I was a stay-at-home mom for 20 years and felt led, prompted, and called to be a counselor. I knew our family needed my financial contribution, but I wanted to maintain my priority of raising daughters and having family time. After completing my master's degree in clinical counseling at Ashland Theological Seminary in my late forties, I worked for community mental health in substance abuse for about nine months while simultaneously and slowly starting a private practice so that I could eventually set my rates and hours. I had a wonderful colleague that allowed me to use her office for a small fee, and I found SCORE. Starting my own business felt very intimidating and overwhelming, and finances were super tight, so I was so grateful to find a group that would support and help me for free. I'm still shocked at the quality of the advice and commitment of the mentors and teachers at SCORE- they are on an invaluable mission so crucial for our communities. Connie, my mentor, was able to help me work through creating a business plan and helped me navigate building a website. She answered questions, offered support and encouragement, and met me according to my schedule and availability. She gently prompted me into an office space I was afraid to rent because of the expense- but I did it. It was so worth it, and I'm grateful for her input and support. I needed someone else's experience and objective perspective. She believed in me when I didn't. 
So my business grew from $8k gross profit in year 1, to $44k in year two, to $80 in year three, and then $125k in year four. I love what I do. I have freedom and flexibility even as I work hard to provide my community with the best marriage and couples counseling. I'm now working to hire and grow a group practice focused on couples. I have started working with Connie again to navigate expansion, hiring, a new website, and, unfortunately ;), a new business plan! I'm again using SCORE's workshops and mentoring because I often feel overwhelmed by the details. I have a vision for serving couples, and Connie/ SCORE is helping me with all the complexities that tend to weigh me down and drown out that vision.

What do you do? 

I am a licensed professional clinical counselor focusing on marriage and couples counseling. My office is in West Akron, Ohio, and I serve couples of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds with various challenges to work through. I am a cash-pay practice, and I am trained in "Emotionally Focused Therapy" and the Gottman method. What sets me apart from others in counseling is that I am not afraid to use my experience of making a difficult marriage work. While the counseling field generally trains counselors to keep their private lives private, I believe it is my experience and my personal challenges in marriage that help clients to realize they are not alone. I'm not just using education and training to help them, but I'm able to connect with them very personally. I've experienced what it's like to sit on the couch of many therapists- some good and some not. I'm passionate and hold hope for folks when they feel hopeless. Personally, it's never supposed to be very good for me to feel like the expert will fix the problem. I prefer to come alongside my clients, understanding the hurt, pain and complexities of their challenges and offering guidance, practical tools that work, and observations.

What inspired you to start your business? 

When I was a little girl, my parents struggled to navigate marriage, children, home and business. I watched them navigate difficult circumstances with deep love and commitment to each other and their children with much tension and heartache. I remember they tried counseling, but with little change. Then, in my own marriage, we faced similar challenges, felt very frustrated and needed help and support, and for the most part, we were disappointed. We didn't just need a listening ear, and we needed help! The counseling training I use in my own practice is the theories and interventions that have worked in my own marriage. I believe healthy. Thriving marriages are foundational to raising healthy, thriving children and contribute to healthy, thriving businesses, communities, churches and schools. 

What's special about your business? 

It's small, women-owned and run, it's personal, respectful, and kind, and our office space is quiet and beautiful. 

What influenced you to seek help from SCORE? 

I knew I couldn't start a business on my own!

How SCORE helped. 

SCORE and my business mentor, Connie, helps me choose office space, designer website, create a business plan, and provided input, feedback, and accountability.

What's great about my mentor? 

Her consistency, availability, understanding and relatability.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting a small business? 

Don't do it alone! 

What would you tell a fellow business owner about SCORE? 

Just make the phone call! They are not scary people- you don't have to do anything you aren't comfortable with.  They are really good about meeting you right where you're at.

Married Life Counseling

My Mentors