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Community Highlights: Meet LaKeita Carter of Institute for Healing

Today we’d like to introduce you to LaKeita Carter. 

Hi LaKeita, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers?
Since I was a child, I have always known that listening to others was my gift. It seems like most of my life people have put me in the position to be a sounding board. In fact, my parents have a 7th-grade essay that I wrote that talks about my future career choice. As young as 12 years old, I was articulating that I wanted to be a psychologist. 

As I continued my education and took psychology classes in high school, I got more and more interested. Therefore, it only made sense that I would major in psychology at Temple University and minor in English. It was my love of writing that drew me to that minor. 

After taking every psychology course I could find, including the Psychology of Food, I decided that the next step for me was to apply to graduate school. I remember reaching out to my mentor at Temple, Dr. Marsha Weinraub, in a state of confusion. There are so many different types of psychologists. Which one do I want to be? 

She asked me, “What do you want to do in psychology, La Keita?” 

That was easy! “I want to do the couch thing.” 

From there, she led me in the direction of clinical psychology. I applied to Loyola University Maryland, finished my master’s degree and proceeded with my doctoral degree in clinical psychology. This is a testament to the benefits of a good mentor. I am forever grateful to Dr. Weinraub for shepherding me in the right direction, instead of trying to convince me to follow in her footsteps and become a developmental psychologist. Many mentors and professors want to create mini versions of themselves, but that’s not mentorship. 

During my doctoral program, I researched self-esteem, religiosity, and spirituality in female rape survivors for my dissertation. This research laid the groundwork for my career; I just didn’t know it. 

I graduated with my doctorate and started working in Pigtown (in downtown Baltimore) at a substance abuse treatment center offering mental health treatment to those who were in recovery from addiction. Many of my patients also had trauma histories, so it was a great way to extend my doctoral research. I started digging into trauma treatment and learning more about how to work with trauma survivors. 

After several years there, I found myself at a place of burnout. I was seeing patients full time (40 hours per week) and needed a break. I decided to apply for some teaching positions and landed a position at the Community College of Baltimore County as a professor. I resigned from my therapist position and started teaching full-time. 

After about a year, I felt a pull. I loved teaching, and I was doing quite well. However, I wanted to do what I was trained to do. I wanted to do “the couch thing.” It was at that point that I decided never to pigeonhole myself again. Psychology is too big of a field to do one thing. I needed a professional buffet. 

I started creating a business plan to start a private practice. In the meantime, I had taken another clinical job that allowed me to do some therapy work and still teach. 

It was my husband who urged me to start the practice. Even after many conversations, I was still very skeptical. However, I decided to try it at the beginning of 2016. I had already registered my business with the state in 2014 and had been working on a business plan and scouting out offices. I signed a lease for a small office (100 sq feet) and opened my doors on February 29, 2016. It’s not lost on me that I took a huge leap of faith on a leap year! 

By November 2016, my practice had grown so much that I needed to hire someone. By 2017, I had a team of five therapists, and we needed more room. So, in 2018 I moved our five therapists and 93 patients to an office suite down the street. 

From there, we exploded. The growth has been tremendous. We expanded our physical office space in the Fall of 2018 because we had already outgrown the new suite that we were in. Our therapist team grew, and we achieved accreditation with a national organization and state licensure as an outpatient mental health clinic and mobile treatment service. Our patient load expanded as did many of the programs that we have. 

Now, we have a 26-member team that includes executives, therapists from several mental health disciplines (including psychology, counseling, addictions, and social work), medical providers, graduate-level interns, and a front desk team. We offer individual, group, family, and couples therapy to people starting at age 4. We also provide medication management services, medical marijuana card evaluations, weight-loss surgery evaluations, addictions and mental health counseling, in-home therapy, and telehealth services (which we have been doing since 2018). 

In the Summer of 2021, we launched a new research center called CRUSH (The Center for Researching and Understanding Sexual Health). CRUSH publishes research reports on topics related to sexual wellness, intimacy, relationships, love, and lust. 

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
The biggest struggle that I have experienced is my own self-doubt. For years I thought about how hard it would be to start a practice. Additionally, I thought about the skills and training that I didn’t have. Training in the health sciences doesn’t offer any insight into healthcare administration. In other words, there are little to no classes on starting a private practice, creating a business plan, finding funding, etc. Majoring in the health sciences means that you are taught how to practice your science. 

There have been other struggles along the way. Hiring and terminating are always tough (especially terminating). Making difficult decisions that others don’t agree with and navigating the personalities of such a large team while keeping a family-oriented approach is difficult. 

I’m a hands-on executive, so I really enjoy being a part of the daily conversations. However, this can get overwhelming because there is so much going on. 

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
The Institute for HEALing, LLC is a mental health wellness agency that specializes in treating children (starting at 4 years old), teens, and adults. We offer individual, couples, family, and group therapy; medication management; addiction and gambling counseling; weight-loss evaluations; mobile treatment services; medical marijuana evaluations; and more. 

We are known for having culturally-attuned therapists who are well versed in working with populations that are typically marginalized in our larger society. Those populations include people of color, the LGBTQA+ community, older adults, and religious and gender minorities. 

I’m constantly looking to hire a therapist that brings a unique skill set to the team. For example, we just hired a mental health therapist with a background in art therapy and experience working with older adults in hospice. That’s what I’m most proud of. We offer unique treatment approaches to the community. 

Do you have recommendations for books, apps, blogs, etc?
I read my Holy Word to find inspiration and strength. Additionally, I am constantly picking up leadership books so that I can learn how to be a better leader. I am currently reading Rare Leadership in the Workplace by Marcus Warner and Jim Wilder. 

Contact Info:

  • Email: info@myiHEAL.com
  • Website: www.myiHEAL.com
  • Instagram: @iHEALmd
  • Facebook: @iHEALmd

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