Cecilia Briseno Does Hardship Evaluations And Is Changing The World | PoP 325


Have you ever heard about hardship evaluation? Wondering whether this is a service you can offer in your own practice? Maybe you have thought about it but are not too sure where to get the training?

In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks with Cecilia Briseno about doing hardship evaluations and changing the world.

Podcast Sponsor

What’s the point of having a beautiful website that doesn’t attract the clients you want to see? As the worldwide leaders of website design for therapists, Brighter Vision sees this issue happen way too often.
A nice looking website doesn’t equate a successful website. The truth is, your current website may even be turning off potential clients.
That’s where Brighter Vision comes in.
Brighter Vision’s team of web designers will create you a website that is centered around attracting and retaining your ideal client so that you can have a nice looking website as well as a successful one.
To get one month off your subscription visit: https://www.brightervision.com/joe/

Meet Cecilia Briseno

Cecilia Briseno is a bilingual Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a private practice, Bright Side Family Therapy, in Arlington, TX.

Cecilia has found her niche in working with couples primarily while also working with families navigating through the immigration process. When appropriate, Cecilia provides evaluations explaining the hardships they face when separated from their loved ones. She is now also providing training for clinicians interested in working with immigrants.

By first having her client’s paint a detailed picture of their desired future, Cecilia is then able to help them explore past and present successes, no matter how small, in order to start attaining the future they desire. The beauty of the approach Cecilia uses is that this process oftentimes helps the client to see that they are closer to their desired future than they realized, increasing hope and motivation.

To  find out more about immigration evaluations click here!

Cecilia Briseno’s Story

Cecilia has a total of 17 years of experience in social work in a variety of settings and roles. She received her BSW and MSSW from the University of Texas at Arlington. It was during her graduate internship that she studied the model of therapy that she still uses today, Solution Focused Therapy (SFT). Following the completion of her Master’s program, Cecilia went on to study Marriage and Family Therapy in a doctoral program at Texas Woman’s University, which helped her to broaden her knowledge of SFT and family systems.

In This Podcast


In this episode, Joe Sanok speaks with Cecilia about how she started doing hardship evaluations and how you too can start offering this.

Hardship Evaluation

A report was written by a mental health professional in relation to a pending immigration case. The process of evaluation aims to predict the hardship or psychological distress that would be experienced by a US citizen as a result of the removal of the non-permanent resident relative from the US.

Types Of Clients Who These Evaluations

  • When a spouse requests for their undocumented husband/wife to stay with them because it will create a hardship if they were to leave for an extended amount of time
  • People that are requesting to stay in the country if they have been in a domestic violence situation
  • Asylum seekers

Offering This Service

If you’re interested in offering this service in your practice it would be useful to call an immigration attorney in your area and assess the need. It is also not necessary to be bilingual as most times you will be dealing with English speaking clients.

Cecilia typically meets with clients for 3 sessions for about an hour. She discusses their background and tries to get a feel for what their life has been like and tries to tie it into what is currently happening – identifying the hardships emotionally and financially.

Skills and Training

It just takes persistence, just keep at it!

The skill most useful when offering this service is assessment skills. Cecilia offers this service at a lower rate than her usual therapy as it’s her way of giving back. These clients already having very high attorney fees whilst going through this process.

Cecilia has put together a training package for you – get $250 off this package with the discount code ‘Joe’.

Useful Links:

Meet Joe Sanok

private practice consultant

Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.





Thanks For Listening!

Feel free to leave a comment below or share this podcast on social media by clicking on one of the social media links below! Alternatively, leave a review on iTunes and subscribe!

Podcast Transcription

POP 325

[Having anxiety with your website should never happen. Creating a website is a milestone for your private practice and should be celebrated like one. My friends and colleagues over at Brighter Vision know this situation all too well and have come up with a process to make your website experience as easy, fluid, and enjoyable as possible. Trusted by thousands of therapists around the world, Brighter Vision is the website solution that your private practice needs. As a gift to my listeners, Brighter Vision is offering a month off of their services. Go to brightervision.com/joe to get one month free of your Brighter Vision subscription. Again, that’s brightervision.com/joe.] This is the Practice of the Practice podcast with Joe Sanok Session Number 325.


