My name is Jelan Agnew, LCSW. I am a TEDx Speaker, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Life Coach and Motivational Speaker. I am the Founder of Nalej of Self, LLC, where our mission is to teach Mindfulness as a skill to address burn out, compassion fatigue and feeling stuck in survival mode. I believe that authenticity is my superpower, and my unique way of telling stories is transformational.
I attended Temple University for my undergraduate degree in Psychology and African American Studies, and the University of Connecticut for my Masters in Social Work. I have 19 years total in the mental health field and 11+ years as a therapist. I’ve worked with thousands of individuals and families, in multiple settings, which include outpatient, intensive outpatient, extended day treatment, residential/ group homes, 28 day rehab, high school, in-home therapy etc… I also have extensive training in trauma, mindfulness and meditation and 80 hours of advanced Dialectical Behavior Therapy training.
While Nalej of Self, LLC started off as a private practice, providing individual, group and family therapy, things started to shift for me. During the pandemic, being a therapist became emotionally overwhelming. The need for therapists was high, and my business phone was ringing non-stop. Like many others during the pandemic, it was difficult to manage my own mental health. My depression and anxiety increased substantially, and I struggled with addiction. There would be many days when I’d see 8 clients back-to-back, and have nothing left to give myself, completely exhausted and feeling constantly engaged in fight or flight. While, I absolutely care for every human being I have worked with, (because they are dope and amazing humans), I realized I was experiencing burn out. On a mind, body, spirit level.
I had a rock bottom. An ugly one. (You’ll have to wait for the book for that story!) I remember feeling like I was at a crossroads, and I had to make a choice. A choice about what I really believed in. I had been teaching mind, body, spirit healing, but neglecting my own. Eager to help others, at the expense of myself. That’s backwards, (insert the airplane mask analogy here). I had to make a choice about my own mind, body, spirit healing. So, I chose healing. I’ve been sober from alcohol since January 29, 2021. I’ve made a conscious choice to prioritize my health. The journey has been intense and amazing and scary and all the things.
During this time, I began to brainstorm, how can I help others and take care of myself? How do I use my education, clinical experience and life experience in a meaningful way? I had a conversation with an amazing coach who said to me, “If you can see 1 person for 1 hour and make an impact, what if in that same 1 hour, you saw 100 people? Bigger impact, no?” Hmmm. I always had an interest in speaking and teaching. I taught an “Intro to Social Work” course at a University. I create workshops in my sleep and have new ideas approximately every 3-10 seconds. So, figured I would I add workshops, trainings and speaking to my services… and absolutely loved it. And here we are.
But why Mindfulness? When I first started teaching Mindfulness, as a module of Dialectic Behavioral Therapy, my coworker said to me, “You know you have to have a mindfulness practice to teach mindfulness… right?” (You mean practicing what I preach? Interesting…) From there I went on to study mindfulness and create my own practice. And here is the truth. The past already happened, and the future hasn’t happened yet. So, if you are not mindful (present in the moment), then you are not living in reality. You are stuck in your mind, in memories of the past or imagination about the future. So much of human suffering comes from people not living in reality. As a society of expert multitaskers, being mindful for many people, is a brand new skill. One that many of us never learned in school or from our families. I teach mindfulness as a skill, to help people manage emotions, to be present in the moment and be grounded. I have seen mindfulness be helpful in my own personal journey and across diverse groups of people who struggled with mental health. I use mindfulness both in my personal journey and in my work.
As a huge part of my work, I tell stories that are transformative. I have a unique way of breaking down complex ideas, by telling stories that help people understand them on a deeper level. As a speaker and facilitator, I use a culmination of my education, my experience as a therapist and my life experience. The stories I tell are transformative, because they are authentic, relatable and they challenge people to think from a different perspective. The behavioral therapist in me loves to challenge the audience to sit in uncomfortable feelings. Because, discomfort is where change happens, it’s where people make shifts.
As the Founder of Nalej of Self, LLC I am excited to provide Corporate Mindfulness Workshops, DBT Training, Motivational Speaking and Coaching. Go forth and have mindful day!