By Sarah Czopek, MS, LCPC, Owner & Executive Director
I am often asked how our practice came to exist. Not the boring parts like registering for a domain name or acquiring health insurance, but questions like "where did you get your name?" and "why did you decide to focus only on women and teen girls?" In truth, I didn't figure this all out at once, and things came into place as they usually do - bit by bit.
The story really starts with my own personal journey of healing. I think most therapists would tell you that they are in this field due to some sort of lived experience resulting in high empathy and compassion for others who are struggling through situations similar to their own pasts. Personally, I experienced quite a bit of anxiety and depression as an adolescent and young adult, which shaped my radar for others going through the same.
I had no idea, when I was young, that I would wind up a therapist - much less a practice owner. A natural and determined vocalist, I studied classical vocal performance and education, and music business, in my undergraduate years. But, my college summers were filled with internships in church youth group ministry, opening my eyes to all the many ways human beings can connect with one another and foster a sense of belonging, acceptance, and love. By the time I graduated, I knew where I was headed next.
Fast forwarding a number of years, I found myself asking "what's next" again after spending
close to a decade working in a therapeutic day school with families impacted by special needs such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, and more. I worked with many mothers who were under constant stress, neurotypical siblings who experienced secondary trauma, and teachers, speech pathologists, and behaviorists pressured to problem-solve for some of the most difficult scenarios I've ever seen people face.
The theme of anxiety and trauma became louder, and louder, and louder. It was everywhere. And in January 2020, I decided I wanted to do more to help.
The roots of Grace & Gratitude Counseling started right then, though I couldn't possibly have known we were about to be thrust unwillingly into a years-long global pandemic that created trauma the likes of which had never been experienced. By the grace of God, by the time the pandemic fell upon us in mid-March 2020, I had already set up the foundations needed to begin seeing clients via telehealth and serve our community as well as I could (ahem, with my own then-kindergartener and three year old toddler at home).
When I began to focus in on who MOST needed help during that unprecedented season, women just like me were the ones I saw drowning out there. Bearing the mental load of e-learning and supporting dysregulated and disrupted kiddos, juggling work and home, freaking out internally about everything that was out of control, and basically just trying to stay afloat.
I saw all around me women and teen girls who push themselves to the brink of exhaustion trying to do it all, which is a story I am not altogether unfamiliar with. They (ok, we) needed help, and not in a generic, one-size-fits-all kind of way.
And there, in the midst of conducting telehealth sessions from the side of our son's nursery room that didn't show the crib/toddler bed, Grace & Gratitude Counseling was born. A therapy practice by women, for women, to offer counseling services that help women and teen girls to feel truly seen and understood - toxic perfectionism, people-pleasing, and overthinking included.
The name itself took quite some time (over a year, in fact) to come up with. It jumped out at me during a session with a client. I recall casually jotting it down on my notepad in the margin and continuing to focus on my client, then coming back to it later with excitement. Grace for self and others. Gratitude for all that is good, in spite of what has gone wrong in our lives. Grace & Gratitude...two things we could all use more of in our lives.
The rest, as they say, is hist----errrm, HERstory. Our practice has grown to specialize in women's anxiety and trauma work, largely from a
process-oriented lens using advanced level modalities such as Internal Family Systems (IFS) and Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). We hire clinicians who come to us saying "I just relate so much to your website and mission" and who then serve clients who come to us saying the same.
We have grown to include therapy and support group offerings, and as I write this we are in the process of launching intensives, workshops, programs, and more to serve our local community and beyond.
I am honored to lead such an incredible team of therapists and am continually bowled-over by the community's response to our niche. We are grateful for every woman and teen girl that comes to us for their counseling journey and pray for their lifelong, deep-rooted healing. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to be there for you.
~ Sarah Czopek, MS, LCPC, Owner & Executive Director