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Mighty Oak

Mighty Oak

Holding hands with a mighty oak. Allowing her strength and stability to seep into my bones through an ancient form of unknowable osmosis. Leaning in to be held by her, as she tells me how beautiful and safe letting go can be. She will demonstrate this again very soon as her leaves turn dark orange and begin to harden and leave from her; a process she must endure through each season of her growth. She doesn’t question if her leaves will return, or try to make sense of why they are gone again. Without any thoughts or attempts to control, she persists as she is and flourishes. She encourages me to quiet my thoughts, especially when they are an unnecessary form of suffering. Instead I can let go and trust the unfolding. 

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Why Private Practice

I offered to help someone who is writing a manuscript about opening and maintaining a private practice. I decided to share his questions and my responses.  (it was so fun and helpful to reflect)

Name: Jacquie Drury

Profession: Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor

Name of Practice: Jacquie Drury Counseling

What prompted you to start a mental health private practice?

So many reasons! I knew early on that self-care would be the single most important factor in my effectiveness as a counselor. I love this work and wanted a sustainable path. I do my best work when I am consistently tending to my own well-being. Unfortunately, most community mental health agencies aren’t designed to prioritize and support their provider’s well-being. I also wanted the freedom to work with people who might not qualify for (or desire to work within the framework of) a mental health diagnosis.

What do you enjoy most about private practice?

I greatly enjoy the people I work with! Each day looks and feels different. I can never fully prepare for what people walk through the door with. I learn so much and feel humbled each day.

What annoys you most about private practice?

The ebb and flow of busyness can be nerve-racking! Many factors contribute to this. For example, the summer months are slower for many practices since people take more vacations during these months. Private practitioners rely on their per session rate as their core source of revenue. It’s not like being paid a consistent, reliable salary. This makes financial planning more difficult.

What has been some challenges in owning and operating a private practice?

The biggest challenge for me was starting out without realizing how much support was available regarding operations. Unfortunately, the graduate school I attended did not offer a class for students wanting to start a private practice. It helps that my first degree is in business and marketing. Also, I have a background in finance. Still, I struggled a lot more to find my footing than I would have had I know about the amazing online communities of support and podcasts – such as Selling the Couch, and Abundance Practice Builders.

Another challenge has been overcoming my own self-limiting beliefs about owning a solo-practice. For example, I had a friend once say to me, “I imagine in my head that a person in private practice is older.” I get that! The image in my head of a therapist in private practice is totally Robin Williams from Good Will Hunting. One day, that will be me. Well, I will never be a middle-aged white male, but I will be older and wiser nonetheless. That doesn’t mean I’m not an effective counselor right now. Someone once said that biases can smear the counseling process. I agree with that.


(Let’s be honest, I can never live up to that perfect face and demeanor)

What mistakes have you made in your private practice that helped you learn and grow?

I started my practice without an EHR (electronic health record) because I was afraid of the extra expense. This means I was keeping paper files for all of my intake documents and clinical notes AND doing all of the scheduling and appointment reminders manually. The extra time and space it took up in my head and office was not worth sparing the financial expense. Using an EHR has been game-changing and I wish I’d had one from the beginning. I learned to make wise financial investments more readily, especially into systems that would help me focus my energy with clients and help my business succeed.

What has been some of your greatest successes in private practice?

Growing my practice to full-time is my greatest business successes so far! I started my private practice while also working part-time at a community mental health agency. Although I often miss my old co-workers and clients, it feels good to focus solely on the needs of my business. And by growing my practice, I have been able to help more individuals and couples in Cincinnati.

What is your business structure and why?

I like to keep things small because I want to provide a quality, attentive, and individualized service to each and every person I come into contact with. I like having the time to personally respond to inquiries from existing and potential clients. I meet with clients three days of the week (Tuesday-Thursday). Monday and Friday are business days. This is a good balance for me right now. It’s important for me to dedicate a portion of my time at a reduced rate for individuals and couples who cannot afford services at the full fee. I do this through Open Path Collective.

What EHR do you use? Do you like it?

Simple Practice. Love it! If you’re a therapist reading this, here is a link to get a free 30 day trial and a $50 subscription credit after you sign up for a paid account!

How do you attract clients? What methods have worked best for you?

Online directories, like Psychology Today and one-on-one networking with colleagues have worked best for me. Some of the best advice I’ve heard is to network in ways that feel good to you personally. This helps prevent resentment or burn out. For example, the reason I prefer one-on-one networking is to accommodate my introvert tendencies. It’s also important to have a good website since it’s where people go to learn more about a counselor before reaching out. You can use my website as an example; they are many good ones out there!

Are you paneled with insurance companies? What was your experience with paneling and credentialing?

