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[00:00:00] Dr. Sharp: Hello, everyone. Welcome to The Testing Psychologist podcast, the podcast where we talk all about the business and practice of psychological and neuropsychological assessment. I’m your host, Dr. Jeremy Sharp, licensed psychologist, group practice owner, and private practice coach.

This episode is brought to you in part by TherapyNotes.

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This episode is brought to you by PAR.

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Hello, and [00:01:00] welcome back to an Out-There assessment episode. This series, if you haven’t heard the other episodes, is a series dedicated to chatting with folks who have somewhat unorthodox or unique work environments or specialties.

Today, my guest is Dr. Gabriela Hurtado. Gabby is a licensed clinical psychologist in Austin, Texas with a particular focus on the mental health of Latinx/e adolescents and adults. Her area of expertise is the delivery of evidence-based individual, group, and family interventions at various levels of care, as well as conducting culturally grounded assessments and evaluations with immigrants and bicultural or bilingual adolescents and adults.

Gabby and I talk about the group practice that she owns in Austin. We focus on the holistic approach to serving the Latinx community in [00:02:00] her city. Gabby has a unique approach, I think, to incorporating the entire family and the community in the assessment and intervention process. I think there’s a lot to enjoy about our conversation here.

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All right. Let’s transition [00:03:00] to my conversation with Dr. Gabby Hurtado.

Hey, Gabby, welcome to the podcast. 

Dr. Gabriela: Thank you for having me here. I’m excited to be joining your space. 

Dr. Sharp: Likewise. Yes. These interviews have been so fascinating and I have no doubt that this one will be the same. It’s been so cool to hear about people’s different practice settings. I’m guessing that folks are going to be interested in what you’ve got going on as well. I would love to jump right into it. So tell us about your practice setting and specialty.

Dr. Gabriela: Absolutely. We are a private practice located in South Austin, Texas. Most of [00:04:00] our focus has been on trauma-informed care, especially for Latinx/Latina folks. We’re able to provide services in English and Spanish.

We do, of course, individual therapy, we provide some group support as well, and outside of therapy, we provide assessments evaluations for autism, ADHD, learning differences, as well as immigration evaluations and diagnostic. And then, we also provide consultation for nonprofit organizations. We work with a lot of violence prevention; domestic violence and depression violence organizations that want to embrace trauma-informed care from the bottom up and top to bottom. And so we talk about how to do the work in a way that is sustainable, how do we create infrastructure within organizations to [00:05:00] support the staff and support leadership? And so those are the 3 main aspects of our practice.

One of the things that we have worked on is connecting with people in our community so that they get to know us. We probably, especially in the space, we’re aware of some of the stats around access to care, especially in communities of color, Latinx communities, and so, one of the things that we notice has made a difference is being embedded in the community, get people to know us and to take a little bit of that stigma out so that they feel more comfortable approaching services with us.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah. I think that stood out to me when you were describing in our pre-podcast chat the community element of your practice. I wonder if you could say a little bit more about integration with the community and [00:06:00] how you develop that. And then how you maintain that from day to day, year to year in your practice.

Dr. Gabriela: Yeah, for sure. It was something that came out, I think, very organically. My business partner and I, Dr. Josephine Serrata, and myself, well, she’s a community psychologist- so that’s integral to who she is. But I think both of us were doing a lot of community work before jumping into private practice. I had some involvement in the community-based participatory research at the university here around suicidality and she was doing also, community-based research on family violence prevention.

When we started private practice, part of what we were doing was different evaluation projects for state organizations here. And so that required us to put ourselves out and to get to [00:07:00] know different providers and get to know other people that were doing this kind of work so that they would tell us more about their needs that they had.

Once we started private practice, we wanted to connect with other people that were doing similar work to us and talk about… we were curious about how is it that people get into a private practice. How do we make it sustainable? How do we make it equitable? How do we make a living out of this in many different ways?

