Fostering Growth and Healing in Mental Health by Beyond-Counseling’s Holistic Approach with Amanda Gurgel.Ep. 34
- Episode Topic:
In this enlightening episode of Mastering Counseling, we delve deep into the dynamic world of mental health, therapy and holistic healing with the visionary founder of Beyond-Counseling, Amanda Gurgel. Discover how she established this transformative holistic group practice during the challenging period of the Covid-19 pandemic, and how her experiences shaped the mission and values of the organization. We delve into strategies for personalized, holistic care that empowers clients to achieve sustainable well-being.
- Lessons You’ll Learn:
In this episode, you’ll discover Amanda Gurgel’s mission to promote community healing, emphasizing patience, resilience, diversity, and holistic approaches in mental health care. Amanda’s advice: trust yourself, prioritize self-care, and seek community support, particularly in challenging times.
- About Our Guest:
Amanda Gurgel, the owner of Beyond-Counseling, brings a wealth of experience and a deep commitment to holistic healing and mental health care. Her diverse background, multilingual skills, and passion for making a difference have driven her to create a transformative group practice dedicated to fostering growth and healing within communities.
- Topics Covered:
Amanda’s discussion encompasses various topics, including the establishment of Beyond-Counseling during the Covid-19 pandemic, scaling up to meet increasing demand for mental health support, and the practice’s integrative and holistic approach to healing. The conversation also explores how Beyond-Counseling nurtures growth and resilience in individuals, children, and families, addressing diverse mental health challenges with personalized, empathetic support.
Our Guest: Amanda Gurgel, Integrative Medical Healer.
Amanda Gurgel, LMHC, is a Florida Licensed Mental Health Counselor and the founder of Beyond-Counseling, a Holistic Group Practice in Fort Lauderdale. With over a decade of experience, she specializes in mental health and holistic healing. Amanda’s journey led her to create Beyond-Counseling in response to the increased demand for mental health support during the COVID-19 pandemic, reflecting her dedication to strengthening mental health support systems in the community.
As a therapist, Amanda focuses on anxiety, depression, grief, self-esteem, separation, and divorce. She also has experience working with children and adolescents, addressing ADHD, social skills, trauma, bullying, and behavioral issues, while improving parent-child relationships. Amanda tailors her therapy using individualized, holistic, and evidence-based techniques, offering services in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Amanda’s passion is creating a safe space for clients to navigate life’s challenges and foster personal growth. She offers comprehensive support to both adults and children, employing various therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Hypnotherapy, Reiki, and Soundbowl Therapy. Her mission is to empower clients to thrive, strengthen mental health support systems, and emphasize the importance of the therapist-client relationship.
Amanda Gurgel: When you’re an entrepreneur. We just keep going and going and going, but take those lessons and also take a break. We can run, but we also need to rest. And when we rest, we become our best selves and having support, have fun. Don’t forget that you’re also a human being and you have other parts of you. So, I think you do go through an identity crisis when you’re an entrepreneur and when you’re trying to open your own private practice or group practice, whatever it is. You can get lost in it and making sure that you have the right support system.
Becky Coplen: Welcome to Mastering Counseling, the weekly business show for counselors. I’m your host, Becky Coplen. I’ve spent 20 years working in education in the role of both teacher and school counselor. Each episode we’ll be exploring what it takes to thrive as a counseling business owner. From interviews with successful entrepreneurial counselors to conversations with industry leaders on trends and the next generation of counseling services, to discussions with tech executives whose innovations are reshaping counseling services. If it impacts counseling, we cover it on mastering counseling. Welcome to another enlightening episode of Mastering Counseling, the podcast that delves deep into the world of therapy, counseling, coaching, and also the business side as well. I’m your host, Becky. Today, I am really happy to introduce to you Amanda Gurgel. She is a visionary of the practice Beyond-Counseling. This is a transformative, holistic group practice which has many other therapists and counselors that she’ll talk about, and it is dedicated to fostering growth and helping with healing within many different communities. Thanks for being with us today, Amanda.
Amanda Gurgel: Thank you Becky. I’m so excited to be on your podcast and share wisdom, knowledge, tools, whatever is needed to support the community and therapists. Thank you. I was looking at your website and you have so many great people on your staff and you also, I think today will bring an element of other cultures living in other places and your travels, and I think we will gain so much from what you have to share.
