Female Feature Friday: Rachel Kurtz
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 Champaign-Urbana and surrounding communities.
Meet Rachel Kurtz, a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy.
Name: Rachel Kurtz
Business Name: Kurtz Counseling
Tell us about yourself!
I grew up in Dunlap, Illinois, and went to college in Arkansas. I majored in social work and then earned my Masters in Social Work in 2010 from the University of Illinois. My husband, Justin, and I have been married for almost four years and have two rescue pitbulls, Gary and Bonnie.
What made you decide that you wanted a career in social work?
Growing up, my parents placed a huge emphasis on benevolence. My sister then received her degree in social work and encouraged me to pursue it as she felt it would be a good fit.
When did you open your business?
I opened my own practice in the fall of 2017.
What made you decide to start your own business, and would you say you were more nervous or confident in the process?
Honestly, I never planned on opening my own practice. Yet as time went on, I wanted the freedom that I felt I did not get in any previous positions. I had a mix of emotions when opening my own practice. Luckily, I had a lot of great role models who have had successful small businesses, which have been critical in the success of my own practice.
You have a strong presence on social media with a following that continues to grow. Why do you think social media is important for your business?
When I first started my business Instagram, it was to connect and engage with others. I noticed there weren’t any local therapists who were actively on Instagram, and I wanted to be that resource for others. I wanted to be a resource for people in my community by providing them with tips on self-care, coping skill techniques, book recommendations and so on. Though social media has been a great marketing tool for my business, I will say that it allows people to truly get to know me and the type of therapy I provide.
Until recently, I didn’t realize that therapy was not a “one size fits all” approach. What would you say makes you unique as a therapist?
My knowledge, training and experience is specifically in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I focus a lot on trauma and how trauma impacts the way our brain develops, in turn, shaping the way we think. I have noticed that a lot of people have extensive childhood trauma, yet they may not have the awareness to acknowledge that it was trauma. My goal is to help them process through their trauma and validate their experiences.
How do you determine if a client is a good fit for your personality and style of therapy?
I tend to be upfront and honest with clients from the first session and let them know who I am and how I conduct therapy. This allows them to see if I am the right fit for them. During the first few sessions, I ask several questions regarding what their goals in therapy are in order that I can determine if I have the knowledge and experience in their reasons for seeking out therapy. I am direct in letting clients know if I feel as though I would not meet their needs, and then I try to assist them in finding a therapist that could be a better fit.
What are the biggest challenges you face within your line of work?
Boundaries. It can be difficult to set and implement boundaries regarding work, especially during Covid-19 when a lot of old clients are wanting to re-engage in therapy. I have had to intentionally set limits on how many clients I am able to serve weekly in order to preserve my energy and focus on my own mental health.
What could someone expect from the first few therapy sessions?
The first session is focused merely on rapport building, though this is something that I continuously do throughout all of my sessions. The first few therapy session are discussing background information and reviewing therapy goals. This can be overwhelming for clients, so I attempt to also get to know them on a personal basis by asking questions about their hobbies, favorite Starbucks drink and other fun facts to lighten the mood.
If you were limited to only preaching three key concepts in therapy, what would they be and why?
1. Be proactive regarding self-care. Do not wait until you are burned out to prioritize yourself and your mental health.
2. Focus on what you can control instead of what you can’t control.
3. Your feelings are valid. We live in a society where we minimize how people feel; therefore, I want clients to know that their feelings are important whatever they may be experiencing.
What would you say to someone who has never experienced therapy and is hesitant about starting?
It’s okay to be nervous. Starting therapy can be nerve-wracking, especially when you don’t know what to expect. I would suggest to them to research and find a therapist that they connect with. If they don’t connect with that therapist, keep searching. It is okay to interview your therapist to make sure they’re a good fit for you!
You can find Rachel online at kurtzcounseling.com and on Instagram @kurtzcounseling.