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Hidden Gems: Meet Dr. Ina Creekbaum of Illuminating Psychological Services

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Ina Creekbaum.

Hi Dr. Creekbaum, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I knew that I wanted to be a psychologist when I was nine years old. I was fortunate enough to come from a home that encouraged me to believe in myself and my dreams. As I grew and learned more about the field it became clear that owning a private practice would be the culmination of that dream. My Mother and Step-Father divorced when I was a young child and my grandparents raised me, and as a result of this dynamic, I became determined to reach my goal no matter what because I saw my grandparents overcome many obstacles. Little did I know that it would be the hardest road imaginable. I began attending college in earnest at Southern New Hampshire University where I obtained my B.A. in Psychology, followed by an M.S. in Counseling Psychology (emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy) from California Baptist University and finally I received my Doctorate from Argosy University in Counseling Psychology and became a licensed Psychologist in 2019. After reaching the goal of owning my own practice and spending some time as a college faculty member I understood that I was meant to do more. To that end, I transitioned my sole proprietorship into an S-Corporation to employ and create a team of like-minded individuals focused on the mutual goal of affecting change in the lives of the clients we work with daily. I am currently in the process of hiring and we are looking for interns as well as licensed clinicians.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
My biggest obstacles on this journey were the loss of my family of origin. During my undergraduate program, I was working full-time for the County of Riverside in HR, I was the Chairperson for the Riverside County Commission for Women, I was also the Treasurer of the Association of California Commissions for Women and a wife and mother; all while taking four classes per term. During my last year in the program my only sibling, my baby brother, died unexpectedly. My world was turned upside down but somehow I was able to keep going. I graduated with honors and began my M.S. one week later. My University was aware that I entered the program in grief. It was a 2 year program and in the middle of the second year my Grandmother (my grandfather had already passed away when I was 19) and my mother passed away four months apart. My world shattered but I still kept going. At graduation, I was shocked and surprised because the heads of my department gave me an award for Academic Excellence because through all of that I maintained a 4.0 GPA and they said “we don’t know how you did it”. The summer before I applied for my doctoral program my Uncle (who was also a father figure) passed away so I was again entering a program with fresh and prolonged grief.

During my interview for the doctoral program, I knew that I needed to finish as quickly as possible because all of the pain and stress was catching up to me. In the interview, I asked how long the program took and was told that coursework would take 4-5 years and that the dissertation would add another 2-3 years and my response was, “that’s too long”. I asked if I could take twice as many classes as they allowed at that time and was told that no one had ever done that before and my response was “that’s good because I just got here”. We agreed that I could attempt it in my first term and if I completed all of the classes with an A I could continue to take the double course load. Not only did I meet the requirement I was also able to complete all of my classes in two years and finished my dissertation in 1 year. It was during that time my father passed away which was further exacerbated by my living in San Bernardino, working in Santa Monica and taking classes in LA and Ontario to be able to finish on time. I know how to endure, I know how to persevere and I know how to share this with others. My current challenges center around the job market. At present, hiring is difficult but because I have been through so much I know how to hold on and to believe that things will get better.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
My goal is to create realistic and lasting change in the mental well-being of those I serve. My purpose is to aid in the healing journey of my clients as they move toward self-acceptance, empowerment, and growth. By providing a framework of client-specific modalities and interventions intertwined with my personal therapeutic style I bring empathy, genuineness and positive regard to each client allowing for maximum benefit and impact. My pride in my business comes in the form of every client that graduates, every person that moves from self-loathing to self-love, and from every word-of-mouth referral we receive. While we have not received any external accolades, the internal messages we receive regularly from our clients are more than enough to validate our efforts. My biggest accomplishment thus far is creating this practice in the wake of losing my entire family of origin. I began this journey with many loved ones that never saw me finish and to be able to reach this point despite the pain and grief will always be an achievement I am very proud of.

What’s next?
I will be returning to the public speaking arena early next year to deliver a message that I think will resonate with many. I also have developed a program that will allow us to partner with specific groups in an effort to bring lasting change to future generations by providing systemic resources now. Once I build my team of like-minded clinicians I will begin developing and providing workshops and seminars for the community. I have published a journal called “The F-It Journal”, which is available on Amazon in several color options and I plan to publish my first book by the end of 2023 which will most likely be a telling of my story for the purpose of sharing hope.

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