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Exploring Life & Business with Dr. Leslie Celis


Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Leslie Celis.
 

Hi Dr. Celis, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
As a kid of Colombian immigrants, I think I share a lot in common with folx who grew up first-generation and pursued higher education as a way to support their family legacy. I am the youngest of three and the only one to go to college and eventually doctoral school. As a kid, I struggled with my mental health and felt very unsupported by society. So, I took it upon myself to become who I didn’t have as a teenager. I have made it my mission to create access and advocate for health services for communities of color. I hope to inspire more folx of color to enter the field given that 80.9% of mental health providers are white/Caucasian and only 18% percent of all mental health providers identify as LGBTQIA+. 

It has not been an easy journey and I never envisioned myself owning a business since it is common knowledge in our field that private practice can be isolating but I have found ways to create community. I stay connected to my people through the services I offer but my need to be in community on a larger scale has led me to co-create the podcast My Therapist Friends. This podcast is a space where I have open conversations with fellow therapists and healers about health and we don’t hold back on including the ways that past and present systematic oppression impact us all. 

Who I am today has been deeply influenced and motivated by my elders, my ancestors, and the people who value love, connection, and relationship. 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I would say that becoming a psychologist has been one of the biggest challenges I have ever experienced. Being one of only a handful of Latinx students in my program and eventually, one of only a handful of Licensed Latinx Psychologists in the Los Angeles area is tough. The need is high and you’re only one person so the guilt of not being able to clone yourself can weigh heavy on your heart. By the same token, I have learned a lot about myself through this journey and I am proof that although the world of academia wasn’t made for someone like me, I was still able to accomplish my goals and get that degree. 

As you know, we’re big fans of Dr. Leslie Celis. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
I own and operate a telehealth private psychotherapy practice. In my practice, I provide services for folx who are struggling with managing depression, stress, and/or trauma responses. I am known for working with predominantly Latinx peoples and folx from the queer community. Additionally, I provide psychological evaluations to folx applying for immigration waivers. 

What sets me apart from other providers is that I value alternative approaches and conceptualizations of health. Meaning, I don’t just ascribe to western ideologies of psychology or interventions. I look to folx as whole people with individual and collective stories. I help support folx in identifying these stories and find ways to foster their strengths to facilitate more connected relationships with themselves. 

I am most proud of being able to work in a way that invites others to show up with authenticity. It is a true honor to be trusted with another’s vulnerability. 

Is there any advice you’d like to share with our readers who might just be starting out?
I would say, learn to lean on your support system. Being a therapist takes a lot of stress tolerance, so you have to be willing to let others be there for you so that you can be there for the people you service. I know that seems like common sense, but it can be lot harder in practice. 

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