Uri Schneider Makes Faith the Groundwork for his Business | FP 95

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What happens when you bring a spiritual perspective into your practice? How can the Christian community do to foster genuine connections with other religious communities? What is the recipe for overcoming challenges alongside someone?

In this podcast episode, Whitney Owens speaks with Uri Schneider who makes faith in the groundwork for his business.

Meet Uri Schneider

Uri Schneider, M.A. CCC-SLP is a partner in Schneider Speech, faculty at the School of Medicine at University of California at Riverside, and host of Transcending Stuttering Podcast.

Together with Dr. Phil Schneider, EdD CCC-SLP, BCS-F, Uri co-produced the highly acclaimed documentaries Transcending Stuttering: The Inside Story and Going with the Flow: A Guide to Transcending Stuttering.

You can learn more at www.schneiderspeech.com. Connect on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Listen to the Transcending Stuttering Podcast.

Freebie: Transcending Stuttering – online video course and ebook. Use coupon code to get 30day access for free.

In This Podcast

  • “Words create worlds”
  • Connecting to other communities
  • Uri’s advice to faith-based counselors

“Words create worlds”

Therapists, counselors, and coaches understand that words create worlds. They know that what you say to yourself and to your client can have deep impacts on how you or they respond to a challenging situation.

I think that’s part of the spiritual perspective, is seeing that God gives us challenges to grow, not to suffer, and in every challenge there is an opportunity and if we bring that into our personal journeys, into the clinic room, and into our business, it changes everything upside down  and we start to see … a lot more light instead of a lot more darkness. (Uri Schneider)

When you bring a spiritual perspective into a difficult situation – and look for the lesson instead of focusing on the suffering – you can transform the way your practice runs. Once you do this, obstacles become opportunities, and struggles become growth.

Connecting to other communities

How do we reach out and break into presenting ourselves as valuable and useful to communities and cultures that are strikingly different? …. I think it’s about staying curious. I don’t think you need to be the same, I think you have to show curiosity. (Uri Schneider)

In reaching out to connect with other cultures, people, and religions, the important aspect is to be curious: let them be the teacher and tell you who they are, instead of assuming what you think they are.

Encourage your curiosity and ask questions, be open and receptive to things that are new for you with compassion and intrigue.

At the bottom line, people are people, and they are all created in the image of God and have a soul. You can connect with people on a soul level, and get past the small stuff.

Uri’s advice to faith-based counselors

Humility and faith are the recipes for overcoming challenges. Be humble, professional, and human. Recognize that you are in a human partnership with the world and God. When you are in this partnership, anything is possible.

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Meet Whitney Owens

Photo of Christian therapist Whitney Owens. Whitney helps other christian counselors grow faith based private practices!Whitney is a licensed professional counselor and owns a growing group practice in Savannah, Georgia. Along with a wealth of experience managing a practice, she also has an extensive history working in a variety of clinical and religious settings, allowing her to specialize in consulting for faith-based practices and those wanting to connect with religious organizations.

Knowing the pains and difficulties surrounding building a private practice, she started this podcast to help clinicians start, grow, and scale a faith-based practice. She has learned how to start and grow a successful practice that adheres to her own faith and values. And as a private practice consultant, she has helped many clinicians do the same.

Thanks For Listening!

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Faith in Practice is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a network of podcasts that are changing the world. To hear other podcasts like Empowered and Unapologetic, Bomb Mom, Imperfect Thriving, Marketing a Practice or Beta Male Revolution, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.

Podcast Transcription

Welcome to the Faith in Practice podcast. I’m your host Whitney Owens recording live from Savannah, Georgia. I’m a licensed professional counselor, group practice owner, and private practice consultant. Each week through personal story or amazing interviews, I will help you learn how to start, grow and scale your practice from a faith-based perspective. I will show you how to have an awesome faith-based practice without being cheesy or fake. You too can have a successful practice, make lots of money, and be true to yourself.

Hello and welcome again to the Faith in Practice podcast. Thank you so much for taking the time to let me into your ears and your hearts today. Hope everyone is having a fantastic summer. Oh my gosh, I feel like it’s gone super duper fast and it’s just here at least in Georgia. My kids go back to school the first week in August. Yes, talk about hot. I can barely get them to school without breaking a sweat walking like two blocks down the street. But anyway, I digress that school will be starting and we’re wrapping up the summer and I just think that’s bananas, because I feel like it just started. So I’m guessing you probably feel the same way I do. There’s never enough time to relax and spend time with your kiddos. Anyway. I hope your practices are running well and getting through the summer. Sometimes can be difficult, but it seems like easier than most summers. At least here, we’re getting more calls than we typically do.

