How we got started
Associated Counseling Professionals opened its doors for business on August 2nd, 1993, but the story goes back to earlier roots in the mid-1980s. By the way, on August the first, we were still hanging pictures and sharpening pencils. Everyone worked hard right up to our opening — and the construction crew remained onsite for some additional days. Our first clients undoubtedly brushed up against uncured paint and stepped over boxes that had not yet been unpacked.
You remember the 80s, don’t you? Computers were just starting to be a thing in our homes, mobile phones where luxuries and awkward. We all still watched TV on a television, maybe using a cable box. We drove larger cars that burned copious amounts of fuel. When people went to work, they dressed up. Cargo pants and flip-flops and taking your dog to work just because it felt like it could be fun had not yet come on to the scene.
Most therapists back in the 80s worked in hospitals, large agencies, or university affiliated clinics. It was a bit uncommon to move into private practice, given that most of us were not trained in the world of business, even though we spent long hours over many many years sharpening our clinical skills. Among the best private practice groups in Omaha in the 1980s was a group known as the Hudson Center for Brief Therapy. It had been originally started by a pastoral counselor, Lofton Hudson, Ph.D. It was later led by his daughter, Dr. Patricia Hudson.
Patricia Hudson, PhD, was a clinical psychologist and an AAMFT clinical supervisor. She was one of the earliest people that I know of who embraced the study of marriage and family therapy in Nebraska – and did a lot of training and clinical supervision back in that era. I [Terry Moore] was the Administrative Director for a while, too.
Everyone involved in the formation of Associated Counseling Professionals in 1993 had originally been affiliated with the Hudson Center. In early 1993, Dr Hudson began reconfiguring the business model under which her Center operated, and it opened up the active thinking amongst many of us to consider starting our own practice. It was a tough decision, but once there was a core group of us that wanted to venture out into the business environment of opening our own practice, several elements begin to fall into place. Each of the first group of owners of Associated Counseling Professionals brought an element of expertise or energy to the enterprise. Practice management systems, marketing, interior design, setting up an office – we needed it all!
It was a bit challenging!
Over the course of several weeks in mid 1993, we located suitable office space, sketched out remodeling plans, bought furniture, and all the other things that a state-of-the-art office needed in ‘93. Given the environment of leaving one practice for another of one’s own design, the carpenters and painters we’re still working when the first clients were checking in at the new clinic. We were located at 128th and Augusta Avenue just adjacent to a 9-hole golf course, which gave us a nice pastoral setting. And a sloping parking lot that proved to be quite icy and slippery in the winter. And the opportunity for a few of us to have golf balls leave little dimples in the hoods of our cars. But, hey, this is the environment we went for!
The original formation group for ACP was: Sue Williamson, Janelle Weeks, Julie Jurich, Linda Schaefer, Terry Moore, Sandy Kutler, and Karen Stacy. We were very fortunate in being able to offer employment to some of the support staff that have been at the Hudson Center, as these administrative people knew our habits and preferences and understood the territory of private practice mental health. Both Bridget Weide and Tracy Polito were instrumental in getting us started.
We also had a licensed psychologist come along with us from the Hudson Center. Dr. David Carver, a psychologist who had been working predominantly at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in the Student Counseling Center there, agreed to come along and be our clinical supervisor. This was back in the days before independent licensure for mental health practitioners, so this was essential for our practice.
Looking back, I’m able to see with some clarity now as to why we were successful from the get-go:
- Each clinician was excellent and well prepared to provide Professional Services to his and her clients.
- Each owner was able to bring an element of personal expertise, whether it be working with a specialized population of people or, or expertise in an area of business such as contract negotiation, computer configuration, or carpet cleaning. We had to know it all!
- Our support staff was terrific, as well, in helping us set up the day-to-day business practices that allowed us to keep our focus on the clinical work that attracted us into the field in the first place.
- We continued to receive referrals from Physicians, school counselors, other therapists, and former clients. Without everyone’s support, we wouldn’t have had clients. No clients, you get no fees. And we would have closed about as quickly as we had opened.
We continued to work in that original space at 128th and Augusta for 15 years. Over the time, both administrative and clinical staff changed a bit here and there. Janelle Weeks got married and moved to another city. Sandy Kutler divides her time between summer living and winter living cities and has a smaller practice elsewhere in Omaha. Karen Stacy consolidated her practice at Therapy Resource Associates. Dave Carver, as well, consolidated his practice to his work with students and teaching for Nebraska Medicine. Bridget Weide completed her college degree and started her own public relations, marketing and promotional company known as Image Building Communications. Additionally, over the years, we’ve had the privilege of having worked with at least a dozen terrific people from every age cohort helping us run our front office. Some stayed for a few months and others have stayed for a couple decades.
Each time one of our original owners has left the practice, another outstanding clinician has taken his or her place as a co-owner. We are now delighted to have the addition of Glen Fineman, Pamela Feldman, and Kerry Matuszek.
This would be a good time to honor Rita Eisma, our office manager, for having served Associated Counseling Professional for 20 years. She has assembled a good process for our office and a terrific staff to augment what she does. Mary Palik has added 17 years to our efforts, and Lexi Trantum has been with us now for about a year. Each member of our support staff handles hundreds of little details for the counseling staff and our clients every week. They’re awesome!
Before the end of our tenure on Augusta Avenue, we began to add independent contractors and Psychiatry consultations to our staff. When we moved to our current location, at THE Athletic Club [formerly the Prairie Life Fitness Center] building, just North of 132nd and West Center Road, our expanded space availability enabled us to add several independent contractors to our clinical staff. We now have three part-time nurse practitioners, along with 5 licensed mental health pratitioners. This allows us to provide more comprehensive care to a wider range of people across all age ranges.
We appreciate everyone’s support: our support staff, the clinical staff, the people in the community who pass along our practice information or individual therapist’s names to friends, family, neighbors and coworkers. We’re grateful to each and every one of you!
Terry Moore, MSW