Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in mental wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Dayna Wood, Founder of Integrative Counsel, located in St Petersburg, FL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
At Integrative Counsel, we offer an eclectic style of counseling that integrates the mind, body, and spirit. Our "special sauce" is a unique blend of creativity, evidence-based modalities, and a synthesis of eastern/western philosophy. We value making mental wellness accessible regardless of where someone is in their journey towards Self (with a capital S, a term coined by Jung signifying the unification of the psyche as a whole). We, therefore, know the importance of multiple-entry points for care – from relatable and relevant articles, free resources, affordable workbooks, and workshops to in-depth courses, retreats, quality one-to-one counseling, hybrid coaching, and business consulting.
Tell us about yourself
My background is in psychotherapy, the creative arts, and brain science. As a licensed counselor in New York and Florida, I've worked in several different industries and with individuals in private practice. I apply brain science-based methods to help busy professionals and corporations improve creativity and innovation and achieve their full potential. I earned a Master of Education and an Education Specialist degree in Counselor Education from the University of Florida. Additionally, I received a Certificate in Creative Arts Therapies from The New School in New York City and am a Registered Expressive Arts Therapist (REAT). I relish combining out-of-the-box thinking with solid scientific research so my clients get the best of both worlds. I am an enduring student of the arts and enjoy dancing flamenco, practicing martial arts, and playing with my Leica and Diana cameras.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Our sights are set on making mental wellness accessible and as commonplace and necessary as flossing – through a variety of creative means! We understand that mental health is more than just its symptoms. At Integrative Counsel, we focus on the meaning and growth gained from our journey toward wellness.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Learning the business side of therapy was an enormous learning curve (none of which was taught in graduate school!) And all of these were put to the ultimate test when I transitioned from a solo practice to a group practice (three weeks before the pandemic hit). There were many times I wondered if I had made the right decision and if I could endure. There are hundreds of thousands of details for which you can never be fully prepared when taking on the responsibility of bringing additional people onto your team. I am thoughtful and wanted to "do it right," but I quickly learned I had to make many initial mistakes in order to learn to do them differently. As they say in Silicon Valley, fail fast, fail often.
We, the team at Integrative Counsel, pride ourselves on the fact that one of our primary company values is creativity. However, at the core, this means multiple iterations - prototyping, testing, analyzing, and refining novel ways to best meet our clients and customers where they are in their wellness journey. And as a leader, this means I'm continually humbled in this creative cycle.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- It's rarely a straight road. I pride myself on efficiency. Therefore, this lesson has been one that I've had to learn over and over again. Though extremely challenging at the moment to feel like I'm taking two steps forward and one step back, I've realized I've been able to gain tremendous perspective as a result of "having to learn the hard way."
- It's okay to think about money, even when you want to "do good." It is incredibly unfortunate that they don't teach business skills while in graduate school to become a counselor. You will hear it repeated over and over again by those who are learning to become psychotherapists, "I'm not doing it for the money… It's not about the money for me." I said it to all my relatives when they asked me, "What are you going to school to become?" We, therapists, have a phrase called "yes, and" (instead of the black and white thinking, "either, or"). Yes, it isn't ALL about the money. And, it - at least - has to be partially about the money. It took me years of living very meagerly to learn it is OKAY to think about your personal stability and future also!
- Become comfortable with "multiple iterations." Therapists teach others how to change, but change is very rarely easy, even for us. Humans like things that are predictable and steady. However, all growth is cultivated from change. I've changed cities, jobs, concentrations, and titles, and I will likely continue to change these things - that is part of the growth process. I'm extremely grateful to be in a profession that puts growth at the center of what we do. It, therefore, encourages us to make this priority in our lives. Though sometimes this can feel trying, I can most assuredly say it is never boring.
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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