LaToya Smith on Building Diverse and Inclusive Group Practices | GP 45

LaToya Smith on Building Diverse and Inclusive Group Practices | GP 45

What does it mean for businesses and private practices to be truly inclusive? How can private practices draw the best clients towards them through their work? How can private practices keep the ball rolling on anti-racism work?

In this podcast episode, Alison Pidgeon speaks with LaToya Smith about building diverse and inclusive group practices.

Meet LaToya Smith

LaToya Smith

LaToya is a Licensed Professional Counselor. She has provided services to youth and adults in outpatient, school, in-home, and community settings. LaToya firmly believes that people don’t have to remain stuck in their pain or at the place where they became wounded. She encourages her clients to be active in their treatment and work towards their desired outcome.

LaToya is the owner of LCS Counseling and Consulting Agency, a group practice located in Fort Worth, TX. LaToya also launched a platform called STRONG WITNESS, which is a platform designed to help people share their stories and connect with others.

Visit LaToya’s website.

Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Strong Witness Instagram, and Twitter.

In This Podcast

Summary

  • Your clients’ behavior will tell you what they want
  • Businesses built on authenticity

Your clients’ behavior will tell you what they want

Pay attention to your clients’ needs, because in them you can find ways to best serve them as a therapist and within the workings of your group practice.

This is what they do want to see, so I have to have more of that … if I’m going to serve the community and continue to meet their needs in the way they expect us to, then I’m gonna have people available for them to see. (LaToya Smith)

LaToya says that she was not trying to make herself seen by everyone, but she was working towards getting in touch with her ideal clients. Show up as who you are and embody who you are within your practice.

Businesses built on authenticity

It is no longer acceptable for businesses to be neutral in anti-racism work. The call has grown to the point where, in the current social situation, businesses should actively place their business statement in a viewpoint that explains their work towards building an anti-racist society.

It is better to say that you want to learn but do not know-how, instead of not saying anything at all. LaToya urges business owners to keep going and be active in the work and not to only take action in the heat of the moment. You can acknowledge it, but you still have to do something about it.

Give your support in a way that fits; not everybody is a frontline protestor, but you can protest in your own way that is best for you and for the movement. If this work is sincerely important to you, then it needs to be an ongoing process.

Useful Links:

Meet Alison Pidgeon

A portrait of Alison Pidgeon is shown. She discusses ways to grow your group practice on this week's episode of Practice of the Practice. Alison is a serial entrepreneur with four businesses, one of which is a 15 clinician group practice. She’s also a mom to three boys, wife, coffee drinker, and loves to travel. She started her practice in 2015 and, four years later, has two locations. With a specialization in women’s issues, the practices have made a positive impact on the community by offering different types of specialties not being offered anywhere else in the area.

Alison has been working with Practice of the Practice since 2016. She has helped over 70 therapist entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses, through mastermind groups and individual consulting.

Thanks For Listening!

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Podcast Transcription

[ALISON]:
You’re listening to the Grow a Group Practice podcast. Whether you’re thinking of starting a group practice, are in the beginning stages of a group practice, or want to learn how to scale up your already existing group practice, we have lots of great content for you.

Grow a Group Practice is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you grow your group practice. To hear other podcasts like the Imperfect Thriving podcast, Bomb Mom podcast, Beta Male Revolution, or Empowered and Unapologetic, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.

Hi, and welcome to the Grow a Group Practice podcast. I’m Alison Pidgeon, your host. So we are into December and I hope that you are all safe and healthy. I hope that you are wrapping up your year, maybe feeling good about how your group practice did in 2020. I know for many of us, despite all of the craziness with the pandemic, a lot of us have been very busy and my practice included. So it’s been exciting to see how we’ve ramped up being able to serve so many clients and our community and our state through telehealth. So yeah, so just trying to take care of all those loose ends at the end of the year.

And I wanted to share a little bit about the interview I did today with LaToya Smith. She is the owner of LCS Counseling and Consulting which is located in Fort Worth, Texas. She is a licensed professional counselor, she has a platform called Strong Witness, which she designed to help people share their stories and connect with other people. She is also one of the newest business consultants on the Practice of the Practice team, doing consulting around storytelling in marketing and also diversity inclusion, you know, consulting with business owners on those types of issues in their practice. So we talk about her own group practice and her journey from starting, which LaToya was in one of my early mastermind groups and how that helped her get her group practice off the ground. And just the different things that she’s learned along the way, and, you know, have some good conversations too, about the work that she’s doing around diversity and inclusion. So I think you’ll find a lot of great information in this interview, and I give you LaToya Smith.

