We had the good fortune of connecting with Ilyse Kennedy, LPC, LMFT, PSEP, PMH-C and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ilyse, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
In witnessing how therapy practices were run, I wanted to create a practice that had social justice at its core and was trauma informed. I recognized I was lucky to have mentors who thought like me about therapy work, but when I filled up, there weren’t a lot of therapists I could refer clients to. In creating my own practice, I could create a place where I could nurture other therapists, offering my knowledge of creating a trauma informed space. I also wanted to create a practice that nourishes therapists. Many therapy practices exploit interns, asking them to work beyond their capacity and for less pay than they deserve. I wanted to assure the therapists at my practice feel appreciated, are gaining knowledge, and are building their own value.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As a therapist clients often say to me, “I’ve never heard that from a therapist before.” Following graduate school, I recognized a lot of what I learned was problematic; from building stigma around mental health struggles, to a lack of information surrounding trauma, and minimal recognition of those of marginalized identities. We also learned that therapists are blank slates. This always felt uncomfortable. How can we ask clients to be vulnerable when we don’t offer our own vulnerability? As a trauma survivor and long-time therapy consumer, it was important for me to deconstruct some of the old ways of being a therapist. While I offer clients a soft place to land and aid them in trauma recovery, I show up as my whole self and practice from a decolonized/desettled lens. I take a collaborative approach where clients can feel empowered in the therapy and diagnosing process. While clients take the lead, I answer questions about myself honestly and don’t shy away from pop culture jokes. I am a therapist and the therapeutic relationship is just that, a relationship, so I allow clients to get to know me in an appropriate way.
Along with holding presence in my office, I use social media to spread awareness and knowledge around mental health. This is a way to get out my message and the ways I practice on a larger scale. With over 30K Instagram followers, I use Instagram as a way to de-stigmatize mental health and de-mistify trauma. Mental health information has not always been accessible. In the age of social media, we are offering information that was once only available in academia to the general public in an easily digestible way. This has allowed me to get across the way I practice and think about mental health on a large scale. It has also lead to many larger opportunities to spread my message. Social media is another space therapists are “not supposed to be” according to old school ethics. For me, it has been a place to share more of my heart, reach a wider net of folks who may not have access to therapy, and reach clients who get a better idea of the way I work and what my practice has to offer.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Austin has so many wonderful things to offer, from the amazing landscape to the wonderful music. We would start out going on a hike at the greenbelt, followed by papas egg and cheese breakfast tacos at taco deli (with salsa dona of course)! We would then check out the vintage stores on South Congress, popping in to hotel San Jose for a froze. We would end the day with lovely outdoor dining at Josephine House or sushi at Uchi. Live music is a must and East 6th street is the best place to catch bands local to Austin. We would stop in to Hotel Vegas to check out local music and end with a nightcap at Lolo Wine bar next door!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My business and work as a therapist was very much inspired by Sunny Lansdale, PhD, LPC. She was one of my supervisors and not only honed my knowledge of trauma, as a young therapist she believed in my knowledge and work. Though she was in her 70’s when I worked with her, she was always open to change and being corrected–especially in response to social justice issues. That is the type of therapist and business owner I hope to be.
Laura Morsman Photography