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Inspiring Conversations with Larneka Lavalais

Today we’d like to introduce you to Larneka Lavalais.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I started in the Criminal Justice field. When I was in high school, we would watch Eyes on the Prize during Black History month, and I wanted to be Thurgood Marshall. I wanted to fight against racial injustice and give back to my community. I wanted to become an attorney. However, when I got to college, I had difficulty in the beginning and doubted my ability to make it to law school.

I didn’t realize that I was more of an audio learner and had to work hard at developing good study habits. I was uncertain about what the future held for me, so I gave up the law school dream and decided to double major in Criminal Justice and Sociology. I learned a lot about life, criminal justice, and how black and brown people were treated unfairly. Sociology gave me theories of why some people were able to be successful in life and why others had a difficult time with it.

After graduating I was still uncertain of what I wanted to do. I received a B.A. in Criminal Justice and Sociology. I went back to school to obtain a Master of Science degree in Applied Criminology. I thought maybe I could work for the federal prison. It was difficult to find a job at first. I was a substitute teacher, a temp at the probation office, and part-time at an indigent clinic. Those experiences were powerful. I believe my advocacy was birthed there. I eventually got a job with TDCJ as an Institutional Parole Officer.

I saw so many young Black and Brown men incarcerated with 30 years to life sentences. They were being denied parole left and right. My job was to interview them for parole eligibility, I would write a report that went to the Parole Board and the board would determine if parole was granted. Parole Board members were appointed by the governor, and at that time, they did not look like me or the black and brown men who were incarcerated.

During the parole interviews, I had an opportunity to learn about the inmate’s juvenile history, family history, etc. I discovered many had family issues, trauma, abuse, and untreated mental health issues. It was sad. Yes, they made some very bad decisions and did bad things, but they had no one to help them. Many dropped out of high school and took to the streets. As a parole officer, I guess the inmates felt I had the power to set them free. Many came to me in desperation but there was nothing I could do.

They were already incarcerated and their sentences were given. I then felt that maybe I could intervene in some way to help someone under similar circumstances, make better choices, and help them in some way so that they would not end up in prison. At that time I had begun working with the youth in my church and mentoring delinquent youth in TYC. I thought, maybe I could become a school counselor and be that hope that so many needed.

So, I went back to school and changed my career path. I became a certified teacher in Social Studies 6-8, a certified school counselor K-12 and a Licensed Professional Counselor. I obtained a Master’s in Education in Counseling and Development. I have been in education for 14 years now and working in mental health for 10 years.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
The road was not easy, but looking back at it, worth the time it took. As an educator, I got to see firsthand the children’s troubled home environments and how school was a safe haven for many of them. I became their parent, their advocate. School politics is what I had the most difficulty with. It got so bad, I wanted to run away and never look back.

I ran away for two years but ended up returning. As a therapist of color, I found myself in many spaces because of the color of my skin. Many needed diversity, and I was their token. That was difficult. However, in the end. It worked in my favor.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Larneka Lavalais, LPC PLLC?
I am a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor. My mission is “Advocating for change through education, conversation, and empowerment”. My overall goal is to empower people. I speak and facilitate at different events educating people about mental health. I feel that knowledge is power. I engage with many individuals and allow them to feel heard. Sometimes, that’s all a person needs to feel empowered for change.

I advocate for underserved communities of color and the LGBTQ+ community. I am everywhere between Port Arthur, Houston, and beyond advocating for mental health. I facilitate support groups. Before COVID, I had monthly support groups for Queer, Trans, People of Color Southeast Texas (QTPoc SETX) and My Story to Tell for survivors of sexual trauma. Currently, I am collaborating with The T.R.U.T.H Project, Inc. in facilitating their monthly support group “R.I.S.E”, which is a safe space for LGBTQ+ people of color.

Through my practice, I am facilitating an online Grief Group. My brand is known for advocacy and community outreach. I have collaborated with At&t Pioneers, Texas State Teacher Association, Lesbians for Causes, Pride Houston 365, 4 The Invisible 1’s, Inc, and countless others. I have been on the board of directors for PFLAG Beaumont and currently serve on the Board of Directors for TAN (Triangle Area Network) Healthcare.

I am an LPC-Supervisor. That means I supervise graduate interns and LPC-Associates. I am currently supervising 3 college graduate interns and 8 LPC-Associates. I am training and guiding future therapists. We offer free and low-cost mental health services. That is a blessing. I want people to know that mental health services can be easily accessible. If you call me, I will come, or I will send someone from my team. I have two community service projects that I am proud of.

I offer scholarships to LGBTQ+ POC high school graduates and Thanksgiving Basket Giveaway to those in need. Along with my advocacy work, I provide the following services: Counseling Supervision, Individual/Group/Family and Couple Counseling, Telehealth, public speaking, training facilitator, support groups, and wellness retreats.

What was your favorite childhood memory?
I can’t think of just one. But I guess being around family, especially my maternal grandmother. I remember being happy and laughing. My grandmother was indigent, but you would not know it when you would see her smile and hear her laughter. Without a doubt, everything I am doing, I do in her honor and memory. Other good memories come from the days I sang in the school choir. I was always winning awards and had an opportunity to visit new places.


  • Therapy sessions: $90 – $120

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KLA Photography

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