last thing or thoughts you wanted to share with our audience.


I don’t know, man, we’re, you know, we’re living in the upside down. I mean, it’s so so many of these TV shows the last 10 or 15 years have turned into prophecies. So we’re live in some some combination of Stranger Things and Vampire Diaries and

I was about say, when he said when he said that, I thought, Stranger Things upside down.

Yeah, you know, so in the gift in that is that nature, life, like the the truth of what’s going on here is life is going on here. And life is greater and more mysterious than we are. Thank God. And life has intervened on how we humans are living here, because we’ve created a real mess and the opportunity in that is for us to wake up. Just like in our individual lives on a recovery journey, the invitation of needing to step into recovery was an invitation of life, not an invitation of judgment, mm, invitation of life. We’re living with this COVID situation and all that’s going to keep coming from it is an invitation to Would you like to pay attention now? How you live? Would you like to step back and regroup and question and re dream and reimagine, you can take it two ways we can be a victim to it. We can keep looking back waiting for the past to show back up, which is never going to happen. Or we can say oh my god, the whole deal is changed. Let me dream into how to create a new fresh relationship with how life is today. So there’s a lot of parallels to this and our individual life journeys.

Well, Hey, everybody, Lee McCormick, co founder, Nashville, Tennessee. is Lee’s personal website where you can find his books and other things he’s done including interviews like this one. Lee thank you for being on you’re going to be a regular at and we need it. I know it’s always good for therapists and clinicians in the audience to be able to kind of kind of receive, you know, be able to come take some time and space and get recharged to think about these things for their own work in the world. Yeah, so we appreciate you.

I appreciate you too for y’all have a have a great holidays, man.

Ditto. Everybody. Take a big deep breath. Think about what Lee shared recordings will be at AllCounselors. Thanks again, Lee and thanks, everybody for being here today.

Alright Brother. Adios.
Managing Your Practice

Bookkeeping & Tax Tips for Therapists

In this webinar replay, Rachel Stas, CPA take the confusion out of preparing for tax season and help you with bookkeeping best practices in this free webinar for mental health professionals.

Webinar Transcript

Speakers: Ani King, Rachel Stas

Ani King 0:10
Hi, folks, I see we’ve got quite a few people coming in and getting situated. My name is Ani King, I am the COO with And we’ll get started with Rachel steps in just a few minutes. So go ahead and get comfortable. And just for some housekeeping, if you have questions, we’re going to answer all of those at the end of the presentation. So in about the last 15, or 20 minutes, all you have to do to ask a question is just hit the raise hand button, or the q&a button down at the bottom of your zoom screen, and we will collect those and go through them towards the end.

Ani King 0:49
We will also have a replay up for anybody who is interested in watching this again, or sharing it with somebody you know who might need it by Monday afternoon at And just a quick shout out to our sponsor. Before we get started with Rachel. Integrative Life Center as our sponsor for this presentation, you can check them out at they offer trauma focused treatment options for all kinds of people who are looking for recovery support. And they really do a lot of great work in the mental health community. So we’ll take just a couple of seconds to let more folks get situated. Again, if you have any questions at all, feel free to hit that q&a or raise hand button down at the bottom of your zoom screen. And Rachel, while folks are coming in, you’re a licensed CPA, would you mind telling us a little bit about you and what you do?

Rachel Stas 1:46
Sure, yes. Like Ani said, I am a CPA tax accountant out of Fort Worth. And so I tell my clients, I have my own firm, and I focus mostly on self employed individuals. Funny, fun fact about CPAs we can’t actually say that we specialize specifically in anything because there isn’t like specialized licensing and stuff. But if I were able to like small business, self employed people, that’s kind of where my bread and butter is. And over the last few years, I’ve just picked up a lot of mental health professional clients and stuff. So I feel like I kind of have a special angle where I can help you guys just make your best decisions on how to structure your business and what you can do. And, you know, not pay more to the taxman than you have to.

Ani King 2:37
That’s fantastic. And I think one of the things we’ve discovered at as we’re doing research is that a lot of therapists, counselors, other mental health professionals, they are self employed, or they are running smaller practices, where they potentially have, you know, other people who are splitting fees, or they have folks who are also self employed. So I know that that can get a little bit complicated and confusing. Not even just at tax season, but kind of all around in how to I structure my practice, how do I make really good decisions before tax season comes along. So I’m really thrilled to have you here to help us understand a little bit of this more.

Ani King 3:20
Before you get started, I just want to one disclaimer for everybody. Rachel is going to give you some really fantastic best practices and suggestions. But our number one suggestion for anybody who is working for themselves or in a small practice that they’re running is to have an accountant and to have an attorney so that anytime you go to make a decision that has a financial or legal impact on your business, you can get the best possible help in your state because things can really vary widely, depending on where you’re located. Yep. All right. I think we are ready to go. And again, everybody. If you’ve got questions, just feel free to raise your hands or hit that q&a button and we’ll be happy to answer them towards the end of the presentation.

Rachel Stas 4:06

Rachel Stas 4:07
Okay. Hi, everybody. Um, thank you so much for attending. I yes. Again, I’m a CPA out of Fort Worth, Texas. And so if you are nearby or near me, I am hoping that you are staying warm and have power and water because not a lot of people do. And but a little bit about myself is I’ve been active with bookkeeping since I was 16 years old, helping handle the books for my dad’s company. So I feel like I’ve been working with entrepreneurs for the vast majority of my life. I graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a master’s in accountancy in 2008. And then I passed the CPA licensing exam here in Texas in 2009. So I’ve worked with big accounting firms and small accounting firms, but I’ve always felt most at home, just working one on one with individuals and their small businesses. So it just kind of made sense to start a couple of my own.

Rachel Stas 5:01
So um, real quick, I want to go over the difference between a bookkeeper versus an accountant versus a CPA, there seems to be a little bit of like disconnect with that. a bookkeeper can range from, it doesn’t, they don’t come with licensing of any kind. Typically, they might have just taken a QuickBooks class online, it’s really means more like that they do the data entry for bookkeeper. But they might not for bookkeeping purposes, but they probably not probably, they might not know how to like read the financial statements that that bookkeeping does and stuff. So it’s more like the data entry part of stuff. Accountant is just a blanket term over anybody who has taken any kind of classes, they might have a bachelor’s degree in accounting in accounting, but it does not guarantee any kind of licensure. And then a CPA these days, in order to be a CPA, you have to have a master’s in accountancy, or maybe an MBA with extra courses and stuff and then pass a licensing exam, and also have continuing education, like I’m sure most of you do, to stay up to date with whatever side of being a CPA you are, and stuff. So to introduce myself, I’m a CPA, tax accountant, because I focus on taxes, but CPAs can be auditors, that kind of thing. And so there’s there’s specialized groups under CPA.

Rachel Stas 6:29
One thing I am not is a lawyer, or therapist like you guys, accountants do not have any kind of privilege, and actually can be compelled to tell about people’s financials in court. So a good rule of thumb is a Do not tell me something, you can’t tell the IRS. If you are really curious about playing in the gray or something like that, you can ask your lawyer to ask their accountant. But like, really just, there’s no kind of privilege with us. And so a lot of people tell me things that, just don’t do that. And so anyway, so today, we are going to walk through some basic bookkeeping tips and ideas, and then dive into taxes, some of the trickier deductions, as well as business structure issues that are best for my therapists. And then at the end, we’ll go a little bit over the COVID relief elements, because that has helped a few of the therapists that I’ve worked with. But in general, I’m not a magician, depending on your situation, you’re probably not going to be able to do your own tax return based off of this webinar, but you will be better suited to know if it’s time to hire a professional and what your professional is using, when they’re when you are providing them with financials and stuff. So Oh, I messed it up. Sorry.

Unknown Speaker 7:54

Rachel Stas 7:55
and what your professional is looking for things that would be helpful, and really being prepared so that maybe your bill might be cheaper at the end of the year, because you’ve done some of the legwork. Okay.

Rachel Stas 8:08
So if you’re at the point in your career, where you are being paid directly by clients, if you’re receiving 1099, if you’re using like a square account or something, and that’s where you’re swiping people’s cards and stuff. And this is when proper bookkeeping is essential. This bookkeeping is how you keep track of your income and your expenses. There are several software choices out there to choose from, but my favorite is QuickBooks, I do not get anything extra. For advertising for them, I just like them the most. I find them very, very user friendly. And basically, if you don’t go through and delete a bunch of stuff, you can’t hurt it, it can be fixed. And then a fun thing that they just added is you can add your tax documents or any documents to your QuickBooks file and invite your accountant to it. And they have everything right there for you. So I just I really like QuickBooks. But if you’re, you know, at the beginning of your practice, you don’t have a lot of transactions going on, you’re trying to save money, it’s a Google Sheets, and Excel, those things will work for you too. You just need to make sure that you’re keeping track and staying diligent as you’re going because as much as you think you’re going to remember this expense for business, and that you’ll keep track of it, you just won’t. There’s just so much going on. So and then at the very least if you’re like nope, I’m not going to write that down.

Rachel Stas 9:33
If you are making a substantial amount of money, I would say around the $5,000 mark, go get a business bank account or at least a segregated business bank account, the IRS doesn’t care if it’s business or not. And just have your business income and your business expenses below through that. Even if you transfer it to your personal account right afterwards. It just like that is a failsafe that you can create books at the end of the year or you can pay Count to do that, something. Um, one thing I do want to mention is, if you are invoicing, I haven’t seen this a lot with my therapists. But just in case, if you are invoicing your clients, you need to code those invoices so that they don’t have your client name on it if you’re going to outsource your bookkeeping, because your bookkeeper will have access to what those names are. So just a little asterisk on that fresh book and as low, they’re fine, zero, they’re fine bench will actually do the bookkeeping for you. But they’re pretty pricey. And you don’t get the same accountant using it every single time. It’s, they outsource it. And so you don’t have someone that you’re just talking to directly. It’s changes every month. So those are just my little rundown on bookkeeping.

Rachel Stas 10:48
Why do you want to keep track? Well, there are a lot of reasons. One is are you profitable? Is it worth your effort to work those 40 hours a week or 80? or however long? I know my self employed people we’d never at 40 hours? Are you charging enough? Should you be increasing those prices are your expenses too high is rent eating your lunch, like it’s really things to look at. And then are you able to hire help? Should you hire help have an assistant or if you’re looking to expand your practice to bring other therapists in, these are all good reasons to keep track. Also, if you want to set a realistic budget, having the background knowledge of like what you’ve done the last couple months, really helps or years really helps setting that budget to where it’s not just pie in the sky, you can actually do something with it. And then my favorite reason, taxes at some point, someone’s going to need this information. So you might as well keep it going during through the year as opposed to all at once at the end of the year. So that you can make some managerial decisions and go, Hey, I, you know, I should have found a cheaper place. Or I could have hired helper you know, that kind of thing. At the end, there’s not a whole lot you can do. So real quick. Accounting uses a very normal language which can be deceiving. Because the word and accounting doesn’t necessarily mean what it means in the real world.

Rachel Stas 12:14
So I just want to really quickly touch on some basic accounting language, so that we’re all on the same page as we go forward. So first, revenue is the same as sales, gross receipts, that kind of thing. These are the total, this is the total amount of income generated by your goods or your services. So anything that other people brought in, this is not money that you put in yourself, to get your practice off the ground. This does not include loans, anything that has to be paid back, that is not included, it is money that gets that comes to you and stays with you.

Rachel Stas 12:52
Cost of Goods Sold doesn’t really apply to a lot of my mental health professionals. But if you but if you’re selling books, or if you have workbooks or seminars that you’re giving, that can fall under cost of goods sold, but it’s one thing that you sell, that leaves with the client. So that’s what falls under cost of goods sold, again, not going to apply to everybody, and then subtracting that from your gross. Subtracting that from your revenue equals your gross profit. If your gross profit is negative, this is a hard stop, something has to change, nothing’s going to magically make you profitable if you can’t get your gross profit to be positive. And then after that, that’s when you want to do the rest of your business expenses. So your rent your advertising website, that kind of thing. There’s a handout coming up at some point i’m not sure when he’s doing that has some basic therapists deductions that you that you should be looking for. And then after you subtract that from your gross profit, you end up with your net profit. net profit is the bread and butter. This is what we are going to be talking about as we go through this what the IRS cares the most about. So we definitely want to make sure net profit, that that we get that number. for tax purposes, it’s fun for tax purposes, you want this to be as low as possible. But for like real life purposes, you want it to be as high as possible. So that’s my fun job of navigating, which is best and like how to do that.

Ani King 14:27
So do you mind if I ask you a quick question that came in? Because I think it’s very relevant right here. Patricia was asking is cost of goods sold an expense?

Rachel Stas 14:39
Yes, yes. The cost of goods sold is the actual cost. So if you were selling like a book, that $20 that comes in for the book will fall under revenue, but if it costs you $5, to print the book to have it made and stuff, that $5 is going to fall under cost of goods sold. And so then you Subtract that out and you have, you know, your $15 worth of gross profit from that. Good. So yes, cost of goods sold is definitely an expense. It’s just not one I see a ton with therapists, but it’s hard to get to where gross profit is without talking about a little bit. And then and just for the record, I we are focused on mental health professionals right now. But all of this applies to general small businesses. Anyway, the IRS itself just isn’t really that specific. So we good with that?

Ani King 15:33
Yeah, terrific. Thank you. Okay.

Rachel Stas 15:36
Okay, so then we’re going to move on. So you’ve maintained your budget, and your books, and you’re starting to see that positive net income, positive profit, and now we’re at our scariest part, taxes. So if you’re self employment net income, which is that net profit that we just talked about, if it is over $400, you are required to file a tax return with the IRS. Regardless, if you have any other money, any other income showing there, you have to file. Also, if you receive $600, from the same client, and they turned 99. You I know some schools possibly do that if you go in doing some counseling sessions that way.Even if you had$600 on a 1099. And then you had all these expenses, so you only netted, you know, $200, you still have to file the tax return, because you have to show the IRS your expenses and that you didn’t clear that 400. And so you Yeah, you’re required at $600, one client, or if you have self employment over $400, you’re required to file.

Rachel Stas 16:48
And so the question I get asked a lot is, well, when do I call a professional Can I just do it myself. If you are a therapist working for a hospital or treatment center, and they are paying you with a paycheck that’s having taxes taken out each week, and stuff, and you just have that and some student loan interest, you’re fine to do it by yourself, you might even be able to do it for free on the website, or TurboTax. Fine. These forms are almost like they’re nearing color coding them. So by all means, you don’t need to be calling a CPA and paying double like it’s unnecessary. However, if you start that side hustle, or if your main gig is becoming self employed, it’s and you know, making over that $600 and stuff, it is time to call it professional. Why? Because we are aware of the income that you need to be reporting and the expenses that you need to be reporting. tax law changes every year. And I have yet to find anybody who isn’t an accountant wanting to keep track of that as it goes on. And the big one is we’re aware of audit red flags, when we know what the IRS is looking for.

Rachel Stas 18:00
The Turbo Tax audit review is awful. That $40 is not worth it. I had a client who they weren’t previous before they were my client, they did their own tax return. And they were self employed. They were not therapists. And she was a little worried that maybe it was kind of outside her reach to do but she had already done the tax return. And so you know, just for next year, you know, can I have you on board, and within a month and a half of her filing her own return through TurboTax. She was super audited. And she spent them $40 for the TurboTax audit review. And they said you were a Okay, when I got my hands on the return, it was everything you could possibly do to flag an audit she had done. And so when we go over some of the trickier deductions, I will be bringing this client up again a few times because all of this stuff was on her return. And then if it’s not for the love of the work, and if you’re able to outsource it, who needs to have this weighing on them more than just, you know, here, here’s my forms go. Um, and then real quick.

Rachel Stas 19:08
I just wanted to talk about the difference between a CPA and a tax preparer. Just because someone’s a tax preparer does not mean that they are a CPA. And if they are waving signs, with the Statue of Liberty, trying to encourage you to get your taxes done, they’re most likely you’re not dealing with a CPA, you might be dealing with someone who was reviewed by a CPA or supervised not even reviewed supervised, but they I’ve dealt with some of the people that work there, and they take a class over the weekend. And they are just filling those forms. So you’re it’s essentially the same, they don’t have special knowledge and stuff. So they’re filling it out as best they can. But you could do the same thing. There they seem to charge more than most CPAs do in my opinion. And there’s Very little recourse that you can do. The IRS is on the side of the CPA or the tax preparer 95% of the time. So if your return is done incorrectly, when you sign it, you’re signing, that you reviewed it, and that you agree with it. And so they’re going to go after you, they’re not going to go after that tax preparer. There is very little recourse that you can have there, at least with a CPA, you there’s a board that you can report them to there, there’s a difference in expectation of like how they’re supposed to handle themselves. And so the CPA actually could get in trouble. If someone has EA, a Nexus letters next to their name, that’s an enrolled agent at doesn’t mean that they have a Master’s or that they’ve had, but they do have some IRS licensing. So there’s still better but it’s not with self employed, I really I would recommend the CPA, a lot of letters being after it. So be wary of tax preparers. And just because their tax being a tax preparer does not mean they’re a CPA, I’ve had people go I’ve lost my CPA, I don’t know where they went, and I get their prior year return. And they weren’t. And so it’s easy to kind of fall off the grid that way. So there, I’ll get off my soapbox.

Rachel Stas 21:15
So why is why are taxes so bad for my self employed people, we’re going to break down this a little bit. If you have filed your returns in the past with w two wages, even if it was last summer job or something like that, you’re used to you most likely you’re used to getting a refund, taxes are kind of non event, some people like them, because it’s like they get their savings account for the year. And then then it’s your first year and you’re getting 1099, whether it be from a client or your square account, and stuff, and you’re in for a nasty surprise, that first year of taxes. And the main reason is because there’s 15.3% of social is Social Security and Medicare tax, that everybody gets that it hits everybody. When you’re a W two paycheck employee, every paycheck, 7.65% gets pulled out, and then your employer pays the other half of it. So it’s lower than already, but then it’s continually throughout the year, little by little is being taken out. Plus you’re having federal withholding taken out and stuff. So it’s just not as impactful, then you file your taxes, everything’s golden. If you’re 10, nine, nine, you’re the employer and the employee. So it all falls to you. If you haven’t set yourself up with quarterly taxes, which your first year you probably have not, and you don’t have to you get about a year, you get to pay that 15.3% on that net profit that we discussed all at once it hits you all at once, and that is on top of your income tax rate. Now your income tax rate is usually between 12 and 15%. So if that net profit is $10,000, you’re now getting whammied with 30%. tax that first year. So you owe three grand on 10% 10,000. Which is just terrible.

Rachel Stas 23:12
Now, where does this all show up? On your schedule C, your schedule C is essentially your business return, that’s on your personal return. Because it is a business return that’s kind of squeezed in on a personal return, it is the most audited form that the IRS has. They are very well aware that people will try to sneak in personal expenses and like oh, I mean, but I use that computer for work and personal. So we’ll just put it all the way to business kind of thing they are very well aware. So they will look at that audit form, or they will audit that form. And the reason why people try to do that is because you benefit from a loss if you have it on your schedule C. So if you have your day job and your schedule C you know is your side hustle or if you’re married and your spouse has a W two, but you are you know, self employed. Now, if that w two is that 50, you know shows $50,000 worth of income, and you’ve had taxes taken out all year long, and stuff and then you show a $10,000 loss on your schedule. See, when you file your taxes, you’re now just going to be taxed on $40,000 you get to take that $10,000 loss directly against the other income that you show on your return, which is super favorable because now you’ve paid tax on $50,000 all year long. And now you only have to report 40 so you get a bigger refund or you owe less people aggressively, like showing the loss on Schedule C. That is when the IRS again is very well aware of that. So they’ve added a hobby loss rule and they’ve added this a long time ago. But it’s basically saying that if you aren’t profitable, if you are only if you show more than two years of loss in a five year period, then you could be considered a hobby. And if you do that, then you’re not allowed, you can still take expenses, but you’re not allowed to show a loss anymore. There are ways to mitigate being a hobby, and stuff. And it’s showing how much time you commit to it incorporating that goal, you know, your business plan on how you are going to make money, because sometimes, especially in the first few years, people just operate at a loss, a little bit more challenging for service industry like mental health, but still can. And so the IRS still looks at that, and something that your your accountant would be concerned about. And another negative with a Schedule C is it’s difficult to add an owner or an investor to it, because in order to get an owner investor, most people want to see the tax return, and it will be your personal tax return. So it’s not like it’s not just that they see your business, they get to see everything on that return, not ideal. So we will go over in a little bit, some other options, then that schedule seat. But first, the way to get that schedule C as low as possible is expenses, and how to what expenses are deductible.

Rachel Stas 26:28
Now, officially with the IRS, you are allowed to deduct any expense incurred in connection with your trade or business that are considered ordinary and necessary. So I understand, you know, we need our couches. And we need, you know, our reference materials and stuff that you have in the back, that is totally fine. And you know, you can have Freud’s book if you want, but a $50,000 signed copy of Freud’s book, probably not considered ordinary or necessary. So you don’t want to push that line too hard. But just any, but if you really legitimately need something for your business, it’s most likely deductible. Though I do understand, especially since the year just wrapped up. A lot of people want to do a lot of spending right at the end of the year, get as many expenses up as they can so that they pay less in taxes. I get that. But if you don’t need the, you really need to need the expense. You’re never going to be able to spend the money to outspend taxes, you’re still out the money and stuff. So that’s really something to weigh as you’re deciding, should I be paying this should I buy you know, the extra furniture suite and stuff like if you need it great, spend the money, but you’re usually just deferring the tax you’re eventually going to have to pay anyway.

Rachel Stas 27:53
Okay, so now I get that people, I hope kind of understand that like business cards are deductible and advertising is deductible. But there are some deductions that are a little trickier than meets the eye and can be audit red flags. So I’m going to touch on those and some of the rules I go over my crush your spirits a little bit. But don’t worry, there is almost a magic less tax button at the end of this. And I we will talk about that. So hold on with me. So the first one we’re going to talk about is mileage. And everybody really likes this one, you can use this standard mileage rate, which for 2020 was 57.5 cents a mile business mile, or 2020 is 56 cents a mile this updates every year. And now the standard mileage rate includes gas depreciation, standard maintenance, repairs, taxes and insurance. So you don’t you if you take the standard mileage, you don’t have to keep track of all that other stuff. You don’t get to take both. So no double dipping. For the most part, people find that the standard deduction is usually the most beneficial anyway. And neither one of these include, but if you use actual you can neither one of these includes the parking and the tolls. So do save those receipts that information you want to include those on top of whatever your mileage deduction is, regardless of which way you go standard versus actual, you need to keep track of what business mileage you actually drove. And the best way to do that is with a mileage log. And if we were all in person, I would give you my handy dandy mileage log that you can put in your glove compartment. But there are tons of apps these days mileage IQ seems to be the favorite. But you have to be diligent about where when you’re going somewhere now what miles are considered business miles.These are the routes that you can

Ani King 30:00
So sorry to interrupt, I’ve got a, an attendee is asking if you can slow down just a little bit.

Rachel Stas 30:08
All right, there’s so much information I’m excited to share with you guys.

Ani King 30:13
Thank you so much. And sorry to interrupt,

Rachel Stas 30:15
no, you’re fine. Um, so on that mileage log, these are the routes that you can take. Now, if you have a home office, that will kind of double as your home and your regular job, that’s just one building. But if you’re driving, if you have a office space that you rent out that you’re driving to, that is never deductible, that is considered commuting. And everybody has to commute when they go to work. It’s not deductible for anybody. So you just that, that just doesn’t count. Sorry. However, if you have an office space, and you you know, drive to it, but then you’re going to like a high school or hospital afterwards, those are considered second jobs are temporary workspaces. And that you can deduct, so you can, you only have to drive one way and back as commuting. Everything else that you drive for the business is deductible, if you have a home office, that’s where you’re stationed. But then occasionally, you go to a hospital or school or something like that, that those are still considered temporary work sites. So you can deduct that as well. And you get to deduct there and back. Even if like, after you finish a shift, you go to dinner or something that has nothing to do with business, you still get office to work spot and back, and stuff. So you get to keep track of that. You definitely want to be super diligent about this. And you can estimate if you kind of have a standard, you know, two times a week, you go to this one off site place. And that’s it, you can kind of create your mileage log that way.

Rachel Stas 31:52
But estimations usually leave expenses on the table, unless you are that client that I was talking about. Make sure if you are estimating that you are conservative, because the IRS has access to your your odometer readings from when you get your car serviced each year. So they know how they have an estimation of how many miles you’ve driven, that client that was audited, they claimed 30,000 miles and he was a salesperson, so he was driving a lot. But his car only went 17,000 miles. And that did not go over well. So if you’re going to do it, make sure that you are if you’re going to estimate, make sure that you are conservative, and at the very least January of each year, write down what your mileage is that on your odometer reading, and at the end of the year. So at least you know what spectrum you’re in. And the IRS isn’t ever going to think that it’s 100% business so like, Don’t be crazy. So that’s my, my little spiel on mileage.

Rachel Stas 32:59
The next one, especially in these COVID times is the home office deduction, which is a great deduction. But the IRS does require that it is exclusive use of a room. So if you have a bed, it you know a guest bedroom, but that’s where you kind of set up and work, you know a little bit that does not that is not considered a home office, it really has to be just your home office. So no bedroom room, no laptop on a dining room table and then claiming your dining room like that is not how it works. If you do have that dedicated space, it is excellent. Excuse me. It is an excellent deduction to have. Um, there are a couple of things. The way that that deduction works is that the room size compared to the rest of the house, you get to take a percentage of some of your deductions. So if you have 100 square foot room, and 1000 square foot house, then you get to take 10% of utilities 10% of your mortgage interest or 10% of your rent expense, and stuff because these are all indirect expenses. And any indirect expenses are the percentage. Now the utilities that are deductible are gas electric waste and cleaning. Your internet typically is not and your cable is not. That was included on the audited client as well.

Rachel Stas 34:30
If you have a landline that possibly can be asked your professional. So you can either do actual expenses, that percentage times your actual percentage times your actual expenses, or they have a standard rate which is just $5 port per square foot up to 300 square feet. So you can some people like to do that. It’s just easier. It’s really up to you to do the math and see which one’s best for you. But a home office deduction, you can use it as a deduction, but you cannot create a loss out of it. So if that net profit is showing $1,000, but your home office deduction is worth 1500, all you can do is zero that out and carry over the 500. So just little tidbits on home office, this is the one people don’t like very much.

Rachel Stas 35:24
Cell phones are no longer deductible. So sorry, and I understand everybody uses their cell phone for work purposes, I get it, the IRS gets it. But they also say that you are going to have that cell phone regardless if you had that business or not. So you do not get to deduct your cell phones. If you purchase a second line, you can deduct that second line, if you have a separate and entirely separate phone that possibly can be deductible, but they don’t even like it if you have internet on the phone like their This law was written in or tax law was written in 2011. So it has not really kind of kept up with the times. But that is in general, your cell phone is not deductible. So sorry, but that’s one that is getting a little of attention is meals and entertainment.

Rachel Stas 36:19
With the 2017 tax all that past, entertainment is no longer deductible. So if you are taking colleagues or referrals, or anybody out to like a basketball game, like that doesn’t count anymore, however your meals possibly can still be deductible, those are those rate at 50% of what the expense was. So if you have partners and your therapy practice, and you all go to dinner, talk about the partnership and stuff that is deductible. And after December of last year, those if anybody heard the three Martini lunches that those have now been improved to be 100% deductible. So if you go to a restaurant that provides the food and drink, and you discuss business, now it’s 100% deductible. How is the IRS going to know if that meal was about business or not? If it is a particularly expensive meal, I would save that receipt, write down who you talked to, and what you talked about. It does not need to be a paragraph, but it does need to have some key information on it. and stuff. I don’t see any auditors pushing back on that if you have a receipt going well, I talked to Joe about this. So definitely keep track on that. And then if you were traveling for some seminar for business reasons, it doesn’t matter if you discuss business at your meals are not travel meals are considered business meals, but those will be at 50%. On the deductibility. If you go to meals with some partners or colleagues and don’t discuss business at all, that is considered entertainment. So make sure you get some business talk in there.

Ani King 38:01
Do you mind I jump in with a related question Shawn is asking, because this is kind of related to the travel thing about like travel and accommodations that are connected to professional trainings. So if you have to travel for CEUs or something like that?

Rachel Stas 38:21
it is those are deductible, those should be deductible. The biggest thing that people kind of get that gets tricky for people is that they go Okay, well, my, my, I’m sorry, they call it CPEs for accountants, and CPEs, in New York. And so I’m going to go for two days to New York for my CPE. But I’m going to stay, you know, a week to be able to just vacation and stuff that entire time is not deductible, but you can take like a percentage. So if you were there 30% of the time, or you can only or you can do your real expenses, like your hotel room for the two days that you were there for really business or continuing education. Yes, those should be deductible. But if you don’t get to deduct a week’s worth of hotel stay for two days of education. So definitely want to talk to your professional about that as well. But those are things to keep track of. And just a good rule of thumb if you’re not sure if something is deductible or not send it along with all of your stuff to your accountant. And like I at least with me, I red flag anything that I’m like, Okay, well, that seems like a little excessive. So let’s talk about this. But if you don’t have it on the paper like that your accountant can be like, are you sure you don’t have more expenses here? Like, send more than you think is exciting? Be generous with yourself on that, but like, but as long as their actual expenses, like don’t make up anything. Is that so? Yes, but travel associated with continuing education should count. Yes.

Ani King 39:54
Thanks so much

Rachel Stas 39:56
Sure and then there’s a lot of time gray area when it comes to charitable conduct, well not gray area of confusion with charitable contributions. So typically, in order to take a charitable contribution, you have to itemize your personal tax return. So this is not mean itemizing your business expenses, those are completely separate that’s on your schedule C, you have to itemize, like you need mortgage interest and real estate taxes. If you don’t have that, and still at a sizable amount, you your charitable contributions typically don’t count towards your return. Now with COVID, they made an exception, where even if you don’t itemize your tax return, you get to deduct up to $300 cash. So it can’t be like goodwill, that donations or anything, but you can deduct up to $300 cash of what you’ve donated. So do include it in your information, your accountant will take care of it for you. But especially with like my soft hearts. Time is not deductible. So if you are going to help, you know, nonprofits and be like and offering up free therapy, or mental health advice and stuff, unfortunately, your time it’s never deductible, you don’t get to be like, well, I’m typically $140 an hour and I did six hours like that doesn’t work, the IRS doesn’t let you do that. So don’t ask your accountant, it is what it is. And okay, so we made it, we made it through the the soul crushing part.

Rachel Stas 41:28
And now is the fun part of tax planning and business planning strategy and stuff so that we can have that magic lower tax button. So first off, if you are operating, and this usually at the beginning, your business and stuff you’re operating as a sole proprietorship, that is everything is basically running under your social security number. And you know, people are paying you through Venmo, or cheque or whatever. It’s all on your schedule. See, that’s, you know, that’s your sole proprietorship, if you incorporate, then you can become a limited liability company, that’s the best way to incorporate especially for one person.

Unknown Speaker 42:10

Rachel Stas 42:11
I am not a lawyer, my lawyer told me to tell you that this provides you some legal liability protection. Because most of you, I assume, have licensure, you most likely are going to need to be a PLLC, which is just a professional Limited Liability Company. Same thing, LLC PLLC in this spectrum, it’s all the same. But that that forms a business entity, that if you were to be sued, the business is sued and keep separate from you personally, which is good, they can go after your business bank account, but not necessarily your personal bank account. Again, not a lawyer. But it is a good idea, especially with just how litigious The world is.

Rachel Stas 43:00
I’ve been asked what an EIN is. And basically an EIN is the social security number for your business. Which I highly recommend even as a sole proprietor, if you even if you don’t incorporate, you can still get an EIN for yourself for your business through the website, it’s free, you don’t need to spend $80 on LegalZoom for it. But that that way, if you’re filling out W-9s, for people that 1099 you, you don’t have your social security number just floating out there, that gives me a lot of anxiety.

Rachel Stas 43:36
But if you get to the point where you are like, yep, I need to incorporate, need to be an LLC, then you can elect to be an 1120s, which is an S corp, which is the best lower your tax button that we have. Now what an 1120 S’s are is the form for an S corp, you’d be an LLC taxed as an S Corp. It takes that schedule C and it moves it to its own business tax return. And it you still get to take the same kind of deductions, all of that gets over there, which is great. And adds actually another layer of liability protection, it just get it’s that much harder to get to you personally, which is great also. But the big difference is that net income that you were showing on your schedule C like that $10,000 that we talked about earlier that would have been taxed at essentially 30%. So the $10,000 shows up on your escort, return. The S corp doesn’t pay for its own taxes and stuff. It’s just a filing drill just tells the IRS how much money your business made, and then it flows through back to your personal return with a K1 and then you still pick up that income and pay tax on it. However, that $10,000 that’s over here now is not subject to Social Security and Medicare anymore. So you’ve saved 15.3%, just like that. So you’re still you know that 10,000 is still going to be subject to your income tax rate. There’s nothing we can do about that. But now it’s your bill is $1,500 instead of $3,000. Most people love that results. And I recommend an S corp election happening when you’re about at a $15,000 net profit or higher than it ends up paying for itself. So it’s my magic lower tax button.

