Episode 43: My Job Is Actually Killing Me — It's Finally Time To Quit [featuring Celina Jacques]
Imagine being in a hospital bed and your boss is calling you, asking you where your work laptop and productivity reports are.
I'm sure you've worked at a job that didn't care about you, and only cared about your productivity.
Hell, we live in a capitalist society, and community mental health is no different. A lot of the time it can feel like an emotionally abusive relationship.
Creating your own journey, your own path, and doing so within your values, beliefs, and passions is special. It's bold. And it takes courage.
Celina Jacques, an art therapist, retreat planner, private practice owner, and the moderator of "Not Your Mom's Therapist" FB group, talks about her journey from community mental health into her private practice.
We talk about being yourself, being willing to say FU*K the mold, and how to reconnect back to your roots.
Celina talks about...
- Her experiences with racism and microaggressions at her job.
- Being in the hospital and having her boss calling her demanding that she hands in her notes, laptop, and reports.
- "Money Flows to Me Freely, and Effortlessly, and I Make Money Doing The Things That I Love."
- The balance between doing what she loves and working within her values.
- Her great-grandmother's indigenous and sacred healing practices.
- How she was going to be a healer one way or another, and that academia was just the vessel.
The era of psychotherapy is changing, and thankfully for the better. We're starting to move into an era where culture is finally considered, and not everything has to be "evidence-based treatment."
More about Celina:
Celina specializes in using creativity and ritual for healing the heart, mind, and spirit. She is a creative soul, a wounded healer, an artist, therapist, and art therapist. For the last 20 years, she has been working with mentors, healers, and teachers to deepen her spiritual practice, study meditation, neuroscience, and begin to earn about the ancient healing practice of Curanderismo (traditional Mexican spiritual healing). Her creative, spiritual, and academic paths have converged to support an approach to healing that pulls knowledge from the ancestors and contemporary science to reclaim ancient wisdom in new ways.
She holds a masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and Art Therapy, a BA in Psychology and BFA in Studio Art. Her artwork is intimately connected with her personal healing and has been exhibited in galleries and exhibitions in the Los Angeles area.
Celina has 20 years of experience in the mental health field where she began working in residential and in-patient psychiatric facilities, specializing in adults and children overcoming trauma and severe mental illness. She continued working with children and families in the non-profit sector and has been working in private practice and consultation since 2014. She holds virtual individual therapy sessions in California, and offers an inter-state community care membership program, as well as an annual women’s retreat in Mexico.
She is the founder of a therapist community for unconventional psychotherapists called Not Your Mom’s Therapist which focuses on radical inclusion and humility by highlighting intersectional psychotherapy provided by people who self-identify as alternative, strange, different, and/or magical. The community continues to grow exponentially and now includes several sister groups including burnout support, interdisciplinary mental health, and BIPOC ancestral healing.
Check out Celina's Patreon membership program! It's to support decolonizing mental health with blog, guided meditations, and art therapy workshops. All donations go to community fund for supporting low-income POC to access private therapy: Patreon.com/celinajacques
A Thanks to Our Sponsor!
I would also like to thank Embark EMR for sponsoring this episode.
Embark EMR is a superb software solution for solo practitioners, as well as group practices. Embark was designed by therapists to be simple and intuitive without all the extra stuff that you don't need so you don't feel like you're being nickel and dimed. Embark enables scheduling with automatic appointment reminders, a note organization system with multiple pre-built templates, and an automated invoice and superbill generation to make it easier on your clients.
There's even a patient portal where your clients can access notes, documents, and generate their own invoices and superbills. Embark EMR is setting a new precedent in EMR functionality and affordability. Embark’s simple one-tier system is $20 a month per therapist, and there are never any extra fees. Try Embark EMR today with a free trial at embarkemr.com.
PATRICK CASALE: This episode of the All Things Private Practice Podcast is brought to you by Embark EMR. Embark is a superb software solution for the solo practitioner as well as group practices. Embark was designed by therapists to be simple and intuitive without all the extra stuff that you don't need so you don't feel like you're being nickeled and dimed.
Embark enables scheduling with automatic appointment reminders, a note organization system with multiple pre-built templates, and an automated invoice and Superbill generation to make it easier on your clients. There's even a patient portal where your clients can access notes, documents and generate their own invoices and Superbills.
Embark EMR is setting a new precedent in EMR functionality and affordability. Embark's simple one-tier system is $20 a month per therapist and are never any extra fees. Try Embark EMR today with a free trial at embarkemr.com. You can also use code ATPP for 20% off an entire year of Embark.
Hey, everyone, you are listening to another episode of the All Things Private Practice Podcast. I'm your host, Patrick Casale, coming today from Asheville, North Carolina. I am joined by friend and colleague, Celina Jacques. She is a LMFT in California, she moderates and runs the Facebook group, Not Your Mom's Therapist, has a retreat in Mexico every June, and is just a really wonderful force in the industry. And Celina, I'm just really happy to have you on and glad we could finally make the time.
CELINA JACQUES: Likewise, thanks so much for having me here.
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, you're welcome. So, today, everyone that's listening, I know you've realized that this podcast has transformed much more from private practice building and startup and more about entrepreneurial journey, failures, fears, insecurities, and really combating the status quo, especially, when it comes to how do we show up within the community as an entrepreneur and really discussing authenticity. So, Celina and I are going to talk about her journey out of community mental health and her experiences along the way that has kind of shaped her career. So, Celina, take it away. Tell us your story.