Becky Coplen: Thank you. Can you share with us some of your personal experiences or pivotal moments that motivated you to begin Beyond-Counseling, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Amanda Gurgel: Okay. Well, the pandemic itself was I think we all went through our own personal journey of what that was going to look like. No one knew exactly what that was going to look like until we experienced it. I remember so many things had changed in terms of our social community, our ability to go out, we all had to stay in our homes and started smelling like fish eventually to each other. And there were a lot of issues, like parents overnight became school teachers and just different things like roles that they weren’t doing before. On top of what they’re already doing. So, I think it was a huge adjustment personally and then as a community. I recognize that once COVID was in place, they opened the group practice and it was actually December 2019 and then 2020th January, where we already started hiring new therapists. And I was like, oh my goodness, the mental health industry is just growing because of Covid. No one really knew the impact it was going to have. So, I think it was a tremendous growth for all of us, even though it was very scary and I think we got through it as a community, supporting each other, learning about Covid, learning about how we can come together and just expand each other’s support in these moments. At the practice, we did see a lot of high-risk behaviors that we hadn’t seen before and adolescents and adults. So, it was a big learning curve professionally and personally too.
Becky Coplen: To have begun in December 2019 and then have no idea what’s coming at you in just a couple of months. It was definitely good timing, I would say, but I’m sure had its challenges.
Amanda Gurgel: Growing pains. I think that’s when we graduate and we become licensed and we go into, well, if we have the opportunity to go into private practice, we don’t really know what that looks like until we have the experience. But to have a pandemic on top of that, I think we grow collectively with the community and together with the vulnerabilities and the tools, and we just helped each other grow. From my own experience with COVID and how politically it became even within my own family, like if you’re vaccinated, if you’re not all the restraints and just even with our clients too. So, it all tied in together like we were all facing very similar obstacles and getting through it together as a community, we were in it.
Becky Coplen: Yeah, absolutely. New divisions, right, that you didn’t know existed, but then working together to get through that so. In talking about Beyond-Counseling, under your leadership, with the increased demand, how have you guys been able to respond, especially in caring for a diverse range of clients?
Amanda Gurgel: Okay. So, the response, once I realized that it was beyond me that I could just help a few cases, was like, I had a vision, I want to help the community at a larger, broader spectrum. Then, I started hiring one therapist at a time and I personally handpicked my therapist. We go through a very rigorous interview process with their experience, their culture, just a lot of things that I think that they would be a good fit for our values, for our culture, for my mission statement at Beyond-Counseling. Then, once the hiring process is completed, I have an amazing administrative team that also took time to build. All of this just took time and that’s one thing that I want therapists to know is “Be patient with the process because we don’t know what we’re getting ourselves into.” When I was in school, I didn’t get this business aspect of running your own private practice. So, diversity was one of our core values. I’m from Brazil, I’ve been here since three. I speak Portuguese, and Spanish, and I wanted to make sure that I had other therapists who could do things that I couldn’t do. My previous history was a teacher of children with autism. And then I became a school counselor, then private practice. So, I wanted someone who supplemented the things I can. I have a couples counselor, I have a child and adolescent therapist appear with them. Some of them focusing on eating disorders. High risk that was coming into the practice, just different things that I haven’t been able to specialize in. So, I think as diversity, the diversity of needs of mental health, I also hire as it’s needed where it’s being called.
Becky Coplen: That’s amazing. I love how you handpicked them and what a team with so many expertise all working together. That’s what a great model. Thanks for sharing that. How would you say when you are helping people heal? How do you integrate holistic and integrative approaches? Thinking very specifically for your clients. What are some of the strategies, tools or philosophies that you help them work through?
