By Jessica Fountain
Dr. Samone M. Smith-Brown is a woman of many trades. A Doctor of psychology, a special education teacher, a radio show host, a certified life coach – but to her clients, she’s more like a friend. Between juggling all of these hats, Dr. Smith-Brown carved out some time to speak with me recently, and filled me in on who she is, the type of work that she does, and what makes it so unique.
Born and raised in New Jersey, the self-professed former “ugly duckling” overcame a troubled upbringing marked by domestic violence, abuse, and loss. Despite her surroundings, or perhaps because of them, her overwhelming desire to help others propelled her to graduate from Rutgers University with her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, followed by a Masters, and ultimately earning her PhD.
But for Dr. Smith-Brown – “You can call me Dr. Samone,” she told me – traditional clinical psychology left something to be desired, so in 2015 she became a certified life coach and created a program that she tailors to each individual client to help him or her live their best life. “In psychology,” she said, “You learn a lot about different people, different theories, different approaches… the whole gamut. But sometimes it just sits there.” Although theoretical approaches and evaluations of the past can be useful, she says for her clients, she prefers to focus on the path forward. “A lot of people are stuck not only not knowing what it was, or what it is that has affected them, or what’s affecting them now, but how to move forward, and how to make the life that they want to make, the life that they envision.”
This emphasis on the future rather than the past is one aspect of what makes Dr. Samone more of a “directional cheerleader,” as she’s called herself, than a traditional therapist. Don’t expect to come to her office once a week and sit on a couch and talk.
“Going through psychology, they tell you, ‘Okay, this is how you do things,’ and I think that’s another reason why I don’t have a traditional practice – I don’t want to do that,” she said. “I want to be out there. I want to reach the people who can’t come to me.” Smith-Brown prefers to create a more personal relationship with the people who seek her guidance. Her services can be offered in person, in a client’s home, over the phone, or via webcam sessions to guide clients through everything from personal development and relationship coaching to mental health, grief, and anger management. Any area of life that a client wishes to improve upon, Smith-Brown develops an action plan and offers support along the way. For those with social anxiety, she’ll tag along to public events to provide moral support. Need a shoulder to cry on or ear to talk to? She offers what she calls a “best friend” package, where clients can call or text to vent their frustrations to a nonjudgmental, objective listener, and then together develop a plan to resolve issues.
Dr. Samone credits her difficult early life as one of the driving forces that led her to create her own unique brand of personal therapy that differentiates her from other doctors and life coaches. “I’ve been through a lot of black, dark places,” she told me. “Whatever you’re going through… chances are that I’ve been there.” She went on to say of her clients, “Just because there is a ‘Dr.’ in front of my name does not mean I’m not a real person, doesn’t mean I haven’t been where they are, that I don’t feel the things they feel.”
As she told me more about her life story, I was struck by how improbable it seemed coming from someone with such a positive outlook on life. And through all of the ups and downs, she recalls, “I never had anyone to hold my hand.” But going through life without anyone to guide her is what ultimately led her to discover her true passion – helping others who are going through tough times, as she once was. She hopes that through her work, she can be the guiding hand for others that she never had herself. “[By working together] I’ll be able to walk hand in hand with you, and show you, and guide you, and lead you to where, although you’ve had the impact of things psychologically or emotionally or psychically, we’re able to bridge that and bring you the life that you want,” she said. “I am the person that is going to not judge you, is going to be there to say, ‘I understand,’ – the person who is going to be there to hold your hand.”
As our conversation continues, Brown speaks passionately. She is the kind of person who never makes you wonder whether you have their full attention. When she talks of her work as a life coach, or as a special education teacher in Trenton and the lives that she has touched, you can sense her pride and love for her clients and students alike. The uplifting energy she gives out is nothing less than contagious, and I have to ask her how she maintains such a positive outlook every single day. “People have to understand that life is fleeting,” she said. “Life is a fleeting gift, and everyday that you wake up might not be the best day, but you can make the best of your time here… I try to incorporate that as long as we all have breath, we can make a difference; We can do something. Small, big, medium – just something.”
Brown has dreams that by spreading her positive message she can change the world, telling me that someday she hopes to have a presence as far reaching as Oprah’s. Not because of the money, she emphasizes, but just to be known as a person that others can turn to for help. “I think we all should bless each other,” she explained. “We go through life and acquire things; It’s selfish to keep it to your self. If I can bless someone and build them up, and they build someone else up, as that goes on hopefully the world can become a better place.”
And when it comes to changing the world, it seems that she is on her way. “Your Symmetrical Self,” her show that airs on Beacon of Light Radio, an Internet based spiritual radio station, has a message that people all over the world seem to be relating to. “I have people in South America I didn’t even know listen to the show,” she laughed. “People in India, and it’s a beautiful thing.”
Although her message of positivity and personal achievement resonates with many, the idea of “therapy” is one that has long held an unfairly negative connotation in our society. But Brown hopes that as her message spreads, people will learn the services that she provides as a life coach are not exclusive – life coaching can benefit anyone who wants to make a transformation in their life. Anyone who feels as though they are not reaching their full potential, or who feels something may be holding them back. For those who may desire such a change but are hesitant to seek guidance, Brown has a message: “Help is out there for you to get better. Especially in the black community, we look down on seeking help. ‘I cant do that, I have to be stronger’, – No, help is there when you need it. Help is there to get you where you need to go, to get you healthy. Don’t look at it like you’re weak… look at it like a gift, like something that is available to you to make you better.” For all of her clients, she says, “I’m here to cry with you, to boost you up, to be your cheerleader, I’m here at your disposal, to make you, and build you up to where you need to be, to where you wont need me anymore.” For her, that is the end goal – to spread a positive message and uplift others to be the best version of their true self, one person at a time.
For more information on Dr. Samone M. Smith-Brown, or to learn about the different services that she provides, visit her website at yoursymmetricalself.com, or check out her radio show at www.beaconoflightradio.com/dr.-samone-m.-smith-brown.