Talk it Out Interview with Shandelynn Hillard
As a continuation of my Talk it Out blogpost, I reached out to a classmate of mine. She is the owner of Tea Time Therapy, PLLC. I got to ask her some of the unnerving questions that I and I'm sure others are thinking before reaching out to a therapist. Hopefully this interview will get you to Talk it out!
Please introduce yourself for our readers.
I am Shandelynn Hillard, a New Orleans native and Owner of Tea Time Therapy, PLLC. I decided one day that I would move to Houston, TX to pursue my schooling dreams. I grew up in downtown NOLA and attended the best high school McDonogh 35! When I was younger, I wanted to become a teacher . I can remember creating lesson plans for my cousins and always wanting to share knowledge. As I grew older I found myself being attracted to books like the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and movies and television shows that portrayed persons laying on a sofa in office sharing stories. I knew I wanted to be a “shrink,” which I have found that in this profession that term is rarely used. I remember being intrigued by movies like “The Sixth Sense and Gothika.” To this day, psychological thrillers are a go to for me. Fast forwarding through my life, I graduated from the University of New Orleans with my B.S in Psychology and two years later I moved to Houston to begin my graduate program at Our Lady of the Lake University. In 2015, I finished my program and sought jobs in my field. In 2018, I took a big leap of faith and opened Tea Time Therapy, PLLC and I am in love with running my own business and helping others.
What services do you offer?
I offer therapy services to Individuals, families and couples. For each of the services I offer, I create individualized plans that are tailored to that specific client or clients. This is one of the best parts about having my own company, I can be creative and come up with innovative ways to help my client/s find solutions to their issues.
In what ways can you assure people that therapy is a safe place?
One thing I like to discuss with my new clients and sometimes have to reassure old clients is that my office is a safe place, helping them to understand therapist are bound by HIPAA and confidentiality. For clients to let me into their lives in such an intimate state, I am privileged and appreciative. I also like to share with clients that there are both risks and benefits of therapy. There could be things that come up that will ultimately make a person sad or uneasy but on the other side of that coin the benefits could be great and liberating.
Why do you feel that so many people are opposed to seeing a therapist?
I am not sure if there are “so many” people opposed to therapy but there is a good amount that do not seek out therapy. I think Millennials are making things easier due to being a little bit more carefree and open to trying new things. I am willing to share the thought that in certain cultures, for example the African American community, we are taught that we should go to church and pray. We hear that a lot, “just pray about it.” While I do not disagree with praying, The Bible also states that prayer without works is dead. I truly believe that we have to put action behind those prayers.
When do you think seeking professional help is needed?
Therapy at anytime can be great, a person does not have to wait until they are in crisis to seek out help (although this is typically when someone comes in to see us). My practice is catered to those with not only anxiety and depression, but I love when clients are dealing with life choices, we call them “phase of life” issues. I love these so much because we are able to create a blueprint of how the client would like life to be, then we begin laying the foundations to get it started.
How does one choose “the right" therapist?
It is not a sure thing that the first therapist you see is the perfect fit for you. Much like choosing a spouse (choosing love), you might have to try different therapist until you are comfortable. You must remember that therapy is about YOU and not the therapist. Remember the therapist is here for support and guidance. Listen to your gut; if you don’t feel comfortable it’s okay you can look elsewhere. Feeling like you can be open to speak freely is much more important to the process.
How does one prepare for a first session?
Before clients come in the office, there are some thoughts of cancelation due to the unknown. This is normal, I find it most helpful if the client has some thoughts as to what they would like to gain, or even an expectation of how therapy will go. The client should remember to remain honest and transparent; it’ll help with the healing process.
Now the question EVERYONE wants to know, What about the money?
Clients should always ask about fees, the sooner the better. It is very important to be transparent and asking for what you need. In my office I would rather get someone the help that they need, with that said I offer a sliding scale that is catered to the overall household income. If I find that I am still not able to cater to their needs I can refer them out for help versus turning them away due to not being able to pay.
I hope this interview has been helpful to you. If you have more questions or need more information, please contact Shandelynn directly at the handles below.
Where to find Shandelynn: Psychology Today Open Path: https://openpathcollective.org/clinicians/shandelynn-hillard/