Do you feel lost in your practice? Does it feel like something is missing? Who are you outside of the roles you play?
In this podcast episode, Whitney Owens speaks to Veronica Cisneros about how to not lose yourself in your practice.
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Meet Veronica Cisneros
Veronica is a licensed therapist and owner of Outside the Norm Counseling. She is also a wife and mom of three daughters, and she wants her girls to know who they are and feel confident about their future.
She can’t think of a better way to help other women than by demonstrating an empowered and unapologetic life. So Veronica started Empowered and Unapologetic to be a safe space for women to be vulnerable and change their lives for the better before they ever need to see a therapist.
In This Podcast
- Pursuing private practice
- From Mastermind Group to Empowered and Unapologetic
- How do we, as therapists, find what we’re missing?
- Who are we outside of the roles that we play?
Pursuing private practice
Veronica started working at a hospital, initially just to finish all of her required hours but it really grew on her. She was there for five years and also started her very small private practice. Between that and the hospital, she was basically working two full-time jobs and hardly saw her husband or children. She reached a point where she couldn’t do both because she was starting to burn out, she’d have to pick one. Through Joe Sanok’s Mastermind Group, Veronica started learning and educating herself about what to do next to live the life she wanted to live. She started raising her rates, seeing fewer clients, and slowly her practice started to grow.
From Mastermind Group to Empowered and Unapologetic
Me having that conversation with myself, that was a kick in the butt. It was a kick in the butt because I knew that my kids, my husband, and my family were worth more. And I needed to start showing up for myself, which in turn, I’d show up for them.
Starting the Mastermind Group, Veronica was surrounded by a bunch of amazing, talented, educated professionals who she thought were at a level of success way above anything she could ever imagine. She felt out of her depth and considered quitting. She reached out to Whitney, who was her accountability partner in the group, and flat out asked her, “Is this even worth it?”
Whitney shared her experience with Veronica, she had been in the same place and, through hiring clinicians, she had built up her practice. That conversation is what made Veronica go ahead and pursue the Mastermind Group. Veronica started to acknowledge all of the things that she was doing right. That level of perseverance she had through her conversation with Whitney and engaging in starting to ask more questions, that was when she felt at home.
A lot of counselors self-sabotage when they’re in private practice, not just in their practices, but also in their lives. Looking at their clients, they tend to lean towards things that are familiar and repeat unhealthy patterns and behavior, because it is what’s familiar. They’ll get a taste of something healthy but it is uncharted territory and they don’t really know what to do or how to pursue it, and they don’t trust it. Veronica is constantly challenging clients to pursue change and challenge these unhealthy thoughts and insecurities. She knew that she needed to take her own advice and pursue this change. It was scary but she had to ask herself how badly she wanted it and what she was willing to sacrifice to do it because right now, she was sacrificing her family.
How do we, as therapists, find what we’re missing?
We’re consumed with our jobs and we’ve lost ourselves in what we’re doing. To get ourselves out of that starts with actually being able to identify that we’re lost. We get lost in that instant validation and gratification from being able to help one person per hour versus our families. We get caught up in doing the work that we love and we forget the most important part of all which is our families. Because of this, we need to bring ourselves back to this place of finding validation in being able to connect and empathize with our families versus being a therapist.
Who are we outside of the roles that we play?
When we don’t know who we are, well, then all we’re doing is we’re wearing a mask and we’re turning into this chameleon to be what they need us to be versus what and who we are. And so, if we can really take a look at that, like, how often do I put on the mask? How often do I change and mold myself into something other people want me to be? I think then, and only then, we’re able to go ahead and establish that change that we so badly desire.
Many of us get stuck in that place of finding validation in our work, and we don’t even see that we’re doing it. We find that identity in our jobs. Now, in this pandemic, work is changing. If we were to strip away the fact that we are clinicians, or mothers, or wives, what are we left with?
Now, especially during this pandemic, we have an opportunity to connect with our families on a totally different level, but what stands in the way? Work on yourself and ask:
- What is the issue?
- Where am I currently at?
- Where do I want to be?
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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.
Thanks For Listening!
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Faith in Practice is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a network of podcasts that are changing the world. To hear other podcasts like Empowered and Unapologetic, Bomb Mom, Imperfect Thriving, Marketing a Practice or Beta Male Revolution, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.