________________________________________

[ALISON]:
LaToya Smith, welcome to the podcast. I’m so happy to have you.

[LATOYA]:
Hey, thanks for having me. I’m happy to be a part.

[ALISON]:
Yeah. So why don’t we start out having you explain a little bit about your group practice as it stands now? Like how many clinicians do you have and where you’re located, kind of give us the overview?

[LATOYA]:
Sure. The name of my practice is LCS Counseling and Consulting Agency and is located in Fort Worth, Texas. As of right now, including myself, they are six licensed clinicians. And I have one intern, I have another intern starting in a few weeks. So yeah, it’s about altogether about, you know, about eight people, but six licensed clinicians with the practice.

[ALISON]:
Yeah, that’s awesome. And I know we were just talking before we started recording about you participated in my starter group practice mastermind, we think it was about two years ago, although time seems to be running together.

[LATOYA]:
Yeah, yeah.

[ALISON]:
Yeah. So in two years time, you’ve built up a pretty nice sized group practice. So what was that process like for you? You know, starting out, and then, you know, were there particular stumbling blocks? Or were there things that were easier than you thought? Tell us about the journey from there to here.

[LATOYA]:
Yeah, you know, your mastermind was extremely helpful in this process. And I often joke with people, you know, one, I never thought I would have a private practice. I remember sitting in grad school thinking, there’s no way I’m going to sit in the office all day and just see people and then exactly, that’s where I’m at. And then as I started doing that, I remember thinking to myself, yeah, I don’t want to have a group practice because I don’t want to, you know, my last job before I started a practice, I was a clinical director. And sometimes it’s a lot to manage people. And the, you know, everything that goes with it, I was like, nah, that’s just, I can’t. And being a part of the mastermind taught me that, you know, you know, you hire the people that are right fit for your practice. And you know what I mean, you hire people you connect with, and you can have more control about who comes in, you know, things like that. So it definitely helped in the process. But I really didn’t know, I’ve been a part of group practices in the past.

But it’s the little details and the things you don’t know, I really enjoy those conversations, I enjoyed connecting with other therapists who were in the same positions that you know, I was in at the time and bouncing ideas off each other. And really in that space of okay, I’m not in this by myself, you know, I have somebody like, you know, you who was a consultant, but I have other therapists around me who had the same exact questions, who, you know, within this space where you don’t feel silly about asking a question, because everybody else is probably thinking the same thing. But I really enjoyed it. That’s what helped to push me forward in starting. And one thing that I’ve learned, especially from the mastermind with you, was that I think I got started too late in building my group practice. I started it when I was like, drained, and almost to the point of just being burnt out, instead of bringing somebody on earlier that could help me so I wouldn’t feel the you know, that emotion or that strain. So, I learned a lot of great tips and things that I still pull on now. That was extremely helpful.

[ALISON]:
Oh, nice. Thank you so much. I really appreciate that. Yeah, I like a couple of the points that you made in there about what you just said about you almost waited too late. I think that’s like one of the biggest myths that I have to dispel for people is like, everyone’s like, well, my caseload has to be full and I have to be turning people away before I start this group practice. But that’s the point at which you have like, no bandwidth, and no time to work on the group practice. So yeah, so don’t wait until that point, definitely wait until you know, you’re like two thirds full and you’re feeling you know, pretty confident about how the solo practice is going to start a group. And I think the other thing, too, that you were talking about was just like the, you know, the community of being with other people who are doing something similar. I know when I started my own group practice, I didn’t reach out for help right away, and it felt like you’re like operating in a vacuum. You know what I mean? Like, you don’t know what you’re doing? You think you do, but you’re not really sure?

[LATOYA]:
Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I would say too, I think I’m not sure how you can build one without getting consulting and support and help. Because there’s so many details. And even when you think you know, I can only speak for myself, even when I thought I know, I didn’t know, like, I thought I knew what it was, I didn’t really know. And not to say that I okay, I didn’t have any knowledge or experience, I did. But I think it’s just healthy and important to have somebody who’s been there. And really, you know, like a trailblazer, so to speak, who has been down the street that can help me navigate where I’m going.

[ALISON]:
Right, right, and also normalize all the things that you’re thinking or feeling. Because I know, it seems there comes a point when we get to the hiring stage in the group, because I’ve run the group now, eight or nine times, I think. And we get to the point where we’ve sort of laid out all the foundational things for the group. And now it’s like, okay, now we’re moving into the hiring phase, and everybody in the group looks at me, like I asked them to jump off a cliff.