[JOE] Welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast. I am Joe Sanok, your host. And if you’re new here, welcome. We have so many new people that are tuning into the podcast now. We’re routinely ranking well above 100,000 downloads a month and it’s because you’re telling people you know, your students, other people that you think will get value out of this podcast. Thank you. Thanks for sharing love the love and letting people know. And for all of you who have been reading and reviewing us and letting people know about the website.
Big hug to you. Thank you. I really appreciate it. You know, I’m just really excited about podcasting lately. I was just on Perry Rosenblum show from Brighter Vision: The Therapist Experience. And yesterday, I was interviewed for that and that’s going to go live. I think it went live in early September. So, by the time this goes live, it’s already alive. And you know, to be connected with these people that I’ve met a handful of times in my life in person, but, know really well, it’s just so much fun and to see, you know, Brighter Vision, they’re a sponsor. But, they do such a good job with helping people with their websites and to adjust, and change, and be on the edge of the trends.
It’s just super cool to see. And I feel like today’s guest, we have Cecilia Briseno that’s on the show. And she has such an interesting thing that she’s been doing, where she’s been doing these hardship evaluations for people that US citizens but marry someone that is not a US citizen to allow them to stay here. And just thinking about people having to lose their spouse because o immigration or not be able to stay with your kids in the States, the work she’s doing is so important and she talks about kind of her why behind that and the stories of what her parents and grandparents, and what people did around her to really kind of set forth this path for she and her family.
It’s just quite amazing. She’s a bilingual Licensed Clinical Social Worker that has a private practice called Brightside Family Therapy in Arlington, Texas. If you had a total of 17 years of experience in social work in a ton of different roles, and she just really helps families navigate through that immigration process. She provides evaluations explaining the hardships they face when they’re separated from their loved ones. And she’s also now doing training for you, for therapists to be able to learn how to do these hardship evaluations. And I thought that this was something that would only be applicable kind of to border states that in most states, this is something that you can add to your practice if you’re interested. So, without any further ado, I give you Cecilia.
Well, today on the Practice of the Practice podcast, we have Cecilia Briseno. Is that right?

[CECILIA] Yeah, you do.

[JOE] Alright. Well, I’ll just keep rolling there. She owns brightsidefamilytherapy.com and hardshipevaluationtraining.com. I’m so excited to have you on the podcast, Cecilia. How you doing today?

[CECILIA] I’m doing wonderful. I’m so happy to be here.

[JOE] I know. I know. Your son just turned one and you’ve had a bunch of changes in your life with your family. What’s been going on?

[CECILIA] Oh, you know, just life. We just moved and renovated a new house and we finally have beds, and yeah, life is good.

[JOE] You know we spent from, I think, June of last year until December renovating. And so, your renovation sounds like it was about the same length of time. What kind of stuff did you guys do on the house?

[CECILIA] Well, pretty much everything. We didn’t think that we’re going to, we’re going to that. But, besides, you know, taking down walls, we did floor, we did ceiling to floors. We did pretty much everything. So, it’s exciting to finally– we have people cleaning it right now. And then, we’re going to move our furniture in tonight. And we’re just– we can’t wait to actually live like a family again.

[JOE] That’s so exciting. I know that’s so hard to be going through all that but it’s so worth it. Now, I’m like, I don’t even remember that, we should renovate another house. What are you talking about?

[CECILIA] Yeah, it’s not fun. But, it’ll be worth it.

[JOE] Yeah, absolutely. Well, that’s exciting. I want to see pictures. Well, Cecilia, one thing I love about your story is, you know, I’ve known you through the Mastermind Group and you know, we’ve worked together for a while, you have your counseling practice but then, you also do these hardship evaluations. So, people know where we’re headed. Let’s just get like the one sentence summary of what a hardship evaluation is. And then, I want to back up and talk about you starting your practice growing it and then adding hardship evaluations to it. So, what’s just like the one sentence summary of what a hardship evaluation is?


[CECILIA] A hardship evaluation is an evaluation that’s used for immigration purposes that is used up your– there’s different types of cases that you could use it for. But, the main one is that I-601 hardship waiver and that’s– so, for example, if I was married to my husband who’s undocumented, that would be for me to request a waiver so that my husband wouldn’t get– wouldn’t have to leave the country for. It’s usually ten years. So, saying that it would be too difficult for me because of my circumstances for you know, maybe if I have special needs children or something like that, that it would be too difficult for me fi my husband was not here. So, this evaluation supports that type of case.

[JOE] Great. So, we’ll get into kind of all the details of that. But, I want to hear kind of the backstory of you starting your practice and how hardship evaluations became a part of your practice.

[CECILIA] Sure, so, when I was an LMSW, I’m a social worker in LCSW now. But, when I was an LMSW, which is kind of like the provisional license for social workers, I was working for my friend’s practice. And, I mean, it must have been like day one or week one that I got a call from an attorney down the street for me. And he said, you know, I have this client, we need a hardship evaluation. It’s something that you could do, and I was like I have no idea what that is. But, can you tell me about it. And I’ll see if I can do it. And so, I did a little bit of research and figured out that it was something that I was able to do with my license.
It’s– and, I just said, you know, I believe that I can. But, can you help me through it. And so, we kind of did the first one, not together. But, I did what I thought is what he was looking for. And he was like, “Yes, this is it. This is what we need.” So, he continued sending clients to me and has continued to for the last 10 years. So, it just kind of grew from there. And once I started to, you know, create my website, once I became an LCSW and creating my own practice, and started kind of putting it out there, then I was getting a lot more interest in people wanting these evaluations. And then, also, people would just research.
I’d do an evaluation for them and their attorneys would say, “Oh, my gosh. This is great so I’m going to start sending all my clients too.” So, it is kind of grew. And now, I have a contract therapist which Joe helped me to have the confidence to do. So, yes, I have someone that now helps me in doing them because it has– it’s pretty lucrative. I’m in Texas. And as you know, with things the way that they are. Politically, it has– it has been something that has really been needed. So, it’s great because it’s kind of– I’m using my license and my practice to do something that I’m passionate about on a personal level.