Rachel Stas 45:33
But there are some negatives, or at least some challenges that comes with it. One, you do have to be incorporated before you can elect to do that. LLC costs vary from state to state in the state of Texas, it’s $300. But I’ve seen it as high as like $800, like California is pretty high. And they have franchise tax, that’s higher, too, but so something to definitely discuss with your local CPA, hopefully, that you’re working with now. But that is, that’s one of the barriers of entry there. Another thing is that S corp return is due March 15. So you are paying for a second return. And you have to you have to file by March 15, you can extend until September 15, that’s fine. But do not be late on this filing the penalties of error $195 a month per shareholder on an S-Corp. And it is very hard to get rid of them. And so I’ve seen people do that, and then ignore their filing for six months and owe $800 without even blinking. So if you’re kind of like, I don’t know, I’m trying out my business, maybe I’ll commit to it, maybe not, don’t do an 1120s don’t make that S corp election until you are ready to like go in. So.

Rachel Stas 46:52
And then the other thing with the 1120s and the reason why you don’t have to pay that Social Security and Medicare is one of the rules is as the owner, if you’re profitable, you need to be paying yourself a W two wage. So that’s how you get, you will be giving yourself a paycheck, you’ll be giving yourself a W two as the year goes on. But you’re still you’re paying some of those taxes a little by little, instead of getting hit all at once. And you can still mitigate some of that 15.3%. It’s pretty specific person to person, so we can’t really go super into it. But you would need to be on payroll. If you’re if you’re profiting more than like $20,000 a year. QuickBooks again is great, because you can set up your payroll through it, it can run it for you, if you don’t have QuickBooks gousto, I’ve been really pleased with those results. So that is definitely another option if you just want to run payroll. So that’s my little spiel for tax business and planning. And then real quick,

Ani King 47:55
if I, we’ve got a few questions about the difference between an LLC and S Corp. And I wonder if it makes sense to ask those now while we’re on the topic, or if you’d rather wait.

Rachel Stas 48:06
Yeah, let’s answer I’ll answer that. So an LLC is a business entity, but it does not have an assigned tax return. So if you are a single member LLC, if you’re the only person that owns that LLC, by default, it just goes on your schedule C, except so you can still have that LLC on your personal return. Oh, pay attention to this. If you have a two member LLC, it is automatically a partnership and partnerships returns are due March 15, as well. And so I have a lot of people who don’t tell me that they formed an LLC with their buddy and stuff until like May after the year they’ve done it. And it’s like, Okay, well, your tax return was due in March on this because it has to be a partnership. So you’re either a Schedule C or partnership, in order to be an an escort or an 1120. S, you actually have to make a specific election. So you can be an LLC, you you would be an LLC, taxed as an S corp, or you’re an LLC, taxed as a partnership or an LLC, taxed as a Schedule C or sole prop. So those, those are the differences. This is for some reason, this is very complicated. For some people, like my lawyers do not get their head wrapped around that very well. But you get an LLC as an entity, and your 1120 S is actually what is being taxed and like how does that cover it?

Ani King 49:40
And I believe so the one follow up question to that is asking if you have to have a board of directors with an S Corp.

Rachel Stas 49:46
No. No. So an LLC is so the board of directors actually comes with incorporation. So if you were Inc after your name, that is what usually is a board of directors. LLC is something that the IRS created to try to make it kind of easier for people to incorporate without having all the paperwork and all of the fiduciary duties that are required. So LLC is very simple. You can form them yourself on like Legal Zoom if you want or swift filing is good for if your sole member if it’s only you, or maybe if it’s only you and your spouse, if you get a partner involved that you are not related to even if maybe even if you’re related. Get a lawyer involved, you do need to have some kind of agreement and a handshake is not great. So definitely, that I’m so weary of being like, Oh, go talk to a lawyer. But that is the one where I’m like, Okay, you gotta, you got to do the lawyer. accountants can form LLC for you, we are allowed to do that for CPAs can form an LLC for you. We can do that for tax purposes. Oh, I’m not really allowed to give you like specific legal advice on how it’s helping liability and stuff. Every any legal advice you’ve heard is because my lawyer has suggested that so

Ani King 51:09
understood. So just a reminder to everyone that the two most important roles that can help you with your private practice, are a licensed CPA and an attorney in your area.

Rachel Stas 51:22
Agreed! Absolutely agreed.

Ani King 51:25
answering those. Sure, sure.

Rachel Stas 51:27
Those are good questions. And so okay, real quick, if you have been working your side hustle or had a different one, or you haven’t been up to date on your taxes, for whatever reason, start tackling that mountain. Now. The IRS, if paperwork has been filed 1099s have been filed for you, the IRS has them, they are just they just haven’t gotten to yet. But they will. And once they do, you have penalties and interest accruing the entire time, like it just it’s better to just face the monster, your accountant is there to help you, we are not there to get you guys in trouble. So like just you can do it.

Rachel Stas 52:05
And then another thing, and I’ve seen this a lot in recent years, is if you’re using something like square to, you know, swap for your merchant services, they are offering and they’re doing this a lot for artists and stuff. But I can see it happening for therapists as well. They are offering loans, and like, Hey, you know, you qualify for a 15 $100 loan and you’re going oh, well, I really could use, you know, some upgrades in the office or something like that. And so you sign on for it, because they’re like, Don’t worry, all we do is increase your fees a little bit. But you won’t even notice. And if you’re not keeping track of your books, if you’re not doing that bookkeeping on a monthly basis to see your bottom line number, you might not notice how painful those loans and those extra fees are. But what they are doing what they are counting on is that when you do the small loan, and then you pretty quickly start paying it off. By the time you get, you know, it’s $1,000, you’re paying it off, you’re close to having it closed out, then they’re gonna offer you another loan that’s $5,000. And it starts growing, and they are counting on you to not to spend that money on stuff you don’t have to have, but that you might want. And it is more expensive than it looks like. And then if you aren’t swiping people’s cards as much as you usually do, if you have an off month, and you just didn’t make enough to make that minimum payment, then there are crazy penalties that are associated, that go after you and it all moves to the for all your interest moves to the front. I mean, it’s just it’s super ugly. So just a good rule of thumb is if someone is coming to you to sell a loan, it’s not a good loan, you need to make sure that you’re going to the bank, or you’re going to something and asking for one. And just keeping that in mind. I’ve just seen too many people take advantage taken advantage of

Ani King 53:56
great advice.

Rachel Stas 53:57
Yes, just so sad gives me anxiety. And then real quick with COVID. Um, if you have been as if you were set up as a schedule, see if that your taxes have been shown on that schedule C you could be eligible for the PPP loan. And if you took one out and those are forgivable, which is awesome. If you took one out last year, they have a second draw that’s happened and you have until March 31 to apply as long as you show profit. That net profit number is what they’re looking at line 31. You can you can still apply for for the most part, start with your banker first and then go to your accountant on what you need, what information you need. Don’t go to your accountant, I’m going to apply for the PPP loan. What do I do? We don’t know your banker, it’s different bank to bank. There’s not just a flat thing, like go to your banker first get it started and then when you’re asking I need a copy of my schedule C or my 941 or whatever, then we can help So that’s my advice there. And for most people, if you have you needed a business bank account before you were able to apply, but definitely, it’s worth a shot to check. So, yeah, because that money is forgivable.

Rachel Stas 55:14
Now an EIDL. That’s the emergency disaster loan, that’s a real loan. It’s really favorable rates through the SBA, which is great. And they’re giving you a year before you have to pay on it. But do know that if you take that as soon as you get that funding, and that funding is in the bank, it is accruing interest that entire time. So I’ve had some people that are like, Oh, I got 150,000. I’m just gonna leave it there just in case. And I totally understand wanting to have that safety net. But that just in case money is costing you, whatever that interest is, so and some people are willing to have it that way. And that’s totally fine. But I don’t feel like it’s super transparent that that interest is started as soon as that money is hit. So definitely keep that in mind with your ideals.

Rachel Stas 56:04
Okay, so we’ve covered a lot. So I just want to let you guys know, like whether you decide to do your own bookkeeping and taxes or outsource them, knowing where your business stands is paramount in succeeding in that business. Trust your instincts. If someone you’re dealing with as an accountant, a banker, a potential partner, makes you feel uneasy or stupid for asking questions. Find someone knew, you should never be made to feel less than for asking questions. But make sure you are ready to listen to those answers. Even if it’s something you don’t want to hear. Being a mental health professional can be a very lucrative business, and the IRS is going to tax that business. But keeping track of your financial situation and your tax filings is important to make sure they don’t get more than their fair share. So with that, are there any questions?

Ani King 56:57
Awesome, thank you so much, Rachel, this has been so helpful. I do have just a few questions from our audience left, and thanks for answering a few of those during your talk.

Rachel Stas 57:07
Oh, sure. Sure.

Ani King 57:08
The first question I have is, is what I pay myself in my solo LLC, private practice tax deductible.

Rachel Stas 57:17
So it is not as an so if you’re on a schedule C, that net profit, you don’t get to deduct paying yourself, the IRS thinks that you pocketed everything that’s on that net profit. However, if you move over to that schedule at that 1120s, and that business return, that payroll that you’re taking, that is deductible, this is actually one of the only ways that you get to deduct employment taxes and your your federal withholding, this is the only way to do it. So you do still get even more of a little benefit with that. But if you’re just withdrawing money from the company, and it just kind of willy nilly, I need $2,000. Here there that is not deductible. No.

Ani King 58:03
Awesome. And so I have a couple of folks who have asked what is the best way to find a qualified CPA who is experienced with mental health professionals. And I know you mentioned that, you know, as a CPA, you can’t really specialize in a specific industry. But are there ways that these folks can find people who are more familiar, that I’m sure word of mouth is one way, but are there other avenues that they can take?

Rachel Stas 58:32
That Honestly, I think that word of mouth is the best way I will let you guys in on a little secret that most for the most part, small businesses and general there just isn’t a very, there isn’t a lot of things that are specialized about it. So you want someone who is used to working with small businesses. And someone who’s used to working with therapists just because they are they recognize, oh, you know, usually I have this kind of expense, because my other therapists have it. So they’re a little bit more in tuned. But there isn’t like special like, Oh, I can take this class. And now I can do therapists returns 100% better than the other CPA, they’re just there isn’t that it’s really you want someone who’s self used to dealing with self employed people in general. And so if you have therapists that you are friends with, and they’re happy with their accountants, that is a good one. If you have a one big thing is that if you are talking to an accountant, and they are not recommending the S corp, that usually means they’re probably a little on the older side, because it’s actually kind of fairly new. And people for some reason, just don’t like it. The older generation of accountants just don’t like it where it’s like my generation, everybody likes it. So I think that is the big red flag on that I can even help myself with my own therapist or I was just like, okay, but you’re an S-Corp, right? Like, that’s it. The one thing I know about her, but that it really is word of mouth is the best way. But there is a just like Psychology Today there is accounting today. So I guess but I’ve never filled out anything for that. So I don’t think you could find me there

Ani King 1:00:16
And we have an audience suggestion to to, you know, read mental health professional journals because CPAs will advertise themselves in those. So that is a really, that’s a really good suggestion. And then we are just about at time. So I have two more questions. Real quick. The first one is, for a credit card, does it have to be business specific to write off the annual fee? Or can you use any card for your small business?

Rachel Stas 1:00:44
Um, I would say that you could use any card for your small business as long as it is segregated. Like that’s the big key, and especially if you’re going to be an S-Corp is that you do have to have segregated funds. So they don’t want you to use your personal bank account and just have everything rolled through it. Like you want to make sure that if you have a business card, even if it’s not business, and stuff that it is only used for business, if you have a segregated checking account and stuff, and the IRS doesn’t look to see if it’s a business card or a business checking account and stuff. However, my lawyer told me that you could get in trouble with personal cards or personal bank accounts and stuff, even if you’re an LLC, and stuff that that kind of they can pierce the corporate veil with that. And that’s a whole nother thing it is best s to have business. But I would say if it was my accountant, my client, that it would you just need to be hardcore. It has to be segregated, just make sure it’s segregated.

Ani King 1:01:47
So if you’re using a debit card, it shouldn’t be the same debit card you buy your groceries with it should be a different account. Thank you so much to our audience for the great questions we’ve had.

Rachel Stas 1:01:58
Thank you.

Ani King 1:01:59
The last one we have is does going to an S-Corp filing status affect your Social Security benefits at retirement?

Rachel Stas 1:02:08
Oh, that is a little I don’t think so. The big thing with the S corp is that it you should be still getting W-2 wages with it. And so those wages will have kind of an impact. But I don’t think that the S corp necessarily has, because that’s supposed that isn’t supposed to be associated with your social that’s supposed to be a segregated entity.

Ani King 1:02:31
But I am really in the EIN then you’re still paying your social security taxes based on your social security number.

Rachel Stas 1:02:40
Yes. So I’ve seen some people who like won’t pay themselves wages with their S Corp. And then they just like, take the income and like that could have some kind of negative effects. But I’m by no means a social security expert. So but I as far as I know, it shouldn’t.

Ani King 1:02:58
awesome. Thank you so much, Rachel. Just so everybody knows, we will have a replay of this up on the website by Monday afternoon. And we’ll also have it available on YouTube and we will post it on our Facebook page. So thanks again to for sponsoring this. And Rachel again, thank you so much. This has been so helpful. And I hope that you stay warm and safe in Texas.

Rachel Stas 1:03:26
Yeah, Thank you

Ani King 1:03:26
we would love to have you back again sometime. Thank you

Rachel Stas 1:03:29
anytime. Take care guys. Good luck.
Managing Your Practice

Being an Inclusive Counselor to Children and Adolescents

In this webinar replay, learn why inclusive therapy is critical for children and adolescents in this free webinar replay featuring Dr. Autumn Cabell, Ph.D., LPC, NCC, CCC, CCTP and Ani King, COO. This discussion covers tools that are missing in identifying and managing access to specialized services.

Dr. Autumn Cabell joined DePaul University as an Assistant Professor in Counseling in Fall 2020. She earned her BS in Psychology from Florida State University, MA in School Counseling from George Washington University, and PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her research agenda centers on developing interventions that support the mental health and career development of underrepresented students and examining the career-related concerns of counselors of color. She has expertise in career development, depression, anxiety, and trauma. Dr. Cabell is a licensed counselor, Certified Career Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and Certified Clinical Trauma Professional. Learn more at The Career and Wellness Doctor.


Ani King 0:01And it is I’m going to pause the recording.

Ani King 0:05Hi folks, thanks for joining us for another webinar. This is the first in our inclusive therapy series and I’m really excited today to be here with Dr. Autumn Cabell talking about how to be an inclusive therapist to children and adolescents. Dr Cabell joined DePaul University as an assistant professor just this past fall. In counselling, she earned her Bachelor of Science in psychology from Florida State University, her masters in school counselling from George Washington University, and her PhD in counsellor education and supervision from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Ani King 0:43Dr. Cabell, would you mind telling us a little bit about you, and you know, the areas that you’re focused on?

Autumn Cabell 0:50Yeah, so I am in the Chicago area. And as you mentioned, my masters in school counselling, so I started off working with high school students. And so my passion area has always been with adolescents and even young adults, but I really, really liked that adolescent period of life and working with with children and adolescents and helping them to

Autumn Cabell 1:17transition to whatever they want to do. And part of how I’ve done that in the past is through not only career development work, but also mental health, and even trauma work as well. And so I really am passionate about helping youth through that career development lens, but then also recognising that mental health and career are often interconnected. And so how can we address the mental health needs that you have, and also pursue the interest that you have as well, too. And so with that, I’ve had opportunity to work in a variety of settings, high schools, residential,

Autumn Cabell 2:02private practice, and currently I am on a federal contract, working with federal employees, but then also their dependence on career coaching and counselling.

Ani King 2:18That’s awesome. So kind of not just looking at the what’s next after high school with teenagers, but the, you know, all of this is connected. And part of getting to where you want to go is more self understanding and support and so on. That makes a lot of sense.

Autumn Cabell 2:48Yeah, well, I think first, we can’t talk about children and adolescence without talking about child and adolescent development. And I think a key aspect of that is child childhood trauma, that I think is oftentimes missing in part of the conversation around behaviours that children and adolescence might be exhibiting, but also, counsellors and clinicians being aware of some of the underlying traumas that are happening in in childhood and adolescence and how that ultimately impacts development in the present day, but then also that ongoing developmental process. And so in addition to that career lens that I have, I also work with any clients that I see from that trauma perspective and assessment, for trauma and even, in some cases, suicidal ideation too

Ani King 3:46thanks for sharing that. We’ve had a couple of folks come in. So just again, want to mention that we’re talking with Dr. Autumn Cabell today about becoming an inclusive counsellor to adolescents and children. As a reminder, Dr. Cabell joined DePaul University as an assistant professor and fall of 2020. And we were just talking a bit about the lens that she worked through, including career development, overall mental health, understanding the trauma that can occur in childhood and how that impacts immediate development and things that come later.

Ani King 4:22So one of the questions I have is, do you think there are a lack of providers for this kind of group, you know, children and adolescence?

Autumn Cabell 4:32Yeah, um, I do. And that’s been partly and just like the literature and the numbers, but then also just in my own personal experiences of working with children and adolescents and needing referrals to psychiatry and being able to work with psychiatrists who have that specialization in children and adolescence because that’s really important and, and often as a counsellor, I won’t refer any child or adolescent to a psychiatrist who doesn’t have that clear specialization. But then also just even in my peers and colleagues and kind of being that go to person for them for consultations around like, Hey, I’m working with this team, I’m totally lost, I don’t know what to do. And so I think, you know, the literature and the client experiences and parents experiences and having trouble finding providers for their, their children and adolescents also just aligns with the personal experience that I’ve had as well.

Ani King 5:32That I want that lack of providers, I think, also kind of adds to just the overall struggle in finding not only a therapist, but a therapist that your child can connect to, you know, as much as it’s a pretty personal and pretty well vulnerable relationship for adults. Do you think that that’s even more so for children?

Autumn Cabell 5:53Yes, definitely. And I think that there’s, um, there’s a variety of factors that lead to the lack of access to providers, or just even the quantity of providers. And I think, just even as a counselor educator and working with the students that I work with, there can be this perception that working with children or adolescents is harder than working with adults, and then how that kind of maybe those beliefs get started in a Master’s programme. And then, over time, you just decide, okay, well, I’m going to work with adults, because I think that’s easier, and then you never really lean into that additional training or, or being open to seeing children or adolescents. And I find that part of that perception is that is this kind of view that children or adolescents are maybe less capable of participating in the counselling and therapeutic process, when really, it’s just adjustments that we have to make as a, as a counsellor or clinician to meet the developmental needs of our clients. And that is across the age range. But I think for some reason, there’s a hesitancy in doing that, to meet the needs of children and adolescents. I also think that counsellors and clinicians are aware of the working relationship that you’re going to have to have with parents or guardians as well. And sometimes that can be complicated. And, again, you know, counsellor position saying, You know what, I love kids, but I don’t want to deal with parents. I’ve heard that a lot, as well. And then I think, to just the, our own countertransference, that comes up. So I’ve, I’ve kind of heard peers and colleagues talk about, like, I just can’t work with, with the younger children, because I just want to take them home with me. And, you know, save them, but but recognising that that’s countertransference, is something that we have to kind of work through ourselves. And so I think it’s that that fear of not being able to set clear boundaries with children in adolescence, personally and professionally. And then also, I think that there’s an added layer of countertransference that comes around fear of the mandated reporter role. And, and the potential of doing risk assessments with children and adolescents to and feeling afraid of that or not competent in those areas to that can lead to people not going into this specialty area.

Ani King 8:39Makes a lot of sense. And real quick, we’ve had a few more folks come in so welcome, everybody. We’re talking with Dr. Autumn Cabell. This is an inclusive, inclusive therapy series webinar also sponsored by ILC or I think that it makes a lot of sense around some of those fears, both with countertransference. But also working with parents. You know, I think we heard that from teachers and a lot of folks who work with children that working with kids is a joy for the most part. But that there are real complications come in when it’s that parent, Guardian, other type of relationship. I’m curious if one of the things that can be difficult, you know, maybe not after it’s developed as a skill, but is those kind of observing those boundaries of confidentiality with children? Can you talk a little bit about what that’s like?

Autumn Cabell 9:38Yeah, um,

Autumn Cabell 9:39I think first and foremost is recognising that the child or adolescent is your client. And, yes, legally, there’s some things that our parents are obligated to. But if you’re always kind of acting in the benefit from the perspective of the client, the counsellor or the child is my client. Then it, it allows us to lean into the agency that children and adolescents have. And so often what I do is working with children or adolescents is, invite them into that process. Nothing is secretive about talking with your parents, or that confidentiality process, the limits to that process, but then also, you know, how can I share with your parents what you would like me to share? How can I maybe help to advocate for you or be that kind of middleman in the relationship between you and your parents, if that’s something that you want, and then also to inviting parents into the relationship as well. And that takes some preparation. And for again, that child or adolescent is your client. And so we’re working with them collaborate collaboratively to see, okay. If your parents come into the session today, you know, what would you like for me to talk about what would you not like for me to talk about, you know, at what point do you want to speak. And so being kind of pre emptive, about building that collaborative relationship, not only with the client, but also with the parents can be really impactful. And I think one of the benefits of, I know, with confidentiality, oftentimes counsellors and clinicians kind of view it as this this burden. But I think it’s a real opportunity to make systemic change. So we’re with a child or adolescent for maybe an hour, maybe a couple hours a week, and all that other time, they’re with their family, they’re with their friends, they’re at school. And so it’s not often that with even our adult clients, we have the opportunity to be a part of a family system that they that they go back to, but with children in adolescence, there’s a real opportunity to make change within that family system, we can more understanding and collaboration within that family system. And that can be through building those boundaries and those understandings of the confidentiality process as well. And so even just making that collaborative process as well,

Ani King 12:09that makes so much sense. I know that with one of my kids, having their therapist model some of that behaviour around being very open about here are the things that I legally can tell you, but I won’t unless they say it’s okay. Or Unless, you know, your your kid says it’s okay. And I think that that was helpful as a parent and saying, Okay, how do I support my child having more agency and, you know, being able to advocate for themselves in terms of privacy needs, and so on. So I can see that being a really, honestly, just healthy way to help show some behaviour in terms of respecting, you know, a child or adolescence boundary is and how do they establish those even with their family, especially with, you know, especially if there are issues going on there? Yeah, I

Autumn Cabell 12:58think, you know, often it’s about setting those clear expectations and boundaries from the beginning. And so one of the things that I even talked about in like the screening process, or the initial process, where people, you know, are deciding what counsellor they want to go to, and, and what my style is, as I talked about, you know, with parents, I set up that expectation that I’ll do a check in with you, maybe every three to four to four weeks, and before that check in, I’m also going to check in with the client, the child or adolescent and, and get their perspective on what they would like to be shared, as part of that check in and sometimes those check ins might be in a group check in as well, too. But helping to relieve some of that anxiety from the parents perspective around, you know, I’m trusting this person, with my child to help with very sensitive and vulnerable topics or things going on. And so they want to know and understand what to expect. And so I think the more that you can do that on the front end of the relationship, the better off it is for both the child or adolescent, and then also for the parents or guardians.

Ani King 14:07That makes a lot of sense. Do you think that there are kind of continuing in that vein, you know, more challenges with adolescents and children when it comes to self advocacy? And you know, if so, how do you kind of deal with that or help support them through that?

Autumn Cabell 14:25Yeah, so I think, again, that agency piece that children or adolescents, regardless of age, have some agency over their, their, their lives. And so the more that we as counsellors can support it and lean into that, the more that we can also teach, about teach them about self advocacy, but also, in some cases, advocate for them in our role as a counsellor or clinician. And so, I think with that self advocacy piece, part of what can be really powerful about counselling That process in general is that clients of any age now have some language about the experience that they’re having, they have some context or more understanding of themselves of their triggers of their coping skills of why they do what they do, that they can then use to as part of that self advocacy piece of part of that explanation of asking for what they need. And also in the counselling relationship, you mentioned modelling, we can model what it’s like to for a child or adolescent to ask for what they need, and even roleplay what it might be like to advocate to parents advocate to the school system, you know, whatever kind of the stakeholder is that, that we’re doing the advocacy work with. And I just think to, even before all of that is teaching children or adolescents what advocacy means, what it looks like, and how they can play a role with that, you know, sometimes as, as adults, we throw around these terms and language that children and adolescents are unaware of. And so we need to find a way to kind of break that down in a developmentally appropriate way, whether it’s pictures, whether it’s drawing or playing games, in order to help them to, to see that you have power in this process, even though it might seem like you’re powerless, or sometimes you even forced to come to counselling by parents or guardians or other key stakeholders, you still have a choice in what you want to say, hear of how you want to use our time together? And how can even that the process of counselling be part of the advocacy piece as well.

Ani King 16:48When, you know, having worked with, you know, school systems and in school counselling, kind of, you know, helping with those roles, do you find that, in addition to a lack of providers for this kind of group, but there are also missing tools when it comes to identifying and managing access to special services?

Autumn Cabell 17:12Yes. When you say tools, one of the things that comes to mind is assessment. And I think along with the the lack of providers is a lack of understanding or competency, even around the assessment process with children and adolescents. There’s not a lot of assessment tools out there that are geared specifically for, you know, children or adolescents, but there are some, and so one being able to find those and and be trained in them, but also being able to use the things that are out there, and adapt and adapt them to fit children’s needs. And so for example, you know, I might find, like the Beck depression inventory, which is, you know, a Likert type instrument where clients will rate themselves on certain questions around depression symptoms, and maybe I’m working with someone as an adolescent, let’s say, who’s not at that cutoff age for the Beck depression inventory, but it’s maybe close, you know, and, you know, I’m thinking, How can I make this adapt this assessment for this child? Well, maybe part of it is, instead of drawing those are, instead of having them rated on numbers, you use emojis that signify those, those differences and how they might be experiencing that symptom. Or you kind of you do it side by side with them. So the Beck depression inventory, for example, something that a client can do on their own, but maybe depending on the age, you do it in the room with them. And we go question by question, and we make sure that there’s that just reading comprehension piece that’s not impacting those, those scores. And, and so I think that assessment can be a really important process, part of the counselling process. And oftentimes, I think for counsellors and clinicians, they’re more likely to see that for adults, but get a little bit nervous or scared about what that might look like for children or adolescents. One and just finding the tools that are geared specifically normed specifically on children or adolescents, but then also being able to be creative about how you would get, you know, common tools that we use to fit children or adolescents. And when you think about the assessment piece, that can also be an important part of advocacy, too. Like if I know what my symptoms are, if I know how depression or anxiety shows up for me, then I’m bettle better able to communicate that with with Others, or sometimes when we’re thinking about the school system to in the realm of accommodations or things like that, now I’m able to get just even those systemic accommodations that I need to engage re engage in the learning process.

Ani King 20:17I know that, you know, with the last year of the pandemic, one of the things that has definitely suffered in most school systems has been access to services for kids who need them, either it’s not safe because they need to be accessed in person, or there’s not yet been a way to adapt some of those services so that they can be helpful and meaningful when you can’t have that in person time. So I think it’s, it’s interesting to consider, and I’m curious what you think about whether or not there will be some long term impact on ways that children and adolescent can access services that they need as a result of this very long, very difficult time? Because I think, you know, we’re seeing people talk more and more about how children are very much impacted by being at home all the time by not having time with their peers, or with certain family members, or just being kind of stuck in the same place. Yeah,

Autumn Cabell 21:15yeah, there’s a lot to unpack there. And I think, firstly, we don’t know the the long term impacts of this pandemic yet, because we’re still very much in it and, and school systems adjusting and adapting and trying to go back and then that not working. And then just even that, that transition piece. And when we think about development, and Child and Adolescent Development, we know how important it is to set expectations around transitions and to help with the transition process, because that can be very difficult for for children and adolescents to grasp. And so just in that very space of not being able to transition or prepare for virtual learning, you know, what are the impacts of that? And we don’t, we don’t know yet. But then there’s that piece, like you mentioned about services. And so on one hand, I think the pandemic and everything that has been going on has offered or allowed people to lean into telehealth in a way that they weren’t before, not to say that telehealth wasn’t happening before the pandemic, but definitely not at the rate that it is now. And so that also that that telehealth aspect can widen the opportunities for access to providers. And considering those specialty specialty areas around children and adolescents that, okay, maybe I don’t have to stay in, you know, my five to 10 mile radius, I have options online for for screening and things like that. And at the same time, you know, that that could be a benefit. But on the other hand, there, we know that there are systemic inequities in just internet access in, in just even having a safe and secure home environment to engage in the telehealth process. And so we’re still even though there there might be more like just technical access access to providers, there’s still systemic and racial disparities in in that in children and adolescents being able to get what they need in that way. And then the other I think, added layer to is that assessment piece, that often we have, I know, in my master’s programme, which wasn’t that long ago. You know, I didn’t get trained in how to convert some of these assessment processes through, you know, zoom or whatever telehealth platform. I’m, I’m utilising. And so there’s a knowledge gap even for clinicians on how do I even if I do have opportunity to be a part of this assessment process for children and adolescents, you know, how do I convert some of those things in this virtual space, and so I think that there’s a lot of barriers that we just don’t know, the impacts of yet. And kind of along those same lines is that social peace, like we know, for children and adolescents, the importance of, of social networks of play for younger children, and how the pandemic has shifted that in their access to their peers, and that the isolation that comes from that. And so I think that as counsellors being aware of those barriers, and also transparent about those barriers and the ambiguity like hey, it’s not just you who doesn’t, who doesn’t know yet, but you’re not alone in this process. No, we’re all adjusting and adapting and that’s really unfair. It’s really hard. That’s really disappointing. And just validating that experience. I think, first and foremost is is so important for children and adolescents at this time.

Ani King 25:10Thank you. And yes, that was definitely a multi layered question. So I appreciate you walking through that. Just quick note, folks, if you have any questions, feel free to hit the raise hand or the q&a or chat buttons down at the bottom of your zoom screen. I’ll hold most of those questions for the last 15 minutes. But we’d love to know what you’re thinking what you’d like to learn what you’re curious about. I think one of my questions, too, is while we’re talking about assessments, what are some things that providers should think about assessing for an addition to our presenting issue, or our you know, the main reason that somebody has come in to see you?

Autumn Cabell 25:50Yeah, yeah. And so I mentioned in the beginning, that kind of trauma lens that I hold in my work with clients. And so I think that very much holds true in when working with children or adolescents, that oftentimes, like when we’re thinking about childhood, oftentimes, we might get a referral because of things that are happening in school. So maybe acting out in the classroom or with peers. And so I think that being able to see children and adolescents as not just their behaviours, but that those behaviours are a form of communication, and that oftentimes, some of those things that we perceive as negative, maladaptive behaviours might also have a might also be related to trauma that they might be experiencing. And recognising that trauma isn’t, isn’t just, you know, an experience. It’s, it’s the, it’s a stress response. And so for children and adolescents, sometimes, you know, I remember in in the school setting, you know, a break up happening for a young girl that I was working with, and that being, you know, devastating to, to her at that time, and then grades slipping as a result of that, or then maybe fighting with, with your other friends as a result of that. But really working from that perspective of that breakup for you at this point in time is, is a trauma that you’ve experienced, and you’re having a very real stress response to that. And so I think just even having that trauma lens for some of our work with children and adolescents can be really helpful in the, in trying to address a client or child or adolescent as a whole being with agency and with experiences that, that we can support and validate and also educate them on to

Ani King 27:59well, and I think that there can be a tendency for adults, sometimes in any space to kind of dismiss some of those, you know, breakups and loss of friendship, and so on, as Oh, you know, this is just some kid stuff. Because I think we forget that, you know, how impactful it was when we were adolescents, and how the loss of a friend or the changing of nature of relationship, you know, even into adulthood, we all still struggle with that it’s hard for us to break up, it’s hard for us to lose friends, it’s hard for us to change jobs. And so seeing how that paying attention for those kinds of thing as the things that we might not necessarily or parents might not necessarily think of a significant how that can be playing such a big part in whatever is going on at the moment. We have a question that talks about our asks, How do you go about building a rapport with children during the first counselling session?

