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Meet Monica Gilbert of Crystal Minds New Beginning in Doral

Today we’d like to introduce you to Monica Gilbert.

Monica, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
As a child I was well attuned to other’s feelings and was absorbed to hear about others’ stories and to listen to how people overcame their struggles. They called me la “vieja nina” (old child in Spanish) for a reason. I always liked hearing about the challenges and people could become resilient and learn ways to cope with their challenges. This is why I decided to switch my major in college from pre-med to psychology, specifically, concentrate on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).

I still recall a phrase my professor said during the first class, “If I can contrive a setting, manipulate your reinforcers and punishers I GUARANTEE that I can make you do anything I want, at least 80% of the time.” As controversial and far-fetched as this may have seemed at the time, it was fascinating and grabbed my attention. However, the largest spin in this story is that I would eventually become that professor saying those very same words while instructing my first Fundamentals of Behavior Analysis course for undergraduate students. Not only did I pursue teaching, but my passion in psychology led me to start supervising other Behavior Analysts and psychology students who were looking to pursue certification and licensure. I was intrigued, excited and captivated by this field. My first case in the field, was an extremely aggressive young man who had frightened off all of the therapists that had tried to work with him. He wasn’t an easy individual to work with but instead of focusing on his deficits I focused on his potentials, his aggression was just a way he used to communicate his wants and needs, when he felt tired or sick and when he did not want something. I worked with my supervisor at that time and we could find him a voice. First through sign language, then echoing and imitation and later sounds to words.

This is what it was all about! That reinforcing feeling of being able to help someone with everything I had learned, which was ABA, was my true calling. It was a rough road… literally but it was totally worth driving 56 miles a day in a barely transportable transportation for $9.00 an hour. I worked in other jobs (at a school and in the hospital) to make ends meet. My passion for the world of Behavior Analysis has driven me to work with different populations, nationally and internationally. Utilizing my clinical and academic experiences to aid in the treatment of those that need it most has always been a passion of mine. I could have halted my academic training once I obtained my Masters in Counseling and subsequent licensure as an LMHC, as well as board certification as a BCBA. However, I decided to pursue my doctorate in clinical psychology since I have always wanted to become a well-rounded and competent clinician. Crystal Minds New Beginning was born in 2010, after experiencing disillusion with a couple of practices I had be devoted to. It started with myself and 2 therapists (who are still working with us and have flourished into amazing clinicians). Now our 40+ clinicians service clients from Miami Dade to Broward and even internationally. Consistency, dedication, sacrifice and love for what I do have always been the key to forming Crystal Minds New Beginning into the practice it is now. We service more than 90 families and continue to grow, not “boom”, but rather flourish with equilibrium and passion, competence and the best hearts and hands working together as a team.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The road has definitely not been “smooth!” But the bumps are what make it exciting and worthwhile… the struggles are what have taught me to be stronger, wiser, become creative and look for other ways of doing things. I didn’t sit in business classes, or have a wealthy family who helped be build my practice, being a Cuban born and having a Malgache (Madagascar) background and being raised by a single mother who struggled to make ends meet was a bump that filled me with motivation. I also came from a clinical background and it was sometimes difficult to balance the business side of things.

However, I grew an admiration and passion for managing businesses. The struggles were (are) endless; from not obtaining payment from insurance for about my first year (since I was billing myself and had no idea how to do so), to learning how to balance my personal life with my career to learning that perfection is truly an illusion and that what is truly necessary to be successful is being REAL! I currently try to balance being a first time mom, with owning a business, finishing my doctorate, spending time with my husband and still finding some ME time.

Crystal Minds New Beginning – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Crystal Minds New Beginning provides Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in home, school and clinic services in the form of one to one therapy, assessment and testing, parent training, group consultation and supervision to families of children with Autism, disabilities and behavioral difficulties. I specialize in ABA, in the form of one to one services, parent training and supervision and consultation of other clinicians in the field.

I think what sets me apart from others is my eagerness to never stop learning or growing. My practice was successful enough by my first year in pursuing my doctoral degree, that I could have stopped there. Continuing my studies probably slowed the progression of my practice. However, I always felt that if I would be leading a group of competent clinicians I definitely had to know what I was talking about. Another thing that sets me apart from others is that I am not your typical “boss”. And my clinicians can confirm that. I visit sessions and homes myself to meet the kiddos and families we serve, I contact them to ask how sessions are going or what we could do to optimize treatment, I conduct various workshops and trainings and I interview all our applicants.

I could probably hire someone else to do these things, however, I feel an ethical and professional obligation to do this myself and to be honest I absolutely love doing it!

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I have many proud moments… I think completing my dissertation in something that I am truly passionate about which is helping families understand ABA and motivating them to adhere to the interventions has been my recent proud moment. I feel proud every time I see our clinicians develop into competent practitioners who carry all that we represent on their sleeves. I feel proud whenever I receive a referral by an important practitioner in the field who I have never reached out to. I feel proud when I contact our parents and they tell me what an amazing job our clinicians are doing with their families and when I see the fruits of all of our hard work come to light. I am proud of the individual that I have become because of the individuals that I service, that I come in contact with and meet on a daily basis. I am shaped by them!

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