Featuring West Houston Psychology, PLLC and Dr. Kimberly Demby, Licensed Psychologist
Two words: mental health. We’re such big advocates for mental health and have a passion for helping to slowly chip away at the stigma around openly talking about its importance. You’d go to the doctor for a broken foot, right? Well, the same importance and priority needs to be placed on the health of your mind.
And it’s with great doctors like Kimberly Demby who’s dedicated her career to helping people improve their mental health and well being, that we begin to shift the stigma. We’re so excited to feature her today for our Wellness Wednesday spotlight.
Kimberly Porter Demby, Ph.D. is a Licensed Psychologist at West Houston Psychology. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, received a Master of Arts in Clinical/Counseling Psychology from Southern Methodist University, and worked for two years at the Connections Center providing evaluation and therapy for children and adolescents on the Autism Spectrum.
Dr. Demby received her doctoral degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of North Texas and during her academic tenure, Dr. Demby completed three years of training in an elementary school setting where she provided individual and group therapy and psychoeducational evaluations. She also has extensive experience with late adolescence/college-aged populations through completion of training at three college counseling centers. Dr. Demby completed her postdoctoral training in a private practice specializing in neuropsychological evaluations, and has provided therapy and evaluation services for clients of all ages.
With over 10 years of clinical experience in a variety of settings, Dr. Demby has a broad skill set that allows her to be flexible in meeting the unique needs of each client she sees. Above all, she is passionate about her work and honored to be a part of each client’s journey.
This is one of our favorite interviews to date and we think you’ll see why! We need more Dr. Demby’s in this world!
Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in the Katy/Houston area?
I am originally from the Houston area, however I have lived in Katy with my family since 2014.
You are a mama, too! How many kiddos do you have and how old are they?
I have 8 year old identical twin girls who are in the second grade.
When did you decide you wanted to be a psychologist and what was the inspiration behind that?
One of the first courses I took in undergrad was Intro to Psychology and I was captivated. Understanding the inner workings and power of the mind and how it shapes our mood and behavior was so fascinating to me. This fascination, coupled with my genuine interest in people and desire for authentic connection made becoming a psychologist a perfect fit for me.
Where did you attend school?
I attended undergrad at Spelman College in Atlanta, GA where I earned my BA in Psychology. I then went to Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX where I earned my MA in Clinical/Counseling Psychology. I earned my Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of North Texas in Denton, TX.
What did you do before opening your own practice?
Before I opened my own practice I contracted with other established practices in the Houston area and also worked as a Staff Psychologist at a couple of University Counseling Centers.
What made you decide to open your own practice as opposed to joining an already established one?
I did start my career at an established practice and it was great. However, I think I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and it’s definitely in the genes as my father established and continues to run his own dental practice in the Houston area. I like the feeling of creating something from the ground up and the ability to mold it into what matches your dreams.
When did you open the door at West Houston Psychology?
I established my practice in the Fall of 2016.
How many clinicians do you have in your practice? What services do you offer?
I currently have 2 other doctors, 2 doctoral interns, and 1 psychology technician. We offer individual therapy for adolescents and adults, couples therapy, and comprehensive psychological evaluation services for ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Pre-adoption, and Pre-surgery (bariatric). We are passionate about serving marginalized and underserved groups, and we are strong allies to the LGBTQIA community, communities of color, and the Muslim community, to name a few of the underserved groups we affirm
Can you talk to us about the importance of mental health, specifically in women and in mothers?
From a very young age, women are socialized to be caregivers and to give all of ourselves to others, leaving nothing for ourselves. This becomes even more pronounced among us mothers as we give, and give, and give. Anyone with a car or cellphone knows they don’t run on empty; at some point you have to refuel/recharge. So it is with us mothers, the need to refuel ourselves. I cannot emphasize strongly enough the importance of setting healthy boundaries and unapologetically saying ‘no,’ in the interest of protecting your emotional energy and mental health. Having self-compassion, giving yourself grace, and acknowledging the good are also critical to maintaining mental health.
We see a stigma around talking about mental health. Why do you think this is and how can we move towards change?
I find that mental health is still quite misunderstood and mischaracterized in the media. On one end of the spectrum, there are those who equate mental health struggles with this idea of being “crazy,” or not of sound mind. On the other end of the spectrum, there are those who are dismissive of legitimate mental health symptoms and can’t understand why someone with depression is unable to “snap out of it,” or why someone with anxiety is unable to “just calm down.” The other difficulty lies in the fact that mental illness, as compared to physical illness, is largely invisible. It’s easier to comprehend someone staying in the bed with the flu and a fever as compared to with depression, despite the fact that the level of distress is comparable. The good news is that society is becoming increasingly open, understanding, and compassionate about mental health. This can be seen in everything from the number of celebrities using their platforms to discuss mental health, to pieces of legislation geared toward increasing access to mental healthcare and even supporting employees taking mental health days along with sick days. We’re definitely moving in the right direction.
If someone is struggling, but afraid to talk openly about how they’re feeling, what’s your advice?
First, I want to normalize and validate that fear. Talking openly and being vulnerable in this way requires an act of courage that is difficult for many to muster. But what if I told you that on the other side of that fear, is the beginning of you feeling better? Wouldn’t the risk be worth the reward? You don’t have to suffer in silence. There is so much help available to you. You’ve just got to take that first step.
We hear so often and have felt it ourselves – the pressure moms feel from either society or that we put on ourselves to be everything for everyone…. what’s your advice for the Millennial moms trying to balance it all?
I want us all to reject that pressure by setting boundaries and saying “NO.” Our emotional and mental energy are expensive commodities, we absolutely must prioritize what we choose to invest our energy in. And as we are choosing where to invest ourselves and where to say “Nah,” we do so unapologetically and without guilt. You have every right to be fiercely protective of your mental health and emotional energy.
Has having your own children changed the way you practice psychology or changed your perspective when working with children and parents?
Absolutely. Being a mother and experiencing the fierceness of that love and also the fear and confusion when your child is not well has magnified my compassion and empathy for the parents who bring their children to my office seeking answers. It drives my commitment to be thorough and reassuring as we work together to come up with solutions that will bring about some measure of relief.
Advice for anyone wanting to start their own practice?
Get a good mentor who knows their stuff because the devil’s in the details. We learn how to practice our craft, but not how to run a business, which is a whole different ballgame. A strong professional network and social support network have also been central to my journey. At the end of the day, loving the work drives the passion that fuels the business, but getting the business set up properly is critical.
What is your favorite thing about being a psychologist and being part a person’s change to better mental health?
I’m just always so honored to be a part of someone’s journey. I create authentic relationships with my clients. I believe in the power of the connection established through that relationship to heal and be transformative. There is so much to be gained by having someone rooting for you the way I root for my people. I get totally on their team and become their hype woman!
Future plans for your practice?
We’re moving to a bigger office space this summer, and I hope to add more clinicians. My overarching goal is to provide access to excellent mental health care to as many people as we can reach.
To learn more about Dr. Demby and West Houston Psychology:
Location: 535 E. Fernhurst Drive, Katy, TX 77450