Originally published on Boston Voyager, edited by Edward Clark
Today we’d like to introduce you to LeShelle Woodard.
LeShelle, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today. I started with a $5000.00 loan from a friend. I used the loan to rent and furnish a single office and a waiting room. I worked nights and weekends while maintaining a full-time consulting position as well as a part time teaching position at UMass Boston. At first, things were painfully slow and I remember that I once jokingly quipped to a friend that I might have been better off pursuing another long standing personal goal such as horseback riding lessons. Despite my frustration, I knew better than to jump ship. I kept working the other jobs, squeezing in clients whenever I could, until I was making enough money to resign from the consulting position. By that time, I had hired my first employee. She had initially contacted me to inquire about subletting but I convinced her that an employment arrangement would be mutually beneficial. Meanwhile, a former student with whom I had maintained contact had completed enough of her graduate studies in psychoanalysis to begin seeing clients. She came on board and, as they say, the rest was history.
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? Despite my initial concerns, maintaining sufficient clientele has not been a problem. A good percentage of client’s partner with us long term while others seek support periodically. My biggest challenge was relatively insidious; I didn’t see it during the first years we were in business. A lack of business training is a glaring shortcoming in graduate programs for psychologists. Most schools, even those that focus exclusively on training clinicians to become psychotherapists, don’t address the need for additional training or business skills. So, as I prepared to start Life Enhancement I gathered whatever books I could find regarding the business side of a psychotherapy practice. A few were quite useful but many didn’t offer anything substantial. Some early and sometimes costly mistakes, could have been avoided had I known more. I gained applied knowledge over the years and eventually enrolled in a 10-month business training course via the Steve Harvey Institute. Now that I have the knowledge I need and the challenge has become finding a balance between time spent with clients, growing the business, self-care and spending time with friends and family. Starting an independent business is quite rewarding. I love knowing how every cent we make is generated; I find that very rewarding. That stated, starting and independent business is not an endeavor for those who lack patience, tenacity or a willingness to act as everything from the CEO to the cleaning crew.
Please tell us about Life Enhancement Psychotherapy.
Two key variables differentiate Life Enhancement from other psychotherapy practices.
The first is our approach. I actively discourage my clinicians from taking the classic therapist stance of actively listening and reflecting. This approach involves verbally highlighting and repeating whatever the client is saying in terms of content and emotions. Broadly, the goal of this approach is to foster insight which, in turn, is supposed to foster growth. However, most individuals seeking psychotherapy possess some insight regarding their difficulties. Their challenge – and a key source of distress – is that this insight has not helped with make necessary changes. Too many clients drop out or end a failed course of psychotherapy feeling as though they are too broken or resolve their difficulties when in fact it, may be a limited use of techniques have failed the client. Mindfulness, therapeutic yoga, psychoanalytic theory, body-based and non-traditional Eastern techniques are actively incorporated into our work. We favor a dynamic, interactive partnership that may involve coaching, directives and structured homework. It is only when a client’s level of stress has deceased sufficiently that we may assess the extent to listening and reflecting may contribute to lasting change.
Our dynamic stance relates to the second variable that differentiates us from other psychotherapy practices. I purposely structured Life Enhancement to encompass a multifaceted team approach. My team has grown more slowly than some because the possession of one or more unique talents, skills, personal traits or significant experiences is a prerequisite to joining our team. In addition to possessing unique talent or experiences, each clinician is responsible for a combination of her own clients and a select subset of clients that are seeing other clinicians. We want our clients to benefit from the collective skills and wisdom of our team. Through regular team collaboration, and when appropriate, short term cross-referrals and involvement of family or community we seek to provide clients with a wealth of potential resources that aim to meet each client’s key needs.
What were you like growing up? Although my students and interns often find this hard to believe, I am and always have been an introvert. As I was growing up, I often had my nose stuck in a book. My grandmother who ironically, never learned to read or write, consistently impressed upon me the importance of education. She pointed out that reading is the most powerful academic skill since it potentially allows one to learn about absolutely anything. So, as a child, I read a great deal which often resulted in the presentation of long series of “why” questions to my mother and anyone else who had the patience to indulge my curiosity.
At the time, I was aware that I was being a bit of a pest at times but the internet had not yet become available and I had a very curious mind!
By the time I reached middle school, I had also become adept at watching and listening as means of learning about people. I generally spoke only when I had something substantial to say and as a result, I found that my words tended to carry weight. Starting in middle school, I became quite determined when I set a goal; this trait continues to serve me well. I gained a reputation in broader circles for being diligent and reliable.
Others found that they could confide in me, so I often knew about the hidden and inner workings of the lives of my closest friends and relatives. My second boyfriend, whom I dated during my junior year of high school, was the first to call me “doc” and others followed. Indeed, during high school when I shared with my grandmother my plans to become a clinical psychologist, she had a good laugh and stated she knew I would become a doctor of something since I already had already mastered a doctor’s chicken scratch signature and handwriting. As was usually the case, she was absolutely correct.
- Individual psychotherapy, child or adult, 45 min. $145.00
- Couples or family psychotherapy, 60 min. $175.00
- Short term consultation or personal coaching, 60 min. $200.00 or $1750.00 for 10 sessions
- Address: 427 Columbia Road Hanover, MA 02339
- Website: http://www.life-enhance-therapy.com/
- Phone: 617-552-5124
- Email: [email protected]
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LifeEnhancementPsychotherapy/
- Other: https://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/name/Leshelle_Woodard_PhD_Hanover_Massachusetts_60538