Anyway, I have been thinking about pruning your practice. I was running this morning thinking about this and I’ve been doing the read through the Bible in a year this year. So you might hear me talking about some of the passages I’ve been reading in there, but right now we’re trudging through Kings and Chronicles and just a lot in there about evil acts, good acts, getting rid of idols, doing things for God. And it’s just making me think about not only our personal lives, right, but like, because it’s always good to do a little inventory of kind of where you’re at. Like I know people do that once a year or maybe every six months and they spend a day or two retreating just having some personal spiritual time and thinking about, “Lord show me things that are in my life that I need to get rid of and what I need to add in.”

I was thinking about that for our practices. And especially if you kind of run a group practice there’s probably a little bit more to that, but just the idea of stopping and praying about your practice, taking a day or two and saying, “Okay Lord, what is it that we’re doing that maybe we shouldn’t be focusing on?” And I encourage you to look at the facts there too. Look at what you’ve been doing. Is it working? Is it not working? Where do you invest your time and energy? So there’s going to be times where you plant something, you know the whole parable of the seeds. It’s like, I know I’m using this in a different way, but the idea that you plant something and you watch it grow and God blesses it and so you keep going with that. But there’s so many times that weeds get in there and nastiness and grossness and if we don’t stop and pay, then we’re not going to be able to get rid of those things.

It’s just so easy to let ourselves coast by in our spiritual lives, but also in our practice and just do whatever’s easiest. And sometimes what’s easiest isn’t the thing that God wants us to do. So this may be impacting you as you hear me say it, you might be like, I’m not really sure about that, but I would love for you to just think through, if God’s speaking to you on this. I have been doing this for myself, praying about things going on in the practice, things going on with the employees and where is God moving and working and where does He want me to focus my time and energy. And that’s something I honestly pray every single day because there’s so many things and you know it that come across our paths as entrepreneurs, so many great ideas, things I want to do, but not everything is the thing that I shouldn’t be doing.

So taking the time to think through that, pray through that. Boy, it’s just a beautiful thing when you do something and you look back and you see God’s hand in it, or people come to you and say, “That’s the exact thing that I really needed at that moment. It’s just a beautiful thing.” So I feel like summertime’s a really good time. If you want to step back for a minute or two and think through that and do some journaling about it, it’s a really good time to do it before the craziness of the fall comes, which our craziness starts the first week in August.

So anyway, I loved my interview that I did with Uri. He is fantastic. You’ll hear more about him as we get into the episode. He had some really good quotes, honestly, that I was writing down during the interview. He also had some really cool stories. He works with people who stutter and he does this beautiful job, like bringing his faith into the mix. So I think you’re really going to enjoy the interview that I did with him today. I love bringing people from different backgrounds perspectives, and he definitely brings that to the show. So we’re going to jump into episode number 95 on making faith the groundwork for business
Today on the Faith in Practice podcast I have Uri Schneider. He’s the partner of Schneider Speech, faculty at the School of Medicine at University of California at Riverside, and host of Transcending Stuttering Podcast. Together with Dr. Phil Schneider, Uri co-produced the highly acclaimed documentaries, Transcending Stuttering: The Inside Story and Going with the Flow: A Guide to Transcending Stuttering. You can learn more at schneiderspeech.com. Thanks for coming on the show today.
It’s a great honor. I’m a big fan and i enjoy what you do. Thanks for having me.
Oh, well thank you. Well, first I want to hear your story to kind of starting your business and some of the work that you do with stuttering.
Sure. Well, it all starts off when I was six years old. I couldn’t even say the word speech pathology. It’s a pretty tough word to say. My dad is one of the greats and seeing him come home every day with purpose and satisfaction and the stories of being involved in people’s lives and at the same time, being able to put a roof over our head from a very early age, I was drawn to do this work. And at many crossroads there were other things I could have done. Most people that I know did not end up being men who are speech therapists. There aren’t many of us, so I could have gone many different routes, but every time the crossroad came and a choice had to be made, I kept coming back and ultimately found my niche in kids with complex learning challenges.

