LaShondra Manning – Life Tree Counseling

Kathleen Mills

Kathleen is a creative and gifted therapist who has extensive experience in helping children, adolescents, and adults with a variety of issues.

SUMMARY: In this episode of the Life Tree Counseling podcast, Kathleen Mills and Phillip Crum talk with LaShondra Manning about her doctoral studies at Texas A&M Commerce, as well as her practice as a licensed professional counselor-supervisor.

Episode #13 | Kathleen Mills and LaShondra Manning discuss child therapy

Kathleen Mills-Proprietor, Counselor at Life Tree Counseling
Phillip Crum-The Content Marketing Coach
Lashondra Manning-Life Tree Counseling

Episode 13 - LaShondra Manning


PHILLIP CRUM: Hello, Kathleen. How are you?

KATHLEEN MILLS: I’m good, how are you?

PHILLIP CRUM: I’m excellent. I’m excellent. We’ve had quite a cast of characters here this morning.

KATHLEEN MILLS: It’s been really fun.

PHILLIP CRUM: And I’m afraid we have the biggest character of all here with us to wrap up the morning.

KATHLEEN MILLS: The mighty spirit.

PHILLIP CRUM: And it is indeed time for another episode of “It’s Just Coffee”.

KATHLEEN MILLS: It is just coffee.

PHILLIP CRUM: Your weekly podcast about things in your business.

KATHLEEN MILLS: It’s showcase time, I think.

PHILLIP CRUM: There we go. Tell me something new at Life Tree Counseling that I don’t know about. Anything?

KATHLEEN MILLS: No, you know everything about Life Tree Counseling Center, actually. Except you don’t know when our next symposium is.

PHILLIP CRUM: So are you going to tell me who else is in the studio with us?

KATHLEEN MILLS: My colleague LaShondra Manning.

PHILLIP CRUM: The LaShondra Manning?

KATHLEEN MILLS: Yes. I’m so proud of her.

PHILLIP CRUM: I heard something on the news last night about a LaShondra Manning. What did I hear?

LASHONDRA MANNING: Probably something about an award or something, maybe? That she’s recently acquired some more?

PHILLIP CRUM: I thought she was still in school.

KATHLEEN MILLS: She is. She’s very faithful and she’s very persistent. Not too stressed out right now, because she’s in between…

PHILLIP CRUM: What grade are you in?


KATHLEEN MILLS: Wow. I think that’s past my expertise.

PHILLIP CRUM: Tell me about her schooling and what is it that I heard last night on the news?

KATHLEEN MILLS: There’s an award that was given a couple weeks ago. LaShondra, can you tell us?

LASHONDRA MANNING: You know I’m a doctoral student at A&M Commerce and so my grade being ABD means I’ve completed all my course work and I’m pretty much PhD all but dissertation so I’m working on that. One of my professors nominated me and I got selected as one of the most outstanding doctoral students at A&M Commerce, and it was on a Thursday night.

PHILLIP CRUM: You said “one of the most” as if there was more than one.

KATHLEEN MILLS: There’s only one.

PHILLIP CRUM: There’s only one.

KATHLEEN MILLS: I know it. That’s one of the things that I love about LaShondra. She’s very humble.

PHILLIP CRUM: Until you put a microphone in front of her. Look what happened to her a minute ago.

KATHLEEN MILLS: I know she’s smiling.

PHILLIP CRUM: I’m sorry. Thursday night?

LASHONDRA MANNING: Yes. We had an award ceremony so it was exciting. I got the medal.

PHILLIP CRUM: How big was the check?

LASHONDRA MANNING: No check! School doesn’t pay you. That’s why I’m at Life Tree. Life Tree pays me, school does not!

KATHLEEN MILLS: There’s got to be a bonus in there, like maybe half-off next semester’s tuition since you’re aLaShondra Manningost done.

LASHONDRA MANNING: Or they can write the dissertation for me. I guess that would be plagiarism. We can’t do that.

KATHLEEN MILLS: They could give you like a coupon for half tuition.

PHILLIP CRUM: Do you want me to talk to somebody?

LASHONDRA MANNING: I do want to graduate, Phillip.

KATHLEEN MILLS: Don’t talk to anybody. Let her graduate.

LASHONDRA MANNING: Let’s just play by the rules.

PHILLIP CRUM: How much school do you have left?

LASHONDRA MANNING: Probably about a year.