And so, we started connecting with people that way, with other providers in the community, but it always felt like there was a piece of the work that was missing once we were focused on private practice. I think for both of us was being integrated into the community. And what that means for us was being part of different social events that happened- [00:08:00] making space for our own community when there are situations that happen that might impact the way that we show up, impact mental health, impact our sense of safety, or sometimes to celebrate our culture and the different traditions that are important for us.

For example, we started to think about hosting different events in our space, we have a small office but it’s a very cozy space, like El Día de Muertos, which is the Day of the Dead. It’s a day of remembrance and grief for our community. And so one of the things that we talked about was potentially inviting people that we work with- we work with a lot of healers in the community. So a lot of folks that do massage, do different kinds of therapy, Yoga, Reiki, all those [00:09:00] additional or alternative approaches, because our clients, they first of all, a lot of the healers are part of our community and second, our clients enjoy those services. We have connected already with a lot of folks. And so we were able to offer that space, sit in our collective grief, and provide some very supportive spaces.

From there, we thought, well, people showed up for us, so let’s show up for other people as well. And so, we started by tabling up some events from our community and putting information out there. We have mental health for sure, about what mental health looks like in our community, what are some of the signs of anxiety, and depression, free resources, and then our services, and we had some things that people could do for [00:10:00] grounding, some things that they could do for self-soothing kits. And so then we got to talk to people in that way.

After that, it looked a little bit different having coffee and having networking events. We recently did one with the person that hosts the Latinx Directory- so that’s a directory for finding Latinx Therapists. Adriana had us co-host an event here, and it was nice to meet students, and people that are doing this work in clinical settings outside of private practice because sometimes it’s hard to reach and just being community together.

So we had hot chocolate, coffee, and bread. As you can tell, food is a big part of our community. So coffee and hot chocolate is always, especially […] bread is always a big part of that. We had it. And I [00:11:00] think that has been helpful in:

1. Providing that connection. A lot of our clients do come from that community, but also

2. Provide free resources and information about not only services that we do, but how to connect with their best, and how to get those services. And then for students or early career folks, how do I connect with potential supervisors? What are some of the ways in which I can learn more about doing culturally responsive work? How do I connect with somebody that can have that lens so that I can grow in that or even bilingual supervision? Those kinds of things.

That has been helpful for sure and very enriching. It has been great. 

Dr. Sharp: Yeah. It sounds really meaningful to be able to be [00:12:00] involved so deeply in the community. I think a lot of us probably go out and table a little bit or might have an open house at some point, but it sounds like y’all have put a lot of energy into that and almost broken the barrier, so to speak, between professional practice and the community. I have this image of it flows a lot more easily and fluidly. 

Dr. Gabriela: Yes, for sure. It doesn’t feel like a formal open house. It is more of a getting-to-know-people, of course, with boundaries, and in a professional way, but yes, in this way that feels very real and tangible. And also it gives you a different sense too in the open houses that we had, or in the networking events to get to know somebody [00:13:00] a little bit deeper in a more real way.

And so, for me, it makes me feel more comfortable when I’m referring to someone that I got to know a little bit more, that I can not only put a face to the name but I can get a sense of who they are, how they show up in the room, what’s it kind of work that they do? And so, it’s been helpful in multiple aspects for sure, but it is something that flows and that feels more like a partnership.

We have relationships with this, even the organizations that we work with, or the leadership in those organizations, that also allows us to do the work in a different way. And when you’re working with somebody on the development of leadership, or even in therapy, you’re seeing people are the most vulnerable and so for them to get to see us in this role and get to know us authentically has also been helpful in that way.

[00:14:00]Dr. Sharp: Sure. I’m curious how this works logistically in your practice in terms of who… Is there an individual who is in charge of this community outreach or this area of your practice development, or do share the responsibility? Is it more organic or is it more deliberate? I’m just curious from a staffing standpoint and how you work this into your practice roles.

Dr. Gabriela: Yes, for sure. At the beginning, it was more organic because we weren’t a group practice yet. I mean, we were, but it was just 2 of us. And so our connections were a lot more personal or more direct with the work that we were doing.