[JOE] I think one thing that you did at the beginning that a lot of people miss, and sometimes, these things we accidentally do something that’s really profound. But, I think what you did is you engaged that first referral source in the process. And a lot of people will think, “Oh, I have to be all professional and keep it together and be the guru that knows everything.” And instead you said, “Hey I’d love to take these referrals. I’m not sure how to do them. Can we co-create the first couple to really meet your client’s needs?” And that’s true.
When I’ve seen people that do, say, parenting evaluations, or custody evaluations, or any sort of thing like that, if they can work with the direct referral source on what they need. It seems like people then, get so many more referrals from that person because you’re making the report that they know that their clients absolutely need versus just you are giving your best shot. And then saying, “Well, I kind of miss the mark.”

[CECILIA] Absolutely. And that has been a key to building and keeping my relationships with attorneys is that I meet with them and I say, “Okay, this is what I do if you think it would be helpful for the way that you work for me to structure it a different way, or whatever, let me know and I’m happy to work with you.” And so, there are specific things that I do for specific attorneys because I know it keeps them happy. And it’s helpful. I don’t know why it would be different. But, for some whatever reason they want it at different ways, and I’m happy to do that.
As long as I’m not changing the content, as far as, you know, the information of course has to be truthful and all that. It’s ethical. Then, I’m fine with changing the format of the way that I do it to please them.

[JOE] Well, that makes them look better too because they’re getting a report that matches their branding or their approach, or what they really want. And so, they’re going to keep sending people your way because it’s sort of like you’re an extension of their practice.

[CECILIA] Absolutely. Yes. And they tell their clients, they say, “Call this therapist because I know her. She does good work. You know, she’s trustworthy. She has good prices. And it’s going to help your case.” I wouldn’t send you to them unless I knew it was going to help your case. So, absolutely, it has definitely made a big difference in my practice.

[JOE] Well, Cecilia, take us through the types of clients that are in need of this hardship evaluation. You give kind of a quick snapshot at the beginning. But, take us through like what’s their situation? What’s kind of some common stories without obviously revealing sensitive or confidential information. But, what’s like a typical story where someone goes to an attorney and says I need a hardship evaluation and then works with you?


[CECILIA] So, typically, it’s kind of the one that I have already explained about, that a spouse is requesting for their husband or wife who’s here undocumented and it’s creating hardship or will create hardship if their spouse is it were to leave for an extended period of time. Usually, it’s up to about ten years. And so, that is the most common. In talking with other people across the country, I know that it’s at first– but, being here, that’s definitely, I probably would say that that’s 90 to 95% of the time that those are the situations that I get. So, that’s the most common.
I also get requests to do these from people that are requesting to stay here due to, like, if they were in a domestic violence situation, or had a crime against him. So, that would be another situation that you’re trying to explain the trauma that they experienced from that, from that crime, or that domestic violence, or the trauma. So, that would be– it’s kind of a different situation because the focus is on the undocumented person at that point. In kind of their situation, how they’re dealing what happened to them, and how they’re dealing with it, and what it would mean if they were to go back to their home country. So, that’s another type of a situation.
Another situation would be kind of like the– if they’re coming for seeking asylum. And so, that would be, you know, what it would mean if they had to go back to their home country. What happened to them there? Why did they come here seeking asylum? And what it would mean if they had to go back? What trauma might they experience? Or how would they be put in harm’s way if they were to go back? So, those are typically the situations. But, like I said, the main one is, you know, requesting for hardship based on their husband or their wife.

[JOE] Yeah. You know when we first started working together, and we were talking about this, I remember my initial thought being that’s so cool that you do that but I’m not bilingual. There’s I don’t live– I do live in a border state but it’s Michigan that there’s not probably enough people here to kind of fund that side of a practice. And as you and I have talked, I think there’s a lot of preconceived notions people have in regard to you know, how there’s not really huge standards on training or any of that.
Maybe walk us through if a practice owner is like, “Well, that sounds interesting. But, I don’t think that I probably am someone that could do that.” What do they need to know before they jump in? What kind of trainings do they need? What’s the opportunity for people?


[CECILIA] So, I think that definitely, this is something that you can do. Even if you’re not bilingual, absolutely, you can totally do this because most of the time, like I said, about 90% of the time, I’m working with the citizen or the resident. And so, that is my– although, I do usually speak with the spouse and the children. My client is a resident or citizen, and so, most of the time, residents and citizens speak English. And so, if this is something that you have an interest in, or you have a desire to work with this population, absolutely, this is something that, you could use.
This, you know, this is something that you could offer in your practice. So, one of the things that I– I’m not sure if this is going to exactly answer your question. So, tell me.

[JOE] It’s okay. We go and take this all the time.