[LATOYA]:
Yeah.

[ALISON]:
Right? And so we always have that conversation about like, yeah, this is scary. And, you know, you’re in and sort of process a little bit of how everybody’s feeling, not that I’m doing therapy. But, you know, obviously, that comes into play. And then it’s, you know, it’s nice for the other group members to realize, like, oh, everybody else is scared, but they’re doing it anyway. Yeah, yeah. Because I think that’s just so much about this process is like, you know, you have to just learn to tolerate that feeling of being afraid. Yeah. So what, you know, obviously, over over the past couple years, you’ve probably done a lot of things right, but maybe also made some mistakes, as we all do. So what are some of those things like, if you were to give some advice to somebody, you know, in the beginning stages of starting a group practice or the first couple years, which is really when you’re cementing a lot of the things that is going to help, you know, make things run smoothly, like, what what tips or things to think about, would you say to somebody?

[LATOYA]:
Yeah, because I made some mistakes. I think, for me, like I already mentioned the hiring one, like doing that way sooner. But then also just being clear on who you want to hire. Like, I have six therapists now and I’ve had some, you know, therapists that started and they’re no longer with the practice, but also just being clear of what a good fit is. And if there’s red flags, not overlooking that, you know, and not being like oh, it’ll work out. Like, understanding that, okay, maybe this person isn’t a good fit. And I had to learn, you know, a difficult lesson. And then even recently, realizing that somebody who came just probably wasn’t a good fit for the practice, but also having that conversation. Not that they’re not a great therapist, just maybe not, it didn’t fit, you know, as to how we were moving or what we were doing. So not being afraid to do that.

And then not being afraid to invest money. My friends tease me because they’re like, yeah, you spend a lot of money, like you always putting money somewhere. But I think it’s important when I want to grow. And then what I hear too, it’s okay to delegate and have people assigned to do those tasks. That’s another thing, it’s hard to really oversee and build, if my hands are still in so many places. And I’m learning even this last week, I’m bringing somebody else new on to the practice, to help with some billing. And I’m realizing no, I can’t do this stuff on my own. Because I didn’t have the support I needed, you know, I definitely hit a bump in the road, like last spring, and just really, like almost knocked the wind out of me, because I messed up some things when it came to like admin, and billing. And because I didn’t have people in place. And so I had to, again, spend more money to fix a problem, but had I really looked at things in the beginning, I know it could have flowed differently.

So really getting systems, not being afraid to delegate and hire people to take over certain parts, and then understanding that this is like a team effort. And, you know, again, delegating and sharing some of the load, like, I don’t have to do everything. But when I train somebody correctly, it can be helpful.

[ALISON]:
Yeah, I really like the point you made about, you know, you mess something up, and then it costs money to fix it. I think that’s something people don’t realize, like they’re afraid to spend the money but then they don’t realize how expensive it is to not do it right from the beginning and have to fix it on the back end. So I think that’s one really important point. And what do you think has helped you in terms, because I think that the two things you brought up the hiring, and like, you know, the investing, and I use that word very intentionally, because I think a lot of times when we’re looking at spending money in our business, it feels like, oh, I’m just spending this money, but people don’t realize they’re, you know, your money is going to ultimately grow because of this specific investment that you’re making. So what do you think helped you with that, like, mindset? Or how do you kind of determine, like, what is worth spending money on and what’s not worth spending money on?

[LATOYA]:
Yeah, that’s a good question. I think in the beginning, I knew I needed help, and I didn’t know where and I probably put my money in the wrong places, even before I took the mastermind group. And I think now it’s the idea of, I’ve learned so much through different masterminds, with Practice of the Practice or other mentors, you know, at a certain point too it’s about, okay, taking what you learn, and then do the work. But every time I want to level up, and I don’t know what I’m doing, I know I need to find somebody or a mentor, and really lock in. And sometimes that is about investing. So I’m investing in my future, I’m investing in where I want to go.

And if we reflect back, I remember even my professor, when I was in grad school, we were talking about something with education and I said, man, I really don’t know, and she said your education is an investment into your future, into your family, into your children’s life. And I was like, oh, that’s good. Like, you know, and so also understanding that when I’m ready to level up, and I’m, you know, being a greater impact in the community, to the therapists that are part of the team, you know, there’s something I also have to pour out there, you know, so it’s like, I gotta give up also to level up. And sometimes it is a financial investment, sometimes an investment of my time. You know, sometimes it’s guarding my time to level up, you know what I mean, instead of certain things I don’t, I can no longer do or pay close attention to and letting go with things. So I think anytime you want to level up, it is an investment and sometimes it is financial.

