Leslie Elliott is a coach and consultant in Washington State, and host of the YouTube channel and podcast, The Radical Center. She has been outspoken about the capture of the fields of psychology and education by Critical Social Justice ideology, and the importance of preserving the value of individualism.
What is liberalism to you?
Liberalism is valuing personal autonomy and the freedom to think and speak according to one’s own will and conscience. It upholds the individual’s right to be free from unnecessary societal and governmental control, and to determine the meaning and course of one’s own life without coercive or authoritarian pressure. It is respect for the autonomy of each person, and tolerance of a variety of viewpoints and value systems to the extent that they can exist in harmony alongside one another without infringing on the autonomy of others.
Who are you?
First and foremost, I am the mother of four children, two grown daughters and two still-growing sons. In my academic and professional life, I’ve taken a wandering path. I went through college as an older, non-traditional student and a single mother, working as a portrait photographer and a medical administrative assistant. I earned a bachelor’s in psychology in 2008 and started law school in 2009. During my second year of law school, I decided a legal career was not for me and that what I really wanted was to pursue a career in psychology and work as a counselor.
I spent the next several years raising children and working part-time in the field of natural medicine before returning to higher education, enrolling in a Clinical Mental Health Counseling Master’s program in 2019. There I had the opportunity to learn and improve counseling skills and therapeutic approaches—but I also encountered something deeply disturbing: the usurpation of traditional therapy values by Critical Social Justice ideology. Compared with my previous experiences in college, university, and law school, what was now being taught seemed sophomoric and illogical.
To my great dismay, future counselors were being instructed that a person’s race was their most significant characteristic; that we should always introduce ourselves by including the third person pronouns we expect others to use for us; that we should measure ourselves against our clients by listing our demographic categories and determining who is more privileged and who is more oppressed; that children can be “born trans”; and that the word “woman” was offensive.
What’s more, around this time the whole world became panic stricken over a virus and, in a burst of authoritarianism, public officials everywhere decided to rewrite our basic social scripts.
As a life-long liberal, I watched as the political left became a caricature of itself in its relentless promotion of identity politics and medical tyranny. I looked to the political right and found some people making more sense than I had previously given them credit for—but although my views have shifted away from the left, I don’t always align with conservatives, either. Instead, I find myself in the center—which is a “radical” place to be in these strange times.
What do you do?
In my work as a coach I draw upon my counselor training, my natural health background, and my own life experiences to help clients work through philosophical self-examination and existential questions about how to make sense of ourselves in the world. I take an entirely non-clinical and non-diagnostic approach, and see my role as that of a partner; not an expert, but more of a trusted friend who listens closely to understand the world from the client’s perspective so that together we can develop a shared vision of challenges and possibilities.
In addition to my private practice, along with three colleagues—Jodi Shaw, Jennifer Friend, and David Simpson—I co-founded Solid Ground, a support network for people facing authoritarian pressure at work, at school, and in their personal relationships. We provide an online discussion platform, facilitate group support sessions every week, and broadcast a weekly live stream in which we address relevant cultural issues.
My YouTube channel and podcast, The Radical Center, began as a call for attention to the crisis in counselor education and has developed into a series of interviews and co-exploration of the ideological fervor gripping our culture. I am continuing to record and post conversations on a weekly basis.
I also provide logistical and project management support for the Society for Evidence-Based Gender Medicine, SEGM—a group of clinicians and researchers concerned with the lack of evidence supporting surgical and hormonal interventions for young people with gender dysphoria, and dedicated to improving care for this population.
And I homeschool my two sons, ages 9 and 12, along with a community of brilliant, vibrant, and quirky mothers and children that keep me sane, grounded, and laughing.
Favorite book: Slaughterhouse 5, by Kurt Vonnegut
Favorite animal: Rhinos and Frogs
Favorite poem: It’s a tie between The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot, and The Second Coming, by W.B. Yeats
Favorite song: Sweet Baby James, by James Taylor
Favorite food: Tex-Mex all the way!
Favorite place to visit: The restaurant Soluna in SA, TX, with my friend Stacie