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Welcome to the Faith in Practice podcast. I’m your host, Whitney Owens, recording live from Savannah, Georgia. I’m a licensed professional counselor, group practice owner and private practice consultant. In each week, through a personal story or amazing interviews, I will help you learn how to start, grow, and scale your private practice from a faith-based perspective. I’m going to show you how to have an awesome, faith-based practice without being cheesy or fake. You too can have a successful practice, make lots of money, and be true to yourself.
I am always talking to you guys about the importance of relationships. Not only relationships to help you build your practice, but just relationships to help you grow personally. But what is really amazing is when you find a relationship that does both. And I love my interview today with Veronica Cisneros because she and I have that type of relationship. We met… it was almost two years ago, in a mastermind group that we were in together. And I love mastermind groups because you create such a special community as you’re building your businesses together. And we were set up as accountability partners. And Veronica brings out the crazy side of me, I can’t think of another way to say it, the fun side of me, the side that I kind of hide sometimes, because she’s silly, but she’s raw and she’s so authentic and passionate about the work she does. And so, as accountability partners, we were able to really challenge each other in some really unique ways. And when we went to Slow Down School, which is an amazing week away in July in Traverse City or right outside of Traverse City, Michigan, that’s put on by Practice of the Practice. It’s a weeklong, kind of conference slash retreat, where you take a step away from your practice to relax and focus on yourself. And then you kill it the last week in your practice. It’s amazing how you can come up with these really great ideas when you just stop for a few days and rest. But Veronica was there with me, we were roommates while we were there. And it was an amazing encounter. She spoke so clearly into my life, even the first, I think it was the first night we were there, I had a dream. And I woke up the next day and I’m all about interpreting dreams, and I’m like, oh, let me tell you about this dream and she just nailed it like, this, that, the other. And it really spoke to my heart and it really set the tone for that week for me.
So, Veronica’s played a really big role in my life, growing as a woman. And she has this amazing mission to help women become real, like, really who they are and to stop hiding behind their roles as a mother or as a daughter or as a therapist. And so, she’s going to talk today in this episode about how not to lose yourself in your practice. She has an awesome group following; it’s called Empowered and Unapologetic. And that’s what she’s about, like she is about you, being just that in your families and in your life. So, I really want to encourage you to check her out. She does have a free Facebook page that you can follow. She’s got a lot of other products. And if you’ve been following this podcast for a while, you’ve heard me talk at the very beginning about the podcast network that we have, and she’s a part of it. She has her own podcast, so I want to encourage you to also check that out, the Empowered and Unapologetic podcast. Anyway, let’s jump into today’s episode: Veronica Cisneros sharing how to not lose yourself in your practice.
Today on the Faith in Practice podcast I have a dear friend, Veronica Cisneros, also known as Vera. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, motivational speaker, and Queen hostess of transformational women’s retreats. Through these retreats, she helps women answer questions such as how did I lose me? She lovingly calls out insecurities and doubts and teaches women to challenge them for what they are: a mythical assault to the true femininity. When it comes to stepping outside of your comfort zone, Veronica is the best bet. She assures you that by stepping out you are able to experience true transformational change. It comes as no surprise that she is the owner, aka Queen hustler, of Empowered and Unapologetic, a hardcore girl gang of woman aggressively supporting each other on a Facebook page. Our focus is to continue to expand the community filled with authentic women who know their worth and who are unapologetically who they want to be. Her true aspiration is to help multitudes of women learn how to let go of perfectionism, and instead face their emotional wounds and insecurities. Hey, Veronica.[VERONICA]:
Hey, girl. [WHITNEY]:
Yeah. Also, this isn’t wasn’t in the bio here, but Veronica also has a private practice called Outside of the Norm Counseling. [VERONICA]:
Absolutely, that’s right. Yeah, we have three clinicians. We just hired a fourth one. So super excited to grow even bigger. [WHITNEY]:
That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Well, why don’t you share a little bit about your journey from, you were working at the hospital and how you decided to start a private practice? [VERONICA]:
Absolutely. So, I was working at the hospital and I initially started there to pursue, well, to finish all my hours if I’m being completely honest. I was there for about five years though, and it just grew on me. I learned so much. However, I was in between there as well as my private practice. And I started my private practice very, very small. I’m embarrassed to say how much I was charging, just because I was willing to take anything, anything and everything as a payment for my therapy sessions, because at the time, I didn’t think I was enough. And I was working about 56 to 60 hours a week. And so, I really didn’t see my kids or my husband because I’d work Monday through Friday at the hospital, and after the hospital, I would go straight to the practice. And then I was also working Saturdays and Sundays. And so, I’m kind of working two full time jobs. And I decided… there was a point where I decided, well, wait a minute, I can’t do both and I’m starting to burn out. So, I have to pick one.
