We had the good fortune of connecting with Melanie Rashbaum, LMFT and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Melanie, how do you think about risk?
I moved to Los Angeles in 2004 to pursue a career in acting, and when I did not find the grind of auditioning and selling myself to be my life’s purpose, I stopped. To be honest, I didn’t work very diligently at that career for two reasons. One, I had no direction or control on how that dream would become a reality, and two, I wasn’t intentional with my dream. I didn’t take many risks on that journey because at the time I wasn’t sure of who I was as a person. Fast forward to my late 30s, and I felt it in my bones what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I took a risk and went back to school and earned a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, and then spent additional years in training to become a Licensed Psychotherapist. It turns out, my calling is to be of service to others and support their journeys of empowerment, with zero audience watching my work or clapping for my achievements. If I could share one piece of advice, it would be to take a risk and bet on yourself! I think what holds people back is the people-pleasing thought that we must fulfill other’s expectations of us. I encourage people to quiet their minds of other’s narratives, and ask themselves, “What do I want?”

What should our readers know about your business?
I became a psychotherapist because I had a profound and empowering experience during my own personal talk therapy. I think we underestimate the value of being heard. Most people go through life— whether it be family, community, religion, and the macrosystems of heteronormativity, white supremacy, and patriarchy— feeling unheard because of the many negative messages we encounter and internalize. In therapy, not only was I feeling heard, but I was given empathy and validation. I wanted to gift this experience of feeling heard and valued to others.

I am most proud of my specialization and experience working within the LGBTQ+ community. My first clinical training site was a community clinic where we supported and served folks affected by HIV/AIDS. It felt like I was honoring my beloved horse trainer, Ted Land, who passed away from HIV/AIDS-complicated health issues when I was a young teenager, by providing psychological support and comfort to these community members. I immediately felt a sense of pride and purpose. From there, I moved on to the LA LGBT Center and worked with LGBTQ-identified youth ages 12-25. There has been an ongoing theme of trauma, resiliency, courage, and empowerment that I have witnessed throughout my years working with this population. I have become a stronger clinician because of my clients’ abilities to show up as their authentic selves and trust me to support and love them exactly as they are. When it came to starting a private practice, I had to ask myself who my ideal client would be and what do I have to offer them. I highlighted my experience and specialization with LGBTQ+ affirmative psychotherapy and EMDR trauma counseling. LGBTQ+ affirmative therapy means that I approach treatment through the lens of the queer experience in a heteronormative society. I also consider cultural components and lived realities clients have experienced due to their race, ethnicity, and gender, under the influence of systems of oppression, discrimination, and racism.

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.
I would love to take a friend hiking on the Hollywood Trails up to the Griffith Park Observatory. We could pack a lunch and sit in the grass and watch the tourists, local folks, and their pets and children frolic about in the southern California sunshine. Another favorite of mine is free jazz nights at LACMA. I think the best part of that experience is sharing it with the community. Some of my favorite local dining spots are: The Best Fish Tacos in Ensenada, Harold & Belle’s New Orleans cuisine, Michael’s Italian, and Abbot’s Pizza Company. I also highly recommend dining at La Piazza at the Grove (order the Caesar salad and halibut) while people-watching. And of course we’d visit the beach, art shows, live music, cultural community events, etc. This city is full of a myriad of experiences!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I thank my clients over the years for trusting me to accompany them on their self-discovery and self-acceptance journeys. I thank my family for supporting me throughout my career journeys and celebrating the milestones with me. I thank Susan Holt, my first clinical supervisor, for her wisdom, patience, dedication, and support. I am a better clinician today because of her warmth and mentoring. I thank Lani Chin, my favorite former professor and business mentor, for helping me navigate the ins and outs of private practice. I thank my darling friends who enthusiastically encourage and celebrate me along the way. I thank the other clinicians in my life who challenge me and shine a light on other perspectives, helping me to be the best clinician I can be for my clients and the community at large. I thank all the amazing professors at Antioch University for their wisdom and support. Along with the in-person support, I must thank the amazing teachers I had in textbooks: Bell Hooks, Gabor Maté, Irvin Yalom, Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung, and Virginia Satir (to name a few). I thank the LA LGBT Center for helping me hone and nurture my specialization as an LGBTQ-Affirmative psychotherapist.

Website: www.theextrovertedtherapist.com

Instagram: the_extroverted_therapist

Image Credits
Professional headshot and couch photo by photographer Jasper Sams. Other photos were taken by me Melanie Rashbaum.

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