Amanda Gurgel: When I think of integrative, when a client comes into our practice, we’re looking at them as a whole, mind, body and soul. And what’s going on in their lives. So, it’s very tailored, personalized treatment plan that we come up with. Once, the evaluation and everything is completed, then we work as a team. If a therapist needs support, if I need insight on here or resources, we have the clinical supervisor, we have myself, we call a meeting. Not only that, we also provide training for the therapists if they need it. So, it’s like a full, comprehensive, personalized program for that individual. Not only that, we have made so many connections in the community, advocates that we communicate with. Let’s say a client needs psychiatric treatment, we have personalized relationships that we know who are sending them to. At the end, the success rate is excellent. Or, if someone needs IOP or higher-level care, we have built-in relationships from the schools to other professionals. So, it’s like the holistic model is not only our techniques. Which could be one of the holistic techniques that I love is called Emotional Freedom Technique which is tapping. Another one is the Reiki, another one is Hypnotherapy. But each therapist brings their own specialized gifts to the practice and the holistic methods, along with the evidence-based techniques and along with advocates in the community. So, I think it’s pulling the community together and then the wellness center together. Then on top of that, all of our team, we have the admin team from the first phone call, the client feels heard and accepted. And we do what’s called matchmaking, making sure that the client’s needs, clinical needs match the therapist’s abilities. Culturally, ethically, all these other things that take place to make sure that the turnover rate is very low, the success rate is high. And we have client surveys, customer satisfaction, all these things. So that, they could have a safe space. I don’t feel like this was a good match and that’s okay. So, I think just openness, making sure that we’re being able to provide and match the right therapist to the client and then our advocates in the community is essential. So, I’m trying to create this collaboration within the community for healing.
Becky Coplen: I love the whole community mindset that you have, in that. I hear so much about networking that you’re doing. And, I’m sure it’s so great that you even speak multiple languages because there’s not a ton of Americans who do that. So, that has to be huge for people to be able to receive therapy and coaching in their own heart language, even if they do not know English though. And I have to say, in just starting this a few years to see how big it’s grown is really amazing.
Amanda Gurgel: Yeah, I’m very excited for what the future holds. Most of the clinicians are diverse in culture too. They speak bilingual Turkish, Portuguese, Spanish. We have a diverse team because our community is diverse. We are the melting pot. I opened the group practice in January 2020. I actually opened my private practice solo in September 2020, right after Covid, December. I made the decision we need to open the group practice and I did in January. So, it’s been a lot. But it’s been like through this whole growth experience, like for therapists to think like we have to deconstruct our belief system of what that would look like because the experience itself teaches us something else. And it’s like a mosaic. It’s like all these broken pieces because you think it’s going to go this way, and it actually goes this way. And I see it as a beautiful mosaic mural. And in between is all the gold. So, there’s going to be a lot of lessons, a lot of mistakes that will happen, but let them happen organically. And instead of staying in it, stay solution-focused. Get a coach, a professional coach who has expert advice and always take what you want. Leave what you don’t. Because I honestly feel like each one of us has a special gift and something to offer, and we can’t just follow someone else’s roadmap of success. We can take it in, but some things don’t resonate and that’s okay. So make it your own.
Becky Coplen: Just one thing I wanted to add in and touch on is you talked about building your administrative team, and we also like to share the business end. Can you just talk for a minute about their role in your practice, even if they’re not a coach, therapist or counselor, what is their role administratively?
Amanda Gurgel: Well, they are the backbone, along with my beautiful clinicians of the practice, because administratively, we need seamless process to make sure that everything falls into place. For example, I have my clinical receptionist, Claudia. She’s the first one that they speak to, and then she sends the intake forms. We have this technology that we use that tracks every client that comes in and where they are in the intake process, like filling out all those filling forms. No, they’re not fun, but they’re necessary to get therapy started. And then once all that is completed, when the consultations and things like that will set up the first appointment. And then I have Christy Papuchis, who’s also our clinical director. If Claudia has any questions regarding our pre-screening form, which the client completes, she’ll follow up with her and say, oh, this would be a good match or this is what this means. So we’re always in communication with each other. And then the next administrative staff is Luana Johnson. She’s the executive on Beyond-Counseling. And she makes sure that everything is running smoothly like she’s seeing the big picture. She’s handling the administration portion, but also the payroll portion, the billing, the credentialing, all these other things. So, I think collectively we are a big team, but with a big mission, and we need each other for everything to be completed and helping each therapist and each client that comes into our practice.
Becky Coplen: This episode is brought to you by mastersincounseling.org. If you’re considering enrolling in a master’s level counseling program to further your career, visit mastersincounseling.org to compare school options via our search tool that allows you to sort by specific degree types, tuition, our costs, online flexibility, and more. I always love when different careers or majors can clash together in a great way. And this would be maybe someone who’s more on the business side of things, but they really have a heart for people, and you need that warm, empathic person to take the initial information. But maybe they have a different skill set than a licensed therapist. We mentioned all the struggles of the pandemic, but we know that there’s still many crises and things happening around the world and in our own country. What are some strategies or methodologies you would want to discuss in regard to helping people deal with the world around them?
