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Answering the Call to Help Others

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Beth Ratchford has been a NASE member since 2005 and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in private practice in Leesburg, Virginia. She works with adults of all ages but specializes in working with young adults in their 20s and early 30s. Some of her areas of focus include childhood trauma, family-of-origin issues, anxiety and depression and therapist counseling and consultation.

What inspired you to enter the field you are in?
My main inspiration for doing the work I do is because I’ve done my own healing work and know the profound impact it has had on my life. So I want to offer that to others. I also believe that being a therapist is my calling; it’s what I’m meant to be doing with my life.

When and why did you start your business?
I wasn’t being challenged in the job that I was in, nor did I feel like I was really using my gifts. I started my business in 2005 doing both leadership development/team building and counseling, but in 2008 decided to focus only on the counseling part of my business. Now I do feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. I’m so grateful that I get to be in a job that I love.

How do you market your business?
I have a website and am on a few therapist finder sites, but most of my referrals come by word of mouth both through colleagues and clients. Because of the nature of my work most people want to know something about my work and me before they contact me. I also spend time networking with other therapists and folks in the community so that they can get to know who I am.

What challenges have you faced in your business? How have you overcome them?
One of the biggest challenges for me has probably been self-doubt about whether or not I could make it in private practice. That shifted for me through a combination of self-reflection and also having people in my life who support what I’m doing. Another challenge I face is being in the mindset that I don’t just have a counseling practice, but that I’m running a business. The focus is a bit different. I have people around me who are business-minded so I’ve learned a lot from them and being around them reminds me of the importance of maintaining a business focus.

What’s the best thing about being self-employed?
I love knowing that what my business is today, and how it will grow in the future, is because of what I put into it. There’s something about that that’s really empowering. I also really like the flexibility of my schedule. That aspect of being self-employed contributes to my work/life balance, which is important to me.

What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to someone starting their own business?
My advice is based on something I wish I had done differently at the beginning. Ask for a lot of help. Talk to folks who are on the path ahead of you, both from your field and others, and ask tons of questions. Also, get good systems in place from the beginning.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received from a client?
I often have clients thank me for helping them, but the biggest compliment comes when a client refers someone to me. To me that means they’ve had a good experience with me and have seen change and healing in their life.

Which NASE member benefit is most important to you?
Help from the experts. It’s nice to know that there are people available to answer questions as they arise.

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