I am an out-of-network/self-pay provider. I like having the freedom to work outside of a required mental health diagnosis and other insurance-related stipulations. Still, many of my clients receive out of network reimbursement for the cost of their sessions and I help them with that process.

Have you hired anyone? For what and why?

I have no plans at this time to hire anyone administratively, or to grow into a group practice.

How essential is self-care to your professional and personal health?

VITAL. It’s the most important thing. We can’t pour from an empty cup.

Where do you see your private practice in 5-10 years?

My love is working face-to-face with people. Many of my colleagues are writing books and growing their business to a group practice, or adding coaching and consultation services to what they already provide. This often means less face-to-face time providing psychotherapy. I respect those paths and understand the importance of adding additional streams of income. I’m not saying I will NEVER do any of these things, but right now I’m happy maintaining and refining my current business structure and clinical skills as a solo-practitioner.

What’s your advice those just starting out?

Do it NOW! Don’t wait until you’re a middle-aged white male. (no offense to middle-aged white males; see Good Will Hunting reference above regarding my own self-limiting beliefs)

And, get support, including a knowledgeable accountant. There is so much support available. Be cautious of the naysayers because you CAN do this.

What question did I miss that I should have asked?

I can’t think of any right now! This was a good list of questions!

 

 

 

Cincinnati counseling Thoughts

The Art of Being Influenced

The art of being influenced and how your thoughts about change either help or hinder you in relationships.

Cognitive Therapy teaches you to examine your thoughts and beliefs and restructure the irrational or distorted ones. Our thoughts and beliefs are always connected, often in a vicious cycle type of way that impacts our choices and relationships. Let’s explore a common type of thought distortion called black and white thinking within the context of change, or personal and relational growth. Consider the following examples:

→ Irrational, Black and White Thought

“If my girlfriend, husband, friend, etc. asks me to change a part of myself, then he/she does not value who I truly am.”

→ Distorted/Unhelpful Belief:

“I should not (or cannot) change who I am.”

Now, let’s take a closer look at these together:

This belief serves the purpose of protecting and preserving your sense of self and identify, which means it is inherently good. However, in doing so, it works like quicksand by keeping you stuck and partially, or fully, hidden from yourself and others. Furthermore, the healthiest human connection occurs when two people are open to the influence of each other; particularly during instances where a pattern of behavior is negatively impacting one person or the relationship as a whole. “Accepting influence” from your partner is a skill taught in the Gottman Method of relationship therapy.

Here’s the beautiful and encouraging truth, though: You don’t have to resist changing who you are, because who you truly are is unchangeable. 

From birth, the core of who you are is a unique, vast place overflowing with endless potential and worth. It is a place full and flowing with light and love. Over time, negative life experiences and messages cause you to disconnect from your core self. You learn the survival skills of self-preservation and self-denial. You learn to over-identify with stuff that does not matter nearly as much, like how much money you make, your looks, your relationship status, how much you give to loved ones, and your choices. Sometimes, your identity is entirely attached to external circumstances outside of your control. Your most painful experiences especially distort your opinion of who you are and your sense of worthiness.

We are all somewhere on the continuum of unraveling these distortions. Positive influence from someone within a trusted relationship can help.

Returning to the pure qualities of your core self is a lifelong journey that you must choose to travel daily. When you separate your unchangeable identity of potential and worthiness from external factors, you feel more grounded and confident, and you are more open to positive change and feedback. By tending to the connection you have with your true identity, you feel what it’s like to have a nurturing relationship with yourself, perhaps for the first time. In turn, you are more open to the influence of others because you understand how survival has kindly “gifted” you with blind spots, hard spots, and sensitive spots.

On the journey of identifying primarily with the qualities of your core self, you must continually discern between positive and negative influences. There is no perfect formula to follow. You must incorporate and prune influences at a level and pace that feels personally honoring. This requires you to challenge and let go of old ways of thinking, believing, and behaving and adopt new ones. What and how to change is a personal, empowering, and sacred expression of art.

Yes, opening yourself to the influence of others changes you. A positive influence aligns you with your worthiness and potential. A negative influence disconnects you from your worthiness and potential.

Furthermore, thanks to science’s more recent understanding of neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to wire and rewire neural patterns of thinking and behaving throughout a lifespan), we know the process of change in our brains is always unfolding in some direction, even when we think we shouldn’t or can’t be changed. Change cannot be resisted. This is why it is better to bring an open awareness to the matter. This is why it is important to align our brains with the unchangeable truth of our worthiness and potential.

Let’s take all of this perspective and restructure the irrational thought and distorted belief from the example at the beginning:

→ Restructured thought:

“My girlfriend, husband, friend, etc. cares enough about me and our relationship to be honest about where we’re stuck and what needs to change. I can be open to his/her influence while also deciding for myself what change looks like for me. “

→ Restructured Belief:

“My work is to connect with my core self and truest identity. I understand this is an ongoing process of growth, renewal, and change. It’s okay to change parts of me that no longer serve my highest self.”