[CECILIA] Yes. I’ve listened to you enough to know that. So, I love it. So, one of the things that I would do if I were kind of, you know, had my own practice and you know, who knows where and wanted to see if this is something that would help, I would call a couple of immigration attorneys just close by, and say you know, this is something I’m interested in doing, I’m looking into some training to do this. It says something that you think would be helpful. Is this something that you’re looking for someone to do or is it kind of saturated in my area? Or is that something that you’re not really even needing for whatever reason? But, that’s probably the primary way that I would figure out if that’s something that I would want to seek out and try and get some training on. But, I think that more often than not, you’re going to find that it is necessary.
I get phone calls, and emails, and messages all the time from attorneys that are like, I’ve been looking for someone, you know, or they have someone, but they charge a crazy amount of money. And their clients just can’t afford it, or they do it, this happens actually. This has happened suddenly more than I care to share that a psychologist or therapist will say, “Yes, I can do this report for you.” And they meet them for 30 minutes and they write a paragraph report. And that’s just not, it just doesn’t cut it. And so, they end up having to find someone else, or sometimes their– the attorney will suggest, say, “Come to me. Come to Cecilia.” And they’ll decided to go with someone else. And then, they’ll end up having to come back to me and say, “It just– it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t what my attorney was looking for.” So, now, here, I’m having to do it again.

[JOE] So, what is the regular kind of session commitment? Usually, what would you recommend with regards to number of sessions? And then, what are some of the big chunks that should be in a quality report?


[CECILIA] So, I typically, we’ll meet for three sessions. And each session is about an hour. And in this, there, I have kind of my way of doing it. Of course, everyone can do it their own way. But, I go through their background talking about just what their childhood was like, not getting it too obviously too many specifics. But, just trying to get a feel for what this person’s life has been like. Is there anything that– any trauma that they had growing up? Any huge problems in their families? And I’m trying to tie it back into what is happening right now.
Is it bringing back to any of those old feelings? Is it helping, you know, making it worse? Is it creating more anxiety because of what they’ve already been through? That’s kind of the whole idea for everything that I’m talking about. It’s talking about the hardship for my client. So, we talked about their educational, and in their work history, and then, we talked about really the main focus of it, is to talk about how they’re doing it emotionally? And in really digging into that very deep. And then, also, financially, what that looks like for them. And then, is there any other reasons?
Is there any other hardship that this is creating on the family already? Or in that it would make it worse if their spouse were not here. Because, obviously, they’re struggling a lot usually just with the stress of dealing with all this. And usually, financially, but, taking out your partner is, you know, having them being separated from your partner for years. That creates a whole other level of hardship that they can’t truly understand until it’s happened. But, we can dig into that and what that would mean to them. And so, that’s what we do in the sessions. And so, we have three sessions sometimes.
We have to do four sessions or five sessions. Typically, it’s three. But, sometimes, we need more just to get into everything that that means for this family.

[JOE] Wow, so how do you keep all that organized?


[CECILIA] What do you mean? Like in my notes?

[JOE] Yeah. Like in your notes and like I mean, it just seems like there’s a lot to keep track of. Like, do you have a system for kind of how you organize? All that?

[CECILIA] I do. I really, honestly, I just– because I’ve done it for so long, I could probably do it in my sleep. You know, as far as the same questions that I asked, and you know, and then, I know where I need to dig deeper. And you know, if they give a certain response, oh I need to find out more about that. But, I really– I am very structured in the way that I do my evaluations, my interviews with them. And it’s worked. And so, I just keep doing it. And then, as far as my actual evaluation, yes, I have a structure. And I have that all available in the– with the training, you know, whoever purchases the training, they get that.
They get a sample evaluation and then they get a structure for it. And it’s worked. As I said, sometimes, attorneys want something a little bit different. But, for the most part, everyone is happy with it. And so, why change something that’s working?

[JOE] Yes. So, is there a kind of rule of thumb percentage of how many people end up getting the waiver for their spouse?

[CECILIA] So, it is– it’s hard to say because a lot of times, people are just so happy and relieved that they just moved on with their lives. And so, even though I asked them, “Please let me know what happened.” You know, I really want to know. A lot of times I don’t hear back. But, I do sometimes and with the attorneys, I– the main attorney that I spoke about my first one that I did, for this attorney, he’s the one that I’ve been working with the longest. I’ve been working with him for 10 years. And about a year ago, I talked to him. I was like, “You know, how is this working? Like, is it really helping? I know that things are kind of changing politically? You know, I’m just kind of curious.” And he was like, “You know, all of yours have been approved.” He said there was one and then I was like, “Who– Do you mind if I ask?” And that person isn’t my client? So, as far as I know, all of the ones that I’ve ever done for him have been approved, which is a lot.
I would say, I mean, definitely, dozens if not hundreds I’ve done for him. I know that things have changed recently and so, I don’t know now. But, I think that it’s really is very helpful which is great. I wouldn’t want to do it if it wasn’t. And I know that they wouldn’t be sending people to me if it wasn’t helpful. So, that’s all I can tell you about that. I wish I had an actual percentage.

