We are celebrating our anniversary this week - I started dabbling in mental health therapy four years ago, offering therapy sessions while I was on maternity leave with my third child. Yes, we’ve come a long, long way in a relatively short time!
I’m feeling really proud of where we are now - we’ve grown to 15 therapists, 2 counselling interns and 3 admin rockstars; and we’ve settled into our very own, newly renovated building on Westmorland Road.
From day one, it was important to me to balance the growth of my for-profit therapy business with not-for-profit therapy offerings for people who lack the financial means to access therapy. My structural social work roots led the way on this as it's always been my belief that we can reduce social inequities by removing barriers that limit people getting the help they need. We’ve been growing partnerships with people and businesses in the community who, like us, want to make sure mental health help is accessible to everyone who needs it and changing negative societal attitudes in the process.
This month, we opened our new Drop-in Center on the lower level - a space dedicated to our Free Friday and Low Cost Individual therapy programs as well as a First Responder Peer-to-Peer meeting place. And we expanded the hours of our Free Friday therapy program recently - we added an extra hour - because the demand was there and we want to be able to help more people.
It is a dream come true to watch barriers to therapy come down every day. Mental health is health. We know it. And we work hard every day to make a difference. The big message that we work to share every day…we want people to take a more preventative approach to their mental health. People are becoming more and more aware of the need to care for their mental health on a regular basis.
The whole culture around getting mental health help has changed exponentially since 2018 when I first hung out my shingle. When I had my first website made I was sure (and afraid) everyone was looking at it - but realized quickly that no one actually looks at your website unless you draw them to it. So I had to figure out how to bring people to my site. I turned to social media and soon felt like I was the only voice talking openly and honestly about mental health issues online.
Thankfully, it doesn’t feel like it’s just me now - more people have stepped up to help end the stigma and Covid has really put a spotlight on mental health issues and the need to talk about it! Instagram and Facebook are full of personal stories on mental health struggles - more people are talking openly about it. It’s fantastic.
Therapy is not just for “crazy” people or people in crisis. It’s for all people who need to talk, to not avoid the pain, to work through it. Everyone has something to work through. Want to be healthier and happier? Work through your emotions! Be proactive. (We can help!)
Our Growing Team...
This therapy practice grew one therapist at a time. I was used to working as a team as a social worker and was really lonely on my own when I first began to practice therapy. First Taylor joined me, then Ricky, our first bilingual therapist, then we moved to a bigger space a few doors down (there have been lots of ups and downs finding the right spaces) then came Nicole our first therapist to commit to full time (no easy task I learned), and the phone was still ringing off the wall with people looking for therapy.
Stephanie was the next therapist to join us - she’s been passionate about helping grow the clinic since day one. It seemed like Steph knew everyone and brought extensive experience in the mental health field to our clinic and she's now our operations manager and a big heart of the clinic. And before long, we grew to 15 therapists with a variety of different specialties plus 11 interns over the last 4 years.
In 2020, COVID hit and, like most businesses, we had to make many, many changes, including switching to virtual appointments.
In January 2021, when our uptown clinic suffered chronic water leaks I took the plunge and decided to purchase a permanent - and spacious - building for Laura Gatien and Associates on Westmorland Road.
Here, at the four year mark, I feel like the sky's the limit now. We've overcome so many challenges and I've learned so much about myself as an individual, therapist and leader. I’ve worked every square inch of this business, from sunrise to sunset, and I love the great team around me that will allow me to dream about the things that we want to do next and the energy to get them done!
What's coming up in the future? I see even more people getting the mental health care that they need, thanks to the continued and growing support from our community and a really supportive team of therapists who work hard every day to help people and reduce stigma. I plan to start doing some speaking and training on various mental health topics and continuing the advocacy work I am so passionate about.
How can you help? We look forward to welcoming more community partners onboard to help support our mission to bring therapy to everyone who needs it. Call me to talk about how you can partner with us to provide mental health therapy to those in need. (506) 651-1239
Check out how some of our partners are supporting mental health in our community. How you can help
Thank you to everyone who has been a part of supporting our mission and here’s to our 5th year!