188: Melissa Douglass (Goal Driven Counseling)

Melissa Douglass on Innovation City

“When people go to therapy, they’re opening up their full life story to a stranger.” -Melissa Douglass

Welcome to Season 5 of Innovation City (The St. Louis Edition), a podcast featuring innovators, creators, and disruptors to discover how business is changing in the modern world.

Created and produced by SLAM! Agency and Aīre Ventures, Innovation City gives you an inside look at how rapidly business and culture are changing thanks to increasing diversity and inclusion, heightened creativity, and a stronger and better-connected business community.

Today’s guest is Melissa Douglass, Founder and Virtual Clinical Director at Goal Driven Counseling, one of the first 100% virtual group practices in the U.S. Melissa is a talented counselor and a savvy businesswoman who built her practice from the ground up. In this episode, Melissa sits down with the team to discuss removing mental health stigmas, normalizing the concept of mental health goals, and business tips for counselors with their own practice!

They discuss:

  • Melissa’s Superpower
    • The power of being the helper
    • She credits this to her grandmother raising her in a way that was always about giving back to people.
  • Where did your focus on goal-driven counseling come from?
    • Melissa’s grandmother adopted her at a young age. Her father was killed, and her mother was addicted to substances. Despite this, she still had a good childhood.
    • She held this misconception for most of her life that she was just “okay.” That all changed when she went to college.
    • When she got to college, she realized she was holding onto a lot. She started focusing on mental health. This work on herself pushed her to realize that it was her field.
  • Trauma
    • So much of unpacking trauma is a journey of awareness and a skill set.
    • We often don’t have the language to realize and express that we experienced trauma.
  • The Work of Being a Counselor
    • Melissa feels that her work is a privilege and an honor.
    • She often tells her clients, “You hired me, and I work for you now.”
    • She sees her job as understanding life through her clients’ eyes and crafting an individualized treatment and intervention plan that meets their needs.
  • When do people come to you?
    • In our Western society, we are goal-driven. Melissa wanted to normalize the concept of going to therapy to set and achieve mental health goals.
    • Often people come to Melissa when something challenging is going on, and other times people are unaware of what’s happening but are experiencing feelings that are becoming unbearable.
    • People also come to her for good things, like when they achieve milestones. It’s important to remember that great things can also come with stress.
  • How do you describe to people the process of growth and healing?
    • It’s a process, and it’s a journey. It’s different for everyone.
    • Melissa describes the journey to peeling back the layers of an onion.
    • We have to honor the duality of the process. People may have childhood traumas that slowly unfold.
    • Therapy isn’t just laying an approach on people; you have to listen and craft the best treatment intervention.
  • How do you destigmatize the conversations around mental health and therapy?
    • Bring it out of the house and you talk about it in the streets
    • She was a community-based social worker and focused on education and awareness.
    • It’s really exciting this time in our country because that stigma is decreasing.
    • She has worked with youth who express that the stigma is being removed, but they don’t know what to do next. They need help accessing the resources.
  • Turning a Mental Health Practice into a Business
    • Goal Driven Counseling is celebrating its fourth anniversary. Four years ago, Melissa had no clue about business.
    • She took marketing classes with Tyler Kelley, co-found of SLAM! Agency which helped her grow tremendously.
    • Melissa’s grateful to have colleagues who helped her and joined her. The first few contractors to join her practice were good friends.
    • She also learned how important it is to pull in the A-Team professionals.
    • Melissa started understanding that if you want a successful business, you have to invest in a successful business. Those free Facebook groups will only get you so far.
  • What have you learned about yourself as a founder and entrepreneur?
    • Melissa has learned that she’s the visionary
    • She was the details person in previous roles, and it’s no surprise why she always felt stifled.
    • She’s learning to become more comfortable with her abilities and not be afraid to make a mistake.

Lightning Round:

  • What was your childhood dream?
    • To be a defense attorney
  • How do you show love to others?
    • She’s a “doer” and a words of affirmation person
  • Where have you found peace?
    • Continuing to learn and grow as her authentic self
  • What would you do if you were not afraid?
    • Be a lot further along on her goals list
  • How does fear manifest in your life?
    • Anxiety, doubting herself

Get in Touch

Goal Driven Counseling Website
Connect with Goal Driven Counseling on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn
Melissa’s Personal Instagram