Back in April 2018, I got the opportunity to be interviewed by Mrs. Dylesia Barner, Doctoral Student, LCSW, Business Owner, International Speaker and so many other things 🙂 She is truly making an impact on so many lives and I am so glad that we crossed paths. Check out my interview below.
- Dylesia Barner, Founder of Trap Therapist: Tell me more about what you do professionally? (license(s), specialties, target populations, certifications, etc.)
Shakeeta Torres, Owner of EmPowered2Shift Counseling & Coaching Services: I am licensed as a Clinical Social Worker. I have a diverse population of clients, but specialize in faith-based counseling for women and female teenagers who struggle with issues such as low self-esteem, post-partum depression, grief, and trauma. I am also certified as a Trauma Specialist.
- DB: Where were you born and raised?
ST: In the country, in Dunn, North Carolina!
- DB: What were you like growing up?
ST: I was always different. Passive, but an extrovert. And very loving, which is why I always got hurt. If I’m honest, I was a bit of a pushover.
- DB: What was growing up like?
ST: Dysfunctional. My mom was a single mom, so we had no car and lived in a two-bedroom house. Me, my two brothers, and my sister shared a room. My mom became an alcoholic when I was around five and after that she started hooking up with the wrong men. I witnessed domestic violence and was sexually abused by one of her boyfriends. I avoided telling anyone, because my mom’s boyfriend said if I did, he’d kill all of us. When she found out, she chose him over me, so I moved out of our place and went from house to house, living with different family members. Then, when I was eleven, my mom died in a housefire and I moved in permanently with one of my aunts who was abusive.
- DB: What generational curses were present in your family that you had to break to get where you are today?
ST: Alcoholism, the poverty mindset, and educational deficit. I also had to learn how to be a wife, because I didn’t know how functional relationships were supposed to work. And I’m a living testimony that God can train you to be a spouse!
- DB: What are three things from your upbringing that inspired you to become a psychotherapist and an entrepreneur?
ST: I knew I wanted to be a social worker, because of my bad experiences with DCS when I was a child living in my aunt’s house. I was like “do y’all not see all these bruises on my back?” but they kept me there. So, I ended up working at DCS for a while when I got out of school. The desire to be a therapist and an entrepreneur didn’t come until later in my career, once I started working at a group practice and noticed that clients no one could work with would open up to me and were making progress. Ultimately, God himself told me to open a private practice. My motivation comes from Him!
- DB: How does your practice reflect who you are as a clinician and the changes you would like to see like in your area of specialization?
ST: As a clinician, I’m very relatable. This creates an empowering environment for my clients, which ultimately helps them shift their lives. I would love to witness more women break generational cycles of abuse, violence, and trauma and know that finding a therapist like me who they feel comfortable with and who understands them will help them do that.
- DB: How does being from an urban, low-income area define you? How does it define your approach to treatment?
ST: It definitely impacts the way I treat people. Whether someone is homeless or a millionaire, I view and approach them the same. Because I know what it’s like to lack and to have.
- DB: Who was your role model growing up and why?
ST: I didn’t have one. Everyone around me at that time was struggling just like I was; therefore, seeing past my present state was extremely hard.
- DB: What do you believe is the most common reason people from “the trap” stay stuck?
ST: I would say their mindset and lack of resiliency.
- DB: Can you think of a “turning point” in your life that made you who you are today versus who you stereotypically should have become? What was it? And what personal decisions did you have to make to honor the grace it offered you?
ST: Pursuing a relationship with Christ, reading my Word, and allowing God to heal me from the inside out has truly made me the person that I am today.
- DB: What support and/or resources did you use to change the trajectory of your life?
ST: My work ethic helped me changed my life. When I had to, I’d work myself to the bone. I also wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. I wasn’t ashamed to apply for the same job over and over again, especially when I knew getting it would help me walk in my purpose.
- DB: What is the most significant professional accomplishment you’ve made to date?
ST: Getting a bachelor’s degree, because that’s where it all started!
- DB: If you had to sum your childhood up by picking five nostalgia-inducing people, places, or things (can include songs, television shows, movies, etc.), who/where/what would you pick and why?
ST: Seeing my siblings, looking at my children and realizing that I’m a totally different mom than my mother was, young clients who remind me of myself, Travis Greene – “You Made a Way,” and the Drake lyric “started from the bottom now we’re here!” Also, the TV show “Family Matters.”
- DB: What is something you still do that can be explained by where you were born/raised?
ST: Haha! My pronunciations! For instance, I pronounce cognac “conic” and people always know I’m from the country.
To learn more about EmPowered2Shift, visit www.empowered2shift.comor https://www.facebook.com/EmPowered2ShiftCounselingandCoachingServices. You can also keep up with Shakeeta by tuning into her YouTube Channel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhkG4tTePjM&t=33s) and following her on Instagram @shakeetatorres.