We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. Amy Keller and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dr. Amy, how do you think about risk?
It’s a big risk to start your own business but I was ready to take the leap! I had a foolproof plan for how I was going to launch outlined to the last detail. Ironically, it all fell apart the day I left my last agency job three months earlier than planned. However, I boldly adapted, revised my plan and went from zero to 30 clients in five months, which is almost unheard of in my field. I literally cold called every therapist, priest and doctor in town to tell them about my services, reminding myself that I had to reach out if I wanted the clients who needed my help to find me. Jump and the net will appear!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I know that most people need some time to figure out what they want to be. Luckily, I’m one of the few that knew at 11 years old that I wanted to be a counselor. I definitely feel like this was a calling — my vocation — rather than just a career. I think that is why I am so enthusiastic and passionate about my work to this day! Sure, there have been times when my tank was empty, but it was never burnout. I usually just needed a vacation to my favorite place, Costa Rica, in order to refuel. I also maintain my interest and edge in the field of psychology by studying everything! I have other degrees in religion and theology and I study many other disciplines, like neurobiology, in order to integrate the latest research into my work. I was also a champion cheerleader in high school — and the only reason I mention this is because I feel like I am my patients’ biggest cheerleader! We all need someone to support and encourage us when the chips are down and I have enthusiasm for days. I think what makes me stand out is that I am very real and human with every client. I don’t just sit back and watch and nod and take notes. I ask lots of questions, make jokes, and occasionally share a personal story. My clients tell me often how much they appreciate this and that my office is very warm and not too clinical. I want to share everything that I have learned with fledgling therapists, so I’ve written a book with a colleague called Get Real Get Going: The Definitive Road Map to Starting the Private Practice of Your Dreams. Coming soon!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love to salsa dance, so I would take a friend to La Granada or El Floridita anytime! If we had some time and it was the right season I would take a friend to the desert to go dirt biking (after a couple of private lessons on the track) because between the speed and the desert nights, you can’t beat it. And, of course, skiing in Mammoth is always high on my list! Hiking with my dogs in Griffith Park or near JPL is a daily favorite as well as dining at Malbec in Pasadena or walking through Descanso Gardens. Gale’s Italian restaurant in Pasadena has also been a favorite for decades!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I was so lucky to have such great support, encouragement and mentorship. In particular, Dr. Warren Procci was a spectacular influence in my life and for my career. He strongly encouraged me to go into the doctoral program to become a certified psychoanalyst. To this day he represents to me the epitome of the kind, warm and wise psychoanalyst. I owe him so much. Also, my good friend and mentor Dr. Joseph Ho who is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. He just retired from a major mental health agency after serving the community with love (and without burnout!) for thirty years! He found creative ways to always serve the communities in need and, even in retirement, opened other clinics to continue to serve. It is a true calling for him — not just a job.
Linkedin: Amy Keller, MFT PsyD
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