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The Parentheses Effect

The Parentheses Effect©. The psychological, emotional and environmental phenomenon regarding the time and date a person goes to therapy in relation to events which coincidentally occur the day before and the day after a therapy or counseling session. These events further emphasize, and place further significance, on the need and use for therapy by the person, creating a cathartic parenthetical insertion within their week.

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PsycYourMind! Mental Health Resource Guide

Available May 1, 2019 during Mental Health Awareness Month

The PsycYourMind! Mental Health Resource Guide is a free, living document–to be updated every quarter (beginning July 2019). The compilation of information began in 2017 by the owner. With the creation of new mental health apps and directories annually, this document will reflect the ever-improving mental health industry. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about therapy along with mental health topics are included.

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Marketing as a Small Black-Owned Business: Resourcefulness otherwise known as ‘Ballin’ on a Budget’

My friends implored me to discuss this topic. I assume many people to be resourceful, however after a few GIFs and banter in the group chat, this is not the case they present. If you have read my previous blog posts or are preparing for my upcoming book in June, you will hear me state “graduate school does not teach business.” Or at least my grad program did not. No shade thrown. It is postulated if one is going into a field to help people, possession of a caring nature, customer service and the ability to maintain a business is inherent. Wrong. All wrong. Colleagues and prospective clients alike have noted the lack of customer service in my industry. Not returning phone calls. Bait and switches. Double booking. Non-existent websites. The list goes on. Customer service is a must. But, so is marketing. Marketing precedes customer service in many cases. How do you show your audience you care and are worthy of their coins if you will not catch their eye? I hope to show you how to go in your own backyard (as one friend eloquently stated) and assemble eye-catching material. Black businesses are growing exponentially, specifically those owned by women. My great-grandfather was a silversmith, but there was no Tiffany & Co. spoon greeting my gums at my first birthday party. Now that I can afford Tiffany, I still must ensure my budget remains intact.

 

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So here’s a breakdown of the shoot I did for PsycYourMind’s second birthday and the introduction of PoundCake & Private Practice:

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  1. “Talk is Chic & Make Mistakes” stationery—A whopping $1.00 for an 8-pack of Kate Spade colored pop of paper. So technically I spent $0.25 for each card pictured. Thank Michael’s scheming marketing department for those darn baskets near the register. One morning before heading into the office, I was headed to the register, and—well got distracted. Eyes wide. I love color. The pen was a Christmas gift from my business mentor. Every therapist needs a prized writing utensil.
  2. PoundCake & Cake Platter—Flour, Eggs, Butter, Sugar, Vanilla, Buttercream, Food coloring. Thirty minutes of prep and 30-minutes of bake time. Cake platter thanks to my husband’s orchestration of my birthday party last year. All in the kitchen. Nothing was spent here.DSC_0561
  3. Journal & Hourglass—Birthday gift from my roomie for life from undergrad. Cover reads “Confessions of a Fashionable Mind.” These are my confessions . . . Hourglass is $5.99 from World Market. Check their small gift section. I tend to keep a few of these on hand to give as thank you gifts when invited to speak.                                                        DSC_0560
  4. Peony Vase—Family and friends know I love the thrift store, especially in the DMV area. I have expensive taste, but I know how to look for quality items second-hand. I don’t need side eye from my bank account, financial advisor or husband for living ABOVE my means just to catch someone’s eye. This vase I stole from my mom—thanks mom! She paid $0.99. Yes ninety-nine cents, not $1.00. Those pennies add up. Don’t be ashamed of purchasing items second-hand. If you have a photoshoot or an event, check the thrift store first. Wash glass in vinegar or lemon juice mixed with dish soap and let air dry. Send clothes to the cleaners and of course pray away the spirits. When finished with these items, donate and recycle for someone else to use. It’s simple. We waste so much in America and would be wise to consider the legacy we’re leaving when it comes to resources. The flowers are from Trader Joe’s affectionately known as TJs by many. Their prices and freshness are indomitable. I paid $15 for the gerberas, calla lilies, and wax flowers. I used the rest of the bouquets in the vases in my office.
  5. Tuxedo B&W Background—The last twenty inches of a $2.99 roll of wrapping paper taped to my office floor with electrical tape. TJMaxx or Marshall’s. I do a lot of giftwrapping in my other life. I like to play with patterns, texture, and color. Thus, my arsenal must have classics and trending designs. I may have purchased this roll over a year ago? The average roll of wrapping paper is 3 yards. So, this was $.20 worth of paper? Don’t quote me on my math.

Grand Total: $22.68

 

My intern shot the photos with her personal SLR. Side note to therapists interviewing for interns—ensure they are well-rounded, are willing to learn, can be themselves but are cloaked in professionalism, and reflect your brand with passion. Her internship is paid. I used my office for lighting reasons. I view my office as a perpetual investment. The shoot took about an hour inclusive of other images not pictured here. The wall of windows in my office comes in handy for natural lighting. Initially I was pressed to use color bombs but it rained the day before and day of the shoot. I had a deadline. I had hyped this announcement up for weeks on social media. I had to make a decision, to completely change the styling of the shoot. They will be used. Trust me.

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Marketing does not have to cost you an inheritance or capitalized interest on a loan which will take several years to repay. The adage is true. “It takes money to make money.” The adage however does not dictate how much money you have to spend. Quality over quantity. Lean on your resources. Ask a friend. Be willing to support that friend in the future or pay their quoted fee. And, never forget to say ‘thank you’! Be creative.  Maintain an open mind. Flexibility, stretch, elasticity. Trust your vision. Have fun. Laugh. Embrace and trust the process. I imagined this was a Kate Spade, Tiffany & Co., Paper Source, ELLE Décor styled shoot. I believed it. It was so.