And then I also fell back into stuttering. And just for some reason, my soul, my spirit connects with people who stutter. I’m fascinated by their resilience, by their courage and as much as I help them, I feel so enriched through the process. I started off working in a school but I always hoped one day I’d be able to have a private practice. So I started off with one client. I still remember him and I’m still in touch with him to this day. I worked on the carpet of the waiting room of a friend who was a dentist. He was kind enough to give me his space because hey, I wasn’t going to take out a lease. And it’s New York city. It’s not wherever. Real estate’s expensive. So he lent me his waiting room floor and I remember sitting there and feeling so humbled and at the same time being able to do incredible work.

And then once I got about three clients, took office space and continue to have that office space in the same address, same location for about 20 years and then slowly but surely realized that I was going to build the practice out. I needed another location because there were only so many clients I could get in one place that were ready to pay privately. And from a strategic point of view, rather than going to the insurance route to stay going with cash only private pay I opened a second office. I asked a psychologist friend, “What would it cost?” He said, “Oh, that’s so funny. We have an empty room in our new place. Would you like to come in?” And from there it’s been an exciting ride and then it turned into a group practice through some divine intervention opportunities and life changes and the right people coming into our life and the right professionals, the right trust, the right relationships. And now we have a beautiful team with offices, both in the New York area, as well as Jerusalem, Israel.
Awesome. I love your story of humble beginnings. That was really beautiful.
Thank you.
Okay, tell me more about your practice now. So it’s all speech therapist, is that right?
Yes. We’re speech therapists, but it’s funny because when we sit down and we work with people afterwards they say, “Are you sure you’re a speech therapist because that didn’t feel like speech therapy?” So I often say it’s not your grandma’s speech therapy. You know speech therapy is overdue for some refacing, refreshing. And that’s very much what we’re doing with helping speech pathologists and speech therapists do just that. But the work that we do is a team of speech language pathologists. We had five physical, six physical offices in the tri-state area, many of those we have consolidated or closed temporarily or permanently. During COVID right at the beginning in March of 2020, we went from previously doing about 20% of the work on Zoom. So we just flipped the switch and went a hundred percent. I wanted everybody to be safe, both for the staff and also for the clients. And we knew that it works. We knew that the clinical care and the effect was just as good. So we made that switch full on and early.

So now most of the practice I would say is now 80% Zoom and then a case by case coming back into the office, in certain locations. We focus 80% on stuttering, quite a bit on voice and then complex nuanced challenges that other people find a little bit too complex to figure out. We work with little ones, with their parents, school-aged kids, teens, and adults, and love what we do every single day.
So I’m interested when you said speech kind of needs a revamp, could you share more of what you mean by that?
Sure. Well, I think when you, I’ll ask you, Whitney. When you think of speech and speech therapy, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? What’s the first image?
Noises? Okay.
Getting the person to repeat back a certain vowel or consonant noise or combination.
Yes. Well and what age person are you typically picturing in front of you?
Well, we haven’t talked about this yet, but I’m going to go ahead and let you know. I actually have an autistic child. She’s four, she’ll be five in June and she just had her, you’re going to say this better than me, but that test, it’s like the ESP or the E and you get rated anyway. She just hit the one percentile for our testing. We found out last week. So she’s, I mean, barely saying words. She can repeat words after me, but yes, so she did speech and she did Zoom. She actually didn’t do as well on Zoom as her hearing, she also has a hearing loss. So it’s just like this sad combination for her. So when you ask me about speech, I’m thinking about her, but it’s been such a challenge to get her in with good speech therapists and insurance causes lots of issues. So I love that you have a practice that you’re working with the person, what you think is best for their treatment, not insurance, because insurance will be like, “Oh, you can only have two sessions.” I’m like, “She’s not even talking. She needs more than two sessions.” But then they won’t let you do more than two sessions. It’s just a mess.
Yes. So I think first of all, I always tell parents no one gets a degree in parenting and certainly no one gets a degree in kids that have some neurodiversity or differences. And if parenting wasn’t hard enough and therapists, your colleagues certainly know more about that than I do, but as a parent of four kids and a husband of one wife, it is a challenging and tremendous opportunity and a gift that I believe God plants these souls in our care. And somehow even when we don’t believe in ourselves, He believes in us that we are the best guardians to raise these precious souls. And I think as therapists, when I say we need a refresh, there are plenty of good therapists. I’m not here to put anyone down, but I think on the whole, the field has moved into coming up with quick fixes that are more about solutions and approaches and getting the kid or the client to fit the solution, to throw them into a program where therapists are turning into machines rather than human beings and caring spirits.

