Positivity helps drive rapidly growing counselling service

Julie Carter stands outside 297 Wellington St. where her new counselling service opens in a few weeks. Cathy Dobson

 Sarnia’s Julie Carter says she’s good at taking calculated risks in life and in business.

“If you don’t try things, you’ll never know,” says the 46-year-old social worker. “I’m lucky. I have really good coping skills and tons of support.”

That ability to take risk has served her well through a 23-year career in social work, taking her to Ottawa, Port Huron, St. Thomas, London, Walpole Island, Vancouver and Korea, where she tried her hand at teaching.

She’s earned a Masters in Social Work, is a PhD candidate, worked for the Office of the Children’s Lawyer for seven years, managed at the St. Thomas Children’s Aid Society and, at one point, moved with her twins to France to learn the language.

Carter returned to her hometown of Sarnia in 2014, and decided last year to leave a management job at the CAS to care for her sick daughter.

In characteristic form, Carter quit with confidence she’d find another way to pay the bills.

She opened a private practice in January that allows her to work around her daughter’s health-related needs at home.

Carter was confident she’d find a strong client base and other clinicians who wanted to join her, but she never guessed how quickly the business would grow.

Julie Carter Counselling Services started in leased rooms at the Royal Lepage building on Christina Street with Carter, one other social worker and a psychotherapist contracting out their services.

Within 10 months, Carter has bought and renovated a building with expanded office space in Sarnia, and opened a second location in Chatham.

The Sarnia offices at 297 Wellington St. will open in December with six clinicians, including Carter.

“I believe good things will come if you are positive,” she said.  “Although there are some days that are a little scary, I know that in a worst case scenario I have about 10 “Plan B’s.”

Carter attributes her rapid success to a high local demand for counselling services, experience, and a staunch belief that therapy works.

“I honestly delight in people,” she said. “This comes naturally.  I feel like (my clients) partner with me to learn how to heal themselves.

“I do think that with the right help, people can heal from anything. I’ve worked with probably some of the most disadvantaged people and I’ve seen them get better and start to have some hope.”

Carter specializes in clinical hypnotherapy, which assists people with anxiety or chronic pain.  She also offers couples counselling and has various approaches to deal with depression, grief, trauma, and separation.

She and the other therapists joining her at 297 Wellington St. plan to offer group sessions and workshops for youth with chronic pain, walk and talk therapy, professionals experiencing compassion fatigue, yoga groups for people recovering from cancer, and support for bringing new babies home.

“I put a lot of trust in the people who work with me,” Carter said.  “The other counsellors are my champions.”

For details on counsellors and their services at Julie Carter Counselling, visit www.juliecartercounselling.com or call 519-383-4357 (HELP).

The cost for individual counselling is $120 – $140 per hour. Couples and families pay $180 for 90 minutes. Insurance benefits generally apply.

Got a great idea for a business story? Send it to cathy.dobson@thesarniajournal.ca.