Intro (Guest): The thing that I’ve felt has built up the business so successfully has been to really follow my gut on what I feel when I meet a candidate. When I listen to a potential therapist or to even a potential client, how is this going to work? is this person? Can I see it in my mind? Does this flow, does it feel comfortable?
Intro (Host): Welcome back, or Welcome to the business and board shorts podcast. Today my guest is Gust Cornell, from sunny San Diego, California. Gust, how are you doing?
Guest: Good. Thank you. I’m happy to be here.
Host: Can you tell us a little bit about your business?
Guest: I have a therapy practice. And we see clients who are coming in for issues that are, you know, difficult times in their lives. Couples, families, individuals who are struggling with pain, or, you know, emotional suffering.
Host: How did you get started in that realm?
Guest: I went to college, I started studying a lot of psychology, in classes that I just felt really drawn to understanding people and trying to kind of figure out why people behave and think and feel the way they do. And one door led to another which was psychology, undergrad, and then I did a Counseling internship and went to grad school and got my Master’s in Counseling. And then, you know, it’s all been it’s funny because people in my field could do a lot of different things, you know, different types of settings, they can work in hospitals, they can work in clinics, they can work in private practice that can. And I always knew from the beginning that I really wanted to work in a private practice setting, because I wanted to have more control over my, my schedule, and my things and work for myself.
Host: And previously, you’re based in New York, correct?
Guest: Yes, there was a couple of chapters that developed as sometimes like takes you on a tour of places. I had been originally a licensed therapist in California, and then my husband got a job in New York, so we moved out to New York, and come to find out that my license in New York would be another track because they didn’t necessarily reciprocate the licensure. Got licensed in New York, and worked with a really tough couple of jobs that, that was, you know, good for my experience level, good for my training, good for me being able to establish myself and meet people in the community, and then build toward the goal of my own practice, which I opened up an office in Union Square, and eventually started to build up to the point that I got full. And my schedule was, you know, very much in demand, and then started hiring therapists to work in the practice. Being able to see clients underneath me and with my consultation.
Host: What was that transition like? how did it go from just you to “Oh, my gosh, I need to hire X amount more”.
Guest: It was exciting because I was at the time in a really cool office with neighbors that were also therapists. We all had our own business. I think that was always in front of mind like everybody here wants to work for themselves. Everybody here has made a choice to hang up, you know your name on a door and say, “Come to me, I’m a business I can help you.” And it was a risk, definitely, a little nerve-wracking at first to see, you know, who would work for me? And what will they do as good of a job as I hope they will and represent the kinds of things that I bring into a therapy session or the kind of work ethic and presence that I try to bring to my clients. But I think after meeting several therapists and just interviewing people, and really, just the thing that I’ve felt has built up the business so successfully has been to really follow my gut on what I feel when I meet a candidate when I listen to a potential therapist or to even a potential client, like how is this going to work is this person can I see it in my mind? Does this flow, does it feel comfortable? And that usually translates to a positive and in work?
Host: Now that you’re in San Diego, can you tell us what’s the vibe there? You know, we all see it on postcards. And you know, it’s beautiful, absolutely beautiful. You just got to tell us from your point of view and your words.
Guest: Yeah, we made a transition from New York to California and now, you know, settling in San Diego. And it’s wonderful out here, people are definitely very attached to their outdoor beach time. Most people I would say, spend as you know, as much of the, there’s a big culture around being outside around using all of the things that are accessible out here like hiking, swimming, surfing, paddle boarding, just being able to have seasons not affect the weather as much allows people to just stay out on the beach and go on a lot of hikes and trails in the mountains and canyons around here. And it’s a very active place people are looking to get outside.
Host: Yeah, switch gears back to the business side. Are you seeing a lot more virtual or, I mean, obviously, in the current climate, there’s more virtual? I guess what I was trying to say was previous to that, were you doing a lot of virtual? Or did you really have to make the switch once COVID, hit?
Guest: Once COVID hit, everything went virtual. I had a lot of clients over the last several years moved from New York to California. or so I had already seen the transition of people that were moving and wanted to stay in therapy doing sessions every week. I have had some California based people already. Now everybody’s choosing to do it online. And it translates well.
Host: And do you think that will continue once we get to quote-unquote, normal, whatever that looks like in the future? Or do you think it’s, it’s always going to end up just being a hybrid?
Guest: I think this new way of really doing it online has opened up the possibility that you can do it either way. I think some people really appreciate the fact that it’s, it’s convenient to do it online because you can just show up. And if you have a private enough space, you can really have a conversation about things that you know, are going on that are really personal, and that you don’t necessarily need to sit in an office across from the person to have that. But I think for other people, it does feel like, gosh, you know, I really want to have that space and time away from everything. It depends on the person. I don’t think it’ll go back to being all back in the office. I think it’s going to be half and half.
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Host: What do you enjoy most about what you do?
Guest: I love being inside people’s stories with them. I love that I know a person through their point of view in there. And whether that’s on a screen that we’re talking or face-to-face in an office. I love getting a whole landscape of someone’s life only through their perspective. Because I don’t have permission to speak to anyone about what they’re saying to me. It is all confidential of like bearing that there’s like a life-threatening something. To me, it feels like a privilege to spend time with people that way and just understand what they’re going through or what they think or how they feel.