[JOE] Yeah. Well, I mean it’d be nice to just kind of know if someone enter this process, do the attorneys say, “Yeah, there’s 50/50 shot or there’s an 80% shot, or you know, there’s 10% shot.” And then, if you could even look at, well, with ones that you’ve done, not that you’re the only factor there. But, even just to know some of the stats might be helpful in the marketing. I’m also thinking, so, when people are looking at kind of the return on investment for going through a training, for kind of building this marketing, all the time, that goes into launching something new.
Earlier on the interview, you said it can be lucrative. What are some of the numbers that people should know in regard to how much money they can make off, of how much time goes into getting everything set up, and all that?


[CECILIA] You know, it’s not a whole lot of time because you’re really using your assessment skills, which, hello, that’s– I mean, that’s the first thing we learn really in becoming clinicians. And so, it’s something that you’re constantly using. And so, usually, you’re pretty, you know, clinicians are pretty good at being able to assess. So, that’s really the main skill that you’re using. I kind of– it’s– you’re able to use your actual therapy skills to a certain extent. But, a lot of times, really, you’re using your assessment skills. So, as far as that, really just kind of setting up the beginning structure of you know, the paperwork, and in my training, I provide the paperwork or a sample of the paperwork that I use. And really, just really having a good understanding as to what it is that you’re looking for, and what it is that you’re doing.
Once you have that, you’re really kind of good to go on that. And the numbers, you know, it– the times that I have. You know, I’ve got small children as I said. So, I don’t have a whole lot of time to market. The times that I have, it’s– I’ve definitely seen a push, you know, I’ve gotten a lot of feedback. But, I’m trying to think what you are wanting as far as numbers.

[JOE] I guess, you know, if someone’s running the numbers, and then, say, okay, I’m charging $125 per session for just regular counseling and I could do that all day long. And this is going to take me three sessions minimum plus report writing. So, to get a return on investment for that, I need to make at least $500 to make it worth it more than just doing counseling. And so, in this kind of in regard to leveling up more that you can make about the same as counseling and just do different work? Or is it more of you end up making more per hour than typical counseling?

[CECILIA] I don’t make– actually, I make a little bit less per hour than I do with my regular therapy clients. But, I do that– I do it because it’s kind of my– a little bit of my way of giving back because I do it a little bit cheaper than I normally are having more cost-effective than I normally would with my other clients because they’re, you know, they have a view, typically, they have very high attorney fees. And you know, a lot of– just, I mean, I talked to them about how much they spent on the case, how much they still have to spend, you know, all of the financial part of it. So, I know I have a good understanding of what that looks like. So, I do it kind of as a service because it’s something that I believe.
I don’t know if I’ve told you, Joe, why this is such an important work for me. I’ll explain that to you in a minute. If you’re interested, so, really quick, let me get back to the financial side of it really quick. So, I charge $100 a session. And so, like I said, typically, I do three sessions. After that, the letter, the evaluations, and it’s a letter format. But, I charge $200 for that. So, that’s $500. If they pay upfront, it’s $450 just to make it a little bit better for them if they want to take advantage of that. And so, it is very cost-effective.
I know a lot of people I charge, you know, $1000, $1500, more than that, which is great, and you can. But, I do it because it’s my passion and I really want this to be something that is helpful to them, that they can do without completely breaking the bank.

[JOE] Well, even just having done Slow Down School a few weeks ago to talk with you, “What’s the life you want to live and how does your practice and big idea fit into that?” Oftentimes, we say, “Okay, I’m going to optimize my practice in this way so that I can do this thing that’s good for the world and doesn’t bring in as much money.” And so, I think you’re exactly right. Everyone’s got to decide what’s the role of adding a hardship evaluation. Is it that you need an extra revenue stream that needs to outpace your practice? So, then, you’re going to charge a little bit more, try to automate the system, and all of that. Or, is it that you want to give back, or is this somewhere in between, is it supplemental income? So, everyone that’s listening, different stages of practice and so deciding for yourself, how much do I need to make per hour, how many hours is it going to take to do all of this? And then, let’s price it in a way that makes it work. And so, for a lot of people, you know, if you’re within a couple hours of a larger city, a lot of times people would travel for that discounted price, or for a quality evaluation in sneakers. So, even I just think about Michigan. So, we have a large Eastern European population up here in northern Michigan.
Down in Dearborn, there’s a very large Middle-Eastern population. And then, in Hamtramck, there’s a large Polish population. So, there’s these pockets throughout our state. And then, in every state there’s kind of these pockets of people that they’re not all going to marry people that are, you know, from their own kind of background. There’s going to be people that are in these hardship situations. And so, I think just getting to know attorneys in those areas that are from a drivable, a reasonable, drivable distance from your practice.
You don’t have to just look at, well, okay, Traverse City doesn’t have a whole lot of hardship evaluation opportunity. Well, Grand Rapids is two hours away from here. I bet that larger city, people would travel if they knew that they could get a really good quality one at a good quality price, and that their attorney recommended. And so, I think, thinking differently about it and making sure people think through it, that’s going to really help them to decide, “Okay, what’s my price point? How much do I want to put into this? How much am I going to do advertising and blog posts?” And then, from there, you decide how that fits into your business model.


[CECILIA] Absolutely. And I have attorneys that referred to me from Houston which is a good four hours away. And I’ve had, I mean that’s not the furthest that people have come. I mean, I’ve had people that have come, you know, flown in. And they come in and I’m like, “Where are you from? What– Oh, my goodness, what are you here for?” And they’re like, “I came here to see you.”