CELINA JACQUES: All right, cool. All right, so we start with community mental health, I feel like a lot of us start there. You got to get hours, all that kind of stuff. And something that really, I think, impacted me the most there aside from the mountains of paperwork and not being able to humanly, you know, complete what it is that they ask you for, is that I was the only person of color on a really small team in a predominantly Latino, like, area of LA. And so, all of the families that we were working with spoke Spanish, and I was the only person who could do intakes, who could translate, and saw that we're not putting kids in this situation where they're trying to translate critical stuff to their parents that they don't understand.
Anyway, so I'm on this team, and there happens to be… I'm really petite. I'm like, maybe five feet tall. I like to say I'm five feet tall. So, I'm really small. I'm, you know, like, a tiny brown woman and there was this man on our team that's just a giant, old white dude. And it got to the point where literally in meetings twice, he would get so upset about feedback that I was giving. Like, "If you can't communicate with those parents…" And I'm working with a sibling, "…transfer the family to me." Right? "Just let me talk to the parents, let me talk to this family, because I can't translate sessions for you. That is not my job to be a translator and we have a translation service."
Anyways, he would get so upset about this stuff that he would start to literally yell and point his finger at me across, like, the conference room table. And I would just sit there, like, somewhere in between, like, mortified, and then like, enraged that everyone else just sat and watched it happen.
And so, the second time it happened I actually got called in, you know, like, to the principal's office. Like, I had to get a talking too, because I wasn't being a team player. And I was so shocked. It was so disheartening. And you know, you're already doing tons of work in community mental health. I was the one that was, like, holding the waitlist, holding all of the intakes, because again, I was the only one who could talk to the parents, and then, doing stuff like translating or, you know, taking messages back and forth. I had so much on my plate.
So, to hear that I wasn't being a team player was just heartbreaking, it like just crushed my soul. And in the midst of that, I actually started to get physically sick, and so, I had to take some time off, I was kind of in and out of the office, it was a big, like, medical mystery. And I ended up getting a diagnosis which was really, you know, at the time, like, just I cried tears of joy. Like, "Okay, somebody believes me, somebody is taking the time to figure out what's wrong with me." It's like a million blood tests later and being in and out of the hospital. So, one of those times that I was really sick, this is the moment that I knew that I had to leave community health, not the other moment where I'm getting screamed at.
PATRICK CASALE: Not when you're getting, like, screamed at across the room, your teammates don't defend you, it's blatant racism and like, just completely unprofessional fucking behavior from this guy.
CELINA JACQUES: Awful. So, even at that I still wasn't leaving. The thing that got me to leave was, I was in the hospital. Like, I called one of my friends that live nearby, she's a coworker. She called in sick for me at work. She called in sick like, "I'm here with Celina. We're in the ER, I'm going to be with her today. Like, we both just can't come in, I'm sorry." And I got a text message, like, while they're trying to put an IV in my arm, "Hey, Celina, I noticed…" This is my supervisor, "Hey, Celina, I noticed that your laptop isn't in the office, which means you have it at home. Can you please send in your productivity reports today." After somebody just said, "She can't even call you, she's that sick. She's in the ER."
And that was the moment that I realized, like, there is nothing I can do that is ever going to be good enough for these people. And they don't care about me as a human, you know, which I think was obvious by all the other behavior, but like this was just really, like, the last straw where I was, like, scared and sick in the hospital, and they cared more about the numbers than they did about me, right? So, that was the moment that I just, like, saw the light and realized, something that I say to people a lot is that leaving a situation like that is like leaving an abusive relationship. Like, they have you to the point where you feel like somehow you need them, you need that paycheck, you need those benefits, all this stuff, right? And you feel like you can't leave and that was the moment that I recognized, like, I was willing to risk all those things that they said that I needed from them, that I wasn't going to get anywhere else, and I had to leave.
And so, everybody thought I was crazy. I had, like, no plan, I was just like, "I'm not doing this anymore." And I was on contract for some, like, loan forgiveness stuff. And so, I had to call them and find out, like, how do I complete this contract?
And it was one of those things where I don't know if you or people who listen, like, really believe in, like, spiritual or metaphysical kind of things. But it literally was, like, the universe saying, like, "I got you. Like, this is going to be fine." Like, the contract people were like, "You know what, you're actually up." And it was in June, on the 31st of this month. And that gave me two weeks to say like, "Okay, I just need to get this paperwork signed." And then, literally, the next day it was like, "And I'm resigning." And, right? Like, I got what I needed to get, and then, I just, you know, let it go.
And so, everyone was really concerned, like, "What are you going to do? And do you have another job lined up? And what's your plan." And I really, honestly, didn't have a plan at that moment. I was able to like cash out PTO and use my savings. And the thing that I think I learned the most was that when we're holding on to toxic relationships or unhealthy patterns, you can't do a good next thing until you let go of the stuff you're hanging on to. And as soon as I let go of that job all these other opportunities started popping up, because people knew that I wasn't doing that work anymore.
And so, all of a sudden I was getting calls for like, "There's a group practice over here, there's a school looking for an art therapist over there. The rehab where I work at is looking for an art therapist." Like, there were just, I think, jobs I didn't even know existed, right? And so, I think that was the moment that I really felt like, "Oh, I can love what I'm doing and support myself. Like, I don't have to be bending over backwards, like, killing myself trying to do work for other people who do not care how I am doing. I can actually do what I love and support myself."
