I had the pleasure of interviewing Rachel Ann Dine, who is a Licensed Professional Counselor and owner of her mental health private practice, Humanitas Counseling and Consulting, LLC, in Chesapeake, Virginia. She received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of West Florida in Psychology, minor in English and Psychology, emphasis in counseling, respectively. She went on to become licensed to practice counseling in both Florida and now Virginia, where she currently resides with her husband. Almost two years ago, she relocated 14 hours from her hometown of Florida to Virginia due to her military spouses’ transfer and has been able to successfully open a self-pay and single panel insurance-based practice as well as establish a completely new set of professional contacts in her area. She knows the effort it takes to maintain mental stamina in business and through her hard work and immersion in her new community, has become a frequently asked public speaker and writer for local events and publications.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you get to be where you are right now?
Rachel Ann was born and raised in Pensacola, Florida, by her mother and father. The beautiful beach town she grew up in naturally encouraged a love of the outdoors and congeniality that she cites comes from growing up in a southern city. From as early as Rachel Ann can remember, her personality traits have always naturally encouraged a practice of being an active listener, observer, and answer seeker, possessing a genuine interest in hearing other’s stories. She remembers being described as a mediator and “peacemaker” by a teacher in her early grade school years yet not fully understanding what that meant and why she had been given that feedback until becoming older. She credits much of her success today to a long-time ability to be extremely organized which was validated upon a recent trip to her hometown where she came across old calendars her mom had saved on her behalf from when she was as young as 9 years old. Encouragement of self-expression through playing the violin from age 2 until 20 years of age, attending weekly lessons and practicing daily, as well as both her artistic mother and father encouraging her to create her own art, reinforced the concept of self-expression/individuality, maintaining dedication to her passions, and having an outlet to express herself. A high school psychology class planted the seed of interest in mental health, and then her several year volunteer experience at her hometown’s crisis hotline solidified her passion for providing counseling and crisis de-escalation services for men and women, setting a theoretical foundation she still uses today of encouraging individuals to find and use their innate strengths to develop resiliency and gain self-confidence. She worked in agency settings for over a decade, building upon valuable experience under the safety of a company setting, until she realized she was ready to let go of the fear of starting a business and instead, use the valuable and sometimes difficult lessons she learned in agencies to build the practice she had always wanted to.
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? How did this quality help you overcome obstacles on the path of becoming an influential and inspiring leader?
While for many years, I scored high on the Introvert domain of the Myers-Briggs Personality Test, I now consider myself the combinational ambivert—drawing my energy from being alone, but also enjoying time and feeling recharged after interacting with clients, friends, and family. I believe you are able to push yourself to utilize your introvert/extrovert qualities, and I always wanted to be a public speaker, so I learned to engage in the louder, more commanding extrovert side of myself through public speaking to large groups in college as a graduate assistant. I engage in the solitary activity of painting , writing, and running to fulfill my introvert need to recharge alone. Creating art and writing have both become mandatory for me to decompress and stay connected with who I am. My belief remains that spending time recharging by painting clears out the sometimes cacophonous head clutter and helps me to regain mental sharpness and focus. Learning to use the dichotomous sides of the ambivert quality has been key in my success.
What does it mean to be mentally-strong in the hyper-competitive world of running a business or an organization?
The most valuable lesson I’ve learned in developing mental strength and fortitude, especially in owning a business, is to recognize the unique skillset I offer, and to not allow myself to become caught up in the comparison trap. I hold the idea of individuality close to my heart and remember that while there may be a litany of other providers performing similar services, I strongly believe that no one is identical, and we all bring something to this world just by being ourselves. Knowing and internalizing this concept is powerful and freeing. I also can’t impress upon others enough that to be mentally strong in running a business, you must be self-confident and not take everything personally. Running a business can be unpredictable and fraught with disappointments, yet instead of making a negative situation a persecutory experience about yourself, view it as a learning opportunity to promote introspection and healthy change within.
A lot of people in the business world feel as if talking about mental health makes them appear weak. How do you feel about showing mental strength and setting an example of what it takes to have the strong mental stamina to succeed?
