We had the good fortune of connecting with Norina Murphy and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Norina, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I’ve worked in various mental health settings during the course of my career- agencies, schools, a prison, a hospital. While all have directly contributed to the therapist that I am today, I always wanted to go into private practice. It was my end goal as a professional when I started in this field at the ripe old age of 23. 20 some years later, I can attest, the autonomy and creativity being in private practice allows, does, in fact, bring me great joy. It provides an impact to others not always achieved in places dictated by corporations or the state, etc… Of course, we still have “rules” and guidelines to follow, but much less so than any other place that I have been. This lets me stretch myself as a clinician and I believe, provides my clients with the best version of me, as a therapist, that they can get. I’ve been in private practice since 2011. When I started it, I thought the way to build my business was to join insurance panels, so innocently enough, I began, little by little, accepting various insurance plans. I ended up with about 17 insurance contracts total. And boy did it ever bring in the business! I couldn’t keep up with the calls and quickly realized the immense need in the community for mental health providers who accept insurance. Sure there are many providers who take private pay only, and to a large extent, I don’t blame them. Accepting insurance is an arduous task, the insurance companies do not make it easy on us. However, it’s a task I have been willing to endure because it provides much more access to individuals seeking care. So in 2015, when the calls requesting services continued to increase I had a thought…. “I wish there was another ‘me’ as a part of my practice”. It actually became very difficult to keep telling people I had no room to see them. It’s the least favorite part of the job- turning down people who need help because there is literally no more room on my schedule! Then my next thought was, “Wait! No! What if I do not have to do this alone, maybe there are actually other ‘me’s’…… OTHER therapists who may want to do what I do at this practice.” As soon as I put that thought into the universe, a few weeks later a therapist emailed me, out of the blue, and asked if I was interested in potentially hiring another therapist on board! Her name is Angela and I half-jokingly call her “Angel” because she dropped out of the sky into my practice. She was my very first hire and still works with me today, 6 years later. Since 2015, my practice has grown from little ol’ me trying to do it all to 25 therapists, and we are STILL growing. The mental health need is that severe, especially right now at this point in the pandemic! I am proud to say we have remained mainly an insurance-based practice serving the surrounding communities of Upland and Hesperia in our 2 locations. We offer telehealth options since the pandemic began in March 2020, which adds another layer of reach to people who need us, as well as started back in office with in-person therapy in June of this year.
What should our readers know about your business?
Norina Verduzco-Murphy, MSW. LCSW & Associates was born of the belief that quality mental health care can exist for all, regardless of economic status. We accept many major insurance benefits in order to allow the most feasible access to our practice. We have 2 locations, Upland and Hesperia where we offer traditional psychotherapy in a therapeutic hour to clients weekly. We are excited to be opening our doors with a new program, Metamorphosis- An Intensive Outpatient Experience, for clients who may need more intensive mental health care but do not meet the criteria for in-patient hospitalization. This program was created as a response to the lack of intensive services in a 20-mile radius to Upland and a 60-mile radius in Hesperia, especially for teens who are struggling with depression. I am most proud of our physical location in Upland because I was able to purchase that property using an SBA loan. Since acquiring it, I have really been able to put personal touches to the facility that help make it stand out in our community as a place that strives to destigmatize the use of mental health services. We take great care in our facility, making it a warm and inviting space so that people feel welcomed and cared for. We have a dedicated art therapy and playroom for our child clients as well as 7 other beautifully decorated therapy rooms for our teen and adult clients. In Hesperia, we have 2 amazing therapy rooms as well. My next major expansion for the practice is buying a building in the High Desert soon. Starting a business is never easy, I have worked 3 jobs just to get it started, sacrificed much personal time with my children and husband, and have gone many a sleepless night to keep it going. Expanding into a group setting where I now employ so many people, I see it as a great responsibility. No longer do I need to worry about my family, but the families of every person who works for me. So in this capacity of business owner of a group mental health practice-I not only hold space for my clients but my employee’s clients AND my employees! Some might see that as a lot but it’s an aspect of what I do that I would never trade for anything. People at my age seem to start dreaming of early retirement and I am over here planning on having clients and employees as long as I am physically able to. I hope to be 80 and still be called someone’s therapist and employer. Next to being a parent, there is no greater honor and privilege in my opinion.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I actually have had a few friends join me in SoCal from various places in the United States over the years. One place I love to take them is The Grove in LA…if they have a child with them it gives us the perfect excuse to visit American Girl Store. The little girl in me can’t get enough of that place! We have to go to Santa Monica Beach of course to ride the Ferris Wheel and eat Acai bowls and get a Honey Vanilla latte at Urth Cafe. Visiting Old Colorado Street in Pasadena is another great shopping experience. If we want more beach fun, Laguna Beach is another favorite beach of mine that I like taking people to. Strolling the art shops along the walk is a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Further east of LA is Claremont, adjacent to where I actually live and have my business. All the little shops there are some of my favorite places to go regularly-The Grove and The Grove Home, Barbara Cheatley’s, Ronnie M, Dani and Ronnie, and Nectar, just to name a few. So many amazing restaurants as well. My favorites being Bardot (get the Sangria!) and Aruffalo’s! If it’s Winter and they ski or snowboard a day trip to Snow Valley is always a great time. If they’d rather stay off the slopes but would still love to see CA snow, Lake Arrowhead Village and Sky Park at Santa’s Village are wonderful mountain locations to visit. Dinner at Hortencia’s for the view alone on the drive back is worth a stop! If my visiter is a hiker, Etiwanda Falls and San Antonio Falls are 2 hikes easy enough for me and have a treat at the end of the trail as our reward. Spring is the best time to go when the snow has melted and the waterfalls are rushing strong.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My husband and children have been my biggest supporters and cheerleaders throughout my entire journey with my business, that goes without saying. Having a wife/mama who owns a business is no easy feat on any family. It really is that idea of working 80 hours a week for yourself to not have to work 40 hours for someone else lol. I am grateful to them immensely for all their love and endurance! There is one other person/organization though whom I’d like to shout out. In 2015 I went to a retreat called “Nine”. A photographer I had used for my wedding, whom I stayed in contact with via facebook, was advertising this new retreat she was putting on and it sounded interesting. I messaged her to learn more and she explained her vision for the project- to bring women together to authentically support one another. I cautiously agreed to attend. It was a life-changing week for me. One where my vision of a group practice developed thanks to the one on one mentorship meeting I had with Nine’s creator, Kym Ventola. Over the years Kym has remained a solid confidant, business consultant and sounding board for my business and I’d like to recognize her and Nine for lighting the flame in me to take the risk and expand my practice from a solo venture to a group mental health practice. Thank you.
A Game Photo