Interviews with purpose-driven business leaders who have dedicated their work to helping others and making a positive impact in the world.
TELL US, WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
Hi there! My name is Dr. Kyler Shumway. I’m a licensed psychologist, keynote speaker, and author (I wrote and published two books before turning 30). After finishing my postdoctoral fellowship, I was hired as the business and program coordinator for Deep Eddy Psychotherapy. I now help lead a team of 40 clinicians in Austin, Texas as we work to meet the needs of our community.
Deep Eddy Psychotherapy is a family-owned, heart-centered psychotherapy practice devoted to helping clients love themselves and love others. We work with kids, teens, and adults through individual, couples, family, and group therapy and psychological assessment. Our practice has been serving clients in Texas for more than 35 years. We are also a training center for postdoctoral fellows in psychology and offer specialized training in evidence-based psychotherapy techniques for therapists across the nation.
HOW DID YOU GET HERE?
As an Idahoan farm boy from a family with a knack for living without, I learned from an early age the values of tenacity, loyalty, and taking care of others.
Along with raising livestock and caring for our few crops, I worked side jobs to help save up for college. When I wasn’t at school or working, I was training for football or track season. Every day, I worked hard to get somewhere else. My determination brought me academic and athletic success, eventually landing a full-ride scholarship – my ticket out of scarcity.
I left my hometown with deep pride for my accomplishment. I reached the finish line. My entire life was dedicated to getting on that plane, and when we landed I felt… lost.
Fortunately, Duke University was a great place to be lost. As I searched for my new purpose, I became immersed in cutting-edge movements in neuroscience and psychology. I stood in Dr. Rosenthal’s lab as he showed us one of the first virtual reality treatments for smoking cessation. My heart pounded as I held a fully preserved human brain, knowing that this bundle of neurons fueled our behavior, our lives. This is where my love for psychology was born.
This, along with my passion for helping others, naturally brought me to the field of clinical psychology. My wife Mary and I went from Durham, North Carolina to Newberg, Oregon so that I could complete my doctoral studies. During that time, I worked as a practicum therapist for schools, hospitals, and even worked a nights-and-weekends emergency room suicide risk assessment job where I had the chance to be there on the worst night of people’s lives. Five years, thousands of hours, dozens of sleepless nights, and a massive (award-winning) dissertation later, I completed my doctorate and launched my career here in Texas.
WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR? WHY IS THIS WORK IMPORTANT TO YOU?
I am a friend to the friendless. I believe that everyone deserves a place to belong. I know what it’s like to be left out. You feel like no one wants you. You start to believe that you don’t matter and any sense of self-love you might have kindled is drowned out by the loneliness. I also know what it’s like to overcome, to find connection, and to discover a place of belonging. In 2018 I published my first book, The Friendship Formula, to help others discover what I wish I would have known growing up. In a world where technology has made communication and travel easier than ever before, no one should feel lonely. And yet, research tells us that loneliness is more prevalent than ever before. No one should have to feel like they don’t matter, like no one cares. All of us have room at the table. All of us can offer a kind word, an invitation, a bid for connection. All of us can be the kind of friend we wish we had for ourselves.
I am a mender of the broken. I’ve felt the pain of being mistreated, hurt, and traumatized. As a kid, I was tormented by bullies for my weight, my long eyelashes, and my nerdy weirdness. These experiences twisted my soul, made me calloused and angry. My coping strategies of comfort food and video games couldn’t keep the pain away, and I soon learned to lash out and bully others as a way to offload my suffering. After a difficult journey of reconciliation and healing, I dedicated my life to becoming a therapist and helping the world become a better place. As a psychologist, I seek to utilize the science of psychology and the healing power of relationships to help you love yourself and others, no matter how broken you might feel.
I want others to join the cause. All of us have an opportunity to help, love, and serve those around us. All of us can benefit from learning the science of psychology – how the mind works, what makes a relationship thrive, why we feel what we feel. And all of us have the chance to stand for a better, kinder world. As a leader and teacher, my mission is to inspire and guide our community to be part of that change.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
As a practice, Deep Eddy Psychotherapy serves more than 1,000 therapy clients each week. We are so privileged to be in a line of work where each day means making a difference in someone’s life, and often those differences are life-changing. My team knows, whether we are teaching a teen how to overcome social anxiety or helping a suicidal person find meaning in life, that what we do truly matters.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO DO THIS WORK?
Therapy is hard work. You are with people on their darkest days and in their most fragile and vulnerable moments. You build deep emotional connections and invest in people’s lives. You do your best to help them and guide them to a happier, healthier existence – but we can only do so much. It’s up to the people we serve to do the hardest parts: confronting fears, challenging insecurities, reliving the past, breaking bad habits, and implementing insights in a meaningful way. When we bear witness to those moments of growth and tenacity, we are truly inspired.
WHAT’S YOUR VISION, YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
Deep Eddy Psychotherapy was originally named because of the street where our first location was established (508 Deep Eddy Avenue). Most who live in the area know of the historic Deep Eddy pool, one of the first-ever made in Texas, which holds a special place in people’s hearts. Much like ripples in a pool, we see our work as creating ripples in our community. A couple who learns to communicate in loving, respectful ways can then raise children who do the same. A child who overcomes OCD can grow up to help others like him. A trauma survivor who regains their sense of safety and control can pursue their dreams of starting a business or completing medical school or having a family.
As our practice grows, our vision is to be a force for creating more positive ripples. We see the work and impact we are making here in Austin (1,000 clients a week is quite a lot!) – but why stop there? Our hope is to continue to build and offer new avenues of services (e.g., group classes) in order to extend our reach.
WHAT CHALLENGES ARE YOU FACING?
Simply put: we don’t have enough clinicians to help meet our demand. As therapy continues to be normalized and destigmatized and because our society has become more psychologically-minded, demand for psychotherapy services has never been higher. We have to turn away so many people who need our help because our clinicians are at max capacity. The problem is not necessarily that there aren’t enough therapists in Texas, though. Rather, it’s because our practice only hires top-tier therapists – we hold ourselves to a high standard, and we only bring people on board if they can deliver the quality that our clients deserve.
So, if you are reading this and you know of a good therapist who is looking for work, please send them my way!
WHAT’S ONE THING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR CAUSE AND/OR THE WORK YOU’RE DOING?
Whether you are a therapy veteran or a first-timer, you deserve care and support. Whether you or a loved one are suffering, or just looking to live better, love more, or understand yourself on a deeper level, we can help.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE QUOTE OR WORDS OF INSPIRATION TO SHARE?
My favorite quote comes from the film Gladiator, where General Maximus (Russell Crowe) is preparing his army of Roman troops in a great battle. He rides out on his horse, looks his men in the eyes, and says:
“What we do in life echoes in eternity.”
I was just a kid when that film came out, and I still remember the shockwave of energy that went through my body when I heard those words. It’s true; what we do in life does echo in eternity, for better or worse. How we choose to live can make such a difference in the lives of others, and I hope my echo can be one that makes our world better than I left it.
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
If you are looking for a therapist, let us know. If you are a therapist looking for a place to call home, let’s connect. If you are just looking for a friend or a kindly ally, you can reach me at my website, KylerShumway.com.
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