And I think we need to bring back the humanity. I think that’s my father’s biggest calling and through these films, Transcending Stuttering. And I think that’s where the faith has really woven through every single encounter that we have. Because when you have a child with autism who is not using their words to connect, it says in Genesis that when God created, man, He created him through breath, through the nostrils. He breathed in the air. The air is the spirit. And in the Jewish wisdom, it says on that sentence, in Genesis says, what did He endow man with without breath. He endowed him with the power of speech. Speech is what makes us human more than any other cramp on the planet.

And so speech is such a sacred thing. And when you think about speech, if you try to say anything and you don’t close, when you hold your nose and close your mouth, try to say your name, doesn’t get to come out because you need the wind. You need the spirit and the wind and the spirit that comes from within is put onto a sound signal. And that sound signal is a representation of your spirit in this world. And it comes the intersection of soul and physicality and world, and it’s a very, very special and very delicate place and to help parents and children and adults and couples and everybody find their way to connect in a wholesome way. That’s what we’re here and that’s what we’re here to do.

So we don’t work specifically with children with autism, but the field does. And I think regardless of what age you work with or what issue you’re helping people get through, I think the important thing is to put the person in the center, people-centered care and looking at real life and functional goals and making sure that the therapy makes a difference in real life. Every case is different and we got to meet people where they’re at, but the goal has to be the same. It’s got to be relevant for real life for this person in the context of their life.
Hmm you’ve said all that so well. I love how you, your faith there in the work that you’re doing and the way that we care for people and who God’s created them to be. And yes, I appreciate that. I’d love for you to share some about your faith background and how that kind of influences the work you do and starting your business and that kind of a thing.
Yes sure. Well, I think it’s interesting to know I grew up as an Orthodox Jew and then through high school, went through my time of questioning my faith and questioning my practice and questioning my identity. I even had a thought that in my gap year, I would go to Jerusalem and maybe spend time comparing all the three major religions, all the Abrahamic religions and see if any of them spoke to me because I was so fed up with hypocrisy and just a lot of teenage cynicism. And ultimately for me, it was in Jerusalem at the Western wall, surrounded by some incredible role models who were Rabbis but were also just exceptional human beings and people who are on fire. And their age did not reflect the spirit of youth and joy that was just shining on their faces and emanated through every encounter, whether it was in an engagement with an Arab Christian or a Muslim Arab, or whether it was an engagement with a child, difficult child, wife going shopping.

These were like exceptional human beings. And I said, whatever, they’re smoking, pass it over here. And it was, there was a life of connecting to their Jewish soul. So for me, that was a turning point. And from that point forward, I’ve never turned back. I didn’t get to go on, so looking as deeply as I may have planned, but we have a saying in Judaism, we say man plans and God laughs. So my plan was to compare everything and lo and behold, I had this just watershed, incredibly powerful feeling where my whole body just feels in sync with the world when I’m in sync with my faith, when I’m in sync with myself and it enables me to connect with others better when I’m more grounded in who I am and what I believe.

So being able to, and this connects to like running the practice, I am a big believer in diversity and inclusion. I’m a big believer in dialogue. I’m a big believer in having crucial conversations with people that think, believe and live very differently than us. And at the same time, I think it’s important that we not feel we need to sell out. I think we can stand strong in who we are and bring that to the table, but also be mindful of what might be some of the triggers or things that push people back. So I’ve had clients come into the office and they’re sitting there and I’m wearing a yamaka and the person says, “I got to ask you,” kid stutters, person starters, young man, he’s been in rehab for substance abuse. The reason he’s in substance abuse, because he used substance to intoxicate himself because that was the only way he wouldn’t stutter.

And the pain of isolation that stuttering did to him, which doesn’t happen for everybody, but in his case was a pretty rough one. And then emotionally and psychologically, it took a toll. So that was how he suits himself. So he said, “Listen, I can’t talk if I don’t throw expletives all over the place, but I don’t want to throw those kinds of words in front of you because you’re a, maybe a God-fearing person with a yamaka. I just want to know like what should I do? I can’t talk without dropping f-bombs all over the place.” So there’s a moment where I had to say, “Look, I’m here for you. And when I’m in this therapeutic encounter, my standards are not here to be imposed on you. And if that’s going to enable you to express yourself, then God bless. Let it rip.”

And similarly I think in building the practice a lot of people in the world professionals have a scarcity mentality and are worried, “If someone else is doing well, there’s no room for me. How could I possibly build my practice or the opposite? Oh, he’s coming to town. Oh boy, that means if he gets business. I’m not going to have as much business.” So I always tried to conduct myself in a way that I felt was taking the high ground. I always tried to keep a distance geographically from people that already had established practices, but at the same time I would reach out to them before I took a lease or before I came into the neighborhood and then say, “Hey, let’s have a cup of coffee.” And I think whenever possible, if people can sit down and have a chat, instead of having these silent conversations bouncing around in our heads, we can put things on the table and to the best of our ability do our part.

