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Rising Stars: Meet Lola Russell

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lola Russell.

Hi Lola, 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?
I am a clinical therapist with 16 years of experience. I am the founder and CEO of Inspiring & Empowering Change, LLC, a private practice located in Baltimore, MD. I became a clinical therapist because I care about people and was intrigued about the nature of self-awareness, self-healing, and the exploration of strategies for mental wellness.

I always envisioned myself owning my own private practice. I recall in high school I would share with peers that one day I would be a therapist and provide counseling services. In order to fulfill my goal, I knew I needed to further my education beyond high school. Therefore, I attended Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD, where I received my bachelor’s degree in psychology and I attended University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Social Work, and obtained a Master of Social Work Degree. I am a licensed certified social worker clinical, and I attend yearly educational training to strengthen and broaden my skills and knowledge base. Once I obtained my Master of Social Work Degree, I began working for a few state, private and nonprofit organizations that would afford me with the experience, knowledge, and wisdom to help meet my goal of owning my private practice.

After several years of attending school and working within my industry, I eventually decided it was time to open my own private practice. In 2013 I began conducting research on how to open a private practice. Once my research was completed, I began taking the required steps to open the business. One of the most important aspects of opening my private practice was selecting a business name that was meaningful to my vision. My goal was to provide individuals with clinical support and guidance for managing their emotions and symptoms and acquiring the skills necessary to obtain social, emotional, and mental stability. In doing this, I needed to inspire and empower individuals through behavioral health treatment, so there could be a change. For this reason, I decided to name the business Inspiring & Empowering Change.

Since I have been in practice, I have been able to work extensively with clients across their life spans in the areas of suicide and risk assessment, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and bipolar disorder, self-confidence issues, intimate partner violence, children and adults with special needs, those suffering with grief and loss, anxiety disorder, anger and stress management, trauma, couples disputes, family conflict and child and adolescent behavioral issues. I have been able to identify and apply treatment modalities that are conducive to each client’s specific needs. My clients and I then work collaboratively to establish goals to achieve maximum wellness.

My goal is to inspire and empower clients through treatment by teaching them skills they can apply to improve their lives. My passion of wanting to inspire and empower has compelled me to create a self-care wellness journal. This self-care wellness journal was designed to provide individuals with 52 thought-provoking journal prompt statements that start each page and align with the 52 positive affirmations at the foot of the page. The goal is to journal every day for a year on a weekly basis. 

To support others with the journaling process, I have created the women’s journaling network, which is a community that was established for beginner journaling. Within this community, women will receive guidance, support, and assistance with starting their journaling path. Additionally, they will have the opportunity to network with other women on a weekly basis to discuss goals, aspirations, innovative ideas, relevant topics, and more to support each other. 

Journaling is a health technique that can be used during times of stress. Sometimes it is difficult to verbally express how we feel, and it is easier to express those feelings in writing. 

Women will learn techniques on how to journal their thoughts, feelings, and ideas. This group is here to empower and inspire women through journaling. 

If you are interested in receiving more information regarding this community, please go to: https://www.iandechange.com/journaling 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Unfortunately, it was not easy to get started as I did not have a mentor to guide me through the process of opening a business. I had a passion to offer counseling services, and I was confident I could offer those services based on the experience and education I had acquired. However, I was unfamiliar with the process of owning and operating a private practice. There are many different facets of owning a business, which include business goal setting, financial management, branding, marketing, insurance paneling, hiring, etc. A great deal of my knowledge was obtained through research and trial and error. As a result, throughout the years I have been able to see my business flourish and grow.

However, because I did not have a mentor and was not able to identify resources or services that provided information on how to specifically open a private practice, I wanted to one day open a private practice academy that would support mental health providers with opening their own private practice. 

As a result, in 2021 I established The Private Practice Academy, which is a 6-month educational synchronous and asynchronous course. The academy offers new and aspiring mental health providers education and resources on how to begin their journey to opening a private practice. In this academy, mental health providers will be part of a community of mental health providers that aspire to achieve the same goal. 

Individuals will not only be given the opportunity to learn the information needed to be successful with their business goals, but they will also be afforded the added benefit of networking. For those individuals that may not be ready to take a course, I also offer individual and group behavioral health business consultations to mental health providers. A behavioral health business consultation is a service that relates to the mental health provider’s specific business needs, whereas the academy is for individuals who are just getting started.

Individuals can learn more about these services by visiting my website at https://www.iandechange.com/for-clinicians

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I have been a field instructor for University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Social Work since 2017. In this position, I supervise and teach aspiring social workers who intern with me. Being a field instructor is an opportunity to give back to the profession. 

In my spare time, I participate in community service activities. I believe it is vital to volunteer my time to help an individual or group and donate. I am also a member of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), which encourages the professional and educational growth and development of its membership of social workers by providing educational resources, guidance, and advocacy. This organization also sets the standards and policies for its members to ensure best practices. 

I am content when I can empower and inspire others through acts of kindness, resources, and services. My passion for the profession compelled me to begin the process of establishing my own non-profit, Cultivating & Embracing Change, Inc., which will be focused on offering no cost to minimal cost for therapy and wellness services. 

Cultivating & Embracing Change, Inc., will offer therapy vouchers to individuals who cannot afford therapy services, educational webinars pertaining to mental health, and therapy/wellness boxes that will include items such as a journal/book, candles, teas, positive affirmations, and more.

If you would like to find out more about this nonprofit, please contaclrussell@iandechange.com

You can follow me on the following social media: 

Instagram: @iandechange

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lola.russell.79230 

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Jamaal McKenzie

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