[ALISON]:
Right. Yeah, that’s a really good point. It’s time and money usually. And so obviously, you mentioned getting help from a business consultant or a mentor or something like that. But what are some other things you spent your money on in building the practice that you felt like was a really good investment?

[LATOYA]:
Definitely like, website, when I first started, again, I just had to go off what I knew. I built my own, but I’m in the process, it’s been a long process because I’m moving slowly with it, of redoing the website. When it comes time for like, logo, I’m getting somebody to do that and create it. Also, like I have another platform too, but like social media management sometimes because I can’t do, that takes up a lot of time. I enjoy it but it does take up a lot of time. So even for another platform like investing for somebody to do those posts for me and even though using the language that I would use and the things that I like to see. But I think it’s important because I just can’t, I don’t have the expertise. I mean, if I had to do a logo, it would be like the worst logo ever. And I know that’s not my, that’s not my thing, you know, but also like, doing that and putting money there like I, you know, not that I have a whole bunch of it just to throw out either. So it’s not like that. But I think the more wisdom I gain from people that pour in, the more I know, okay, I want to put my money here, here and here. This is what I want to learn. This is how I want to do things differently. So that’s definitely how I’ve used it. Yeah.

[ALISON]:
Yeah. Nice. Yeah. So um, we were talking a little bit before about what makes your practice kind of unique or different. So do you want to tell us a little bit about that?

[LATOYA]:
Sure. And I think in Fort Worth, in this area, and maybe it does exist, but I’m not sure about it. But as of right now, my practice is made up of all women of color. So we have black therapists, and Latino therapists, bilingual she is, but it’s, that’s what it’s made up of, and I hear, I heard a long time ago that your clients will tell you what your niche is. And so a lot of times when you know, clients call up for services, they’ll be very clear about who they want to see, you know, and I may say, okay, well, I’m full, are you okay with seeing another therapist? Okay, well is this person, they may say, specifically, is this person black? I need to see somebody who can relate to me, I need somebody who can understand. And I think it’s important to have that in the community.

And even when on social media, we took like photos in the summer, the team did. And then people will tell me, like, you guys look like superheroes. [Unclear] standing. And I was like, okay, that’s great. You know, and I know that, again, how important that social media is, when they see a picture of all the therapists. I think that helps people see, okay, there is somebody who can relate specifically, they feel that way when they see us. And I think that’s really important. Not to say that people of a different race couldn’t join. But I think it’s just important to have that in the forefront again, because, you know, we can go into certain stigmas when it comes to race and mental health. But, you know, I know a lot of times, these are things that I didn’t see growing up, or these are things that I’m not used to seeing just a group or a team of women of color that also practice and are available to serve, you know, and give back to the community.

[ALISON]:
Yeah, that’s amazing. What kind of feedback do you get from the community besides what you said about they want to see somebody who’s similar to them?

[LATOYA]:
Mm hmm. I think a lot of that mainly they feel heard, especially, you know, I’ve been saying this over and over, 2020 is very heavy. So even when it comes to issues of race or division, I think it’s comforting for people, I know what’s comfortable, you know, when they call in and know that they can laugh a certain way, where they can release and let their guard down, where they can tell little jokes. But, you know, sometimes, like, we get like the, you know, what’s behind it and things like that. For people, it’s just comforting to know, like, they may say things like, oh, not just about me, but other therapists too, like, oh, my therapist is so cool, or my therapist gets it, and nobody’s their buddy or their friend, but they feel so at ease. So I definitely hear that a lot. And of course, like having the therapist on my team who’s bilingual and just getting a request there. And she stays full because she’s really good. And then because, you know, she serves a certain specific population. You know, so I think that’s important. That’s what they love to see. That and the superhero part is definitely what they’re calling in for. Yeah.

[ALISON]:
Yeah. Cool. So was that, when you started out, was that one of your goals to hire all therapists of color? Or did that just sort of happen [unclear]?