LASHONDRA MANNING: It’ll probably take about a year to write this thing.

PHILLIP CRUM: Doctor LaShondra Manning, is that right?


KATHLEEN MILLS: She’s shy about that, too.

PHILLIP CRUM: I hope you have a four-year contract already. Like the Cowboys, you know.

KATHLEEN MILLS: I want a big party. I’m waiting for the party. We’re going to have a big party. I’m excited because I’m going to have a big party.

PHILLIP CRUM: Your schooling. What’s your focus? What are you in school for?

LASHONDRA MANNING: I’m getting my PhD in counselor education and supervision, and so that just comes from my love of just being a counselor, first and foremost, and I want to teach other counselors, master’s students and doctoral students, how to be a counselor, how to get licensed, and how to interact with clients. I think that so many people that are open to counseling, and we need some good quality counselors out there. I’ve been doing this for eight years, so I feel like I have something that I can offer.

KATHLEEN MILLS: So what are you doing at Life Tree?

LASHONDRA MANNING: At Life Tree, that’s a private practice, which is definitely, I think the pinnacle of the counselor’s career is to be in private practice and there, I think my role is mainly service the kids and teenagers, and I see young women, as well. Just serve different populations within Addison.

KATHLEEN MILLS: What kind of issues come through in your practice? You see adolescents and children and tell me a little bit about some of the issues that are the presenting issues for people to come and talk with you or see you.

LASHONDRA MANNING: When I think about my little kids is usually divorce, it’s some issue that’s going on at home, usually, with Mom and Dad and so the kids are beginning to act out. Of course, there’s issues at school, so trying to find out what the source of that is. And then, of course, when you have teenagers, they’re just going through things developmentally, so usually their grades are going down, I’ve had a few young ladies who have been cutting, so those are some issues that’s been going on. Just depression, of course, they’re entering their first relationships and so they’ve broken up for the first time. Kids just aren’t motivated about school, they hate school. “Parents don’t understand me, nobody to talk to,” so these kids are just really acting out and their parents don’t really understand what what’s going on, so they come to me for the source, to try to get to the source of that so I can help their child as well as the parent themselves. They’re just young people. I think it’s so many issues. I have some people that come in individually talking about their marriages, problems that they’re having. Just with their jobs, they’re not satisfied where they’re at with life. And, of course, just your regular depression about different issues. Grief and loss. You have anxiety issues, so I see a myriad of things.

KATHLEEN MILLS: You do. You do have a wide variety of clients walking through and they all love you.

PHILLIP CRUM: You mentioned that you ultimately want to teach other students how to run a business, basically. Is that what I heard? Or how to run their practice.

LASHONDRA MANNING: Well, yeah, definitely. First of all, I think just knowing how to be a good counselor, first of all. I think Kathleen is more the business guru, she has the business side.

PHILLIP CRUM: That’s where I was going was.

LASHONDRA MANNING: We’re a good team together.

PHILLIP CRUM: Exactly. Tag team.

KATHLEEN MILLS: You’re an PHILLIP CRUM-supervisor, S.


KATHLEEN MILLS: Tell me about that.

LASHONDRA MANNING: I have one supervisee and so this is someone who has completed their master’s degree and they have passed the NCE, which is the test to become a counselor, and so they need 3000 hours so they can become a counselor. So I’m supervising a young lady who’s actually in a private practice, and also working at a local college. She tells me what’s going on with her different cases, and I advise her as needed, and just make sure she’s doing everything ethically that she needs to do. I haven’t seen any concerns with her. She’s doing really great. It’s exciting to help her achieve her goal.

KATHLEEN MILLS: That’s exciting for you to see, isn’t it?

LASHONDRA MANNING: It is. Because you see growth. You see that with your clients when you get to termination. You see that with your supervisees and I’m excited to see that with my students, too. I just like to see people do well, in general.

PHILLIP CRUM: What does your boyfriend think of all this?

LASHONDRA MANNING: I don’t think we need to talk about that. That’s a whole ‘nother issue.


LASHONDRA MANNING: I’m so busy, you see why I don’t have a boyfriend, so that’s another issue. Maybe Kathleen can counsel me on that.

PHILLIP CRUM: We’ll move on. I just wanted to cover whether she’s available or not. I’m just trying to help her.

KATHLEEN MILLS: You’ve done presentations at conferences. Can you walk people through that?

