Meet Monique Lalane

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There is still so much to learn and understand about mental health. Monique Lalane is helping to educate everyone on its importance. Being a social worker and studying for her PhD, it seems as though there is no downtime for Monique. Every day, she still finds time to engage with people in creative ways and feel accomplished with her life by pursuing her passion. Monique shares with us all the aspects of social work and how she started her career.
Artwork over the table, Gray Malin

Artwork over the table, Gray Malin

Jacket, Zara ;    Tank Dress, Forever 21    ; Friendship Bracelet Dior

Jacket, Zara ; Tank Dress, Forever 21 ; Friendship Bracelet Dior


I’m not a morning person because I love sleep, but I forced myself to become one because it's the only time to do school reading before work. I start with drinking hot water with lemon and as much water as I can before copious amounts of coffee and listening to the news.  

on her background and her path to social work

I'm of Haitian and Italian descent, and born and raised in NYC. As an undergraduate I majored in psychology. I always knew I wanted to pursue a career in mental health but I wasn’t sure of my path. Then I had an amazing professor my senior year who was a clinical social worker. I was drawn to his enthusiasm and satisfaction with social work, as well as the diversity of the settings and populations. My first field placement/internship in the MSW program was at an inpatient psychiatric unit at a public hospital. I never worked with patients with serious and persistent mental illness before, and I knew nothing about a hospital setting. It was the most challenging and difficult experience, but in the end, I loved it! I learned so much from the patients and staff, and it set me on my path for my career.

on her role as a clinical social worker

A social worker’s role can vary based on the agency setting, context, and client population. In general, a clinical social worker is a licensed mental health provider who can provide specialty social work functions, such as a biopsychosocial assessment, diagnosis of mental health disorders, and therapy. I have to see beyond the individual in front of me, and attempt to understand the individual’s ecosystem. 

Trench, Yang Li Men ; T-Shirt, Vintage ; Choker, Vintage YSL ; Pants, Sonia Rykiel
Sometimes I don’t know how I balance it all. I could be better at it, but what I do know is that I’m fortunate to have found my passion. All of the work that I do and my academic pursuits are what fuel me. Reminding myself to look at the big picture and value the connections among my work also helps.
— on looking for passion instead of balance

on being a teacher and pursuing a PhD

In my early years of direct practice, I fell into doing staff development trainings for an agency. This led to an opportunity to be an adjunct teacher at Fordham and NYU, where I have since been. I had exposure to research on behavioral science and social work education, and it led me to pursue a PhD. I've yet to decide on my dissertation, but I am interested in treatment engagement strategies, group interventions, and social work education. The academic side of things has strengthened my critical thinking. I also see this degree as part of my self-care to be able to maintain this work, as it can be a very emotionally draining profession.

on maintaining a positive outlook

Even in the face of hardships, loss, and extreme adversity, people can still be resilient and find hope. You may not always see progress in large momentous ways, but you are able to appreciate it in small ways. 

on her advice to anyone who wants to be a social worker

Be open to any opportunities that come your way.  Social work roles, settings, and client populations vary so widely that you may not know what type of work you want to do until you give it a try. If you find yourself working in a setting that doesn’t seem to be a good fit, find ways to learn from the experience. Any healthcare profession requires commitment to being a lifelong learner. The earlier you embrace that and be proactive about continued education, the better equipped you will be.  

If you’re thinking through career paths and setting options, I recommend finding people who work in settings you are interested in and ask them as many questions as possible. It's also important to have insight into your personality traits, strengths, and weaknesses.

Top, J Crew   ;  Pants, J Crew ; Necklace, J Crew

Top, J Crew ; Pants, J Crew ; Necklace, J Crew

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Pilates is a great workout, and it helps me de-stress. I’ve been trying to make it a priority for my self-care. I love shopping even if it just means walking around and window shopping. I love antique shopping and going to flea markets. I’m obsessed with finding vintage pieces to mix with my modern aesthetic. I also watch any reality show on Bravo! “Vanderpump Rules” is the best reality show on television, in my humble opinion.
— on her self care rituals
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on her style and bringing it to work

My style is a mixture of city boho chic. I love brands like Zara and ASOS. I am obsessed with DVF. While I can’t afford to wear her clothes every day, I look to how they are styled. I get inspiration from blogger, Sarah Deniz, and style guru, June Ambrose. Bloomingdales is my go-to. I try to make every day an occasion to "dress up" with pops of color, patterns, and vibrant accessories.

My outfits may not seem typical for working in a psychiatric setting, but it helps improve my mood. It can bring some levity to interpersonal interactions. A colleague and I were once trying to engage a very difficult patient who had Schizophrenia and negative symptoms. As we were trying to encourage him to think about coping strategies, we were struggling with suggestions. I said that I look at fashion magazines when I’m stressed, and although it felt ridiculous to say, he burst out laughing. My colleague and I were shocked at his response, and we were able to engage with him in a different way.  

on her beauty routine

I am very dedicated to my skincare regimen. I remove makeup with IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Makeup Melting Wipes, cleanse with Perricone MD Blue Plasma Cleansing Treatmentand moisturize with Josie Maran Pure Argan Oil. I use Tatcha's Luminous Dewy Skin Mist and Ageless Enriching Renewal Cream, as well as Perricone MD High-Potency Evening Repair and Philosophy's Clear Days Ahead Fast-Acting Salicylic Acid Acne Spot Treatment.

For makeup, I keep it as simple as possible. I like IT Cosmetics foundation and BB/CC creams. COVER FX Illuminating Primer and BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed Highlighter for highlighters. I am obsessed with Tom Ford's Cream & Powder Eye Color Duo. They last the entire day and night, adding nice color and shimmer. I also use Glossier's Boy Brow and MAC's Prep + Prime Fix+ Finishing Mist and Cremesheen Glass.

On her haircare routine

I have naturally curly hair and do Japanese Magic Straight. It’s been the best for my hair. It allow makes me use less heating tools.

Artwork over the bed,    Niki Pilkington

Artwork over the bed, Niki Pilkington

Diane Von Furstenberg, Andy Cohen, Ludo Lefebvre, and my two grandmothers (because I never got to meet them).
— on the people she would invite to dinner
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monique's favorite books

32 Yolks: From My Mother's Table to Working the Line by Eric Ripert, The Black Jacobins by C.L.R. James, Letters to a Young Scientist by Edward O. Wilson ; DVF: Journey of a Dress by Diane Von Furstenberg and Freud and Beyond: A History of Modern Psychoanalytic Thought by Stephen A. Mitchell

monique's favorite movies

Now Voyager by Irving Rapper, The Way We Were by Sydney Pollack and Clueless by Amy Heckerling

monique's favorite places in NYC

For shopping, 260 Fifth Sample Sales and The RealReal (I love purchasing from them and consigning items, they will even come to your apt to pickup and give you pricing.) The West Side Grand Bazaar flea market is also great.

For Japanese, Cherin Sushi, for UES brunch, The Penrose, and the best acai bowls, Loco Coco. Bar Bouloud is great for chic French restaurant vibes. City Winery is a great spot for dinner, drinks and live music.

Vamos! is a great for happy hour, Mexican food, and DJ, which all seem to be meant to be put together!

Gagosian Gallery for art and Lincoln Center for ballet.