Gracie Letter – 20 Under 40

Dallas CBT

27 | Education: SMU

Gracie Letter’s career in counseling has come full circle.

She started directly out of undergrad at Dallas CBT, a group psychotherapy practice, where she worked as an exposure coach and research assistant.

She then went on to train at Children’s Medical Center in several clinical settings, where she worked with adolescent patients suffering from acute symptoms, including those struggling with suicidality and self-harm, behavior and emotional dysregulation, and trauma.

Now, she’s back at Dallas CBT, where she returned after graduating with her master’s. As a licensed professional counselor-associate and full-time clinician, she works with adolescents, teens, and young adults by using evidence-based treatments to provide care to patients facing OCD, depression, and anxiety.

“I work alongside a team of specialized clinicians who strive every day to provide quality, collaborative, and interactive care to members of our community,” Letter said. “I am very grateful to continue to grow alongside this practice.”

An SMU lacrosse alumna, Letter spends her free time coaching Highland Park fifth- and sixth-grade girls lacrosse. She recently joined the Moody Family YMCA and hopes to continue finding ways to contribute there.

Her volunteer experience includes working with Back on My Feet, an organization that partners with the Salvation Army to help homeless people commit to weekly runs or walks and provides them with opportunities to further their education or find careers.

She has a favorite quote from Theodore Roosevelt: “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

“You are on your own journey,” Letter said. “Make decisions with your head and heart because you want to, not because you feel like you should. The beauty of growth is learning what you value in your own life and how to embrace those values in all aspects.”

How do you motivate yourself and others?

Fill your life with the right people, and you will feel motivated each and every day. My family and friends are my strongest motivators. They push me out of my comfort zone, are honest with me, and see me for my fullest potential. I hope I provide the same motivation to those around me.

What’s on your bucket list?

I have always wanted to experience the Northern Lights. In fact, I have a tracker I keep on my phone every year that indicates the best time and place to see them.

What advice do you have for other young professionals?

You are doing enough. Take time to adjust, be present, and be OK with not knowing all (or any) of the answers at times. Do not expect yourself to be as knowledgeable as those around you who are more seasoned. Instead, take every opportunity to learn, observe, and humbly make mistakes.

What (or who) motivated you to get involved in the community?

I moved several times throughout my childhood prior to coming to college in Dallas at SMU. When I moved here, I immediately knew I wanted to call Dallas home and that it was important to me to invest in the people around me. I have now lived in Dallas for almost 10 years and hope to continue to pour energy into this community in the future.

What was your first job and what did you learn from it?

My first job was as a sports camp counselor at a multisensory activity center for children with various special needs. I continued to work at this center in different positions throughout high school. This experience taught me one of the biggest life lessons I have learned that I continue to carry into my professional life with me everyday. I learned that we all have our own unique learning styles and ways of processing or interpreting the world. Our ability to consume information and take perspective in different ways is what makes us special and it should be emphasized in every individual; never criticized or judged. A quote from my favorite show, Ted Lasso, that I feel encompasses this message is “be curious, not judgmental.” I strive to live that way everyday and hope to encourage others to do the same.

Where do you see yourself and/or your career 10 years from now?

I love what I do and the families I serve. I see myself continuing to think outside the box for ways to increase awareness and acceptance of mental health and decrease the stigma around mental health and wellness in and around our community.

What is your favorite local restaurant or shop?

Although it’s almost impossible for me to narrow down a favorite Dallas spot, I will say I am a frequent flyer at Village Baking Co. There is nothing better than a warm quiche and coffee after a long walk with friends and dogs.

Who’s your biggest inspiration and why?

I am lucky to have a support system that inspires me daily in many ways. However, my dad, John, has taught me how to combine work with passion and purpose. My dad has always been an honest and hard worker and has prioritized taking care of the people around him. When I was in high school, he decided to further his passion of providing innovative solutions to address the mental health crisis and began his work in the behavioral health world. Now, we get to work together in many ways to work towards more effective treatment, assessment, and resources for mental health and well-being.

What was your “lightbulb moment” that led you to your career?

I grew up knowing I wanted to study Psychology, but my lightbulb moment that solidified my career was during my time in the inpatient unit at Children’s hospital in Dallas. During the pandemic, we saw an alarming increase in need for immediate mental health intervention combined with a lack of access to care due to overwhelmed hospital systems from COVID-19. Children’s continued to serve and make a difference in many adolescents lives and I was so grateful to be a part of a team providing that care in whatever way we could. However, it was heartbreaking to see so many adolescents continue to suffer, whether it be from the isolation of the pandemic, increased social media use and bullying, or family sickness and trauma. I knew that I needed to be a part of the wave to increase access to good, quality care for our current and future generations.

What’s a fun fact that someone wouldn’t know about you?

I am obsessed with anything comedy related. I can quote almost any Kevin Hart movie in full. In fact, my friends have banned watching certain comedy movies with me because I can’t resist quoting the lines!

What would you tell an 18-year-old you?

“Comparison is the thief of joy”- Theodore Roosevelt. Remember, you are on your own journey. Make decisions with your head and heart because you want to, not because you feel like you should. The beauty in growth is learning what you value in your own life and how to embrace those values in all aspects.

If someone made a movie about your life, what would it be called and who would play

Oh, Good Grace, starring Hayden Panettiere (a bubbly, smiling personality on a journey to live

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