And I think that’s another part of my face is like I got to do my absolute best. I can’t wait for things to come to me but at the same time, I can’t believe that it’s all with the power of my hand. You know it’s not all with the power of whatever I do. It’s also to come with a kiss from heaven. So there’s a tremendous amount of blessing that has to happen, but you can’t just sit back and wait for the blessing to open the practice, but you can’t expect that the success of your practice is based on all your smart efforts and hiring all the right consultants and so on. It’s a combination. And also it comes down to clinic that when we work with people, I always take their name whoever they are and I tell them that I will have them in my thoughts and my prayers. And I do believe that whatever it is I do and whether I pray well, or I don’t, I think the thought that you think of people outside of the therapeutic time that they’re paying for sends them a very powerful message of sincerity and care. So those are some of the ways that my faith plays a big part in my work.
Hmm. You know, you’re making me think about my grad school experience a lot because I kind of went into it with this idea of, “Oh, I’m going to save all these people and make them better and I’m going to teach them all the right things.” And then you get in it and you realize this is about loving people where they are, acceptance, letting go of my agenda and so kind of hearing you share that about this young man with the expletives, it’s like, that is where God meets us, right where we are. And as therapists, that is the greatest gift that we can offer our clients love and acceptance right where they are and let them do their journey instead of us saying, “Here’s the journey you have to go on.”
For sure. Yes, God made us perfectly imperfect. He could have made a world where nobody needed therapy, not psychotherapy and not speech therapy, but he created a world of people that had needs. And he created a world of people that had means, and all of us have our own means and our own needs. And it creates this codependency, the healthy codependency, interdependency. And I think if we live our life like that, first of all, there’s an abundance and things like this podcast, for example, and everything that Joe does. Joe was an early stage coach for me and what you’re doing, and Sam has done some design work. I love all the work that you guys are doing, but it’s the idea like it really breaks the mold and tearing down the silos of these ideas of I’ve got to dominate the space because otherwise, if somebody gets in, it’s going to be bad for me.

So, yes. And being humble and thinking, well, if I’m a therapist, I don’t have all the answers. Why are they going to pay me, pay you for your expertise, pay you for your care, pay you for your confidence and your security that you offer. And obviously you try to be a guide, but you’re not there to be a mechanic to fix them. You’re there to be a guide to help them become their own hero. And whatever that looks like is kind of different person to person. So you see why this is not your old school speech therapy when you come into the work like this. It’s not about look many broadcasters, Dan Rather, and others have speech imperfections. Now, if they had spent their entire life trying to perfect their speech, then they wouldn’t have become who they were destined to be.

We have a president of the United States of America, who is a person to this day who stutters now, no politics here. But to think that a young man with the age of 16 was called dash, not because he was fast on the football field, but because he spoke like Morse code, that’s how pronounced his stutter was. And to know that he had that nickname, the age of 16, I heard him say this after he lost the democratic nomination. And he was not yet the VP selected by Obama. So he was kind of like, didn’t have a position. So he spoke very openly. He said it was more likely at that point that I would become a Nobel prize winner in science, and I got an F in science, then I would go on to become a politician, a career politician. So to think that someone who stutters could get to that point, you don’t know where people can go.

So when you meet someone who’s in a certain place, your daughter, all of us, we don’t know where we’re going. We don’t know what God can open up for us and what other people can come into our life and create possibility. So I think this podcast creates possibilities for so many of your listeners. And I think individually, each of us as therapists and guides and as religious guides, whoever we are we can open up doors for people and that’s what we’re here to do. And we need people to open doors for us.
Yes. You know I went to the university of Georgia and so one of our big people is Herschel Walker and he had a terrible stutter. I don’t know how much you know about him but I read his autobiography a few years ago. It’s very interesting. He has a lot of other like mental health issues that come up in the book, but that was a big part of his childhood and getting made fun of, but it was also the very thing that he said, “You know what, I’m bad and all these other things, but I’m going to get good at sports.” And he worked super hard and became amazing at the work he did because he didn’t want to be picked on anymore. But it was the very thing that brought him strength and made him what he was today.