Amanda Gurgel: It’s a great question and a very sensitive one. I know that right now we’re facing unprecedented times, things that we have never experienced, just like Covid. I mean, I’m not comparing war to Covid, but it’s unexpected. Coming together as a community like we did during COVID is what’s essential. Our basic needs need to be met food, water and shelter. The resources. I think what differentiates right now, like what’s going on in the war and in the world, is that we’re here and they’re there. When we went through the pandemic, collectively, it was all of us together, going through the limitations and the obstacles. It’s hard to see what’s going on over there, but we can it’s like vicarious trauma. When I listen to the news or when I have a friend that’s from Israel, or when I have a friend that’s from Palestine and all these things, and they are survivors or victims of what’s going on. Am currently offering my services to them, and I’ll leave the link on your podcast. But I think it’s like connecting with each other, being there for each other, using the resources that you have right there and then. It’s good to have outside resources like trained mental health professionals that can be outside of the war and help give perspective, because I think when you’re in it, you’re also grieving, and it’s so traumatic to see it that it can interfere with your ability to be the best, to be at your ability to conduct sessions because it’s just so painful. But we are a community and we are feeling this energetically as a whole. So, I think being the light and being able to do what you can versus what you can’t do is very essential.
Becky Coplen: Great perspective. It just makes me think a little bit. When you say you’re providing services, are you opening up help for people across the ocean through telehealth? Is that what you’re saying?
Amanda Gurgel: Yeah. Me personally, I’m volunteering my services for individual or family or whatever is needed. And I will leave the link on your podcast after our conversation. It’s like a Google form, but it’s a collaboration of therapists who are willing to do this during this time. So, the Google form goes to this organization, and then they will contact you and pair you up with whoever needs services at this time, as fast as anger and all these different perspectives and opinions and belief systems that are also coming into light. During this, you can spread love just as fast, stay in the light and focusing on what we can do to help, besides all the other layers that come with it. As a humanitarian, how can I help? What’s something simple to something even complex or whatever it is? Anything that you can do to help even here, like doing a good deed, gives love and sends that energy back into the world, which is really needed right now. We will be the light in this darkness through the love.
Becky Coplen: I would just want to ask you too, because you’re handling a lot of things and your response time and your business is so thriving in just a few short years. What advice would you give to the listeners in regard to caring for yourself to maintain this high level of support that you’re giving to others?
Amanda Gurgel: Like self-care as a clinician. Yes, that is a priority. Burnout is real when you’re an entrepreneur. We just keep going, going, going. But take those lessons and also take a break. We can run, but we also need to rest. And when we rest, we become our best selves. And having support like have fun. Like don’t forget that you’re also a human being and you have other parts of you. So, I think you do go through an identity crisis when you’re an entrepreneur and when you’re trying to open your own private practice or group practice, whatever it is, you can get lost in it and making sure that you have the right support system. Like, I can’t have done this without my husband, without my family, without my team, without my administrative and clinical team and my coaches and everyone that is part of this big mission and puzzle. Each one has a piece in this picture. So and including myself. So, I make sure I work out as much as I can. I have my own therapist to help me. I have my own coach to help me. There’s a lot of self-awareness that comes into becoming a leader, and I think that it’s a learning curve and a process and experience that you go through when you’re in this position and being not only a clinician, I was also a client and still am a client, and it’s okay to be the student and receive and also to grieve or whatever it is that you’re going through to have that outlet, because if not, it just stays in your body and then it becomes stressed and you’re not as efficient to your clients, to your clinicians, to your team, or to the community. So, it has a ripple effect. So, my care my personal care comes number one.
Becky Coplen: Earlier you mentioned the word mosaic. And when you were talking about all the little pieces of your family and your own therapist, that’s a good picture to help us all. So, let’s just go back to the practice and your community. Is there anything that we haven’t talked about that you would want to share and empowering individuals that you service? Anything that you feel like we haven’t touched on that you would like our listeners to hear?