So, there's a mantra that I'd say often that I learned from an artist that worked at a residential that I used to work at. Every time he got his paycheck he would say, "Money flows to me freely and effortlessly. I make money doing the things that I love." And he would say it three times.
And so, as I started getting these opportunities I was like, this is my new mantra. Like, all things related to work, to career, to money, it's going to come freely, effortlessly, and I'm going to make money doing the things that I love. And that's literally what I started saying on, like, job interviews where they were, like, looking for… there was like a school district looking for something. And they were really concerned, like, you understand this is just a contract job. You're just going to come in for X many hours, blah, blah, blah. And I said, "Yes, I understand. I'm only doing things that bring me joy. I'm only going to make money doing the things that I love." And so, I did.
And it was amazing to recognize, like, not to recognize, to experience that being a very real tangible possibility, you know? And so, that's how I kind of transitioned into private practice. I was doing contract work, I worked at a rehab, a hospital, I think I worked at two rehabs, a school, and then, I joined a group practice and that's really where I learned all I had to. Like, learn some business skills, right?
PATRICK CASALE: Things that they don't teach us in grad school, right?
CELINA JACQUES: Exactly, yeah. Like, I can have a fun conversation. I can, you know, help, you know, I'm sure happens to you all the time. Like, I can't be on a plane and say what I do without having like a whole session with somebody.
PATRICK CASALE: But people will find it out, right? Like, they know, they fucking know. And then, they are talking your ear off and you're like, "I'm just trying to watch some Netflix and like not listen to you right now."
CELINA JACQUES: Yeah.
PATRICK CASALE: Celina, I just want to name, like, that journey is so night and day, right? Like, the fact that you were able to get out of that toxic, toxic, emotionally and physically abusive relationship to the point where you're so sick that you're in the fucking hospital and they are still asking for productivity reports without asking you how you're doing, if you're okay? Hey, we've got you until you get back. Like, we've support you, and that analogy, right? That comparison to an abusive relationship, I use it all the time with my coaching clients of like, security, consistency, I know what I'm going to get, and it's going to fucking destroy me. And if I can't get out of here, I've got nothing left to give.
And then, you start to think I'll go bag groceries, I'll go fucking back to bartending. I don't care what I do, but I don't want to be a therapist anymore, because this job fucking sucks. And what I'm hearing from you is being able to get out of that space and just knowing like, "I've got to go." Is so much different than some people who are trepidatiously, like, "Okay, I want to do private practice, I'm going to plan for it, I'm going to do this exit plan." And then, you were kind of forced into making that decision to save your life, it sounds like.
CELINA JACQUES: Yeah, that's absolutely what it felt like. And it did. It was like-
PATRICK CASALE: And it did.
CELINA JACQUES: Right, like [INDISCERNIBLE 00:12:14].
PATRICK CASALE: Right.
CELINA JACQUES: …that's actually killing me.
PATRICK CASALE: And I'm sure it also felt like so bizarre and surreal. And even, like, when is this going to stop? When does this, like, bottom fall out of like, I can actually enjoy my job? Like, I can actually go to work and be happy, wait, what? This is not what this career is about. Like, I'm supposed to be fucking miserable, and treated poorly, and paid poorly for the work that I've worked so hard for.
CELINA JACQUES: Yep. Yeah, absolutely. It's like turning that belief on its head and imagining something that you didn't even think was possible. Absolutely, yeah. So yeah-
PATRICK CASALE: Joined this group practice, and then, you decide what? "I want to start a private practice, but I have to hone in some business skills?"
CELINA JACQUES: Yeah, yeah, I think what happened was a couple of things. One was, it was a group practice where I was a contractor, but they were really functioning a little bit more like employees. And so, I'm sort of like a natural rebel, and I'm going to, like, push the boundaries sort of everywhere I can. And that was, you know, a tough fit. And then, as they started to just learn, like, how they were doing everything, what billing looks like, what, you know, managing, you know, books for each client looks like, all that kind of stuff, as I started to realize what it took, I recognized again, like, "Oh, I don't need you, I can do this."
PATRICK CASALE: This is the moral of the story throughout this podcast.
CELINA JACQUES: Yeah, yeah, just recognizing, like, again, like, I have so many more options, and I have so many more opportunities than I thought I did. And there was so much that I thought I couldn't do alone or just wasn't even possible. Like, that's just too much for me, I can't figure that out.
So, I stayed there for, like, a little shy of a year, but felt like that's where I've really learned, like, what it would take to be able to manage my own business. And then, of course, like, you know, manage my own money, right? Not being like, giving a certain amount for the overhead for the private practice, I mean, for the group practice, and all that kind of stuff.
And so, I decided not to take insurance, because there were so many delays with the insurance payment. And I feel like that was a pretty steep learning curve, like, going from a steady paycheck to sort of having an ebb and flow. And that was why I decided not to take insurance, because I needed to have a little bit more stability and like idea of like, what was coming in and what I could count on. And I felt like insurance for me anyways made that impossible.