LASHONDRA MANNING: First of all, I would tell any counseling student that they need to be involved in different organizations. I presented at TCA, which is Texas Counseling Association, which is our state organization, and I’ve done that, actually, for two years in a row. In Galveston, I presented with a professor. My research interest is in crisis management, just crisis management within schools. We did a presentation on that on how prepared can counselors be. And then I was in San Antonio this year, and I actually did something totally different with the supervision route. Just talking about ethics about supervision combined that on the original level, just got accepted to SACES, which is the Southern Association of Counselor Educators and Supervision, and with that, I’m going to be doing integrating crisis management into regular counseling curriculum. I’m going back to the state level, I have presented at TACES, which is the Texas Association of Counselor Education and Supervision, and Phillip, you’re looking at me like “How does she know all these letters?”

KATHLEEN MILLS: She’s a PhD student.

LASHONDRA MANNING: I guess we’re good at letters. That’s what we do. I presented with a cohort; I did not do that by myself. I did it with about five other people and it’s just about the experiences of being a doctoral student. My first national conference is coming up in October, which I’m excited. It’s the American College Counseling Association, and I’ll be talking about threat assessment teams. So very exciting.

KATHLEEN MILLS: Does that pair with your dissertation, what you’re doing with your dissertation?

LASHONDRA MANNING: The crisis management, yes. When you write a document as large as that, you want to tear it piece by piece and do everything you can get from it. You make presentations. Once I’m done, I’ll start trying to write articles, but I’m trying to milk it for what it’s worth.

KATHLEEN MILLS: There you go. And you’re having a good time doing it.

LASHONDRA MANNING: I am. Your dissertation becomes your baby. This is the baby I’m giving birth to, and being able to spread the information that I learned, to spread that to other people is exciting.

KATHLEEN MILLS: You’re planning on being done with your dissertation when?

LASHONDRA MANNING: I propose in July, and then I’m hopefully defending in March, so I can walk across the stage in May.

KATHLEEN MILLS: And then we’ll have a big party, right?

LASHONDRA MANNING: Yes. I’m looking forward to that because I’ll have my life back and start looking for that boyfriend that Phillip was talking about. So it’s all full circle. One thing at a time.

KATHLEEN MILLS: She’ll be available then.

PHILLIP CRUM: Look for that check first before you go looking for him.

LASHONDRA MANNING: My check and his.

KATHLEEN MILLS: That’s awesome.

PHILLIP CRUM: The grad students that you want to help, are you doing any of that now?

LASHONDRA MANNING: I am. Part of our experience is that we have to supervise students, because we have residency requirements, so I have done that so far, I would say probably about five or six that I have supervised and these are practicum students, so they’re exciting because they’re very early. They know nothing about counseling. To just process with them. For example, clients cry because they’re very hurt. There’s a lot of pain that they’re experiencing. A common mistake that a new student is going to do, they’re just going to go over that. You’re going to be crying and they’re going to keep talking because they have this script, if you will, in their head. Well, no we need to stop and process what’s going on with this person. Why are they crying? So we need to stop there. It’s things like that, pointing out to the students because it’s that process that really makes a difference. Content is good, and I think that’s what the counseling books tell you, but it’s that process. I’ll tell you this, it’s not something I learned as a grad student, it’s something I learned from experience. So to be able to impart that to them, I think, makes them better.

KATHLEEN MILLS: You’ve got a nice combination because you’re in private practice and you’re in the real world and you bridge the gap between formal training versus what’s really needing to happen in the office.

LASHONDRA MANNING: This setting is definitely different from the other settings that I’ve worked in. I’ve worked at a school; I’ve worked at an MHMR. I’m trying to think where all I’ve worked. I’ve worked in different settings, but I definitely have freedom in private practice, and that’s something I like.

KATHLEEN MILLS: What makes it different?

LASHONDRA MANNING: Besides setting my own schedule, because I see clients from 3 to 8 especially because of seeing kids and teenagers, they’re in school, so you can’t see them, and of course, the majority of people work so that’s great, and I’m available on Saturdays, which those always fill up. I call that my bread and butter there. So having that flexibility to see people. I’m a late person, so I’d rather come to work late, actually, then meet people when they can come in. I just stick with private practice just the freedom. I guess what’s in my head is to be me. I know when I was in the MHMR setting, there was that pressure that there was a certain numbers you had to meet, and don’t want to bash that setting, but just have these restrictions that private practice just does not have.