[JOE] I’m here to see Cecilia.

[CECILIA] And I’m like, “Oh, my goodness. Okay.” So, how do I know I would have set aside more time. But, you know, and so definitely, when people think– when it’s a value to people, they will come, and they will make it work. And so, it is just about your priorities and whatever you’re passionate about, and where you are in your practice and your life, and you know, what you’re able to do. But, I definitely think that everything you said is true and that’s taken all that into consideration.
Thanks to my– your Mastermind. I’ve been able to think all that through. So, yeah, it’s awesome.

[JOE] So, when you mentioned that there’s kind of a big why that was behind this, of why this drives you to do this kind of work, what is it?


[CECILIA] So, my parents are both from El Paso, Texas. So, which is right on the border– on the other side of the borders is Wadis, which is you know, obviously, Mexico. And so, my dad, when he was growing up, he lived across the street from the border. And so, back then, it was just like, you know, a little fence. Things have changed. But, so, he grew up there. And there was also a church across the street. And so, people would always come, you know, coming from Mexico and of course, times were different then.
They would come, and they’d look, you know, they’d see the cross. And they’d go to the church or they run into someone, go to a house, and they’d say, “Oh, go to this house. They went across the street from the church.” And so, my grandparents– my dad came from a family of 19 children. And so, they had a two-bedroom house and then, they adopted one. And his aunt also lived with them. So, there’s like a lot of people in the house.

[JOE] You said 2-bedroom house?

[CECILIA] Yes, a 2-bedroom house.

[JOE] Holy, moly.

[CECILIA] Yeah. Things were different back then. But, yes, I’ve gotten to see it. It’s cool to go back and see it. But, so, but they had a closet that was full of clothes and shoes, and everything that they would need. So, when someone come, they would give them, you know, tell them to take a shower, give them clothes, shoes, give him a haircut, tell him to go to bed, and then, they’d wake up, give him food, and coffee, and tell him to go on their way, you know. Like, they were usually on their way somewhere. And so, you know, this was this was just a part of their life. And so, my dad, it was very important to him to help.
I get really emotional about this. So, I apologize.

[JOE] No, don’t apologize. That’s a big like family legacy your continuing.

[CECILIA] Well, you know, part of it also is that I lost my dad in 2009. And shortly after, I started my practice. And this just kind of fell into my lap. And I was like, “Wow, like it’s so cool to be able to– you just have no idea the path that your life is going to take.” And then, for you know, to have this license and you think, “Okay, you know, what I’m going to do with it? I want to start my private practice.” And you know, okay, I’m know what I’m going to do. And then, for this to fall into my lap and for it to have grown the way that it has, it just kind of incredible to me because I know, I just think about how my– how proud my dad would be.
Because this was so important to him, this, you know, being able to help other immigrants and being able to help people get on their feet was just a part of his life growing up. And so, for me, it’s just– it’s awesome because I love hearing their stories and being able to help them. And you know, I just met with someone on Monday, who is– she’s being deported back to Mexico on Friday, so, two days from now. And she has seven children. And so, meeting with her and being able to talk to her about something that is so intimate as far as like– these are like, this is heart-wrenching for this family. And they’re young.
They’re, you know, super cute couple, you know. Just– and for them to be– to come and talk to me about it, like, what a privilege for me. And so, that’s why I love this work is because I love meeting these people. I love talking with these people that have worked so hard to get there, you know, get on their feet. And then, to know that this is possible, it’s just– it’s really heart-wrenching. And to be able to help with that is something that– it’s super valuable to me. So, it’s really just about passing on this legacy, or you know, just extending this legacy of my family. And so, that’s been a huge part of it for me.

[JOE] I know how it is. My aunt Fran, her family had some money in the Depression era. And there was some sort of symbol that families would put that lived along the railroad tracks on the outside of their hours on the porch that– I don’t remember if it was like an X or something. The people that were traveling and kind of train jumping, that they knew that it was a safe place for them to spend the night without having the police call on them on the porch. And so, every morning, this little girl, she would bring breakfast out to these guys that were you know, jumping trains to try to go make money, places for their family. And I think that when you hear those stories in your family, of just really rough times, and how people took care of each other, despite the circumstances, it’s like– that has to inform our work.
We can’t just be about, you know, making more money. We have to have that deeper sense of mission and purpose and continuing that legacy that’s in our families. And I mean, I think, even just says like, we need to talk to the people that are oldest in our families, and say, you know one of the stories. I interviewed Bush on my mom’s mom. To just hear about her stories after Thanksgiving a couple years before she died, and to hear these stories, it’s like, we got to have those conversations because it’ll inform us how we can live differently in the future.
In the current political climate, just applying for this hardship evaluation put a target on people’s back? Like now that they’re in the system and known that they’re undocumented? Like, is there a danger there? Like you said, one of your clients going through this process sis getting deported, like, is– does it raise red flags for them to actually go through this proper process now? Or is that not rally part of the things right now?


