Fear is an emotion that many seek therapists to overcome. But for licensed marriage and family psychotherapist Shanti Regester, overcoming the fear of starting her own private practice is something that she’s had to come to grips with. Her practice is located in Huntington Beach, California. Her office overlooks a small pond where she comes for a quiet moment to decompress in between patients. These days she is quite literally booked and busy. It wasn’t always that way. She started by subletting an office space with other counselors. She did so to help cut overhead costs, but mostly out of fear of launching out on her own.
“When I first got started, I didn’t even know I was even starting. I prayed and prayed. God gave me the confidence to start,” she said.
Overcoming fear. Regester’s love for children is what inspired her to go into psychotherapy. She initially wanted to open a daycare. But with a child of her own at 17, she realized minimum wage would not be enough to support her. Wanting to make a larger impact, she majored in psychology and worked in community and mental health for ten years.
In 2017 after giving birth to her second child, Regester decided it was time to start her own business. But she wasn’t sure how. For one, the cost of renting an office space, especially without clients, was the biggest hurdle that kept her from opening her own practice. So, she started out by subletting an office space with another counselor for two days per week. There she learned about insurance billing, HIPAA laws and other business practices that come along with the territory. Her big break came when she was featured in Psychology Today. Getting this type of exposure in a national magazine led to more clients seeking her services. Her clientele list eventually grew in such a way that she was forced to open her practice. Now she is open five days per week treating children, teens and adults exposed to trauma. Her caseload is booked solid which means she is not accepting any new patients.
Advice for others. Regester didn’t come from a family of psychotherapists. There was no one to guide her along the way. And what she learned in college about psychology wasn’t enough to teach her how to run the business itself. She learned everything by chance. Her advice to others who want to become psychotherapists could apply to anyone wanting to open any type of business. “Gain research and gain support. The more you know, the more confident you are,” she advised. She also encouraged entrepreneurs to seek support from other professionals in their respective industries.
Keys to Success. In addition to learning business skills and applying what she learned in college, Regester said the keys to her success are built on certain philosophical truths. “You have to be a person who is honest and trustworthy,” she said. “Eighty percent of the job is just being there. In this field, you have to be present, calm and receiving. Without it, you won’t have consistency with returning clients,” she added.
Looking ahead. Her next goal is to have other therapists work with her in a group practice. She also wants to open a parent education center. She admitted these goals come with a new set of fears, but her goal to help others outweighs them all. “I want to reach more people. I want to help a community that doesn’t have money,” she said. To do that, she knows she’ll need to expand her business knowledge to handle things like payroll, grant writing, worker’s compensation, marketing, business planning and also raise money to buy a larger property.
Regester has also written a book called Learning What Works: Discover Your Baby and Yourself. It gives advice to moms to help them build a healthy attachment to their child during the first months of life. She wants to turn her book into a curriculum and offer classes for new moms. To do that, she’ll be looking for a program manager to help design a program that supports her mission to help children.
It is her faith that has given her a firm footing thus far. She said she’ll continue to rely on that to take her to the next level. “I need God in this. I am just a vessel,” she said.
To order Regester’s book, visit: http://www.learningwhatworksbook.com/
Visit Regester’s website at: shantimentalhealth.com