As the practice has grown, I think that it looks a little bit different in that we had members of our team identify different events, and then we will reach out to… we will look at them, make sure that they align with our values, [00:15:00] and then we would either apply for tabling. You usually have to apply for them or coordinate, reach out to the organizers, and then set up the table.

For some of the other events, we were invited to by some of our partners in the community and I think 3rd, we put together a couple of open houses and networking events, because after the pandemic, everything changed. Austin is one of those cities where there’s a ton of therapists, they change quickly and we wanted to meet people that were in the community. We also had a double excuse because we turned 5 this year and we wanted to celebrate that.

Dr. Sharp: Congratulations.

Dr. Gabriela: Thank you. And so we were like, well, we want to celebrate. So let’s have an open house. And so we did that. But, yes, as part of our team, right now, [00:16:00] the team has changed a little bit, but the idea is that we have somebody that is in charge of our marketing and networking.

As part of that role, they do identify certain events or certain organizations that align or do very similar things to what we do, and so we reach out to them to get to know them since our work overlaps or to attend their events and show up for them, just getting to know them in that way, but also, I think our team members are very good at identifying where their clients may be coming from, or ancillary services that their clients might need or wanting to connect with people that do similar things to them, so they can refer out of the practice and so they’re pretty good at putting themselves out there in that way.

And so, there’s 2 layers, and I think our team members are integral to [00:17:00] make those networking efforts a success because if it was only me, or only Josie, or only my business partner, or anybody else, it would be pretty emotionally exhausting because that’s a lot of energy and time. So sometimes we’ll rotate. Either it’s one of us attending things or in that way, it’s more reach, or it will be something that we organize on team attendance and they also help us host. So, there’s a couple of layers to that.

Dr. Sharp: Great. Now, another thing that you mentioned during our chat beforehand is that you also, it sounds like, take a little bit more of a community approach or family-friendly approach to the assessment process or the treatment process. I would love for you to talk about that because that caught my interest.

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All right, let’s get back to the podcast.

Dr. Gabriela: For sure. Our practice originally started with a very much focus on complex trauma. And so one of the centerpieces to that and the culturally responsive care that we do is understanding what our clients bring into the room as a whole, and understanding who the [00:20:00] key players are in their lives and the roles that they have in that.

And so one of the things that is important to us is one, understanding not only the support, and if they’re satisfied with that little support, but what support looks like and who are going to be safe people or people that are going to be key in their either recovery or in whatever stage they’re in when they see us. And so there’s that piece for therapy where the way that we integrate that is when people come in during our intakes, we have conversations around that and who they want to, if and who they might want to get involved as part of their treatment.

Sometimes what that looks like is offering sessions where a family member joins in and we provide psychoeducation to them. And, of course, all of this is a conversation prior with our clients on the boundaries of what we can discuss and what we [00:21:00] won’t. And then what the purpose of the session is I’m pretty clear. And the same boundaries happen with our family members. And so we have a conversation, we provide psychoeducation to them and then we talk about different ways in which they can be supportive things to look out for. So in therapy, it looks that way.

In assessment, one of the things I talk to clients about is that their diagnosis and I work with adults, so this is a little bit different if you were working with children and adolescents, but with adults, when they’re coming in, it’s usually the first time that they’re getting us as and usually, something has happened that brings them into the room for that, so they need accommodations at work or something happened at school.

For whatever reason, they’re coming in, we’re doing the assessment. And so, I discuss with them that the diagnosis is going to be made based on that data and interviews that happen 1 on 1 with them, and there’s going to [00:22:00] be family members that know them well, and that can provide information about their new development that would be super helpful, but they don’t have to have them join. But if they know somebody that is going to be supportive of that, that can see them, that they feel safe with, if they want to integrate them into the assessment process, they can.

And so what that means is I either have them join one of the sessions as I’m doing clinical interviews and they provide extra information, or sometimes I’ll meet with them separately to talk about what the perspective is, or what are some of the things they’re noticing. And then for feedback sessions, we always offer the adults the ability to bring someone that they feel comfortable with; their family member, partner, friend, someone that is going to be helpful. And then we have them come in. Again, there’s a lot of preparation about what the session looks like and the [00:23:00] brief before and after that.

