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

Hi Shanelle, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
In the past, I had a terrible time separating my personal life from work. I would work longer hours than mentally capable and stretch myself too thin. As I began to experience extreme burnout, I realized that I was not able to be fully present if I was exhausted all of the time. I also began to re-evaluate my job’s expectations as well. I was in a workplace that preached self-care while simultaneously setting goals and expectations that proved otherwise. Once transitioning to a new position that advocated for self-care and balance. I have been able to “leave work at work” without feeling as if my performance was being negatively viewed for setting those boundaries.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
The thing I am most proud of is my ability to reach the goal I set for myself when I began my journey to my career as a therapist. I always wanted to be able to provide mental health services and advocate for people who look like me. I now find people seeking out my services due to wanting a therapist that has similar experiences. It feels amazing to be able to do what I set out to do so many years ago. While I have no fully met all of my goals, the journey to working on them has been challenging yet fulfilling.

One struggle has been working against and within two competing systems. Unfortunately, the mental health field is still fairly based on White cultural standards and practices as well as having practices that mostly benefit the majority. My passion has always been for black mental health. In order to obtain the education and experiences I now have, I have/had to work in settings that holistically don’t always actually benefit the black/minority communities we work within. It becomes a struggle to be apart of a system that perpetuates covert and even overt racism/discrimination but while also doing the work as an “insider” to break down those barriers within the system.

I would like the world to know that this is only the beginning for me. While I might not my able to change or impact the entire world, my ultimate goal is to provide safe spaces for those that could potentially change the world.

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.
Hott Chixx for some of the best wings in the city. Le Petit Marche for a Black-owned brunch spot.

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?
This shoutout is dedicated to several people. I would not be where I am today with the help of my previous professor(s) in graduate school advocating for me in circles I was not apart of. My current clinical supervisor has molded me into the clinician that I am today and I am forever grateful. This shoutout is also dedicated to my friends and family who have continued to support me through all my endeavors and career. From the phone calls, text messages, and just allowing me to vent/ express my concerns, I would not have made it this far without them,

Website: http://www.thebloomwellness.org

Instagram: @_shanellesmith_

Image Credits
Kori Jernigan

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