We had the good fortune of connecting with Sarah Billingsley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sarah, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Taking risks has been a huge part of my career because, honestly, investing in yourself is a risk by itself. Working in corporations and big businesses can make it difficult to branch out because you’re guaranteed things like employer paid healthcare, retirement, paid vacation time, etc. While I recognize the privilege I have had in having the option to go without these things in order to go into business for myself, I also strongly feel that investing in myself has allowed me to do so much more with my career than I could have ever done under someone else’s thumb. I have had to work harder than ever to make sure I succeed – especially in the beginning – but this risk was a necessary part of my journey and has allowed me to make my own decisions about every part of my work. I don’t have to go through red tape and business politics to make sure I can provide necessary services to my clients. I get to decide how I envision my work and I have something that I’m constantly able to evolve and mold to be the best it can be.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker providing group, family, and individual therapy at Let It Rain Psychotherapy, PLLC. I graduated with my bachelors degree in social work at the University of North Texas and graduated with my masters degree in social work at the University of Texas at Arlington. I specialize in working with clients who suffer from mood disorders, personality disorders, and trauma-based disorders so, I see a lot of individuals with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Borderline Personality Disorder, and Bipolar Disorder. I am certified in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and other trauma-informed therapies. I work mostly with adolescents, although I see individuals from all different populations and walks of life.
Honestly, I think something that sets me a part from others in this work is that I have had some pretty horrible therapists in my time. In fact, I came into this profession wanting to create some change. I wanted to do differently for my clients than was done to me by my past therapists, especially when I was an angsty teenager who honestly just needed someone to listen to me. Being a social worker also means that I am an advocate for marginalized communities. I not only provide therapy, but I advocate for my clients. I have used my career to meet with state and county representatives to create change in policies and laws regarding a multitude of issues. I genuinely feel that being a social worker doesn’t stop after the session is over. I’m always finding ways to do better for my clients.
I was able to get where I am today with my amazing support system, wonderful educators, and my mentor. Having a strong support system of people who constantly want to see you grow and will continue to be there through any failures has been one of the most important parts of getting to where I am today. I’d also have to say perseverance – no matter how cliche it sounds. It takes a lot of hard work to build a career and sometimes things don’t always go as planned. If I gave up after any of my failures, I absolutely would not be where I am today with the letters I’ve got behind my name.
It definitely wasn’t easy getting to where I am. I almost flunked out of college before I realized I needed to change my major, which led me to finding a career I truly am passionate about. I also grew up in poverty and without resources that most had growing up which meant I had to work my butt off to get to where I am. But one of my most recent struggles I faced was related to finally taking the leap to invest in myself and my career in ways I never had before. I recently quit working for an organization that wore me out emotionally and physically. I was working in the non-profit sector, which is famous for over working and under paying their employees. But, I had paid time off, a retirement plan, healthcare benefits, etc., so I convinced myself for years that it was the safest bet. Was it the safest? Maybe. Was it worth it? No. I had to take a risk to invest in myself. That was really hard to do because there are so many unknowns when going into private practice and, to be quite honest, it’s expensive. No matter what decision I made though, there was a risk either way. On one had, I stay in an organization that doesn’t value me or my work. On the other hand, I risk everything and try to do it on my own. At the end of the day though, I think I’d rather invest in me and fail than continue to work for an organization that didn’t really care about my well-being. That mindset, along with leaning on my support system, is what helped me get through some of the difficulties I’ve faced recently. It led me to finally put my career in my own hands and has catapulted my career.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned has been to put myself before my career. I know It sounds counterintuitive to what we’re talking about, so let me explain. I had to experience quite a few periods of burn-out before I realized I needed to stop and take care of myself first. I’m a work-a-holic and a perfectionist so I can easily overwork myself and be convinced that I have no choice but to work that hard to succeed. But I’m here to tell you that your career is not worth losing yourself over. Recognizing this helped me prioritize more than just my career and start putting my own self-care first – which actually helped A LOT in becoming a better professional. It meant that when I did go to work, my clients were getting the best of me and not the burnt-out, exhausted, shell-of-a-person version of me. It meant that when I was at work, I could actually enjoy what I do because I wasn’t so exhausted doing it.
What I want the world to know about my story is that I have failed. I almost flunked out of college. I failed at relationships because I was consumed by my work. I struggled to take care of myself some days. And all of those things were just as important as my success. Without those failures, I wouldn’t have learned to do differently. I wouldn’t have continued to grow. I also want the world to know that I didn’t grow up with very many resources to get to where I am today. I grew up in poverty and experienced pretty heavy traumas in my childhood and early adulthood. I had to work my butt off to get here. If you’re someone who is struggling and wondering “Will it ever be different for me?” I want you to know that it’s possible. I am no different than you, so if I can do it, literally anyone can.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well, I am a Dallas girl so, of course, all of my favorite spots in DFW are in Dallas. This time of year is my favorite because we have pumpkin patches and haunted houses and the fair! If I gave an itinerary of the whole week, I’d say we have to start with one of the best things to do this time of year – the Texas State Fair. Getting a picture with Big Tex is a must as well as getting some famous Fletchers Corny Dogs. I could honestly care less about the rides, it’s all about the food! Next on the list would be some of the really great pumpkin patches in the area. The Dallas Arboretum always has the most beautiful displays. Then there’s Pumpkin Nights at Howell Farms in Arlington that takes a spookier approach to pumpkin patches if that’s more your vibe. Of course, we’d have to go to the top of Reunion Tower at night to see the whole city – I can’t even describe how beautiful the Dallas Skyline is and it’s one of my favorite parts of living in the metroplex. Some of my favorite places to eat are in KoreaTown in Carrollton, like Ari Korean BBQ – so good! The Dallas Grilled Cheese company is another great place if you’re looking for some comfort food with a twist. I could probably go on and on because Dallas just has so much to offer!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are multiple people I’d love to dedicate my shoutout to. First, I’d have to say Rayne Ventimiglia. Rayne was my boss at one point in my career until she went off and started her own private practice. She always encouraged me to continue my education and gave me more opportunities to succeed that I have time to list. She was my clinical supervisor while working toward getting my clinical licensure and she is currently my mentor and friend. She believed in me probably more than I even believed in myself and I will forever be grateful for the part she played in my success. There is also my partner, Carlos, who is the most supportive person I know. I’ve worked very long hours, spent a lot of time away from him, and spent a lot of our money to make sure I succeed in private practice. He’s always been there, loving me and supporting me through all of the successes and the failures. I love you, Carlos.
And lastly, my parents for raising me to care about people and always reminding me that I can do whatever I want in this life. They’ve picked me up when I’ve fallen and reminded me of who I was in moments that I wondered if it was worth it. Thanks Mom and Dad!