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Hidden Gems: Meet Chelsea Newton

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chelsea Newton.

Hi Chelsea, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
While attending Temple University in Philadelphia, I took a Human Sexuality course with an incredible rabbi, mother, doctor, and professor who introduced me to the field of Sexology. I remember thinking, “This is a thing? I have to do that!” Equal parts fascinating and provocative, the field of Sexology, or the scientific study of human sexuality, caught my attention right away. Prior to this, I had no idea what I was doing in college. In fact, I had never even planned to attend college. My parents did not attend college, my older brother did not attend college, and so when I got there I was happy just to be there.

Throughout my college years, I leaned on the University’s embedded support systems to guide me- the health center, the counseling center, academic advisors, professors’ office hours. I was fortunate to connect with and confide in an array of competent strangers who helped me along the way. It was a combination of my life experiences, those helpers, and the professor who introduced me to Sexology that propelled me into my graduate studies to become a Sex Therapist.

Earning a Master in Social Work and a Master of Education in Human Sexuality Studies was thrilling. I entered graduate school with a clear vision to become a Sex Therapist, though to be honest, I had little idea of what that really entailed. It just sounded so cool. I had visions of being in the therapist’s chair, across from someone in need of support and safety, and I imagined that I would treat them with the compassion and kindness that I too had received from helping professionals.

Once I started gaining experience in the field, these dreams quickly changed. I realized that treating others with compassion and kindness while providing support was cool, but it was more than that. I still wanted to be a Sex Therapist, however, what I was learning as a practicing Social Worker is what really took hold of me.

Social work is a practice-based profession that promotes social change, development, cohesion and the empowerment of people and communities (2U Inc., 2022). Now that is cool. I started to understand my role as an advocate and change maker. I had a new language to understand why providing safe spaces mattered to me. I understood that being a therapist is cool, but that being a social worker is who I am.

For the past seven years, I have practiced social work in Denver, Colorado. I have witnessed the stories, tragedies, and triumphs of countless children, families, and adults along the way. Practicing social work has allowed me to better understand the calculated inner workings of the systems of oppression that cause harm to countless people, especially those in marginalized groups. Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color are the most harmed by these systems of oppression. LGBTQ+ people and people with disabilities are additionally harmed by the systems and structures of oppression. My work in Denver has centered on people impacted by systems of oppression and yet I have been employed by those same systems. It can be a real conflict of interest.

In 2020, I proudly established Phases of the Mind Therapy LLC. It is the private practice I so clearly envisioned back when I began graduate school. I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Sex Therapist who specializes in sex therapy, trauma therapy, and supporting people. Phases of the Mind Therapy is committed to social change and the empowerment of people and communities. I have a passion for working with and alongside LGBTQ+ individuals. My lived experience and my background in human sexuality education lends itself well to supporting LGBTQ+ people navigate the complex societal challenges unique to being queer.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The road to being a business owner has not been smooth. I am fortunate that I have been able to build my private practice intentionally, taking baby steps and learning a lot along the way. Nobody teaches you about starting a private practice when you are in school to be a therapist. Nobody tells you that you’ll have to learn about SEO and market yourself on the world wide web. Nobody warns you that there are 26,431 decisions that have to be made when you are a therapist owner of a private practice. Being a business owner gives me the freedom to support people how I want to support people. Being a business owner also means running a business. For my fellow therapists out there, the dialectics of this are real.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
Phases of the Mind is a dream realized. I am able to provide therapy services to diverse populations, providing a safe place for people to be with themselves. I am also able to provide clinical supervision and coaching to social workers. I think that social workers are the most badass of all the helping professions, so this is very exciting for me.

Phases of the Mind Therapy LLC offers virtual (telehealth) therapy services through a trauma-informed lens and provides people a place to explore their unique needs. I provide sex therapy, trauma therapy, and general therapeutic support to a diverse range of people in my therapy practice.

Phases of the Mind Coaching LLC is the clinical supervision and coaching branch of my private practice and focuses on the growth and development of social workers and other helping professionals. My LCSW clinical supervisor had a strong belief that clinical supervision should be accessible to those who want it so that Colorado can maintain highly competent social workers. I share this belief, which is why I decided to offer clinical supervision to social workers.

As I have learned how to build a private practice through trial and error, I have become passionate about helping others start. I am excited to offer career coaching to social workers and other helping professionals seeking a change. I want people to know that they are capable of establishing a business that works for them. I want to help professionals to be empowered to make their work intentional, sustainable, and balanced.

Do you have any advice for those just starting out?
My advice to those just starting out in the field of social work is simple: focus on your boundaries. My advice to those just starting out in private practice is also simple: take the first step. Maybe you think of the name of your practice and see if it’s available with the state. Maybe you confide your dreams of being a business owner to a close friend or family member. Whatever the first step or next step is, take it. Building a private practice takes time and patience, but you can do it.

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