[CECILIA] I, you know, I can’t answer that super well. But, I know that a lot of them are really wanting to do it because of the political climate. And so, they’re wanting to get started with this process and get this over with because they’re just like, it’s already gotten so bad. How much worse is it going to get? And yes, I think there was a period of time where actually even in my practice, I saw that it just kind of died down, like people are just so, uncertain about everything. And then a huge push to like, “Okay, let’s get going with this, let’s get this done because it’s getting too dangerous to be here without proper paperwork.”

[JOE] So, I want to transition and just hear a little bit about you launching the idea to train other people in hardship evaluations because it’s one thing to do the work and continue that family legacy and all that’s behind it. But, now, to be training other clinicians to do this, it’s like multiplying you out into the world to have a greater impact, what got you going, in regard to thinking I want to train other people? What gave you the confidence to keep going after the big idea? And kind of where you at in regard to trainings and helping people beyond yourself to do these hardship evaluations?


[CECILIA] So, I had gotten, I had been approached several times about these evaluations and people would find out that I was doing them or just look online, see what I was doing them, call me, and say, “Hey, I’m really interested. Do you train people in how to do these?” And I was like, “No. Sorry. Like, if you want I can have a conversation with you. But, I don’t, you know, I don’t know where you can get that training.” I didn’t have a training. I just kind of figured it out. Sorry. And actually, in your Mastermind, is I think you came up with like, “Why are you not offering this to people?” And I was like, “Good question. Why aren’t I?”
You know, you just feel like you’re always in the learning space, and it isn’t until you talk to other clinicians that you’re like, “Wait a minute. I’ve been doing these for, you know, 9 years, or 10 years, or whatever.” Like, “I think, I obviously figured something else.”

[JOE] One of my supervisors, he said he started with, “You don’t know what you don’t know. Then, you know what you don’t know. Then, you don’t know what you do know. And then, you know what you know.” And that’s always stuck with me, where I think that’s what’s great about the Mastermind group and working with other clinicians is they’re like, “Whoa, Cecilia, I don’t know how to do that, that’s mind-blowing.” Teach us. And these are other high achievers that are out there. And then, you get that confidence to say, “Holy cow, like, I could do something that actually helps people.” And these people I really respect are saying, “You can do this, and I don’t know how to do it. Please teach me.”

[CECILIA] Exactly. And that’s really what– that’s really kind of how it happened. And so, I am, you know, with help from the Mastermind group, I had the confidence to go and kind of put it out there and I’ve seen interest. So, it’s exciting and it’s something that I definitely want to grow with time once I have, you know, furniture in my house, and a little bit more time to devote to it. But, that’s my goal for the fall is to really kind of be able to promote it and kind of let people know what I’m doing.
Because there is a need, especially, here in Texas right now with everything that’s going on especially, you know, down south, and with the refugees, and that they are looking for a lot of people to help with these. And so, I’m in the process of trying to figure out how I can. I’m on some list somewhere to be able to do some evaluations and help out in that way. But, I know that I am able to provide a little bit more just because I’ve done it for so long. And I have a good idea as to what they’re looking for. And so, yeah, I’m happy to share the knowledge that I have.
I’m now ay an expert. But…

[JOE] Those are the best experts. You know, experts that are like “I’m the expert. Listen to me” are usually the ones that you’re like, I don’t know if I want to follow you.

[CECILIA] Yeah, that’s true. No, that’s definitely not my mentality, you know. I’ve very well aware that I’m not an expert. So, but, you now, and I’m very– I try to be very real and just upfront with people and explain, “Okay, these have been my experiences, and this is what I’ve done. And I’m happy to help you in whatever way I can to get you going because it is something that’s lucrative.” I mean I’ve been able to grow my practice to where I quit my job. And I just do this and now, I have a clinician. And I’m looking into expanding a little bit more. But, it’s totally possible for other people to do this. And you know, there’s always plenty of room at the top for people.

[JOE] Oh yeah. I mean, there’s so much need. So, let me go through kind of some of the bullet points that you shared with me. And if there’s anything extra that you’ve added into your trainings just let me know. And so, the website, hardshipevaluationtraining.com. And so, you’re offering $250 off of your training package with the discount code “Joe”. So, this is what Cecilia’s put together for training videos, all that extra paperwork that she uses, her first session checklist, which for me, I would need that to stay organized.
Just to remember like when I went through the Gottman training, the first couple times that I went through the evaluation, I had the notebook out. And I’m like, “I want to do this right.” I just told the clients I want to make sure this evaluation right. A sample evaluation which to see how you do it and what the courts say is a good evaluation. And that’s awesome. And then, my favorite thing that I remember talking with you about this. Having that monthly Facebook Q&A session, and private Facebook group, which– there’s going to be those things that come up for people, and say, “What do I do with this, Cecilia?”
Although, I would love to have tons of consulting clients and people paying for that for those quick questions to just be able to bounce it off of you. I think that’s so important that you have that ongoing support. Is there anything else I missed in kind of what’s all included in what you do through the hardship evaluation training?

