Senior Manager, Communications and Strategy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
May 25, 2023
Wanting to provide therapeutic care to the same community she grew up in, Melissa Bercier, PhD, LCSW, started facilitating “walk and talk therapy” with clients on the Illinois Prairie Path in 2012. Within two months the business grew so quickly that she set up a formal practice, Couch Clarity in Elmhurst, IL, and now provides traditional “on the couch” therapy and trains new private practice therapists.
To spotlight Small Business Month and Mental Health Awareness Month in May we asked Bercier, a member of the U.S. Chamber’s Small Business Council, to share her insight on being both a small business owner and mental health provider in today’s environment. The responses below have been edited for clarity.
Q. How has your business grown over the last decade? Is there a specific therapeutic service you are currently focusing on in your practice?
Bercier: I started providing walk and talk therapy to clients on the Illinois Prairie Path, a beautiful walking, running, and biking path. Within two months I needed to find a building to rent for my “home base” to also provide traditional “on the couch” therapy to those who preferred not to walk but just talk. My main interest has always been to “help the helper” and to provide training to new private practice therapists. Recently, I have created a Couch Clarity 101 program where I train new private practitioners.
Q. What are some of the newer methods of treatment that you’ve recently adopted and seen success with?
Bercier: We were forced to incorporate teletherapy with our clients due to the pandemic. While this is not the best form of therapy to provide due to not having the client in your office in person, teletherapy has allowed us to reach clients that we might not have otherwise due to proximity or scheduling issues. We are grateful to have teletherapy as an option, but we prefer to offer in-person therapy—especially for children and teens.
Q. Why are therapeutic mental health services important for people, and for communities?
Bercier: Our mental health is the hub of all the things that we do. Decision making, impulsivity, insight, personality, moods—all make up our mental health. Services that are easily accessible in communities can only improve our society’s overall mental health and safety. At Couch Clarity, we feel that we are helping the people of our community be better workers, better students, better family members, better friends, and overall better humans.
Q. What is it like running a small business in the mental health field?
Bercier: Running a private practice is very fulfilling. We often get positive feedback not only from our clients but from the members of our community. People seem to be very grateful that we offer mental health services within our community. We have created such a solid foundation of mental health help that our clients refer their families and friends regularly which keeps our referral base flowing and has led to our overall growth.
About the authors
Lindsay is a manager on the communications and strategy team. She previously worked as a writer and editor at U.S. News and World Report.