Also, I have some self-diagnosed ADD and it's just super hard to manage that many things. It's a lot of paperwork. And, like I said, I do push the boundaries sort of naturally. And I don't like the idea of, like, being audited and being, you know, limited and how many sessions I can see somebody for, and like feeling like I'm getting somewhere, and then, all of a sudden, like, their authorization is up, and like, we have to stop, like yesterday. Like, all that kind of stuff just didn't sit with really well. It felt like it took some of the humanity out of the relationships that I have with my clients.
And so, from there I started one day a week just doing my own private practice, like, renting an office, and then, I did like a little, like, detour into doing some hospital work, because that's really what brought me into being an art therapist is recognizing that, like, art can… not recognizing, I'm an artist, and so, the idea that there are institutions that recognize how healing art is, right? Like, I know, it's healing, because I've experienced that, and that's sort of the way I live my life. But the fact that a hospital would hire an art therapist was just fantastical to me.
And so, I did that, but again, sort of like on my terms. I did it part-time, so that I could keep my private practice open. And again, like, I only did what I loved. I was like, I'm doing art therapy groups and that's all I do here. Like, don't ask me for anything else. This is what I've got, right? These are the days I can come in, and really just like owning my life, and owning my practice, and my career.
And so, I did that for a while until it wasn't working for me and I really wanted to expand my practice. I don't keep a waitlist, but I was starting to have enough people that I wanted to, I could have kept a waitlist instead. I decided to just add on more days and expand the hours that I was providing in my private practice.
And I found the coolest place in LA that's like a holistic healing center. It's run by an acupuncturist, and so, she has like bodyworkers and Reiki workers, and there's acupuncture, and sound healing and cacao ceremonies and I was like, "You need a therapist and like, I see there's something here that I could provide." And I felt like I fit. And so, I kind of became part of that organization. It's called [PH 00:17:30] Golden Folk Wellness. And it's a really great place. And so, I've been there, you know, for a few years except for the pandemics and now everything's online.
But I'm getting ready to start doing in-person workshops, outdoors with them. And then, also, you know, gearing up for the retreat, because it got canceled the last two years, because of COVID. So, it feels like things are sort of falling back into place after, you know, three years in the pandemic.
PATRICK CASALE: It sounds like your journey, aside from the CMH piece, has been so intentional, and probably guided by such a desire to have the autonomy, the freedom, and the creativity to make your own decisions and choices about how you kind of move in the world professionally, but personally, too. And it sounds like you've really found that balance of like, "I truly love what I do."
And it's so sad that so often we talk to people who are like, "I really don't feel that way." And it's really hard, like you said to create that journey or path, or even have the energy, or the vision when we're working 40, 50, 60 hours a week and vicarious trauma, after vicarious trauma, and you know, all the things, we don't need to go down that rabbit hole. But it's really hard to see any sort of light at the end of the tunnel or anything that can be different.
I remember when I left my community mental health job, I did not foresee myself sitting here talking to you on my own podcast. I just wanted to get the fuck out of my job. That was it. And it sounds like your journey is very similar in a lot of ways.
So, you're in LA, you're working in this healing collective. You mentioned to me before we started recording that you're doing some indigenous practice in your therapy. Can you talk a little bit about that? Because that's really cool. And I think the era of psychotherapy is changing very quickly into no more all in on the CBT Western civilization culture, like bullshit, evidence-based everything, and we're moving much more into cultural practice, we're moving much more into authentically being who you are and how you like to show up in the world. And I love it. So yeah, tell us a little bit about that.
CELINA JACQUES: Yeah, thanks for reminding me of that, bringing it up, I appreciate it, because it is so important to my work. So, it was, again, one of those, like, just serendipitous alignments the same year that I left my community mental health job. I also met my spiritual teacher. So, she's a [SPANISH 00:20:02]. In Spanish, that means healer. And so, this is traditional indigenous Mexican spiritual healing and like holistic healing. So, you'll find healers that, you know, do body work or healers that do herbal supplements and stuff like that. So, she does spiritual healing work. And that same year, I met her and felt like, "Oh, this is why it felt like this."
Because the last member of my family, the last living member, three generations back passed away. And when we were going, you know, through their things as people do, we found stuff that was my great grandmother's, and a bunch of stories started to come up about how she practiced a lot of indigenous healing practices. I feel like it's not a secret, a lot of Mexicans are Catholic, so my whole family is Catholic. And it was so interesting to hear that she had kept some of her traditions, even though she, like, we, you know, went to Catholic Mass every morning at dawn or whatever.
And so, we've sort of started to come out of that, how she did ceremony for the full moon, about how to imbue a water with prayers, and fight using fire for prayers as well as she had her own herbal garden and she like ran her own little like apothecary. Like, all these stories started to come out. And I was, like, shocked. Like, "How has nobody ever told me about this?" It's like, "No wonder I don't fit in anywhere. I'm supposed to be a witch."
You know, it felt so, like, I don't know, validating, I guess, just that, like I had always felt like a little strange. And in that same year I met my teacher and it just all felt like everything is falling into line. Like, I was being able to, like, reclaim my family lineage, find someone who saw in me the possibility of someone who could learn. And so, in the tradition that I'm training and you'd have to actually put in work for three years, like, before you're even a candidate to be accepted as an apprentice. So, you know, it's just up to me. Like, do I show up? Do I do the work? Am I there for her? Do I practice all this kind of stuff?
