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Name: Esther Boykin, LMFT

Business: Group Therapy Associates, LLC, a provider of counseling, classes, relationship & pre-marital coaching

Industry: Coaching & ConsultingOther — Mental Health Agency

Location: Washington D.C., U.S.

Reason for starting: I started this company because I want to change the face of therapy- it can be powerful and transformative but it can also be fun and something people can feel good about sharing with their friends and family. I work hard to develop new ways to infuse mental health and emotional care into other healthy lifestyle services. Every service we offer and every event we participate in ties back to the idea of healthy relationships and emotional well-being as part of an overall lifestyle, not just crisis management. Our company motto is “when you’re ready to talk… we’re here to listen.” I truly believe that we can’t separate mental or emotional well-being from our physical health- it’s a symbiotic relationship but so often we treat them as distinct entities rather than just parts of a whole person. A safe, healthy, compassionate relationship with another human being can literally change your entire life, including your body. At the core that’s what I believe therapy and mental health is about- providing people with the opportunity to connect with someone who can offer a compassionate and accepting connection of them, even their darkest parts, without judgment or shame. It’s helping people to feel worthy of love and kindness. That kind of support can change your health. A lot of the physical ailments we face (obesity, high blood pressure, anxiety) can be improved with a shift in our emotional well-being.

Related: Read about another female entrepreneur working in therapy and mental health here.

How do you define success? Waking up everyday getting to share my passion with people and spend time with family and friends. Financial success is important to living comfortably but real success comes when you can be both financially and emotionally content.

My top goals for Group Therapy Associates are to increase brand awareness and establish us as a leaders and innovators in the field of mental health and personal development. I want to see our business grow both in size and revenue and create new viable income streams through creative use of technology and collaborative services with other health providers.

Biggest Success: Expanding our office to include 3 more therapists and a brand new location has been one of the biggest successes. It was incredibly surreal for my business partner and I to see our name on a new, larger office space last January and then actually fill those offices with people who share my passion for helping others live happier and healthier lives. By building a great team, I finally had enough time to finish my first book, The Date Deck… ’cause every couple needs a date night! It was an importnat reminder that the biggest successes only come when you have a great team around you.

Related: Learning the value of building a good team and appreciating your employees. 

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it? Learning to create a balance between being an entreprenuer in addition to my roles as mother, wife, and even therapist, have been really challenging but fortunately I’ve learned to let go of the guilt of not “doing the right thing” and just go home and make adjustments. I think that there is sometimes pressure on therapists to live exemplary lives and have perfect marriages and well-adjusted and well-behaved kids all the time. But I try to live my life honestly and authentically. The reality is that it’s always a work in progress. Our relationships are not always perfect but I’ve finally come to realize how to be authentic and imperfect clients. People want to work with people who understand what it feels like to be disconnectd from your husband and or frustrated with your children or questioning what’s next in your professional life.

Who is your most important role model? I have so many role models in my life from colleagues and mentors to friends and family who are purusing their passions. I would have to say that my most important role models are my parents. They are both immigrants to the U.S. and have individually led lives that showed me the benefits of balancing hard work and education with compassion and strong relationships. Although they aren’t married, they have given me a shared vision of what it means to be truly successful in life; to live well, care for others, and work toward whatever ambitions you have, no matter how frequently they may change over time.

Twitter   @GTAtherapists

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Edited by The Story Exchange