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

Hi Emily, how do you think about risk?
I keep a quote printed in my office that reads, “A comfort zone is a beautiful place but nothing ever grows there”. I use this as a discussion point with my clients but also as a reminder to myself. The comfort zone is a place of safety and comfort, and everyone enjoys those things. I teach my clients that it is ok to be uncomfortable because they have the tools to tolerate it. If they are uncomfortable that means they are generating change, which is generally why people come to therapy. It is ok to live in your comfort zone, but sometimes you need to embrace the uncomfortable to reach your goals. That is certainly true for me. Starting anything new is scary, it is a risk. It sounds cliché, but it’s true when they say, “No risk, no reward”. But really, what is a risk? It’s a situation with exposure to danger or loss. Some people get into a mindset of “If I don’t try then I won’t fail”. This is also true! What I try to impart on my clients is while you won’t fail, you also won’t succeed. This summer, I took the risk of opening up my own private practice. This October, I’m quitting my full time job of 8 years in community mental health to dedicate myself to helping my practice thrive. Talk about a risk! But with this risk I’ve opened up exciting possibilities for my professional future that include teaching, joining a board for housing the under housed and conducting mental health evaluations for those seeking diversion from the jails into treatment. All these possibilities may not pan out, but what if they do? I won’t know until I take the risk and try. I’m just excited about the opportunities!

What should our readers know about your business?

I did a lot of professional exploring in my early years. I knew I wanted to work in the field of psychology but I was not sure how. After my volunteer counseling experience, I completed school for addiction counseling and was obtaining my required practice hours. I came to the realization that I wasn’t able to properly address the underlying issues behind the addiction. This motivated me to apply for graduate school to become a therapist.

I worked through grad school as an employment specialist, assisting individuals with mental illness to find work. It was there I had the opportunity to work with chronically homeless individuals, those dealing with legal issues and exiting jail or prison. I knew I found a niche. My school was amazing, they are vocal about social justice issues but they did not have any classes relating to the forensic population. I didn’t let it hold me back and jumped at the opportunity to get training through the homeless and re-entry program at the center I was already working for. It was a humbling experience working with under housed and transient individuals. In the 8 years I have been with the center I’ve gone from an employment specialist, to case manager, therapist and, lastly, to a team lead position. If you follow your passion, opportunities open up for you. It was during this work that I was able to receive a 16 week long training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety, Depression and Trauma, and then an additional training in Cognitive Processing Therapy for trauma. I utilize all of these skills in my practice to this day. I’m passionate about assisting individuals experiencing issues around anxiety, depression, addiction and trauma from a variety of backgrounds.

My current practice is built with the understanding that therapy is a stepping-stone on your path to success and happiness. I teach skills and tools that my clients can use on their own. It’s important that my therapeutic space is non-judgmental and includes client feedback to ensure we are working on the goals they want to achieve. But don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about the forensic population. My next goal is to provide mental health evaluations for those seeking diversion from the legal system. I think it’s really important that we treat mental illness instead of punishing people for it, so I’m glad the legal system is starting to recognize that There is more work to be done!

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I have been in Los Angeles for 11 years and I have some places and activities that I adore. If I’m looking for something to eat I love to hit up Sloan’s Restaurant in Valley Village, Vino Wine and Tapas in Encino or Grand Central Market downtown. Weekend trips are spent in Solvang or San Diego. When I want to see the ocean, I have to make a stop to walk around the Venice Canals. I love Opera at the Beach where you get to bring a picnic and blankets to watch the Opera at Santa Monica Pier for about $3!

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 always knew I wanted to be in the helping profession but I didn’t always believe in myself. To test out the waters and see if this was a field I could see myself in I volunteered for an organization, that has since closed, called the International Child Advocacy Network (Yes ICAN). While in college for my undergrad, I completed a training over the course of a few months on child abuse and domestic violence counseling and became an online group facilitator for survivors of abuse. The founder of the organization is a woman named Sue Meier, I admire her greatly. She mentored me and gave me opportunities to take exciting chances that led to some really great things, like Hannah McNeil’s song and music video “Unbroken Angels”. It is a beautiful song about the cycle of abuse that I was privileged to be along for the ride. Sue’s tenacity inspired me to go after my dreams. Being able to practice successfully as a therapist is a dream come true and this passion started with Yes ICAN.

As I make this step into private practice full time, I must also recognize my friends and colleagues: Samantha Sloan, Stephanie Sandoval, Phillip Cleaver and Susan Clayton. They are all wonderful therapists who have been in private practice for a while and have supported my transition, and patiently answered all questions I had.

Website: www.emilymileslmft.com

Instagram: instagram.com/emilymileslmft_

Other: psychology today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/emily-miles-encino-ca/862937?sid=61578ecd8efc7&name=emily+miles&ref=1

Image Credits
Emily Hafele

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