Autumn Cabell 28:56Yeah, um, well, I think first and foremost, that piece that I was talking about, and confidentiality and also my relationship and with their parent or guardian as well, that kind of sets the tone for I think building trust and also setting norms for how the counselling relationship is going to go. And then I also think that it’s important to remember the importance of play at the children adolescence, also for adults to play therapies, also for adults. And, you know, some of us might not be trained or certified in play therapy, but at the very least, doing activity based interventions for children and adolescents and being very intentional about what those interventions are. And so often, you know, after I explain the informed consent, the confidentiality process, you know, my philosophy as a counsellor, all of those things that helped to set expectations and the tone I We’ll engage them in an activity, even over zoom in the toilet or in the telehealth setting and engage them in activity just to get to know them outside of that presenting concern that might be on paper or on or all that we kind of suspect is happening or heard is happening from other people. Letting them know that like they are the centre of this time to get there. And doing that, and in a way that kind of enters their world. And so oftentimes, for that first session, I’m doing some kind of game, some kind of activity, some kind of play, in order to break the ice, get to know them outside, again, just that that behaviour that they’re there to address.

Ani King 30:47Thank you for answering that. We have another question that I think ties into this, at what point and this comes from Amy, thank you for your question, Amy. At what point are counselors legally bound to share aspects of therapy sessions with the parents? And what if the child or adolescent doesn’t want their parents to know what’s discussed in the sessions?

Autumn Cabell 31:10Yeah, um, well, so anytime that we’re heading into the realm of risk, so that can be suicide risk risk of harming self or, or others, anytime that we’re venturing into the realm of abuse. And that might be, you know, sometimes with children or adolescents, it’s the parents that are abusive. And so that might mean that the parents aren’t necessarily involved in that communication. But we’re that mandated reporter role. And so and then there’s all these other things that could come up, that maybe aren’t within the realm of legal responsibility, but could be helpful for parents to know or be aware of. And that could be as simple as some of the triggers that their child or adolescent has, or some of maybe there’s risky behaviours happening. And those things that might not be within that legal realm of what you’re responsible for, for sharing, but could also be helpful for again, that systemic change. I think that’s where you lean into the relationship that you have developed with a child or adolescent. And like, Hey, you know, I’m really concerned about you. I, you know, based on what you’re, you’re telling me, I think that it could be really helpful if we let mom and dad no are let Guardian know what’s happening. What would you ideally like that conversation to look like? What aspects would you feel comfortable sharing at this point? And maybe that’s not now? Maybe it’s three, four or five weeks from now. But is this something that you’re even willing to continue to check in on? And see, you know, gauge that kind of readiness for having that conversation? Is that a conversation you want to have totally on your own? Or would you like me there, and so again, that peace around agency and creativity around? around, you know, what that can look like as far as what could be helpful to that systemic change, but then also, ultimately, what’s helpful for that client and, and helping them to develop that agency over their counselling experience, but then also just over their lives as a whole?

Ani King 33:35Thank you for that. And a great question. Amy. I have a follow up question for that. Are there any differences in confidentially or sharing requirements when you’re working with kids who are you know, in, in the system, they’re in foster care, or they have been in group homes or, you know, just all of those various places, detention centres, all of that? Are there any differences in what can or what has to be shared because of the kind of legal implications of their status?

Autumn Cabell 34:04Yeah, so typically, the the legal aspect from state to state is, is pretty consistent. But there could be like protocol changes for, you know, if you’re thinking about the school context versus a residential, so when when I think about my time and in residential, there were some things that if those, like, if there was destruction of property, or significant harm to like another resident, then it was part of that protocol for like insurance and liability purposes that we would have to get police involved versus in the school system. During suicide risk assessment, it was policy that you know, after we kind of assess risk, and we go through that that conversation that we do notify parents before that, that child returns back home. And so that time in case we was really important in the school system. And then in the present, and in the residential piece, there’s certain things that if this was happening, you know, we had to involve crisis team or we had to involve, in some cases, emergency services. And so those protocols, I think, can look different from, from setting to setting. But those overall, like we’re always going to, to do something, if there’s abuse of a child, we’re always going to be then that mandated reporter role. And those steps might look different from state to state. But ultimately, that mandated reporter role is something that’s pretty consistent.

Ani King 35:41Thank you for answering that. Again, folks, just a reminder, if you’ve got any questions that you’d like Dr. Cabell to ask or answer, feel free to hit that q&a button or hit the chat button. We’d love to know what’s on your mind. I think one of the questions that I saw from some folks who signed up was, you know, if you’re interested in starting to work with children and adolescents, what are the first steps that you should take? Yeah, well,

Autumn Cabell 36:09um, you know, it’s always interesting to meet you. I mentioned, I started off talking about the importance of knowing Child and Adolescent Development, also neuro development to, right that children and adolescents, that prefrontal cortex is still developing now we know that it’s still developing, you know, up until the age of 25. And we’ve changed, you know, to claim that to emerging adulthood, but in some ways you can think of like 21 year olds as as less sensitive. But just even that, that child development and neuro development piece, and I think is something that is usually, in some cases, not a requirement for our, our programmes, often it’s an elective course. And so if you’re still a student, I definitely recommend leaning into those classes that you have the opportunity to take them. I also think, you know, when I think about my own training, play therapy wasn’t, I didn’t really have the opportunity to have like a whole course on on Play therapy. And so I think if you’re interested in children and adolescents, one, if it’s in your master’s programme, that child and adolescent development course or if there’s course on neuro development to, and then if that’s not possible, in your master’s programme, thinking about post, graduate it graduation, professional development, that you can get those experiences in those areas, or, and that could be from conferences, webinars, books that you read, it could also be in supervisors that you choose. And so really being mentored by supervisors who specialise in this work can be helpful in getting your foot in the door around just the the knowledge base. And then I also think if you have the opportunity to at least read articles on Play therapy interventions, or activity based interventions. Again, same with conferences, or, or just extra readings that you can do, I think, you know, one thing if I was looking back, I would have really appreciated having more opportunities and experiences around play therapy and how I can be intentional about playing because it’s not about just doing an activity for the sake of doing an activity to break the ice so that you feel more comfortable. But it’s also about how is even through this activity, I’m learning more about this child or adolescent, I’m entering their world in a different way than when they first started the session with me. How am I using even this basketball game to ask questions that that are helpful in understanding the clinical aspects of the things that we’re working on together. And so I think those two pieces around development and around play activity based interventions can be really helpful, just professional development opportunities to look out for.

Ani King 39:21Fantastic. And we have another question. I think this is a good one, too. How do you approach talking about racial identity as well as racial inequity in a group therapy session with children?

Unknown Speaker 39:34Yeah.

Autumn Cabell 39:37Excuse me. So it It could also start before the group therapy session even starts and what your topic is for, for group therapy and explaining that and how, you know, these are the things that we’ll talk about and one of those things includes race, culture, gender, gender expression, you know, things like that. So it could start just even in that screening process initially telling parents about or guardians about the groups, and then explaining that those groups to the child or adolescent, and then it can also be through that modelling piece of, you know, if I share a little bit about my background and how that’s gonna play a role in our time together, then we can also facilitate an opportunity for the the child’s with the children, I guess, in a group setting children or adolescents to share that as well. And I think another layer of that is through that intentional play or activity based having an activity, just even that first group session that’s geared towards sharing more about your yourself and your identity. That could be through drawing, that could be through, you know, that, like that activity that I are that I do often where they have kind of like a blank outline of a person. And they write kind of on the front, what people see, and about them when they first meet them. And then on the backside of that same person, what people don’t see about them. So it’s just even intentional activities like that. But get them drawing, then interactive, they can colour it, however they want to colour it, but then also very intentional about bringing in discussion around social identities can be really impactful and important to the work of the group that you’re running. And I would say that that’s also similar feedback. And I would have a similar answer for working one on one with children as well.

Ani King 41:40Thank you for your answer. I think that’s a that’s a good question. I think that it’s a timely one to you know, and especially resonates the speaking with the parent ahead of time, if you can, but I think maybe also understanding for some children and adolescents, their parents will not be open to that conversation. And that’s, that’s something to navigate as well. Folks, we have about 20 minutes left, so I just want to make sure if you have questions that we’re getting those in there. I’m also going to drop Dr. Cobos, Instagram and Twitter handle and website in the chat. So you all have that. So you can check out more about her work and what she does. And again, thank you so much for being here. I think this has been a really helpful and open conversation. One question that I have to kind of continue on is, you know, when you are dealing with challenging topics, you know, with children, whether they do or do not have parent and Guardian support, and in tackling those, when there are areas where you feel like the question is out of the scope of something that you can necessarily understand or assist with, or you think, you know, maybe somebody else is the right person to help, because that’ll happen sometimes, right? You know, what is your process for determining, okay, it’s time for me to refer either, you know, just this specific piece or in general to somebody else. How do you approach that with the child or adolescent? Just with that, you know, that it’s a vulnerable relationship, and that relationship transition can be such a big thing, too.

Autumn Cabell 43:27Yeah, yeah. Just even as you were asking that question I can think of, you know, a recent example of recognising that, again, you know, psychiatry services are have been so rare in my experience with children, adolescents, where I felt like, you know, a referral was needed to a psychiatrist, but I was kind of getting that inclination, inclination that maybe, you know, that psychiatry referral was something that was going to be needed. And so I’m, also, again, I think it comes back to that transition piece. And so one of the things that I did is I just put it out there, like, Hey, you know, I’m, you know, as we’ve been talking, you know, we’ve kind of done this, this and that, in order to better support you. And it’s, it’s not that in this case, like, it wasn’t that that the adolescent wasn’t engaging or doing, like the interventions or the things like that, right. So also making sure that you’re articulating that it’s no fault of your own, because often children and adolescents, their their worldview is very skewed, and they think kind of that, that something must be wrong with me, I did something wrong, if, you know, maybe a referral is needed. And so recognising, like, Hey, this is all of the work that we’ve done together. These are the things that that you’ve been capable of doing and that have worked for you. And still we’re kind of struggling with this. And so one thing that might be really helpful for you is Thinking about this psychiatry referral. And first of all, it’s explaining what psychiatry is, again, that language piece is really important. And also thinking about that the child or adolescent is your client first. And so we’re always talking about how this could be helpful for you. And, and recognising, like, hey, this isn’t something that we have to do right now. But I just want to put it out there. And now we’re starting to transition, right? We were at least introducing the idea, you have some time to think about it, give me some feedback on it, you check in next week about it. We see if there’s any questions between now and the, or between the last session, answer any questions that you might have, and it might be a three or four week transition to that referral to a psychiatrist. And that was just kind of one example that that I can think of, but those, those kind of key key constructs that I was talking about with just establishing trust, you know, being aware of the language that you’re using, that it’s developmentally appropriate, and that transition process is, is important. And that might look different from child to child or adolescent, to adolescent. And so for this, you know, case, in particular, it was, it was helpful to kind of have that, you know, three weeks, we lean into this idea, and it was helpful in also getting that buy in and having that person say, Hey, you know what, that thing that you brought up last week and the week before, I actually would like to look into that, and, and I thought about it, and now we have that agency, nice, but it’s your your choice, even in that referral process.

Ani King 46:43That’s, that’s a great method, I just kind of it’s not a surprise. And it’s not an it’s not a fault situation, this isn’t like you didn’t do anything wrong, this is about best supporting you. And, you know, helping them kind of arrive at the wanting that additional support. And we have about 1015 minutes left. So just a quick reminder to folks to get your questions in. Is there anything, you know, that you would tell folks who are? Okay, you know, we’ve talked about being nervous about working with children, adolescents, but what would you tell folks who are nervous about it, but are still thinking, you know, I think this is the direction that I want to head in. Yeah,

Autumn Cabell 47:27I think, you know, when you think when you understand like neural plasticity and neural neural development more, you understand that there is such a large opportunity to, for children to grow, and for children to be resilient. And the earlier that that process starts for them, the better off those long term outcomes are. And so I think while it’s important to be aware of some of the things that I talked about assessment, you know, the impact of childhood trauma of thinking about or examining behaviour as a form of communication, also recognising that children are, you know, they have agency, they, they’re creative, they have all of this potential and, and prospects about them, and they’re not, you know, these kind of fragile little things that, that you have to always kind of second guess yourself about, but that there is a real true opportunity that can lean into the relationship that you have a child or adolescent. And that be the the one interaction that is changes a whole life trajectory for them. And so there’s this this really amazing and beautiful opportunity as a counsellor clinician to be a part of that. Some cases post traumatic growth process, that resiliency process, or even building those protective factors for children or adolescents, like you yourself, as a counsellor clinician could be a protective factor for for someone, and that, I think, is really powerful. And I think also, you know, to me, it’s like, why wouldn’t you want to have that kind of opportunity to to, to be a part of changing someone’s life?

Ani King 49:26Awesome, thank you so much. It looks like we have answered all of the questions that folks have. So as we start to wrap up my final question for you, is there anything that we didn’t talk about either by answering questions or just in general that you would really want to convey to this audience about being an inclusive counselor to children and adolescence? Yeah.

Autumn Cabell 49:49I always encourage people, you know, when we think about childhood trauma, and understanding neurodevelopment and things like that, to look into the research around adverse childhood experiences, but then also positive childhood experiences. And so it’s not that just that, you know, experiencing childhood trauma can be debilitating. And we add to all these negative outcomes in adulthood but that there can be real true opportunities to foster growth and resiliency. And so those positive childhood experiences of having social connectedness amongst peers of having at least one adult outside the home that children or adolescents can connect with. All of those things have been shown in the research to be really impactful for long term outcomes. And so just even in your own kind of research or exploration around working with children and adolescents, looking into both adverse childhood experiences and positive childhood experiences as well.

Ani King 51:00Thank you so much. It has been a pleasure to speak with you today and you know, learn a little bit more about working with children and adolescence. For all of our folks who are attending. You can find Dr. Cabell’s, Instagram, Twitter and website information in the chat. I think that this has been incredibly, incredibly helpful. And if anyone thinks of questions after the fact you can feel free to email me at Ani at all counselors dot com I’d be happy to pass them on and get you some answers. And make sure that you sign up for the oncoming sessions for our inclusive therapies. Series. Tomorrow, we are talking about indigenous and Native American support. And then we’re also talking about working with the Jewish community on Friday. So I hope to see everybody at as many as you can attend. And we will have a replay of this up in the next couple of days. So you’re welcome to watch again or share as widely as you want. Dr. Bell, thank you so much again, I this has been a fantastic conversation. I really appreciate your time. Yes,

Autumn Cabell 52:04thank you. And I just want to also just reiterate, feel free to reach out to me as well.

Ani King 52:09Thank you so much, everyone.
Managing Your Practice

Inclusive Therapy: Indigenous Native American Culture–oCY1Qg

In this webinar replay, examine the need for inclusive counseling in Indigenous Native American culture in this free webinar featuring Billie Topa Tate’, Mescalero Apache and founder of MSI Wellness Center.

Billie Topa Tate’ is the founder of MSI Healing INC an earth friendly educational institute located in Evanston, Illinois. Billie is Mescalero Apache and is dedicated to presenting the sacred principles, doctrines, and teachings of her Native Culture and many ancient wisdom systems from around the world, creating synthesis through harmony of many lineages. She is dedicated to be of service to anyone who is seeking wellness, spiritual growth, mindfulness and training to build on current healing practices. She has been offering services for over 25 years in the North Shore Evanston Community. Learn more at the MSI Wellness Center website.


Ani King 0:00Doing introductions. And I’ll probably do a couple of introductions just nobody ever comes in totally at the same time.

Ani King 0:11So I’ll keep an eye on that.

Ani King 0:30Hi, everyone looks like we have a few folks starting to come in now. I’m Ani King, my pronouns are they/them, and I am the COO with I’m really excited to be here today with Billie Topa Tate’ today to talk about indigenous Native American culture underneath the banner of inclusive therapy. And in just a minute, I’ll have Billie tell you a little bit more about herself. These webinars are sponsored as well by integrative Life Center comm Feel free to check them out. They do a lot of great work with folks who are in the recovery space, in addition to inpatient and outpatient and residential programs. So we’ll take just a minute to let a few more folks come in.

Ani King 1:13While we’re doing that, Billie Topa Tate’ is a mescalero Apache as well as a Reiki Master, and somebody who does a lot of different kinds of work in healing and therapy, and other processes. She’s also the founder of MSI, and Billie, I’ll let you if you don’t mind takeover, tell us a bit about yourself. Tell us a bit about your center.

Billie Topa Tate 1:35Hello, everyone, many blessings to all of you. It’s a pleasure and honor to spend this time with you. My name is Billie Topa Tate’. That’s my native American name. And it means four winds. But my Apache personal name is wasa yat tha, wind that sings, and I I’m trained as a as an elder as a medicine woman to really kind of help the community but also to can continue to share oral tradition of the mescalero Apache tradition. And as Ani said, I have a wonderful center in Evanston, Illinois, called MSI Wellness Center. We’ve been here for 20 something years. And our goal is to create a sacred space one person at a time. And really, that’s the only way that we can engage and change by mentoring and also by sharing with one person at a time, and, and allowing that for to be a real healing medicine for people. And I’ve taught at many different kinds of venues.

Billie Topa Tate 2:51And this is one that I’m looking forward to today. And I’ve also taught at Northwestern University to not the medical students with the pre meds for the past five years, and really about indigenous wellness, and how energy, mind body and energy works in the body. And which is really nice that they’ve incorporated that into the protocol. And I’ve also taught at the cancer treatment center of America for many, many years to their mind, body division, and also their pain division. I’ve also taught at Rush hospital, to some of the doctors there and nurses about indigenous wellness and also energy, how it works in the body as we perceive it to be. And, but I’m also an author, I have books on Amazon, but we also have them on our website, which is MSI dash healing, calm. And also the, you know, I’ve been published in a number of magazines, and you know, I just enjoy sharing information about our tradition, and how it can be of service to communities in the in the pub public sector sector. So our our goal, of course, as we said, is to create a sacred space one person at a time. And that takes time. But you know, that’s something that we love to do, because the more information that we share, the more our wonderful mother earth and all living systems on this wonderful mother earth will will engage in a way this wise and and very productive and also, you know, in a healing way. So that’s our goal, you know, whether it’s to introduce plant medicines or energy sessions, wellness understandings of the indigenous people are wonderful stories about our elders who have taught us so very much. All those things are part of

Billie Topa Tate 5:00our, our center here at in Evanston. So that’s a little bit about me.

Ani King 5:06Thanks so much, Billie, I really appreciate you telling us a bit more about yourself and your purpose. I think that that’s one of the things that we really want to talk about today.

Ani King 5:18You know, for folks who are providing, you know, clinical services, therapy, mental health and wellness services to indigenous people in the US, helping them understand, you know, what are some things that they should be aware of? Are there some, you know, obviously, not everyone who is Native American has the same experience. And it’s not a monolith, like any other collection of cultures. But I’m wondering if you can talk about, you know, are there some common things that folks who are not native should be aware of when they are working with indigenous clients?

Billie Topa Tate 5:56Well, that’s a wonderful question. One of the basic structures of the the total umbrella of the native indigenous people of the of America is the common understanding that, you know, we have this, this goal of reconnecting with our, our, our tradition, to reconnect with the Creator. So and, and so that is, that is the, and that is, we were, the way the stories were given to us as Apache people is the,

Billie Topa Tate 6:34the great spirit, the creator, provided us training to be stewards of the land. And we were in the process of learning how to understand the land and the regions and the energy here. And so we have some wonderful stories about about that. But the basic understanding when we’re interacting with native people, is to have a, some understanding that there is this great stewardship that was provided in our, in our training, to understand the land and that the land has wisdom. And that, you know, we know even with, when we had the shelter in place, one of the most important things that people reacted to was they wanted to get get out in nature. And that was a very intuitive thing. Everyone knows that being around what we call the green nation, and the green nation is trees, the plants, you know, the botanicals, everything provides such a vitality for us. So, we, we know that all native people, we have this, this kinship, with, with not only, you know, the the earth, but also all the animals and plants, they’re a very important part of, of our stewardship. And sometimes what transpires is because of trauma or stress, you know, our, our star, our native a warriors that go out to do service and be in the army and everything, and they come back, and what we do is we give them a, an EP ceremonia an EP means is a sweat lodge to clear their energy field of all the trauma that they’ve experienced and seen, because we all know that, you know, we, we, when we view trauma, it kind of stays in our consciousness and our spirit and also in our energy field. So we do this ceremony to clear them so that they can acclimate to their families much more substantially, as opposed to seeing those traumas continuously in their energy field. So we know that energy is very real, you know, we were built upon energy, we are energy. And, and so that’s one of the things that’s really important for us is our tradition of ceremonies that we have been given by our elders to that have great wisdom and to maintain homeostasis of our energy field. So when our warriors come back, we try to, you know, to give them the, the ceremony to clean that energy field, so that they don’t have the reinitialize those traumas continuously in their in their mind, and they acclimate much more substantially to their families when they have those wonderful ceremonies. So ceremony and a kinship with the land is something that is very, very important to the native people and It really allows us to, to really create that connection and, and from that place we can move into our great purpose.

Ani King 10:11Thank you. That’s, that that makes a lot of sense. And one of the things that really struck me as you were talking about stewardship of the land is that, you know, helping people heal helping people find themselves is a stewardship of sort as well. And I think that that parallel of, you know, helping people connect to, the thing is that, you know, kind of struggling with the word there, but you know, that connect to something that is deeper than themselves, and also a part of themselves is really important. I’m curious for folks who are not indigenous Native Americans who are working with clients, who are there some ways that you would tell them, that it’s, you know, a good way to encourage their folks to connect with the land to connect to ceremony and ritual without, you know, especially not having knowledge of them, you know, of the rituals of some of the ways to connect, that would be really meaningful.

Billie Topa Tate 11:10I really feel that we’re in our, when we sit and when we work with, with, you know, our indigenous people, we want to make sure that our surroundings are representing that rapport. And it could be as simple a simple thing is to have a plant, and maybe some aspects of other plants that are growing and can share their vitality and their medicine. One of the stories of our native tribe is about how we can when we connect, well, first of all, you know, long story, but $2 version of this story is that the plant kingdom, and all the other kingdoms on this planet, you know, Animal Kingdom, plant kingdom, water kingdom, all the king, all the kingdoms on this planet have already achieved their great purpose, we’re the only ones that have not reached still striving for that. And the way the stories go, is that all those kingdoms came to this wonderful mother earth to assist us in our journey. And, and they do, for example, you know, flowers, you know, we give them to people when they are either, you know, in the hospital needing a boost of wonderful energy, or when there’s some kind of an accomplishment, like they’re graduating or their birthdays. And we do that naturally. We don’t even know why we do that. But we do bring flowers or plants. And the reason why we do that is because they sustain a they’re great purpose, and they engage as they inspire us. You know, when we’re not feeling well, we see flowers, your plants, we smell them and we’ve we reestablish that yes, there is this vitality, there is this lifeforce there is this, this wonderful purpose, and I’m connecting with it by engaging with the plant. And the same thing with people who are, you know, going on like a graduation or a, they take those flowers, and they say, I worked really hard. And now I’m smelling these flowers, and I’m going, yes, and I’m connecting with that wonderful vitality once more. So having plants around, especially ones that are growing, and you know, and and, you know, at different stages are very, very good establishments of rapport, you know, and also, you know, people connect with that. It’s just remarkable. So, I would say, on a on that basic level to have those things around, and to have conversations of around those plants and say, you know, this is a plant that you know, because native people in their blood, love stories, we’re storytellers, and we really enjoy you know, the stories and the stories really are a way that our elders have taught us. You know, how to think about certain things in different perspectives and so it’s really a great thing. So you know, having planted different stages and really fragrant ones. I like rosemary because it has a lot of wonderful fragrance to it very easy to take care of. Talking about how we use that in our medicines in our in our in our healing process and all of those things and also writing down you know, different kinds of things about plants and then sharing that is, is really good too.

Ani King 14:51Thank you. I I was thinking too about just kind of came to mind all of the different times that we do offer plants to people and how they are Often in those transitional stages, you know, when you have a hot housewarming, when you get your first big job, when you get married, when you do all of these things, you know, that representation of flowers or plants or something, and especially in some of them, you know, the potted plant or the you know, not just here are some flowers, and you have them temporarily because they’ve been cut, but here’s something that’s going to grow and grow with you, as you nurture and, you know, stay connected to it.

Billie Topa Tate 15:28And that is so true. The second thing that I would recommend, is, it’s already in our, in our DNA in our blood, that we start the day with, you know, a formal or informal aspect of what is called a sunrise ceremony ceremony. As a native elder, we believe that when we rise that we express an intention, not only to establish gratitude for the day, to the Creator, but also to adjust our energy field to where we want to be by setting an intention in the morning. So before I start with my clients, I always ask for both of us to have a quiet moment to set an intention for this time that we’re spending together, you know, it doesn’t necessarily have to be an expressed desire of you know, of how we want things to go, but also gives us an opportunity to really kind of share with ourselves what it is that we would like to have at that moment. So, you know, we can, we can, you know, say, well, we were going to have this, you know, time together, it would be if you’re comfortable doing it, just closing your eyes and just setting an intention. And the thing about that is if they have been lost for a long time, and when I say last, look disconnected from their great purpose, they will look at that and say, I have not done that for a while, I need to do that I need to set that intention for the day. I mean, I get everything I’ve asked for but I my batting average will be better. So you know, so, you know, that is another wonderful thing that they will find very refreshing when they’re dealing with needed people.

Ani King 17:24So do you think up? Thank you, sorry, I interrupt. Do you think that there are some prevailing prevailing things that make it more difficult for folks in Native communities to get mental health support at times?

Billie Topa Tate 17:45Well, I know that because of the relocation programs that transpired many, many years ago to from the reservation to the inner cities, you know, that was an acclamation of a lots of change. And also, you know, putting them on reservations. I mean, the the symbolic representation is isolation, you know, of the communities and also his separation, that did not supply the energy of support and community, and things of that nature. So I would say, just from my field work, I would say that, not only there was there at some sort of energy of, Okay, so I’m always in this form of isolation, or, I don’t know, that the government really cares about, about me, things like that course, we’re probably all but you know, here it is. And so, it’s a little difficult, because they, let’s have the native people will go inward, instead of reaching out and, and, and wanting to be helped. So there is that aspect of, you know, in the beginning, it probably is going to be a little bit of a task, to allow them to create that rapport and, and also feel comfortable, that they would believe that someone could assist them. So I think that that,

Ani King 19:17that, uh, you know, that trust thing is so important. And also not, I don’t I imagine not surprising that it would be a lot of work to build some of that trust on the part of a clinician who doesn’t have some of the same cultural connections and understanding, you know, just thinking historically about which we don’t have time to get into all of those pieces, but even you know, current times where, if the government is saying, Hey, we’re offering these services, hey, we’re offering these services and being like, yes, but what, what happens after that and not wanting to, I very much understand not wanting to take advantage of the services that they’re coming from a place that you have already proven, it can’t be trusted.

Billie Topa Tate 20:05Yeah, and I think that, you know, with some, there were, there are several things that that that, you know, is important to know. And the first thing is that, you know, as a practitioner, is very important for us to go inward ourselves. And also to ask for, you know, our, our wants and desires to be placed in a place where it’s very wise, that we engage in a way that’s very, you know, respectful and honest, and, but also to, you know, to take that sacred space for ourselves and say, you know, I want to be of service, you know, and, you know, if I can gain insight by going inward, to speak the words that will be of service to this person, I will, that’s my expressed desire. So as we expressed his desire to do that, then we are going to be able to get connected to a part of ourselves that, that has a lot of, of wonderful wisdom that can be shared at that moment. So and, of course, you know, doing our homework, because, you know, Native Americans, there’s their different tribes, different cultures, I mean, yes, there are some basic structures there. But you know, there’s different cultures, there’s, so I try to do my homework when you know, I’m a patchy so if I’m working with a Lakota, you know, we do different things, you know, but we also have that different perspective in mind, when we’re engaging,

Ani King 21:38that makes a lot of sense, especially, you know, the the piece, I think about not only going inward, but doing your homework, knowing, like making the effort and having the intention of learning a little bit more so that, you know, here are the places where I believe we can connect, and here are the places where maybe I can’t make that connection, but I can be open to it.

Billie Topa Tate 22:01And meditation for us is so very important. So that we can create that sacred space within ourselves to engage, you know, so

Ani King 22:11one of the questions that I have, too, is, you know, understanding that there are extremely valid reasons that there isn’t necessarily just a thread of trust between communities, how can folks who are not a part of indigenous native communities start to build or establish a level of trust with their clients? You know, we’ve talked about doing homework and talked about going inward, but are there some other things that clinicians can do, that are very mindful and very intentional? And working towards trust?

Billie Topa Tate 22:48Well, so that’s very good question, the additional things that they can consider is after they do their homework, and after they, you know, have established, you know, an intention with them. So they can have that quiet moment, because, you know, when people are in recovery, or people have had trauma, there are no quiet moments in their mind, they’re, it’s, they’re always, you know, so to speak, doing battle with something that’s going on. And so when we create a place where they can take a nice deep breath, and, and then also create a space, where we can just have a quiet moment of expressing a desire. And then what what is really important is to share something that when they walk out the door, they feel that we’ve added value, you know, and that, that that is, you know, I know, it’s very difficult sometimes because we all have stress and everything, but for us to be in a peaceful place. And also for us to be in and that means that we have to create a sacred space within ourselves constantly, which I think is a really motivating factor, you know, because, you know, everybody gets dusty from the trails, so to speak. So, for us, besides doing when we do our homework, that we kind of share, you know, to be more real, you know, and, and so, you know, I, I wanted to create this rapport and I wanted to, and, you know, read about this, and, you know, I don’t want to be, you know, offensive in any way of your culture. And when we say those things, the person is saying, well, this person is really caring about me, you know, when when you’re being, you know, honest and truthful about how you want to approach the session. You know, and, and those are the things that when people feel that the person is being, as you know, as realistic as possible, but kind and we’re creating a beautiful space for them to come into a safe space for them. They’re gonna want too, they’re gonna walk out the door and say, This person is someone I feel can add great value. And, and I felt felt very comfortable. The goal, you know, as my grandfather, grandfather Sharla would say, you know, you can go to school and get a credential to ride a horse, and go into a barn and, you know, show the horse, your diploma on the horse, and if you didn’t really accomplish the feeling, and qualities of those things, that horse would throw you right off in a minute. And then another person would walk in to the barn with no credentials and be riding the horse really well. Because it’s all about what we feel when we interact with someone, you know, it’s what is in their, their mind, body complex, their energy field, all of those things are what they pick up, you know, and so when they feel comfortable and safe, because safety is the first thing, if they don’t feel safe, they’re not going to open up or they’re not going to interact, or they’re not going to step into their stages of healing. So, so I feel that not only with native people, but with with all of us that we have to have that that sacred space within us to be able to so that they can feel that quality in us and they can continue to, to talk about, you know, what they’re feeling, you know, with us, folks, just

Ani King 26:33real quick, if you have any questions, please feel free to hit the q&a button or the chat button. And I’d be happy to filter those to Billie right here. While we’re talking. Billie, one of the things as you were talking about storytelling being so important that I was thinking about, as just I know, that folks are, you know, collision clinicians, excuse me are moving towards incorporating storytelling as a therapeutic method. For a lot of things. I’ve talked recently to a clinician who uses it as part of eating disorder recovery, and uses a lot of mythology in order to help people you know, kind of connect to these archetypes. And has found that that can be especially beneficial that they mostly work with women, but especially beneficial in helping people kind of be able to express what they’re experiencing in a way that isn’t all in I statements and so on. How do you when you know, when you’re, you’re working with folks and incorporating storytelling, what are some ways that you do that?

Billie Topa Tate 27:46Well, there’s several ways, it really depends on on what you’re gauging from your, from your, from your client. And because, you know, everybody’s in different places, and they’re, they don’t have a sign, like, I don’t really like this, or I don’t feel comfortable with this, these are things that you that you discover as time goes on. But I may talk about a wonderful story that my grandfather shared with me or my elders shared with me, that really, you know, allowed me to have some insights about things and, and, and I always want to share that, you know, when I was going through this process, myself, I there was just no perfect this, we don’t come out of the gate that way. And, and then it’s so wonderful to share the imperfectness, you know, of, of the 12 year old that you were there when this happened. And, and because laughter or at least some sense of humor about ourselves as practitioners kind of allows for them to feel like, Oh, I can talk to this person, because it happened to me, you know, or, yeah, that, that I like that, you know, she’s, you know, she’s just standing on the pedestal, and I’m not over here, we’re, we’re human beings. You know, I mean, there is a certain level, you know, that you have to maintain your professionalism, there’s no doubt about that. But there can be these times when you’re really talking, as we say, in the native tradition, spirit to spirit, when we are talking at that level, and, and sharing at that level. So there’s, that’s one perspective, that’s one application. And then the other part of that landscape is just making reference to a story in a book, you know, and talking about that, and saying, you know, things like, Okay, well, symbolically, I think that would kind of remind me, of a person who really would like to share their ideas but doesn’t have an approach or an idea, because they never were taught so here’s what we’re gonna do. So you know, So you can use two different platforms have an outside source of a story, or personal story or a story that really touched your, your spirit to, you know, get more of a report going. So those two platforms have been very, very good work for my practice.

