I am a Licensed Professional Counselor who is passionate about the mental health field. I love splitting my time between seeing clients, being a supervisor, and helping other therapists build a business of their own. I think community and relationships are so critical to mental health so I’m passionate about creating more opportunity for connection among mental health professionals and clients.
That’s where I am today, but I didn’t start my journey here.
I received a degree in Computer Science from UT Austin in 1992 (Hook ‘Em Horns) and spent my early years in the high-tech world. I dragged myself to work every day to work my tail off but never felt joy or happiness at work. I lived for the weekends and holidays. I felt there had to be more to life. So, at the age of 38, I decided to leave a lucrative but un-fulfilling profession to pursue one with more connection and meaning.
Having been out of school for over 15 years, the first thing I had to do was conquer my fear of going back to school. I went through the admissions process and got accepted to the Masters in Counseling program at St. Edward’s University here in Austin. I didn’t have the courage or the finances to just quit my high-tech job and go to school, which led me to spend the first year of my graduate work working at IBM during the day and secretly spending evenings and weekends at school. I found the fear of going from an established career to starting over in a completely new field to be overwhelming, but I faced my own identity issues and pushed through (with the help of a fantastic therapist). I knew that if I was going into the mental health field, I had to make my own mental health a priority. By the end of that first year in school I had confidence that I had absolutely found the life pursuit I’d dreamed about and I was aching to make the leap to full-time student. I graduated from St. Edward’s in 2009 with Masters in Counseling!
Over the course of my Masters program and subsequent 3000 hours of supervised counseling during my internship, I came to the conclusion that I REALLY wanted to own my own business. I also came to realize that there really is no well-defined roadmap for therapists who want to start their own private practice. That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of successful therapists in private practice, but it sure doesn’t feel like we are leaving a well-marked path to make it easier for those behind us.
My path to owning my own business was a bit of a risk (but it has all worked out). Shortly after becoming fully-licensed I partnered up with a few students from St. Edward’s to create Austin Counseling Center (http://www.austincounselingcenter.com/). We took what was a huge financial leap considering none of us where pulling in enough money from our budding private practice careers. Life changes happened and now Austin Counseling Center is owned by just two of us. We made it work and have expanded our space to add more offices over the years, always offering below-market office rent to therapists needing a single office. By taking that financial risk up front, I’ve effectively allowed a growing group of therapists launch their own profitable private practices in a city whose commercial real estate rates are outpacing what individual private practice therapists can afford to pay.
I’ve been consistently focused on trying to make the path easier for those who are coming behind me in this much-needed profession. In that vein, I began as a volunteer pre-grad practicum supervisor at Capital Area Counseling (http://www.cacaustin.org/). Capital Area Counseling is a non-profit that provides low-cost, no-session-limit psychotherapy for adults, children, couples and families. I sat on the board, as treasurer, of this worthy non-profit for the last two years. It’s a great place for pre-grad students and post-grad Interns to get their practicum and supervised counseling hours, while providing an invaluable service to the community.
Ultimately, I realized that if I really wanted to help new graduates succeed in private practice, I should become a board licensed LPC Supervisor. I’ve been an LPC Supervisor for over 5 years now and I get so much joy out of nurturing new therapists and helping them find their bearings and their population. As simple as it sounds, one of the challenges facing Interns who are trying to do supervised-private practice is finding offices to see clients in. We added dedicated well-appointed intern rooms at Austin Counseling Center to take that burden off of interns who see clients in our space.
For several semesters I also taught the Private Practice class at St. Edward’s to help graduate students prepare for the road ahead. I really enjoyed teaching this class and want to continue teaching private practice principles to any therapist interested in owning their own business.
Twelve years after making the switch from high-tech to counseling, I couldn’t be happier. Every day I commit to using my time to help clients live better lives, to supervising new therapists as they grow their own private practices, to providing a supportive and comfortable environment for the therapists running their own businesses out of Austin Counseling Center, and to help Capital Area Counseling fulfill its much needed mission.
After years of hard work I decided I was due for some self-care so my husband and I went to Costa Rica February-May 2019 to learn Spanish. It was a fantastic and eye-opening experience in all dimensions. One of the requirements for us to be able to go on that adventure was that I needed to find a way to interact with my clients while we were gone. While I still prefer sitting in the same room with my clients I definitely got to the point where the video aspect of the sessions felt “normal”. I came home convinced that the technology is now there for online counseling to be a viable channel for the client-therapist relationship.
After the successful experiment of moving my practice online, I think I’ve figured out how to merge my love of the mental health field with my drive to help therapists succeed in building their small businesses…
Why Two-Dogs-and-a-Therapist? When we got back from Costa Rica we got two Golden Retreiver puppies, named Bulleit and Woody. Bulleit and Woody will become card carrying Therapy Dogs as soon as they are old enough. They sit at my feet and bring me joy when I am working on these ideas so they are a part of this business. They will be with me (hopefully) as I write down all of the knowledge I have collected over the years.
Besides work, nothing brings me more joy than having travel adventures with my husband and cuddling with our dogs at home. I want everyone to have the freedom to practice and receive counseling wherever their lives take them!
I welcome any and all feedback along the way. Let me know if you have ideas on what would be helpful to connect clients and therapists or for building your private practice. I’m willing to evolve and grow based on the needs of the mental health community. We’re in this together.
This is Bulleit. Don't let those sad eyes fool you. He uses them to get more treats out of me.
This is Woody and he's happy all the time!