KATHLEEN MILLS: Let me put you on the spot. You’re in private practice. What could you tell people who want to have their own private practice. What would your advice be?

LASHONDRA MANNING: First of all, I think that you need a mentor, which I would definitely consider you as that, and I’ve called you the champion. You’re not taught in school how to run a private practice. You may be the best counselor, have all the skills, but we don’t have business sense because we don’t take business classes. So I think you need to link up with someone who has been successful, and I know Kathleen has done this for 21 years now, so Kathleen, first of all, holds my hand which I appreciate the many, many ways, you know that.

KATHLEEN MILLS: I’m happy to do that, you know that.

LASHONDRA MANNING: So I think linking up with somebody like that, being under that umbrella and still having protection, because I think about being on my own, if I had my own practice, which is not anything I desire. None of that would be scary, and I think even if you do decide to go out on your own, you still need to have that mentor or somebody that you can go to to help guide you. I do know some people who have started private practices, and they have definitely struggled. We have had this conversation, and I think about one person who has linked up. They felt like they’re going backwards, and I’m like, “No, you can’t start running. You have to walk first. There’s so much that you don’t know.” And I think, too, one thing that’s great about private practice, a lot of people think about private pay. The average person cannot afford private pay. I think to be able to be on insurance panels, you can reach people. What’s in my head is the common person, but you can reach everybody because the majority of people have insurance. And I know we have EAPs, which is great, because people have jobs. They usually don’t even know that those benefits exist, but I feel like it’s more access to people, if you will. I definitely like how our practice is framed. It’s not just cash-only. I know some people who thrive, but I think that’s very rare. So I really like our setup. And just the organization. And there’s a lot of things I’ve learned, like I said, that you just don’t learn in a textbook.

PHILLIP CRUM: What made you decide to get into the counseling world in the first place?

LASHONDRA MANNING: It’s interesting. It goes back to I always wanted to help people, so I went to college actually wanting to be a medical doctor. That’s why I went. With my best effort, I promise you, I was not partying or anything. But I was actullay making Ds in biology classes. I was a biology major and I had that moment of reality that I’m not going to get into anybody’s medical school. Not at all. Let me back up. I said I was making Ds. I was making Cs and I made a D in genetics with my best effort. It didn’t line up to me.

PHILLIP CRUM: I failed French three times, so I’ve got you beat.

LASHONDRA MANNING: Phillips three Ds to my one D.

PHILLIP CRUM: No, it was an F, thank you.

LASHONDRA MANNING: For me, that was something that was – I’m not going to say traumatic – but coming back from high school with my own history reflecting back. I always made As or Bs or whatever. Something wasn’t lining up with my best effort, best foot forward, I could not reflect and think of anything I could have done better. I have a relationship with God. I just prayed about it because my God, this just isn’t right. And it’s crazy because what came back to me was “What do you do naturally? What are you naturally good at?” For me, I was a psychology minor and I was not studying for my psychology classes at all, yet I was making As. All my focus was on biology, so I was like, “I think I need to flip these.” And I think about my family and friends who would always come to me, and even strangers. There are a lot of women who would come to me in the bathroom, which is crazy. I was talking about problems so much, what, do I have a T-shirt on? My forehead? Why are these people talking to me. It’s crazy but it made sense. Once I switched, I went to this presentation. I saw a psychology major. At this point, I switched. I’ll tell you this. I switched as a junior. I still had a so-so GPA; I think I graduated with a 3.0. So it wasn’t too bad. I wanted a 4.0 but those perfectionistic tendencies are not good for anybody. This counselor has OCD. I’ve had OCD, too, but I’m free from all that.

PHILLIP CRUM: Rationalization. I like that.

KATHLEEN MILLS: Not if you’re a PhD candidate student, you’re still going.

LASHONDRA MANNING: Everybody has a little amount, it’s just when it’s overwheLaShondra Manninging, and that’s a whole another topic.

KATHLEEN MILLS: Can of worms.

LASHONDRA MANNING: Yes, it is. So anyway, I’m a psychology major and of course, with psychology, you can go two directions. You go counseling or you can do the whole testing, and some were going to a presentation with Dr. Bob Choate, who actually ended up being one of my favorite professors at SFA in the master’s program. He just described the difference, and I realized, for me, it was just really talking to people. I thought this was what I was good at. It was my calling versus testing. Because I know testing in psychology is a great field, but they usually see clients one time.