I think I would just, if I can take this moment to just be an advocate and an ally for people who stutter. I think it’s so important that we move away from the words of having a bad stutter or having a good stutter. I think that if we can move to more descriptive language, like he had a pretty pronounced stutter, he had a really good stutter, he stuttered real well. He was like an all-star stutterer. You know, it just reframes things because if a parent or a society continues to look at this issue and says, “Oh, that’s a bad stutter, you’re really bad at that. What else could you do? Well, maybe you could play football.” Now maybe you could. In the documentary film, we have, Transcending Stuttering, this young black man there also fantastically talented athlete with a pretty good stutter, Stephen Miller. And he gets a scholarship, I think it was to division one football. He ends up turning it down. He says, “I don’t want to be a jock. Having a stutter, taught me emotional intelligence. I want to help people.” Then he went on to be a psychologist instead of playing on the football field.

And so there’s a flip side to every challenge. And I think that’s also part of a spiritual perspective is seeing that God gives us challenges to grow, not to suffer and in every challenge there is an opportunity. And if we bring that in our personal journeys, into the clinic room and into our business, it changes everything upside down and we start to see light. So I see a lot more light instead of a lot more darkness. So when we’re talking about stuttering, if you know someone who stutters it’s okay to acknowledge it, it’s okay to touch the elephant in the room and be very matter of fact. But I think that’s the key, the language we use. As therapists, you guys know this and as speech language pathologists, the words create worlds of meaning, connotation and safety. So when we say, “Oh I noticed you get stuck on your words. Is there anything I can do to support you? Would you like to take a pass at reading in class? Or would you like to specifically read in class and just know that we’re going to hold space for you?”

Everybody’s got a different preference depending on their temperament and their psychosocial makeup. So it’s real important to let people write their own stories and make sure that we don’t use words of judgment, like good and bad and kind of frame it for them but be much more descriptive. Like, “I noticed you get stuck on some words or I noticed some hesitant there. How can we continue this conversation successfully?”
Yes. I appreciate you speaking to that. Well, I want to ask you a question. We didn’t talk about this in advance, so hopefully this will be good for you.
I told you I’m an open book.
Okay. I’m curious how as faith-based practices, we can better reach the Jewish community. And I think specifically, I actually had a therapist that was Jewish on my practice for awhile. She practiced some, so she wasn’t extremely involved in her synagogue, but anyway, we met with a couple of rabbis, shared with them about the work she was doing. We never really did make a good connection there, which was unfortunate because we actually have a large community here in Savannah. So I was curious if you could speak to like how can we better reach that community and help with mental health issues?
Oh, that’s such a powerful question. I think we can broaden that cloud speak to it specifically, but I think we can broaden it to how do I reach the Christian community? How do I reach the Muslim community? How do we reach out and break into presenting ourselves as valuable and useful to communities and cultures that are strikingly different and again, without selling out or capitulating in any way? Look, I think it’s about staying curious. I don’t think you need to be the same. I think you have to show curiosity. So the same way I will look up the latest TikTok video for the client who, they’re crazy about that TikToker or that video or that music and I’ll come in the next week and show them that I’ve shown interest and genuine sincere curiosity.

Let them be the teacher, let them tell us what we need to know. So I think we can apply the same. So I think if you’re working, if you’re not from inside the Jewish community and you want to serve that community, first of all, there’s a wonderful speech therapist in Atlanta, Georgia, Tim Keasy. He’s a speech language pathologist who stutters and he interviewed me not too long ago and he knows all the language. He’s been to more bar mitzvahs than I have. Guy’s amazing, Christian man, I think he’s Christian. He’s definitely not Jewish, but my point is he has transcended that barrier. And I think if you can connect to the humanity, you can transcend.

But in terms of Jewish cultural stuff, Orthodox Jews have certain cultural norms that are important to know. So for example modesty is a very important one. So if you’re a man or a woman that’s showing up in a tank top, it culturally doesn’t feel comfortable. There’s no judgment and there’s no expectation that everybody dressed like me. But if you want to create a safe therapeutic encounter or you want to create relationships, it’s important to know that let’s say collarbone, elbows and knees would be good guides to think of showing up in a way that seems professional, but on the more modest side, so a scooping collar for a man or for a woman could be off putting. It just doesn’t feel like it fits and so the person who’s coming in for therapy suddenly doesn’t feel like they’re in a familiar, safe space.

