In February 2013, I sat at our kitchen table and told my husband I was leaving my position in the school district to pursue starting a private practice.
Starting a private practice had always been that "whisper" in the back of my mind - all because of Harrison - the 3 year-old little boy with autism I met in graduate school.
But, leaving a secure position in the school district was a risk. With a 17 month-old, my family relied on my income. When I shared my vision with my husband, he said, "You are going to do what? We need your income to survive so you are going to need to have a regular paycheck from your private practice by September 15."
I didn't tell anyone my plans initially.
Instead, I worked during the day and, late at night, after putting my baby to sleep, I competed the paperwork to establish an LLC. I learned how to build a website, set up an email account, and started creating forms.
On May 30, 2013, I finished my last day in Blue Valley and entered the world of private practice.
Bringing Therapy Home started with me, my white 2004 Mazda 3, and a handful of clients - driving from home to home, doing therapy with the child on the floor.
I would receive a new referral and said "yes" to everything. I worked 7 days a week, often 12-14 hour days. I drove distances further away than the length of the session I was going for. In that first year, I put over 30,000 miles on my car.
I was often told some of my business concepts were surprising. Many people would say, "Your profit margins are too small" or "This isn't a sustainable business model." I would hear, "You may be able to do this short-term, but you are going to burn out."
But I knew. I knew it could be done.
I knew therapy could be provided at a rate that did not cause families to work even more hours. I wanted families in the therapy session with us - not at work to pay for the therapy session. Setting my rates was an area of contention from others and they would say, "You are worth more than that. You need to increase your rates. You are doing a disservice to other therapists with those rates."
But I knew my value was not tied to a rate. I knew my value was tied to the kind of interactions I'd have with kids during play.
I knew every child deserved someone that believed in them, could see their strengths, would collaborate with the family, and that every child had unlimited potential.
Our team grew from just me to a team of speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, a music therapist, special education teachers, and group assistants.
By 2015, Bringing Therapy Home had grown to a capacity where providing in-home therapy was no longer an option. If we were going to continue to serve families and kids, we needed a center-based location. I sat with my business plan working numbers, creating goals, and we depleted our savings account to open the center. Everything was on the line.
But I knew. I knew it could be done.
Was I scared? Was I frightened? Did I worry that I was risking our home if I couldn't pay the commercial rent?
I was terrified. But, I live with the motto, "If you aren't doing something that scares you, then your goals are too small."
It's all possible because of the people I have surrounded myself with.
My husband - he looks at me with amazement when I talk, he is my sounding board and biggest encourager. We often joke about the conversation on that frigid night in February 2013. He often says, "I thought you were crazy, but I also knew that some of your best ideas are the craziest ones."
My children - they live life laughing, being in the moment, and looking out for others. They are kind, gentle reminders to live life with intent.
Team members - therapists that are incredibly dedicated, who treat Bringing Therapy Home like their own, who have the same purpose - who remember precisely what we are doing -who love deep, think big, and believe with every ounce of their being. We are a village. I watch or listen to them in therapy sessions and I'm in awe.
Families - the families of BTH - they are inspiring. They are strong, brave, loving, and persistent. "No" is not an option. They have become my family. They are a community and the world is a better place because of their love and advocacy.
The kids - kids that are magical - kids that prove anything is possible. Kids that are genuine, have the deepest connections, live in the moment, dance without caring, sing loudly, bounce with happiness when they walk, and have life figured out.
All of these people are the reason I knew it could be done.
It is just getting started.
~Marena Mitchell, Founder of Bringing Therapy Home
Bringing Therapy Home
"Play is the brain's favorite way of learning" Diane Ackerman