And so, some of it is like really practical learning, you know, because I'm now the fourth generation away from those practices, and so, it's relearning stuff. There's protocol, there are rules, there's respect, there's a certain way that you give and take, and that you honor exchanges between people. And she calls it like your grandmother's [SPANISH 00:22:56]. So like, a lot of people might have had a grandma who would like, you know, heal you with an egg, like, to get, you know, whatever bad spirits, or illness off of you, or use herbal supplements, or teas, or certain kinds of baths, stuff like that. It used to be common knowledge for people and it's just been stripped away because of [INDISCERNIBLE 00:23:17] and you know, religion, and so many other things.
And a lot of times, like, we weren't even allowed to talk about them, because we didn't want to be persecuted in schools and in other public places. So, that, like, journey aligned with like reclaiming this part of my lineage and past, and then, just this sort of, like, permission to be a healer that is beyond, like, this diploma that I have that says I can be a marriage and family therapist, you know? Like, really, that's who I am and who I feel like now I can look backwards and see where that lineage comes from.
And so, that started to be the way that my practice built up. I had heard a lot of people say, like, "Oh, you know, everybody has to have their nine to five, and they just do private practice on the side, because it's so hard to build it up, and it's so hard to… Oh, you're not taking insurance, how are you going to get anybody that's going to pay?" And so, there's so much discouragement. And what I found was as soon as I started, like, you know, on your profiles, on the whatever thing that you're on, a directory and stuff, I just started sort of saying who I was. Like, "Hey, I'm studying this, you know, traditional Mexican healing practice. I'm an artist, and I'm an art therapist. I'm Chicana. I speak mostly Spanglish." Like, this is just who I am, and I was shocked, like, to find out there were so many people and it still happens all the time. Like, "Oh my God, I've been looking for someone like you. Oh my God, I've been looking for this, I didn't know it existed, I didn't know I could get therapy with someone who was also practicing these ways, or who can help me to reconnect my lineage in this way."
Because we all are trying to, actually, like, collectively heal and return to more of that, like, reverence code is the way that I've been taught to understand it, right? So that we're in alignment and in reverence with the earth, and the animals, and the life around us, as opposed to the domination code, which is colonialism, and, you know, basically just control.
And so, it's just been, like, sort of, like, weird and like, surprising and amazing to just recognize, like, the more I show up like myself, and just say, like, these are the things that I do, the more I'm able to really connect really deeply with people, and also, you know, have a full practice.
And the thing that I tell people a lot is that, like, I was going to be a healer in one way, shape, or form, I just found my way here through academia, which is cool, because now I've got a license that, you know, allows me to be able to help people, but I was always going to do it. This is just the way I landed here, because that's the system that we work in, and I'm not even mad about it, like, that's fine, you know? I can't change the whole system. But what I can do is help people reclaim the roots that they all really came from. And I can then translate in a different way, I can tell you how CBT is really aligning your spirit, and your mind, and your body, and your actions, right? Like, we don't have to dilute everything into, like, evidence-based, like, you know, quantifiable statistics or whatever. We can return everything to reverence, and spirit, and creativity, and expression, and do a lot of that, like, really deep soul work without putting ourselves in a little box, you know?
PATRICK CASALE: Just thinking very intentionally about how I want to respond, because I think what you just said is so powerful and so necessary for people to hear, one, to break out of that box, right? To break out of that mold of this is how this is supposed to be done, only CBT, only ACT, only DBT. And we hear that, right? All the time you and I both moderate Facebook groups, we know that therapists can kind of get into the shame/ethical policing around those terms. And the fact that you found these stories from your grandmother and started to reconnect, and then, you know, serendipitously connect with this healer, and like you said, "I was going to be a healer one way or another." That really lands for me and the fact that you're showing up authentically. I preach this all the time, like, if you show up with who you actually are, instead of who you think you're supposed to present as, you start to attract people who want to work with you because of what you're putting out into the world, because you're being bold, because you're doing something different, because you're standing out instead of saying the same things that everyone else is saying. And that doesn't land for anybody, right?
So, I imagine someone scrolling through Psych Today profiles, or TherapyDen, or Inclusive Therapists, whatever platform, they land on your page, they land on the stuff that you just mentioned that you write, comparatively to, "I'm a trauma-informed therapist who will walk alongside you and I went to school here, and I use these modalities, and these interventions and I treat this diagnosis." And people are like, "What the fuck is this person even talking about." And to land on pages, I teach all of my group practice clinicians this, and everyone I do coaching with, you have to step into who you are and who you want to be, because otherwise, you're just like everybody else and you're playing it safe. And I think we're doing it because we feel like that's how we're supposed to do it.
CELINA JACQUES: Right.
PATRICK CASALE: And the opposite is you're full, you may have a waitlist, you may be able to, you know, tap into the actual clients who you know you're aligned with. And I just think that's really beautiful that you're able to name that. Can I ask you a question? And I don't mean to put you on the spot, but how would you say, you know, reclaim your roots in Spanish?
CELINA JACQUES: How, oh, my gosh, that's a really good question, [SPANISH 00:29:24]. So [SPANISH 00:29:26] is reclaim and [SPANISH 00:29:29] is roots.
