Shaneka L. McClarty
She is a licensed therapist with a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Argosy University (Atlanta, GA) and a Bachelor’s Degree from Stillman College (Tuscaloosa, AL).
Shaneka has been practicing for over ten years focusing on relationships, particularly women’s issues and couples. Her company, Therapy Girl LLC, is set up to provide counseling services, consulting, workshops, and motivational speaking. Shaneka hosts a weekly internet-based radio show, Open Up with Therapy Girl, on Blog Talk Radio each Sunday @ 2:00 p.m. EST. In addition, she is a published author of the book, The Heart of a Woman: Reclaim, Release, and Renew.
Shaneka is a hope-builder helping people move from fear to faith. She frequently speaks to women’s groups, conferences, and non-profit organizations. She resides in Atlanta with her husband, Leonardo, and their three beautiful princesses.
Nice to have you here today, Shaneka. I would like to begin by asking you why you decided to become a licensed therapist focusing on helping individuals and couples reclaim their lives after rocky relationships and how long have you been in practice?
I knew in high school that I wanted to help people, and I was fascinated with psychology. After graduating from Stillman College (Tuscaloosa, AL), I decided to pursue my Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology. For the past eight years, I have enjoyed helping women and couples unravel and sort through their pain, rebuild and reinvent their relationships and experience the freedom of living life with purpose and passion.
I think one of the worse pains in life is losing someone you love – whether it be by death or even a breakup. After all, breaking up with someone is like they have died – the pain isn’t much different from them actually dying. Do you agree?
Yes, I agree wholeheartedly. Death or a break-up is similar in that it is a form of deprivation. With both, we are deprived of the physical relationship and emotional intimacy. In addition, they both require grieving but in a different way, of course.
Let’s talk about how to cope. Someone you love, even though it might not have been a very healthy love – leaves you. You lie in bed crying for days. What kind of advice can you give to help ease the pain?
Identify the source of your pain because it’s always best to understand what hurt you. Is it the rejection, abandonment, or loneliness? Fortunately, it is easy for someone to identify who hurt them. Once you acknowledge that your ex’s betrayal, lies, manipulation, abuse or rejection hurt you then you can focus on establishing emotional boundaries to empower yourself. Emotional boundaries simply communicate what you will and will not accept. This step requires self-acceptance and your ability to honor yourself.
Let’s say we feel a breakup coming. What would you suggest we do to prepare?
The best way to prepare is, to be honest with yourself. Identify what is not working in the relationship and how your needs have not been met. It’s best to make your decision to depart from faith and not fear. Fear will keep you in an unhealthy relationship whereby you will be afraid to let go. Faith, on the other hand, is a form of courage and strength. It says that you can accept the separation and open your heart to the next love lesson.
I’ve always felt that we need to love ourselves first before we can love someone else. What steps should we take to get to that place?
You are right. We have to be a gift to receive a gift so it’s very important to accept ourselves. We can do this by honoring our flaws and strengths. Self-acceptance is love in the purest sense. The art of love requires you to ‘be’ love in all you do without judgment.
You have a new book out – The Heart of a Woman: Reclaim, Release and Renew – for those of us who can’t afford therapy. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
I am glad you asked me this. Earlier you presented a scenario of someone lying in bed crying their eyes out. Well, my book guides the reader down a gentle path to let go and release the pain. At the end of each chapter, there are questions to answer, and journal your thoughts. These questions are meant to help the reader reflect and hopefully have more insight into why things happen. The book focuses on empowering the woman to reclaim the power that she might have surrendered to her partner in a relationship. The book is about moving from your pain to identifying and renewing your purpose.
It has been such a pleasure to talk to you today, Shaneka. Will there be more soul-nurturing books from you in the future?
You bet there will. I am working on a relationship book for married couples that I hope to release at the end of the year. I’ve also received emails from women who have read The Heart of a Woman asking me dating questions. I have never considered writing a book about dating, but I am open to the brainstorming process.
What would you like to say to our readers?
First, let me say you have a wonderful blog. You give your readers diversity and a plethora of information. With that, I’d like to share with your readers that love doesn’t hurt. It is kind, patient, supportive, and nonjudgmental. Do not hold yourself hostage because of fear to open your heart again. You deserve the priceless experience of love.
Shaneka’s website: www.therapygirl.net