Amanda Gurgel: Right now, because of everything that’s going on, there’s a lot of emotions stirring up, and clients are fearful of their religious practice and all these things. So, we’ve been addressing that as a team and with my own clients. You know, depending on their background and culture, I help them process and see the resources that they have. We use the holistic approaches that I mentioned to you before. So I think it’s okay to be open. I think there’s a lot of fear stirring in the community right now, and we have to remember that we stand together and the light, despite whatever is happening, we are together in this, that Beyond-Counseling, you’re not alone. So if you need support, if you need someone to speak to, if you’re going through and you don’t know what to do, we’re here for you and our team. We have our meetings, our supervision meetings to make sure that we’re communicating about what’s going on in the cultures and in the community right now, and how they need our support. As far as adolescents and parents and the things before the war started, it’s okay to not be okay. You don’t have to be so strong and breaking down the stigma of mental health, which I think Covid really helped that a lot.
Amanda Gurgel: The teachers, the principals, everyone is starting to see the aftermath of Covid and its impact on children, adolescents and parents and human beings, everyone. So we’re still coping with that as well. There were a lot of things that were lost. First, I’m going to kindergarten or the ones that weren’t able to have a regular graduation or their 18th birthday party, whatever it was, or go to college. There were so much loss and then being in their homes and constricted to all the limitations and seeing their family for eight hours a day, like we weren’t trained for, experienced that. So I think it broke a lot of things, but we’re putting it back together as a community. And at my practice, we we individualize that treatment and making sure that we’re addressing every issue and every concern that clients have. So we’re a phone call away if anyone needs any advice, any support for what’s going on with crisis right now or in the past with Covid, we’re here for you.
Becky Coplen: I liked how you explained. It’s like this big picture in the community and the whole business, but then it’s very much individualized for the client and their specific needs of what they’re going through. What would you say to someone who might be exploring this field? What would you say to encourage them to warn them or just advice if you had someone that wanted to go down this path?
Amanda Gurgel: That’s a good question. During my own path, I think we all develop imposter syndrome. I remember, like, I need to take this course and I need to take that course, but I had so much experience already from the world, from being a teacher, from just so many things that I was like, trust yourself. Like if you really feel like this is your mission and your calling. Trust yourself. Yes, continue to take courses and tools and speak to other professionals that are in the industry. Seek professional help like coaching and consulting and different things like that. But be fearless. Don’t stay in the hamster wheel and in the matrix. I didn’t know the opportunities and potential of and the capacity I had could have grown Beyond-Counseling. I just literally started this three, four years ago. Before that, I was working in an agency like 9 to 5. Everything was like a beautiful little nursery and everything was packaged right for one k vacation time. All these things that I thought weren’t very important, but it kept me capped at a certain ability. And then I remember like it wasn’t really what I wanted. In terms like at Beyond-Counseling, we have the matching program and consultations to make sure that the client is happy. And the therapists, like, I remember being in an agency, I didn’t have that choice like a client would come to me. Despite our differences, despite our views, I would have to treat that client. And I just felt like that was unfair. So I think there’s just so much openness and so, so much untapped potential, all when you think about opening your private practice and also doing an internship, going to other group practices, being part of the community, going to networking events like you shouldn’t have to do this alone, nor do you have to. There’s so many resources. So, if the seed has been planted, take the initiative and start harvesting it for your season to come.
Becky Coplen: I really loved your insight about the matching in that it’s not just always about the client, but what is the therapist. How comfortable are they with the client? And a client will figure out if a therapist is struggling. So, I love that insight and we haven’t heard a lot about that. So that is I would say slightly unique to Beyond-Counseling. And thanks for bringing that out. We’ve gotten so many insights and great perspectives from you today, Amanda. She will be sharing some of her resources from Beyond-Counseling. If you are looking into going into this field, you can contact them. If you are looking for some help. They have people they can match with you. And so thank you Amanda for giving us your time today with all the many things you have going on. I hope this is shared and it just continues to grow. Your practice, your business, and even with the volunteering and help that you’re giving over the ocean, I hope more people will join in that as well. To our listeners, we thank you for tuning in today. Please give us feedback on Instagram and on our website, and we look forward to talking more about the world of counseling and therapy on our next episode. Saying goodbye for today. This is Becky. Thank you so much, Amanda.
Amanda Gurgel: Thank you, Becky, for having me here, and I hope my story helps other therapists that are planning on opening their own practice, and also bringing the community together so we can heal through any tragedies. We go together. We will get through it together. We are the light and the love.
Becky Coplen: Thanks so much, Amanda. Goodbye for now.
Amanda Gurgel: Take care. Thank you so much.
Becky Coplen: You’ve been listening to the Mastering Counseling podcast by mastersincounseling.org. Join us again next episode as we explore what it takes to be a business success in the counseling industry.