Sometimes things in life feel so right that you know you’re doing exactly what you were created to do.
Janie Stubblefield experienced this when she was pursuing a graduate degree at the Dallas Theological Seminary to become a missionary, and the school had just started a counseling program. “I didn’t set out to go into the mental health field; I kind of stumbled into it,” she shares.
At the time, one of Janie’s sorority sisters was in the graduate counseling program. Janie would help her process cases, and her friend would comment on how good Janie was at it. “I was intrigued,” shares Janie, who felt led to change her major. “Sometimes we have to walk one path for a short season to know it’s not the right path. This was the exact right choice.”
Once Janie discovered her calling, things fell into place and she never looked back. “As a very young counselor, I remember sitting in my counseling office between sessions and thinking this is what I was created to do,” she recalls. In those early years, Janie worked for non-profits. But in 2008 when the economy crashed, the non-profit Janie was with lost funding and closed its counseling doors.
That’s when Janie thought about entrepreneurship. She never wanted to be in the position again where someone else could determine whether or not she had a job, so she decided to open her own private practice in Texas. “I hung up my shingle and figured it out for myself,” she says. And even though entrepreneurship is hard and some days are overwhelming, she loves it. “I love saying this is my mission, vision and company culture. I also love being able to employ others.”
Janie’s business, Mobile Counseling, has been unique from inception, bringing mental health services to where clients are—in their homes. Previously, in the non-profits where she had worked, she saw a 50 percent no-show rate among patients despite the fact that counseling was financially covered. “It was never about the money,” she says. “It was usually issues like transportation or the stigma of walking into a counseling office.”
The benefit of this is when Janie goes into a patient’s home, she can see how they live, their values and how they interact with family members. There’s also an added level of comfort a patient has in his or her familiar environment. This is particularly important with Janie’s specialty of play therapy for ages 10 and under and trauma therapy for mostly adults with childhood trauma.
Still, within her first few months of business, Janie saw the need for a brick-and-mortar option for patients too, so opened one. A year later, there was an organization out of California that specialized in telehealth and wanted to launch in Texas. They reached out to Janie and she joined the first wave of counselors in the state to offer telehealth on a HIPAA-compliant, secure platform.
While the telehealth option didn’t initially take off, it put Mobile Counseling in an excellent position when COVID-19 hit. In fact, at the start of 2019, Janie’s goal was to focus on telehealth to determine if it was viable and to help people better understand and feel comfortable with it.
“To everyone’s surprise at the beginning of 2020, COVID set our world on fire and for my team, we were prepared,” she shares. “I’d spent over a year building out everything, so it was literally just checking a box in our online system that already existed. We were able to transition 100 percent of our clients, so no one had even a day gap in services.”
While there’s been a definite uptick in the number of people seeking mental health services during the pandemic, Janie says she’s been able to support the need. “I say my job is to work myself out of the job,” she says. “If they need me for 15 years, I haven’t been a good counselor. For some clients, I work with them through different seasons of life. I always think of it like the dentist. If you have a problem, you go in every week until the problem is fixed, and after that, it’s every 6 months.”
Today, Janie and her team are focused on a new goal: introducing an online training workshop portal. One side will be for professionals to access continuing education training, while the other side will be for clients who might want to find a book or video to help with anxiety for example, or to learn about their loved one’s depression. This training portal will be accessible by anyone, anytime because as Janie says, “Mental health isn’t 9-5, Monday-Friday.”
Janie’s Journey to NAWBO PASC Chair
When Janie began her private practice, she read a book called Twelve Months to Your Ideal Private Practice. It basically said you never took one course on how to run a business when you were training to help people, so now you have to figure it out. Around the same time, Janie met someone through Dallas’ Small Business Development Center who pointed her to NAWBO.
From her first NAWBO chapter event, Janie met amazing women and got the content she needed to take the next step in her business. That first year, she also attended the National Women’s Business Conference and its One Page Business Plan workshop. “I walked in as a solopreneur and walked out with a plan and idea to create a group practice,” she says. “I got and read the book and worked the plan.”
Today, Janie is giving back to others within NAWBO as the 2021-2022 Chair of the Presidents Assembly Steering Committee (PASC). “I connected with some of the wonderful ladies in the Dallas-Ft. Worth chapter and I wanted to be around them,” she says. “These were my people. I felt like I belonged and when you feel that way, it’s easy to raise your hand and say, ‘I can help.’” This was just the community Janie needed both in her entrepreneurial journey and her personal life for these were women who stood by her during life’s trials.
As a chapter leader, Janie remembers meeting her PASC Representative and attending Chapter Connect Calls, but at the chapter level, she didn’t see the big picture of NAWBO. Since she’s been on the PASC, that’s changed. “I’ve seen the vital role of this committee that’s made up of all past presidents. Everybody on the team has served in their chapter leadership; it’s a mentor role for current chapter leaders by past chapter leaders who have walked the path. When you connect with your PASC, they’ve all done it and can help you through it.”
NAWBO has also revealed to Janie the importance of business capital—both money and opportunities. Through sponsor connections such as Goldman-Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program, Janie has gained business development knowledge to ensure business sustainability. Additionally, the advocacy training offer through NAWBO has opened doors for Janie to serve on the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselor to have a direct impact in her profession. “These were doors that I would have never known about if it weren’t for NAWBO.”
Janie’s Best Tip for Practicing Self-Care
When talking about self-care, Janie often relates it to the emergency directions you’re given when you take an airplane flight: you have to put on your own oxygen mask before you can help others.
“If you’re in a position where you’re serving other people, it’s vitally important that you put on your mask first,” she says. “You won’t be able to serve anyone if you don’t have your needs met. We often think, ‘But I’m the leader or mom or in this role and I have to sacrifice.’ But the least selfish thing you can do is take care of yourself. If you haven’t taken care of yourself, you will find yourself in a place of need and then have to press the pause button.”
So how does Janie carve out time for herself? She gets some “wind therapy” on her Harley Davidson motorcycle, named “Desert Rose” (pictured above)—sometimes for just 30 minutes and other times for a whole day. “It’s my opportunity to focus on literally what my four limbs have to be focused on—that machine—so I let go of the emails and voicemails and laundry and everything else,” she shares.