[CECILIA] Now, I think that’s pretty much it. But, you know, honestly, I’m available. So, you know, people if they have a question, if they’re going through and they’re like, you know, can you explain this a little bit more or whatever, then, I’m always– I’m happy to answer any questions. My idea for this is that you leave, you know, finish the trainings and feel 100% comfortable to put your name out there and say, “Yes, I’m able to provide these trainings.” So, if there’s something that I can do that’s going to help get to that point, then, that’s the goal. And so, I’m happy to do that in whatever, you know, whatever way I need to.

[JOE] Oh, that’s so awesome. I love that– I love finding people that it’s the heart and the story that drives them and not the bottom line money. I really feel like that when people go after their passions and you know, a risk-averse way, they’re wise about how they make decisions. They don’t overextend themselves. But, they really say, “What’s the work that I can do over a lifetime? What’s that driver that just fires me up?” And then, you know, you happen to make money off of it. But, it’s not– That’s not the main goal.
It’s not just to get, you know, a fancy car, and a hot tub, and all. Those things would be nice. I’m not going to lie. But, you know, that’s not the driver. And so, I love that you’re taking the time to do this right and to really share the story behind it. If every practice owner in the world were listening right now, what would you want them to know?

[CECILIA] Oh, goodness. I know you ask this question and I forgot.

[JOE] I love how that happens so often. People get sucked into the interview and they’re like, “I knew that was coming.”

[CECILIA] I would say to really just believe that you can do it. Like, if you’re wanting to start your practice, or if you’re wanting to add a, you know, new service whatever, you really just have to, you have to believe that you can. And just go out there and do it. And be persistent. I think persistence is the biggest thing. You know, I’m in so many different groups and you know, for therapists and everything, and so many people say, “Oh, I tried it. But, you know, just didn’t work, or I’m just so scared.”
It just takes persistence, like, just keeping at it constantly even though, even those times are going to be slow, or even though personal stuff comes into it, like renovations, you know, it– just keep going. And you keep going, you’re going to look back and be like, “Wow, I had no idea I could get this far.” And it’s so cool. It’s such a good feeling to look back and be like, “Well, look at all that I’ve achieved, you know. Like I had no idea that these are things that I could have done.” And so, yeah, just being persistent and believing that it’s something that you can do.

[JOE] Oh, such good advice. And Cecilia mentioned the Mastermind group. If you don’t know what that is, head on over practiceofthepractice.com/apply. We have the updated list of all of our Mastermind groups we have offering. At the time of this recording, we have recording, we have our Next Level Mastermind which includes Slow Down School. We have also Start a Million Dollar Practice Mastermind with me and Casey Compton. And that also includes Slow Down School, we have all sorts of other resources that are out there.
Alison Pidgeon has her Start a Group Practice Mastermind. So, we’re really trying to help you from start to scale within your practice. So, if you’re not sure, just head on over to practiceofthepractice.com/apply. And then, Emily will jump on a call with you. And then, depending on who would be the best fit to talk with will jump on a call and just say, “Hey, if I was in your situation, here’s what would be the best use of your time and money.” We have enough people applying for things, we don’t need to put you in the wrong program that’s out of your price and that isn’t going to help you really achieve those things. So, again, that’s practiceofthepractice.com/apply. And Cecilia, her website is hardshipevaluationtraining.com.
I love what you’re doing, Cecilia. Keep up the awesome work. Thanks so much for being on The Practice of the Practice podcast today.

[CECILIA] Thank you so much. Thanks for having me on. And good luck with all– everything you’re doing. You’re doing so much. It’s exciting.

[JOE] Thanks, Cecilia.

[CECILIA] Okay, take care.

[JOE] I just love seeing people level up and take their skills that are working in their private practice and start offering those to other therapists, to other people in the community. That’s one of the best ways to continue to grow and scale, to start doing some consulting and to do it beyond just kind of your face-to-face work. So, really, proud of Cecilia to see how much she’s grown since she was in our Mastermind group. And she mentioned Next-Level Mastermind. So, if you want to join any of those Mastermind groups, you can head on over practiceofthepractice.com/apply.
Also, thanks to Brighter Vision. Brighter Vision has amazing websites for only $59 a month. And you get a month for free. So, head on over to brightervision.com/joe. You can get a month for free. I would absolutely love for you to work with them. And next week, we have Laura Long coming on. Check out this interview, of this little snippet from Laura Long’s interview.

[LAURA] So, first of all, the ones that make it versus the ones that don’t, on the surface, don’t usually look that different. So, if you had a therapist sitting in front of you, Joe, who really had their can I curse at all or no?

[JOE] Yeah, give a warning at the beginning that this would be explicit just because if I introduced like I think I think about if my kids were around like maybe I wouldn’t want the word ‘badass’. But, because we already said that, feel free. I’m going to have Christopher Locke on again and that man is beyond– no he’s like, he’s a pirate that has killed other pirates. So, tune in next week and thanks so much for letting us into your ears and into your brain, have a great week, we’ll talk to you soon.

[This podcast is designed by accurate, authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It’s given with the understanding hat neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find. Also, thanks to the band Silence is Sexy for your intro music. It’s awesome.]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.