We had the good fortune of connecting with Elsa Matsumoto and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Elsa, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Opening a private practice was not an overnight decision; it took a journey. Identifying as a first-generation Latina woman myself, I had a first-hand experience of the challenges we face daily and the impacts it has on wellbeing. During my social work career before private practice, I noticed my impact on serving Latinx individuals and communities, especially young women. I reached a point in my career where I wanted to dedicate my work to supporting Latinx women using evidence-based practices but, most importantly, celebrating cultural healing methods such as gardening, connection with nature, and the use of narratives as a pathway to healing.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I dedicate my private practice to serving those of similar identity.  As a current solo practitioner, I am most excited about the small things.  For example, I recently signed a lease for a slightly bigger office that will give me the space to offer different services that I have been dreaming about.  Like many in my field, I started my career in community mental health and it was not easy.  However, I quickly found my strengths in the field with the support of helpful supervisors and colleagues.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned along my journey has been that there is healing power in people’s narratives.  My practice is about offering a safe space for people to share their narrative and use it as a pathway to healing.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I really enjoy nature.  If I wanted to show a friend the best time ever, I would probably create an itinerary with an outdoor theme.  I would start off with the Huntington Library and Gardens in Pasadena, California.  We would walk the property, enjoy the different garden spaces, and have lunch at their cafe.  Second on the itinerary would be the California Botanical Gardens in Claremont, California.  We would spend the first half of the day admiring native plants at the California Botanical Gardens, sipping on coffee from Lucky Roasters, then grab sushi somewhere in downtown Claremont.

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?
I have had many influential people in my personal life and career. It is true when people say it takes a village.

First and foremost, mi mamá. My mom came into the US as an immigrant, survived her migration experiences, and raised me to believe that the sky is the limit. She always kept it real with me; she warned me about the challenges I would face like a brown woman and how to overcome them. She was the first healer I knew and did a great job at it. She had no formal education or training, just life experiences and knowledge passed down to her from her mother.

Second, mi profesora in graduate school, Dr. Zoila Gordon, Ph.D., LCSW, MSW. She has always responded with the most genuine support I have ever encountered in academia. When I touch base with her and share feelings of self-doubt, she says, “You can do it. I know you can.” Spoiler alert, she’s right every time.

Lastly, the Children’s Librarian supervised me when I worked as a page for LA County Library. I was a community college at the time, expecting what many first-gen college students do, feeling lost about what direction to take with their education. She saw my potential before I saw mine and helped me discover it. She supported me by celebrating my strengths and allowing me to take leadership on projects that highlighted what I did best, being creative and supporting the community.

Website: https://elsamatsumotolcsw.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/elsa.lcsw/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ematsumoto/

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.