April 23, 2014

PMHC Graduates Create a Private Practice

Four PMHC graduates create their private practice Living Groove Counseling.

Cayla Panitz, Miranda Clark, Alishia Blevins, and Caroline McGrath enrolled in the Community Counseling program (currently the Professional Mental Health Counseling program) in 2009. While in the program, they discovered that their experiences would lead them to explore counseling from a variety of perspectives, an emphasis on diversity and self-care, and encouragement of developing their own unique counseling identity. They found that they were each touched and impacted by different subject areas and classes. Miranda learned that she was passionate about couple’s therapy; Caroline was introduced to expressive arts techniques that fed her desire to work with children and teens; Alishia gained confidence as a facilitator through the two group therapy classes she took and Cayla gained the knowledge and expertise she needed to specialize in eating disorders. All four developed close relationships with their mentoring advisors and were supported and encouraged to pursue a private practice. Four years after their journey together, they have developed their own private practice here in Portland called Living Groove Counseling.

Living Groove Counseling was conceived by coming together with a vision of providing affordable counseling services in a collaborative environment. They share similar values of acceptance, creativity and discovery and wanted to put these into practice.  They began by meeting together and having brainstorm sessions about what their practice would look like and what their practice would be named. Eventually, they were drawn to a name that recognized the complexities of living. They were working towards something that represented the varieties, ups, downs and curves that occur through life and ‘groove’ represented to them a unique path from which every person carves their story and the dynamic way in which this evolves over time. Solidifying on a name for their practice helped clarify their vision. From there, they sought guidance and mentorship from others in the field, including some Lewis & Clark professors and supervisors from their internship sites. After some hair-pulling, stressful nights of researching what it means to start a small business, filling out state required paperwork, creating the documents to use in their practice and getting lots of consultation, they were finally ready to start looking for a space from which to see clients.

Living Groove Counseling currently serves children, adolescents and adults, and those who are seeking the private practice “feel” without the private practice cost. They also serve clients who often feel judged based on appearance or lifestyle, those who are uninsured or without adequate mental health coverage and those unhappy with the impersonal, assembly line feel of a larger agency. Living Groove Counseling is working towards becoming an established part of the counseling community in Portland.

Life after Lewis & Clark and the start of their private practice hasn’t changed them much. They all continue to be in tune with the current events at the school. Miranda and Caroline are PIO fans and attend homecoming every year. Cayla and Alishia have been involved in Lewis & Clark’s first Venture Competition and they all attend continuing education events held throughout the year. In the future, they hope to facilitate workshops in the continuing education program at Lewis & Clark. Looking back, they can see now that Lewis & Clark prepared them to be effective, competent counselors and emphasized work in a community mental health setting. With support from select professors and business-oriented people in the community, they took the initiative to build their own collaborative practice. Here is their advice to current students, “You can do it! Hang in there!  Seek the support of those who believe in you and don’t listen to the naysayers. Know that you can be creative in making the job that you want. Have patience and be gentle with yourself.”