Lucy Hills-Gale, MBACP - Founder of Space to Talk Counselling, Eastleigh, Hampshire. Mum of two, coffee addict and long suffering guitar wife.
I honestly never thought I would be the sort of person to start my own business, I just didn’t think I’d have the guts, let alone the, know how. But here I am, two years in to owning my own private counselling practice, Space to Talk.
I had just found out I was pregnant with my second child when the Covid19 Pandemic hit in 2020. The funding was about to run out for where I was currently counselling and amazingly, despite the fact that they would have to start paying, several of the clients wanted to keep seeing me. Buoyed up by hormones, I thought why not, lets give it ago. I initially just had those few clients, and then a few more came on board and I coasted along with online sessions, until my maternity leave in October. I said goodbye to my clients, promising to make contact the following year when I was ready to start practising again.
It got to January 2021 and I received a message from one of the old clients asking if I was ready to start seeing clients again or could recommend someone else. It was sooner than I had planned, I was very much still in the midst of new born chaos, breastfeeding and getting very little sleep. But doing one session a week felt manageable, so I went for it. It wasn’t long before other clients were reaching out and I began to up my weekly sessions.
As my son grew older, we needed to make him a nursery and that meant turfing my husband out of his music room. We had decided that we were going to build a cabin the garden for his recording space, and it could also double up as a counselling space for me too. We had already begun constructing the cabin, and with much help from both sets of parents, in particular my Dad, it was finished in the late spring.
It was at this point that I begun to realise that if I wanted my practice to be a success, I better start getting things sorted and spreading the word. The thing is, they don’t teach you to run a business during your counselling training, so I really didn’t know much. I joined some forums, did my research, built myself a website; www.spacetotalk.co.uk, designed a logo and business cards, registration forms and sorted my insurance! I made the decision not to return to my part time job in a school and by July 2021 I was set up and ready for more clients. I expected to stay with the few clients I had for a bit but as soon as my website and directory entries went live, the enquiries started rolling in. My social media pages started getting more followers and word of mouth spread.
I won’t lie, its been tough, my son was a terrible sleeper for the first year and consistent naps have been something we could only dream of. I’m still breastfeeding, so sessions have had to fit around that, which has been a real challenge. My husband and I have had juggle childcare between us to fit around both children and I have to find time for admin, CPD, and general up keep of the business around the children. The funny thing is, it is only now, that my son is 19 months and I’m finally getting some sleep and not feeding as regularly, that I realise if I hadn’t been so consumed with pregnancy and new born baby life, I probably would have had the time to talk myself out of starting the practice!
It’s been a challenging few years, learning new skills, juggling childcare and working during a pandemic but I have amazing clients and I couldn’t be prouder of what Space to Talk has become. Earlier this year I was awarded, “Online Counselling Service of the year” at the Prestige South East awards. I’m currently fully booked and my counselling vision has grown too. I’m working with a wide range of client issues, both online and face to face and I’m currently developing my niche, offering a space to empower women to connect with their bodies and embrace their sex and intimacy. I’m working on a monthly newsletter and have just been a guest speaker on a podcast for mums called, Tits, Tums and all things Mum. The episode focuses on the challenges motherhood throws at us, and the impact this can have on maternal mental health. I will be recording another episode soon focusing on post partum sex and intimacy. You can check out the podcast right now on Spotify, with my episodes airing in August and September 2022.
I whole heartedly believe, that like a lot of things, there is no “perfect’ time to start a business, so if you’ve been thinking about, I say give it a go, you’d probably regret it more, if you didn’t!
You can find more information about what I do, or book some counselling with me over at my website www.spacetotalk.co.uk and you can also find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/spacetotalkcounselling or over on Instagram at www.instagram.com/spacetotalk_counselling or www.instagram.com/sexual_empowerment_counsellor
You can also subscribe to my newsletter, The Space, to receive monthly, mental health and wellbeing information, news and updates. I look forward to meeting some of you soon.
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