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PoundCake & Private Practice™

On the approach of my one year business anniversary, I sat down with my husband to explore the idea of blogging about my experiences while building PsycYourMind. During Summer 2015 I decided to jump off a cliff, backwards, and blindfolded into the waters below . . .oh, and did I mention I can’t swim. This choice was a lifeline for me, reflecting an intrinsic value to serve those who lack agency, people who look like me, and be a beacon of light for those who wish to do better with their education and training.

A true cook knows, not everyone’s recipe is appealing to his or her own palette. Thus, this blog space will reflect my experiences and is not meant to serve as an immediate replication of a private practice; but rather, provide and express the level of tenacity, wherewithal and pragmatism of maintaining one’s integrity and economy in this industry. Thank you in advance for reading. I invite you to share this link with others with the buttons provided on this page.

For those who do not know, pound cake is equal parts or the equal weight of five major ingredients: Flour, eggs, butter, sugar and vanilla—with several variations at the discretion of the preparer. My great-grandmother’s pound cake is quite dense. Only the chosen ones in my family can finish the entire two-inch slice during holidays.  I chose this word-phrase to magnify the proposed equal weight I garnered in order to succeed during my first year of private practice. Over the next month I will share my five major ingredients.

Today I will discuss my first ingredient—

This is YOUR vision| Flour

I had several restless nights May 2015. For me this is odd. I love sleep. Sleep is non-negotiable. No, I cannot be bribed. For my job function, I need all of my synapses firing off at the proper speed. My clients are amused at the details I remember on a week-to-week basis. Sleep is my magic. Eventually, I realized I was being disturbed by God. “Wake up Crystal.” After three consecutive sleepless nights, I grabbed a scraggly sheet of paper and traced out what is now my logo. I toyed with several color options and decided on orange for charisma and blue for trust or fidelity. I wanted the “POW!” effect from the old Batman show. Revamp how people think about counseling and therapy. Get in their faces a bit. Ok great, I have a logo . . .now what?

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During this time I was a resident in counseling, losing my sparkle. This was not due to lack of recognition. I was lauded by my residency clinical director as the “best employee she had” and received her hand-me-down clients which did not fit into her schedule. My internship clinical supervisor chuckled during one supervision meeting exclaiming, “Man, you could do circles around some of the psychologists I know!” Yet and still, these now, patinated statements did nothing for the vacuum which was growing inside of me. My best friends and family will tell you, I have always wanted to be a therapist. I even took my intro to psych courses in high school which would later transfer as college credit. So, what was the problem? To add a linear quality to my story, residency is equivalent to the second-to-last rung on a ladder for most people in my field. During this multi-thousand hour experience, clinical expertise is sharpened and real-life scenarios play out in ways that make you want to burn your text books Bernadine style. The top of the ladder is licensure—clinical independence. Eight years prior to my residency, I had been in possibly every job setting in the mental health field. From being chased down Georgia Avenue by a client while attempting to employ the interventions of Assertive Community Treatment, to managing a medical intermediate care facility, to having board room discussions with investors as a subject matter expert, I’ve seen and done it all. And, then it dawned on me . . .I was being shaped. Placed in the not-so-great job functions, with the not-so-great supervisors in order to: 1) Discover the cracks in the system; 2) then, correct the error in my own system. I am grateful for all of my experiences, so I don’t want people to get this twisted. Just keep in mind the vision. Your vision. At all times. And, it seemed I had lost sight of mine during the final stages of my clinical training.

Now let me discuss the characteristics of flour for a bit. You know someone is throwing down in the kitchen when they have flour on their nose, forehead, elbows and feet. Seriously, how can one begin to contain the small particles of flour? It gets everywhere! Flour is the base for many confections, gravies, and coatings for meat. It stands as the tabula rasa for your culinary imagination. To my point . . .if flour is not properly seasoned, cut into, kneaded, or contained it will go where the air carries it. Your vision must not be carried away from you, cut into, rolled into itself or seasoned by anyone other than you. Your vision is the blank slate for you to adorn, only. It will serve as the foundation for larger ideas to come.

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In my initial excitement regarding the inception of PsycYourMind, I wanted to tell the world. But, I knew better. Side eye. From previous experience, I learned you cannot tell everyone what you are birthing and expect them to align with that idea. I received support from my family and closest friends. Then I decided to test the waters. Let me probe others in the field who look like me, who are doing this on a daily basis. By “this” I mean running a successful, minority-owned business while jumping through legal, ethical, and financial hoops which are ablaze. Did you know? . . . Here comes the researcher in me: Only four-percent of licensed mental health professionals in the United States are Black. I know a handful and until recently that only meant one hand. I ran my vision by the first person—a psychologist. Anyone ever experience hot tears and a tight throat? Yea, that was me. It was not what she said per se, but the fact that she could not believe in my vision when she herself was doing what I hoped to do. Was that conversation even real? I had to walk around the parking lot to get myself together before my next session. That evening, my mother reminded me in Angela Davis-fashion what I presented was not this woman’s vision, but solely my own. She also told me to be prepared for the naysayers, I-wish-I-knew-that-when-I-was-your-age-types, and wolves in sheep’s clothing. But, maybe the psychologist was right? All I had was my vision . . .oh yea, and the logo.

Remember, flour cannot stand alone…

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