Join us in congratulating the finalists for the 29th Annual Loudoun Small Business Awards! Beckner Counseling is a finalist in the Health & Wellness Business of the Year category. Get your tickets for the big event before they’re sold out, Friday, November 10, 2023. Event Details Here
Tell us the story of your business/nonprofit and how it’s evolved.
I decided to open my private practice in the height of COVID (July 2020). At the time I was working at a hospital as a clinical therapist and was struggling to find outpatient therapists who had availability for my clients as they discharged from the hospital. I started to pursue branching out on my own so that there would be another provider that people within the community could turn to. A large population of clients that I see are working towards recovery from an eating disorder, and it can be very difficult to find a therapist with experience in that field! In October of 2021 while prepping for my first maternity leave I thought it would be a great idea to bring a second therapist onto my team to serve as a seamless transition for my clients while I was absent, and again to have yet another therapist in Loudoun County. April 2022 came and a third therapist joined my team and was able to make us more marketable as she has experience working with couples and women experiencing infertility, perinatal, and postpartum mental health symptoms.
What are you most proud of when it comes to your team?
I am most proud of a recent training that we all completed as an entire team. According to the CDC, there is 1 death by suicide every 11 minutes in the United States. As a team, we agreed to pursue becoming CAMS (Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality) trained. The goal of the CAMS framework is to help clients manage suicidal thoughts instead of immediately being sent to the hospital. My pride with being able to offer this framework comes with our increase in confidence in being able to effectively work with clients experiencing suicidal thoughts. We are looking forward to having our clients be able to discuss any and all thoughts that they have without fear of being sent to the hospital if they are willing to collaborate with us to manage their risk.
In what ways do you give back to the Loudoun community?
As a business that is located in the DMV where there is a high population of community members who are active duty military or veterans, we work hard to offer low cost therapy options to our community members with Tricare. We provide a 33% discount to our military, veterans, and their families. As a veteran-spouse myself, this was something that I was very passionate about doing when making the decision to be a private-pay practice instead of accepting insurance.
Outside of Tricare members, we do offer affordable groups and low-cost therapy sessions to the civilian community as well. We are always happy to talk to clients about what they are able to afford. If we are unable to provide a service we also have an extensive referral list that we can pull from to give to potential clients so that they don’t feel that the road stops with us if we are not the right fit.
We have also enjoyed participating in different community events and expos to educate the community on our services and the importance of taking care of your mental health in the same way you do your physical health.
What would it mean to you and your business to win a Small Business Award?
Finding out that I was nominated for a Small Business Award really left me speechless! When I first decided to open my business, I never imagined even having a team never mind being recognized within the community just a few years after opening! I grew up in Massachusetts and watched my mom and dad run a small business and never expected to follow in their footsteps. I ended up losing my dad at the age of 17 due to a combination of physical and mental health challenges, so I know he would be incredibly proud of me if we were chosen as a winner. For that reason alone, it would continue to mean more than I could even express.
Who is the one person that has influenced you the most in your career?
There was one person in my life who influenced me enough to become a social worker myself. The social worker at my high school had an incredible impact on my life after losing my dad in high school, and being the point of contact for a class that I took before graduating where I was mentoring underclassmen. I feel so fortunate that she is still in my life today and that we are able to keep in touch because she had such a profound effect on my life and showed me what it was like to be heard and help me understand that my fathers challenges were not caused by anything I was doing, but by a disease that he ultimately lost his life to. Now I’m lucky enough to point out some of these same things to my clients as well.
While in my mentoring class, an underclassmen confided in me that he was considering suicide as an option. At 16, I was able to share this information with the school social worker and the guidance counselor so that the student could receive the help that he needed. Because of the relationship she built with me, I’m also still able to maintain the friendship I built with that student- over 10 years later (and he just recently got married)!
What did you want to be when you grew up as a child?
As a child, I always wanted to be a marine biologist. I was born and raised on Cape Cod in Massachusetts and was lucky enough to be surrounded by the beach and ocean. I remember being in elementary school and going to the beach when there was a pod of whales that had beached themselves. We were able to help the marine biologists put water and towels on the whales in an effort to keep them alive until more help arrived. Although my client population changed, even from a young age I was driven to be a “helper”.
If you’re not in the office, where can we find you/what is another passion you have?
When I’m not sitting in my therapy office, I am usually with my (soon to be) 2 children and husband, working out, or focusing on home improvement projects. My husband and I really enjoy taking our kids to the park or going on walks as a family with our dogs. One of my passions over the last 7 or so years has been weight lifting and we have been able to add a squat rack and cable machine to our garage gym so that I can continue focusing on joyful movement while my little ones nap! Do-it-yourself projects are one of my favorite things to do to have some time to myself and turn our house into the modern home we dreamt it would be. It always amazes me what paint can do!
How do you see your business evolving in the next 5 years?
It’s incredibly important for me to have full confidence in my team so I’m unsure if I will continue to add other team members. I would be open to exploring the option should the community continue to show me that there is a need and if I was able to find a great fit for my practice. I would really love to prioritize providing education specifically around eating disorders and eating disorder treatment to other medical providers within Loudoun County. I desperately want our client population to be heard in a way that they feel confident discussing their wellness wins and struggles with their medical team, and to be free from judgment and shame.
Responses written by Dylan Beckner, LCSW, Beckner Counseling