Ani King 30:22Thank you for sharing that. I love that storytelling is such a powerful, I think connection for people across so many cultures, and you know, starting with oral tradition and written tradition, and I think that that’s one of those things that’s almost universally established. And as human beings, we like stories, we connect to stories, we use them in so many different ways. And most of that is about connection and communication. I’m curious to when you’re working with folks, and, you know, maybe they’re not necessarily connected in the same way, you know, to the idea of their own energy and their own connection to the earth and so on. And what are some ways that you help folks kind of start to make that journey towards, you know, just that first step, or, you know, the first few steps?

Billie Topa Tate 31:22Well, so it within all of us where we are definitely, you know, that pure seed of, of consciousness that connects with the earth in a very powerful, wonderful way. And maybe that disc that got disconnected in some way. But if I see that a person doesn’t have the same understanding, or connection, then I can make reference to, I will do basic things, like, ask them to utilize a moment in time, when they can just run their hands through, you know, the sand, at the beach, you know, take, take some of that, you know, and, and take it home and, you know, make a mess in your room, or whatever it is, whatever it is, I want them to start to reconnect with the natural world, because the natural world is, is really where we, we begin our and oh, you know, we begin and also we, we go back to a very, very often, and when we lose that connection, that’s, that’s when we start to have some difficulties in staying in a state of balance. So I try my best to to give them small things that they can do, to allow for them to kind of clear their mind of things that you know, that might be repeating in their, in their consciousness, it isn’t going to be of good service to them by reestablishing themselves in some part of the natural world. And even if it is the contemplation of just water, I, I will tell them, you know, this water that we have, on this earth has been here since the inception of this earth, it’s the same water, and we drink it, we, we experience it and and it is various, according to our tradition is one of 12 sacred foods on this planet. And it is very healing for us. And we, so we can, you know, share that with them. And, and, you know, ask them to contemplate it, and they come back and talk to me about it. And then I would share another story and another experience with them.

Ani King 33:46So it’s just sort of slowly building a little bit at a time, you know, helping them rediscover their connection. And when foot clinicians are working with folks who are clearly looking to reconnect. And there is a point where I’ve talked to a lot of different types of clinicians and every one of them is talked about sometimes there’s a point with a client where you have to acknowledge that you are no longer the best person to help them on the leg of their journey that they’re starting on or that they’re coming up with. And I’m curious if when clinicians can run into that with folks who are it’s maybe not, there aren’t a lot of options, right? So and you know, especially in some more rural areas, sometimes the number of therapists you can find in the area, and non COVID times when you know, insurance won’t cover your remote sessions or those kind of things. And they’re really they are the option like what are some things or things they can encourage or ways that they can help folks rediscover some of that community connection if they don’t have the option of working with Somebody who will have that same kind of cultural connection.

Billie Topa Tate 35:04So I think what you’re trying to say is if you’re, if you’re wanting them to go to the next stage with someone with another practitioner, how would you gently do that? How would I always like to use analogies, you know, I like to use analogies of, of the journey, you know, and also how we climb mountains and how we, you know, how we go and approach, you know, a hiking trip or, or anything like that, I like to use analogies, it really depends on the person, and how they relate to the world. But I would use an analogy or a number of analogies, even in the natural world, how we would go to the next stage. Because it’s, it’s, it’s time to do that. So analogies are wonderful. And we really, really have to learn how to be able to do that, and also be the support structure. You know, I remember, when, you know, my kids were growing up, and we were out in a big, like a golf, the, the, you know, it’s a big, big part of the water in a resort, what was a resort, it was a, you know, place that they took care of animals and, and we were swimming with dolphins, and but they were holding on to me. So they could do that. And I just found it to be very interesting that they would be able to interact with these big beautiful animals in the water, only because they’re kind of holding on to Ma, you know, but they wouldn’t be able to do it unless they had that. And I saw that to be very interesting. And, but eventually what transpired is, they said, I can let go of, of mom, because now I have two hands, and I Everything is fine. And so the transition was there that sometimes we do have to supply the support, so that they can say, Yeah, I can, I can do that, I can do that. So I found it to be very interesting. And I did want to be that support structure to observe the, the wonderful thoughts, the maturity like, okay, I can, I can let go. And then I can have two hands and I can, I can interact, and it’s, it’s good. So um, so I use analogies like that, to help them to know that there is no form of abandonment, it is a form of support. So your journey can go into that next stage of blossoming and enjoy, and all of that. So it’s a really good, good, good thing, as far as analogies are concerned, to paint a picture for them in their mind.

Ani King 37:49That’s terrific. That makes a lot of sense. And I think, one, yesterday, we had a webinar talking about working with children and adolescents. And it was very similar. And they, you know, making sure they understand it’s not because it’s abandonment, but it’s because they’ve grown because they’ve grown and now, here’s the next thing that’s going are, you know, they’re they’re stepping into this and it’s not that you’re there, you’re not there to help them are not there to help them, like make those first couple of steps, but that at some point, they’re going to want to take the rest of them with both of their hands free. Switching gears just a little bit with COVID-19. And with all of you know, staying in place in that, do you think that the option of doing remote sessions has allowed for more clients to connect to people to find more help? Do you? What do you think about it kind of in general as a the impact that’s had on Native indigenous communities? Well, we

Billie Topa Tate 38:49always went When, when, when the COVID situation occurred, we knew that Mother Earth was asking for an energetic timeout, to provide us with an energetic timeout, so that we could look at ourselves and ask some wonderful, important questions, you know, what is important to us, you know, all of those things, we started to realize that, you know, engaging with people, and engaging with our families, and just a simple hug, which was not possible for a while, really taught us the value of those things. And so I really feel that there was so much wonderful things that transpired. And, of course, there were a lot of sad things that transpired that people have passed over and all of that, but the remote sessions that occurred, I mean, I wrote it on my Facebook page, these these are the things that I’m going to keep as far as my practice is concerned. The Zoom sessions are wonderful. The sessions online are wonderful because we established a a connection with people that we would not normally, you know, have it in Tel Aviv, or in Japan or in Iceland, or any of those places, and it was really wonderful. So we’re definitely going to keep that in our platform. And I really feel that with the shelter in place, we’re really searched for ways to, to really help ourselves to understand, you know more about what we need to take care of what we need to understand about ourselves. So I really feel that it really helped us quite a bit. If we don’t, we’re not we’re human beings, we want to engage too. But this was an additional platform that I think a lot of the clinicians will be maintaining to, to, you know, allow for everybody to get the help that they need, which is I think, wonderful. Of course, you know, you know, other things that I’ll be keeping in my practice is the masks because I really think that it was a very wise thing to, for us to do that. Because it just really helped. I mean, we didn’t have a flu season because of the mask. And I really taught us about how we could actually communicate, you know, exchange, colds and flus and all that. So that was really wonderful. And, of course, I wear organic white gloves when I’m doing the energy work, which I really love. And I think it really helps make people feel much more comfortable. And so many other things. So, of course, curbside pickup, you know, when you’re calling and you’re just in your car, and you get this package of food that you can take home. I’m glad they’re keeping that as well. So, I mean, so there were some really good pluses that transpired in that and what happened?

Ani King 41:56I yeah, I think that I like, especially that the option for remote sessions has made, I think, therapy accessible to more people. You know, I, my husband grew up and I spent time in a really small town where there were probably, you know, three therapists, two of them are with CMH. And if they were already seeing, like your partner or something, you know, and you could get into like conflict of interest or whatnot, and how, as a queer teenager, if I had been able to find some, well, I mean, the internet wasn’t a huge thing when I was a teenager, let’s be real. But being able to find somebody where I could connect, you know, and know, hey, our values, at least seem aligned. And I know that this is a person I can connect with, it seems you know, for folks who have, they have internet, because there are certainly people who don’t have all of the necessary things to be able to take advantage of this new scenario. But when they do have that, I think it expands choice. And it gives people more options, it means that they can look a little bit further into what do they really need, and who do they think is the right clinician to fulfill that for them?

Billie Topa Tate 43:01Right. And I really feel that, you know, as I said, there, there are some really sad things that transpired. However, it really provoked us to really look inward quite a bit. And I think that that was really great. Because there there was this, a lot of self discovery that transpired during that process. And the the internet platform was really a wonderful plus, and I one that I hope most clinicians will, and practitioners will keep because it’s so beneficial. I know that people really feel very benefited by it, they see that it add value.

Ani King 43:44And so I think that just to remind our folks, we’ve got about 10 to 15 minutes left. So if you have any questions, please feel free to raise your hand or hit the chat button. We’d love to hear what’s on your mind or what you’re interested in learning about. One question that came up in the registration is whether or not there are any common cultural beliefs that impact whether or not somebody is willing to seek mental health support? You know, because there are some communities where it’s, you know, I’ve heard folks say, you know, I, I’m Mexican, so my family can’t know that I’m going to therapy, and where there are these smaller family things, but they tend to extend out somewhat culturally Do you? Are you aware of or can you tell us about any occurrences of that that clinician should be aware of?

Billie Topa Tate 44:39Well, how? I guess I’ll reframe the question to he does Yeah, feel free? How can we better reach these communities, we better reach the native communities. And I really feel the most important thing is engaging through some activities that help the community Uh, you know, like gardening getting a little, you know, or doing some free things that will allow for them to see, this does add value, I feel education is really the most powerful weapon that we have in the world, you know, if we educate more people about the value of things, they will take more advantage of, of, of those services, and how you do that as you engage in different kinds of community efforts, engage in different kinds of informal platforms of, of service, sometimes when it’s so formal, you know, like, okay, we’re, so this organization is coming in, and they’re going to have a table, and I’m going to talk, it’s almost on a unapproachable for some communities. But if we do things, like what we talk about one person at a time, you know, maybe a couple of efforts of helping the community build a community garden or sharing some talks that are free, that, you know, would be comfortable and approachable for the people, all of those things are so very important. And, and also, we need to get to know, the people in the community, you know, we, we know, the community, but if we get to know, one or two of the connectors in the community, or any, any part of the community and then start what we call the Apache tradition, though, Yosh by a boyish by a means extended family member, you know, and anyone can be an extended family member, you know, you know, a companion animal can be through your spray or, or, you know, someone who comes around and, and helps us to, you know, work with the gardens or work with helping, you know, crossing guards, all kinds of things that are more intricate, intricate, into the community, that’s when we’re going to really get the biggest value is, is by developing that type of rapport, and things like that, I remember my grandfather, when people would be moving in to the neighborhood, you know, he would, he would take one of our garbage cans, make sure it’s empty, and bring it over and, and just leave it there and say, you know, I know you’re moving, you’re probably have tons of boxes, I’m bringing one of these extra garbage cans over for you when you’re done with it, you know, let me know, I’ll bring it back. And he established your friendship. Right away.

Ani King 47:48That’s amazing,

Billie Topa Tate 47:50was just something small and informal. And just an act of kindness, that established a connection, that, you know, and, of course, everybody said, you know, gosh, this is a wonderful person, I really want to get to know this person. And, and, you know, when, and he was very wise, wise, elder, he just was sought after tremendously. But all these small things, were the things that really made a big difference, as opposed to knocking at the door, and saying, I’m your, I’m your new neighbor, and I’m, you know, I want to get to know you. And they’re like, Oh, well, okay. So it’s those kind of things that really help us to establish a rapport that’s very meaningful, that really allows for people to take advantage of, of the services that you might have to offer.

Ani King 48:44That’s why I recently moved, so the extra boxes and garbage can for the felt sort of deep in my soul, as what a helpful thing to do. And that’s, I think, that element of thinking about the person, not just thinking about, okay, I would like to do this because it sounds good. But here is an identifiable thing that I know, they will need help with. And it’s, you know, very low stakes, right? It’s just saying, Hey, I would like to connect with you, I’m going to try and solve a problem for you through an act of service, and I am here if you want to talk or if you want to do anything. And I think for that sense of, you know, for clinicians of making an entrance into talking to people in the community is probably the just reframing is a way to take that kind of first step to in building a bit of a bridge of trust. It’s not just I’m going to be in my office and I’m here if you need me, it’s going out and say, I am here and I would like to connect with you. And I understand that community is really important. So I’m going to do that.

Billie Topa Tate 49:51Definitely. And it’s the same way with all the kingdoms. You know, if you want to create a report with with a companion animal, I mean You can say hello. And they’re gonna say, you know, well, kinda nice to see you. But when we create a rapport with that person in a very informal intricate way, that that’s a very meaningful thing speaks volumes about the person. So,

Ani King 50:17so we’re just about it time, and I believe we have answered the questions that have come in. So I just want to kind of close this with asking, Is there anything that you would like to share with me in the audience that we didn’t get a chance to talk about yet? Or that I asked the right questions for yet?

Billie Topa Tate 50:35Well, one of the things that I do want to end this wonderful lecture with is that, as practitioners, we symbolically represent an expressed desire for healing, that that is our goal is to create space, in the you know, in a place where healing needs to happen. And so, we want to always remember, every day that, you know, with our sacred space that we have within us, we can speak, you know, and so, it’s really important for all practitioners, to have that sacred space and have that sacred balance, you know, that really is a very important thing. Because we cannot give what we do not have. And so it’s really important for us to, you know, know that we are always going to be learning from every experience. And, and also that, you know, what the the goal is, is to, to share our, our wonderful medicine, you know, in in the exchange of words, feelings, rapport, all of those things are very, very important for us. And, but the most important thing for us as practitioners is, is to come from that place of center. And that is where we’re going to do our best work. So, through that, you know, nature working with the natural world, meditation is a very important tool. And also, you know, just sell the other things that we we know are going to be very beneficial for our clients should really be part of our practice as well. And it with the indigenous people, we have never lost our connection with our great purpose of being stewards of the land. And that the land has great wisdom. And even when we walk on the land, it’s it’s going to give us this great sustenance of medicine. So with that, I thank you so very much for being with me. It’s a pleasure and an honor. And I hope to see you one day soon.

Ani King 52:53Thank you so so much. I really appreciate you coming and sharing your thoughts and wisdom with us. Folks, if you would like to watch or share this with anybody else, we will have a replay of at the same URL that you signed up at. That’s slash events. Thank you again. This has been fantastic, and I really hope we get a chance to speak again in the future.

Billie Topa Tate 53:18Thank you so much. Have a wonderful day. You as well.

Ani King 53:21Thank you
Managing Your Practice

Inclusive Therapy for the Jewish Community

Learn more about providing inclusive therapy and mental health support to the Jewish community. In this webinar replay, Yakov Danishefsky, LCSW, CSAT talks with Cory Miller, CEO about the unique needs of Jewish community members in therapy and counseling. He will also cover stigma within the religious Jewish community regarding mental health services and whether or not there is a lack of culturally compatible evidence-based treatment for Jewish people.

You’ll learn:

How antisemitism affects Jewish people in a mental health contextThe role faith plays in privacy and confidentialityWhat a client’s need for a deeper cultural or spiritual connection means for you as a therapist

Yakov is caring, compassionate, and personable. He is also direct and willing to engage in difficult conversations. This, along with extensive trainings and top-tier supervision, has enabled Yakov to develop a thriving private practice in the Chicago area. Yakov founded Mind Body Therapy where he specializes in treating trauma, sex-addiction, and relationship struggles. Yakov is also an ordained rabbi with a masters degree in Jewish philosophy and a sought after speaker on topics relating to spirituality, philosophy, and psychology. Yakov lives in Chicago with his wife and four children. You can find Yakov on his YouTube channel or website.

Webinar Transcript

Speakers: Cory Miller, Yakov Danishefsky

Cory Miller:  Hey everybody welcome back to and our inclusive therapist series. And I have met a new friend today, and we’re going to be talking about as referenced to the inclusive. Inclusive therapist series serving and supporting the Jewish community. And I’ve got Yakoff Danishefski.  How did I do

Yakov Danishefsky:  pretty good. Thanks for having me.

Cory Miller:  Okay. Yes. Thank you for being here. Now I will probably continue to butcher your bio, but you are a LCSW and a C-SAT. Based in Chicago, you’ve got a practice called mind-body therapy, but about your bio, would you tell us a little bit about yourself and you’re a LCSW C-SAT so you do a lot of work with sexual addiction, I believe. And but would you tell us a little about yourself and your practice?

Yakov Danishefsky:  Yeah, sure. So I, as you said, a LCSW C-SAT. So, I work with general kind of garden variety type issues, life adjustment, type things some anxiety, some depression but the areas that I really focus on what I would say, I’ve done some specialty trainings in and a lot of reading and supervision and more of what my experience is in is working with trauma and sex addiction in particular, and couples counseling. So kind of those three areas is what I really focus on. A lot of the trauma is kind of the capital ‘T’ trauma, but actually I would say more so is more attachment based trauma, more lowercase, ‘T’ trauma, thematic type trauma.

And that, that’s a lot of what I do in addition to the sex addiction work. And obviously those two things often go hand in hand. When I started out working I was, I would say I was working with a more general population as the few years have gone by I think just because of needs within my kind of personal community within the Jewish Orthodox community. The way things have evolved. I still work with people outside of the Jewish community. But over the years I’ve become more and more engaged specifically with that population. I would say primarily Jewish Orthodox men and couples have become, I would say the bulk of my caseload.

Yeah. And so I started my own private practice just a few months ago. I’ve worked in in a couple of other group practices prior to that. Actually how we got introduced and Steve is one of the first places I worked.

Cory Miller:  He’s good people.

Yakov Danishefsky:  Yes, he is. He’s great.

Cory Miller:  Steve and Lee are amazing.

Yakov Danishefsky:  They’re the best. So, I started this practice and yeah, it’s been great so far.

Cory Miller:  So what led you to oh, well, here’s another thing I saw in your bio too, is you’re an ordained rabbi.

Yakov Danishefsky:  I am. And that was actually my initial career path. I was hoping to become a synagogue rabbi and life takes its interesting turns. And at the time I was very upset that I was discovering that, that wasn’t going to be a great choice for my family lifestyle and got involved in some rabbi type things. And. Just started getting steered the other way. And then I actually took a different path. I was looking to go for a PhD in Jewish mysticism, Jewish philosophy, and then got rejected from where I was planning on going.

And then, so I took another turn and landed on the LCSW and then accidentally landed on an internship in a practice that specialized in sex addiction, not even really realizing that’s what it was. I had never heard of sex addiction. It wasn’t intentional. And I just kind of fell in love with that work. And from there got introduced to do a lot of trauma work and EMDR and somatic experiencing kind of more body focused therapy. None of that was planned at any stage along the way. So I’m luckily irresponsible, I guess, in some way.

Cory Miller:  I think it’s a lot of you clinicians. I’m not a clinician, as you probably know, but talk about serendipity and I go, this is no, this sounds serendipitous for you to be here and ministering serving, supporting a group of people that you understand and are likely my guess is underserved too.

Yakov Danishefsky:  Yeah. Yeah.

Cory Miller:  Which is the topic for today. But I love seeing the crooked path is the way I look at it for myself. Cause I go back and I go, I don’t know how I ended up here, but I’m glad I did.

Yakov Danishefsky:  Exactly. Yeah.

Cory Miller:  Well, congratulations on your going out on your own. And that’s a fun journey too. And that’s what we try to do here at All Counselors is serve and support clinicians like you doing the good work in the world. But that’s for another topic I want to get straight into… we’ve talked about we have a different webinars talking about underserved, underrepresented people, groups in our society and culture. And I’m really curious to get your input and feedback on the Jewish population that you serve.

And. There, you know what Steve did, and by the way, Steve Lackey, he is part of our advisory board at has really helped us map out and go, listen, we need to start paying attention to groups that are very underserved and in our culture. And so he’s really helped us laid out and have conversations like this with you.

But. One thing he’s told me. And I just want to ask the general question is, you’ve done therapy with not just Jewish people, but broader, and one thing he helped bring to light, particularly for African-Americans is the drastic difference in how it’s not a one-size-fits-all thing therapy isn’t but I’m curious your initial thoughts on serving and supporting, as a therapist the Jewish people and some of those nuances and differences that, that you’ve seen and that would help our audience that may help serve Jewish people, but not as directly as you might.

Yakov Danishefsky:  Yeah. Sure. And I so appreciate that this is a webinar on this and that you’re reaching out to me in particular, but just more broadly speaking, I really appreciate the value in doing this. I would say also in terms of that perspective that Steve shared, for me I always find it really fascinating. How there’s always this pervasive human condition. That is broader and maybe deeper than any culture, race, religion, ethnicity, or anything like that. There’s just humanity.

And across, in my experience, there are that fundamental dynamic of what it means to be a human being that’s alive in this world. To be a finite being in this world. And all the psychological and existential pieces that come along with that, that go across cultures.

But then at the same time, There are so many differences and nuances and unique situations and unique experiences that enter into that humanity for different people. And so that kind of either paradox or balance, or however you want to look at it is always really interesting. And, I love that kind of thing because it keeps you in a learning state. And so it makes it, it makes the work curious and interesting and an ongoing kind of thing.

Cory Miller:  But by the way, I should have said I’m a student. Yeah. I’m asking questions, but today I’m a student, because I think from this whole conversation, particularly talking with Steve and Lisa, incredible humans, but bringing things to my awareness that I go, I have my own work to do in all of this. And there may be things I asked for something I gladly invite your correction to or guidance. But I selfishly when we put the series together, go, I want to learn. I need to learn just knowing those two amazing people have helped me shed a different light and see from a different perspective than my own.

I’m based in Oklahoma. I grew up here probably, in the buckle of the Bible belt, so I have a lot to learn. So all that to say, yes, I’m a student today.

Yakov Danishefsky:  Well that makes two of us. So we’ll go both directions on that. So, and so that’s just kind of a preface to share and then more specifically getting into the Jewish community.

So, I want to kind of give two pieces to this by way of introduction. First off is that I am by no means a sociologist or a researcher or anything, an expert to kind of give you information on any of this. I’m really just sharing anecdotal experience and my perspective. And I hope it has some worth to it and some value, but I’m really, I can’t speak from an academic perspective and I can’t even speak from a quote unquote, the Jewish experience. I’m just sharing my personal experience as a Jewish person and as a therapist serving the Jewish community. So that’s piece number one piece.

Number two, also kind of by introduction is. The Jewish community is by no means monolithic at all. So there is a wide variety of what it means to be in the Jewish community, jewish populace is a wide spectrum of what that could mean. There are non-affiliated or non identifying individuals who are Jewish, but may not identify as such or may identify as such, but are not necessarily engaged with Jewish tradition or with Jewish community or spirituality, religion.

There are people who are engaged and there is a whole variety of denominations. There’s denomination referred to as renewal there’s reconstructionist, there’s reform, there’s conservative, there’s Open Orthodox, modern Orthodox, plain Orthodox, centrist Orthodox. There’s ultra Orthodox. There is what’s called the Hasidic. And within each of those, there’s another, huge variety of strands within. There’s a multitude of subgroups within the sub groups, within the subgroups. And any group that I just left out was not by intention.

And I meant no harm just listing off the group. So, there’s a huge and what we talk about in this context some of it will apply to all of those groups, but most of it will probably actually be very different for different groups. And so what I’ll just say is that what I’m going to be speaking about here in this context is my experience of specifically within the Orthodox community. A. Because that’s more my experience and B. Because I think that’s where, not exclusively so by any means, but I think that’s where more of the cultural differences will come up in terms of how that population in that community meet and intersect with the therapy world.

I think outside of that group, there still are unique aspects to Jewish culture and Jewish experience and all that. But I think the there’ll be less of a stark maybe difference from Some of the, from other, from a broader population. So speaking specifically about the Orthodox community in this context I guess those are just my points of introduction of where I can speak from.

Cory Miller:  I very much appreciate that. And that’s helped too, that there is so much nuance when you were listing off the different things. I was trying to do a comparable one of, in Oklahoma here. It’s I was trying to do denominations here too. And I think there’s something extremely significant, is that again, we’re saying we’re all human, but one-size-doesn’t-fit-all. And then even when we break down to, smaller people, groups that we’re talking about, that there’s still, it seems to me they’re still nuanced to say, how do you frame that? How do you frame the question of like, you know what I mean, breakdown to say. To be culturally sensitive and appropriate as a clinician, in that context.

Yakov Danishefsky:  Yeah, you will. I don’t know the answer. And I think it speaks to actually a lot of what’s happening in the world at large today, which is how do you create sensitivity to minority groups? And at the same time that brings up, I think a lot of hot button, a lot of contemporary challenges that were, that we’re facing. Just give an example. I was actually recently at a training in EFT training and there were kind of two organizers of it. And one organizer opened up on the first day and asked everyone to, on the zoom, by their name, put their preferred pronoun. And then the other organizers said well actually, the interesting time we live in, what we want to ask is that whoever wants to, should please do that.

And then for the people who don’t want to, you don’t need to because some people would be, maybe upset that they were asked that they were told they had to do that. And so it’s like the sensitivity in one direction for some people will be an insensitivity in another direction.

And then, and so, that’s just, it’s a very, it’s a very challenging, confusing time of trying to everyone, trying to figure that out. I think.

Cory Miller:  That’s why I love this series because we want to ask questions and be that student . That’s something Steve tells me all the time is be curious, stay curious certainly. Well, okay. So from your experience if we talk about Orthodox what would be some of the nuances that you might think of for someone on the other side, trying to serve and support an Orthodox Jew in therapeutics. Are there things that we should maybe be, we therapists should be aware of in those conversations? And I don’t even know where to lead you on that question, other than to say what pops out. Yeah, immediately that we could help be a little bit more culturally sensitive.

Yakov Danishefsky:  Yeah. I think there’s a number of things. And this is certainly not going to be exhaustive, but the different things that come up for me. One is that there is a unique intergenerational trauma that exists for, I would say this part of it actually exists for Jewish people across the spectrum. But definitely within the Orthodox circle as well. There’s intergenerational trauma. The Holocaust wasn’t that long ago. Many people’s Grandparents were you know, were in the Holocaust, were in Nazi concentration camps.

Many of them had their entire families killed. I can even speak for myself. I didn’t even have grandparents in the Holocaust. But I, something, I noticed that myself since I was a teenager, so like, anytime I go somewhere, I scanned thinking about like, where would I be able to hide? Like, where would it be? Where would there be like the secret hiding place in the roof, if I needed to. There’s just this hereditary kind of trauma of that kind of a thing. So, and that can exist on a number of different levels.

So a different form of that concept, I think, is that for a lot of Jewish people living now, let’s say like my age and younger. So our grandparents did things and we’re living in a time where they were doing things that were kind of, almost like monumental. They were living in like a time period in history where people weren’t just living like simple lives. Like I live a pretty simple life. I live in a quiet neighborhood. I have a job that I like doing that I go to every day, in a quiet office. And my wife has a job and, and we have kids and we live a, pretty relatively speaking, it feels pretty action packed, but in terms of like historical significance, it’s a pretty quiet and simple life, as opposed to my grandparents. My grandparents lived during like tumultuous times and like we’re pioneers involved in, like historically changing events.

And so I look at them and it’s like, well, there’s nothing I can do that will like match that level of significance. And I don’t know that I want there to be anything, but at the same time, I feel kind of like the impossibility of being quote unquote, as successful as them. And I think that’s, I’m speaking to that from like a personal sense but I don’t think that I’m alone in that experience. I think there’s kind of, so that’s a different form of like an intergenerational trauma of like, I can never be good enough. So it’s not actually a trauma of fear of the bad thing, the anti-Semitism and the bad things that have happened. But there’s kind of a hereditary sense of like, I’ll never live up to the giants, that were just, 40 years ago. Because that’s just not what my life is like. And so can I still see myself as having, worth in that kind of a way? So that’s just one, I think interesting piece for the Jewish community is a unique and we’re certainly not the only community that has very significant intergenerational trauma, but there’s, I think a unique form of it for the Jewish community. That’s one piece.

Cory Miller:  Yeah, absolutely. Just mentioning the Holocaust mentioning Nazi Germany, that was not, it was before my time, your time, but our ancestors were, that was, if we weren’t affected by it directly. It was in, it was all of the talk and conversation of the world. And so that’s such a, and you mentioned a term that I only want to smile because I want this message out, but intergenerational trauma related to that going you having not directly connected, but because family and your faith and… connect to that, to look to escape routes, exit routes. And that’s one thing Steve’s helped me understand, or at least try to attempt to is 400 plus years of systemic oppression, slavery, and all kinds of things that African Americans in this country in particular, have had to deal with and go. And then at all counselors, part of it is the trauma.

I love that you’re a C-SAT. You’re talking about trauma at the forefront and it’s connection to coping mechanisms that are harmful to us and others. But just you highlighting that fact made me think about that in a different way. I’m glad we’re talking about intergenerational trauma in general, but then connecting it to particular groups that are highly affected by it.

Yakov Danishefsky:  Yeah. And, I don’t think there’s anybody. I could be wrong, but I don’t think there’s any person who is any Jewish person who doesn’t have, within the past couple of generations, a direct family connection to genocide and massacre and life-threatening anti-Semitism I don’t have that directly to the Holocaust, but I have it to, many other, family members being massacred in Hebron and I have it too, in my parents remembering, that in 1967, the, all the Jewish people living in Israel literally thought the entire country was going to be killed. It’s going to be drowning in the sea is, there’s nobody that doesn’t, the Holocaust is the biggest one, but there’s nobody that doesn’t have a direct family connection to anti-Semitic massacre and genocide. Across the board.

And so I think different people have different levels of consciousness of that, but it’s certainly it’s certainly a piece for others.

Cory Miller:  Well, so, okay. You have decided to focus or a big part of your practice or is it, do you exclusively? I’m sorry, I missed that, but explain. Excuse me, if I can talk simply talk to or support the Jewish people or somehow you found that was a part of your mission and calling as a therapist, how did that all happen?

Yakov Danishefsky:  Yeah, no, I don’t. I’m not exclusively working with Jewish population, but I would say at this point predominantly I am and it just kind of shifted naturally over time. I didn’t start that way. I would say I started out, more in the general population and over time within my local community, I guess my name just kinda, I got around more it started to, and then that just snowballed into a large caseload of people within this community.

Cory Miller:  You get good referrals when you’re great therapist doing good work, for sure. Especially in any community. But do you see a lack of providers, therapists that are, how do I phrase this? Do you see a lack of therapists, available therapists to support and serve the Jewish people? Like for instance, we had just this week, indigenous peoples discussion around this.

And one is, I live in Oklahoma, like I said, so you got the five civilized tribes, you got heavy indigenous people here. In fact, I did some consulting for one of the Chickasaw nation. And so, how do you even approach. Yeah. Not understanding, do you see a lack of people like yourselves serving your community?

Yakov Danishefsky:  That’s a good question. I would say that there’s kind of two parts or components, I guess to that one. Are there therapists who themselves are Jewish or Orthodox that are serving the Orthodox community as therapists. And I think at least in Chicago, in the Chicago area there are not enough. I would say there is for sure not enough male Orthodox therapists, which is to my benefit, I get a lot of good business. But it’s also to my detriment because I could use some good collaboration and colleagues and referral sources.

So, that’s one version of it, but the other is, are there therapists who don’t have to be Jewish who are kind of culturally competent and able to do that work and that we can refer to. And I think it’s a tricky question, this’ll kind of go back to the first question you asked also about what are the nuanced needs of the Orthodox community. And I guess there’s two points I want to bring up here that I think are really core. And I think speak to both questions.

So the first is that I think one of the trickiest things of working with I guess I’ll say three things. One of the trickiest things of working with the Orthodox community is to be able to sift through the maladaptive behaviors that are dressed up in faith and piety. So to be able to see that, and this is not you being very spiritual and this is not in the name of your religious belief and system, and this is not from your rabbi.

This is OCD, or this is anxiety, or this is oh, CPD. Or this is some trauma. Maladaptive behavior from a trauma. And to be able to sift through that, it’s really complex even for somebody who knows the culture and knows the laws and the rituals and the faith or, some people having like a religious belief of like a very kind of linear way of thinking about reward and punishment.

And realizing that’s not your, you can quote me a source from the Talmud or something, but  that’s not what’s really going on here. This is you looking for control over a situation you have no control over and you’ve created control by creating this intellectualized understanding of how, everything that happens to you is because you did something, et cetera.

So to sift through that, it’s very complex. That’s one of the biggest challenges even I would say for me. And so certainly for anybody who has less inside familiarity with what those rituals and sources and texts and beliefs are. And that’s where I would say that I think that anybody who really wants to be able to serve the Orthodox community, well, I think one of the most important things would be to have somebody who is versed in that knowledge, and also has a healthy, mental health perspective that you collaborate and consult with. So almost to have like a relationship with a rabbi or maybe, a therapist who is versed in this stuff.

