Amy Reamer is the Founder of Heart and Mind Therapy and author of Tame Your Tiger Brain Training based in Richmond, Virginia. Heart and Mind has a specific focus on early childhood trauma and neglect, adoption issues, and developmental and learning disabilities.
We had the great pleasure of speaking to Amy about her discovering her passion later in life, her children’s book, “Toby the Tiger Tamer,” and the possibility of starting a nonprofit in the future.
Q: Where are you from?
A: I’m from Richmond, Virginia.
Q: Where did you go to college?
A: I received my Bachelors from University of Phoenix and I received my Masters from Capella University. I earned my degrees later in life, which is pretty unusual in this field.
Q: What did you study in school?
A: I received my Bachelors in Human Services Management, my Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy, and a Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Psychology - Play Therapy Specialty. In school I focused all of my research and studies in the areas of developmental trauma, attachment and adoption. I’m a registered play therapist and waiting for approval as a Registered Play Therapist Supervisor.
Q: Tell me about your career before becoming an entrepreneur / business owner.
A: I was an emergency dispatcher for 19 years and worked as a travel agent before going back to school. While getting my bachelors, I worked as a post adoption case manager. When I was getting my masters, I did intensive in-home counseling and continued after I had graduated for five years prior to opening Heart and Mind.
Q: Tell me about the transition from your career to entrepreneurship / what drove your passion to change careers?
A: Well, it all started with the adoption of my daughter from an orphanage. Before we adopted her, I was doing research and reading everything I could on childhood trauma and it stirred a passion I’d never explored before. I owned a travel agent business before so I knew about running a business. The only issue was I wasn’t sure if I wanted to own another business again but realized I couldn’t pursue my passion within someone else’s business plan. Life is funny that way.
Q: What is your company?
A: My company is Heart and Mind Therapy Services. We are a very strength-based group and believe highly in our clients. We also provide brain-training programs for our clients - Tame Your Tiger. We understand that early trauma greatly impacts you physically, especially your nervous system. However, what makes us so unique is that we don’t focus specifically on diagnoses we see people.
Q: What made you want to start a business and not a nonprofit?
A: I toyed with the idea for a while, but nonprofits tend to not pay therapists as well and tend to hire first-time therapists. Owning a business, however, allows people to grow in their specific niche. We will likely do a non-profit at some point, but Heart and Mind has to be in a really good groove before we move forward with that.
Q: How long have you been in business?
A: In 2013, I published my book, “Toby the Tiger Tamer” so I started my LLC to publish the book. It’s a book that basically teaches children about their brains and the effects of trauma using animals to represent the parts of the brain impacted, from the point of view of a child struggling with emotion regulation. We opened to clients for therapy and braining training in 2015.
Q: What was the biggest surprise as a business owner from working as an employee?
A: After I opened Heart and Mind, I realized how much easier owning a travel agency was. Once Heart and Mind became more successful and began to grow, I realized I didn’t know as much as I thought. I also learned that I can’t do and know everything. It made me learn how to ask for help, something I’ve never been very good at.
Q: What have been the biggest challenges in growing the business? What have you done differently as a result?
A: Well my business is still growing, so one of my biggest challenges is patience. I’m more of a big-picture thinker but you don’t have the money or the time to reach that bigger picture right away. I’ve had to train myself to stop the impulses, stick to the plan, and plan for future events.
Q: As a successful business owner, do you have work / life balance? How have you managed to improve the joy and fulfillment in your life.
A: I do try to have that balance. I’ve found it takes learning how to do it. Some of these efforts I make are small but effective. I don’t see clients on Fridays and have no set office hours on Fridays so I can be off, or do catch up work. If I do have weekend work I have to do, I leave that work for Sunday evening. My husband and I started this thing while I was getting my masters where, in-between my clients, my husband and children planned dinners with me. I sort of knew from the get-go to take personal days, but it’s still a work in progress.
Q: What can we and others in the community do to help your business grow and be more successful?
A: What really helps my company is the public being open to learning about the brain, the impact of it, and being open to outside the box thinking and moving away from the go to’s related to diagnosis of medication. A lot of people believe that therapy is an internal process, when external forces are just as influential. That being said, I encourage parents of my clients to address their own unresolved issues that may get in the way of their relationship with their child. In terms of helping Heart and Mind getting more clients, it’s usually a word-of-mouth referral. I hope satisfied clients will let others that could benefit from our therapy or brain training know about their experience so they can be aware of what we do and seek us out if needed.
Q: What advice would you give other entrepreneurs / small business owners?
A: I would tell them to get a good business coach. Even if you have knowledge, it’s better to have someone with training in areas you don’t have experience or expertise. This is especially important if you started a business from a passion and not from a business standpoint, like I did.
“How I Got Started...” is a blog series that spotlights the entrepreneurial and life journeys of various small business owners and professionals. The content of this blog was curated by members of the CreativeMktGroup team.
Heart and Mind Therapy