How can storytelling give you power and peace? What do you need to do to share your story? Does storytelling make a difference in therapy?
In this podcast episode, Whitney Owens talks to LaToya Smith about how she came to share her story and how she helps others to realize the power in sharing their stories.
Meet LaToya Smith
LaToya is the owner of LCS Counseling and Consulting Agency in Fortworth Texas. She firmly believes that people don’t have to remain stuck in their pain or the place they became wounded. She encourages her clients to be active in their treatment and work towards their desired outcome.
She has also launched Strong Witness which is a platform designed to connect, transform, and heal communities through the power of storytelling.
Visit LaToya’s website.
In This Podcast
- Faith and starting a practice
- Going from a solo practice to a group practice
- Balancing therapy with admin work
- Strong Witness
- Helping people to tell their story
- Using the power of story as a clinician
Faith and starting a practice
The way things lined up, where I almost didn’t have a choice but to do my own thing, it was just the timing. It wasn’t a coincidence, it was God, you know, just how it worked out. And I needed him to break those things off. … At that point, as ambitious as I am, I still would have been very, very scared. So, he moved things out of the way so that I could move forward with that.
After being laid off from her job towards the end of 2015, LaToya sought guidance from her pastor and an evangelist at her church, both of whom sparked the idea for her to go off on her own and start her own practice. She had never really thought about it but was also never too keen on sitting in an office and seeing one person per hour all of the time, so she decided to start a practice.
She went from being a clinical director at an agency to feeling stuck with nothing to do, to trusting God and using the tools He had given her to put it all together. With God’s help, LaToya was able to create and build it into what it is today; a successful group practice with 5 therapists working alongside her.
Going from a solo practice to a group practice
Right from the start, LaToya never wanted to turn anybody away from her practice, especially those whom she knew she could definitely help, so she found herself working really long hours and feeling absolutely exhausted. At the beginning of 2019, she brought another therapist on board to take over some clients and divide the workload, and then kept building it up piece by piece with more therapists joining the practice as the months went by.
From there, the referrals and appointments kept flowing in, which showed LaToya that she had made the right decision by bringing more therapists on board and that those who were on her team were the right people for the job. Even though she had never really wanted to have a group practice or be in a supervisor or admin role, she believes that God is maturing her and preparing her to work in these different professional capacities and find her new role at the practice. Since she knows what it’s like to wait to bring in help until it’s long overdue, her advice to any therapist is to get someone to join you before it’s too late and you find yourself overwhelmed and burnt out.
Balancing therapy with admin work
Going from a difficult season of unemployment and lack of guidance to running a practice was overwhelming, but LaToya was able to lighten her load by turning it into a group practice and bringing fellow therapists on board throughout the years. She has restructured her workweek so that Fridays are dedicated to admin tasks, but she still feels a bit overwhelmed by the amount of work she has to do which takes away from the time she could be spending with clients. She feels like she should probably hire someone else to whom she can delegate those tasks and then not have such a big burden to carry anymore.
In the seventh grade, LaToya went through a painful experience and never confronted the person who put her through that. She kept it all bottled up inside and carried that story with her for a very long time, until about 2015 where she was urged by her pastor to write to that person about what had happened to her. She poured the whole story out and sent it, unedited, to that person, and was overcome with a feeling of peace and power.
Nothing was stopping her, and she realized that the more she started to verbalize her story, the more in control she felt, and the more power she was able to draw on from the Holy Spirit to keep telling her story. She began to see the bigger picture in that she needed to help others to find that strength and power in sharing their stories, no matter how deep those stories may be, so she launched Strong Witness, a storytelling platform that allows people to regain their voice, share their story, and connect with other people.
Helping people to tell their story
I like to help people know that their voice does have power, and they don’t have to shy away. You can stand up and speak your truth. This is your story and we’re listening to it.
LaToya has a few guidelines that she uses when helping others to figure out how to share their story:
- You have to be true to yourself and talk about something that you’re passionate about or something that has affected you in some way.
- An important part of your storytelling process should be talking about how sharing your story has changed you.
- Share your story in whatever form works best for you, be that speaking to others, writing it down, writing and sharing something online, creating a video and posting it to social media, or even singing.
- Lastly, you don’t ever have to share your story if it is still too traumatizing or triggering for you. Make sure you’re ready to share that story or find another story that you are ready to share and get more comfortable with storytelling.
Using the power of story as a clinician
LaToya uses storytelling when she works with clients in her practice and says that it’s more flexible than asking question after question about an experience or a feeling. She encourages her clients to share their stories and use their voice to find that peace and freedom and power that comes from letting go of something they’ve been holding inside of them.
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Meet Whitney Owens
Whitney is a licensed professional counselor and owns a growing group practice in Savannah, Georgia. Along with a wealth of experience managing a practice, she also has an extensive history working in a variety of clinical and religious settings, allowing her to specialize in consulting for faith-based practices and those wanting to connect with religious organizations.
Knowing the pains and difficulties surrounding building a private practice, she started this podcast to help clinicians start, grow, and scale a faith-based practice. She has learned how to start and grow a successful practice that adheres to her own faith and values. And as a private practice consultant, she has helped many clinicians do the same.
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