After graduating from The University of Central Florida, Nikki Rodriguez, licensed mental health counselor, spent six years working for the St. Lucie County School District. It was here where Rodriguez first discovered her passion for connecting with and helping people on an emotional level. The time she spent helping her students and learning about the trauma they dealt with shaped her future career path and ultimately her decision to go into private practice.
"When I was teaching, a lot of kids I worked with were living below the poverty level," she said. "They were asked to perform and focus in school even though their basic necessities weren't being met at home. I used to keep bread and a jar of peanut butter and jelly under my desk for kids that were hungry. These kids needed more than just a teacher. That spoke more to my soul than teaching."
When Rodriguez decided teaching wasn't the ideal fit, she went on to get her Master's Degree in Counseling and worked as a therapist at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. In mid 2015, she felt a calling to start her own practice and took steps to slowly build clientele to allow her to gradually make the transition. She'd work all day at the treatment center and spend evenings with her own clients. By early 2016, she took the leap and went full-time on her new business.
"When I started the business, I was very nervous," Rodriguez said. "I kept wondering if it was going to work and if I'd be able to get enough clients. However, it was also exciting at the same time. I was doing exactly what I always wanted. At some point, I made the decision to believe in myself and the universe responded."
Even though she originally thought she'd be working with kids, Rodriguez shared that she found her niche helping adults with a history of trauma, anxiety and/or depression. She utilized some early advertising and a well-known resource called Psychology Today to grow the business. In October 2018 she moved into a larger space and is able to help even more clients dealing with a range of issues including, Emotional Distrubance, Anxiety, Relationship and Family Issues, Depression, PTSD, Trauma, Addiction and Recovery, Maternal Mental Health and more.
As a passionate Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapist, Rodriguez shared what she enjoys most about her line of work. "My connection to my clients," she said. "I love them. I have the most awesome clients. I get paid to be with people when they need me the most. It's such an honor. The trust they put in me is indescribable."
Looking ahead, Rodriguez is starting a women's therapy group in July and would like to expand that part of her business. She's also thinking about doing retreats and would like to increase her online presence. She's exploring creative ways to use technology to scale her business and impact even more people.
For someone who's very familiar with giving advice, Rodriguez shares some specific advice tailored more towards aspiring entrepreneurs. "It's cliche, but like the Nike slogan, just do it," she said. "I've learned that if you want something, you have to go after it. If you're having reservations about starting your own business, identify those reservations and break them down into manageable chunks. Address each one and then move on to the next. Focus on one thing at a time. We're the only reasons we don't succeed. We get into our heads. It's also important to use available resources and find good mentors."