Today we’d like to introduce you to Sally King.
Hi Sally, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers?
My mom was a clinical social worker and an advocate. I grew up knowing I wanted to be in the helping profession and social work seemed like the best landing place. I spoke French and spent some time overseas after college figuring out what I wanted to do, working with an orphanage in Morocco and in a domestic violence shelter in southern France.
I eventually returned back to Kansas City and attended grad school at KU. Got my Master’s in Social Worker and dove into clinical work as a therapist in community mental health settings working with hard populations with a lot of trauma.
Learned how to live and teach resiliency and tried hard not to get burned out. After my mom’s cancer diagnosis and a side-hustle working as a hospice social worker, I became intrigued with a local KC organization called the Funeral Consumer Alliance. Thanks to 10 years of volunteering, I learned how to direct a home funeral, and advocate for families to have an all-natural burial (both legal in KS and MO). This ultimately led to me caring for my own mother’s body at home after her death burying her in the most natural way she could via a hybrid home and green burial.
By this point, I was married with two children, had a great job in academia at the Univ of KS leading aging and mental health efforts around the state of KS, and centering my work more on older adult mental health and end of life advocacy. I felt I was at the pinnacle of my professional life, but my self-care was tanking. My husband and I radically downshifted our lives, quit our jobs, abandoned traditional employer-based insurance, and both started our own part-time businesses, splitting our time at home with our kids part-time.
This was 10 years ago. This hard decision has led to increased time to devote to self-care and my own therapy work on myself (never trust a therapist who hasn’t been in therapy!). I run a small part-time private practice in Brookside doing therapy with adults and older adults as well as teaching beginner yoga.
Yoga is just another mental health technique to slow down the frenzied way of life and create some margins in our bodies and brain and it’s been very useful for myself and with my clients, no chanting required!
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The martyr complex that most social workers struggle with. Giving up their own self-care for the sake of others. My mother died while 3 months pregnant, working, and raising 2 years old. I couldn’t fully grieve and that was hard. Still doing therapy work around this.
Abandoning traditional jobs that look great on paper but can’t offer flexibility, time for self-care, etc. Deciding to make less money and drive crappy cars to have a healthier family life. Really hard when you have debt or ego involved!
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I provide a lot of agency and continuing ed training for social workers on a variety of mental health topics. I have trained social workers at most of the hospital systems in town.
I love to teach! Most recently, I have taught a UMKC course on Health and Aging which was interesting, dipping my toe back into academia. I specialize in therapy work with adults and older adults and specialize in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Internal Family Systems. (i.e. helping people heal their emotional wounds).
I am most proud of my training and the rapport I have with my clients. I try to project vulnerability, realness, and connection. If you don’t generally DIG your therapist, therapy won’t work. It’s all about the connection.
In terms of your work and the industry, what are some of the changes you are expecting to see over the next five to ten years?
Online! I used to poo-poo online therapy. Then Covid hit, all of us were forced online, and I have been pleasantly surprised at how effective online therapy is. I think it can provide a slight intimacy buffer that actually helps people open up more.
Most therapists are going to go to cash-only models and are abandoning billing insurance. The trauma-informed research world is light years ahead of insurance reimbursement models per the DSM 5 and that’s a shame. Innovative well trained trauma-trained therapists prefer cash therapy because they have the freedom to do the work that actually helps and are not limited by dated reimbursement amounts and all the paperwork involved to get on a panel.
I bill Medicare+supplement for my older adults which is amazing and pays well. Outside of that, I do cash only for everyone else.
- $140 for a 60 minute cash session for zoom or Brookside KCMO office therapy
- $10 per yoga class, come anytime! It’s online too!
Lydia Boehr DeMonte