Host: What do you think makes you and all your practice unique in what you offer?
Guest: I think for myself; I am a style of therapist that uses very different schools of thought. I think sometimes people go to school. They train to become a therapist, and they have a set way where they’re either very traditional and quiet and they take notes and they kind of let the person go where they need to go. And then there are more modern types of therapists that really look for solutions and are very like almost like a coaching style. Get in there with a real back and forth. I think what I really believe is genuinely different about me Is that I’m good at being both. I can be, I think very mindful of when someone needs their space, to kind of go and I can tap, you know, maybe one little detail in the conversation, and then it opens up another door. And other times, I feel like people really need to know that somebody gets it and that they get it on a gut level or something that feels much more like a relationship. I think the chemistry of figuring out what therapists and what clients go well together. Has been one of the best things I’ve been able to do in my practices that not just anybody can come in and say, “Hey, you know, I’m going through the thing,” I need a therapist, you have to find, it’s just like friendships, or mentors, or trainers or, you know, good co-workers and supervisors. There’s something that really has to line up where you click with that person.
Host: Yeah, there has got to be that mutual connection chemistry or Vibe. I’m totally with you. I have a listener question for you. They would like to know, when is the first time that you saw yourself, you know, in action with a couple. And you saw, like a breakthrough? You don’t have to give any personal details. As much as you feel comfortable with just one of the first times have seen that breakthrough.
Guest: Okay, and with a couple specifically?
Host: However, you would like it, individual or a couple.
Guest: Okay, Well I’ll give you a little bit of each with a couple. I feel like sometimes there are moments we’re in the therapy room. Where in the conversation, where you just, you really see how pain, how much pain someone is in, and how lost they feel and how they just don’t understand. They just don’t know how it’s ever going to get better. Whatever the situation may be, especially if a couple is going through a tough time as a relationship in crisis. And I think some of the most impactful moments have been when, as a therapist, I’ve asked a couple to say something that they’re trying to tell me because they want the therapist to get it and to see my side. And to really just shift the conversation over to their partner. And I think just watching someone lock eyes with their partner, use their voice in a way that is, you can tell that they just want to be heard and feel listened to. And they’re not trying to just win the argument. And watching people sort of not forget that I’m there. Because my role sometimes as a witness changes how people act. Sometimes when we’re alone. I don’t know, we just were not the same. To have them be mindful like this person’s watching me say something to my partner, but I’m really going to open up. Those have been moments I think I’m seeing. it like Wow, those people are really listening to each other. There’s some love like going through this moment. I think on an individual level I have it’s, it’s interesting toward the most impactful kind of big moment I felt in the room is sometimes in the goodbye. It’s really sad. But it’s also such a beautiful moment to like, really have worked with someone and have gone through so much and been such a part of that their world in their mind. And then when you realize you know; it’s going to end because it needs to end at some point. And just kind of really taking in that moment to say “thank you for doing this.” And there’s usually a moment of some reflection of what happened, and how it happened. And those are always the big ones where I’m like, “oh my gosh, I need my tissue. I’m going to get teary.” it’s big.
Host: No, it’s beautiful. I appreciate you sharing that. What is the best business advice you’ve ever received?
Guest: That I’ve received, let’s see. That if I can’t see it in my mind it can’t really grow into reality. Like if there’s a wonderful idea. And it’s so exciting and there’s just all this potential in it that the way I think sometimes athletes visualize, I don’t know, their game in front of them and they can see themselves like making that goal or making that shot. And getting to the finish line. I feel like I need to be able to see how something looks up and running in my mind, like, what does it look like when the person is calling? Where do they go when they need, you know, this? Whatever, that without seeing it visualizing it very clearly, it’s probably a sign that something needs to be re-tuned.
Host: How about, what is the best life advice you’ve ever received?
Guest: Life advice is something I talked about in therapy quite a bit. A couple of things one is that things are always changing. No matter how bad and really painful things are, they will change they do they just do. And the same goes for the highs as good and smooth and all put together as they can feel. And they are sometimes to remember that it’s okay that we don’t need to just control everything, it just changes, constantly changes. So that advice coupled in with the big therapy piece, which is everything, you know, you can for as much love as you have for someone, you can also be that angry at them. Like everything has a shadow side to it. Trying to remember that. And it goes you know, with this thing about good things and bad things and stuff, but there’s always a whole circle to it and you can’t, you can’t really you can deny that you have I don’t know how to say this very eloquently. It’s okay to have a whole experience and to let yourself feel all of your feelings and be grateful for what you have. It’s going to change. It always changes. It doesn’t mean that that’s bad. And it’s okay to feel as much as you can.
Host: If my listeners want to check out more on your practice, where can they go?
Guest: To my website cornellmfts.com that’s marriage family therapy “S” as in “Sam” .com
Host: Awesome. Thank you very much for coming on.
Guest: Thank you so much.
Overview: Andrea Cornell is the founder and owner of Cornell & Associates Marriage & Family Therapy in San Diego, CA. Her group therapy practice focuses on helping individuals, couples and families through difficulties which require a space to process and heal.
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