But I think that would be almost, maybe I would say that like one of the most important things to be able to have. Both the skills and also the trust of the people coming to you and the community and the referral sources would be to have a relationship with somebody who can help you sift through that.

Because on the one hand, we want to be culturally respectful of people’s beliefs, but we also don’t want  our country cultural sensitivity to be almost manipulated into endorsing behaviors that are actually mental health related issues.

Just to give like a parallel example of that, I just experienced this with somebody. So no offense by this, to anybody who is a very, devout dog lover and person. I just happen not to be, I just don’t connect to that. It’s I don’t have any, no, I just, I it’s just not who I am. So, but I had a client whose childhood dog was just put down and he was grieving really grieving. And it was hard for me because he also happens to have a histrionic nature of things, being very dramatic all the time and very his emotions will skyrocket from very small things. And I, because I have no experience with grieving and having a relationship with a dog, I had a very hard time knowing, well, is this really healthy grief? What are the limits to healthy grief? Are there limits, maybe there’s no limit? I don’t know. I want to be sensitive to that, but I also want to make sure this isn’t his maladaptive kind of histrionic side. And how do I, so I was thinking like, well, I have no, I don’t know how to sift through that.

I actually reached out to people to get some input on that. But I think that’s a kind of parallel to this. Like if you don’t know the dynamics of the religion, how do you know how to sift through which parts are authentically healthy faith and which parts are rooted in some sort of other issue?

Cory Miller:  So good. I didn’t even think of that, but being able to call a rabbi or any, that can apply in so many contexts, but I love the fact that you said the dog and I know there are non dog lover people out there, but I saw my meme or something on that at one point. But thank you for that example. That, that is excellent. I think you had a couple more thoughts on that, but I’d love to hear. I love to hear those, if you have more.

Yakov Danishefsky:  Yeah. The other thing I would say is that this is a tricky and sensitive piece, but I think it’s an important one. The therapy world tends to be obviously not overgeneralizing to everybody, but tends to be more politically progressive in nature.

I think to a large degree, at least that’s my experience. The Orthodox Jewish world, also not by overgeneralizing or is this the case for everybody, but tends to be more, more politically conservative in nature. And I think that there actually, and I’ve actually experienced this firsthand at at conferences or trainings with other therapists.

I would say not as much anti-Semitism, but anti Orthodox. And I think there’s, there is there’s a lot of discomfort or fear or mistrust for people within the Orthodox community. To reach out to therapists to kind of look up any therapist that they find on psychology today or on, whatever it is.

Because of the climate we live in with political the political climate we live in and identity politics and the amount of shaming of other that goes on in, in both directions. And I actually think that. As, I spoke before about anti-Semitism in a kind of intergenerational trauma. And there still is, some of that kind of antisemitism that exists that the Jewish community experiences. But I think when it comes to the therapy context, if we’re talking about creating connections between the therapy world and the Jewish Orthodox world. I actually think the more relevant version of antisemitism is the feeling of the political divide or the anti Orthodox divide of some of those conservative values. And what that does for the community to be more hesitant in reaching out to, well, I don’t know if I will be able to say what I think, I don’t know if I can speak my values or to actually have a trusting and safe relationship with this person because  what, if I’m judged for the views of the values that I hold or the way that I identify politically So, there’s obviously a lot of nuances in there and that’s a big, like I said, it’s a sensitive topic to unpack, but I think it’s, I think it’s a really big piece of the relationship between the Orthodox community and the therapy community.

Cory Miller:  So I want to go back and play it against. Not playing, but I am the student here. When you say anti-Semitism and then anti Orthodox what does that mean?

Yakov Danishefsky:  Yeah, so, I would say because a lot of the unfortunately a lot of the anti Orthodox even comes in from within the Jewish community itself, from those outside the Orthodox community. And a lot of it really, and that’s why I’m connecting the political piece and the Orthodox piece, because a lot of it is really related to politically related issues. Yeah.

Cory Miller:  Would I be accurate and characterizing from your experience potentially antisemitism. External Jewish from non-Jewish communities in, and then maybe the anti Orthodox is within Jewish.

Yakov Danishefsky:  More, more so, yeah, I think that’s well said actually. Yeah. Yeah. That’s not exclusively so, but yes, I think that’s well said and in general, since you understand, yeah.

Cory Miller:  Okay. So there is part of our work here. and why I put my own time and money into this endeavor is to obliterate the stigma of mental health in general. And I just see it. And if I, it, from my experience, I see a lot of, and I’m gonna generalize again here, but a lot of men struggle with therapy. I’ve been in groups of high charged, entrepreneurs and they’ll say, well, I met with my counselor this week and kind of get the…. you know what I mean? And I’m wondering, I think we can all admit there’s still a stigma in any culture on the face of the earth, around mental health, as it relates to your experience with Jewish people, how does it, what are some of the nuances you’ve observed and seen? Related to the stigma about getting mental health treatment or seeing a therapist or counselor, regardless of who else is on the other side of that?

Yakov Danishefsky:  Yeah. I think within the Orthodox community, the big shift is the rabbis getting more on board with therapy and mental health awareness. I think that we are seeing again, I’m not a researcher, so I don’t know the statistics, but at least this is my impression, is that we’ve seen a big shift in, there’s still a ways to go, as you said, but there’s a big shift in the stigma and shifting in the sense of the stigma declining within the Orthodox community. The Jewish community and people reaching out for a lot more therapy. All the therapists who are Jewish and Orthodox and in the community that I that I work, we’re all full, we’re all busy. And we’re all predominantly seeing Orthodox individuals. So there are a lot of people who are seeking therapy. A lot of Orthodox people seeking therapy. There’s probably a lot more that needs to be and are, some of them not doing so because of stigma, but I think there’s a big shift in that direction.

And I think the biggest piece is that a lot more rabbis have kind of come on board with the importance of that. And I think that they, oftentimes are now referring people to therapists. So a lot of my referrals come from having built relationships with rabbis in the community and constituents, or, go to them, bringing up an issue and they’ll say, maybe there’s something to speak to a therapist about and, here’s someone to reach out to.

Cory Miller:  Well, so back to your huge takeaway, which is contact a rabbi in your area and start asking questions is the potential to go, this is a culturally sensitive therapist that has sought to understand our faith and our pain and so I’m gonna say it makes complete business sense. One, it’s the right thing to do. But second, is there’s an opportunity there to serve more people that are potentially underserved. That my experience comes from evangelical churches and I’ve got 30 hours of seminary training. And the hiccup in my experience was well, this dynamic between psychology and what is thought of as biblical truth. And this thing of like, what is a Christian counselor? And then I think that’s created a very unnecessary wall between the two. So I kinda try to, like, in a little bit of what you’re saying to, I think I get it on another…

Yakov Danishefsky:  There’s a lot of overlap there. I think to my knowledge of that side of things too, which is limited, but I think there’s a lot of overlap there. Yeah

Cory Miller:  But what I’ve loved about your message is there’s an opportunity to partner, so to speak or collaborate, or just pair some of the walls down by seeking out that faith representative, that faith leader in whatever community and saying, how can I better help? That’s really good. Okay. So we talked about stigma a little bit, that’s a human feature right now that we’re trying to all obliterate, regardless of faith, race. Do you see other, and you kind of burst on politics with, oh my gosh, there could be a whole series on this, about how to help people through politics or the political climate we’ve found ourselves in the last years.

What are the things that I’ve missed to ask that you think of? And we probably need we’re time. Don’t we?

Yakov Danishefsky:  No, I think you asked all the right questions, I guess. If we have a little more time, I would maybe add a couple of other answers to the question of, what are the nuances to know about? But I think that kind of is the, I think you asked the right questions.

Cory Miller:  Yeah, you have any more nuances. I’d love those. I want to make sure we get those too. And if those of you who are listening, have questions, please hit the chat or Q&A, and we’ll ask those today, so I want to make sure we have room too, but we have about 20 minutes. And so I’d love to hear any of the other nuances. I don’t want to, I just. Yeah, I want to shut up and listen.

Yakov Danishefsky:  No, No. It’s great. It’s great. So, one other thing I would say is I kind of talked about intergenerational trauma, but then if we just stay more locally focused, forget intergenerational trauma, just straight on trauma. There is the same traumas that exist across the board for going back to that where we’re all humans. And so those types of things exist across the board, but I think there are also unique traumas to growing up. That are possibly there for growing up in the Orthodox community that might be, important to know about and understand. And I think there are different traumas for men and for women. For men there’s I think oftentimes within the more as you get more into the ultra of the ultra Orthodox community. So middle to ultra you will find that the system really kind of narrows in on Talmud study for men. And Talmud study, which is this highly intricate texts of Jewish law story. It’s an amazing, text and it’s fascinating, but it’s also incredibly difficult and intricate. And in many ways it has become the, be all and end all of an Orthodox male life.

And there are lots of people who are just not cut out for that. But they’re in the system that makes it all about that. And that’s a unique trauma that I think a lot of people experience. And then continue to experience trauma reenactment around because when you try and work with them on creating other spiritual pathways for meaning because they don’t wanna give up religion. They don’t want to give up spirituality. There’s a resistance to actually exploring other ways of living a Jewish, spiritual, and religious life because they’re still seeking that success and that’s kind of that trauma reenactment.

So there are other examples, but that’s just one again, because I’m working so primarily with Orthodox and males that’s one that I see a lot of. And I think it’s an important piece.

Cory Miller:  Yeah. Related specifically toward those who identify as male in the Orthodox and ultra orthodox Jewish faith.

Yakov Danishefsky:  Yeah. Yeah. And then I think for women, there’s kind of a potential parallel around modesty and dress within the Orthodox and ultra Orthodox community. I can’t speak to that as much. I don’t have as much experience working with that. It doesn’t seem to me to be as pervasive as the trauma from the Talmud study. But that might not be true. It might be as pervasive or if not more. But I think that’s the other kind of unique aspect to possible traumas. And then of course there’s all the other good traumas out there. But those are just two unique versions.

And yeah the other piece that I would point out as being, I think a nuance is spiritual bypassing. Which is not unique to Judaism. But there’s a form of it that will definitely exist within Judaism. So people will, who will kind of believe, have a faith everything, everything that happens is for the best it’s all from God it’s what’s meant to be. And or just engaging in spiritual practice and they can sometimes be doing that as a way of spiritual bypassing.

So they’re not bringing their spirituality into their healing that is extremely powerful and healthy. And I love that. And I love when clients are open to doing that. That’s to me, I never forced that on anyone, but when they’re open to that, that’s one of the most powerful experiences I find. And so bringing spirituality into the therapeutic process and into the real newness of life and of struggle. That’s beautiful. But sometimes people take that spirituality, not as bringing it into the healing, but as a way of not needing to heal, because I’m just able to divert, I’m able to bypass all my problems by, well, I have faith and it’s all from God and it’s all meant to be. And I don’t need to really, look at I’m so engrossed in Talmud study or prayer or charity or community work or whatever it is that I don’t need to look at the fact that my marriage is failing or the fact that I’m struggling with this and this because I’m doing all these, spiritual practices or I have this level of faith.

And I think, again, that kind of goes back to we need to know the nuances of when is it bypassing and when is it part of a healthy spirituality.

Cory Miller:  I was going to ask what that is, but I think you unpack that just now about spiritual and definitely relevant and other faith systems that I’m aware of for sure. And that’s a good point, like you were saying, trying to unpack a little bit of the pull out. I’m paraphrase of rephrasing in my own words, pull out and separate the issues a little bit and go, okay here it is. But this one is okay. Are we overlooking critical things for instance said to your…

One thing we didn’t talk about. Or I didn’t expand on that you mentioned we talked about, we come back and forth to inter intergenerational trauma. But the I put down here, the good enough am I as successful? I think that might be the word but as successful as the previous generation was. And it feels I’m just trying to, from my own, and it’s going, there’s something there that might be a little tick above what I’ve seen in other people, but talk to me more about that, that the success, like, yeah, we’ve heard of this, the greatest generation, and I hear that too, but I get it. Like the people have been through horrific things, survive, resilient, and done amazing things with their lives, despite all of the horrific tragedy in their lives. Can you talk to me a little bit more about that and unpack that from your own experience?

Yakov Danishefsky:  Yeah. And I would say in addition to the intergenerational piece, again, just sticking with more of the here and now There’s the Orthodox community just has such high standards and expectations. Pretty much all the kids are going through a dual curriculum, so they’re taking Judaic and general studies. So they’re in school for a really long day and getting home with dual curriculum in school, which means double the homework. And so already for kids, there’s just such there’s a lot of high expectations. And then whether it’s in Talmud study or it’s career or it’s financial, to live a Orthodox lifestyle is very expensive. You typically are living in a specific community because it’s walking distance to a synagogue. And so the housing rates in those communities they jump up way high. Kosher food costs a lot of money.

Everyone is sending to a private school which costs a lot of money and people have a lot of kids. The expectation is to have a lot of children. And so, you need to have a career where you’re going to be making a lot of money. And you need to do that while also raising a large family while also Orthodox men are expected to pray in synagogue with a group three times a day. As well as continue their Talmud study and keep, all these holidays and rituals and practice and all this different stuff.

And then, and I’m by no means putting the women are pressurized. Tremendously in terms of expectations also. So there’s just super high expectations and I don’t mean to make it all sound bad. It’s that a lot of it’s beautiful and amazing. But there’s just, if we boil it down, there’s just really high expectations, really high pressure. And pressure to be something pressured to do something in one way or another. Whether it’s because you’re going to be the philanthropist or the charitable one to the private school or to the synagogue or to the communal organization and the nonprofit, whatever it is, or because you’re going to be the great tourist scholar or because you’re going to, have the family that everyone goes to for when they need help with something or… There’s expectation of a tremendous amount.

Life is incredibly busy and exhausting for your average Orthodox lifestyle. In a way that’s when lived in a healthy way, it’s an exhausting that’s meaningful. So it’s an exhausting that is passionate and inspired. And the exhaustion is actually like, yeah, I’m exhausted because I just lived an amazingly significant day.

But also can I just be, and can I not be pressured and do I not have to do something amazing? Can I just can I just accept myself. And can I believe that, yes God loved is proud of me doing all these things, but he also just loves me for me. And I’m created in God’s image and period, that’s it. And I’m unconditionally loved and endlessly loved and no matter what I’ve done, no matter what I don’t fit into in the system. And so these are, I think some of the really significant pieces that come up when we talk about standards is that unconditional self-acceptance and self-love. And how does that fit into the amount of pressure and expectation and standards that the community and that the faith kind of places within the within a person’s orbit.

Cory Miller:  I was just on a session with my counselor yesterday. And first thing she asks. She always comes back to self care. Yeah. And it’s the one I’m like, really? You have to ask me because no, I’m not eating. I’m not drinking water all day. I’m not exercising… those kinds of things. But in your experience too, how does that with all of these things that someone could be juggling. Like just thinking about that. I’ve got kids two, eight and six, and they’re not juggling simultaneous curriculum and things, but like, so where, how about self care?

Yakov Danishefsky:  Yeah, I would say in my opinion I think this is like maybe the biggest kind of pervasive issue is how do we balance the fact that there’s a real value and belief to these kind of expectations and standards of living in a very meaningful and inspired way and productive way. But at the same time, really living with self-acceptance and self-worth and how do we balance or live with the fact that God is, within the Jewish faith, God has given me all these rituals to do. But he also loves me, even if I don’t do them and he just loves me.

And how do we have that unconditional acceptance and unconditional love balanced with and they really are not contradictory, but people can think that they are. And I would say one of the most common pieces that I’m working through with people is that self-care and self-acceptance are when I bring those things up, like you just did they’re rejected. And they’re rejected in the name of religion. So, my Judaism doesn’t believe. Judaism wants me to work on myself and to grow and to become a better person and all that. And to do all these things and, people will even quote, like sources are rabbis in that, but really Judaism also believes that God loves you endlessly and unconditionally and that you have inherent worth. And that self care is important. And sources can always be taken out of context and manipulated and twisted into whatever we want to twist them into. We’ve been at texts from thousands of years ago can be twisted into anything. So, that, I think you, what you brought up, you really hit on one of the core. I think as a society, that’s not unique to the Jewish community, it’s just the way that it gets dressed up is Jewish community. But that is, that’s core to across the globe. That’s going on everywhere. That struggling to figure that paradox or that dialectic out is core to the human experience.

Cory Miller:  I can totally see that. So with the last couple of minutes we have well, first I want to say anything else that we have and talk that you’re like, I want to get this thing out. So I don’t waste any time and let you have that.

Yakov Danishefsky:  Thank you. No, I think that the kind of points that I had come in hoping to be able to articulate hopefully I’ve done. And I think we hit on some of the big ones.

Cory Miller:  Yeah, absolutely. Well, with the last couple of minutes, I want to just talk about trust. As a, that is absolutely critical in the therapeutic container, I think is how a service. But, so how, if I’m a therapist and I’m seeing an Orthodox Jew, for instance, or in my office is there anything that you might suggest to help with trust in that situation. I think we’ve covered some sensitivity, but I want to just kind of broadly ask the question is, I know that’s critical to the therapy.

Yakov Danishefsky:  I really, yeah. Again, I’m curious to know if other people would share this perspective. And people can fully feel that this shouldn’t be the case, but in my perspective, I think that what is the case, whether it should or shouldn’t be, I think the biggest barrier to trust is what’s going on politically. And the divide again, like I said before that the therapy world tends to be more politically progressive and the Orthodox world tends to be more politically conservative and the amount of shaming that goes on in both directions, I just think is the biggest barrier to trust. I think it’s, I think it’s huge. I don’t know how to address that. I don’t know what the answer is. But I think the answer is more tolerance, on both sides, but you know, that’s easy to say. But I think that really, there are some, like, specifics, you could talk about Orthodox men and women are not gonna… they typically won’t be shaking hands with someone from the opposite gender. Or pieces like that.

There’s some specific details, but I really think the biggest barrier is the political climate. I, yeah, I think, even just what’s going on right now in the middle east is there’s a lot, there’s a lot that is getting in the way of trust for, I think the Orthodox community with what is perceived to be a kind of anti Israel, anti Orthodox kind of, message that is that’s being heard. And sometimes some of that is the community kind of playing victim itself. And some of that is sometimes it is very real. It is very one sided or shaming. But whatever it is that I think is the biggest barrier to trust by far and away in terms of, if we’re talking about the relationship between the Orthodox community and the therapy community.

Cory Miller:  That’s a great nuance right there. I think I’m speaking as a non-clinician So it would seem to me we’d want to lower every barrier. And one of those is being open and understanding the people that you’re supporting are not going to share political. So, I don’t know any visit matchup on a present, even my lovely wife of 10 years. But I’ll try to keep this super minimum anyway, it is a unique climate and I know I was just talking with a colleague in my former I had a software company before this and she and her company are based in Israel and she goes, I don’t know if you’ve heard the news. And I was like, I feel like I’ve got my head in the ground and I haven’t. And now, but I understand there’s a lot going on and will continue to be in the country here and there. Yeah. Thank you for your time.

Yakov Danishefsky:  Thank you. It’s been really nice.

Cory Miller:  Would you mind sharing how we, how others can learn about you and your work in your practice and elsewhere on social media, if you’re on and all that. We’d love to share that with our audience here.

Yakov Danishefsky:  Yeah sure. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to do that. My website is So my practice is called Mind Body Therapy. If anyone wants to, I would love to talk more and you can definitely email me at And I’m not so much on social media, but I do have I’ll throw out there that I do have a small YouTube channel called Life Torah. So the word life, and then the word Torah. Which is the Hebrew word for Bible. And I will say that it is specifically it’s content that is Jewish content with psychotherapeutic ideas weaved into it. And it’s made for a Jewish audience and for an Orthodox audience. So I don’t translate all the terms that I use in Hebrew and I take for granted knowledge of some of the concepts and references. So I will put that out there. It’s not made to be accessible to everybody. It’s made specifically for a particular niche audience.

But if anyone’s curious, just by way of like, kind of getting a flavor of some of the kind of, I dunno, orthodoxy and psychotherapy stuff, you might be, they’re just short videos. You could check it out for whatever that’s worth.

Cory Miller:  I’m trying to find the link real quick to put in the chat here. I put in the chat, and we’ll have these in the show notes as well, but what is the channel name?

Yakov Danishefsky:  The channel. This is a Life Torah, one word, L I F E T O R A H.

Cory Miller:  That’s what I was doing wrong. Okay. I’ve got it.

Yakov Danishefsky:  It might not even have enough views to pop up

Cory Miller:  No that’s great. No. Excellent. Excellent. I’m going to put this in the chat too, and we’ll have it in the show notes for later. Thank you so much for your time today and being so willing to share your experiences, both for therapists and someone in this community we’re trying to help others and ourselves to serve and support better.

Yakov Danishefsky:  Thank you. I love this initiative. Really, really glad you guys are doing it. Thank you for letting me be a part of it.

Cory Miller:  I get to be a student. I get to do all this. Well, thank you, sir. You have a great week and thank you everybody for joining this again. Go check out. Yakov’s website at and it will have links to his YouTube channel. Thank you, sir. Have a great day.

Yakov Danishefsky:  Thanks Cory.
Managing Your Practice. Artesian. Chicago. Illinois

5 Ways Your Website Can Work Better for Your Practice

In this webinar replay, Cory Miller shares the most effective tips for utilizing your website to grow your practice in 2021. He has been building websites since 1999 and built a multi-million dollar software business helping web designers over 11 years.


Speaker: Cory Miller

All right. Welcome back to another webinar. I’m excited to talk about this today. This subject about how counselors therapists, commissions, mental health professionals can improve. Your website is to do more for you and your practice. I’m going to give you five ways and including a bonus tip at first.

Tell you a little bit about who I am and why I’m qualified to talk about this. My name is Cory Miller. I’m the founder of all and have a huge passion for mental health. I am not a clinician, so you’re the clinician. But part of my mission in life is to help you connect with the people that are hurting.

And and to do that better, we talked about one of the things I spent most of my entrepreneurial career doing, which is digital marketing. I had a software business. Started in 2008 grew to a multi-million dollar business and it was acquired in 2018. And in 2019, I left my company that actually built software for web designers to start our counselors.

And I’ve got a couple of other projects, but this is one of my big focuses. This is life, and I’m also married to a budding therapist. She, a wife, Lindsey just graduated from the university of Oklahoma and really needs to get her exam date on the counselor very soon. But she’s going to be working professionally in the industry.

I’m here to help people like you and her get found. Grow your practice prosper because I believe you’re doing such good work in the world and I want you to do well, too. So yeah, as we get started just a question who all already has a website, and if you could put that post those in the chat right below the video here, I just want to know, do you have an existing site?

If you want put a link in there to your chat. And if we have time at the end, I’ll go and look and give you insights and tips for how to make your website better. Okay. So first I like to dial in as much practical things that you can do right now to make your website better, to get more clients. To have the life that you want to leave lead.

Thanks, Brent. I’ll go check that out in a second. So the first way you can use a website is it needs to be prime and center stage for all your marketing efforts to oftentimes I think. And I know this you all are. You’ve went through so much schooling, so many supervision hours to having to do continuing education and credits you know, as well as juggle a business.

And oftentimes the website is the last thing on your mind, but, you know, it’s, you feel like it’s a necessity and obviously why you’re here today. But the website. And I built an e-commerce, it was software business, but e-commerce business. We did, we had an office, but we didn’t have a phone number.

I always bragged about that. We didn’t actually have a number. Everyone had to use our website. We were dependent if the website went down or if it wasn’t right, we didn’t make cells. And so I have lived this, but I’ll tell you for your practice, for those of you that are in private practice or have a group practice or wanting to start your practice.

Make your website. If you hear anything today, it’s make your website, the hub for everything you do first and foremost, it needs to be a marketing tool for you, a marketing asset for cheap, for you to help you get new clients in the door to serve them, to help them with their lives. And to. Make money to sustain your life and all of that.

So everything you do needs to point back to it too often, I talked to counselors and clinicians who think, well, I’ve got a website it’s called my psychology today listing. That’s great, but that’s an outpost. That’s not something you own. Just like a Facebook page. That’s great to have, but it should point back to the center of your universe for your practice in terms of marketing, which is your website, meaning a domain name you own that has some information about you and your work in the world.

Everything needs to come back to the website too often. We get that skewed and I know it’s tempting to think about social and, Oh, has this great clinician has a hundreds of thousands of people on Instagram, but. At the end of the day, Instagram can change their algorithms, Facebook, whatever else, psychology to could, they could switch whatever they’re wanting to do.

And you want something that you own versus renting. You’re renting over there and it’s a no cost for some of the social profiles. But. Your website is something you can control. And I want you to have max flexibility with that too, but all those things should help you pull people into your stratosphere, but they should point back to your website where you control it and you can do all the things I’m gonna talk to you about today.

Okay. So, thanks here and I’ll get back I’ll get back to your question in just a minute. Okay. So first is this it’s just a philosophy is website is your hub okay for building your practice and most all of the things we’re talking about today are cheap or easy, free ways. You can get new clients into your practice.

But the second that I talked to you and I’ve reviewed a bunch dozens of word PR of a therapist and clinic clinical websites. And the first is, and I know this is, could feel weird to you as a therapist, but your ideal client to think through. And if you’ve been in practice for a number of years, think through, look back and go who do I typically.

Has drawn to my practice or who do I love like serving every single day. And then think through the modalities. Now we know them as modalities. Our clients don’t necessarily think of them as modalities, but they’re ways to work with our clients and think about those things that you use on a regular basis too, for a second.

And the types of treatment. Options and modalities use that you tend to kind of come to more often, like cognitive behavioral therapy, for instance all the EMDR, whatever those things are, just look at your practice kind of glance back in your mind, anecdotally and go, okay. I tip. Typically serve senior adults.

I’ve talked to a clinician. He actually works with senior adults who are home-bound. So that’s great. That’s an ideal type client of someone we can get a frame of mind of who typically is attracted. To our practice and we’re attracted to them to serve them and support them. The modalities are key for just a minute, because I want you to think about that.

You might have a Medallia, you tend to use all the time, CBT, whatever it is out there. And what I want you to think about is the common themes, because we’re going to translate that. To our website, because those, the people that are most attracted to your practice are the ones you want to, when they see your side to go, this person, this clinician is speaking to me.

This person can help me. Okay. That’s why we start with the ideal client. So that’s number two, getting you thinking about the ideal client. If you have some thoughts already put those into the chat so we can come back to those because I want to use some of the live examples that you might have. So right now, Brent, Carrie, Aaron, as you think you’ve already posted in the chat, what sticks out to you?

And you might say, Hey, Corey I want to serve all people. Cool. That’s good. I like, I’m so happy for that. But there probably is a type of person, demographics, whatever it is that typically is drawn to. What if you say. Anxiety. I love to help people, the anxiety clients come in and I can really work through that with them and I make, and they see great results afterward.

Afterwards. Think of those things. Put that down there. Thank you, Melanie. Okay. So Melanie trauma, EMDR, chronic pain somatic work. Okay. So that’s around trauma deep hurt. I’m curious, not only do you work with a lot of those who are suffering from substance abuse or other addictions, it’s it. Oh, okay.

Okay. Okay. So with these modalities, you said no. Who does somebody stick out to? You? Like a type of person that is attracted to your practice and Carrie, thanks for this. Okay. So Carrie’s got three ones, college students, couples infidelity. Okay. Let’s start with couples in infidelity for a second. So I’m going to guess you might be LMF T or have some focus with maybe couples.

I don’t know. Our presupposes on you there. Couple, some infidelity. Let’s say you go, okay. I do talk to her a lot and that’s what I help. Now. You want to be careful how you message that, but just knowing those things you said to call students to I’m going to guess couples are able to pay. A little bit more.

I don’t know where the college students factoring in. If you’re working, if you happen to be by a university or something, but if we stick with couples for a second, that’s great. Now we can talk about these or, you know, I work with all ranges, diverse people, but I really help couples and. College to, you know, those could be buckets on your website that you talk about those particular groups on your website.

So this is great stuff. You’re talking, you’re giving me good information and appreciate that because I want to help you message better reach those prospective clients for your business. But anyway, back to you, Melanie, for a second, we’re going to talk in a second about. Modalities and how to translate like EMDR and somatic work, what those things mean so that when somebody is suffering from something that these modalities help, you can give them the easy translation or the easier translation for what that really does.

Okay. So that’s great. Let’s keep this in mind that our ideal client and some of the modalities we typically use or tend to use more than others. Okay. The next is the third is the key. These are the key areas of your site. Every therapist, website needs to have these. Key pages and it, but it can be in a one page, just a one page website, but here are the key stages that you need to have.

And we’re going to shift perspective in a second. We’re going to think of like client, not like a clinician, but I want to set the stage with these key pages on your homepage, that when they hit the page, you’re going to get an, a meshed. If you’re building your own site and your own, you know, head like I do, sometimes she needed to think about what if my mom who had.

We don’t treat our failure and everything, but what if my mom came to a website, what would she want to know? Or my son or somebody, a friend. And they go to the site. They want to know, think about what they want to know, who is the person that can help me. Right. Where I know in the United States in particular you have re state licensing, and sometimes you have reciprocity between States, but typically when I say where you work, it’s probably in a city, right?

That you draw the most of your pay, your clients. So for instance, in Oklahoma city, I might say if you’re based in Oklahoma city, I go, well, there’s suburbs, there’s Mustang, Yukon, admin, Norman even Shawnee out here. Okay. Which one do you typically serve? Even more? That’s going to be a key, not necessarily for a prospective client, but those searching.

I’ll talk about Google in a second. That type in. Therapist and to Google, we want them to find you, and if they’re in living in those areas easily, and then how you help, that’s where the modalities come into. You know, it’s not just saying CBT. EMDR it’s saying I help people through. And that’s where you answer the layman’s term.

So your about page is where, so we talked about home page. Now it’s about page, about pages, where you talk about you, your passion, your calling for what you do in the world, your education, if you have books or other achievements, the about pages where you say. I’m an authority in this field. And this is also a way to show that you’re human.

So a picture on your site throughout your site. Wow. I remember reviewing a clinic clinician set, and I said I had to really dig to find a photo of you. Now I get, there may be reasons that you do not want to put your photo front and center. But to me, when I’m talking to a counselor, I want to see who the person is.

And I want to know there’s a human. Beyond the text. Okay. So that’s primarily your about page, but I would say you want to have your pitch picture of you, your office. If you’re in a group practice prominent on your site, so they know there’s humans on the other side of this services is where you talk about the modalities and treatment options that you offer.

FAQ’s we’re going to talk about this in a second. This is where you put all those common questions you get asked over and over. Do I take insurance? Do I work with. You know, whatever specialty particular, mental health issue content and directions, we want to make it easy for people to contact you and find you.

I realize we’re talking in the era in a pandemic and COVID right now, but I’ll tell you why having an office. Is really important right now in just a second. And it has more to do with marketing than should I have an officer not ongoing, I’ve heard, I’ve talked to clinicians who are considering giving up their lease.

That’s your decision to make before you do it? I want to tell you one thing about that contact is just simply. It could have things like your hours of operation when you take clients if you are seeing clients in person where you park, how you get into the building all the things you could think of, but typically directions to directions.

I’m going to come back again. It’s going to, this is a marketing thing that talks to Google that we’re going to come back and talk about this and why that is important, not just to make it easy for the client, but also to talk to Google. And then another, a basic website is client resources. Invariably, you’re going to have intake forms things that you exercises things that you might say it’s on my website.

I’ll send you a link after the session to this. That’s another area we can put those type of client resources. So that is the basic key areas of the site. And that’s number three. The next is extremely important. I know you have been through hours and years of training, and then you have ongoing train to partake to make sure your craft is always you’re on the cutting edge of science and good practice.

You’re talking about ethics and things like that. But too often you have all these advanced degrees, but we end up talking in jargon. This is not just clinicians. This is every industry on the face of the earth. We tend to talk about jargon, even me with digital marketing things. Sometimes I go SEO.

And depending on who I’m talking to, they might not know what it is. There’s a lot of just using industry jargon. I see this most with that modalities. That w that, you know, those backwards and forwards, even trained in them, certified in them have ongoing training with those, but your clients don’t. And every time you think to put a particular amount modality or treatment option, I want you to go, what is the.

What is this really do. Why do I use this and give a little bit of a definition? You might have clients that have been in therapy for years. Know what EMDR is. And I’m just using these because they’re on my brain right now, but CBT or whatever it is, and DBT, and they may understand that. But most people, particularly new clients.

Don’t assume they understand that they haven’t been through years of training. Like you have do it every single day, like you do. And so cut out the jargon. Now, if you say cognitive behavioral therapy, Prince CS, CBT, put an explainer text somewhere in there to says, aye. Tend to use this in therapy sessions often because, and put your reason and like you would explain it to your mom or dad or your kids or whoever else.

