Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Holly Essler, Founder of Empowering You Therapy, located in Tempe, AZ, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Empowering You Therapy is a mental health private practice located in Arizona. We serve clients ages 13 on up. We treat individuals struggling with anxiety, depression, trauma, grief, life transitions, life stressors, and all of the many challenges that teens and adults can face. We provide individual therapy services using the following therapy modalities: EMDR, CBT, DBT, Motivational Interviewing, and IFS.

Tell us about yourself

I believe in empowering others to live their life as the best version of themselves. I attended the University of North Dakota and graduated with my bachelor’s degree in Social Work in 2012. I began working as a medical case manager in a local hospital. I was given the opportunity to work with a wide range of clients and other disciplines. I transitioned from the hospital to work as a treatment foster care case manager for a foster care agency. Working in foster care was not an easy job, and I learned a lot about myself throughout the journey.

I found myself wanting to help people struggling on a deeper level. I worked with therapists closely and enjoyed seeing the work they did. I knew that being a therapist was my calling. Pursuing my calling, I went on to graduate school at the University of North Dakota and graduated with my master’s degree in Social Work in 2015. I took a job back in my hometown of Dickinson, ND working as an outpatient therapist in community mental health. I found myself working with a very diverse range of clients.

I was providing therapy to adults, adolescents, couples, families, and substance abuse populations. I provided crisis counseling services in rural North Dakota, where resources were scarce. Crisis counseling was incredibly challenging. I didn’t see myself doing that for my whole career. I am grateful for the amount of personal growth I found within myself to be strong, think outside of the box, and manage to help clients through a crisis while keeping the most important goal in mind—their safety.

My husband and I moved to Phoenix over four years ago. He took a job opportunity, and we were both excited about what the future held for us. I knew I wanted this next step in my life to include pursuing my passion for empowering others through therapy and helping those who struggle to find a voice within themselves. I formed Empowering You Therapy in November 2018 and opened my location in Tempe in February of 2019. It has been an amazing journey so far! What motivates me is truly helping others. I believe in an Empowering Approach.

Even though one may not realize it, we all have many skills and strengths within us. I build upon those skills and strengths and use those attributes to help reach my client’s goals. The word empowerment means “gaining back a sense of control.” I essentially work on giving clients back a sense of control in their lives over their struggles and setbacks

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment has been expanding my practice by adding three other therapists to my practice to help empower many more individuals. The amount of clients that we have been able to help has been truly amazing.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

For starters, it was a huge adjustment moving from my home state of North Dakota to Arizona. When forming my business, I had to navigate the new territory of building a business from scratch. In my social work graduate program, they didn’t offer any classes on business, marketing, or much related to starting a private practice. I had to figure out how to market my business, grow my practice, network and make connections within the community.

The most growth happened in those first few months of business, not just within my practice but within myself. I learned the “roller coaster” with the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur. I did something I encourage my clients to do all the time—be vulnerable and take risks. It has been such a rewarding experience so far, and I continue to learn more each day as new opportunities present themselves.

I look forward to continuing to make a positive impact on the community and helping spread the message of what it means to be ‘empowered.’

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Network! It can be intimidating to network with individuals you have not met before, but it's an essential part of building your business. You can reach so many people through word of mouth. You would be surprised who you meet along the way or who can benefit from your business.
  2. Take advantage of training and learning opportunities. There are so many free or low-cost business and personal development resources out there (both in person and online). Don't be afraid to ask questions!
  3. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Running a business is a full-time job. Burnout is real among so many practice owners. Know when you need to take a break. Set boundaries with your time, or you will be working 24/7!

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

I can only encourage those reading to continue to spread awareness of mental health. The mental health stigma is real and prevents many people from seeking help. Remember, it's okay not to be okay. Ask for help from a friend or loved one if you need it.

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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