If you are in business in South Galway, go check out the Facebook page South Galway Business Network and get to know other business owners in the area! This is my 11th interview in my series of interviewing small business in the West of Ireland. I used to run a business, and one of the parts I found most challenging was to promote my business, as I had little funds and lacked the contacts to get featured. My new year’s resolution was to help small business in the West of Ireland by interviewing them on my blog, to give them an opportunity to tell their story. Please share this interview, as it’s one of the easiest ways to create awareness! Would you like to get featured? Drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be in touch!
Tell us a bit about yourself & where you are located in the West of Ireland and why you like living in the West of Ireland.
My name is Clara Slattery and I am trained as a psychotherapist & counselor. After living many years in Dublin I recently moved back West; I am originally from Gort in Co. Galway. Life in the West is calmer, people are friendlier and are more likely to interact, and there is less traffic!
Can you provide me with a description of your business?
I have set up my own psychotherapy practice in Ennis. As a psychotherapist and counselor I offers clients a safe space to express and explore difficulties they have in confidence. Some of the issues clients are supported with include depression and suicide issues, emotional pain, loss, anger, sexual violence, trauma, low self-esteem, trust issues, relationship difficulties, problematic patterns of behaviour, or if something just doesn’t feel right. I have a particular interest in supporting clients on medication for depression, anxiety and sleeping difficulties. In my experience clients often have better outcomes with medication when they can explore what is causing these difficulties. The hope is that with psychotherapy support clients can feel more positive about themselves and life.
Is this your full time job, a hobby or a bit of both?
This is my part time work. As a psychotherapist I work alone, so it is nice to have other work where I am part of a team. As psychotherapy work can be intensive and involves working with individuals who are often distressed it is good to vary my week so I am fully resourced & engaged with clients in the therapy room.
How did you get the background and skills necessary to run this type of business?
While I was living in Dublin I trained with the Tivoli Institute in Dun Laoghaire as a Psychotherapist. Along with this training, I am a member of a peer support group of other psychotherapists and also receive support through the Irish Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (accreditation body accrediting psychotherapists). All of these have helped me to get to this stage of running my own business. After that it’s a matter of taking a leap of faith, having motivation & courage and believing in yourself and the service you offer. I am also a member of the South Galway Business Network which is a great place to meet other business owners and share experiences & expertise.
Do you know who your competitors are?
My competitors are other psychotherapists, however we are also a good support to each other. Furthermore, when choosing a therapist it is important the person feels they are a good fit, so having choice is positive. Therapists also have different expertise and eperience so a variety ensures people’s different needs are catered for.
How do you market your business? How are people aware of your business? Where can people find you?
The normal procedure is that clients ring me on 087 7810951 and we set up an appointment. However, there are a variety of ways people hear about me. They might present to their GP who then makes a recommendation to see me. They might go online where they find me on www.claretherapy.com. Sometimes clients come to me through word of mouth, they might confide in a friend or family member who is aware of the service I offer. Or they might come across my business card in locations such as family resource centers, health food shops, massage therapists and other one-to-one services where people might confide they are struggling. Any contacts with me are kept confidential, so even though a third party might put us in touch I do not speak to that person, or any other person, about my client or the fact I am seeing that client.
Where do you see your business in the next year? In the next five years? The next ten years?
My hope is that my business will continue to grow so I can do what I enjoy doing and people continue to benefit from psychotherapy. I also have a few ideas involving collaborative work which I hope to begin developing soon.
Do you plan to compete in the global market place? If yes, how? If no, why not?
As a psychotherapist this is not an option for me, I as the person am the service and have the skill set. As yet I cannot be cloned.
How has technology, such as computers and the internet, impacted on how you conduct business?
A lot more people now look for psychotherapists online so this requires me to consider how I market online. On the other hand negative patterns of behaviour and harmful interactions in relation to internet use are resulting in more people presenting with difficulties specifically to do with the internet.
Whom do you seek advice from for your business/ do you meet up with other business owners? If so, where?
As I mentioned I am a member of the South Galway Business Group and they offer great support and advice. I also link in with other psychotherapists who understand the nature of this work and can offer more targeted support.
Can you describe your customers?
My clients are people who acknowledge that there is something they are dealing with that they can’t manage on their own, something they are struggling with and that maybe lets them know they aren’t as happy as they could be. It might be anger or sadness, a difficulty in coming to terms with changed circumstances, an old resentment or a hurt they don’t necessarily understand. They are people who decide they are going to do something about it because they want better for themselves and for those around them, who are also often impacted. My clients are people who strive to fulfill their potential in life. They are male, female, young, old, of all socio-economic groups, different nationalities and of various sexual orientations, gender identities and belief systems.
Why do your customers select you over your competitors?
As previously touched on when a person decides to see a psychotherapist their decision to choose one therapist over another is very much informed by feeling the person is a good fit for them. A good working relationship must be established in order for the person to feel safe and be able to share what is troubling them. When a client comes to me I work with them on creating a good relationship based on respect, acceptance and integrity.
What are the biggest challenges for running this business?
It is sometimes difficult for people to say when they get psychotherapy support or to say when they are struggling. While psychotherapy and the importance of looking after our mental health is becoming more acknowledged, many people still suffer in silence. It is difficult sharing your difficulties and your pain with someone and requires courage. And yet so much can be gained, so much can be expressed and explored, and so much can change for the better.
What keeps you going, when the chips are down?
Knowing that the work I do with clients is needed, valuable and appreciated. And knowing I am doing something I enjoy, and with a bit of effort and perseverance things will look up again.
Do you support local charities? If so which is your favourite charity and why?
I support the Galway Rape Crisis Center. Any organisation dealing with something that we prefer not to think about, and yet who has the courage every time to respond to, and not give up on the people it stands for, deserves an extra concerted effort to be supported.
Any special things planned for 2016?
My focus for this year is to continue to promote and grow my business, however I do hope to take some time out and visit my brother in America.
Any tips for someone who is thinking of starting their own business?
It’s a great thing to do; it’s challenging, it’s exciting and it’s rewarding. It also gets you out of your comfort zone. Go for it, be open to new possibilities and be prepared for anxiety to be your companion.
Come back next week for my interview with the one and only JP Mahon!