Sometimes even clients have asked, can you have a section of… Do you have resources for my partner resources for family members? Especially we see it a lot with clients that are bicultural and or kiddos of immigrants, and they’re like, my parents are just not going to get what I mean by ADHD, right? They’re not going to believe me. Or they might not be supportive. Would it be okay if I bring my feedback session so they can hear this and can you walk me through that? Or can you give me resources that they can read or listen to or talk about how I might have this conversation with them? And so we talk a little bit about that. I feel honestly throughout the process. And then, of course, our feedback and then following up with resources that people can have.

[00:24:00] Dr. Sharp: I love it. I would love to talk too about how you found yourself in the setting. So switching gears a little bit. I’m curious in these interviews, if folks are ending up, did you end up here deliberately? Did you set out with this goal to create a more community-based practice? Or did it happen a little more naturally or accidentally, however you want to phrase it? 

Dr. Gabriela: I think a little bit of all of them. When I was a graduate student, I always thought that I was going to go for the 10-year track and I was like, really? I wanted to do research and be on an urban university, maybe on 2. I started getting more experience and then I realized that there’s a lot of respect to anybody that is doing that, and that was just simply not for me.

I wanted to do research that was a little bit different. At the time was community-based [00:25:00] participatory research and not every program was supportive of that. And so, we thought about different ways of doing that. That’s how I ended up meeting my business partner now. We were doing some of that research with partnerships with different universities and organizations, and I enjoyed that work.

And so in thinking about that, one of the things that… What consistently came up for us is that there weren’t a lot of places here in Austin, let alone Texas, that provide services in a way that is responsive and robust for our community. So above and beyond speaking the language and having just basic access to language, being able to contextualize the work to be culturally responsive was very important to us and there weren’t a lot of places that were doing [00:26:00] that. Honestly, the access is limited.

And so we thought about it and we’re like, well, we could create something small and maybe start part-time seeing some clients and maybe offering some groups. That would feel good. Super helpful. And we can do our consulting on the side. We went to a workshop of like, we had no idea how to do private practice because she was in a national organization as a research director and I was,[…] and so we’re like, yeah, let’s figure out. We’ll think through what steps we need to take to practice and figure it out, but we’ll start small.

We leave that talk, and she’s like, well, I saw this building. They have an office. Let’s go walk it. Let’s go see it. Right now we don’t have to decide anything. Of course, we go. We loved it. And of course, we sign a lease. That moment we [00:27:00] applied to be on the lease and we submitted applications. We’re like, well, what can happen? We might as well secure it. It’s a great location. We get it and we’re like, okay, so I guess we’re signing a lease. So that means, now we have to do this and we’re like, well, why not? What is holding us?

And so we had to jump into this impulsively a little bit, but also knowing exactly what we wanted this to look like eventually. I don’t think that either of us thought about private practice. And I think a lot of that was that we didn’t understand what we could do. We always thought of, well, it’s just going to be seeing clients 1 on 1 for individual therapy and we wanted to also do our research and our consulting and can we do that? And how do we build it? So that’s how we landed here.

At first, it was just the 2 of us. And now we’ve had a few clinicians join us [00:28:00] and be part of our team. And it’s been, I’m going to say, a little bumpy, but very warning. It’s something that has become fulfilling to be able to do these different things that we wanted to do and put them under this umbrella that is…

Dr. Sharp: Yeah. I’m so glad to hear that. It’s always a little bumpy and there’s always a little impulsivity, I think in private practice.

Dr. Gabriela: Yes. Nobody tells you that though. I think these conversations are helpful to see how other people landed here, and then also what other practices look like, and what you can do.

Dr. Sharp: Absolutely. What do you love about this work that you’re doing and the way that you’re doing it, the environment?

