The Trap Therapist team got an opportunity to sit down with Ebony Canady, a South Central LA native who is now a Virginia Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Ebony has a B.A. in Psychology with double minors in Spanish and Creative Writing from University of California, Riverside. She also has a Master of Social Work degree from Norfolk State University. Read more about her below!
- Dylesia Barner, Founder of Trap Therapist: Tell me more about what you do professionally? (license(s), specialties, target populations, certifications, etc.)
Ebony Canady, Owner of Work and Life Solutions: I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, but I do a lot! Growing up in LA conditioned me to stay busy. Plus, I don’t like to be stuck and prefer to have multiple streams of income. I’m an Emergency Services pre-screener, a Senior EAP Counselor, a substitute teacher, an independent evaluator for the Supreme Court, a fitness class instructor, a LCSW supervisor, and an online practicum supervisor. I also own a mobile practice, Work and Life Solutions, which I use to teach professionals how to manage work and home stress and offer trainings on conflict resolution to company directors, managers, supervisors, and employees. I also work with service members and their families to address marital and adjustment issues related to military service. And I do marketing for an in-home mental health agency, do hair, baby sit, and when I get bored, I deliver for Amazon. I still feel like I have a lot of free time!
- DB: Where were you born and raised?
EC: South Central LA.
- DB: What were you like growing up?
EC: I was a cautious child, because everything at home was so chaotic. I had to mediate issues between my parents because they got together so young and both acted like they were twelve year olds. I was a really good student and made rules for myself since no one else would, like no bacon or juice before eating vegetables. I was also the person to bring all my friends together to hash things out when they disagreed. I was basically “The Enforcer.”
- DB: What was growing up like?
EC: My mom would welcome many kids into our home to have fun, which is a pretty good memory, but I also remember our house getting shot up twice because of my brother’s gang banging. I’m still gradually remembering events from my childhood and realizing how much they’ve impacted me. Like, having to parent my own parents, my brother’s undiagnosed mental health issues, and the many funerals I went to because so many of my friends were dead by eighth grade. Because I was such a good student, I got bussed out of the inner city to Woodland Hills. I went to school in the valley because my mom applied. We didn’t get accepted until the day before school started. The amount of time it took me to get back and forth to school in addition to all the extracurricular activities I did protected me from having to be in the city too much. Anything I could do, I did. Any sport I could half-way do well, I participated in.
- DB: What generational curses were present in your family that you had to break to get where you are today?
EC: Teen pregnancy, self-hate, family hate between female family members, no education, child abandonment, and substance use. Definitely the family hate because I witnessed family members not talk to each other for years over small things though they lived down the street from one another.
- DB: What are three things from your upbringing that inspired you to become a psychotherapist and an entrepreneur?
EC: My desire to advocate for kids because they can’t advocate for themselves is from my upbringing, because I realize all the things I experienced that I shouldn’t have had to. I also hate being told “no” and think working for others stunts creativity. And I desire stability and financial security, because of how unstable everything was when I was a child.
- 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?
EC: I started Work and Life Solutions because I don’t want people to feel owned by where they choose to work or to lose their family because of work. Family is life and it’s easy to get so caught up in debt and bills and forget that.
- DB: How does being from an urban, low-income area define you? How does it define your approach to treatment?
EC: It makes me relatable and tough. I also go above and beyond for my clients and am non-judgmental, because nothing a client could tell me would shock me. I’ve seen and heard enough in life. Being from an urban, low-income area also pushes me to take full advantage of the time I have with a client and use every minute productively. I remember being young and talking to my friends on the phone, getting off around 11 p.m., and finding out the next morning they were shot dead. Things like that teach you to capture every moment.
- DB: Who was your role model growing up and why?
EC: Always some random adult who gave me encouragement or admired my temperance and told me I’d be successful. Also, my brother’s high school girlfriend, Tyra Torian. She forced him to be nice to me, took me places, and helped me with my essay for college entrance. I pretty much copied her life! She was getting her MSW right when I left California to get mine at Norfolk State University.
- DB: What do you believe is the most common reason people from “the trap” stay stuck?
EC: It’s designed to keep you stuck. If your school, the doctor, and all your family is in the same neighborhood, you have no reason to leave and aren’t exposed to anything different, so you start to normalize your experience instead of realizing there are other ways of life.
- 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?
EC: Getting married and having to examine myself and make changes to myself in support of my marriage.
- DB: What support and/or resources did you use to change the trajectory of your life?
EC: Lunch tickets. If you were on lunch tickets, your college applications were free. Those lunch tickets were the reason I could afford to apply for college and get out of South Central at eighteen. I know if I would’ve stayed I probably would’ve ended up pregnant or dead. I also took college prep classes.
- DB: What is the most significant professional accomplishment you’ve made to date?
EC: Getting licensed exactly within the allotted two years. Licensure has opened up so many doors for me.
- 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?
EC: Kendrick Lamar! All his analogies and metaphors and references remind me of back home. Also, Michael Jackson, because he was my escape. I’d listen to his music and fantasize about being in the Jackson 5. Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood and Menace II Society also remind me of growing up. You’ve got me thinking about the clubs we went to when we were teenagers too! Two Twelve, Tommy Clowns Club, also known as The Academy, and Upside Down Club. They were open from 8 p.m. – 2 a.m. and were for 13-17 year olds. We got picked up for the club in a school bus. To this day I don’t know how they managed to use the school buses for that, but they did and those were some of the scariest rides of my life.
- DB: What is something you still do that can be explained by where you were born/raised?
EC: Being busy all the time! I jam pack my schedule, because I never had down time growing up. I also stay outside all day when the weather is nice. I’ll cut the grass or sit on the porch or take walks, because my mom would take us on walks for hours with no destination in mind. Ordering chili cheese fries with pastrami on top is also something South Central that I do.
Ebony can be contacted at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, visit www.facebook.com/workandlifesolutions to learn more about her business.