What, give me cut off the jargon and give me the simple explainer for what, how this would benefit. Why I would want to come to someone with that practices and uses EMDR or somatic therapy. We too often, and this is not just clinicians. Just assume that everybody knows that’s one way to cut down the barrier, because if you think about it, one of the reasons why I’m doing this work is I want to end help end and obliterate the stigma of mental health forever.

I want to be a part of that contribution in the world. So clients have fears, they’re already wrestling with things that we’re struggling with. And by the way, I see a counselor about every two weeks and have for six years. So I love the work that you do in the world, but make sure you kind of make that simple.

And I want to lower it when we talk about all these fears and the stigma or whatever might be. Hampering them from sending an email to you or making a phone call to you and booking that first session or the next session we want to, with our website, lower that bar and the friction as low as possible to make it easy to say, this person can help me and get connected to you in the healing that you can offer.

So make it easy for someone to become a client. That’s like, if you are in a three-story. Building and you’re on the third floor and suite a and sometimes people take a left and not a right that you have that information on your website that you’re given it’s new prospective clients. And it can be pointed back to your website.

That’s your hub. Your marketing and your information hub to help people lower the barrier to working with you. Okay. So here’s the key one. Think like a client on a condition for marketing purposes on your website is what are the most common questions you get? You know, one is you take insurance.

Two is how much you know, those typical things, do you help me? You know, whatever me, whoever me is how do you work? Whatever those common questions that you get, that you know, in your head, you’ve got three that just popped in your head. I bet you write those down in your notepad, like God or your digital notepad.

Write those down. Those need to be prominent on your website because we’re trying to lower the bar for someone to become a client. How do they book? So think like a client, just like you, when you’re going to a new store restaurant or you’re on vacation, the questions you might ask that your clients, your prospective clients have the same questions, lower the buyer, but making it so easy.

What fears of what they have. I picked up lunch for my wife and I today. Well, With the curbside thing, I would just give it a slight example. I sometimes never know where to park. I never know. Should I do I need to go in, do I have, you know, even though they might say it’s curbside, I always have those questions.

How do I let them know? Are they looking for me? All those things. If I’m that person, if I’m that restaurant in your case, the clinician, I would want those prominent on my website, take away and lower all those bars. So they have an amazing experience. One becoming a client of yours. And then second, this is your job doing the work.

So, how do they book a consultation? How do you work? How does therapy work? You know, whatever you want to say. And if you say Phil, you know, like you got to use those terms, talk there or whatever, just given say the term and say, which means this, so, okay. That is number four now. Kay. This is the biggie.

So we’ve talked about just using websites for marketing, lowering the bar, talking about your ideal client, where they see your site and they go, this person can help me. This person is serving who I am with the issues and struggles that I have. I want to hit the easy button, hit the contact form at the email, at the phone number and contact them for this.

But this one, now we get into geek land, which is my land. Okay. Optimize for Google. So if you’ve ever on your phone like me three times a week, probably I go, I need a plumber typing plumber into giggle. Okay. Google is a source of free traffic. Right now of the best or the hottest or the most ready buyers of any product can service.

If you’re typing something into Google red dress I was trying to look for a video screen earlier today, and a video screen that, you know, changed pictures. You put on your desk and stuff I’m in, I’m ready to buy. If you think about that, think about all those things you look type in plumber into Google.

You probably your water heater broke, you know, or you have a mess coming in the kitchen or the, whatever the same said if someone types in and there’s probably likely in your area. I think Erin said he was in Boulder tapping in therapist, typing in whatever. On the other side, they’re looking at, you know, back to your ideal client, they’re looking for you.

Those are the buyers we want to prospective clients. Excuse me. We want to capture. To your website and how we do that as called the biggest thing for clinicians. Solar protection practitioners in particular and also group practices is a concept called local SEO search. SEO stands for search engine optimization.

We want your website to be talking to giggle and sharing key data. When someone is looking for therapists, Google knows they’re sitting in, I’m sitting in Oklahoma city. Okay. We want that linked up to your website. And another thing I’m going to talk to you about in just a second called Google, my business.

Now talk to you about, if you have an office now Google my business. You need to have a Google, my business profile and all counselors. We can do both Google my business for you and your website by the way. But I want to tell you the benefits it’s when you type in plumber or therapist, if you do it right now, go do it right now on your phone or in your browser.

Type in therapists and see who see what pulls up in the map pack. You know, that the display somewhere along there, depending on where you’re at the, be a map pack and just have these three clinicians, like I’ve done that earlier today. There’ll be, I think there’s three clinicians within a reasonable radius of me.

We want you to be found there because likely the closest people to you in proximity are the people that historically before COVID for sure were the ones. That were most ready to become a client because they’re looking for you therapists. We want you to be found there. Two parts. This one is getting found in the map is called Google my business.

We have a service that does all that for you. But you can create a free account. If you actually Google, this is gonna be funny. Google my business. You’ll come on the page. You can sign up for free trial or not a free trial. It’s a free account to do all this. All you have to do is verify your address.

Typically Google will you’ll tap in your address. One 21, Northwest, whatever. Okay. Then Google will send you a postcard by mail to verify your address and that’s it to get the account. Now you want that profile to be optimized. And this is where local searches democratization. It’s just basically means people in your local area are searching for the services.

So people like. He in there, plumbers, electricians dog walkers therapists, counselors, all that, anybody that you go to is serving a local geographic region, which is typically most counselors and clinicians. I want you to be found on Google my business, and I want your site to reflect the same. This is where, when we talk back about ideal client, when I said, where, what areas are you serving?

I want to say, like, for instance, if I am actually in Oklahoma City, I might say I’m in North Oklahoma city. I might say I pull from Edmond, which is the North suburb. If I’m an admin, I want to start with Edmund, Oklahoma, and then start to look at local communities. Now I talked to a therapist in Brooklyn.

I said, I don’t know your region, but there’s likely. Neighborhoods and geographic ways that people search for those particular things. Primarily you want city, but you also want to take into account the nuances, you know, do people in Oklahoma City call it Northwest Oklahoma city or are you more in one of the suburbs?

And we want that listed both on your Google, my profile give you my business and your website because they are like Batman and Robin, they work together. One, two punch. Okay now next, and please ask some questions on a Brent. You’ve got one and I’m going to come back to it. Okay. Trisha, I’ll come back to Google my business.

You bet. I’ll give you a link in just one second and I’ll actually show it to you. This is my kind of bonus point, but your website needs to look great on mobile. So you build your website or you have somebody do it, and that’s what we do at all. Counselors. We want to take off the tech from you. So you do therapy.

We want to get you that flow of new customers, seeing your website, seeing you on Google my business. So you booked new appointments with people that are hurting out there, but this point is make sure website also looks good on mobile. There are a number of people that will just have a mobile phone and maybe even just an Android, right.

Found like, and you want your website? It’s called responsive web design to look good. On all devices that they could be searching for. And I put here, click the phone number. So when you go to a site and you’ve ever seen the phone, you just click it and it just pops up. Do you want to call it? That’s what you want.

You want them to have, see again, we’re lowering the bar, lessening the friction to push, call, leave a message. If you’re in the session and then you get back to them and book a session with them, make sure it’s good on mobile. Your website. Okay, so now we’ve got another 30 minutes. We can answer your questions and all that, but I want you to know all

We’re here for you. We’re getting ready to roll out our beta website packages, if you want to if you want us to help you with your websites, I’ve given you enough where you can do it yourself, but you say, Corey, I want to do therapy that you do the marketing. We’d love to help

If you go to the contact, you can book a free discovery session. We can talk about strategy and help you kind of put these pieces together. We can go through the ideal client exercise. We can start to help you what we do on our website packages that we’re going to roll out in the next two weeks.

Do it for you. There’s no go in, build it together and have to worry about all the build it. I mean, build it yourself has to worry about tech and marketing. We’re going to take all that off of you. And so hit us up and we’ll be sharing that in our newsletter. Very sane to roll that out. But if you’d like to be one of the first to be a part of that program, we’d love to have you at all. Okay, so I’m going to stop the recording so we can start getting to your questions, but let me just review real quick. Your website is your hub. It should be the center of the universe, the sun and everything. You do, social psychology today, whatever listings you have out there should point back to your website your emails, your business cards, everything.

Think about this. Another reason to have market your website as your hub is w how do people, other colleagues refer to you? I probably give you the website or a phone number, but we want them together. Website that has everything, how we work, all the questions, lower the bar, get someone just to call and book that I’m ready to book that appointment.

You, we are connect. We, you connect with what I’m suffering from struggling with, and I need you to help me. So I’ve decided is your hub think about the themes of your ideal client? Just look back in your practice and at really go, okay, this particular demographic is more attracted to my practice. This is who I also like to work with.

These are the types of things I like to work with them to help them heal. And those that clinics is so key because it needs to be infused on your website and everything you do. How you talk about your practice. I gave you the key areas of your website and about page a services, page, a FAQ page, contact page, client recess page.

Those are basic stuff for a client clinician website. Think like a client, not a clinician, meaning let’s just cut out the jargon. Try to answer all the questions you can for your prospective clients. So it lowers that bar optimized for Google. So you can Google. Google my business right here. Someone asked Tricia Google my business.

That’s how you get found in the map. Pap, you can set up an account where we can do it for you. And your website needs to reflect those things, which is who you are, where you serve, the reason we talked about and that you’re a licensed. Certified trainer, whatever licensed therapist or whatever people are looking for in Google for you.

And I gave you a bonus. One is make sure your website looks good on mobile, on all devices. All right. That’s my presentation. And I’m going to get to questions right now.
Managing Your Practice

Co-Creating Compassionate Spaces in Your Therapy Practice

In this recorded webinar Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan talks with Ani King about co-creating compassionate spaces in your therapy practice as a part of providing inclusive therapy to clients.

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan (she/her) is a licensed clinical-community psychologist, Executive Coach, People, Culture, and Systems consultant with more than three decades of experience in healing and leadership. Her company Freedom Flow Solutions, LLC focuses on reducing stress and promoting resilience at work, in community, and at home. She serves as Co-Chair of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Committee for the Co-Op School, an independent school serving pre-school-8th grade families. A professional performing artist and transformational coach, her areas of expertise include workplace stress and resilience, diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, trauma and recovery, leadership and management, professional growth and development. As a nonprofit leader, she assesses organizational culture and collaborates with diverse stakeholders to design, implement, and evaluate programs. Dr. Nicholson Sullivan brings an embodied compassionate approach to coaching leaders and their teams. She partners with them as they release white supremacy culture/high performing individual, team, and organizational strategies that lead to dehumanizing self and others, and embrace high achieving sustainable freedom practices that honor collective humanity with ease and effectiveness. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

Webinar Transcript

Speakers: Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan, Ani King

Ani King 0:06
Oh, they added a well notice there. But is that a voiceover? Yeah, that must be. That actually makes sense. Because for a variety of reasons, especially, I think, like accessibility reasons and so on to I bet that it gets picked up better by transcripting, and so on. And yeah, we’ve got about a minute before the hour starts.

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 0:33
I’m like renaming myself if that’s okay. Absolutely.

Ani King 0:36
I’m about to do the same thing, actually.

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 0:40
It’s very long. Let me do it this way, given the context. We will see, I guess for some folks, it’ll all show up.

Ani King 1:04
Just set this up. But I use this zoom for a variety of things. So you never know. So we are at the top of the hour, I’m going to kick us off while people are coming in, just so that we don’t lose any time. So folks, thank you so much for joining us today. I’m here with Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan. And we’re here to talk about co creating compassionate spaces for a variety of people. Real quick, I just want to mention that this webinar is sponsored by integrative Life Center that’s ILC and you can check them out at integrative Life they do a ton of great work with recovery spaces for folks in sex addiction and other areas. I again, I’m Ani King. I’m the Chief Operating Officer here at all counselors and extremely excited to bring another installation of our inclusive therapy series. And I’m very, very excited to be here with Dr. Nicholson Sullivan today. Would you mind telling us a little bit about you and your backgrounds?

Ani King 2:07
You know, and anything that you want to share about yourself with the audience?

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 2:13
Sure, and I will try to keep it short. My name is mo Nicholson Solomon and I am a licensed clinical community psychologist which there aren’t a lot of programs that that train us in clinical community anymore. What that means is that I am trained and understood to understand what’s happening intra, intrapersonally so our thoughts and emotions, our physical sensations, as well as understanding how the contexts we live in our relationships, our communities in organizations and businesses, our social political policies, our time and space, values and beliefs shape that and sort of this dynamic between the two.

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 2:59
I am the CEO of freedom flow solutions, we reduce stress and promote thriving at home and community and at work. And I personally, just to share that a bit. I grew up in a place called Deerfield, Illinois, the village of Deerfield. So I’m a Midwesterner, grew up in Deerfield. And I always tell folks, you know, because part of the conversation we’re having today, right is about social identities. I always tell folks, I went to more bar and Bat Mitzvahs than baptisms. Though I grew up in a family where we are our religious beliefs and practices were baptisms. I grew up as my sister and I were told we were the first black children to go to our public school. And we stayed in Deerfield from the time I was in first grade till I graduated high school. So I grew up the whole time. By the time I got to go to high school, I was one of three black children in a class of 300. And I left your field high school and went to Howard University.

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 4:00
Now, there’s been a saying that, you know, if a bison will always know, let you know that they’re bison. And you know, with our vice president Kamala Harris, there’s no way like now more people know about my alma mater and people I was asked once on what’s the most life changing experience that I had, and I and I always say, you know, I went to Howard University and got my entire life. That’s where I met my partner, and have very, very close friends. From there. So I went to went to Howard. And, you know, what I bring to my practice, is that experience of being in these different contexts and sort of, what does it mean to be in community? What’s the impact of when you don’t feel so included? Or you don’t feel or you’re included? Right? There’s this distinction being made between equity, inclusion and belonging, you’re included, but you don’t necessarily feel like you belong? And sort of how do we start to co create, I’ve always been fascinated with organizations that really lean in to create experiences are co creating experiences where people feel seen really seen heard. And one of and this quote from Freud actually has become more recently, which is all how bold one becomes when they know that they are loved. And so when I, when it’s outside of family and relationships, right, we get a little funky about that word love. But in some other context, it means directed attention, it means seen and heard. So Oh, how bold what risks we take, what joy we get to have when we understand fundamentally, somebody who’s got our back that we’re saying that we’re heard that we’re accepted, fully for who we are. And so that’s always been an I’ve had a lot of fun. Now, I have a theatre arts background, I have a contemplative mindfulness of ancient wisdom practices passed through all generations, through generations and multiple cultures background and so I bring all of that, to co create experiences with people.

Ani King 6:01
That sounds amazing. And it’s funny because, uh, thinking about, like, That’s such a great quote from Freud and I have such mixed feelings about Freud and so many things.

Ani King 6:13
Right? You know, that idea of like, especially in a therapeutic space, how that sense of belonging is so absolutely important. For me, it manifests a lot as being a queer person. And, you know, looking for somebody when I was finding a therapist, where I didn’t have to explain what it meant to be, you know, queer in my own context. And then being able to talk with my therapist about those deeper level things, instead of doing that labor of educating somebody about here’s who I am. And here’s why it’s important. And here are the ways that you can be most respectful of me. But instead, being able to know I’m in my space. So I would, I love that quote. And I love the way you talk about just that experience of love and joy when you know that you’re supported even know where you’re supposed to be.

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 7:00
Mm hmm. Absolutely. And right, I have mixed feelings about Freud too. And honestly, the whole discipline of psychology, my primary, it’s my primary, professional, and profession. I’ve looked to leave at many times, I always say, you know, if I if I had another career would have been being a lounge singer on a cruise ship, because I love to travel. And then of course, la pandemia, the pet you write these pandemics really shift that as an option. Oh, yeah, like my avoided fantasies. But this piece around, you know, what I’ll also say is it right, like, when we have these experiences, where we don’t feel belong, you know, there’s a lot of languaging, and psychology, and quite frankly, frankly, in all of the healing disciplines, I was gonna say, mental health, but it’s really all of the healing disciplines, that actually undermines belonging actually invites us into hierarchical relationships where one of us is the expert, right? And the other, you know, isn’t. And this, this piece of collaboration is such a huge piece of that conversation. And most of us, there are two things that happen, most of us are trained to think individually, and not about individual or ecological psychologists is sometimes what’s called what you just named queer in my context, right, like this piece of, there’s me as an individual. And then there’s the context, a lot of us aren’t necessarily haven’t had those opportunities, where we’ve had to be very intentional about seeking opportunities to learn about, like, how context shapes our, our development, and then we also often are trained to see it through problem focused, also trained to see it as hierarchical, and all of those things don’t necessarily serve us. Well. That

Ani King 9:04
That makes a lot of sense. I think, I’m really curious in terms of the issue of hierarchy, you know, when you’re collaborating to build these spaces with like, with your client, and also assume with other people just in general, because, you know, no spaces, always an individual space, you know, how do you, I guess, kind of just approach that from the start?

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 9:27
Sure. So you know, it takes practice. One is that I’m going to share a few imagery images for this. You know, my, my client these days is actually organizations. And part of the reason for that is because in my experience as faculty in different programs, and in my experience as a therapist, and you know, for about seven years a little bit more than seven years, about 10 years of my career, I worked with torture survivors. And asylum seekers, right who were coming to the United States Seeking Safety from all over the world. And I noticed that my colleagues across the country in programs that are working with refugees and asylum seekers often talked about, like, people assume it’s hearing the torture narratives, that’s the hardest part of the job. And that certainly has an impact. But honestly, it’s my relationship with our co workers. That is a lot more, a lot more challenging. And so how do we, you know, do that and, and, and that space, and I spend a lot of my time in that space, working with our clients who identify as LGBTQ, and we’re seeking safety in the United States because of that social identity. And that, that the nature of being persecuted by their government, that requires a lens that is beyond the individual. So I think one place to start is with its with, you know, when we’re talking, it does come into this space of social justice. And I think visually, sometimes it’s much easier to get it when we see it visually. Right. So some folks, some of these terms, or even these images, you may have seen something like that there’s a very popular image that actually is problematic, because the people aren’t the same size. Yeah. The graphic designer I worked with had to be very intentional about like the same size, there’s also sort of this eraser that shows up in a lot of imagery. So right, so in any quality is you’ve got this system, right, which is the fence. And there are people who like the system is designed to support them and give them a bigger view and wider perspective. And they’re getting resources to support them in that. And then equality is you give people the same resources, but you haven’t shifted the system. And in equity, you actually customize resources, so that each person gets what they need. And equity is also about power and power dynamics. Like when I say that, I don’t mean the innate power that all of us come into this life with with this breath we breathe. So that’s another thing that is fundamental. And I’ll get to that in just a moment. But equity is, and this is often what is really helpful as a therapist, whether we’re working with individuals, whether we’re working with families and couples, children or adults, this notion of equity, that there is a power dynamic that is embedded in all of our systems from the way we do insurance to the diagnosis to you know, if you have a child, matriculating through public or private schools in this country, you know, I remember seeking services for my my son, and even though I am a licensed psychologist, first of all, what I navigated as a psychologist in that context, was it there was an inequity, right, because of my identity as parent because of my identity as a black woman. And so I had people, like I literally had somebody in the first meeting from the school asked me if I understood what a diagnosis was, and this is 15 years,

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 13:28
my husband had to put his hand on my knee to keep me grounded, you know, just kind of popping up out my body Bible strategies, right? So Oh, man peace around really understanding that with these titles licensed clinical social worker, right. With the Si, si a DC, you know, what I’m saying? We’re all of these titles, there is a inherent, there’s a system that is designed to give us more power, and access. It’s really privilege. And so it is our responsibility to understand that from the get right. And then to be in like, so in this diagram, we would be right this. This, I don’t know if you can see my pointer, but we will be using the shorter ladder side, right. And our clients may or may not be here, right. And depending on the context, it ships, right, because in the context of their lives, in the context of their communities, our clients are on this left side of the image. And we are actually on this, this this right side, we’re really more resources to be able to see and understand parts of this context or have access to resources. Right. And then in the Justice mindset, it this is when we’re really talking about being in the question of how do we shift the system? Yeah, yeah. So this is just like one of the first places in my opinion to start is understanding equity understanding Justice. And then it starts to invite us to ask questions like, how do I use my power? How do I use my privilege, right? And remembering that we all so here comes to compassion? Starting with compassion. I know you’re trying to ask another question like No, not at all.

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 15:15
The other piece of this is, because this second word, and I know I’ve used it already, but I’ll get there. So if we have a brain, we have bias. If we have a brain, we have bias. I think so much. So many of us. It’s not malicious. It’s conditioned as jasleen said, doula says it’s not malicious, it’s conditioned, we are conditioned by the contexts that we live in. And I might show you that image later. To have bias, that is the way our brains work. And we are also conditioned to criticize ourselves and others. And, and, and to be incredibly mean. The value of the critique, and again, I would argue, the more time you’ve spent in academic spaces, the meaner you are to yourself, the more critical that background noises, right, the more biases we have towards particular models or ways of seeing trauma or ways of seeing complex trauma, or whatever the word is, right? We’re, if we have a brain, we have bias, if we have breath, we have power. If we have breath, in our bodies, we have power. So one of the ways that we’ve been conditioned, and I think this is endemic, again, I keep coming back to trauma, because that’s kind of like by my home that’s like my specialty area. We are, we’ve been conditioned to think that these external experiences that have happened to us things that have happened outside of us have taken away our innate capacity to choose our agency. Right? And we’ve forgotten that no matter what is happening external to us, we always get to choose, right, if even if we think about our healthcare system, or a mental health care system, a lot of folks it’s a surprise to them. When I think from that equity and justice lens, and I say, you know, you can go schedule a couple of phone calls. More, right, you’d like you get to choose, you don’t have to stay with a provider. That’s not a good fit for you. And you don’t even have to explain no complaining or explain just huh. Yeah, no. respectful past always an option, right? Because most of us have been conditioned. That that’s resistance. Okay, call what you Well, I’m out, you know what I mean? Like, yeah, but the conditioning of the system is to forget, is to get that choice.

Ani King 17:58
And that’s a, in a support group that I attend, we were talking about there somebody asking, you know, hey, this person that I started seeing is the only therapist that I’ve been able to find in my area who takes my insurance or this or that, but they won’t use my pronouns. And they tell me that I’m too focused on that. And so it was a lot of us being like, yeah, that’s not the right therapist for you, and you should find somebody else. And then kind of helping understanding like, it can feel like you only have this one option, especially when you really are looking for help. And maybe it was a lot of effort to find that help. But if that’s not help, then you don’t have to stay. You don’t have to sit there. You don’t have to be re traumatized and other ways on a weekly basis to try and get help with something else.

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 18:49
Yes, exactly. Because that’s what happens in these contexts. Right? That is that that that we are conditioned out of remembering that our clients and ourselves always get to choose, you know, if I go back to my upbringing, I’m not I’m not the Christian, my mama raised me to B. But I spent, you know, I spent my summers with my grandparents and my, my grandparents were, you know, the of the generation that migrated? You know, from the south to the north, and we’re in the Baptist Church. And then we became part of the AMA church, because it was the closest church that had black people in it. And there’s a song though, right? Like this, this joy that I have the world didn’t give it to me. Yeah, love that I have the world and give it to me. Write this piece that I have the world and give it to me. The world didn’t give it the world can’t take it away. Yeah. Right. And so this gets into another area that I just want to touch on a little bit like one of the things right that we both were like, you know something about the name Freud is blue like woo makes me I got a physical reaction to that. Part of it is because what became a psychology and psychiatry when it came into the American context, and sort of one of the things that’s happened over time is the sort of disconnection between disciplines. Mm hmm.

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 20:12
And sort of this, this, you know, I think we are actually in a time now where people are starting to understand that, that for some of us therapy, talk therapy EMDR is, is a path for others of us, it’s actually being in community, playing music and community doing theater in community, that’s our healing path. And that it, there’s also sort of this both and P. So that’s part of what part of where that choice comes in. Another part of where that choice comes in, when we talk about insurance is, it may take a little bit more effort. And there are resources, particularly in this season, where you know, virtual this virtual life ain’t going nowhere. Now, whether or not the licensing catches up with that I will not be on that soapbox is a different story. We shouldn’t have a whole other conversation about. And it’s it’s like, just being just having the mindset of I get to choose or creating space in ways big and small, to remind ourselves and our clients, you know, I asked you a question, for example. And then I can say, you know, and let’s remember, no is always an option. respectful past is always an option. That’s just like one of those subtle ways of reminding people you get to choose, but you can set a boundary even with me, right? I’ve been in this in a circle of women, black women born and raised in New York. And you know, New York culture, I had somebody once say, you know, New Yorkers are kind, they’re not nice. The rest of the country is nice, then that kind

Ani King 21:52
And we’re from the Midwest. So I feel like I feel that in my body that we’re polite, but we’re not necessarily kind, we’ll be like you okay? And if somebody says, Yes, we’ll just walk on. Instead of, you know, that, that kindness of Hey, I can tell that you’re not okay. Or I can tell that you need this. And so I’m just going to step in, and do what I can in this moment. And I might maybe lecture you a little bit or yell at you a little bit. Like, are you standing out here without shoes on and like here’s some damn shoes? Right, right. But it is that kind of that I think that Midwestern, but also the rest of the country that’s like, Oh, well, I don’t want to get involved or I don’t want to annoy somebody or I don’t want to do

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 22:35
right. It is a very external way of moving about. Thank you Ani because you just you just helped me understand some things. Right? It’s it’s we’re all we’re invited, like if our if our center is here, right, if we’re resting here, most of us have been conditioned to be here.

Ani King 22:53

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 22:54
And then we’re whipped around by the external. And it’s, this isn’t a critique, right? There’s no shame here. This is survival. Yeah. Right. Many of us, and I like to call them. So one word that that drives me crazy that if you use it, I just invite you to leave it right here today, we can have a ceremony for it is the word minority. It is inappropriate. I do not understand why it keeps showing up in major media outlets and like expert conversations. That is some BS. And I’m very proud of myself for saying it like that. Because the word minority inherently invokes small Yes, little less than n isn’t. It is a context issue. Right? So if we reflect back to what I said about growing up in Deerfield, I may have been met the criteria of quote unquote, minority, but then I step on how we’re University’s campus. And now what am I?

Ani King 23:52

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 23:53
I’m saying. So it is just one of the most dehumanizing and problematic words that I think continues to show up in this diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging space. Please let that go. Thank you. How are you? You’re, but then there’s right like this. And I’m trying to remember of why I got to that, but right, so it’s fine. Another word? Oh, here it is. Because I was talking about identities. So I use the I don’t, I don’t use the language marginalized, oppressed? Because there’s something about that languaging and minority that the other goes, don’t get me because there is there is a way that honors like, there’s the truth of enslaved people, for example, with my ancestors, the truth of First Nation, people in the eraser at the same time, right, but you hear with people who are of Asian descent, they this word, model minority, right, those are all incredibly problematic. So I prefer the language of resilient identities because for me, that language honors the path that my ancestors have walked including my ancestor who was kidnapped from continent of Africa with his sister traffic through the state of Virginia, sold to Mississippi bought land within four years of being a master of the Emancipation Proclamation. Right? So it includes that whole journey that that ancestor had. And that what it took for me to be sitting here with a PhD. You know, living in the limmat Bay land, Brooklyn, New York, you know what I’m saying? So I love the language of resilient identities under estimated identities, undervalued identities, over estimated identities, overvalue. So that’s another place is really being intentional about the language that we use. Because these, this is where you start getting into privilege. So bias comes with our brain power comes with our breath. privilege comes with context.

Ani King 25:49
Yeah. And I love that. You know, when you said resilient identity is like, that becomes a that’s a language about the person, not language, that is against the person, I don’t have great, like, you know what I mean, it’s not a great way of saying that, but using words like minority and this and that like that invites paternalism, that invites the idea that if you are not a part of a quote unquote, minority that then you are larger than you are, you know, I mean, which ties right into that that privilege, but that idea of instead of it being okay, looking at, you know, moving through that path of Okay, what is equality? What is equity? What is justice, it’s instead always kind of reaffirming the, okay, if I have certain privilege than I am bigger, I am larger, I am more important. I am more this and does not lend itself to even a conversation about justice, because it’s not that about the person and what they need. It’s still centered on. Okay, this is how I feel because I’m uncomfortable with not being centered in this conversation.

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 26:56
Yes. And it dehumanizes. Everybody, right? Because therein comes, disconnect therein comes, isolation, therein comes attaching myself, and in my self worth to this external stuff. Yeah. Right. Like what then what becomes of you when the titles that and as you know, we’re nobody cares what your title is, what your degrees are? Right? What becomes the

Ani King 27:25
I’ve worked in, you know, situations where people like, well, I don’t care about titles and like you might not because you don’t have to, but everybody who works for you who’s going to eventually maybe have to get another job or put a resume together, that has a real world impact on what they get to do next, how they are represented on that piece of paper. And if you are able to say, I don’t really care about titles, then that means you probably don’t have to do the resume song and dance that everybody else who works for you, right?

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 27:54
Check your privilege

Ani King 27:56
like I know you think that you’re being really cool. And like, I don’t care, everybody is awesome. Like, yes, but is everybody paid the same as you? Does everybody have the same ability to move through space that you do? And the answer is always No.

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 28:10
And that’s the equity question. Right? Like, if if you’re saying that there’s a there’s a, there’s a blindness that that for me brings up like, oh, there it is the equivalent to I don’t see color, you don’t see color, because you have to see, my title doesn’t matter. Because for you, that’s that’s it. That’s that equity thing. That’s that. Also in this setting? You’re the most powerful person up in here. Yeah, but your title actually matters a lot. And that starts to make me worry. Yeah, about whether or not you are in this question. I call this the Ben and Jerry’s. Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Yeah, a friend of mine does a lot of social justice work with organized with community organizers. She said they sit with the question, How do I use my privilege? So that it creates access? If I am denying and dismissing are blind to my privilege and not open to the I don’t know what I don’t know. That’s kind of dangerous. And it keeps me from being in this true question of how do I use my privilege? Like, let’s go, let me because the moment I asked them, I’m acknowledging that those fences, that fence is wonky, that fence is not equal. And then I really am setting again, it allows me to sit her myself, which makes it easier for me to pivot to move. And then to create space. Yeah, or co create space without denying my capacity to choose in that my capacity to choose and these jacked up systems actually has an impact. Everybody, yeah. And without dishonouring the dignity and humanity of people who have underestimated identities in the context, right. Yeah, absolutely. So the ways that this can show up, I’m going to stop my share and Make this a little bit easier for me to see the slides there. There’s, I’m trying to come back and see something. I’m going to do a practice because it’s, yeah, I’m going to do a practice because we’re halfway through. And this is like one of my favorite things. And it’s key to this relational piece of things. So I’m not going to attend so much to the context, I trust the people. If you are more curious about that, then there’s more, you know, there’s a lot of information out there about about that, I’m going to take a deeper dive into, into compassion.

Ani King 30:40
I’m, I’m excited that you are just from our preliminary conversation when we were, you know, talking about setting this up, and you were talking about, you know, the difference between empathy and compassion, and, like, moving along that that really resonated Justin that so I’m excited to see, you know, how that how that, you know, connects with folks who are watching either right now or later on, because I think that that was something that really clicked something into place for me. Hmm.

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 31:11
Great, thank you. And you said something earlier that I think also brings us right here, which is paternalism right? So there’s right like that paternalistic way of being is because so many of us have been conditioned into sympathy and empathy, as the way of being in relationship and particularly to being in relationship across difference. So what I’ll invite people now to do is to get something to draw with. So it could be, you know, some of the options I have on me are like a whiteboard, because remote schooling, so I got a whiteboard, and I got these dry, erase their markers, right, that’s an option. Maybe you’re a crayon person, maybe your paint person, I don’t know, if we have time to get that paint action fully on. Maybe you are a pencil and pen person, this is not a jury thing. I’m not showing my images, right? We’re not doing that. It’s for you. But I would and I would like for you to let me just be quiet for just a moment, give me a little time to gather your paper, something to draw on something to draw on.

Ani King 32:17
Sounds good. I’ve got my trusty pen and eternally folded piece of poorly printed on paper.

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 32:28
Great. And now I’m going to invite you to draw an image of the definition that is on the screen, we all have our own definitions of these words. I’m going I’m going this isn’t these definitions are intentional. So I’d like for you to draw an image that reflects the definition that I’m going to walk through which is on the screen. Okay. So when we’re talking about relating to people from a sympathetic stance, this is a natural response. If we look at other animals and animal kingdoms, we can see sympathy, right? It is feeling sad, or sorry, in the English language, it’s Oh, um, so usually it’s Oh, I’m so sorry. Right. And sometimes it’s not just what we say it’s our nonverbal, like, we all know that’s a part of being human too. Sometimes it’s our energy just like the vibe we admit. It’s hierarchical. And this hierarchy is that power privilege piece, right? So it’s, it’s there’s a there’s a hierarchical privilege thing that’s happening, and it’s based on it undermines collaboration, resilience and thriving, thriving difference being collaboration, right is with at work colleagues, I work with you, I don’t work for you, you don’t work for me. Resilience is the capacity to move through a thing. thriving is the capacity to move through. So the example would be like the pandemic resilience as I move through it, right. And I get back to my my level of functioning before the pandemic thriving is that I actually grow it’s like I used to say, COVID, I still say COVID is fertilizer, right? So thriving, is I’ve taken this, you know, roses, if you lean a little bit closer, as Andre 3000 says a little bit closer, it’s a little booboo.