So the dress. Also the physical contact. So in the Orthodox Jewish community physical contact between genders, between men and women is reserved for husband and wife, parents, and children. So a man, often, not all, often would not shake the hand of a woman. Again, it’s only to sanctify the touch between a man and a woman to be that between a husband and wife. It is not at all an issue of judgment or denigration. So these are lots of places where inadvertently there can be misunderstandings and feelings of confrontation on both sides. But I think if we come in with a little bit of sensitivity, there was a beautiful series by a guy named Pete. The last name is a, some Italian guy. He did a YouTube series where he embedded himself in the Hasidic community in Brooklyn and in Muncie Rocklin county.

I’ll try to find it and send it to Whitney. It was an amazing opportunity for people like yourself who want to get inside and see the culture from the inside and understand the subtlety and the beauty, but feel very much stuck outside looking in. That was an amazing, I think his name is Peter something. I’ll send you the link.
Yes. Oh good. Yes, I would love to watch that. And we can put it in the show notes for people to go and watch.
I think the take-away Whitney is that people are people. And if we get down to working with people as like, it goes back to the faith, you know, if we look at people, your daughter and you and me and my kids and a guy from Zimbabwe and a guy from Iran, we are all created in the image of God. We all have a soul each and every one of us. And if we just look and connect my soul to your soul, we are connected. But if we start getting stuck on all the trappings of difference then we’ll never connect. And I think that’s the work we need to do, is kind of get past the small stuff. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Go onto the big stuff. Who are you? What’s your purpose in the world?

You know, Moses, if I could just share one thing, Moses gets to the burning Bush and my father says this was the first encounter of speech therapy in the world. Moses gets there and God says, “You’re on. I got a job for you.” He says, “What are you talking about? I just ran away from that place.” “No, no, no. You’re going to go back. You’re going to be my spokesman. You’re going to speak truth to power.” “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. No, no, no, no, no. They’re not going to listen to me.” And he has a litany of complaints and reasons why he doesn’t feel this is his job. Now he’s talking to God. God just recruited him for a job. And you talk about listening to what God has to say to you. Like the bush is burning, the bush is not getting burnt, and God is speaking to him. He’s on holy ground and he’s like, “Nah, I think you got the wrong guy. Do you know who you’re talking to?” And what does he say? The last complaint? “I don’t talk good. Not yesterday. I stutter.” And God says, “Who gave man the power speech? I got this. I got this. I’ll give you what you need. I’ll give you the support you need.”

But within short time, Moses goes from standing there as the person who stutters, he doesn’t think he can do it to becoming the greatest teacher, the greatest leader and ultimately one of the greatest of all time. And he becomes a great orator. The story of Deuteronomy is one long speech that Moses gives. So in Exodus, he’s not a man of words and in Deuteronomy, he is the speaker for the entire book. So my father says, “Well, what was the recipe?” Purpose, clarifying purpose and mission, giving people just enough that they need. Sometimes it’s not the fix, but it’s the clarification of what’s my why and then just giving them enough to go with it and to know they’ve got you behind them. So I always tell people when they pray in Judaism, the opening line, before you start your prayer is you say, “God open my lips and if you open my lips, my voice, my words will sing your praises.” And I think that for someone that has a speech difficulty to say to God, “Look, this isn’t easy for me, but if you help me open my lips, I will bring glory to you.” How can God say no? So you take the lesson of Moses. God is the first speech therapist. There you go. And you just follow that model right on through.

I love it. I love it. Thank you for sharing that story. It was perfect. So I’m going to ask you what I ask everyone at the end of the podcast, what do you believe every Christian counselor, or maybe you want to think every faith-based counselor needs to know in the work they do?
Got time for one quick story or should I make it a one minute?
Oh yes.
All right. This story is unbelievable. Unbelievable. This is a Zoom story that never should have happened. This was like, there are a lot of people I know that lost loved ones and had an incredibly challenging year in health and wellness and finances. So in no way to belittle that and certainly there’s a lot of suffering this year. And at the same time, for those of us that were blessed to be healthy and stay well and be on the side of helping and maybe even thriving, it was an opportunity and it was a blessing that we didn’t see coming. I think everything happens for a reason and I believe the entire pandemic may have been for this one kid’s life.

This kid comes to me through his siblings. He had 10 siblings, Hacidic men, 10 siblings. They call me, they say, “We want to help our brother.” I said, “This never goes well. As a therapist, when someone calls and it’s not the parent, it’s always a little curious.” So it’s the sister calling and then it’s the brother calling and they’ve all gotten together. They’re going to pay for this young man’s therapy. I said, wow, how could I say no? This is like an unbelievable story. They said, he has a really bad stutter. He has a really strong stutter and his confidence is negative a hundred. So, but because they’re Hacidic, they don’t use the computer. I said, “Well, there’s no other way. I’m not meeting people in person.”