Dr. Gabriela: I love that it’s authentic. I’m enjoying working with folks right now that are[00:29:00] in their journey to get assessed and learn more about new divergence and receive support. I’m enjoying that. It feels like a continuation of some of the things I did in grad school and the continuation of some of the work that I did in my postdoc. And so it feels authentic. And also eclectic because it feels like there’s a little bit of a few things happening. And so that gets me motivated for sure. I need to be doing a few things.

Dr. Sharp: Yes, I can identify with that.

What about things that are a little less desirable about this type of work? Is there anything that you would say that you don’t love?

Dr. Gabriela: I don’t love report writing I will say that. I don’t totally love it. No, but I think that the uncertainty sometimes of what, [00:30:00] we change a lot of different processes, and it’s been a lot of trial and error; okay, this works, this doesn’t, and there isn’t a roadmap of this is exactly what I need to do and this is what is going to result in. And so I think that holding that uncertainty in this kind of work is hard at times.

Dr. Sharp: Yes. Well said. As we start to close, I’m interested to hear if you have any recommendations or resources for folks who might want to go this direction with their own practices- anything that has been helpful for you or that you’ve learned over the years that you might be willing to share with others.

Dr. Gabriela: Yes. Connecting with other group practices in the area and talking through their own processes has been helpful. We do have a business coach, [00:31:00] Brandy from Savvy Consulting. She’s awesome.

Dr. Sharp: Oh, yeah, she is great. 

Dr. Gabriela: I’m sure you know her.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah, she spoke at my event over the last summer. Yeah, she’s great.

Dr. Gabriela: We’re working with her and that has been helpful in pulling back and seeing the big picture of things, looking at patterns of leadership, and how we want to show up in that space.

I think those are the two things that come to mind right now. But I know that we’ve done other training as part of the group practice and the group exchange and other things that I think were helpful when we were starting to set up processes for sure. 

Dr. Sharp: Yeah, that’s fantastic. These are all great resources. 

Dr. Gabriela: If I think of others, I’ll send them.

Dr. Sharp: Sure. That sounds good. We’ll put the ones that you mentioned in the show notes. I’m happy to send people to all those places. Great.

Dr. Gabriela: Awesome.

[00:32:00] Dr. Sharp: Well, I appreciate you jumping on and chatting with me here. It’s been so fun to hear about these different practice environments and the ways that people are doing the work that we do. You’ve got a really special thing happening down there in Austin. 

Dr. Gabriela: Thank you. I appreciate it. It was great to share the space with you and be here and talk a little bit about the work that we do. Hopefully, that can give somebody a little bit of hope in there if they’re in that uncertain space, but also there’s many paths that people can take in this area and make it their own.

Dr. Sharp: I love that. Yeah, that’s a nice, hopeful note to close on. Thanks, Gabby. Great to connect.

Dr. Gabriela: Thank you so much.

Dr. Sharp: All right, y’all. Thank you so much for tuning into this episode. Always grateful to have you here. I hope that you take away some information that you can implement in your practice and in your life. Any resources that we mentioned during the episode will be listed in the show [00:33:00] notes. So make sure to check those out.

If you like what you hear on the podcast, I would be so grateful if you left a review on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

And if you’re a practice owner or aspiring practice owner, I’d invite you to check out The Testing Psychologist Mastermind Groups. I have mastermind groups at every stage of practice development, beginner, intermediate, and advanced. We have homework, we have accountability, we have support, we have resources. These groups are amazing. We do a lot of work and a lot of connecting. If that sounds interesting to you, you can check out the details at thetestingpsychologist.com/consulting. You can sign up for a pre-group phone call, and we will chat and figure out if a group could be a good fit for you. Thanks so much.

[00:34:08] The information contained in this podcast and on The Testing Psychologist website are intended for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing in this podcast or on the website is intended to be a substitute for professional, psychological, psychiatric, or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Please note that no doctor-patient relationship is formed here, and similarly, no supervisory or consultative relationship is formed between the host or guests of this podcast and the listeners of this podcast. If you need the qualified advice of any mental health practitioner or medical provider, please seek one in your area. Similarly, if you need supervision on clinical matters, please find a supervisor with an expertise [00:35:00] that fits your needs.

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