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 34:08
That’s like that’s what thriving is right? In sympathy. And sympathetic stance undermines that, because the person who was who’s got this invoking this privilege difference is, isn’t is seeing the person as the sum of their pain. That’s all they’re saying about them, their oppression, their marginalization. They’re the ways in which they’ve been harmed because of their identity or the ways in which they’re vulnerable to harm. Right. And then that’s this is what invites that over responsible because I don’t even see your innate capacity to choose. I don’t even see your resilience. So like when I worked with asylum seekers, it was like, part of what I would say sometimes was like the fact that they’re sitting in the corner of Bellevue Hospital in New York City. And they started their journey like in Ukraine, right? in Gambia, the fact that they sit up in here and asylum seekers, or folks who come to the US, and it’s not because the US went somewhere and gave them resources, right, it’s they made away. So the fact that they’re sitting here means they got some resources that you might like, if I’m coming to them from sympathy, I don’t even recognize that they have resources individual or in their community, like, I’m gonna block their opportunity to even access resources or tap into that innate power that comes with the breath.

Ani King 35:34
That makes sense, that’s almost like assuming they just sort of teleported here. And now here are these like collection of problems to solve, and it doesn’t say, okay, there was a lot that had to happen for this person to get there. And they had to use a lot of their power, whether it was limited by someone else, or not to make those choices to plan for what they have planned for, and all of that effort. And like, that’s not a small thing. And to ignore, that really minimizes the person so much.

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 36:04
Yes. And it’s, you know, I heard you to bring it a little bit more home, I heard an interview recently that made me cringe on the radio, and they were talking to someone who grew up in the foster care system. And when they aged out, they were just put out the system, because that’s what happens in this country. Right. So when I think about that narrative, or survivors of abuse, or people who’ve been kicked out of their families, and had to create their own families because of their sexual orientation, or their gender identity, it’s, you know, it can sound like, right, and people not understanding the fact that I’m on the radio giving an interview. Yeah, God, I’m saying like what it took for me to be sitting in your office for therapy, after I’ve been human trafficked in the US. Yeah, right. Or after I have gotten sober, or I’m on my sober journey. The fact I’m sitting here means miss me, which

Ani King 37:10
I heard somebody once say that sympathy is like the Disney version of a feeling. And I never who or I would attribute but and I think it was just in conversation, but it takes the real story. And it makes it smaller, and it makes it less real and more palatable to people who have not had that experience because of more of a concern about whether or not they can consume the story, then concern for the person story itself.

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 37:40
Yes, yes. And sometimes it can also nurture that person not doing what they’re more than capable of doing for themselves. So it can undermine that. So draw a picture. drew my picture, if you haven’t already drew it, okay. So then we’re going to move on to empathy. Now, empathy is interpersonal skill, and particularly if you’re a licensed therapist, most of the programs that were trained in and this is why I start I have an affinity now for organizations is because some, like, we need to change the way folk are trained. Whether it is it as you’re getting our degree as we’re getting our degrees or for those continuing education units that many of us are required to do to maintain our license.

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 38:29
Right. So empathy usually gets centered. And honestly, in the context, diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, empathy, in my opinion, makes us vulnerable to microaggressions.

Ani King 38:42
That makes a lot of sense,

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 38:44
from our privilege Ani. And here’s why empathy is an interpersonal skill. It is it does require us so what you were saying was beautiful about like this Disney thing, because what’s underneath that in sympathy is you’re denying the experience, you’re not even really acknowledging what the person saying to you. So the skill and empathy is I hear you, right? And sometimes it’s a physiological resignation, like you can feel it and people talk about this, like there are people who step into a room and shift the energy like it’s electric. And there are other people who, who what they’ve been through is so in the way they navigate that they’ve forgotten they have choice so it may be incredibly heavy and I’m not trying to put this at an individual level right? I’m never never trying to excuse organizations and and relationships and context for the ways in which they perpetuate harm. I want to be incredibly clear about that.

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 39:35
So we acknowledge and name other people’s experience and I do think that’s what when we when we start to get tap into you know, Happy Pride and, and the narratives that become available and Tulsa and the narrative that becomes available, equips us to better acknowledge other people’s experience, right? Sometimes it’s what we feel in our body But here’s where we start to get in trouble with empathy. And empathy is really about trauma time travel. Mm hmm. We, the person shares their story. And we pop out because we’re extra specialists Midwesterners and our be niceness, we’re tracking what’s outside of us. And sometimes it’s a way to avoid what’s showing up inside of us. Right? It’s easier to rescue somebody then is to deal with my own stuff. And then we go time traveling. And then we speak from that place we’ve traveled to our bodies are physically here with the person, but we’re time traveling back. We cannot put ourselves in other people’s shoes dot period. I remember having a training and it was this module on the day that Kentucky decided to charge folks with property damage to the neighbor of Breonna Taylor, but not for taking Breonna Taylor’s life. And that’s what I got this right here, I cannot put myself in the shoes of Brianna Taylor’s family, it doesn’t matter how many identities we share, and what and then it becomes dangerous. Because there’s a couple of things that happen here. It’s fatiguing for the empathetic person, and you become vulnerable because you’re kind of reliving your own stuff to center in your own experience. Yes, that reminds me of the time bit when and here’s where the microaggression comes. Oh, that’s like, that’s like when I hold up, wait a minute. If you why, there’s nothing that’s coming out of my mouth that’s like that time when you as a white person, you are, you know, you know, if you are a there’s just nothing and if you don’t identify as white because there are some ethnicities where they were people are white body, but they don’t necessarily identify as white. And you typed in you anytime you are time traveling into your family’s trauma, there’s a way in which when you speak from that you are denying dismissing and minimizing my experience as a true picturing your own.

Ani King 42:09
I mean, even when somebody talks you through things like how to be empathetic, the whole exercise, at least in the experiences that I’ve had is about, okay, now picture, if something like this were to happen to you, or think of a time when x happened to you. And even for folks who are trying to be a little further ahead in that it’s the you know, and understand that it might not like ever relate. But it is still you are asking somebody when you were saying employ empathy, it is really at the heart of it saying, Okay, now center yourself so that you can understand this a bit.

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 42:44
Exactly, exactly. And this kind of blew up for me with a white colleague who I hired. And to do these trainings, this is one of the key modules in the training in my sort of standard program. And she quit. Hmm. And she, her identities were, you know, a white body race, and an ethnicity. And you know, I’ll say Italian, Irish, right? Like, an ethnicity that became white in the US to survive, right? And what she said was like, my people need to be empathetic. And then here came the microaggression, I have a friend who is black with a PhD, and when he’s running in New York, people don’t see that PhD, all they see is that he’s a black man. I’m sorry. I don’t know if any I know y’all just met me. But what you also know is that I’m black with a PhD. So here I am with a white woman. Right? What I will say is this, you we can have empathy at the, at the level of emotion. That’s when I think it’s appropriate.

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 44:00
Once you start to get into the storytelling, that’s when the microaggressions start to happen. And honestly, it’s a survival skill of fighting against the discomfort that the privileged person feels ashamed that they feel as somebody who has a different social identity is sharing the impact of having a not having privilege in that context, right. And so to manage my shame, I’m gonna say we’re all human. And I’m gonna come with that American melting pot mentality, instead of that Canadian Mosaic, which allows us each to be our own beautiful, delightful selves, and I’m gonna try to get you to melt then I’m gonna try to melt into you like, Huh, and then I say Dumb, dumb stuff. Or I shouldn’t say dumb stuff. It’s not malicious, it’s conditioned. I say something that causes harm and causes pain. Because I am actually, I’m not sitting. I’m not sitting with Ouch. I’m not sitting. Oof. I feel guilty. I’m not sitting with this is overwhelming and I don’t know what to do. I feel like I have to do something. And so then I got to show you, and we swap stories. The other thing that happens with empathy is, if I’m if even when I’m resonating any emotion, then it’s like, oh, yeah, I know what it’s like to feel sad. Oh, yeah, I know what it’s like to feel angry. Oh, yeah, I know what it’s like to feel hurt. But here we go. And this is all we’re doing. Right? Again, it’s not right or wrong, good or bad. It’s just in the context of cultivating inclusivity and belonging, it may cultivate inclusivity. Right? belonging, like, I won’t go through that. But like belonging, that sense of you seeing and hearing me isn’t necessarily cultivated. Right? Because

Ani King 45:53
it’s all you know, sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt. As this I wonder if I know that it is a longer conversation. But if you could give folks who are listening, an idea of what the difference between inclusivity and belonging are. And again, I know that that is a very long conversation. Oh,

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 46:10
it’s not it’s an I always mix up analogies and metaphors. So the one that I’ve heard that resonates with me the most is diversity is having different people in the room, right, inviting me to the party. equity is creating access, so I can actually get in. So you didn’t just invite me. But you gave me access, you don’t have any standard on some line having to drop names you don’t you know, you’ve created a ramp if if I have some mobility challenges, right, equity is access power access. Inclusion is you asked me to dance, belonging, you play my music? Yeah. So there are a lot of environments where there’s diversity, there may be some equity. There’s some inclusivity, right, you’re invited to the meeting, you are asked, you know, you’re there. belonging in that sort of meeting, or let me see if I can do a therapy analogy, right, like you are, you have a broad, you know, you have clients about different backgrounds, you’ve actually done some studying and practice in the space inclusion, you’re accessible, right? Whether it’s, you accept my insurance, or you are priced at a point, or you are located in a place where it’s easy for me to get to you. Inclusion is I’m not the only one. So that’s a little bit of overlap with the diversity. But inclusion is also like, you’re listening to me. So if I tell you that CBT is not my jam you, you have the capacity to provide something else. I’ll say that, and then belonging is you here. When I first started training, and this used to be called cultural competence, now we’ve moved more towards humility. And that no humiliation, but just humility, understanding that we don’t know what we don’t know, in the cultural competence framework. It was this is what black people do. This is what Jewish people to this is for Caribbean people do. Right? That’s inclusivity. But it’s not belonging. Belonging is this is what some black people do. What do you do black woman? Yeah. What have your families practices Do you want to carry with you? And what of them? are you liking? That ain’t my jam, that’s so much, right. That’s probably how it could get tailored, that’s off the top of my head, right? Like to a to a therapeutic relationship, you create space for curiosity and compassion, to really get an understanding of my lived experience. And it’s not about right, there’s like a Audrey Lorde quote about like, if I define myself for myself, right? I’m not defined by my relationship to you and your privilege. Yeah, right. I’m not I’m not, you know, non white, black. There is a subtle thing, but it’s different. You know, what I’m saying? That’s, that’s the distinction. And you also understand that because we as, as beautiful individuals are uniquely shaped by our unique contexts. And those contexts are dynamic. And we’re also shaping those contexts, that even if I have a twin, my lived experience is unique from their experience. Yeah. So draw this picture of empathy.

Ani King 49:43
And thank you for walking through that. I think that it’s helpful for people to kind of understand that distinction. And some of it I think, is the, you know, I was thinking about the difference between having a conversation with somebody who uses an acronym versus saying, so you as a black woman, how do you feel about that? Because I know that it is actually relational, to where you sit as a person, or instead of just saying so as somebody who is a part of the LGBTQ community, but being approached by somebody, especially for me in therapy, who says, okay, so as a non binary person or as a queer person, and who understands and has made that effort to understand that the language is important, and that an acronym is never a replacement for understanding how a person identifies themselves and acknowledging that whether it’s comfortable to start are not

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 50:37
right, and even acknowledging it, right? So there’s two pieces in there, one of it is the language and the other is the curiosity. And being open to the possibility that there’s something else is possible. But something else is here that I don’t know, something, right? Like just the curiosity and the creation of the space for something else, versus sort of like this closed piece of like, right, to your point of assuming that there’s this grocery route, or assuming that you’re going to be representative, right? That’s where you start. Again, that’s why I say empathy makes us real vulnerable to those microaggressions. Because they set us up to assume one that we can put ourselves into other people’s shoes, and to, to kind of come back to ourselves and center our, our experience and not listen and not be curious.

Ani King 51:32
Right? Absolutely. And I think the you, what you described is humility. That’s a really important piece. And I think you were the first person again, when we were talking about setting this up that I had to use her to use that and it really like it. I sat with that for a really long time. Because it made so much sense in a, okay, like this is that next, like, this is where you move towards, like maybe start with, okay, I’m trying to be empathetic. I’m a person who very like that vulnerable to fatigue, like absolutely, like when I try to practice empathy, it is a struggle not to immediately center myself, and then I get exhausted, because now I’m pulling my own feelings in my own traumas, or my own this into that, and I’m no longer present for the person who needs me, I am entirely within myself at that point,

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 52:23
all of that all of it, especially that time travel, I am no longer present. Right? Because I’m caught up in all of my stuff. Right? And, and therefore, I’m not present to what’s possible, when there’s so this is sympathy. This is like if I was right, yeah, this is empathy. And it’s really here. Right? This, let me talk about compassion. Did you draw your empathy I did. So compassion, right, there is this piece there is empathy, there is a place for that practice of noticing and attending to what shows up for you.

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 53:08
But it’s, it’s what I call the in the window of power. So in trauma world, we call it the window of tolerance, what I call as the window of power, and I’m that in the interest of time, I’m not going to go to this slide, but it’s when we’re in our window of power. There are different people have talked about this, this is an in positive psychology, mahali chicks, the mahali. Right calls it flow, right? When we’re in our window of power, we have this sense of physical and emotional safety, connection, belonging, and agency, again, the our capacity to choose, we’re more likely to give people the benefit of the doubt, we are able to be curious and creative, right? And it’s easy, and it’s dynamic, our contexts shape when our windows are open, and we feel all this access and flow. And when they start to close and for some of us if we’ve navigated a lot of trauma in our lives, or abuse or, or abuse of power and privilege, right? We we may kind of get stuck with our windows closed and sort of stuck in fighting, fighting against fleeing and avoiding freezing and numbing out over controlling under controlling acquiescing bracing and enduring that was my favorite bracing and enduring a freezing, right. And we forget that we get to thrive now I’m saying a whole lot in in all the big constand be unpacked. So let me just talk just a little bit more on this window power. My mama didn’t call it that she called again on her last nerve. So all y’all have some phrase similar to get know your last nerve that you know what the window of power is. Now when we are in a compassionate stance, we are in our window, we’re nowhere near our last nerve. Right? And we expand like when we time travel, we’re time traveling and we’re kind of using that as an opportunity to expand and return again to our window of power. It may be for some of us who would do contemplative practice. We put our feet on the floor, and we let our eyes fall on Windows and exits, right? It may be that we take a breath, we may have some of us, I have a client who has like, some personal items that when her eyes fall on it, or when she touches it, right, it helps ground her in the present moment or connect them to spirit, whatever your jam is for getting you into that window. This too is an external switch. So you are acknowledging your own, and you’re able to acknowledge the other person’s, but it’s not based on identification. So I come to the EIB with a human rights lens, because so much of this stuff is dehumanizing. And I come to it with the question of how are we behaving? How are we behaving with each other? Because when we’re truly from a compassionate space, and there’s a Lila Watson quote, that that really gets this, like, if you’ve come to save me, right, like, I’m gonna totally mess it up. But it’s like, I’m not interested in that go away. That’s that’s sympathy, right? That what gets in the way of a compassionate stance is the ways that we’ve been conditioned to in Olympics of suffering. The right I’m going to get to those slides a minute, but compassion is not based on on identification, compassion is, I am fully aware of my capacity to choose and your capacity to choose. And when you forget, I am able to remind you, so there’s a giving and receiving and there’s just an ease and effectiveness. I’m not getting fatigued, because I trust the you are more than capable. Right? Now, what that might sound like, is right for the individual level. It’s how am I feeling? What do I need? This is Christie Urban’s work, what can I do? Right? At the listening level, this is just some of the questions that you could ask, like, How are you feeling? And you could ask it, a lot of people have that beautiful mosaic wheel, you can have people stamp it out in this virtual life or start to name naming emotions is usually the first step of any healing practice naming physical sensations, because that’s the wisdom that restores our humanity, right to get about this cognitive life, on an expand, right, what do you need? Right? When moment I’m asking you, what do you need? That’s me inviting you to remember that, you know? And you know, better than me, how can you What can you do? Right? And then how can I support you?

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 57:28
So, in the visual for me on that empathy, we’re here, right? passion, you may be here, but I’m able to say, Oh, I see that you’re hurting. I see this is I can hear your pain, I can see your pain. And I see that your mother is here, I see that your best friend. Like is, is in your you were talking to your best friend. I see all the things you went through to be sitting in my office? Mm hmm. Yeah, that’s saying like, when we’re in a compassionate space, we have a greater capacity to name and recognize we’re not abandoning people, and we’re not victim blaming or saying solve your own issues. And in some ways, we are remembering and really taking on supporting people and remembering who they really are, that the world and give it to you the world can’t take it away. And I am here to remind you, and there may be some resources that in my privilege I have access to. So an example that I like to give is, when I worked at the at the program, you know, those are some of the more challenging experiences in the group because there was accountability that like my clients, were not gonna let me forget, right? Like they would hold me accountable. Get you get Joe ish together, you didn’t set a thing as problematic, right? So we were sitting there one day and the client who was leaving the group, because she said, Yeah, the time I spend here, which I’ll talk about your pain is time that I could be in this motorcycle club that I just learned about. So I’m out. And by the way, this program that’s for you know, I feel marginalized in a program for marginalized people. Yeah, that’s some that’s some feedback, right? I saw the feedback. And I said, Oh, ouch. Tell me more. Right? That’s me not getting on. Like, oh, I the empathetic response would have been like, Oh, I remember. You know, I as a black woman, I felt marginalized in spaces to know that’s empathy that ain’t doing that for her. And it’s not listening, really deep listening. She said, I feel Marvin marginalized in your program. Right.

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 59:37
So the compassionate response was Tell me more. Well, there’s nothing hanging on the wall that reflects my community. Well, I wasn’t doing it intentionally. At the time, I had the privilege of sitting on the leadership team of this program. So I went to the leadership team and I said, Hey, I got this feedback that folks in my my group feel marginalized and program for my blood flow. And the response I got was a defensive, sympathetic response. Well, those were gifts. Right? And they were very much like we rescue and save people mindset. And so I brought it back in my naivete, I would have checked it in the moment. I wasn’t there yet, in my journey. I said this, what they said, and don’t you know, the next meeting, the participant came in with the biggest rainbow flag I’ve ever seen. That’s right. But in that, how can I support you? I want to be want to be in the pride march in New York City. How can I support you get the resources to support? Like, what do you need? I want to be in I want to walk down that, that that street, I want to walk out that that I want to go to Stonewall, right? Like, how can I support you get get t shirts, so we can all be seen and recognized as one community when we walked out that and have 1000s of people? Right? Like, that’s what compassion looks and sounds like and let me be very clear, I mess this up all day and all night. But it’s helpful to have it’s easier, I think, to to have something to live into something to orient around. And these four questions, I think, are actually pretty simple to practice. How are you feeling with uni? Where can you do time? Oh, it’s three o’clock. And I will just put this up in there. The Olympics of suffering, minimizing Oh, the minute minimizing the your own experience denying your own experience, I can’t complain about my job, because there are people who don’t have jobs. I can’t complain about this experience. I had a microaggression because I know clients who are aggressed against different ways, right? It’s that dehumanizes yourself this comparison thing. And this whole thing, we’ve already talked about the paternalism so they’re sure I can’t handle my discomfort with

Ani King 1:01:48
Yeah, I can’t handle being uncomfortable. So I’m going to try and save you and then it is about me. It’s not really about trying to help somebody else. It’s about how do I not feel ? Excuse me? How do I not feel bad? How do I not feel less uncomfortable in my own self? And that’s then that’s not saving anybody? It’s just savior syndrome across the board.

Dr. Melba Nicholson Sullivan 1:02:10
Exactly. And most of us as therapists and counselors, this mindset is deeply rooted in our training. Go rescue save these poor people, we will sit we will, we will give you extra money to go live in certain communities and work with these poor children are these poor, right? Like all that is saved your central save yourself? Yeah, you get yourself What do I need? What can I do? Right? What? How am I feeling emotionally physically? What do I need? What can I do and the same? And when you The more you do that with yourself, the easier it is to do that with a client. What do How are you feeling emotionally? what’s shown up in your body? Is there constriction is that he, when you think about this, what can you do? Because with your breath comes the power to choose. And how can I support you? that honors the wisdom that sits in each and every seat and comes with the breath of life and it cultivates belonging, you see and hear me you’re creating the space to see and hear me?

Ani King 1:03:18
Absolutely. Folks, I just want to say thank you so much to Dr. Melba, Nicholson, Sullivan. This has been such a fantastic conversation. I’m going to pause the recording in a second. And we’ll chat for a minute but anyway, folks, if you have any questions that you think of feel free to email me on ani at all counselors dot com and feel free to come check us out at we have the series running all summer. So I would love to see as many people as possible to come and learn from folks like Dr. Nicholson Sullivan and the many other people who are helping us out. Thank you so much.
Managing Your Practice

Supporting Individuals Who Identify As Muslims

In this recorded webinar, Farah Hussain Baig, LCSW and Ani King discuss how therapists can better support Muslim clients.

Since 2016, Farah Hussain Baig, LCSW has been presenting, “The Muslim Identity: Understanding the Misunderstood,” a cultural competence workshop she developed in an effort to raise awareness of the intolerance and discrimination faced by individuals who identify as Muslim. Farah Hussain Baig is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and the founder of InnerVoice Psychotherapy & Consultation, a group psychotherapy practice with locations in Chicago and Skokie, Illinois. She has over 20 years of experience in the field of mental health and has been in private practice since 2007. Over the course of her career, Farah has worked with a number of challenging populations including individuals suffering with serious mental illness, children and families exposed to significant violence and trauma, as well as clients who struggle with drug, alcohol, and behavioral addictions. She has a particular interest in working with culturally diverse clientele, especially with those looking to develop a healthy bicultural identity. In 2019, Farah founded Encore Coaching & Consulting where she offers services such as workshops on diversity and inclusion, dating with intention and authenticity, sexual health as well as improving emotional intelligence. Farah is frequently asked to speak on mental health related topics and has been interviewed as a clinical expert for various publications and television programs. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Michigan and Master of Social Work degree, with honors, from the University of Illinois at Chicago. In 2021, Farah also completed the Sexual Health Certificate Program at the University of Michigan.

Webinar Transcript

Speakers: Farah Hussain Baig, Ani King

Ani King 0:09Oops. Hi, everyone. I am Annie King. I’m the CEO with all counselors calm. And I am really excited today to be talking with Farrah Baig, who is an lcsw w about the Muslim identity and some of the misconceptions and things that people may have, particularly when it’s in a therapeutic setting. So folks, as you’re coming in, just feel free to get comfortable. It’ll just be me and Farah on the screen today. If you have any questions at all, feel free to hit the raise hand or q&a button. And I’ll be sure to clip those questions. And we’ll answer some of them as we go. And we’ll answer some of them at the end of the conversation.

Ani King 1:01Before we get started and learn a little bit more about Farah just want to thank integrative Life Center or IOC, for being a sponsor for the series, integrative center light, integrative Life Center, excuse me, does a lot of really great work in recovery spaces. So if you want to learn more about what they do, that’s integrative Life Center calm. And again, I’m here with Firebase, who’s an lcsw W. She’s also the founder and CEO of inner voice psychotherapy and consultation. And she’s here again to talk to us about the Muslim identity and understanding the misunderstood. Far, I know that you’re going to talk about yourself a little bit later in the presentation. Before we get started, is there anything else you’d like to make sure that the audience knows about? You?

Farah Hussain Baig 1:48know, I mean, I’ll like he said, I’ll talk a little bit more later. So. So that

Ani King 1:56sounds great. So we are good to get started, then. And again, just a quick reminder, folks, if you have questions, just hit the chat button or hit the raise hand button, and I will collect those from.

Farah Hussain Baig 2:09Right. Thank you, Ronnie, I appreciate the introduction. And I’m so happy to be here. So happy to be asked to speak today on a topic that I feel very personally connected to, but obviously very passionate about as well. And I’m going to talk a little bit about myself in a few slides. But I created this presentation, I started creating it 2015 when the ISIS terrorist attacks were on the rise, there’s a lot of homophobia, there’s a lot of misinformation being talked about in mainstream media, and it boggles my mind how much how little about Islam. And when they would actually interview experts, they would never interview Muslims, because as we’ll talk about later, based in sort of colonialism and imperialism, you know, white experts are more adept at speaking about Muslims, and Muslims are themselves. So after getting increasingly frustrated about it, I put together this presentation, I hope that it’s a lot of information. I’m used to doing it in three hours. So we’ll do what we can in one. Alright, let’s get started. So first of all, the Arabic calligraphy I’m in love with, I think it’s beautiful. So I have it included here. And this here says Bismillah here if men are mean, which means in the Name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful. And this is something that we say, before we start, do anything you can say before you even say before you start work.

Ani King 3:55It’s just this acknowledgement of the greatness of God says really beautiful.

Farah Hussain Baig 4:02Thank you. I said Mr. laico, which means peace be upon you. So anytime you see somebody, you’re creating them peace. And the response is why they come. I said, I’m so and also to you. Here is this again, this minute here. Mandera heme in the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Um, I have Arabic art all over my house. I absolutely love it. And I include it here. Because because Islam of Islamophobia has made every element even the most beautiful about Islam ugly. And you’ll see, you know, I have some images that I’ll show later from scenes from movies and television shows from the scary Middle East where there’s Arabic graffiti on the walls, and it’s meant to incite fear in the people who are watching these television shows. And these movies and So I’m here to sort of show you that it’s beautiful, and it has nothing to do with the ugliness that the media puts on it.

So who are Muslims? And why are we talking about them? There are and this number is a little bit old. But there are almost 2 billion Muslims around the, around the world, and 3.3 5 million Muslims in the United States. And it’s the second largest religion in the world, yet, it’s so incredibly misunderstood by both non Muslims and Muslims alike. There are so many countries that have Muslims living in when you think about around the world, and I think I have a graphic as well. Coming up. Among all of the countries and all of the regions, there are so many different countries and area countryside in urban areas. So people are experiencing this religion, this vast, deep religion, a very different.

Farah Hussain Baig 6:02So there might be some tribal influences, and one part of the world that interprets Islam one way, and then another area of the world that interprets it differently based on their culture and their family. And so what we’re going to be talking about today is very basic tenets that no matter where you are in the world, Muslims agree upon. So sama phobia and discrimination and hate crimes, we’re gonna be talking about that as well. And so much of the Islamophobia and discrimination actually limits rights and freedoms of citizens and people around the world. 15 to 25% of Muslims report anxiety, and issues with mood, they report marriage issues, bullying is a huge problem in the schools and one in four incidents are actually done by teachers, which seems really hard to believe. And, and with regard to discrimination, the average prison sentence of Muslims is actually four times higher, because they’re because they’re actually Muslim. And there’s, there’s a lot of research out there, where they have this in there, and it talks about it, it basically illustrates for us the bias that there is in in law enforcement.

Farah Hussain Baig 7:31So here are some basic objectives of what we’re going to be talking about today, we’re going to try to increase the awareness by exploring the basic tenants of Islamic jurisprudence as it relates to identity development and to the front stereotypes and misconceptions, discussed groin discrimination and complex trauma experienced by varying Muslim communities, and explore cultural bias and the role of clinicians personal attitudes and beliefs that they play in providing ethical treatment. You know, I tend to do this presentation for therapists, social workers, counselors, and mental health professionals. But really, when I when I have you listening to everything that’s going to be discussed here, I want you to listen as a human being really just learning about something maybe you didn’t know anything about and stay open minded. And as much as you can try to activate your critical thinking skills. Because so often, we operate in the autopilot mode of our brain where we’re just consuming information without even realizing it. And as you’ll see, you’ll see how some of the how some very subtle messages have sunken in and maybe inform some biases you have around Muslim religion and people who identify as Muslim.

Ani King 8:48That makes a lot of sense, I think that it’s impossible, regardless of your profession, not to take your biases forward with you into that. But in some professions, those are it’s even encouraged, to some extent, more than more probably ever aware of, or, you know, thinking about the development of psychiatry and psychology as fields themselves and the root of them. And, you know, such a European distinction there that there’s always this potential and likelihood that it’s ignoring something that is not considered a part of that cultural norm. So I’m glad you really mentioned that, like, let’s approach this as humans, because I think that this has beneficial, whether you’re in session with a client or just out in the world being a person.

Farah Hussain Baig 9:37Right, right. Um, you know, and I think what we don’t realize is that white supremacy is woven so deeply into the field of social work and the helping profession in general. So it can be very easy to sort of speak to and about and soak in this information as like, me being the one who knows better the white person knows better and let me fix that. This problematic brown person, right, and we’ll talk a little bit more about where some of these narratives even come from. So a little bit about me, I am the daughter of Pakistani immigrants that came to this country in the late 70s. My father is a physician, and my mother is an ultrasound technician, and they still practice and live in Michigan, which is where I grew up. Um, and I, I am one of five siblings, I’m right smack dab in the middle. And I, we all attended Catholic school for 12 years, we were the only Muslims that attended this Catholic school, it was a fantastic school, I loved every minute of it. I loved going to church every Monday, I loved reading the petitions at church, singing all the songs. And so often people would say, how did you go to Catholic school? Why did you go to Catholic school.

And the reality is, is my parents grew up in, in British colonized India, you know, my father had to pick up his stuff as a child and walk over the new border from the India side, to the Pakistani side, after 1947. So they’re used to nuns and seeing churches and all of that. So they actually see the wisdom in having God spoken about every day at school, because we believe our God is the same as the Christian God. So for my parents, it was an extension of the same values in school. So I’ve actually been talking about my religion, and my culture, as early as the third grade, I can remember. So what do you like? And so that’s, so that sort of started my journey of having these types of conversations. And then even after 9/11 a ton of interfaith discussions with folks talking more about my religion. So creating this presentation is very much been a work in progress throughout my life, really. So I’m very grateful to be here and to share as much as I can.

Ani King 12:17I’m so glad that you, you will do because I mean, this also sends like, you know, work of love, essentially. And I really hope that the folks who are viewing today take it as such. Yeah.

Farah Hussain Baig 12:30And, you know, I’m not a religious scholar, I studied Islamic law, I had the honor of studying under some world renowned scholars and teachers. And the reason why I feel so passionately about this outside of my own identity is I really do love religion and what it does for people, I do think that it’s, it has a lot of value. And we know that spirituality and religion is a protective factor against a lot of traumas and other other mental health issues. But it’s not, I am a firm believer that it’s not religion that is ugly, it’s the people that make it public. So the actual doctrine in and of itself, is not meant to be ugly. But human beings, we have the ability to really mess things up. So, so I, I have a firm belief in that perspective. So true. So as clinicians thinking about clinical implications, examining and owning your own susceptibility to prejudice, as people of goodwill, psychotherapists tend to see themselves as non judgmental and lacking in bias, they are in many instances trained to become aware of their judgments and to let them go. And caution to maintain neutral objective stances in relationship to clients. This narrative of the unbiased non judgmental therapist is deadly to the development of cultural competence because it presumes a way of being that is difficult, if not impossible for most human beings to achieve. I thought that this is really profound quotes. And something that I think every day regardless of our clients that you work with, you think you’re so familiar with a culture even my own, you know, everybody practices and lives differently. So we all have to have some humility around these things.

So the Muslim identity why is it important to talk about specifically the Muslim identity? What is it about this, like, why are we Why are why was why did you need to put this together? So the Pew Research Center in 2011, did a ton of surveys and they asked people across z on the left European countries, which do you identify more with your place of nationality or with Religion. So you can see on the left you have Western Europe, and how they identify largely through their nationality. And on the right, you have a number of Muslim kids, largely Muslim countries. And you can see when asked, they identify as a Muslim before they do their country of origin or nationality. And this a similar occurrence is true for people who identify as Jewish, who live in Israel, they may identify more as a Jew over an Israeli, for example.