And so, you know, just like you, we both kind of joined that mastermind group with Joe and, you know, I started learning and educating myself about like, what to do next and how to go ahead and live the life I wanted to live, which is totally what I preach. So, I started raising my rates, seeing less clients. And slowly, my practice just started to grow. And I started to hire the therapists, train them. And then I hired another therapist, and all of a sudden, I’m filling these therapists, which I never thought was possible. And yeah, here I am, I have, like I said, I have three clinicians in and just hired our fourth one. And it’s been amazing. It’s been quite a journey, though. It hasn’t been easy because there was a lot of self-defeating thoughts. You know, sometimes I thought that I wasn’t good enough, you know, who was going to pay this rate for me? And each time I would challenge those thoughts just as we do our clients. And each time I did that, my confidence slowly started to build and that was an amazing experience for myself.[WHITNEY]:
Yes. Well, for those of you who might not know, she’s talking about Joe Sanok. That’s Practice of the Practice. And they have mastermind groups, and that’s kind of how she was saying that we met. A mastermind group is when you have like-minded people working towards a similar goal, and we share ideas, we challenge one another. And so Veronica, I want to take us back to that time, you were talking about self-defeating thoughts, and I’m remembering when you first joined the group and you and I were accountability partners, and I think you might have texted something about not being in the group anymore. And we jumped on a call together and I like clearly remember where I was driving, because I felt so excited and I guess, empowered to speak to you. So, I think a lot of people are in that place of not feeling good enough, not feeling like they have enough for their practice. So can you share a little bit about that conversation, how that was a turning point, because really, by staying in the mastermind group is kind of how you launched into hiring all these people and doing Empowered and Unapologetic. [VERONICA]:
Absolutely. So, I started the mastermind group and I remember attending our first group meeting. And here I am with, you know, who I thought were just these amazing, talented, educated professionals and they were way past, you know, they had gone way farther than I had even imagined. And they’re at this level of success. And I’m supposed to give them feedback. And so, I remember each time thinking, okay, well, what am I going to say to them? They’re already well established, they’re already successful. I don’t think this is for me because I’m not there. You know, I just have my small little practice and yes, I have 45 clients, because as crazy as that sounds, that’s how many clients I was seeing a week. And you know, who’s gonna take any advice from me?
And I remember contacting Joe and saying, you know, I’m thinking about quitting. And I had reached out to Whitney because Whitney and I were partners. And you know, I remember just flat out asking her, Whitney, this is where I’m at right now. Is this even worth it? And I was blown away by her response. Because, Whitney, you were just so amazing, you were so amazing, because you had said, you know what, Veronica, I was there too. And it was just me and, you know, you had shared your story with me and how you went from being where I was currently at, to you hiring clinicians and building up your practice and just taking me through that, and it was really through that conversation that I made the decision to go ahead and pursue this mastermind group. And I decided at that moment, well, wait a minute. I’m seeing 45 clients and I’m private pay, and I’m able to connect with my clients. I didn’t even have a website at the time, so I am doing something right. And so I started to acknowledge all the things that I was doing right, and that level of perseverance I had through not only the conversation between you and I, but just starting to engage in starting to ask even more questions. And it was then that I felt like I was at home.[WHITNEY]:
I love it. And it is so right on like, when we had that conversation, I had remembered feeling that same way when I did my first mastermind, just feeling like everybody was more advanced than me. And I remember having a pre-consulting call with Joe and him saying you can do this like, this is where you’re at. And I was like, all those self-defeating thoughts like really? Am I really capable? Does someone really think I can do it? You know, and having to really push through that and I think a lot of us as counselors that, you know, the self-defeating thoughts or we self-sabotage ourselves when we’re doing private practice, for sure, and in not just our practice, but in our lives. [VERONICA]:
Oh, gosh. Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think we tend to go ahead and lean towards things that are familiar, right? I mean, look at our clients, they repeat the same unhealthy patterns, the same unhealthy behaviors, because this is what’s familiar. And although they’ll get a taste of something healthy, it’s uncharted territory, and they don’t really know what to do or how to pursue it, and they don’t trust it. And so, we’re in this field where we’re constantly challenging our clients to go ahead and pursue change, and challenge some of those thoughts and challenge some of those insecurities. And I think with us taking our own advice, taking our own feedback that we give to her clients and actually pursuing this change, yes, it’s scary, however, how bad do you want it? And that’s something that I had to ask myself is, how bad do you want it? Do you want it that bad because if the 60 hour a week isn’t working, and you really do want to drop off your kids at school and you really do want to pick them up and have days off, well, then what are you willing to sacrifice to do it? Because right now you’re sacrificing them. And that, me having that conversation with myself just, that was a kick in the butt. It was a kick in the butt because I knew that my kids, I knew that my husband, and my family, was worth more. And I needed to start showing up for myself, which in turn, I’d show up for them. [WHITNEY]:
Yeah, you know, I’m sitting here thinking, surely I don’t make the same mistakes over and over. But I know that’s not true. Right, right? We just don’t even see, it’s those blind spots that we have. And so, I’m sitting here thinking, and maybe you can speak to this, how do we as therapists find what we’re missing? Because we’re probably really consumed with our jobs, and we’ve kind of lost ourselves honestly, in what we’re doing, and so how do you think we get out of that? [VERONICA]:
That’s a great question. Well, it’s being able to identify that we’re even lost. You know, with me, also personally, with me working as much as I did, being a clinician just comes naturally. I’m able to challenge my clients, I’m able to lean in, I’m able to help them make connections and help them identify these unhealthy patterns so we can create change, and I get to see their progress from start to end. And I’m watching all of this happen and there’s a great amount of validation that I feel; there’s a great amount of appreciation because my clients are telling me, thank you so much for being a part of my journey. Thank you so much for helping me and I’m seeing that level of gratitude. However, when I go home, well, mom, this didn’t happen or this didn’t happen or why didn’t you do this, or my husband’s complaining about me not spending enough time with him and the time that I do spend with him it’s not what he wants. And so, I’m hearing these constant complaints and you know, all these problems that require me to take time out of my day to actually resolve.
And so, I think we get lost in the fact that we get instant validation, instant gratification from being able to help one person per hour, per 50 minutes, versus our families. And I saw myself… I recognized. I recognized that I was doing it and, you know, I’ll share something with you. There was a time when, you know, I’m playing with my daughters. I have three girls and I’m out there and we’re playing and, you know, my daughter came up. Aubrey came up to me and mentioned that she had an issue and she started talking to me about what was going on in school. And so obviously, you know, I know exactly what to do, I know exactly how to resolve this, I know exactly what to say, because I deal with this on a daily basis, hour by hour. And I remember my daughter looking at me and just saying out loud, mom, I don’t want you to be my therapist, I want you to be my mom. When she said that, it was as if a knife had literally pierced my heart, because I couldn’t believe that I was attempting to be my daughter’s therapist versus being her mom, which is so much more powerful. That’s so much of a greater role. And it hurt so badly. And I remember looking at her and apologizing and saying, I’m so sorry. I wanted to take that pain away and all you wanted me to do is listen. And she just started crying, I started crying and we just had this beautiful moment and I realized, okay, wait a minute, I’m finding validation in my work. Not in my family. There’s something wrong here.