[LATOYA]:
That happened organically. It wasn’t like, my, I didn’t set out just like that. But when I realized, like, again, clients will tell you what you need, when I get full, and the next therapist I hired, you know, was a woman of color, I think the one after, you know, wasn’t, but after a while, when I said, okay, can I let you see such and such? And then they’ll be like, nah, that’s not what I’m calling for. I’m calling for this. You know what I mean? And so I realized, okay, well, this is what, the people that call into LCS Counseling, this is what they do want to see. And so I have to have more of that. Not saying I can’t have somebody else of a different race, it’s just that if I’m going to serve the community and continue to meet their needs in the way that they expect us to, then I also have to have people available for them to see. You know, yeah.

[ALISON]:
Yeah. And I can see how that probably becomes its own niche. Like, you don’t necessarily need to brand yourself then as we’re the, you know, practice that deals with trauma or this or that or the other thing. It’s like, we are the practice who has all therapists of color and that is its own brand, so to speak.

[LATOYA]:
It is, it is and I, you know, because when I first started, I’ll be honest, like I say this over and over again. Like when I opened my doors for counseling, my thing was I just wanted people to run in because like, okay, I’m open, like, you know what I mean, like if I had like a pizza shop and I’m like, you know, grand opening, people would just come in for a slice, and it wasn’t like that, like, you really had to, like, do some work to get people to know that you were there. And I’m in a building with other therapists. And I remember watching people, like, go in and out of the other doors. And I’m like, man, like, you know.

And I’ve always been proud of who I am, you know, as a black woman, but I understood too like, okay, people are gonna come to me, because I’m a black woman. And then there’s gonna be some people who just aren’t because I’m a black woman. And I was okay, well, what do I do to get the people who won’t? And then I realized, you know what, that’s not what I need to be doing as much as the phone is bringing for the ones who want to see a black woman. Right? Then when I got comfortable with that, that people are going to call because of that, then it was like this, I just became at ease. And I even switched up, like, how I did social media, you know what I mean? And then it just became easier, because I wasn’t like, you know, overdoing it to get the people who weren’t looking for me anyway, as opposed to getting in front of the people that were looking for me. It just made things so much easier.

[ALISON]:
Yeah, yeah, I think that’s a really good point, too, about, you know, if you’re really a good fit for your ideal client, it shouldn’t feel like an uphill battle.

[LATOYA]:
Yeah, like a used car salesman [unclear]. Yeah.

[ALISON]:
So how does having it, and maybe you don’t know any differently, but how does having a team of therapists of color, like, inform the culture of the practice?

[LATOYA]:
Oh, yeah. I think, um, I think it helps us to get each other too, I think, again, with 2020 being so heavy, like being able to have those conversations, and being able to say, you know, what, you know, today’s not a good day or this, this is a lot, you know, mean, or checking in with each other and saying, okay, are you good? Like, what’s, you know, how do you, how are you feeling right now? Um, you know, I think it’s really important. Also, you know, even I mean, I could be honest, like, like I said, I have one, a therapist on the team who is Latina, and like, having conversations with her about different cultural things, and she helps me understand, you know, okay, well, this, you know, listen, in my culture, this, this, this, you know, this is what’s going on, and I get it, I get this person, and I’m like, okay, okay, thank you for helping me with that.

So, I think it’s also like the same safe space, like, we want to hold space for our clients, being able to have that safe space within community for us, to have those conversations, to check in, to say it’s okay, to show up, to be who you are, like, I have different therapists, and I’m just sitting here thinking as I’m talking to you, and everybody looks different, you know what I mean, and I love it, from like, you know, I’m, you know, I have natural hair, right, but I press my hair out, or another therapist has natural hair, and she wears hers in like, you know, Afro puffs, and another one who wears dreads and, you know what I mean, it’s like, it is kind of, it’s just so fun, just that level of difference that we have amongst each other. And we’re all from different spaces. So for one of them having like, the strongest accent from New Orleans ever, in my life that I’ve heard, and then somebody else having the most country accent from right here in Fort Worth, and then me being from Jersey, and like, it’s just, it’s just a fun group. And they’re just hilarious actually, too, they make me laugh. But it’s a good space to be around. And it’s nice to know that you really have people that you can lean on. And who gets you as you do this work together.

[ALISON]:
Yeah, that’s cool. That’s great. Um, anything else about your practice, or any tips for people who might want to, you know, maybe start a practice that’s all therapists of color, any advice that you have for them?

