With added stresses related to the coronavirus pandemic, therapist Chantel Bratcher-Coleman knew that the demand for therapeutic services would not decrease, but she had no idea just how overwhelming that need would grow.
After several years of working as a clinical director for another company, Bratcher-Coleman talked to her husband, Steven, about starting their own private practice. In January 2019, they brought that dream to fruition by opening Shaping Minds Therapeutic Services LLC.
The business started out with a two-office space, where Bratcher-Coleman worked as the only therapist and her mother worked as the office manager to help with billing. Over the last six months, Shaping Minds has transitioned to a new space with about eight offices, and they are bringing on five new therapists, including Steven.
Bratcher-Coleman has a background in assertive community treatment (ACT) therapy, which she said is about meeting clients where they are most comfortable, including out in the community.
Before the pandemic, that often meant meeting someone at a park, a school if the client was a child, or another agreed-upon location. During the pandemic, Shaping Minds has shifted to telehealth, which continues to allow clients to receive care wherever they choose to be, Bratcher-Coleman said.
“When the pandemic happened, it’s actually been more effective for most of the clients because now they don’t have that pressure of having to be somewhere at a certain time. They can just call where they are,” she said.
One of the main challenges that the pandemic has posed has been the sheer amount of people seeking therapeutic services, Bratcher-Coleman said.
Shaping Minds used to get four to five referrals per week. Now, they are receiving about three to four calls per day from people seeking therapy. Seeing that influx of people in need of therapeutic services pushed Bratcher-Coleman to onboard more therapists and grow her practice.
Currently, Shaping Minds is a for-profit business, but Bratcher-Coleman said she would like to add a nonprofit component in the future to care for more clients who are unable to afford their services. She added that she has some therapists who are also licensed in states other than Delaware, and she would like to eventually duplicate her business in other places.
Bratcher-Coleman said opening a family-run business has been one of the best decisions she has ever made.
“It’s pretty much the best move that I’ve ever made in my career,” she said. “I really do enjoy it, and it makes me feel like we’re setting a great example for our children.”