I think a lot of us clinicians do this where we get so caught up in changing lives. We get so caught up in doing the work that we absolutely love to do. However, we forget, we forget the most important part about all of this is our family. And if we can bring ourselves back to that, back to this place of finding validation in being able to connect and empathize with our families and sharing a moment versus being a therapist, there’s a great amount of value in that, right?[WHITNEY]:
Oh, yeah. Thank you for sharing that story. It’s impactful, for sure. And I think so many of us get stuck in that place. I mean, stuck I guess is an okay way to say it. We don’t even see that we’re doing it, and we do find that identity in our jobs. And I’m thinking of so many times that I felt that way or conversations I’ve had with my husband where he’s like, please stop working, right? Like, take a step back for a second. And it’s true. It’s the identity thing. And with everything going on, we’re recording right now at the very beginning of this pandemic, the Coronavirus, so, it’ll be interesting to listen to this later, but it’s been making me think a lot about this topic that you’re bringing up – identity. Because I was like on a run thinking… Actually, just to be candid, I’m gonna actually tell you what I was really thinking and then tell you the other thing. I was on a run. And this girl was in front of me and I am so competitive. I was like, I have got to beat her. I’ve got to run faster. And I was like, what the … am I thinking? Like, why does this matter? It’s me wanting to feel good about myself because I can beat somebody else, right? It’s me looking for success. And then it made me start thinking about identity, right? And then I started thinking about my job and now that work has started changing some, or it’s been a little chaotic trying to get all telehealth and that, it’s really made me be like, okay, my identity is not in my work and I can see how often I get to that place. [VERONICA]:
Yes, and you know, I love that you said that. One thing that I teach… So, I have two businesses. One is Outside the Norm Counseling, which is our private practice, and the other is Empowered and Unapologetic. And one thing I’m met with is women constantly coming to me and saying they don’t know who they are outside of the roles they play. And I think that resonates with all of us. You know, if we were to go ahead and strip away the fact that we’re a clinician, if we were to strip away the fact that we’re mothers, or we’re wives, what are we left with? And so, if I was to ask you right now, for your listeners, if I was to ask you right now, who are you outside of all these roles you play? How would you answer that? Or would I be met with crickets? And most of the time, I’m met with crickets and tears. And I think it’s, especially during this pandemic, we have this opportunity to connect on a totally different level with our children, with our families. What stands in the way? Well, I know for me, it was this uncomfortable emotion because I was never taught how to connect by my family. My mom and dad were very much one way. My dad was focused on himself and my mom was focused on him. And so, I was seeing this extreme level of codependency. And I wanted to do the opposite and so that’s what I did. But you end up with the same environment, as we all know, right? [Unclear] recreating that childhood. And so being able to go ahead and work on myself and finding out who I am outside of all those roles required me to go out and explore the issue. What is the issue? Where am I currently at and where do I want to be? And I want to be a connected and exceptional mother. I want to be a mother that listens to understand, versus someone who’s quick to fix. And that’s something that I learned from my daughter Aubrey, you know, I don’t have to take away her pain. I can sit there with her and empathize and connect. I think we get so caught up in the business; we get so caught up in our clients and wanting to change their lives and wanting to go ahead and figure out what this is all about.
Right now, with this pandemic, I think that [unclear] for all of us. I know it did in my practice. We were all trying to go ahead and explain to our clients that telemedicine is just as good as in person. And that’s hard. That’s hard to do for some clients that really want that one on one time with you and they want that escape, and we’re kind of all on house arrest right now, so we can’t go anywhere. And so really building up on that was a scare. However, if we stay focused on that, then we miss it, we miss the opportunity to be there for our family. And in turn, I think that also impacts our ability to be a very great, exceptional clinician, because we’re so caught up in trying to go ahead and keep these clients. We’re so caught up in trying to do everything they need. So, they stay, versus just us being us; us being our true authentic selves. And when we don’t know who we are, well, then all we’re doing is we’re wearing a mask. And we’re turning into this chameleon to be what they need us to be versus what and who we are. And so, if we can really take a look at that, like, how often do I put on the mask? How often do I change and mold myself into something other people want me to be? I think then, and only then, we’re able to go ahead and establish that change that we so badly desire.[WHITNEY]:
Yeah, so I love those questions. You’re bringing up this, how do I change myself for everyone else? And we do get lost in that. I’m reminded that… I’m in this small town, Savannah – big, small town, and we have a supper club. I’ve had many people when I’ve talked about this on the podcast, what’s a supper club? It’s a Southern thing. [VERONICA]:
I had no idea. [WHITNEY]:
It’s when the ladies get together and we eat and we have some drinks and we chat with one another, that’s supper club. But anyway, it’s been a great outlet for me to make some really good relationships, and I love these ladies dearly, but I even find myself going in as a therapist. I walk in the room and if I hear one problem, I’m like, over there trying to help, give suggestions. And I realized, actually, through my relationship with Veronica, that that is not who I wanted to be anymore. I don’t have to be the therapist at supper club. I can just be Whitney hanging out with my girlfriends at supper club, and I don’t have to fix anyone, and I don’t have to help anyone; I can just be myself. That brought so much freedom, but it was having someone say to me, hey, you’ve got these walls up, or hey, you don’t have to be that anymore, for me to finally get a kick in the butt, you know, to finally realize, oh, that’s what I’m doing. [VERONICA]:
Yeah, I love that you said that, Whitney. You know, when you and I discussed what changes you wanted to make and what roles embodied who you were, and really helping you step outside your comfort zone and not having to be the person that has the answers. You know, I think that’s a challenge that we all have. As clinicians, it’s like, ah, come to me, come to me. And then at the same time, when we go to events, we’re like, okay, you know, when we’re asked, what do we do for a living? We’re like, oh, yeah, we’re totally a teacher. Because we don’t want to be told… We don’t want to be asked for any expert advice or anything. So, we kind of play both roles, depending on where we’re at, right? And so, what is that? I would ask you right now, what is that? Why do I have to have all the answers? What would it look like if I sat down and this person was sharing their experience or sharing their current issues, and I didn’t have to be the one that fixed it? What would it look like? And I would take it even further with asking, what would it look like if someone else gave them the answers that they needed? And the feedback that they wanted, and it wasn’t you? Or what would it look like if you gave them feedback, and they totally dismissed it, and took somebody else’s feedback? And I think that feeling of helping people; that feeling of having the answer; that feeling of being the expert, it’s one that we, at times, don’t want to let go of. And if we don’t have the answers, then there’s this level of insecurity that comes up for us that we don’t want to experience. And so, I think that’s why we wear the mask. That’s why we have to fix because if we’re not the fixers, and someone else is, well, then who am I? And so that’s why I ask that question so many times, who are you outside of all the roles you play?
There was a time in my life where… and I’ve shared this with you, Whitney, I was one month away from divorce, like literally, we had court papers in hand. It was happening. And I was a new mom, I was a wife of a marine. And that’s all I knew. I knew that I was a wife of a marine and I knew how to help him build up his career. And I was the mother of Aaliyah. And when I was served with divorce papers, I felt useless. I felt helpless. I felt like I had no purpose. I didn’t fall into a depression. I don’t want to say that I went that extreme. But I remember feeling so overwhelmed, so defeated, and not knowing what to do next. Because those roles identified who I was. And when we’re stripped from them, we’re left with nothing. In our minds, we’re thinking that we’re left with nothing, when in reality, we still hold the same value. We still have this level of self-worth, but we don’t believe it because we’ve been attached to these roles. And so, I ask you, I encourage you, to go ahead and really ask yourself that question: Who am I outside of all of the roles I play for everybody else? Because I think when you’re able to figure that out, then you won’t need to be the one who fixes everyone. You won’t need to be the one that has all the answers. You won’t need to be the one… to be that expert, to have to have… what do I want to say? I guess, overall, you don’t need to be the one that has all the answers. That’s entirely what I want to focus on, is you don’t have to be that person that you’re not; you can be you. And when you’re off, you’re off and when you’re on, you’re on. You don’t have to be on all the time. I guess that’s a long way of saying you don’t have to be on all the time.[WHITNEY]:
Thank goodness. [VERONICA]:
Yeah, right? [WHITNEY]:
As therapists, I say this to people all the time, we became a therapist… I became a therapist for a reason, or counselors become counselors for a reason. Usually something in our lives whacked us up and we all became counselors, right? And so a lot of times those family of origin issues or whatever kind of traumatic event or thoughts that were placed in our heads, we’re living out that script, even as a therapist, living out that script, not even realizing that we’re doing it [VERONICA]:
A hundred percent. As a kid, I had to be on all the time. You know, my dad was addicted to heroin, and he was an alcoholic. And my mom was the enabler. My mom did whatever she could to help him and compromised herself in so many ways. And growing up, I watched this happen, and I knew I didn’t want to live that life. However, I wasn’t given the tools to go ahead and pursue anything different. And so solely in meeting with other people and asking questions and having all these role models, I was inspired to go ahead and do more. And that was the whole reason I became a therapist is because I wanted to give other people a voice, because I felt like I didn’t have one. And so, kind of watching this happen, and now having this… it’s crazy, because I want to say now having this power, and I know that’s like… I know, as I say it, it’s like, well, that’s not really the word I want to use, because I don’t want to sound like I’m full of myself. But I mean, as clinicians, yeah, we have this sense of power, you know, help change lives. And I realized, okay, wait a minute. I don’t have to be, like I said, on all the time. And I was watching myself do that with friendships. I was watching myself do that at events. Like, here we go. Here’s Veronica, and I had to be on when I really didn’t want to be on and I remember I would leave events feeling so exhausted because, here I did it again, I put on an act. And, you know, this is where I go back to asking, you know, clinicians, how often do you put on that act? How often do you put on that mask when you really don’t have to? [WHITNEY]:
Yeah. Yeah. And so, the family of origin kind of came out for you in the reason that you became a therapist. [VERONICA]:
Absolutely, absolutely. I think it comes out for all of us, right? [WHITNEY]:
Yes, I am the youngest of three. And my parents had a conflictual marriage and divorced when I was early Middle School. And because I was the youngest of three, I think I felt this need to work really hard in school, to make good grades to be the good kid, because I wanted love and affection. And I, in my mind, thought, the only way I’m going to get attention is to be really good. But honestly, that doesn’t really work. That’s not where you really receive love and attention. But I think as I’ve aged, I kind of go back into that pattern of needing to be successful in my job or needing to beat the girl when I’m running, because that’s how I’m going to get love and acceptance in my mind. But those two don’t really equate. Right? So, if I’m a good therapist, and I help lots of people, I’ll get love and attention. But that’s not what it is. True love and attention comes when I’m truly myself and I receive it, right? [VERONICA]:
Yes. I love that you said that. You know, a question I often ask is, who is that one person you yearn for love from when you were a kid? Who’s that one person you yearned just for them to accept you? And who is that person today? Because again, we all know we recreate our childhood and so it’s you trying to gain that acceptance as a kid and now feeling accepted the minute you pass this chick by, you know, and feeling this form of success and this feeling of accomplishment the minute you’re able to beat her. And so, it’s like that instant gratification which we’re all searching for versus being able to work on it, being able to sit in that discomfort and being okay with that. [WHITNEY]:
Being comfortable being uncomfortable. [VERONICA]:
Absolutely. [Unclear] comfort. [WHITNEY]:
Yeah. Yeah. So, Veronica, talk a little bit about your work with women with Empowered and Unapologetic and kind of, who’s your avatar, I guess, and tell me about the Facebook group? [VERONICA]:
Absolutely. So, in my private practice, several women would come in with the same, same question. I don’t know who I am anymore. I don’t know how I lost myself. And they would talk about how they didn’t feel worthy. They felt less of a mom. They couldn’t connect. They would go to bed in tears because they knew they had to wake up to the checklist. And they were prisoners of this checklist. And, you know, they were suffering silently. All in all, they were all suffering silently; their husbands didn’t know, their kids didn’t know. And they were living this life full of resentment. And it impacted the relationship with their kids and their husbands because they felt like they always had to do everything for everyone, leaving zero time for themselves. And so I’m watching this dynamic play out and I would think to myself, gosh, if only I would have met you, maybe six months ago, how things might have been different, right before you needed therapy, because now, you know, these women are severely depressed, severely anxious, and some of them, you know, even suicidal, and it’s like, if I only would have met you so many months ago, would you still be having this same issue? You know, I would ask myself, okay, well, what can I do? What can I do for these women? How can I help them? How can I help them before they lose it? And I would try to, you know, I would try to look at codependency groups, I would try to look at just other groups out there. And there was nothing, there was nothing out there that supported moms, that supported women, you know, helping them identify who they were. And I thought to myself, well, wait a minute, why can’t I do it? Why can’t I be that person? And sure, I’m a therapist, but, you know, I’m not acting as their therapist; I can act as their coach. And, you know, I’m able to recognize when women do need therapy versus when we can go ahead and stick to goal setting. You know, versus a lot of coaches out there aren’t equipped with that knowledge. And so, I ended up developing a Facebook group, Empowered and Unapologetic. And I remember I was just sharing my story. You know, I was a month away from divorce, I lost myself, and this is what it looked like. And it took me 10 years to figure out who I was. And I had to do a lot of work. And I wanted to go ahead and limit… I didn’t want it to take other people, other women 10 years, so I knew I could help them in less than 10 years, maybe a couple months, you know, maybe with a couple strategies.
