Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in mental wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Art Ginley, Owner of Integrative Wellbeing LLC, located in Boulder, CO, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am a Gestalt and Contemplative-based psychotherapist focusing on chronic illness, complex trauma, relationships, and attachment. The people I see are often people who have struggled with a variety of challenges, mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual, and have not found the support or means to well-being through doctors and other healing arts. I don't promise recovery because people often work with long-term and chronic issues that won't just go away. My focus is to help people develop a better understanding of the symptoms and struggles they are facing so they can learn how to work with what is coming up at the moment and not feel overwhelmed or stuck in their current physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual process. We define the meaning in our world and experiences. Even in the face of great challenges and suffering, we can find purpose and a path towards recovery and well-being.
Tell us about yourself
I served in the Peace Corps in 2007 when I started developing strange symptoms I couldn't explain, and doctors couldn't help me with. I was young and brash and had the energy to continue to push through whatever was getting in my way. However, that quickly changed as the Lyme disease and other traumas started to pile up and weigh me down. I searched from doctor to specialist to an alternative healer to a therapist and couldn't figure out what was going on or how to make myself feel better. During all of this, I met my wife and needed to find a way to support my family and build my own career and life. I was torn between various career options but eventually went with Clinical Mental Health Counselor as that was the quickest way to get out of a very difficult living situation and period in my life.
I started working with a therapist myself and started working for an agency with a focus on contemplative psychology. Once I got my degree, I started my own practice. I really enjoy getting to know people and everything they've gone through and believing in their lives. I think I am a therapist in large part to be witness to be in the most true essence of their life and experiences, intensely emotional, vulnerable, and real to themselves. I feel honored to be in the profession I am in and feel my work with my own mental and physical health issues definitely guides my practices and my ability to understand others and hold ground for them to be able to fully be themselves no matter how big or hard their challenges may be.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I think my biggest accomplishment is being able to build and grow my practice throughout the pandemic. I am not a very outgoing person, and it is difficult for me to network and meet other people and make lasting connections. Throughout the past few years, that has been even tougher. However, throughout that time, I feel I've made some really good connections and gotten my business connected into a variety of sources that help clients find me and help me be able to keep a network of trusted colleagues to be able to refer to. All throughout this period, my son has also been growing up, and I feel it is a big accomplishment for me to be able to split my attention between family and business and hopefully show up as a good father and husband while at the same time maintaining outreach to potential clients and building relationships with other therapists and health practitioners in my region.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I think two of the hardest things have been taxes and organization. As I've started to earn more, I've been hit hard with taxes and other expenses, which I never had to think much about before when I was working for an agency, etc., that would just take out what was owed. I've had to learn a lot more about managing my finances and all the different ins and outs of what is needed to keep my company in good standing and profitable. I've also really had to learn how to organize my time and life to fit around the needs of my business. As a therapist, I have a lot of contact with clients that don't fit into a typical 9-5 pm work week. I have to figure out how to manage that and my schedule, etc., to still be present for my family and, somewhere in there, find time for myself. It has been hard in a giving profession to learn to be a salesperson and to schedule time for paperwork, networking, outreach, etc.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Three tips I would give would be:
- Make time in your schedule for rest.
- Be clear in yourself and your needs.
- Don't let your business become your life.
The schedule is really important, and it can be easy to schedule whatever time is needed for meetings and paperwork, etc., but so often, we forget to fit rest into our schedule - if we're not making room for it, then it is likely won't happen. I've found this difficult with the drive towards activities and socializing and constantly being on our phones for various activities. My mind never gets to rest fully if I don't set aside that time and take care of myself. Similarly, I can get caught up in my business trying to help as many people as possible and completely lose track of that I need the money to be a good father and husband.
I'm working to support my family and make it possible for me to have a meaningful and loving relationship with my partner and my son - if I forget that is my main need, then I get lost in work and lose the relationships of those closest to me. It is a really hard balance, and I feel, especially in my field, that I've had to learn to become a therapeutic person in all aspects of my life while at the same time not becoming a therapist/counselor in all aspects of my life. I've had to commit to being a healing, caring, and compassionate person and not mix that up with the tools and techniques of my profession and becoming a therapist to everyone I meet and hurting or ruining relationships with friends and family.
You have to find not just a balance between the physical and logistical aspects of work and life, but you have to be able to bring your mind and heart into the present moment of whatever you are doing and not let work overtake your life or your life makes you feel resentful of your work.
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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