Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in mental wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Deniss Pleiner, Founder of TOC Therapy, located in Pasadena, CA, USA.

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

We are TOC Therapy: The Therapists of Color for People of Color. We are a group practice of Latina Counselors, all children of immigrants. Our identities inform the work we do. We help BIPOC Adults gain a better understanding of their behaviors, choices, and patterns from a culturally congruent point of view that facilitates self-knowledge, self-understanding, and self-compassion.

We are a psychodynamic and psychoanalytical practice. The psychodynamic part of our work allows us to draw from different modalities like CBT, Somatic Therapy, solution-focused and others in order to find and use the interventions that fit our clients best. The psychoanalytic part of our work is also essential: it's the part that allows us to make room for and explore how childhood and past experiences have shaped our client's relationships with themselves and others-- to really find the origin of their wounds in order to help them find true healing.

Tell us about yourself

I'm a Mexican immigrant, a Licensed therapist, and a fan of all things mental health. My early childhood experiences as an immigrant taught me a lot about community work-- how we can help one another survive. My family benefited from the kindness of others, and my mother instilled in me the value of giving back to our community through her own example. We did not have much, but my mother was always volunteering her time (despite having to work several odd jobs to help my father make ends meet). I always knew I wanted to dedicate my life to helping others and I am thankful to now be in a position that allows me to do that. Knowing we make a difference, even if just in some small way, is what gets me up and motivates me.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I am most proud of the work that my clinicians and our clients do. Our clients are intelligent, kind, and hardworking-- overall amazing people. Our main job is to help our clients see that. I get to that every day.

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

Juggling finances has been one of the most challenging parts for me. Making money is not the main goal of my business. I want to help as many people as possible by making mental health affordable, but that is hard to do with so much overhead. We try anyway.

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

  1. Do your research & ask for help. Owning and running a business is a lot of work, and when you first start, you need to play many roles at once. Take the time to learn them all as much as you can and reach out to whoever is willing to help.
  2. Take time off. You want your business to succeed, but you can't do that if you're burnt out. Take time to relax, and breathe. Don't do this 24/7. It takes out the fun in it.
  3. Do self-work. I know this might feel tangential but honestly: being a business owner will bring out insecurities, fears, and traumas. And when you become a manager, that will do it too. The more self-knowledge you obtain, the better you can deal with the mental challenges that come with owning a business.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Don't give up. Take a break. It can be hard and lonely, and help isn't always out there. When you feel tired, rest. But keep knocking on doors and asking for help. You got this,

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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