PATRICK CASALE: Hmm, sounds like a really good program name for you one day to incorporate into some coaching. But I just think that your story is really beautiful. And it's really wonderful that you've always kind of identified in terms of, "I'm going to be…" I think you used the word rebellious, but more importantly, "I'm going to be real, I'm going to be me, I'm going to move in alignment with my values and what I believe to be important for people to be able to heal." And at the end of the day, I think that's what this is all about, the work that we do as helping professionals. We want to heal, but we also really need to be able to do it in ways that feel authentic to us. Otherwise, I think you do have these interactions that feel very artificial and surface level and I just don't think that's the way that we want to move in the world.
And I like that you're a mold-breaker too, because doing things differently is really crucial. And we need more and more people to step into that mindset so we don't have to continue this whitewashed healing modality of, "This is how things have to be done." Coming from someone who has the most privilege of all the privileges, so I recognize that too, but just the reality, right? Like, what you're offering is so needed by the world and the people that you're serving. And I just want to give you a lot of credit for not only naming it, but I can tell how passionate you are about it when you're talking about it too.
CELINA JACQUES: Thanks you so much. There's something really special about feeling like you're really being seen. I don't know if you've watched Encanto yet, [INDISCERNIBLE 00:31:06] Encanto, so I like can't stop talking about Encanto. Like-
PATRICK CASALE: My wife sings the fucking songs all day, every day. I think she has watched it at least 40 times. Like, I hear that song in my sleep. Wonderful movie, but she is… it's nonstop, yeah.
CELINA JACQUES: Yeah, yeah, you're going to know it by heart, the whole thing from beginning to end. But one of the things that I'm talking to a lot of my clients about is like, there's so many parts of it that really hit home, especially, for, you know, Latinx families. But the thing that I think the main character has that starts to show how she's healing the family is that she gives everybody a chance to be seen. Like, she's the one on the outside that everyone can actually say, "This is how I really feel, right? This is what I'm showing everybody, but actually, I'm scared that I'm weak or I would love to be prickly sometimes. Why do I always have to be so pretty and soft?" And I think that just that is really, really healing in and of itself.
So, to feel like I'm just telling you my story, but you're really getting it is really special to feel like I am being seen and there is, like, a validity to this experience, and that I'm not the only one that goes through that experience. You know, we're never alone in it as lonely as it can feel sometimes, in those moments where you feel like you're trapped, you know?
PATRICK CASALE: Couldn't have said it better myself and can't wait for my wife to listen to this episode so she can come into my office and be like, "Told you this movie is the fucking shit." But you're right. It's such a wonderful, wonderful representation of healing family trauma as well and intergenerational trauma. And I have been watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine nonstop. So, I keep thinking about, like, Stephanie, I like Beatrice's character and as Rosa comparatively and it's really amazing to witness both portrayals.
But, you know, I think what you're saying is really important. And I think that by being seen, and showing up, and taking up space, that is leading the way, because a lot of people don't think that they are allowed to do that or are capable of doing that, or like you said, maybe people feel that way, but they can't put a voice to it, they can't put a name to it, they can't say it out loud. So, I just want to give you a lot of credit, again, for doing what you're doing.
Real quick before we kind of talk about what you're offering, you know, especially, your Mariposa's Retreat, misconceptions about practicing this way that you see a lot of in the therapist world.
CELINA JACQUES: Misconceptions. Okay, so I feel like the one that comes to mind the most is not being on insurance panel. I feel like people can get really heated about that. And I get it, right? I did community mental health and there was a time in my life that I thought I would never leave community mental health, because I have worked to be in that community. And I want to be part of it and part of the healing.
So, I feel like people assume that, like, we're just in it for the money or that we're charging exorbitant amounts of money for sessions that then make it inaccessible for other people that maybe, I don't know, truly need it, but like, also need it and don't have the mean. I think that's a big misconception and the misconception that like you have to take insurance, otherwise, you won't find clients. So, I feel like those kind of go hand in hand.
And I feel like yeah, I don't know, my answer to that is like, we'll try it, you know? I feel like I can be, because I'm in charge of my own income, I can be creative about how I make sure that something's are always accessible to people.
And it's really amazing, because honestly, the people that come to me that are, like, the most interested in being able to blend traditional indigenous healing practices with their therapy, or any other kind of spiritual practice with their therapy, those are the ones who understand, that's what I was talking about before about relearning, like, what are the rules? What's the protocol? What is an exchange? You know, what do you do when someone's offering something? And so, they're the ones that are understanding that stuff, like, on an energetic level and those are not the people that are going to ask me if they can pay 10 bucks, because they're copay. You know what I mean? Like, they understand the energy that it takes to do this work. And that fact that I'm not just bringing you my degree, and an hour's worth my time, I'm bringing you my life experience, my spiritual training, and, and like my heart, you know what I mean, and I can't tell you what that's worth. And those are the people that really, really honor that exchange, and don't have any qualms about it.
I use, not necessarily a sliding fee scale, but I do have reduced rates available for people. And so, it's just like on the honor system. I tell them, like, you know, this is the price, whatever that is, the changes, and what would be sustainable for you, because the most important thing is for you to commit to something that you're going to be able to sustain long term until you're ready to move on.
And so, I feel like giving people that agency over their own commitment, over their own healing, and how they get to participate really creates, like, right out the gate a relationship of trust and reciprocity. And so, people give what they can. I've had some people ask if they can give me more than what my, you know, ratings, because they understand the way it sort of all comes out in wash, you know? And then, doing things like the retreat, and I also have like a Patreon project, and I partner with like nonprofits in the area. I do a lot of other things that are either free or super low fee so that I'm still very active in the community, that is important to me, and I'm accessible to the people who need it, and then, also, the people who have means to give more. Like, it all sort of like evens out.