[LATOYA]:
I think just that, as I was saying a minute ago, like understanding, again, that your clients are going to tell you what your niche is, or help you help you really crack it and like, narrow it down. But also to just, you know, I was listening to a podcast this morning, and one of my team members on it said, you know, just show up as you are and be who you are, you know, so, yeah, I mean, I’m definitely like a jeans and T shirt type person. I mean, I can’t do that every day. So don’t show up, like you still have to be professional in everything that you do, not that you can’t show up in jeans and T shirts, because I’m probably doing that soon this week. But it’s just the idea of like, like, you know, be you and be comfortable in being you, and don’t try to go out and be like that therapist down the street. Like had I started my practice and tried to be like the gentleman across the hall, like, it would just be, it would be a disaster, because I wasn’t him. You know, his clients and he’s, you know, [unclear] a lot of clients. I’ve [unclear] a lot of clients, but our clients never looked the same. Like I’ve never saw and I had to laugh to myself, I’ve never seen one person of color go into his office. Well, black person, let me be specific, black person. And I don’t think his clients would want to come see me. So it doesn’t make him right and me wrong or vice versa. But just the idea I can’t chase who he was seeing, the same way he can’t chase who I’m seeing. Just be yourself and build from there. Yeah.

[ALISON]:
Yeah, I think I think there’s so much importance in just authenticity too, and marketing and like you said, like, if you were trying to be somebody who you are not, it would show through that you were being disingenuous.

[LATOYA]:
Yeah. And they see it.

[ALISON]:
Yeah. Oh, sure. Sure. Yeah. Yeah, that’s great. Um, so I want to switch gears a little bit and talk about the work that you’ve been doing with Practice of the Practice. Can you tell us what you do?

[LATOYA]:
Sure, sure. I’ve been doing some consulting work around storytelling, like helping people share their brand through the power of story. So not just like, talking by itself, but actually putting some stories in there to help, you know, connect with your audience, build a community, and really engage and evoke emotions. And I also do consulting with practice owners or other therapists in general, around issues of diversity, inclusion, and like anti racism, like social justice issues, and really like sticking in that space and helping people find their voice, open up their minds and their hearts to understanding difference, and then working in that area.

[ALISON]:
That’s awesome. So I know you’ve been with the team now for a few months, not a terribly long time. So what has been kind of the best part of doing that work so far?

[LATOYA]:
Oh, man, I really enjoyed, this was like, just prior to me starting, but in the summertime, we had like the Can You Hear Us? and I really enjoyed having that space where like, five black therapists shared their stories of racism, like personally and professionally, we just spoke freely. And I’ve gotten so much great feedback from that, just for other therapists to see, like, hey, these are therapists too. And they had these experiences. So it’s just not, it’s just not that person you see every once in a while on social media video that goes viral, that experiences it. Like these are people like your colleagues too, you know, [unclear] in the room? Well, I guess on the Zoom call now, getting the same CEUs that you’re getting, or like people you pass at work or in the building, things like that.

And then I’ve done another podcast takeover on diversity, inclusion, and anti racism. And I’ve definitely, like interviewed diverse voices on that, of people who, and this is not like storytelling anymore, but maybe people who have a voice in certain areas, whether it be you know, how you show up authentically, or how, you know, you may have, you may have worked hard for an organization, but they wouldn’t let your voice be heard at the table. You know, um, you know, a biracial therapist who says, you know, listen, I want you to see me as I am. And this is why I serve, you know, what my intention is about serving other clients, even white therapists who were on their understanding that the importance of being an ally, the importance of speaking up, and doing some self reflection, and just different, you know, a professor who’s talking about these issues in the classroom, or even when it comes to trauma, and understanding, like racial trauma and the impact this has on community.

So I mean, these interviews, and I’m so happy that I’m able to do this, the, you know, the podcast takeover, but the interviews have helped me, it’s kind of like, wow, this is just so deep and it’s so good to know that there are people out there who get it, who are doing the work. And it may not be the exact work that I do, but it’s even helping me like what you know, I never thought about some of this, or you helping me see this from a different angle. And so I really, really enjoyed that. And I’m excited for people to hear those episodes, too. And I’m really excited for the people that say, hey, I want to make some changes, and I’m okay with, and I highly respect the ones who say, I want to make change, but I just don’t know where to start. Like, you know, I mean, to me, that’s still a great first step, you know, as opposed to, you know, not being willing to make them at all. So that’s what I enjoy, I enjoy those things.

[ALISON]:
Nice. Yeah. When is the podcast takeover coming out? Do you know?

[LATOYA]:
It’s 10 episodes. So the first one was, you know, now, so it’s available now. So we can start, like start going through them.