Changes to your default thoughts and beliefs can enhance the quality of your relationships and the quality of your life. Returning your core self to its inherit quality of worthiness and potential is a beautiful, messy work of personal and relational art. Research shows we need one another and live longer within the context of healthy relationship. I’m happy to be on this excavation and renewal journey with you.

I hope you find this blog post to be thought-provoking and helpful. Please share your thoughts and feedback with me! ♥

Truly,
Jacquie Drury MA, LPCC

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A Foggy Morning’s Mindful Reflection

As the morning sun climbs higher in the sky, and the settled fog that spilled over from The Ohio River becomes visible, I’m reminded of moments and seasons of uncertainty, and the ways I’ve reached for things to be either black or white, all or nothing.

In this foggy space, we often anxiously anticipate a clearing and miss the opportunity to spend time with the fog, getting to know its properties, allowing it to teach us valuable lessons like how to live peacefully in the grey.

→ Today’s mindful affirmation: I will create space and curiosity for the fog before it lifts again.


“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.” – Gilda Radner

Learn more about my approach to counseling here.
My favorite app to start a mindfulness practice: Calm 

 

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December in Cincinnati. Emotionally.

As I sit here at Red Tree Art Gallery and Coffee Shop in Oakley, I can’t help but smile at the festive sprinkles throughout: a decorated Christmas tree, upbeat holiday tunes, garlands, and a seasonal menu, including my delicious choice today of a Cortado Otoño—brown sugar infused espresso, with a dusting of cinnamon.

Meanwhile here in Cincinnati, the days become shorter and colder, and many people begin to feel lonelier, sadder, and more anxious than usual. Our patience to deal with Rookwood and Kenwood traffic grows thinner. Furthermore, with all of its cheer, for many people, December triggers difficult memories and realities, especially related to loved ones, as well as increased expectations, and a natural undercurrent of reflection and shedding before the new year.

As a therapist in private practice, I see first-hand how people’s emotions are influenced by changes in Cincinnati weather, the holidays, and shifting seasons. December is the perfect winter storm of these events and it has a special way of highlighting and magnifying the broken and cracked places. (And to worsen matters, it’s a winter storm without the beauty of snow, because you and I both know it’s unlikely we’ll enjoy much snow in Cincinnati this year.)

I write this to completely validate wherever YOU are. Perhaps you are feeling better than usual about this first day of December. Perhaps you are struggling with anxiety or depression more than usual. Perhaps you are somewhere in the middle.

Okay Cincinnatians, here are FIVE WAYS to move through your December experience in a healthy way:

1. Journal it out. Here are some topics for you:

  • Take a pulse on where you are emotionally and offer validation to your own experience.
  • List and revise expectations for this month. Where do these expectations come from… your culture, family of origin, religious influences, yourself? Do they represent and feed your truest, best self? Are any of these expectations unrealistic considering everything else happening in your life right now? Let go of something.
  • Create a daily list of at least five things you are grateful for. Despite the circumstances, we can all find things to be grateful for. Research in the field of positive psychology shows this is a powerful tool for rewiring the brain for happiness.
  • What were your successes and challenges this year? What successes can you (literally) celebrate? Sit in this for the month and allow it to shed some light on where you are heading into the next year.

2. Bundle up and get your body moving!

My favorite parks for hiking in Cincinnati are Mt. Airy Forest and Woodland Mound.

Practice grounding yourself in the present moment through your five senses by identifying five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. (this is something you can do wherever you are)

3. Consider speaking with your physician about measuring your Vitamin D levels.

Research has linked Vitamin D deficits to seasonal depression. Our bodies naturally absorb and convert Vitamin D from the sun, which we typically absorb less of during the shorter and colder days of winter, especially in Cincinnati.

4. Volunteer.

I recommend looking into: United Way of Greater Cincinnati, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald House, Freestore Food Bank, and BLOC ministries.

5. Discover the Danish art of hygge (hue-gah)

which means appreciating and savoring the present moments of coziness and connection. My favorite places for hygge are coffee shops (I love Red Tree, Coffee Emporium, and Awakenings), Fountain Square Ice Rink, and Krohn Conservatory. Hygge can be experienced anywhere, and without making changes to what you’re already doing, because it represents small moments, like being at home wrapped up in a cozy blanket with a warm beverage, or sharing a sincere smile with a stranger.

The last one brings me back to where we started with me sitting here at a coffee shop, enjoying a Cortado, reflecting and preparing myself (and us) emotionally for this month. Thank you for joining me in this reflection.

All my best,
Jacquie