And I really do feel like big pharma was not out to help heal people. And so, you know, I just don't buy it. I don't think that insurance companies are really there to help us out. And I explain this to people, you know, when they come in and they have questions, you know? Why don't they take their insurance? And I talk to them about that, because then the insurance company could come in and say, "Well, I gave you this diagnosis and this diagnosis only affords you to have these many sessions." Or, "If you have this many sessions and you still need sessions, now I have to refer you to the psychiatrist, because now you need medication." Or, "I didn't give you, like, the right diagnosis for…" Whatever, I don't know. There's so many hoops to jump through.
And I just remind them, like, I want to work for you. I don't want to work for a big company that's trying to make the most money they can, I want to do what you need. And if that means that we do need to get a treatment team together for you, and refer out, and maybe even find someone else or other modalities for you, I'm here to do that, too. It's not about me just, you know, building my own little empire. It's about me helping each person in the best way I can. And so, I feel like in that way it sort of challenges that misconception that, like, we're only being, like healers if we're being selfless and subjecting ourselves to, like, the things that, you know, don't serve us and are really challenging, and I feel like mostly toxic? No, I know that's a loaded word, but…
PATRICK CASALE: No, I think, you know, that response is really perfectly said, and I have a couple of thoughts. One, I think when you're able to do the honor system situation, charge your rates right, talk about why people value it, we can never put a value, right? Like, I always hear, "Charge what you're worth." How the fuck do we put a price on that? And, you know, ultimately, I imagine that for the clients you work with who are paying what they can, they're still very much, "Your ideal clients." Like, the people who really respect the way you work and vice versa. And I think that makes it way more fulfilling and they get a lot more out of it and are a lot more invested.
And then, like you said, coming out in the wash, right? Like, and I think a lot of clinicians lose sight of the fact that you can do helping work outside of the therapy office for low-cost ways not, you know, giving away time, whatever the case may be. Hell, if you wrote a workshop or workbook that cost $5 on Amazon but helped people who couldn't come to therapy you're helping. So, I think we need to lose that, like, greed/capitalism mentality of if you don't take insurance you're a horrible human being and you don't care about the community, because that's simply not true.
And like you said, big pharma is not here to help us, the insurance companies are really not here to help us. They made $7 billion last year, $7 billion. So, I don't want to get heated on this topic. Maybe this will be a topic for a different day. But ultimately, I really respect what you're saying about this, because I think it means that people really do honor the fact that you are putting your heart and soul into this, and that this is so much more than just one-on-one talk therapy for 60 minutes.
CELINA JACQUES: Right.
PATRICK CASALE: And I think that's really important to remember, at the end of the day. And I do think that if you can have a fee scale that you can comfortably talk about and have enforced, it allows you to have more energy to put into other passion projects as well. It allows you to show up more authentically, more rested, more attuned for the clients on your caseload instead of feeling like I've got to recreate my agency environment and see 40 clients a week to survive.
CELINA JACQUES: Right, yeah, absolutely. There's such a big part about it being sustainable on our end, right? Like, we're not, like, whatever therapy machines, robots. And I don't do anybody any justice, I can't remember now who asked me, but somebody… that might have been my dad that was like, "You only work three days a week. Like, don't you need more money?" It's like, "Well, I could see 40, 50 clients a week. But I wouldn't do a good job. I don't have like the emotional, mental bandwidth to actually help that many people and do a good job. I would be fried. And I would rather put that into other community projects that bring me joy and are life-giving, and I feel like I'm contributing, rather than, like, run myself ragged doing as many possible, you know, sessions as I can. That's not sustainable for me."
PATRICK CASALE: It's not, it's not only not sustainable for you, it's also doing the client a disservice. And I think we lose sight of that as well. So, really good stuff today, Celina, I've enjoyed this quite a bit. And I'm really looking forward to airing this because I think that you've made so many good points in this episode that I hope people can really absorb, and listen to, and take in, and start thinking about how they want to show up not only professionally, but personally, and how if those two things are aligned your career is going to feel a hell of a lot more fulfilling and joy-filled.
CELINA JACQUES: Absolutely.
PATRICK CASALE: I know you have a retreat in June, and I want you to just kind of plug it, because you've worked hard for it. And like you said, it's been canceled two years in a row. So, tell the audience where they can find it if they want to join, what it's about?
CELINA JACQUES: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks so much for that space and time for this. It's called Mariposa's Retreat. So, that's just the Spanish word for butterfly, because one of my favorite quotes is, "Just when the caterpillar thought the world was ending it became a butterfly." So, I really love the idea that we have to sort of let go of one life to gain a different one. And I feel like in ways that's been my story over and over again.
So, it's huge. It's always in Mexico. I'm working… I may be doing like a LA-based one at some point but I'm on the [INDISCERNIBLE 00:43:28] put that together yet. So, this year it's going to be in Troncones, Mexico, and it's a really small, very rural, actually surf town. And so, they have some really amazing, like, boutique hotels next to, like, it's just a really little local town. Like, you know, they sustain themselves with, like, fishing. There's a guy that his whole job is just, like, every morning he goes and dives for oysters. Like, that's how life is here. A lot of the homes and the restaurants even are still using, like, wood-burning stoves. It's not very developed. And I think that that's something that's really important for us.
