We had the good fortune of connecting with Tim Leslie and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tim, what’s the end goal, career-wise?
By the end of my career, I’d hope to be providing less direct client service and be more in a position of leadership where I can help other people become the kind of therapist they want to be. Whether that be through clinical supervision, being a professor or whatever other opportunities may arise, I want to be able to influence the people that are influencing people on the ground. I see the value in doing direct service provision and will always maintain at least a small practice so that I can stay in touch with what it is to be in that role. However, I think there’s a lot to be said about seeing people that look like me in a leadership role as well.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I had my first dive into this profession by volunteering at a crisis hotline in a small town in Ohio. I had a lot of ups and downs ever since starting there and eventually moving to California but I think those challenges were important in my ultimately being able to have more empathy for people and how they have to navigate difficult situations with little or limited support. I think the thing I’m most proud of in my career is that I’ve come into my professional identity enough that I can contribute what I’ve learned to others. When I started off, going through grad school, navigating Los Angeles without a car for 3 years, having to move between being a therapist and holding other jobs to get the bills paid, I had to think outside of the box. I took that lesson with me and I try to think outside of the box when I’m working with clients or explaining concepts to students. I think we’re given a good foundation in our education as therapists but we really have to make it our own in time in order to really flourish in this field.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Hopefully these places are still open. I haven’t been to a number of them since the pandemic started. I think to start, I would probably take people hiking or to a beach, especially if they’re from somewhere inland and haven’t spent a lot of time in nature. I think it’s nice to get outdoors and get grounded. Thankfully I live in an area where that’s possible. I’ve enjoyed Laguna Beach, Malibu and a few others that I can’t quite recall. As for eating, I’d probably take people to some obscure places that I know how to get to but can’t remember the names of. One place for sure would be JJ’s Cafe in Monterey Park. Greasy food, good portions and when the wait staff remembers you they’re warm. I’d probably also take someone to see Granada, a dance studio in Alhambra. I teach there and it’s a studio, restaurant and night club all rolled into one. You get to see all different kinds of people there for that reason and that’s a big part of what makes LA interesting, seeing different people and different ways of living.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There’s so many people but that I could probably write a whole novel about them all! I will say The Relational Center was really key in shaping my understanding of what it is to be a therapist and how to contextualize the impact of therapy in larger systems. I’d also say all of my elders and ancestors that also instilled in me the drive to succeed and push myself but to balance it with time for rest and acknowledging what I’ve done. There are also various faculty at my graduate school (TCSPP) that encouraged me to think bigger about my career which led me to ultimately becoming an adjunct faculty there as well as at University of the West.