We had the good fortune of connecting with Nick Bognar and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nick, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
When I was going through the process of collecting 3,000 hours for licensure, I attended a talk where the speaker encouraged us to think back and remember “what made you a great therapist before you were a therapist”. What a great question! When I reflected back on it, I realized that after a childhood of feeling awkward and sometimes being bullied, I knew what it was like to walk into a room and feel like I didn’t belong there. That icky feeling we all have at some point: what if people people think I’m awful? What if no one wants me here? As a kid, the first thing I developed was the skills to make sure I could at least appear comfortable in new situations. I learned how to tell stories that were engaging, to make eye contact, to offer to help clean up- you know, the basics. But the second set of skills I learned -and these are, collectively, the most important factor behind my success- are the skills to make people feel welcome, validated, and at ease. At its heart, my therapy practice is about seeing people in the best possible light and helping them become the person they want to be. So if I can make people feel welcome, good-enough, and important just as they are, then their process and outcomes in therapy are likely to be much better. I just really like people, and I treat them that way.
What should our readers know about your business?
No one gets into psychotherapy because they want to run a business- however, if you go into private practice, you either learn how to run your business, or you learn how to run yourself into the ground. Forming relationships is the most important part of any business, and it’s doubly true for therapists. People need to know and respect me in order to send me the clients that will be best-served by me and my skill set. I’m grateful to have learned in a previous career the skills involved in networking- and super lucky that I generally really like people. I have the business I have today because I went out and told people about it. Not everyone summons up the courage to do that.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
RIP The Point in Culver City- you used to be able to get the best banh mi in Los Angeles over there. These days, depending on their temperament, I’d take people to Venice Beach, Lunasia Dim Sum House in Pasadena, or the farm store at Cal Poly Pomona.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The Southern California Counseling Center is a non-profit community mental health center that is dedicated to providing low-cost mental health care to people who need it, for as long as they need it. So many of my values as a therapist were shaped in part by SCCC, and I got invaluable clinical experience there as well.