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Today is:
An Interview with Tonya Ladipo, LCSW

Interview By Clayton Ruley


Editor's Note: Tonya has graced us with her Connections column for the better part of two years.We finally get a chance to talk to the contributor to get a little more on what makes her tick. To see one of her columns on check out this one on saying goodbye (GC): Where are you from and where do you want to go?

Tonya Ladipo (TL): Geographically I am   from Chicago.   I say that because it's a big part of who I am.   Though I have been in Philadelphia for 11 years, I still feel like a transplant at times.

I plan to stay in Philadelphia and continue working in my private practice.   I am fortunate to have a job that I absolutely love.   In starting my own therapy practice I am able to work with clients of my choosing, and I get along well with my boss (me!).

GC: What do you miss about the Windy City?

TL : My family, the lake, and the pizza.   While Philly is my new home, Chicago always has my heart.   Of course family is irreplaceable.   And it wasn't until I moved to Philly that I realized how much I love seeing water daily.   Chicago is situated on Lake Michigan so it's all I saw every single day, I really miss it.   Chicago's deep-dish pizza is truly an unique food that you cannot get anywhere else.   Whenever I go home I make sure that's at least one of my meals!

GC: What made you decide to take your career path?

TL: In college I was interested in researching sexual assault.   I planned to graduate, work for a year to gain some experience then return for my Ph.D. and research sexual assault.   After graduation I fell in love with the work.   I realized that I like working with people much more than researching them.   As a result graduate school was put on hold for several years and I gained a lot of experience from my work.

GC: Give us your path to having your own private practice. What does that mean to you?

TL: After working in various agencies for 10 years I recognized a pattern, I liked my clients but because of agency culture and/or policy I was not always able to work the way that I wanted to.   I decided to try my own practice.   I could create my own policies and ways of working and really work with the clients I wanted to.   I thought that by having my own practice I would not have to "fight" with a system to see clients of color.   As a result, a large part of my practice is geared toward serving the African-American community.

GC: How does your background and experiences help you in your profession?

TL: My own struggles help me understand the reactions, thoughts, and emotions of others.   Even though I do not have the same experiences as all of my clients, my personal experiences help me to understand their feelings.   I know what sadness, guilt, fear, and shame feel like.   I also know courage, joy, peace, and contentment.   Experiencing my own journey helps me to understand my clients' current perspective while giving them hope for how things can be different in the future.

GC: When dealing with your clients what do you try to impart with them?

TL: I want all of my clients to leave therapy knowing that they are resilient and capable people.   They can endure difficult life situations and still have joy in their world.   When they cannot find solutions on their own they can reach out for help.   These are all things that I want my clients to have.

GC: What's the big part of HIV/AIDS people still don't get?

TL: That anyone can contract HIV/AIDS.   Some people also don't realize that while the treatments for HIV/AIDS are significantly better than in the past, there still is no cure.   Prevention is the only cure.

GC: What's the best/worst thing about what you do?

TL: The best thing about my job is being able to witness and be a part of people's changes.   I love watching clients come to me who don't know how to improve their situations.   In our time together I witness them learn more about themselves and discover new ways of interacting with others that brings them the changes they want.

What is the worst thing?   This is actually the hardest question to answer.   Now that I have my own practice I can't think of anything that I don't like within it.   I like my work, my clients, my boss, what's there to dislike?!

GC: Tell us about your practice and website. What can people find/get services for?

TL: In my practice I work with individuals and couples.   I provide my services to the African-American community and the LGBT communities.   Sometimes people ask why I focus on these groups.   As an African-American female I really appreciate the desire of some to meet with someone who has an understanding of being Black in America.   I want to serve my community and be a resource for them.  

In working with the LGBT communities, I have a lot of experience with these communities and a strong desire to be of service to them.   It can be difficult for LGBT folk to find a therapist who is more than tolerant but who is understanding, accepting, and informed about their struggles.   Because of this the LGBT communities are also a focus of my practice.

My website ( has more information about my services.

GC: What's been the response your Connections pieces?

TL: People seem to really enjoy the Connections articles.   They learn new information each month as well as upcoming events.   I also really enjoy writing it.  

GC: What's next and anything else you want the people to know?

TL: In the future I plan to expand my services to work with families.   Currently I focus on working with individuals and couples because of space restrictions.  

Hopefully in the years to come I will be able to expand my practice to include this important area of therapy services.

GC: How can people reach out to you?

TL: Contacting me via phone (215.421.9056) or e-mail ( is the best way to reach me.


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