PHILLIP CRUM: Testing lab rats don’t tend to talk back.

LASHONDRA MANNING: No, they don’t, and even with people,
PHILLIP CRUM: Which has its pluses, but still, people are more interesting.

LASHONDRA MANNING: They are, and I want to see a person more than once because I can’t see growth. It’s all about growth. All about growth, and so I can do a test and say, diagnose you and send you to a counselor, but I want to be a counselor because I can truly work with that person and see where they were when they came into my office and see here they are now, because that’s my reward there. I definitely enjoy seeing clients using the skills that we’ve talked about and actually rationalizing for themselves. That makes me feel good on the inside.

KATHLEEN MILLS: You love it when they have that epiphany and you were part of it.


KATHLEEN MILLS: That’s nice.

LASHONDRA MANNING: That’s really cool.

PHILLIP CRUM: Your future kids have no prayer, do they?

LASHONDRA MANNING: They really don’t. I want to know everything that they’re thinking.

KATHLEEN MILLS: There you go.

PHILLIP CRUM: Before they think it. We’re out of time, ladies, so let’s do this. If somebody wants to talk to you, LaShondra, where would they find you? How would they go about finding you?

LASHONDRA MANNING: Of course you can go to the Life Tree website, which is, and if you click on “Counselors”, you’ll see everyone listed, so you can click on LaShondra Manning and once you click on that, you’ll see my picture and a button that says “Click to schedule.” You can click that button and you can set an appointment on the site. My number is listed, which is 972-234-6634, extension 303, and I have a number where I can be reached that’s plugged into my cell phone so I’m happy to give that out. That’s 972-763-5798. Finally, you can always e-mail me at

PHILLIP CRUM: I’m very happy to meet somebody else that talks 50 miles an hour with gusts up to 70. Thank you. We’re going to do this again.

LASHONDRA MANNING: I hate that this is over. I’m on a roll now.

KATHLEEN MILLS: See, it’s not as bad as you thought. We’re just talking and we’re drinking coffee. It’s all about the coffee.

PHILLIP CRUM: So tell me about Life Tree real quick. A quick commercial. What else do you do besides host graduate students? Top-ranking, medal-winning, no-check-involved graduate students?

KATHLEEN MILLS: I know. I run Life Tree Counseling Center. I run the business part of the counseling center. I also see clients, as well, but we’ve been doing this – I’ve been doing this for a really long time and I think my skill set is helping people acquire a private practice because I’ve got the business piece pretty well established. We keep making refinements, but we’re a counseling center. We’re open Monday through Saturday, 8:00 to 7:00 pm, and we all rotate and we serve EAPs, insurance, and we do self-pay. Our client base is just the best ever. They’re really great clients, and they’re really appreciative of….

PHILLIP CRUM: And you do one-on-one counseling with other business owners?


PHILLIP CRUM: And you also do an annual…

KATHLEEN MILLS: A symposium. We just finished one of those, didn’t we, Phillip, and it was very well received. We’re working on another one maybe in the fall with a little bit of more wider variety, but for sure spring of 2015, we’re going to launch that for sure. And you’re going to be there, right?

PHILLIP CRUM: I am. You have a nice little practice going. You’ve got the business part figured out, and you’ve got the practice figured out. What you don’t have figured out was LaShondra’s telling how you to do, graduate student. Dr. Manning, thank you very much. I like the way it rolls.

KATHLEEN MILLS: And she’s shy right now. She has that
look, like, “Please don’t say that.” But that’s an accomplishment to be celebrated.

LASHONDRA MANNING: May I add, the one thing our clients always compliment me on is just our office is just like the homeliness of it, and also, they love the scents that we have.

PHILLIP CRUM: Would you recommend to people you never met before to stop by and sit in the lobby?

LASHONDRA MANNING: It’s healing and therapeutic, so, yes, Phillip, I would.

KATHLEEN MILLS: We have some clients who come in about 45 minutes before their appointment just to get quiet before they.

LASHONDRA MANNING: I have a good idea. Get some yoga mats, and we’ll have them do some things in the waiting room.

PHILLIP CRUM: Here comes the yoga mats. I’m still Phillip Crum and you can find me at, and that is my commercial. This has been a lot of fun, Ms. Medal Winner. We’ll see you next time, everybody.

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