They made it work. They made it work and this young man came on and he said to me like this, he said, the previous speech therapist told me that my Corpus callosum has a problem. I need to go back to crawling on the floor as an 18-year-old young man and that will help reintegrate the left and right hemisphere and I won’t stutter anymore. Now that’s based on some old heebie-jeebies stuff, totally incorrect, but beyond being incorrect information who tells an 18-year-old to crawl on the floor? How degrading is that? I said, you should have told that therapist he or she should crawl on the floor for 30 minutes a day.

So he said, look, I just want you to know I did it. I did it for 30 minutes for three months every day. That’s how much I want to get through this stutter. I cried right there because he couldn’t even tell me all this. He had to write me a note because he couldn’t get his words out. Literally it took him a word every minute. One of the most strong, severe stutters I ever saw, but also one of the most determined and beautiful people I ever met. Long story short, get through the work and this is going to come to answer your question, I won’t go through all the twists and turns, but I told him to keep writing. And I said, one day, he’s going to write a book of his story of rising out and rising up and climbing his hill, climbing his mountain.

Well, lo and behold, two months ago, I was at his engagement party and he’s become a motivational speaker. And he’s been featured in the magazines in the insular community where acceptance and nuance is not exactly where it’s at in America, 2021. And yet he’s bringing that story to bear and he says, look, stuttering does not have to be a curse. It does not have to be a piece of judgment that in an arranged marriage makes you second rate. On the contrary, it can be the metal that tests you, that refines you, that launches you to be an even stronger, better person as a husband, as a father, as a human being. And that’s where he’s at this young man. So I go to the engagement party and his siblings, they were all very, very pleased to meet me. And one of them said to me, “Because of what my brother has done, I want to become a therapist. And I want to know what’s the secret to being a therapist, to be a guide, to get him from where he was to where he got to be?”

I said, I thought for a minute, I said to myself, what’s the secret? And as you said, Whitney the stupid answer would be, “Oh, let me tell you my recipe. Let me tell you the playbook.” I said what’s the recipe? Humility and faith because I had my experience and I had everything I could bring, but this young man, his challenges were so profound. They exceeded his demands, exceeded any supply that I could offer. The only way that I could be there for him was to offer him hope with faith that he didn’t have in himself until he was able to take that torch and carry it for himself.

So it’s faith. And it was humility to say, look, I can’t promise the outcome, but I promise you, I can hang in there with you and I promise you, I believe there’s a better place we can get to. So I think for every therapist, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, whatever, I think it’s meeting people where they’re at. It’s being humble. It’s being super duper professional for being super duper humble and super duper human and along the way, recognizing that we are in a partnership in this journey, all of us with our clients and with God’s help. And when we do those things together, when we have that Trinity, if you will, of us and our client and God, and we partner together, anything is possible. That’s the message that I would like to share.
Thank you so much. So if somebody is listening and they want to get in touch with you, what’s the best way to do that?
Awesome. Thank you. They can come to schneiderspeech.com and right on the home page, they can click the Contact Us or sign up for some free tips and useful information. We’ll be in touch by email. And the podcast, Transcending Stuttering, we have people who stutter from around the world come on the podcast on a weekly basis. And then we also have the greatest researchers and professionals from around the world and therapists that are interested in training, building a community of therapists that are spanning the globe and building a growing, thriving community where each person is rising up, but also the idea of cohort based learning and a living, breathing community of, a diverse garden of people that are each growing and rising and helping each other to grow and to thrive. And thank you. Thank you for that.
Well, thank you. And you’re offering a freebie to the audience today, Transcending Stuttering. It’s an online video course, an eBook. So if you’ll go into the show notes, you can get a coupon code for that, and that’ll be good for 30 days after the podcast goes alive.
Yes, it’s an honor. It’s a great course. I’ve poured everything into it and it’s kind of like a choose your own adventure. So if you’re a therapist or a person who stutters, teen or adult, it’s kind of a choose your own adventure. It is not intended for young children or immature teens, but for someone who’s 16 or up or a speech therapist. It could be a wonderful, wonderful asset.
Well, thank you. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to be on the show. This has been fabulous.
It’s an honor. Thanks for the opportunity.
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If you liked this episode and want to know more, check out the Practice of the Practice website. Also there, you can learn more about me, options for working together, such as individual and in group consulting, or just shoot me an email, whitney@practiceofthepractice.com. Would love to hear from you.

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