It isn't like this glamour, extravagance. It's more about, again, like, coming back to our roots, like coming back to the earth, to the water, to the jungle, and being able to be where you are without all of the noise of the city, you know? So, it's a blend of, there's art therapy, there's some… I mean, just the way that I work is sort of like spiritually oriented. So, there's a lot of that. I don't know how to be a like positive vibes only super inspirational, like, I don't know how to do that. And so, there is a lot of shadow work, there's a lot of tough questions and time to create, or to talk.
We do a nightly [SPANISH 00:45:07] which is like an indigenous talking circle, which is sort of like group therapy but with a little bit of more structure. And so, we do that. There's a yoga deck, like, right, I mean, like, a few feet from the ocean, and a bonfire, and there's a private cook that, like, does their own home cooking for us the whole time. Everybody, well, not everybody, there're options for private room or shared room.
We're about halfway full right now, so there's still some spaces. And the whole premise of it is really trying to create an experience around the idea that I call soul care. And, for me, I think soul care is different than just like self-care. And that is because it involves other things. So, it involves having community around you, doing something that gives you a sense of purpose, practicing life-giving activities, and things that help to energize you and make you feel alive. And then, also, being of service in some way, shape, or form.
And so, the whole retreat is really built around that idea that we're creating community, that we're finding our purpose, that we're doing something that's life giving, so maybe we're going to go on a bike tour in the jungle, or I took surf lessons last time I was there and found out I can surf, right? Like, I actually, like, I don't like to swim, so that was like, it's just, like, the novelty of being able to try these different things. And at the same time, we have space to like be creative, to paint.
We usually do a few different things. One thing that we've done in the past is make, like, our own little, like, a spirit doll. Not like a voodoo, we're going to do [INDISCERNIBLE 00:46:58] but an external, like a symbol for our spirit, and how we care for her, and what she needs, and what hurts she's held for us, and what parts of her have been lost to trauma or other things in our life, and how we call that back and really take care of our soul in this way so that we incorporate our whole selves in our everyday life. So, we do yoga, we do meditation, we do art. There's a beach, obviously, isn't that obvious? It's on the beach.
Well, and you can go horseback riding on the beach. Like, it's just a really beautiful place. And this is the first time we're holding it at this location. But the program itself is usually really, really similar to the years before.
And I was super bummed out that we weren't able to do this, you know, the last two years. I've been doing it since 2016. And so, I'm really happy to be bringing it back this year. People are still, you know, concerned about COVID and the pandemic, and that's something that, you know… this town is so small that they really, sorry, I'm realizing I'm talking a lot more than I thought I was going to about this. I'll tell you just really quickly, like, the town relies on their fishermen for income. And then, tourism is the other thing that they rely on, and so, they want to keep us safe.
And so, they've got protocols about, you know, masks wearing and cleanliness. The other cool thing is it's a tropical place, so almost everything is outside anyways, because if you're a few feet from the beach why not do everything outside? So, all the community spaces are open air and that helps me feel like it's a little bit more comfortable, safer. We're not like, you know, in tiny little rooms, and closed, and breathing each other's [INDISCERNIBLE 00:48:55] stuff like that.
We have to get COVID tested to get back on the planes home. And so, they actually provide someone there at the hotel to do the testing and give us all our results, and things that we'll need in that way. And so, it really makes me feel confident that we're going to be able to help people heal and have a really spiritual and fun experience while still feeling safe about traveling, because you know, things are weird now. It's just different.
PATRICK CASALE: That sounds amazing. So, if you, you know, are thinking about going on retreat, if you want to travel, if you want connection, if you want to heal, if you want to have this wonderfully, beautiful, intentional experience and cultural immersion, it sounds like this retreat is for you. And where can they find this if they are interested in registering or signing up?
CELINA JACQUES: Oh, yeah, it's mariposasretreat.com.
PATRICK CASALE: I will have that in the show notes for everybody, so don't worry about any of that, if you want to find that information and book a spot for the June retreat, I think that sounds absolutely incredible, how I want to go.
And Celina also moderates the Not Your Mom's Therapist group, really cool group, again, for outside-the-box thinking, a little bit more real than a lot of the therapist groups that are out there. And I really respect the hell out of it. So, Celina, thank you so much for coming on here and just making the time. It's really been a pleasure.
CELINA JACQUES: Absolutely, thank you. I really, really appreciate this. And the way that you, you know, we're talking about moderating groups, like, I really love the way that you run your group and the fact that you're highlighting just people in our community, right? And like allowing the space for us to be real about what our experience is like, what the field is like. And even though we're really far away, we've only ever met, like, through a screen, it's really cool to feel like I'm part of this community, right? That we're sort of like building this together, and so, I really appreciate the work that you do, the podcast, the groups, all of the coaching, you know? I see the way that you show up and you're always really supportive, and I really like that, so I'm happy to be part of this, thank you.
PATRICK CASALE: Thank you. Thank you. I really appreciate all of that, I really do. And if anyone wants to find more of me you can go to allthingspractice.com. Like, download, subscribe, and share. And if you want coaching or retreats that I'm hosting, my website's All Things Practice and my Facebook group is All Things Private Practice. See you next week.
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