How can you practice being an empathetic therapist? What can therapists do to care for themselves when experiencing ‘parallel trauma’? How can you as a therapist be an authentic listener, to your clients and to other therapists as well?
In this podcast episode takeover, LaToya Smith speaks with Susan Melendez Doak about not fitting into any boxes.
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Meet Susan Melendez Doak
Susan M. Doak is a licensed professional counselor and the owner of Newberg Counseling & Wellness, a group private practice in beautiful Newberg, Oregon. She has a passion for empowering and inspiring people to reach their full potential in their personal and professional lives. When she is not with clients, she enjoys dancing with her kids, hiking the sites in Oregon, gardening, and going on walks with her Springer Spaniel.
Get in touch via email firstname.lastname@example.org
In This Podcast
- I don’t fit in your boxes
- Have patience for other people’s stories
- Susan’s advice to biracial therapists
I don’t fit in your boxes
It made me think ‘I don’t want to check your boxes’. I don’t fit in any of your boxes and however you want to count me or whatever. I felt uncomfortable because I felt if I choose Hispanic, am I denying my white ancestry and heritage? Or the opposite? That wasn’t okay with me, even as a child I could perceive that. (Susan Melendez Doak)
Not fitting in boxes is more common than we realize. Some people do not fit in them, and that is a fact to be proud of instead of feeling ashamed. People try to box others up with their preconceived ideas, instead of going up to a person and meeting them for who they are.
Have patience for other people’s stories
Therapists are trained to listen; however, the average person might need to practice how to properly listen to someone’s story with the right intentions and with the right ear.
If you can have the patience to listen to someone’s story through their eyes, through their perspective, it’s always going to open your mind. If you do it long enough, you develop an open-minded muscle – an empathy muscle that is ready to make space, to make a hospitable space for people to be themselves. (Susan Melendez Doak)
By doing this, therapists can make space for people to explore their racial identity, and making space for people to practice their advocacy.
Susan’s advice to biracial therapists
As much as you can, know your own personal history, who you are, where you come from, and be proud of that. You do not need to be the best fit for every client.
As a white therapist who wants to be an ally, do the work and research and also be willing to listen to your clients and find ways in which you can be there for them.
Model respect, consent, and true acceptance and you are on the right path.
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Meet LaToya Smith
LaToya is a consultant with Practice of the Practice and 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.
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