[ALISON]:
Okay.

[LATOYA]:
So from November to December.

[ALISON]:
Nice, on Practice of the Practice podcast?

[LATOYA]:
Yeah, yeah.

[ALISON]:
Um, and then the series that you did over the summer, is that available if anybody wants to see the replay?

[LATOYA]:
Yeah, I know it’s on the Practice of the Practice, like, the YouTube, the YouTube video is up, so you can go back and watch that in its entirety because it was a Zoom video. And then also, Black Leaders Matter podcast series that Joe did, you can go back and hear the voices of black leaders that spoke specifically on these issues. You know, about racism and the injustice that we see. You know, unfortunately for a lot of people like, daily, but you know, when conversation was definitely high and emotions were definitely high in the summertime, like 2020, yeah, we spoke about those things. So I think those ones are all available either the podcast or YouTube video.

[ALISON]:
Okay, great. Yeah, I guess one thing I noticed this year was that I feel like the conversations we were having around race and diversity were different than they have been in the past? Do you perceive it that way too, or not?

[LATOYA]:
I think a little bit, I think in a sense that the conversation stretched beyond the people it was expected to be with. And I’ll say it this way. I think for myself, I’ve always had these conversations with other black people. I think now I find myself having it more with people who don’t look like me. And then they were, they may have been uncomfortable at first, or better yet, let me paint it this way. The people that reached out to me were more open to hearing my voice with it, as opposed to and I had one friend years ago, that, you know, would bring these conversations too, she was a white woman, she’s like, nah, I don’t know, that’s not true. And even her coming back and just be like, you know what, I remember those conversations, and now I feel so you know, blah, blah, blah, you know, for even denying that. So more of those conversations with people coming, you know, coming back or being open enough to say, I don’t know, but I’m trying, or I’m working. Those conversations have been new for me personally. Because a lot of times before with people who didn’t look like me, there was so much resistance to even hearing my voice or the other voice or things that made them feel uncomfortable, they denied it, which is what we do. Human nature, too, I mean, it just is what it is, like, if I’m not comfortable with it, it doesn’t exist or it’s wrong.

But people being able to come back and sit in that space, and be uncomfortable. And then we can chat and even like different [unclear] black voices too because not all black people think the same. They’re still, you know, so even having those conversations. And maybe, maybe I’m outraged and somebody else is like this is nothing new, you know, or they’re numb to it, or they don’t experience things that I’ve experienced, or I don’t experience things somebody else does. So I think now it’s more with the people who want to chat about it, it’s less resistance, but I think there’s still people who do not want to talk about it at all. And that is, you know, that is what it is too.

[ALISON]:
Yeah, I think the difference for me, and I’m curious to hear what you think about this. But one thing I noticed is that it seemed like in the past, like it was enough to say well, like I’m not sort of displaying any outward, like behaviors of racism. And so that was sort of good enough. You know what I mean? It was sort of like, oh, yeah, then you’re fine. And now it’s like, well, no, if you’re not sort of helping dismantle racism in this country, then, you know, that’s not okay. So I felt like there, especially for business leaders, I felt like there was a really big call to, like, make a statement about what are you doing to help the situation? And how is your business, you know, responding to what’s going on in the country and that type of thing. So, yeah, so I guess I’m curious to hear what you think about that.

[LATOYA]:
Yeah. And I think in summertime, there was, it was kind of like, people started, businesses started saying it. And then I think there were some authenticity with that. And I’ll say it all the time, the Ben and Jerry’s statement was probably the realest statement. I mean, I love their ice cream, too. But that statement they put out was just whoo. Right?

[ALISON]:
Can you give us the gist of it?

[LATOYA]:
In summary, like, they were just, cos I think they’re always pretty clear about what they’re saying, like when they do say stuff, but it was kind of like in your face. This is what it is, like, you know, hold no punches, bam, like, you know, hit it and quit it type thing. I think there were other companies that were people that put out statements because other people were doing it, like it was the thing to do. I mean, like, oh, yeah, me too. I didn’t want to be left out. So now I don’t wanna be left out. So let me join the group. And I’ve even seen one of my friends post on social media and he said, like, he’s not a therapist, but he was just saying, he made a statement saying, you know, some business owners will put a Black Lives Matter in the window. And he’s like, I know this business owner. And he said, I know this guy’s racist. And he said, I went, and I talked to him and basically, like, you know, had a discussion about the sign, and I put the sign up there, so they won’t come and call, you know, there’ll be no protests in front of my store. You know. So some people knew the opposite to do.

