My Story

Tonie Phillips, M.S., M.A., Ed.M., LMHC

When I was a little girl I had a few ideas on who I wanted to be when I grew up. At 10 I wanted my own kid’s television show, then by 13 I insisted on becoming a music video director. Strangely, neither of those careers took into account my two favorite pastimes, writing and offering a supportive listening ear. I was about halfway through high school when I figured out acting is much harder than it looks and that psychotherapy was the road for me. 


Fast forward to undergrad, where I was dedicated to the road ahead until a recession made me shift my priorities away from my dream and toward financial security. Instead of moving into graduate school for psychology as planned, I decided to go to business school for a Masters in marketing. Suffice to say, I use this story as an example in my sessions quite frequently: decisions are only mistakes if we refuse to learn from them. 

Graduate school 1.0, as I often refer to it, was challenging! The University of Rochester’s Simon School of Business, at least at the time, was very light on soft marketing skills. Instead, I learned business planning and entrepreneurial skills that would come in handy down the line, but made me come on a little strong in my marketing years.

For the next five years I worked my way up the ladder in different marketing departments. Still, I remained unsettled and unsatisfied in my career. I often daydreamed about how life may have been different if I would have followed my passions, but I was put off by the idea of returning to school for years. The people around me even began to notice how I consistently switched into therapist mode when solving conflicts in the office. It became more than obvious that while my body was in marketing, my heart was in the helping profession.


Cut to graduate school 2.0! Columbia University’s Ed.M/M.A. program in Mental Health Counseling was the gateway to my passion. It brought me to where I am today, as a clinician who uses my education and experience to assess the needs and goals of each client, so I can tailor an approach that is effective and comfortable for each individual. 

You may ask, what about writing?! Any past or present client of mine will tell you that our work together is driven by the analysis and rescripting of various narratives in their lives. At the end of the day, I believe in the power of your story - giving it meaning so it can facilitate your healing. I specialize in identity development and creating a deep connection to the authentic self. I am a fangirl of growth, transformation, and personal achievements where the only competition is your former self. ​

I would love to work alongside you as you discover your truth.