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Meet Heather Huff, MFTi of Beverlywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Heather Huff.

Heather, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I grew up in a poor family in the mid-west, and no one ever spoke to me about higher education. There weren’t conversations in my household about what we wanted to be when we grew up. We didn’t talk about goals and aspirations. And going to college was something I imagined only rich people did. As a result, I graduated high-school and went directly into the work force. There was no thought about education after high-school, and I did mostly administrative and office work for many years.

I was 25 and working as an administrative assistant and event coordinator at a small non-profit when my boss took me aside and said to me, “It’s obvious that you’re a very intelligent person. But it’s also obvious that you haven’t had the benefit of higher education, and I think it’s time that we do something about that.” I was mortified.

Going to college seemed very foreign to me. The word “matriculation” stood out in my mind as something associated with going to college, but I had no idea what it meant. It was a big word, and it represented everything that scared me about college. It wasn’t accessible to me. It was a language meant for other people. People with money. People who knew things about the world that I didn’t. College wasn’t a place where I belonged. But my boss made it clear to me that he would support in any way he could. He helped me complete paperwork, answered any questions I had, and gave me some flexibility in my schedule so that I could work and go to classes without jeopardizing my job.

And for as fearful as I felt, I also knew that I was being given a very rare opportunity, so I jumped at it. That was in 2003. It would be another 10 years before I completed my undergraduate degree.

A lot of things happened in those 10 years and I had some very trying experiences.

In the wake of those experiences, I decided to seek therapy. My first therapist was amazingly supportive and skilled, and I experienced an incredible amount of growth and healing with her in a relatively short amount of time. I very quickly realized that I wanted to do for other people what she had done for me, and I fire was stoked inside of me. For the first time in my life, I found a passion. I set my feet on the path toward becoming a therapist, and I never looked back. I completed my BA in 2013, began working as a trainee therapist in 2014, and completed my graduate degree in clinical psychology in 2015.

I love the work of being a therapist. I love the people that I work with. I am so honored by the trust they place in my, and by the depth of our work together. And I am continuously humbled by their strength and resiliency. I live in gratitude every single day that I get to do work that I feel passionately about. I do work that draws from my own innate strengths, which I have put a lot of effort into honing. And I get to do work that is aligned with my passion and my values. Not everyone can say this about the career they choose, and so I understand what a gift this is. I’m in my 40’s now, and it took me a while to get here. But it was all completely worth it.

Great, 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?
Some of my struggles have been financial. I moved to LA in 2001, and lived here for 6 years without a car. At some points in those early years, when I was attending classes at community college, I would spend hours on buses and trains to get from home, to work, to school, and home again. At one point, I was getting up at 4:30am and not getting home until after midnight. I remember just feeling exhausted all of the time!

Then, through a series of very unfortunate events back in 2010, I ended up unemployed and homeless, I was couch-surfing when I began my undergrad program. School was the only thing in my life that felt like it was moving forward, and I clung to that like a life raft. Once employed again, I continued to work and go to school full-time, which meant many long days, and many long night, reading, studying, and writing papers.

Other struggles have been related to my own internal demons. The voices that have told me that I’m not smart enough or strong enough, or that I don’t deserve to be here. Going back to school really challenged those narratives. Writing papers was scary because I had to learn to find my own voice, and to share my thoughts and opinions. I had to learn to think critically and to take critical feedback. These are all things that I spent many years hiding from because I was afraid that engaging in these ways would expose me as a fraud – many people call this “impostor syndrome.” I had to learn to trust that when professors were giving me positive feedback, it wasn’t because they were just trying to be nice, or because I had somehow fooled them into believing that I was smarter than I really was. I had to be willing to entertain the possibility that they were invested in my education and growth, and that I actually had something meaningful to contribute. I also had to learn that not knowing something did not equate to a lack of intelligence, and that the whole point of going to school was to learn – the base assumption being that you don’t in fact know everything, and that as students, we were all in that boat together. Continuing to stand in the face of those fears still takes effort sometimes. I have had to learn to be vulnerable about my fears with friends and colleagues, and to trust their reflections and experiences of me when I’m not sure I can trust my own. But being in the field of therapy means I am surrounded by amazingly compassionate, strong, supportive people who are all too willing to lend themselves to each other’s continued growth.

Heather Huff, MFTi – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I recently re-branded myself with the tag line, “Get it together.” In my own way, I’m attempting to poke fun at the very individualistic narrative that we hold to as a western culture – the idea that we should all just be able to pull ourselves up by the boot-straps and get on with life, regardless of the depth of our struggles. This narrative can be really destructive and can keep people from seeking any kind of support, especially when we need it most. So I’m attempting to speak to that narrative, humorously, and I’m suggesting that asking for help IS getting it together, and that you don’t have to do that on your own. I think therapy is an incredibly resource for people needing mental and emotional supports.

I offer a bit of a different flavor of therapy. I believe in showing up as myself, and just being real. Because of this, I don’t subscribe to some idea about how I should dress as a therapist. I swear and I don’t hide my tattoos. I am a little irreverent, and often use humor in my work. I believe that the power of the therapeutic relationship is where your humanity and my humanity meet. In that place, we change each other. And while I certainly bring some expertise to the room, as the person trained to facilitate therapy, I don’t fancy myself the expert on any other person besides myself. This means that the work of therapy MUST be collaborative, and expect my clients to show up willing to put in as much effort as I do when we work together.

I work with a broad client base, and range of issues; but I have specific skills in the areas of intimacy and sex, relationship, sexuality, and gender. I am particularly proud of the work that I do with couples, and with the transgender community. My core values are rooted in sex-positivity, feminism, and social justice.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I think I am in the midst of my proudest moment, right now. As of today, I am still working a full-time administrative job during the day, and seeing clients on weekday evenings and weekends. It takes time to build a practice to the point that it is financially sustainable. However, last week I given notice at my day job, and am planning to strike out on me on the beginning of next year. I have worked so hard to get to this point.

And it fills me with pride to see that work finally paying off – after all of the fear, and all of the doubts… “Nevertheless, she persisted.” I am finally here!

Pricing:

  • My hourly rate is $150

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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