And that’s because there are so many pieces around the Muslim religion that define your identity, it’s hard to remove the two. So to this day, I very much identify as a Muslim, even before Pakistani even though I am American born. So I also almost always include my middle name, which is my maiden name Hussein. Because I have the privilege of passing as someone who might not be Muslim. And I say it’s a privilege because someone who very visibly whether that maybe they have a headscarf or a beard, they don’t have that privilege and maybe more susceptible to discrimination. So I actually go out of my way to put my middle name in, when I when I write anything, or, or speak about myself, because I want people to know that I have some affiliation with the Muslim region, the Muslim world, even if I don’t, even if I’m not Muslim myself. Like that’s

Ani King 16:39it makes a lot of sense. I mean, it’s a part of increasing that visibility representation. That idea of, you know, regardless of whether you identify as Muslim or anything, the more visible you are not only not so much just that, you know, hey, people know this, but people who also identify now know that you are somebody that they have a connection with tenuous or not.

Farah Hussain Baig 17:02Right, right. Right. Um, and I would see that early on in private practice where I got clients from all over, they know Faraj as being a Persian name, and Farsi, Farsi origin. So they’re like, maybe she knows she’s familiar with Iranian culture, right? I just get so many, so many people who think that maybe there’s some region that I might understand, because I think it’s hard for people to find therapists that connect with their culture. So here’s that map that I was talking about. So you can see the darker regions, and there’s a high percentage of Muslims that reside in that area. So we have the Middle East, we have northeast Africa, but really, of Northern Africa and the Arab countries, they only account for 20% of the world’s Muslims. So when people think about Muslims, they think about Arabs, right, or Egyptians, which is Northern Africa. But realistically, the the most the highest percentage of Muslims live in are from Indonesia. And by 2050, it will be India. But I think people don’t realize that, because they just there’s so much association between the Arab world and Islam.

Ani King 18:18That media presentation coming into play again.

Farah Hussain Baig 18:25So just a little bit of Islam 101 terminology, the word Islam comes from the root word Salaam, which means peace. And peace is the outcome when an individual or society submits to the will of our Creator. And so, a Muslim is anyone who submits to God. So that does not necessarily mean that the person ascribes to the doctrine, the word itself, just like dios means God. For us, Allah is God, Arabic for God, and the Word How do you say one who submits to God like how would you say that? I would say Muslim, right? So just understanding the context of the language. The Quran is the book that we ascribe to the doctrine that we abide by. And there are 114 chapters which are called to us. And within them are verses which are called is an idea which really means miracle. And they were passed down by the angel Gabriel, to use ijebu to our Prophet Muhammad, and peace be upon him. He always say that after references.

So Islamic law, Sharia law, which incites so much fear the word Sharia just means the way to the watering hole. So, Islamic law is a set of codes and principles derived by jurists from divine revelation and used as a guide for all important matters of sunlight. Islamic law is generally described as having two rounds, the devotional which governs the interaction between people and God, and the social which governs human interaction. So we’ll talk a little bit about this divine revelation and what is in it. And when we abide by our doctrine, within Islam, there are two areas that people look at. When making life choices and living out the space. They look at the actual word of God, which is the art. And they also look at the way of the Prophet just like people ask people say, like, well, what would Jesus do? Right? or What did Jesus do? We do the same thing. What would Muhammad do, because these prophets, and we believe Jesus was a prophet as well. These prophets were the best of humanity. So we are supposed to act in the best of humanity. And these laws came down to the people from God, because they needed to write their ways. As human beings, there were some lawlessness and that type of thing.

Farah Hussain Baig 21:13So I’m sharing some of those a little bit more information than some of the viewers may need. But I share it because I do think that there’s some similarity that people are going to see and what’s listed here. So the basic articles of faith that Muslims have to believe, is belief in one God. Actually, this is the only one that if you don’t believe it takes you outside of the faith. You have to believe in one belief in the angels. So you can see Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, some of these familiar names, belief in the prophets, and there were a number of them but the main ones that people hear about our Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, we say Moosa, we say Isa, for Jesus, when we say no, for Noah, Noah, believed in the divinely revealed books, the Torah, the Psalms, the gospel, and on belief in the day of judgment and belief in Divine Decree. So this idea of divine predestination and free will. One thing also to note, I do have a few quotes from the plan, and I will have one here in chapter two, say, we believe in God, and what was revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob in the tribes, and what was given to Moses and Jesus, and what was given to the profits from the Lord, we make no distinction between any of them and we acquiesce to God. So this is in the second chapter of the Quran. And just so people know, anytime you see an English translation of the Quran, that is all that it is, it is not the actual, on the are on is not been altered from its original state.

When all of the verses of the Quran came down to the Prophet through the angel Gabriel over the course of his prophethood of 23 years. These were they came down and were memorized. They were memorized by the disciples, if you will, the Sahaba the people who surrounded surrounded themselves around the Prophet, they memorize it, and eventually people still memorize it to this day. So that is the actual not necessarily this translation. But not everybody knows Arabic. And that’s where I think sometimes things can get misrepresented because they’re actually translations. So there are, excuse me five pillars of Islam, the declaration of faith, the Shahada, so law, prayer, musica charity, soem, fasting and Hajj being the pilgrimage, the declaration of faith for the Shahada. There is no god except for Allah. And Muhammad is the Messenger of God. So this is the only thing like I said, that if you deny this, you are outside the fold of the religion, everything else, there’s great. There’s five daily prayers, that supplications and there’s certain ways that we’re supposed to prayer pray, and I’ll share that with you. And we recite verses from the Koran during these prayers.

I share this image and people I think really like it because these are the actual motions of the prayer. And they might look familiar to a lot of people. So you know, you can you can leave it to the west to capitalize on behaviors of the East, right, because Yoga is not cheap. All right. So before on, stated to us that we had to pay, but it was through the behavior of our Prophet that we learned how to pray. So these were his behaviors and what he did during prayer, and as you can see, it’s very similar to positions that some of the viewers at home Likely may perform have already performed today. So again, trying to illustrate the similarity, you know, so often with sums or othered. And what I’m trying to do here is not just share with you the faith but also illustrate the similarity between Islam and probably anybody who’s watching today.

Farah Hussain Baig 25:27So charities acod is probably behind prayer, one of the number one elements of Islamic tradition says the God is required tax on certain types of wealth and assets to be distributed to the needy at the end of the lunar year, and the standard rate for that is 2.5%. Just kind of an estimate that was made. So there it serves two important principles. First, members of society have a moral responsibility to provide for the less fortunate, the needy have a right to part of the wealth present in the society, even if God has a lot of it to others. Second, society’s monies have become tainted through greed, corruption, and fact that as a result, its spiritual blessing is decreased. The only means to purify the entire mass of wealth is to pay out the purifying arms to the rightful recipients, the people who were denied these monies

Ani King 26:20which is not dissimilar to you know, acts of tithing for people in certain Christian sects as well. Yeah, the first part at least, yeah.

Farah Hussain Baig 26:32Celica is a voluntary charity that you can give at any time during the year. Here is another line from the Quran and chapter two, they ask you, what shall we spend, say whatever you spend good is for parents and kin, and orphaned and the needy and the traveler, and whatever good you do, God knows all of it. So just to share a little bit of some larger donations that were made that people don’t, didn’t know. We’re not also, when we make a prayer for something or someone or when we give a donation, it’s not supposed to be really spoken about. there’s a there’s a, there’s an element of modesty that’s in our faith and culture. So sometimes even saying all this feels a little uncomfortable. But in August 2019, the Muslim bailout fund raised $150,000, to reunite migrant families detained in immigration jails. In October 2018, Muslim raised more than 200,000, to help families affected by the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. And in February 2017, Muslim activists raised more than 60,000 to repair a Jewish cemetery damaged by vandals in St. Louis. And in October 2016, I don’t have that on here to analyze, vandalized and Arkansas mosque and the mosque actually paid his fine. And they said if, if they if they didn’t help this child would be destitute. And if he knew who we were, he would not have committed the crime.

Ani King 28:02That that makes so much sense the idea of meeting looking for the need instead of looking only at the singular act, even if it’s not, like even if it’s bad, but that who is the person? And is there a way to help them? So that this is not a thing that happens again,

Farah Hussain Baig 28:23right? Well, that’s exactly right. Like they paid his fine because once he finished serving his penalty, he would have been it would have been very challenging for him financially to have paid his dues, so they paid it for him. Fasting is the is the is the next one we’ll talk about and during the month of Ramadan, so you can see it’s the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, there are 12 months, just like the Gregorian calendar, but the Islamic calendar is on a lunar calendar or the lunar cycle, which is about 10 or 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar, the solar calendar. So, so are so Ramadan, the month actually moves throughout the year. So we are just finishing up some of the hardest days. So fasting is from dawn till dusk, dusk, dawn till dusk. So from the minute the sun rises to when the sun sunsets, and that changes during the year. So fasting is shorter during the winter months than it is during the summer months. So I think we’re all looking forward to when it gets a little bit shorter.

Ani King 29:40I’m just gonna say especially because I’m also I’m in Michigan and the 920 something right now sunset 923 Yeah, you know, you get to that peak of summer where it’s bright from, you know, 6am to 10pm. That’s a long day.

Farah Hussain Baig 29:57So long day and no drinking and no Eating. So no drinking water either. And some people are like even water, no water, no water. So and this month is meant for reflection, and discipline. So just in a lot of reflection and prayer, and spiritual healing, the pilgrimage hudge. So, when people talk about like the mecca of like, all things, whatever it is they’re talking about, they’re referencing Mecca in Saudi Arabia, which is the house that Abraham built. So Ibrahim belt this house with his son Ishmael, and it is a, it is a place of worship that at least once in your lifetime, you should go and and do the pilgrimage is a series of there’s a series of rituals over the course of about a week that people will perform. And you are asked to do it at least once in your life, I was blessed to be able to do that with my husband in 2013. And it was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. I’m trying to think if labor was worse, but it was, it was, it was extremely challenging. If we had more time, I’d love to share a little bit more about it.

Ani King 31:20I would love to learn about that, especially with that comparison. It’s pretty significant.

Farah Hussain Baig 31:26This um, this is actually my picture that I took, they were doing construction on the the big the big building, here, which is the and all these little white dots, these are people so this is an old picture. But these are all people who are surrounded this this house of Abraham. It’s called the Kaaba, which means the cube

Ani King 31:50MSB a really intense feeling of being with that many people in a, you know, in a state of communion.

Farah Hussain Baig 31:57Yeah, for sure. It’s huge. It’s overwhelming contributions of Muslim. So in 2014, David, I don’t even know how to say his name ojima. That right from Michigan. I will go with that. We’ll go with that Michigan republican national committee member had quoted, have you ever seen a Muslim do anything that contributes positively to the American way of life? And during the former president during his campaign, he had said Obama said in his speech that Muslims are so sports heroes, what sport is he talking about? And I’ll share with you some of those sports heroes. But there is this there is this idea there is this narrative that Muslims have done nothing to, to, to contribute to the American way of life, to the culture. And I’m going to share with you some of the things that they have contributed to I almost hate this section. So like, Why do I have to like share this, but it’s it’s so powerful. And I think people are like, Whoa, that I

Ani King 33:00get in, even though I’m familiar with these quotes, it’s uncomfortable to see them. And think about the fact that they need rebuttal.

Farah Hussain Baig 33:12Yes, yeah. Very much so. So contributions of Muslims, first of all, that the US never existed without the private presence of a Muslim because historians believe as high as 30% of the 15 million West African slaves. enslaved by the Europeans in the 16th century were Muslims. And as you see here below, Muhammad ibn Musa al Khor Azimi is considered the father of algebra. And actually, the word algebra is from the word of Jabba, which speaks to the actual the operation used to solve quadratic equations. So if you look at the western Arabic numerals, I don’t know that anybody really knows that they’re actually from the Hindu Indian Arabic region. And they called it the reason why they were called Arabic numerals is because it was the works of the Arabs that brought the Europeans so that’s how that’s how they were, they were came came to known as be known as the western Arabic numerals by my words are just getting muffle today. Um, but I don’t think that they teach this in schools, right? You just see 123456789 and zero, right on Sesame Street all the time, but they’re not referred to as the Arabic numerals because I didn’t forbid the Arabs contribute anything positive to the to the

Ani King 34:51Yeah, I remember very vaguely learning that there were Arabic numerals in elementary school and, but with no context and no history or anything. Just that Kind of aside, and then it never got talked about again.

Farah Hussain Baig 35:02Right, exactly. So these are some country contributions of Muslims. So we talked about like a lot of the financial contributions Muslims make regularly so philanthropy, algebra, optics, medicine, all different kinds of science, MOS used to house books. So they, they were libraries to people to communities, architecture, the architects, who basically dreamt up the john Hancock building and the Sears Tower here in Chicago, was a Bangladeshi Muslim. hygiene, coffee. I mean, there’s, there’s so much it’s hard to list. And I don’t know if many people know this. But there were actually Turkish immigrants who had whose families had moved to Germany, who developed the Pfizer vaccine. That’s awesome. But when you actually Google this, if you look at the New York Times, the Washington Post’s, they will talk about a Turkish power couple, this Turkish power couple, but they do not talk about religion. And some people might say, Well, why is religion even important? Well, because when anything bad happens, the first thing that people will do is talk about somebody’s religion. Well, they’re Muslim, right? This person killed these people and blew this building up. Well, they’re Muslim, so much so that people have this, this dark image and belief that Islam is this terrible religion that teaches horrible things. And so when something positive happens, they want to erase any contribution of Islam. And it’s systematic, and we’ll talk a little bit more about that. But I wanted to share this because I think so many of us are alive today because of this vaccine. So the National Geographic company has published a couple books that are pretty cool that came out in 2012, that talks about the Muslim civilization and the contributions that Muslims have the Muslim civilization has made. So if anybody is interested, there’s a lot of terrible, quote unquote, facts out there about Islam, just on the internet. So I always caution people about just going to the internet, but the National Geographic is a reputable organization, and they have these books for people to check out.

Ani King 37:34So famous, I’m glad you shared that.

Farah Hussain Baig 37:36Famous Muslims here are the sports athletes that are familiar. They’re scholars and activists and politicians, engineering and entertainment. The list is, is it’s never ending. There’s actually quite a few Muslims, I know that I’m, I’m missing a lot of people, but you might recognize some of the people on this list. So women in Islam, it’s a huge topic, right? You know, women are treated really poorly. We all know this, in the Islamic tradition, which is, it’s not true. It might be true in some patriarchal cultures that I had mentioned, the humans that make the religion ugly. So there, there is truth to that I do think poor treatment of women is a global problem. It’s not an Islamic problem. Absolutely. Right. So here are some famous women who are Muslim, some of them again, like athletes, heads of state models, professors. And everybody looks different, right? There isn’t a single way that a Muslim looks. So this is a story. So this was like the life of the Prophet. So this was a story narrated by someone who had seen the Prophet done this, do this. So a prophet, man came to the prophet and asked, oh, messenger of God, who among the people is the most worthy of my good companionship. The Prophet said, Your mother, the man said, then who the Prophet said, then your mother, the man further asked, then who the Prophet said, then your mother, the man asked again, then who the Prophet said, then your father, so this illustrates how important women actually are. To the Islamic tradition. Catching up my notes over here. Um, so out of the 114 chapters in the in on, there are a few chapters are named after the prophets. And the, there is one chapter that’s named after a woman and that’s Mario. So it’s a chapter that’s named after the Virgin Mary. And in that chapter, it talks about the virgin birth and maybe Areas one of the Maryam, she is one of the most revered women in the Islamic

Unknown Speaker 40:06tradition.

Farah Hussain Baig 40:11This image always gets a lot of laughs, I guess you could say. So on the one hand, you have a woman in a bikini, everything covered but her eyes What a cruel male dominated culture is what she’s thinking about a woman wearing what some people call a borka. Nothing covered but her eyes What a cruel male dominated culture. And I think this cartoon illustrates this, this misunderstanding in some ways of cultures, right? And how just based in the imagery, one would think, Oh, this poor woman, I can’t believe she’s being forced to cover like this, when that’s actually not her reality.

Ani King 40:52And I think that that image too, especially as speaks to, you know, for folks who are viewing who are unaware of some of the things going on in like France and other areas where they’re trying to ban some of those coverings, and not listening to the voices of the women who are saying, Wait a minute, I’m not being oppressed by this, this is my choice, this is deliberate, this is how I would like to live. And that kind of very paternalistic, you know, I’m going to try and save you from something I don’t understand, because I don’t understand it.

Farah Hussain Baig 41:25Right. And so I’m just gonna skip over it. So she hijab is, what it actually means is a barrier or to cover, but it gets relegated to a piece of fabric that’s on the head of a woman, right? It gets gets turned into this thing that somebody wears on their head, when really, it’s this concept of modesty. And there’s reference to it in chapter 24. In the Quran, where God is basically talking to both men and women, to guard their modesty, right to to, to guard their body, for example, to dress modestly. So this concept of hijab is not just for women, it’s actually for men as well. And so the Institute for Social Policy and understanding did this. They have a number of surveys that they’ve done, but they they asked Muslims, okay, why is it that you wear hijab, and just like what you’re saying, Ani that they are, they are wearing it out of religious obligation to please got out of their own will. And only 1% are doing it because of somebody is asking you to do it.

Ani King 42:37Also, just real quick, folks, we’ve got a little over 15 minutes left. So if you have any questions at all, again, please feel free to hit that chat button or raise hand button. And I will be happy to pass your questions on. Either as we’re going if it’s related to a section we’re on or at the end before we before we end today. So I interrupting and thank you.

Farah Hussain Baig 43:01That’s okay, I just wanted to go over. There was a few other things about women in Islam. But I think people have the point that it’s, it’s not actually there’s a lot of things that I should just share this, to be honest. So there’s actually five rights that Islam gave to women before Western feminism that people don’t actually realize. And that’s that was the right to vote. So when it’s in the Islamic culture, the right to own property and wealth, the right to an education, the right to work and the right towards modesty, like that they it’s their body is theirs, and they can actually wear what they want to wear. And what people don’t realize in Islamic tradition, the width, the money that a woman makes, she does not have to contribute to the family. That is just her money, the money that the man makes in sort of that traditional household, that money is supposed to go to the wife, and the children and the extended family. But if a woman has her money, so if she inherits it from maybe the death of a parent, that is her money, if she makes it at work, that is her money. So again, sort of really fighting this notion that a samick tradition. It really treats women poorly. Again, there might be cultures, there might be people, women poorly, but it’s not an Islamic problem. It’s a worldwide problem.

Ani King 44:24I think that really, when you consider the fact that even in the United States, and a lot of places women couldn’t even have their own credit cards, in some cases until the 70s and 80s. The 1970s and 80s didn’t have their own bank account without their husband or father even as adults correct signing for it. I think it’s very easy to do do that pic of, of things that we think are relevant to one specific part of the culture and ignore, you know, hey, these are things that didn’t happen until much later in Western cultures and not really Examine, like, how much longer it took in some places for some of those things to happen.

Farah Hussain Baig 45:07Exactly. Um, institutionalized Islamophobia. So Reza Aslan, of religious scholar had quoted to say, Islamophobia has become so mainstream in this country that Americans have been trained to expect violence against Muslims not excuse it, but expect it. And that’s happened because you have an Islamophobia industry in this country devoted to making Americans think that there’s an enemy within. So it’s just to let people know, Islamophobia is the exaggerated fear, hatred and hostility towards Islam, and Muslims that’s perpetuated by negative stereotypes, resulting in bias discrimination, and the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims from America’s social, political and civic life. And the Islamophobia industry is a network of bloggers, pundants religious leaders and politicians who work to convince us citizens that Muslims are the enemy of a nation. So currently out of about 950 hate groups, there are 101, their anti muslim 33 Islamophobic, groups had access to at least $205 million in total revenue, to promote anti muslim propaganda. I just can’t believe there’s actually groups that are doing this, like that’s what their job is to, to promote negative of any any group of people, I find that hard to believe, in 2011, seven Charitable Foundation spent 42 point 6 million to support the spread of anti muslim and anti Islamic rhetoric in the United States. And some of these groups are spoken about as think tanks. So and they’re called apt for America, the Middle East forum, like so you don’t really, you don’t really think anything of it. Like Okay, sounds good to me. Right? Yeah.

Ani King 46:49But really the exact opposite of what they’re, they’re saying they represent. Exactly.

Farah Hussain Baig 46:56So here’s some images that I spoke about, that are so dramatic, right? You see Claire Danes, in the middle of all these oppressed women, you know, you see these, you know, sort of like, dark and sort of scouring like, scary Arab men, you know, we see like the Arabic that’s the graffiti that’s written on the wall, so it’s all made to look super scary, right? It’s an even in some movies, they’ll pan across like a Muslim country, while the call to prayer is being read. So it’s teaching its viewers to associate this culture prayer, with hatred and terrorism, right? When I think it’s beautiful, when I hear the call to prayer, like my heart, like, skips a beat, right, but like, to the average American, they’re, like, scared

Ani King 47:45of it. And millions, millions of entertainment dollars, like in media, like infection, and all of these things that are focused on amplifying that fear. It’s these

Farah Hussain Baig 47:58these are gross. It is it is and these are all movies that you know, illustrate Muslims in a in a negative light. I mean, even Aladdin, right? I mean, a king would never let his daughter dress, the way, Jasmine dress. I don’t you don’t really see anybody in the Middle East dressing like that. It’s not even a real place. I mean, there’s just so many. There’s so many tropes that are in that movie. And it’s disappointing, because it was finally there was a Disney Princess that looked like me. Right. But you know, I had to also combat like, the darkness of these imagery, the the confusion to kids, right? Yeah. I’m going to skip over some of the the media bias. We talked a little bit about in 2017, the majority of guests that were on cable news, were actually non Muslims versus Muslims, because clearly non Muslims are our best to speak about Islam that Muslims are. They get their narrative that way. Right. They get they get the microphone, and I’ve gotten asked that question like if Muslims are so against all this violence, the ISIS, the Taliban, etc? Why aren’t they speaking up? Well, Muslims aren’t actually given the mic, because what we have to say, is not what sells. It does not. Yeah, it’s not what funds foreign policy.

Ani King 49:19It doesn’t, you know, it doesn’t bring the ratings and I really very much remember the shift after 911. From you know, like you would watch news once or twice a day. It’s about 24, seven super sensationalist coverage. And so now all of a sudden, all of these people had the opportunity to be talking heads, right, who could go on and on about what they knew, but I just thinking back there were almost all Western white people who, you know, maybe they were professors here, and maybe they went to school there, but they absolutely were not a part of any Muslim community at all. And I think you know, like you’re saying it’ll allows folks to make sure that they’re still continuing the narrative that they want, not the narrative. That’s true. Correct.

Farah Hussain Baig 50:07And so the Pew Research Center also did a survey of different religions and which ones were perceived to be more liked, I guess, and across all of the age groups that Muslims fall towards the bottom. So they are very disliked group of people. So where did all this come from? Because it didn’t start after 911. For sure that kick started it, but it didn’t start there. And Edward Sayid, who is a literary scholar, had written about Orientalism, this concept that the West developed this concept of the Orient or Asia and Africa to control it. So if you remember the the weapons of mass destruction, right, yeah. So let me tell you how important it is that we need to go there. Let me let me list all the reasons why this this, this Arab nation can’t handle any of their business. And they need us to come in there and help them out. And this is the same thing that was going on, when the Europeans wanted to go into Egypt and take what Egypt had from their land, or to go into India, it justified when, when parliament was at, they were asking people, you know, why do we still need to be in these regions, they would say that the Arab, you know, they don’t know what they’re doing. They’re lazy. They’re just, you know, they don’t know how to handle their affairs, we need to stay there, when really they’re actually taking the resources from these people, you know, from the land.

And here’s some imagery, this is artwork that is all based on like fiction. So when humans just like movies, when they see when, you know, Western culture, like you look here, in the upper left corner, you see all this Arabic that’s not even real Arabic. That’s up there that’s just scribbles to be made to look like Arabic. And so they’re basically making people think that they’re these. These the Arabs are these lewd people who are just lured by like, sex and power, and that’s all they’re good for. And these pictures even back then in the 1900s, or the 19th century, rather, we’re illustrating these same things that we’re seeing in movies today, television shows today. And you see modern day Orientalism by this banner that was put out in 2019. With the logo of the rcca, which is the Illinois republican county chairman’s Association. A group that helps to elect republicans in the state drew widespread criticism from both sides of the aisle after it posed a photoshopped image of the four Congress, these four Congresswoman with guns labeled the Jihad squad.

Ani King 52:53As like this is permanently just hard to look at, you know, this for women who are working on doing so much. They’re all women of color. They’re all women of color. And just that application of like, I don’t know it is it’s just one of those ones where like, every time I see it, it’s so hard to look at this and be very angry.

Farah Hussain Baig 53:20And the the beloved cubs in Chicago, the owners are the Ricketts family and the father Ricketts Joe Ricketts. His emails were broken into or somehow was disclosed in early 2019. And he was in some of his emails had said Christians and Jews can have mutual respect for each other to create a civil society as you know, Islam cannot do that. Therefore, we cannot ever let Islam become a large part of our society. Muslims are naturally by my our enemy due to their deep antagonism and bias against non Muslims. We must all recognize the Islam as a dangerous element in our society due to its radical aspects. This, this family, I don’t really care for the Cubs, but this family has a lot of money. So when you think about all the money that’s going to those hate organizations, they are being funded by sports teams that people love. Right? That my love. When this came out. It hit him hard. It hit a lot of Cubs fans, people of color hard, because it was just like, Oh my gosh, right. Like these people who own this sports team are saying all these racist things. And I know, Joe rickets doesn’t have much to do with the organization, but the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Ani King 54:34And I mean, also the money like I think it’s important to be aware of where funding comes from, because there’s a point where you’re deliberately choosing to support that whether you intend to or not.

Farah Hussain Baig 54:48Absolutely, absolutely. You want to just go see a baseball game, but guess what your some of your dollars are going towards? Why now? Why is all of this why are all these imagery Why is this history so important? Because it informs this unintentional bias that people have, when they, when they hear these things, they see this imagery, this imagery. And it becomes sort of automatic like you automate, you may I think, what is it 62% of Americans have don’t even know a Muslim or something like that, I’d have to double check that stat. And yet they’re making, they’re electing officials who are making laws that limit rights of Muslims, based in all of this propaganda.

Farah Hussain Baig 55:35So it leads to discrimination. Just a few weeks ago, there was a family that was murdered, basically, by someone who hated Muslims, and killed three generations in a single family leaving a nine year old to fend for himself now. And I mean, it has real consequences.

Ani King 55:56Really, yeah, really does. And, and I think, too, you know, we’ve got just a few minutes left here. I think, when it comes to therapists and other mental health professionals, knowing this is really important, how are you going to help your clients out if you don’t have at least some understanding of the way some of these things work?

Farah Hussain Baig 56:22Right and your bias, right, like when you’re dealing with a Muslim, when you are seeing a Muslim at a store, when you’re, like I said, just as a human being, you know, there’s there’s a lot of atrocities that are happening to Muslims, there is a lot of discrimination that’s happening. And if we’re not bringing it on ourselves, right, like there’s a whole system underneath that people need to be critical about. This is a really important image because it really illustrates there was criticism against the Daily Mirror for showing, you know, the ISIS killer from the nightclub back in I don’t even know what it was. Versus like the, the murder who the New Zealand killer who went into two mosques and murdered congregants, you can see how they’re being described, like the angelic boy who grew into an evil far right killer, versus the ice maniac who killed all these people in a club. Just Just looking at how, you know, only if you are of the Middle Eastern origin. Are you a terrorist, right. And after the New Zealand shootings, the Prime Minister did list this as a terrorist act. And people did start following suit. But she was also like, I don’t want to say his name. I don’t want to give him power. Where if there’s a Muslim that commits a crime, everyone knows her name, and every kid who has the same name as being harassed at school. So I mean, there’s just like people have like, you have good intentions just send up but like, it just it misses the mark. Right?

Ani King 58:01Absolutely. And I know where again, folks, as we are coming to an end, again, just make sure if you have questions, drop them in here, I’ll be happy to pass them on.

Farah Hussain Baig 58:11So we kind of go through some microaggressions, which Muslims experience, I’m probably won’t have time to go through too much. But part of the reason why part of the reason why Muslims can be treated this way, without much concern, is this concept of dehumanization, because human beings, they’re very, they can be very compassionate, but they have the ability to other and we can see this through the Holocaust, through genocide through slavery, where people are being sort of treated the way no human being should be treated, but somehow it’s justified, right? Somehow, it’s somehow it’s okay. And so researchers at the Northwestern University, put together this ascent of man scale, where they perform this study, and they wanted to see, they wanted to look at sort of like overt forms of discrimination. And what they found was that Muslims ranked as the least human of all of these groups. So Muslims were seen as the least human, so therefore their treatment will be like subhuman. And if anybody wants to see the documentary on Abu Ghraib, if you haven’t seen it, you can see it because there were war crimes that were committed by the United States that people have not that people have not paid for. And people don’t know, but I think it’s a really good documentary to check out. So you can see how people were treated during the Iraq War, how Muslims were treated overseas,

Ani King 59:45by Absolutely. It’s It is a very difficult and very important one to watch. Yeah.

Farah Hussain Baig 59:52I’m really quick, just kind of skipping ahead. Just ways that you can combat Islamophobia. Ask your local Muslim community how you can help. Forget the taboo of talking openly about religions, especially with Muslims, like we want to talk we want to tell you about, about us call out news organizations on discriminatory coverage and bias, pay attention to that bias. Listen to it, because even our news outlets, right even the ones that are pretty like middle of the road, like they have funders, right, they have agendas to why they’re sort of you know, saying certain things or not saying certain things, demand respect and protection from Muslims from politicians encourage Muslim individuals to report hate crimes, take white nationalism seriously and refuse to stay silent on hate. The Muslim identity is so vast and it exists so differently amongst us Muslims, that you really like one size does not fit all, you when you’re when you have a Muslim in your in your office, or no, like everybody is so different. So really getting to know them and what Islam means to them. And, and and notice any biases you have, even in their story, because there has been a lot of religious abuse, there has been a lot of misunderstandings within the Muslim community. So there are kids who are growing up hating the religion, because maybe the way it was taught to them was really incorrect. And if I have this bias, oh, yes, Islam is terrible. And I have this child in my office, I’m going to support this kid to like, yeah, I hear you this religion. Yeah, it sounds terrible. You know, it’s what I hear on TV, too, right? Yeah, you should, maybe you should leave your family, maybe you should take off your hijab, maybe, you know, and, and your bias is informing some of the work that you’re doing with with clients.

Ani King 1:01:41And not necessarily considering whether or not there is a needed connection that needs to be healthier and exploring that, yeah, as a part of their cultural identity and like redefining it for them. So that makes a lot of sense. Faraj, thank you so much for being here today. And this has been really helpful and educational for me personally, and I know and help for the people who’ve been viewing and folks who will watch this later. For anybody who’s watching now, just be aware that we’ll have this up as a replay within the next couple of days, too. So if there’s anything that you want to review, you’ll be able to fara, is there anything you wanted to close with before?

Farah Hussain Baig 1:02:22You know, I have my email address up there you have my contact information. If people have any questions, it doesn’t matter what it is, please email me. I would I would much rather point you in the right direction, the right resource then, for somebody just to Google because again, all of that money is being funded into these websites into this misinformation machine. So please reach out to me reach out to a local mosque to ask questions. Awesome.
Managing Your Practice

A Primer on the LGBTQIA2S+ Acronym

Lesbian: A woman who is attracted to other women. Both transgender and cisgender women as well as non-binary people can be lesbians.

Gay: The term gay encompasses all folks who are attracted to people of their own gender. Generally, this term is used to describe a man who is attracted to other men. Both transgender and cismen, as well as non-binary people, can be gay.

Bisexual: Those who are attracted to two or more genders. Some bisexual folks are only attracted to men and women. This term is not inherently transphobic but some folks prefer to use pansexual as a more encompassing term.

Transgender: Transgender is not a sexual orientation. People who are transgender can fall anywhere on the sexuality spectrum. The term transgender refers to identifying as a gender that does not align with the sex assigned at birth. Additionally, this term can also applies to a wide range of nonbinary (neither identify as a man or woman or a combination of genders)

Queer: Essentially, this means “not heterosexual”. Queer is commonly used as a catch-all term for the entirety of the non-heterosexual community. This term is often used intentionally to separate from the heterosexual community without specifically identifying ones identity.

Intersex: Folks who are intersex are born with a variety of sex characteristics that are outside of “rigid definitions” of male and female. Intersex folks identify across the spectrum of gender identities. This term is not a sexual orientation.

Asexual: Folks who are asexual are not sexually attracted to anyone, regardless of gender.

Two Spirit: This term was created by Indigenous people. The definition may change across Nations and is culturally-exclusive, meaning that it belongs to Indigenous communities and non-indigenous people should not self-identify as Two Spirit.

+: This acronym is a fluid acronym – it’s incomplete and is far from ideal. Identities represented within the acronym can be seen as exclusionary. The + is an attempt to recognize that there are many gender identities and sexual orientations that are not included within the acronym.
Managing Your Practice