Welcome to the second post in the The Vibrant Therapist Spotlight; a new, recurring feature on my blog. The Vibrant Therapist Spotlight posts will highlight therapists from across the world who are taking actions consistent with those of a vibrant therapist and who have agreed to share part of their journey with us via interview. Last month, Sharon Martin, LCSW was my first interview for this series and coincidentally I am interviewing another California based social worker this month.
I am beyond excited to feature Mercedes Samudio in The Vibrant Therapist Spotlight. Merecedes and I have known each other through the magic of the internet and therapist communities for a number of years. We have been able to share resources, knowledge and support back and forth because we are both so passionate about supporting families. I was honored to be invited to be a recent guest on The Family Couch Show, the YouTube show hosted by Mercedes. I invited Mercedes to participate in The Vibrant Therapist Spotlight interview because I thought you’d be interested in the process she went through as she made the decision to transition away from traditional counseling to a coaching model. Also, Mercedes has used her knowledge and experience to write a best selling book, Shame Proof Parenting, and I know some of you are interested in doing the same.
The Vibrant Therapist Spotlight Interview with Mercedes
Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about the work that you do.
My name is Mercedes Samudio and I am an LCSW and parent coach. I primarily focus on empowering parents to feel confident in their parenting identity and in raising healthy children. I do this work by coaching parents, which looks like walking alongside them as they develop a healthy sense of who they are as a parent, find their unique parenting voice, and find the parenting strategies that works for them and their families. I also do this work via speaking and workshops with professionals to help them learn shame-proof ways to empower parents and engage parents in treatment.
Can you tell us a little bit about the process you went through in deciding to transition away from traditional counseling into coaching and other services for parents?
This was a pretty organic transition, actually. As I was doing family therapy, I realized that I had a knack for connecting with parents and keeping them engaged in treatment with their children. I also realized that one of the main issues plaguing parents was not understanding the need to change their parenting strategies but the support to work through the emotional and mental barriers that came with executing these strategies. One of the barriers I honed in on was the feelings of shame parents feel when they make decisions for their families and how that shame can hinder parents’ development of a healthy parenting identity, and thus, become a barrier to executing new parenting strategies. The more I used this philosophy to engage with parents, the more I understood how to help parents move through change – whether it was to change their parenting, develop a more confident parenting identity, find useful strategies to manage their child’s behavior. This lead me to create the Shame-Proof Parenting framework and solidified my skills at guiding and coaching parents to long-lasting change in their families.
What types of doubt and fears have you encountered in your career and how have you addressed them?
This is a great question. Without boring you will all my ups and downs, I’d have to say that the most difficult issue to overcome was being confident as a coach who has a license. Our field tends to frown on the coaching world because of the assumed lack of training or education of a professional who is helping others heal. So, when I decided to label myself as a coach, I had to overcome other’s ideas about the coaching world. I think that another issue with licensed mental health professionals and the coaching profession is that the former feels like coaching is a lesser form of healing – or is being used by licensed mental health professionals looking for another way to market. While I cannot speak for other professionals, I can say that coaching has it’s own set of skills that help the families I work with heal and looks more like the maintenance phase of therapy. I can also say that my decision to start coaching had nothing to do with marketing and more to do with y preference for working with families as well as the framework I created to help parents grow.
How do you personally manage overwhelm when working on multiple projects?
I try not to work on multiple projects if I can. For instance, when I was writing my book I stopped worrying about blogging, doing videos, and even trying to email my mailing. I also decided not to accept more clients and instead focus on getting the book written, edited, and published. This type of focus can be hard, and I have to admit that I’m not always that focused. But, when I do focus on one project at a time I realize a few things: the project is done more with more accuracy and efficiency and I feel more confident about the outcome of the project because I know that I paid attention to the completion of the project. My main tool for managing this focus includes: knowing my why for doing the project, knowing what the end goal is for the project, being realistic about the time needed to complete the project, and setting some sort of reward that I will give myself once it’s finished. Although I’m not always focused, these steps help me to get back on track when I get overwhelmed or lose focus.
How do you approach your work and self care in order to avoid becoming burnt out or depleted?
This has been the most difficult because I am a solo-prenuer. But, as I’ve grown I’ve realized that I cannot do it all on my own. So, I hired a VA to help with my youtube show and am slowly working on getting her to help with other aspects of my business. I also take one day a week to know see clients, and decided a while ago that I would not see clients on the weekend. Another strategy that’s been useful for helping me stay energized has been to stop trying to do what all the experts say about running a business and have parred things down to only do what works for me and what feel right to me. Releasing all these “shoulds” in my business helps me feel better because I am not just doing a lot of stuff, I am focus on the business tasks that move me forward and I actually enjoy doing.
If you could go back in time, what tip or advice would you share with yourself at the beginning of your career?
These types of questions are always funny because I know that I had to go through all the events I’ve gone through to get where I am. I know that if I had any of the knowledge I have now at the beginning, I’d have had a very different business building path. But, I will say this, the one thing I continually tell myself is to go back to my why! From my personal statement to get into undergrad to this very day, my why has always been to help one kid not feel as horrible as I did at 18 years old. The ways that why shows up in my work has definitely evolved, but I think I’d tell myself at the beginning of my career to never lose sight of that why. And, that when things get hectic, overwhelming, and difficult to simply take some time to get back to my why!
More about Mercedes:
You can learn more about Merecedes, Shame Proof Parenting and the services Mercedes offers by visiting: http://shameproofparenting.com
Thank you to Mercedes for participating in The Vibrant Therapist Spotlight. If you know of someone who should be featured in an upcoming post, please email your suggestion to me at Sarah@SarahLeitschuhCounseling.com