Brittney McVey: Female Feature Friday
It is no secret that I am passionate about women's empowerment and women in leadership positions. As women's history month ended in March, a new series emerged here at The Honest Mama blog. Each week throughout April and May, Female Feature Fridays will spotlight local female entrepreneurs in the Champaign-Urbana and surrounding communities.
Meet Brittney McVey, a licensed clinical social worker and life coach who is passionate about empowering women to live their best life.
Name: Brittney McVey
Business Name: Brittney McVey Life Coaching
Tell us about yourself!
I moved to Champaign five years ago with the intention of only staying a year or two. I quickly found a supportive community and decided to make this my home! I enjoy being active and love hiking, running, yoga, and weight training. I find staying physically fit is not only good for my body, but does wonders for my mental and emotional health. I recently got a mini goldendoodle (Teddy) and he motivates me to get outside even on days when the weather is less than ideal! Travel is one of the things I enjoy most about life, especially if I can find an opportunity to scuba dive, and I have been to over 20 countries.
When did you open your business?
I started my life coaching business in 2019 to give women a safe space to work on personal growth. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker having experience in both the non-profit and private sectors, I realized I was connecting most with women so I felt it was important to provide a service specifically for women to discuss their overall well-being and feel supported along their life journey. I tailor each coaching session to help clients set positive, achievable goals in their desired areas of growth. Many women benefit from life coaching because it gives them a scheduled time throughout their busy lives to focus on themselves.
What were the biggest pros and biggest cons of starting your own business?
Pros: Financial and scheduling freedom. While in private practice, I felt like I was on a hamster wheel and wanted the autonomy to be selective with my clientele and my day-to-day schedule as well as have the financial flexibility that comes with entrepreneurship. My overall goal is to never work 40 hours a week again!
Cons: It’s JUST me so my business only does as well as the effort I put into it. Some days it is very taxing, but I’m learning as I go and feel confident that my business will continue to experience growth in the coming years because in my heart of hearts, I believe in what I’m doing.
Therapy and life coaching seem to have a lot of crossover. Since you are both a licensed clinical social worker and a life coach, can you explain what the difference is between those two designations and what your potential clients could expect from either service?
While there is an overlap because we all experience stress, anxiety, sadness, grief, and anger, to name a few, there is a difference between these life experiences being a natural part of life and when they start to negatively impact our well-being in a more severe manner. As an LCSW, I focus more on clients with diagnosable mental health concerns. For example, working with those who have major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, attentive deficit disorder, and behavioral health concerns such as oppositional defiant disorder and those needing help with anger management, would find greater benefit in working with a licensed mental health professional. As a life coach, I help clients with goal-setting in areas like physical health, time management, and relationship and career goals.
The benefit of being both an LCSW and a life coach is that I have the knowledge and skill set to help clients determine which service is best for them. The best way to separate the two is for clients to think about if they want a quick-paced service that will help them set and reach their goals in a matter of weeks or months (in which case life coaching would be appropriate) or do we need to take a deeper dive into their emotional, mental, and behavioral well-being that may takes months or years to really understand (in which case counseling would be more appropriate). If I find that a life coaching client wants or needs more support, then I will either transition them onto my counseling case load or help them find a mental health provider. I truly believe in helping all clients find the most appropriate services to meet their needs.
Something people might not realize is that therapy is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach and that therapists all have unique qualities and practices. What would you say makes you unique as a therapist and life coach?
One aspect that has helped me work more effectively with clients is working with my own therapist. I tell prospective clients “you don’t have to wait until the ship is sinking to reach out for help.” Having a therapist gives me a touch point that provides an opportunity to explore issues and talk candidly with an unbiased third party who gives me another perspective to contemplate. Just as my therapist provides a space for me to discuss problems that I feel are most important, I create that same opportunity for my life coaching and counseling clients. I encourage each client to determine what they want to work on and we take a team approach to create positive, lasting changes that leave them feeling more satisfied with life while helping them learn new skills and techniques to tackle life’s challenges.
What are the biggest challenges you face within your line of work?
One of the biggest challenges is “convincing” women that it is okay for them to take time to work on themselves. So often I find that women are struggling, but feel selfish or guilty for taking even an hour or two each week to do something for themselves. Overall, women wear a number of hats daily: childcare provider, working full or part time outside of the home, chef, chauffeur, romantic partner, etc. Life coaching gives women permission to take time to focus on their well-being so that they can continue to do ALL the things they do while feeling more balanced with their commitments and obligations.
If you were limited to only talking about three key concepts to help your clients, what would they be and why?
Goal setting, stress management, and acceptance. Knowing how to set measurable, achievable goals is key to overcoming challenges and creating a more balanced life. Because we all experience stress, knowing the difference between distraction, avoidance, and positive and negative coping skills is hugely beneficial. Acceptance can provide a sense of peace by knowing and understanding that there are some circumstances out of our control but that there are strategies and techniques to help us cope.
Since your work is so interpersonal, how do you manage to disconnect from it at the end of the day and not take it home with you?
I have to set boundaries with clients such as when I will and won’t respond to texts, emails, etc. I remind myself that I am a blip on the radar in their life journey and that I will not be most effective as a provider if I stretch myself too thin. Having my own set of healthy coping skills helps me disengage at the end of the day and keeps me balanced.
What are the biggest misconceptions you hear about therapy or life-coaching?
The biggest misconception about therapy or life coaching is “only crazy people need counseling.” Because we live in an individualist culture and are often given that "tough love, pick yourself up by your boot straps" mentality, people can feel weak for reaching out for help. I think the opposite is true; that it takes real strength to let someone in on what is actually going on in your world. Most people who participate in counseling or life coaching find that these services offer a wide variety of benefits, none of which include being told “you’re crazy.”
What would you say to someone who has never experienced therapy or life-coaching and is hesitant to start?
I would tell them to try it out and see how they feel after 2-4 sessions. The first session usually consists of asking questions and can be thought of as an interview – am I an appropriate therapist/life coach for this client and vice versa? I always encourage clients to keep an open mind when working with someone new and to trust their gut. If it doesn’t seem like a good fit, move on and find another professional who you connect with. I never take it personally when a client decides I’m not the best person to help them. The door is always open for clients to return should they decide that’s in their best interest. So many factors play into clients being “ready” for counseling or life coaching and most people never feel totally prepared, but that’s kind of the whole point…to get into it and see what happens!
For more information on Brittney McVey's services, visit https://www.bmcveylifecoaching.com.