And so, it was in that that I developed this group, and I didn’t think anybody would join, if I’m being completely honest. And all of a sudden, women started asking to join this private free group. And it went from one person to another one to another one and then women just started sharing it with their friends. And they’re pouring their hearts out and I’m reading their stories and how they don’t feel like they’re enough and they’re so tired of doing everything for everyone but they don’t know how to say no, they don’t know how to assert themselves. And they’re just stuck in this season of their life where they resent their husband and they resent their kids and they’re so embarrassed, they feel so guilty about this. And their husbands don’t even know. And, you know, I started working with them and asking them well, you know, in what other ways can I help? And they asked for a retreat. And so, I hosted a retreat and that, I had a whole bunch of distorted thoughts coming up for me, I didn’t think that it was possible. I didn’t think anybody would want to come. And I limited the seats to 10 and sold 10 tickets. And it was just, it was so amazing to watch these women grow from where they were, feeling completely stressed and disconnected, to becoming Empowered and Unapologetic. So yeah, it’s been a complete blessing.[WHITNEY]:
That’s awesome. Are you going to do a retreat again in the fall? [VERONICA]:
Well, I want to. We have it scheduled for September. However right now, with the way everything’s looking, I’m not sure. It might be a virtual summit. [WHITNEY]:
Okay, okay, well, let’s hope it’s not. But you never know. But that’s, that is so cool. I mean, I remember when you did the retreat last year, all the positive feedback and I watched the video and it was really amazing. And I mean, I’ve told y’all, Veronica is a dear friend, and you could probably tell by our little bit of banter, but honestly our depth of discussion that we are, we’re close friends, and I just… she’s spoken so much in my life. And so, if you’re a woman out there listening to this podcast, check out the Facebook page Empowered and Unapologetic, because she gets in there and does a lot of lives and gives a lot of great information. Veronica’s kind of life changing when you’re around her. She’s got that presence about her and the ability to speak into our lives. So definitely check that out. And then she has got a podcast which, by the time this goes up, that podcast should be live and you have heard my intro on my podcast if you’ve been following me since the beginning, where I actually say the Empowered and Unapologetic podcast. So, Veronica, your podcast…? [VERONICA]:
Empowered and Unapologetic. You guys gotta listen. A lot of great material. A lot of great interviews as well. [WHITNEY]:
Yeah, yeah. So, she’s got some good stuff. So, you can go to her website, the empoweredandunapologetic.com and you can check out more of what she’s doing. Um, is there anything, Veronica, that you wanted to say before we kind of wrap it up? I want to make sure I hit everything. [VERONICA]:
Absolutely. One thing I encourage all of you clinicians to do is lean in, lean into those insecurities. lean into those fears, and leap, because we’re all capable of doing amazing things. [WHITNEY]:
Yep. That’s kind of part of the whole Faith in Practice idea, right? That that we have to have faith, to be able to actually build our practices because it is scary and all the insecurities and vulnerabilities that come out, we want to run away from those but instead I love what you’re saying, leaning into those is when we find true freedom in our lives. [VERONICA]:
Absolutely. Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me, Whitney. [WHITNEY]:
Yeah, yeah. And so, I ask every person as for that’s on the show, what do you feel like every Christian counselor needs to better understand? [VERONICA]:
I’m going to say themselves. Getting to know who you are and who you aren’t. And as long as you’re able to do that, then you’ll be able to connect with your clients and your families. [WHITNEY]:
Veronica, thank you. It’s been a pleasure to have you on the show. [VERONICA]:
Absolutely. Thank you again, Whitney. [WHITNEY]:
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