We had the good fortune of connecting with Elana Lev and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Elana, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
Caring for one’s mental health is as paramount as caring for one’s physical health. Unfortunately, our society has not always appreciated the importance of mental health care. As a result, many barriers to mental health services and resources exist including (but not limited to): stigmatization of clients, finding the right level of care, cost, and identifying providers with the skill and training that would be most beneficial. At TLA Therapy, we are working to break these barriers in order to make mental health care more widespread and accessible to our community and beyond. The ways in which we are doing this are by marketing our services to fit all people (seriously, who could not benefit from a little extra support?) to help de-stigmatize mental illness. We also offer not just weekly therapy but groups so that clients can increase or decrease their level of care as needed, which provides more flexibility than the current levels of care offer. We do not want getting good care to be cost prohibitive so we offer a variety of low fee groups and sliding scale as needed. Finally, our team is highly trained in evidence-based treatments (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Mentalization Based Therapy, EMDR, prolonged exposure, and more) to ensure that our clients are receiving the highest level of mental health care available.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
We all came to TLA Therapy in a different way. For example, one of my partners Lindsay Rickel, worked first in the entertainment industry before finding her passion to help others and return to get her master’s degree. I would say that I followed a more traditional path of getting to this point; graduating from UCLA with a BA in psychology, doing a few years of mental health research and then going to UC Berkeley for my Masters in Social Welfare. That is not to say that there weren’t those years where I considered other, potentially more lucrative, careers like law (the one that my parents were secretly hoping I’d go for). The truth is, no matter what career I would have chosen first, I have no doubt that eventually I would have landed as a therapist. The therapeutic connection feels like a calling and something that brings me a lot of satisfaction. The path to getting here was not particularly difficult, but the path to stay here with an increasingly saturated field is more challenging. I think the things I am most proud of, and which sets me and TLA Therapy apart from others, are my entrepreneurial mindset, desire to shift the status quo and fearlessness to go after it. It is easy as a therapist to settle into the role unchanged for years. It has always been my nature to question whether there are better, more efficient and effective ways to do things. This has led to a number of ideas we have integrated at TLA Therapy which has not always been the industry standard such as creative ways to market and make therapy accessible to all, offering flexibility in session type and frequency, increasing our group offerings, utilizing multimedia in our session, and supporting continuing education. In addition, most people would be satisfied by working at an institution as great as UCLA Health and my partners and I recognized the need to shift from something that had a ceiling on our potential to fearlessly start something limitless. Our mission for TLA Therapy was to offer something both to our clients and to our employees that would not be possible elsewhere. It has not always been easy to try and shift the status quo. Even with the pivots we have had to make with COVID, offering all services via teletherapy (both individual and group sessions), there were certainly clients and therapists who worried that this would impact therapeutic rapport and quality of care. I am so proud to say that at TLA Therapy our clients have found our services just as effective and helpful during this time. We have doubled in size since the start of the pandemic and continue to grow daily! The greatest lesson we have learned is never to settle and always to keep reaching to make things better.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
In general, this might depend on the the type of friend as well as the season, however, I have my go-to spots that never disappoint!
Sunday – A local farmers market and walk on the beach. Sunset dinner and drinks at a nearby rooftop hotel
Monday – Malibu wines for a taste of a local winery and people watching
Tuesday – The Getty or Getty Villa for a cultural experience
Wednesday – Food tour in Downtown LA to discover the culinary excellence of the city
Thursday – Hike in Topanga Canyon
Friday – Score tickets to see a live taping of Bill Mar
Saturday – Shopping in Beverly Hills
What is so awesome about LA is you can literally have it all–beach, culture, delicious food, sporting events and more!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
All three founders, Elana Lev, LCSW, Laura Twersky, LCSW and Lindsay Rickel, LCSW, conceived of and began TLA Therapy while working at UCLA Health. We worked in the inpatient psychiatric hospital as well as the partial and intensive outpatient programs. Our experience at UCLA includes working with a multidisciplinary team including nurses, mental health techs, occupational therapists, psychiatrists, and social workers. We learned how complex mental health care is and how necessary these services are to the community. We learned to convey compassion and empathy to our clients who were suffering, to understand how mental health contributes to physical health conditions, to think outside of the box and challenge the status quo, and to never settle for anything less than the best but continue to learn, grow and expand our knowledge. We had the benefit of working with some of the best mentors, while simultaneously learning about the gaps within the current mental health system. As a result, we successfully built TLA Therapy to serve a need in our community.