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Meet Marilyn Brown of A Mindful Way Counseling in El Segundo

Today we’d like to introduce you to Marilyn Brown.

Marilyn, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I always knew I would make my life somewhere else when the time came. The right time came for me a couple of years after obtaining my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. I had already been working with eating disorders and felt a strong connection to that population. Especially, women of color who often are overlooked in the mental health field.

When the time was right, when the opportunity came, without hesitation, my roommate at the time and current best friend and I picked up relocated across the country! We moved to sunny San Diego, and I fell in love with Cali life! After growing up braving the harsh winters in Chicago, finding somewhere that had beautiful fruit growing on trees in March, I knew I was home!

After a fun time waiting tables downtown in the Gaslamp district for a few months, I found work specializing in substance abuse, gained further training, obtained my Master’s degree, and eventually my marriage and family therapist license.

In 2013, I left San Diego and moved to LA seeking to retain the So-Cal lifestyle but experience more of MY culture and MY community. I wanted a place that more reflected the beautifully rich tapestry of experiences and culture I grew up surrounded by in Chicago. For me, LA was the perfect fit!

Since being here, I’ve spent more time working on myself and healing from the inside out. I’ve become a practicing yogi, and I’m exploring and nourishing my own creative and performance interests as well! I think it’s something about this city that brings it out of you.

Being a place where people are unapologetic about who they are and how they want to show up in the world has given me permission to do the same! I’ve been creating art and music my whole life, but I have always kept it closely guarded because of fear.

Over the years, I’ve had many false starts attempting to bring forth my creativity through blogging and content creation but fear always got in the way. Created a blog, Mindfully She a few years ago but never followed through with my plans to post regularly though I maintained the website social media account.

2019 has been a year of experiencing creative freedom for me in ways I’ve never experienced! I’m creating and leading workshops, writing and blogging regularly, reconnecting to music and sound as a tool for healing. I’m more excited for this next chapter of my life than ever before!

Has it been a smooth road?
I definitely wouldn’t call it a smooth road but that’s kind of what I’m used to. I can’t really remember a time in my life that didn’t have some challenge. The first couple of years, I really struggled to keep up with the ebbs and flows of money in a fee-for-service business.

It’s always slow around the holiday season for example so if I don’t plan ahead, during that time I might be eating ramen! Being a pretty even-keeled person naturally has helped me to cope with it a lot. I don’t panic, which will just make things work. I make the adjustments needed, express gratitude for the freedom running my business gives me, and I keep it moving!

Probably the biggest unexpected obstacle on my path came towards the end of 2015 when after experiencing a strange combination of physical symptoms for a few weeks, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a chronic incurable autoimmune disease.

This shock of this life-changing diagnosis gave me the push I needed to fully embrace my own healing on a deeper more spiritual level, and this opened me up to metaphysical and energy healing.

I never really valued my health until that diagnosis, so I truly embrace it as a gift. It truly changed my life, and now I’ve trained to facilitate this level of healing in my clients and the collective as a whole.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the A Mindful Way Counseling story. Tell us more about the business.
When I relocated to Los Angeles in 2013, I came here thinking I had a position lined up, but it quickly fell through after I arrived. I immediately began applying for another position in my field, but no one was calling back. With the amount and quality of the experience I had, it really didn’t make sense to me.

Now I understand that’s because it was time for me to step up and strike out on my own! I found a listing to rent office space near my apartment and really the rest is history. I was able to build up a caseload in private practice with the support of connections I made here, and A Mindful Way Counseling was born!

My baby is now almost five years old! It hasn’t been easy, but it has truly been worth it. Running my own business affords me the opportunity to connect with the creative artist and teacher within creating space for me to share my work with the communities that need it the most!

At A Mindful Way Counseling, I provide psychotherapy, energy healing, and consultation services. My practice is rooted in mindfulness because I believe a deeper level of awareness is the foundation to work through any issue and to living a fulfilling life overall!

I help people reach their full potential by learning to live in the moment. I’ve had experience working with eating disorders at every level of care to this population is definitely my specialty. I also work with substance abuse issues, mood disorders, and anxiety.

I’ve been providing counseling for five years at A Mindful Way and last year I studied and became a Reiki Master and Crystal Healer so now I can bring healing to the energetic body as well as the mind. This sets my business apart because there is only so much you can do with talk therapy alone. Adding energy healing to my toolbox is helping me bring a deeper level of healing to my clients.

After working in LA for a while, I started noticing a lot of black women began to seek me out for services. I began to realize my identity and life experience really set me apart. Only 2.2% of MFT’s in California are African-American which is definitely not in line with the population.

There is still so much stigma in the black community surrounding mental health that needs to be addressed. Though I treat clients from all ethnic backgrounds, my business mission is to create stigma-free healing spaces for black women and families because this community, my community, has long been overlooked.

To support this mission, I offer a donation based healing circle for black womxn in the community as well as free online sister circles and workshops and I also run service initiatives to support families experiencing homelessness in LA.

Where do you see your industry going over the next 5-10 years?  Any big shifts, changes, trends, etc?
The mental health and wellness industry is really evolving, and I’m excited about it! I feel like many of us are beginning to feel a call to return to ancient modes of healing but with the support of today’s technology which creates a beautiful space for personal growth through connections.

Podcasting, for example, has really blown up and it’s more accessible than ever to bring quality content to the masses. I’ve been co-hosting a podcast Civil Disorder for almost three years now! My cohost Jayme and I bring a mindful perspective to current events and other topics. There are so many great podcasts related to mental health and wellness, and I’m excited to share my offering Black Messy Mindful in the spring!

I think in the next 5-10 years, online and tech-based options for access to mental health and wellness will continue to grow. Seeing where the industry is headed, I am actively shifting the focus of my business to meet those demands and to reach to reach the broader community!

I’ve already hit the ground running with that mission this year. I’m excited to be part of an innovate new subscription-based online marketplace for personal and professional development, Club of Hearts. I’m excited to reach a broader network through this affordable platform and through other innovative tools!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
M. Ratliff

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