Lauren Cook, M.M.F.T., has a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy and is a clinician working with individuals, couples, children, and families. She is an Amazon author with two published books: The Sunny Side Up: Celebrating Happiness, was released in 2013 and Name Your Story: How to Talk Openly About Mental Health While Embracing Wellness, was released in 2017. In addition to these accomplishments, Lauren attends events around the country to speak about mental health and wellbeing.
Yellow Scribe Media was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to talk to her and get to know her better! During the interview, I asked Lauren several questions about her life, future goals, and upcoming projects.
- Why did you choose to study marriage and family therapy?
Whenever I work with a person in therapy, I always want to be mindful of the person in context. That includes their intersecting identities and the systems that they operate in, including their family dynamic. Our relationships give us so much meaning and understanding how we are shaped by the people in our lives is key to the work that I do.
2. What is the difference between being a psychologist and a therapist?
A therapist can be a psychologist, but not all therapists are psychologists. A therapist is a broader term- it can encompass Marriage and Family therapists, social workers, and psychologists, among other titles. Psychologists have completed doctoral-level training, and they can offer clinical assessments to clients as well as therapy.
3. What is one thing that you have experienced during childhood that you believe has somehow impacted your life?
I think my mom’s experience with cancer when I was a child impacted me. I believe that our unconscious experiences as children can impact us as adults. I’m very open about my experience with emetophobia (phobia of vomit) and how it affects me. I believe that my mom being very ill when I was a toddler, certainly shaped an unconscious fear of sickness, death, and loss of control within me. I’ve done some work to get treatment for my phobia, but it’s a regular challenge that faces in my life, to this day.
4. What do you enjoy the most about your job?
Seeing people’s resilience, I am constantly amazed by my clients and how they endure. When you work as a therapist, you hear some pretty harrowing stories of what people have had to live with, and yet, rather than being weighed down by the sadness of it, I am continually inspired by humans’ ability to rise above and become stronger in the end. Humans are incredible with their ability to grow.
5. What motivated you to write the book “The Sunny Side Up: Celebrating Happiness”?
I wanted to know what brought people happiness in their lives. I was hearing so many people say, “I’ll be happy when…” or “I can’t wait till this is over.” Rather than challenging ourselves to find joy in the here and now, so many of us were wishing our lives away. I wanted to write a book that invited people to practice joy actively in their lives, even while holding sadness and pain. It can be a both/and experience rather than an either/or mentality.
6. What does your daily routine look like?
I always start my day with a to-do list. I wear a lot of different hats, a therapist, author, and speaker. Typically my day includes some sessions of therapy and coaching, maybe doing a (virtual) speaking event, and I try to spend at least a half-hour each day reading a book or learning something new. Building in self-care is essential too, so I try to incorporate at least a 30-minute walk, a hot bath, and cooking dinner. All the while cuddling my Siamese cat, Mochi throughout the day!
7. Do you think moving from L.A to San Diego helped you grow as a person?
Absolutely. Moving to San Diego was not part of the plan, and as a “planner” it forced me to adjust. Perhaps it was good preparation for COVID-19 where we have truly had to pivot. I learned that even if life throws unpredictability, I can navigate. I believe we all have this ability as humans. Even though we are so afraid of what we cannot control, we can all choose to accept the changes and learn how to swim in new and rougher waters.
8. How do you deal with the hate on social media?
I always try to remember how a person is projecting their pain when they are hurtful online. I try to be open to their feedback as I believe they may have something they are trying to convey to me. But I also hold that their words, especially if delivered cruelly, have much more to say about them than it does about me. Lastly, I let myself feel sad if that’s the emotion it invokes in me. We need to let ourselves be human.
9. How do you manage spending time with your husband, hanging out with friends, working, and travelling all together?
It’s a balancing act! Being home with COVID has been nice for helping me regain perspective on what matters to me. The key is setting boundaries, and I’d be lying to you if I told you that I mastered it thus far. I want to say”yes to people because I want to be able to offer help. But I also know that when I say no to some, it allows me the chance to say yes to what I truly value. I know I never regret this, but it takes practice.
10. How did lockdown affect you and your work? Did you have more time to work on your new brand that is launching in August?
The lockdown has allowed me more time to work on the new brand, and I am incredibly excited about it. I have had more time to develop a new online curriculum about decision making (check out The Decision Principles launching August 1st!). This season has allowed me to get creative about connecting with audiences in new ways as we move into more of a virtual setting. I cannot wait to see how it unfolds!
11. What are some of the future goals that you hope to achieve?
When I think of goals, I think of both professional and personal milestones. Professionally, I would love to continue speaking and do more corporate work so that I can bring mental health conversations into those communities. I cannot wait to build a private practice and write more books! I get excited thinking about having a family someday and building this new home that we have just bought. But I also have to remember (especially as an Enneagram 3) that life is SO much more than goals. Life is about making meaning through the process and being present in the here and now, rather than living solely in the future.
Finally, I have proceeded with asking Lauren some fun questions and her answers were pretty interesting.
What is your favourite drink?
I cannot get enough of tea–hot, cold, you name it.
What is your dream vacation destination?
We went to Costa Rica a few years ago, and it was the time of my life. I loved seeing all the animals–especially the monkeys. I would go back in a heartbeat.
What is your biggest fear?
That I won’t be content with what I have, that I forget that life is not about “making it” but making meaning along the way.
Who inspires you the most?
Malala is my top inspiration. Whenever I feel afraid, I think about how she found and used her voice to create change. She is the definition of how we can use our voice for good.
What is something people don’t know about you?
I love to sew! Cross-stitch is one of my favourite ways to unwind when I am feeling stressed.
You can broadcast one sentence to every TV channel and radio in the world and have it translated to each country’s language. What sentence would you say?
Your mental health matters. Take the time to invest in your wellbeing.