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Hidden Gems: Meet DR. Gregory Canillas of Soul 2 Soul

Today we’d like to introduce you to DR. Gregory Canillas.

Dr. Canillas, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I currently serve as President & CEO of Soul 2 Soul Global, a company that provides LGBTQ+ couples and parenting retreats and relationship coaching. We also provide premarital SYMBIS Assessment counseling (www.symbis.com) to all couples. As an undergraduate student at the University of California-Santa Cruz, I majored in both Psychology and American History. Through my studies, my interest in examining the connection between American history, social justice movements, and psychology developed. Immediately after graduating from UCSC, I pursued a doctorate in Clinical Psychology in Multicultural-Community Clinical Psychology at the California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP) @ Alliant University, where I completed community mental health internships and worked with diverse populations: children, adolescents, couples, families, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ clients. Following graduation from CSPP, I worked as a Children’s Social Worker with the Department of Children and Family Services, and later as a Clinical Psychologist with the Department of Mental Health. Over the course of my career, I have held a number of teaching, clinical, and administrative positions. In addition to my work with Soul 2 Soul Global, I serve as an Associate Professor at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, in the Clinical-Forensic Psychology program.

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?
I identify as a Black/Filipino gay male. Coming out in communities of color is never easy; family and community are not always accepting or welcoming. As such, I did not come out until my early 30’s, largely due to my family’s religious and cultural beliefs. When I came out, I found people were generally accepting and supportive. Even still, there are issues within my family and community regarding public displays of affection. As I have become “more comfortable in my own skin”, I care less about what other people think, which, honestly, allows me to help others with similar backgrounds move towards creating a more integrated LGBTQ+ identity. This is one of the issues that we address in Soul 2 Soul’s Love Wins! Weekend Retreat for LGBTQ+ Couples. 

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
After working in a variety of capacities for several decades (clinical, teaching, administrative), it became clear that my passion focused on human connection. Specifically, assisting people in developing healthier and fulfilling personal relationships. In the past seven years, I have presented more than 150 workshops across four continents on my work with LGBTQ+ and BIPOC individuals, couples, and families. A few years ago, I founded Soul 2 Soul to help people to create healthier romantic and parental relationships. While we work with diverse couples at all stages of their marriage, we specialize in providing services to populations that have historically found mental health-related services stigmatizing or unwelcoming, such as BIPOC and LGBTQ+ clients. Marriage Equality was passed only five years ago. Very few companies provide premarital counseling for LGBTQ+ couples or LGBTQ+ parents. There are unique stressors and challenges that these couples/parents face as members of marginalized groups, such as whether to display affection when in public or whether to come out at work. Soul 2 Soul is unique in that I have lived experience as a Black & Filipino gay man and that informed how I created the” Love Wins! Weekend Retreat for LGBTQ+ Couples”. The Retreats include fourteen hours of instruction on topics that can be pain points for most couples (e.g., communication, sex, finances), as well as unique issues to queer populations (e.g., the minority stress models).

The workshops are held in world-class cities (e.g,, Scottsdale, Palm Springs, San Francisco, DC, Martha’s Vineyard, Long Beach, Cancun, ) at premier hotels and resorts. During the weekend, we do a “deep-dive” into these potential points in a fun and engaging way. Each couple receives a specially curated “Goodie Box” that will make them want to hang up a “Do Not Disturb” sign at some point during the weekend. We also work to create strategies for each couple to use when they encounter the inevitable problems that will arise once married. At the end of the day, couples have free time to explore the city and further connect through activities of their choosing.  

After COVID, we also created an online version of the Love Wins! Weekend Retreat for LGBTQ+ Couples. It is four hours and is designed for couples that may be short on time and/or have a more limited budget. Couples receive also receive a “Goodie Box” that was specially curated for the online event. Soul 2 Soul also provides the SYMBIS Assessment, a relationship tool that couples take online and is unpacked in individual or group sessions. It helps couples to determine where their values align, and which areas might be problematic. One of the benefits that I have noticed it greatly opens the lines of communication between the couple, as it helps them to examine issues that are not often explored during the dating process.

What do you like and dislike about the city?
I love the “small town” feel of Scottsdale and its growing diversity. People are also generally friendly and welcoming. I am also a “foodie” and love exploring the city’s restaurants, from family-owned spots to fine dining options. A few of my favorites are Arrivederci Ristorante, The Canal Club, Toca Madera, and Weft & Warp Art Bar + Kitchen. 

Pricing:

COUPLES & FAMILY CONSULTATION

Consultation (30 minutes) =$100

Couples or Family Intake (80 minutes) =$300

Couples or Family Coaching Session $200 

SYMBIS (SAVING YOUR MARRIAGE BEFORE IT STARTS) ASSESSMENT

SYMBIS Assessment $35 (fee paid directly to symbis.com)

SYMBIS Individual Session = $200

SYMBIS Assessment + 3 Sessions = $635

SYMBIS Assessment + 4 Sessions = $835

SYMBIS Assessment + 5 Sessions = $1035

ONLINE WORKSHOPS

Love Wins! Online LGBT Couples Mini Weekend Retreat (4-hour workshop + Goodie Box) = $950 w/ Bonus-30 Minute Follow-Up Session

SYMBIS Assessment Online: Group Format (2-hour workshop + SYMBIS Assessment) = $375

ONGROUND WORKSHOPS

Love Wins! LGBTQ+ Weekend Couples Retreats (14-hour Retreat, Meals + Goodie Box) = $3950-$5500

Contact Info:


Image Credits:

Image 1: @hallosmith
Image 2: @adambouska @noh8campaign
Image 3: @hallosmith
Image 4: @davidelaffe
Image 5: @thecreativestudiohouse (logo)

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