CARIUNITY Part II: Ladies, Reycine Mc Kenzie encourages you to “Go get it, Queen!”

Our discussion continues with Founder and Clinical Psychotherapist at UPWARD, Reycine Mc Kenzie. Make sure to check out Part I of the series where she shares ways we can remove barriers that affect accessibility to services. Learning about Reycine’s approach to therapy helped us to challenge the way we view mental health and wellness. We’re thrilled to present the same opportunity to our readers as we dive into the next part of our series.

CARIUNITY: UPWARD focuses on individual, group, and family therapy including topics of anxiety, depression, and trauma. How do you avoid burnout and practice self-care?

Reycine: Great question! When I initially started in mental health I found it difficult not to take my work home with me. Meaning, I had many a sleepless nights thinking about how I could help my patients when they were so clearly suffering. It was incredibly difficult. After a year or two, however, I began to realize that when I spend so much time outside of work hours preoccupied with others’ problems I miss out on the joys of my own life, with my family and friends. I released the guilt over not spending every moment of my free time thinking about making others’ lives better. I reminded myself that it is okay to focus on me and my mental health outside of work so when I do return to the office I can be the best version of myself for my clients. Most importantly, I started being more intentional about my self-care practices which included making more time to see loved ones, getting enough sleep; and going to the beach, the spa, and the gym. I must admit that I don’t always get the work-life balance perfect but I’m doing a lot better with setting boundaries with my time and energy.

CARIUNITY: What are some common misconceptions about mental health and how do we overcome those stigmas?

Reycine: From what I’ve observed in T&T, many people still see mental illness as synonymous with psychosis and believe that only persons with diagnosable mental illnesses see mental health practitioners for help. In all fairness to the nation’s people, this is the narrative they were given. Mental health is still very much centralized under a medical model which means that medication is the first line of defense, psychiatrists are the preferred providers, and disorders like schizophrenia and major depression are highlighted. Not knocking psychiatrists in the least as their work is extremely important! It is just that this culture makes it difficult for mental health practitioners who aren’t psychiatrists to contribute in a major way to the mental health infrastructure in T&T. It also makes it more difficult for us to shift public perception in a direction that sees mental health as a spectrum, ranging from wellness to un-wellness, on which we all fall. So, to overcome these misconceptions will involve a change in who is allowed to contribute to the public mental health discussion and a great deal more psychoeducation on the importance of mental health to us all.

CARIUNITY: Success can be measured in different ways. What does that word mean to you and what success have you achieved as a founder?

Reycine: Success means not allowing my failures to hold me back from climbing higher and being better. It means learning from and seeing the silver lining in every mistake I make. It means using every adverse life event as an opportunity for growth. It means moving UPWARD, no matter the obstacles. As a founder, my success has been in starting and maintaining a business with little knowledge about the whole “business thing.” It has been in building a practice as a young professional within a field and country where age and number of years in the field seem to be the only indicators of how much you know and how good you are at your job. I have had success inspiring other like-minded professionals who want to start their own businesses and providing care and support for many who are trying to see the light amidst a dim situation. Most importantly, I have achieved success in knowing my worth and not allowing nay-sayers to tell me who I am.

CARIUNITY: How would you like to see your practice grow in the next five years?

Reycine: I am hoping that over the course of the next year I can start doing more workshops and therapy groups as these are great ways to provide support in a more cost-effective manner. I hope to develop more relationships with other service providers to whom I can refer clients in the case that they need other services alongside psychotherapy. I am also hoping to expand my clientele sufficiently to allow room for pro-bono hours and other opportunities to provide low cost services to those who are typically out of reach. I am very excited about this start-up period and am mindful of counting my many blessings so far. I know there will be lots more fantastic opportunities to come!

CARIUNITY: Thank you for giving us the opportunity to interview you for Female Founders Month! What advice do you have for other women in business?

Reycine: Don’t be afraid to push yourself beyond your comfort zone! Doing anything new, especially when you don’t have all the details, can be frightening and challenging. But don’t let defeatist thoughts keep you back from chasing your dream. Be open to all business advice that comes your way, good, bad or in between. Then you can sift for the gems and use that advice to your advantage. When you’re about to make a business move but you are uncertain, don’t hesitate to consult with a trusted friend or colleague. Sometimes we entrepreneurs get so caught up in the idea of having to do things on our own that we forget that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel! Ask lots of questions, explore low fee alternatives to keep startup costs low, and maintain a flexible and solution-focused mindset when things don’t go exactly as planned. Lastly: GO GET IT, QUEEN!

Female Founders Month is dedicated to women in leadership. We salute Reycine for speaking openly about the current mental health landscape. These discussions prove that we can truly bring about change if we approach topics with respect, an open mind, and an open heart. We encourage you to support her practice. Follow her on social media! Send her a note. Let her know that her work is appreciated. Reycine, CARIUNITY celebrates you!