Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Alyssa Herzig, Founder of Emotional and Relational Coaching, Dr. Alyssa Herzig, located in Montreal, QC, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Hi! My name is Alyssa Herzig, and I’m a professional coach with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. My mission and passion are to develop and share leading-edge knowledge and skills for guiding my clients to gently clear old pain, trauma, and patterns and to accelerate them into peace, wellness, and thriving. I do this through one-on-one sessions with adults (mostly based in Montreal but also across Canada and internationally). I provide a safe space and support LGBTQA+, ethical nonmonogamy, sex positivity, and spiritual, religious, as well as secular frameworks.
Because of my training, I have substantial experience working with clients with a range of mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, trauma, adjustment disorders, and bipolar disorder. While working in hospital settings, I developed a specialization in helping adults process and gently clear trauma, particularly the kind of trauma resulting from chronically unmet emotional needs in childhood. Working as a coach means that I do not diagnose or treat mental health disorders. Instead, work with humans to learn to navigate their emotions and relationships in more supportive ways.
Over the past three years as a coach, I have developed a particular interest and focus in guiding people in letting go of shame and self-criticism and in cultivating self-worth, self-love, and self-acceptance. I enjoy creating a safe and welcoming space for clients to explore their true selves. I deeply appreciate my work in guiding clients to identify and care for their most vulnerable or challenging parts, as well as their deep wounds, desires, needs, and challenging emotions. Through this integration process, they come to feel more empowered, grounded, and peaceful.
I also work with clients to address challenges and goals in intimate relationships. This involves helping clients who are experiencing insecure attachments to better identify, honour, communicate, and meet their emotional needs and boundaries. This also involves working with clients to navigate ethical non-monogamy as well as to explore sexuality in ways that feel safe and empowering.
Tell us about yourself
Well, helping people with emotions has felt like a calling, and I chose to do so through the path of a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. My path of launching my own successful business as an emotional coach was actually a byproduct of navigating the barriers I faced! After completing my training, residencies, and earning my Ph.D. in Quebec, I experienced difficulty passing the French exam required to be licensed as a clinical psychologist in Quebec. This felt extremely frustrating because, at the time, I had many English-speaking clients who wanted to continue working with me as their psychologist but weren’t able to because of Quebec language laws. I discovered at this time that I could modify what I was offering to work as a coach for navigating emotions and relationships (which is mostly what I do anyway), and this change didn’t require me to pass any French tests. Actually, I resonated with no longer having to work within the psychiatry medical model. At that time, I was also working for a private psychology practice in Montreal, which I loved.
However, when I began offering services as a coach, the private practice was no longer matching me with enough prospective clients, despite the incredibly long wait list for services. It became clear that their clients weren’t a good match for me anymore with my new professional identity. This is when I took the plunge and launched my private practice. Offering my services online meant that I had very little overhead expenses, so it was easy to get started. My greatest barrier here was the strong aversion I felt to self-promoting. The thought of self-promoting and making bold claims that didn’t feel authentic to me felt very icky. With some friendly support, I created a very simple profile (which I felt good enough about) and turned it into a website, a profile on Psychology Today, and a few posts on Facebook. I slowly expanded my website over the next months, emphasizing client testimonials. I discovered that this was enough. Month after month, my active client list doubled in size.
By spring 2022, I had left my part-time work at the private practices that were feeding me clients because I was more than full with my own private clients. My clients came to me because they were attracted to my very simple but genuine profile and because their friends were recommending me. I still feel an aversion to self-promotion and may never get into the world of IG. However, I realize that I don’t have to. I believe that when we have something to offer, we attract those who resonate with it and need it. We attract each other. It’s energetic.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My greatest accomplishment as a business owner is taking the plunge and continually believing in and walking toward what I believe in and want to create. It takes both willingness/discipline to keep walking despite obstacles and apparent setbacks, and it also takes listening and moving with the flow of life rather than trying to force things that aren’t flowing. That is yang and yin. I’m continually exploring how I can balance yin and yang as I navigate my business and all of life.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I haven’t yet come across the hard part. I have found it much easier than getting my Ph.D. because I can listen to and be true to myself rather than meeting standards created by others. The hardest thing for me has always been trying to force myself to do what doesn’t feel aligned for me. I did this because I had thought it was the only way. At the moment, I’m exploring what my optimal work-life balance is. How many hours can I work without negatively impacting my emotional wellbeing, relationships, quality of life, and effectiveness at my work? This again takes a balance of listening to my body as well as my mind. But to be honest, I love the process of continually learning and optimizing, particularly when I get to tune into the wisdom of my body.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
You don’t have to have it all figured out before you start. You can start small and unassuming and grow with your business. The important thing is to just start and to be in movement. You can always fine-tune and adapt as you learn. I also think it’s important to be authentic with your needs and wants. For example, if you don’t want to fake a persona, you don’t have to. It can be an insightful identity exploration that can connect you closer with your values.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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