And same thing here in Fort Worth, I’ve heard it. I’ve heard it before, too. I was a part of the protest, too. But some people know, let me just go over here and do this, or let me offer some water for the protesters so they think that, you know, I’m a part. I just don’t want anybody to come… I don’t want [unclear] business basically. So let me kind of just say I am a part. So I think it was like some people jumped on the bandwagon. And that’s why, you know, even with Practice of the Practice, like I recently did a webinar called pushing the conversation forward because listen, we still have to keep moving forward. And that’s where I’m at right now. Like, okay, what can we actively be doing, to keep going because it’s not enough to say in the summertime, like, oh, that’s horrible. But if you continue in the same actions, it really wasn’t hard. Just because you acknowledge it doesn’t mean you know, you still have to do something about it. You have to be intentional about this work.

So getting therapists to see that, you know, these issues of injustice, they affect this of what we do. If we serve people, and these people are part of the community, we also need to be knowledgeable about what’s going on. And understanding that people are hurting, understanding how people are affected. So it’s not enough to be outraged, but do something about what you’re feeling. And do it in a way that fits. I say it all the time. Like, everybody’s not gonna be a frontline protester. That’s not your thing. Okay, but find what your thing is, and get busy with that.

[ALISON]:
Yeah, I’m really glad that you made the point about, you know, it’s, it’s one thing to be upset about it. And I feel like there’s so many people, in our country especially, who just, you know, they get upset because they see a story on the news. But then, you know, the news cycle is over and now there’s a new story, and they’ve forgotten about the thing they saw two days ago that they were really upset about. And it’s like, you know, if this is really important to you, it needs to be an ongoing process. It can’t just be like, you know, this week I’m mad, and then I’ve forgotten about it.

[LATOYA]:
Exactly. Or today, or this moment, and then by the afternoon, it’s, you know, out of sight out of mind.

[ALISON]:
Right, right. Yeah. And I think in my own practice, we’ve started to have some good conversations, and we’re doing some diversity inclusion training as well. And yeah, I think it’s just brought a lot of that to the forefront. And like, we’re, you know, we’re a team of all white therapists and we’re having conversations about, you know, how can we become more diverse? How can we attract clinicians who are therapists of color? You know, that type of thing. So, it’s been good, and we’re, you know, continuing to have those conversations.

[LATOYA]:
Yeah. And I’m glad you’re having them. I’m glad that… that’s the part that makes my heart smile like that people are willing to have these talks, and then willing to move forward and do something about it, because I realize it’s uncomfortable. But if we want to bring about this change that’s needed, we have to be willing to get uncomfortable, you know, and really sit in it and not run away from it.

[ALISON]:
Right. Yeah, LaToya, I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with us today. I feel like the work that you’re doing in your group practice, and also consulting, is so important. And I’m really glad that you took the time to share with us today.

[LATOYA]:
Yeah, you know, and I thank you for having me, I enjoy having these talks. And you know what, even as I’m sitting here, like, you know, talking with you, I’m just reflecting back to the mastermind that we did, and I enjoyed every part of that mastermind then, and I’m so appreciative to now that I did it, you know, I did it with you in that group, to help move me forward to where I’m at now. So thank you. However long ago it was we can’t figure out, but [unclear]. But I did it.

[ALISON]:
Yeah, thank you so much. If folks want to get ahold of you, what’s the best way for them to contact you?

[LATOYA]:
Sure. I’m on social media, Instagram LCS_counseling, and then Facebook, the practice LCS Counseling and Consulting Agency. If somebody’s interested in doing some consulting around storytelling, or diversity, inclusion, anti racism, any social justice issues for their practice or individually, they could always reach me you know by email latoya@practiceofthepractice.com or go to the website, I believe it’s like slash account and like, click on and, you know, sign up to do some, like a pre consulting call with me and we can chat about, you know, needs or what they’re looking for.

[ALISON]:
Awesome. Well, thank you so much again.

[LATOYA]:
Yeah, thank you.

[ALISON]:
Yep, have a great day.

________________________________________

[ALISON]:
Thanks so much for listening today. I feel like these conversations we’re having around diversity inclusion are so important and I’m really glad as LaToya said that we’re continuing to talk about these things and work through these things. Because it’s important to integrate this into our work as therapists but also as group practice owners, so thanks so much for listening and I will see you next time.

This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regards to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, Practice of the Practice, or the guests are providing legal, mental health, or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one.

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