I’m of the mindset that people were not meant to do it all alone—whether that means running a business or attending to personal matters—we all benefit from having trusted confidantes and delegating business tasks out so we can focus on what we excel at and maintain optimal mental health. Time and time again though, I’ve observed how high-achieving, high-performers tend to place an unrealistic expectation on themselves to be strong all the time and not ask for help. I can certainly relate to this way of living because I had to learn to make healthy changes— to take the proverbial cape off—and recognize where and when I needed to reach out for help. Instead of seeing discussion of mental health as a sign of weakness, I encourage people to reframe these thoughts to be more self-compassionate. To reach out for help is brave—to be vulnerable with people who you trust is essential. We need to continue to have conversations that asking for help is not weak, but a sign of being in touch with yourself and recognizing that we are human, not unfeeling robotic beings without emotions.
Is there a particular person, a book, or place of wisdom that has inspired you to become a successful and mentally-strong leader?
I’ve truly been blessed to have very supportive people in my life. My mom and dad instilled in me my entire life the importance of being honest, ethical, and hardworking. My dad, still a practicing pharmacist, and my mom who was a nurse, both challenged me to think before reacting, stay calm in stressful situations, and learn to weigh options carefully before proceeding—all traits that have helped me in running my practice and working in the mental health field. In opening my business, I immersed myself in private practice leaders in my field such as Jennifer Sneeden, Joe Sanok, and Allison Puryear, benefitting immensely from the wisdom they so freely share with other clinicians on how to own a successful practice. I credit positive financial practices to first, my dad, and secondly, Dave Ramsey, who I used to hear every day while working at a radio station in college providing the traffic reports—I enjoyed the practicality and no-nonsense approach he takes and the emphasis on living within your means. Currently, I’m inspired by Dr. Brene Brown who I believe demonstrates an authentic transparency and teaching style that is so relatable and impactful for me both personally and professionally. Lastly but the most powerful of my inspirations, is my belief in God who is a major source of support for me. Knowing there is someone bigger than me to lean on in times of difficulty has helped me be mentally tough in a world that can be unpredictable and discouraging.
Can you give us 5 tips on maintaining strong mental health stamina to succeed in the modern business world? Tell us a little about why each point matters.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
In the spirit of entrepreneurship and the freedom that comes from being able to work on fulfilling projects, I’m so excited to share that I am publishing my first e-book, “Live. Learn. Love. Real-talk tips for the woman who is ready to be her best self” on Amazon in February 2019. In this book, I provide practical, “real-talk” tips and strategies for women, to help them engage in self-exploration and make positive changes. Each section of the book discusses the various phases of life and is full of reflective, written exercises to help encourage clarity and set goals. Release date is set for February 14th!
What does it mean to be mentally-strong in the age of information and technology?
Recognizing this concept firsthand as I participate actively in the online world, I believe you must really know your truth of who you are, and must practice not giving much credence to naysayers or cruel commentators. With the use of social media to promote business, this only opens up space for other people (many who have never even met you!) to make comments behind the safety of their screens, or engage in inappropriate behavior. On the flip side, if you don’t feel confident in engaging in the tech scene and/or marketing using social media, outsource this piece of your business if you feel it is a necessary part of growing your business! If you don’t even want to use social media or blog, then don’t. Maybe your comfort lies in alternative marketing strategies and that is okay. Whatever method you take, be true to yourself—if we try to do the same things only because other businesses are doing them, sometimes the message doesn’t come across as authentic, so focus on what YOU are good at and run with it. Remember that if you receive negative feedback, understand that it doesn’t diminish the quality of the services you provide per say, but it can be an excellent tool for growth and learning. Maintaining a healthy mindset will do wonders in this age of technology.
Can an imbalance in private life cause a mentally-strong leader to deviate away from the path of success? Why? How to alleviate this problem?
When being asked this question, Rachel Ann emphatically nodded. She believes that not only can an imbalance in private life cause a leader to deviate from the path of success, it can cause that person to be ineffective and lose respect. Rachel Ann believes that how we ask our employees, our clients/patients to live should not be much different than how we live our own lives. She advocates that when we are not living authentically, and instead, are engaging in dishonest, hypocritical lifestyles, it only creates an exorbitant amount of stress and disconnect with self, and will eventually be the downfall of a leader.
She has seen over the course of her mental health career varying forms of unhealthy behaviors which have caused leaders and people in management to struggle with setting boundaries, being clear in expectations, and even being taken seriously especially when the truth of how they are living comes to fruition. Your personal life will always bleed over into your work life because ultimately who we are is who we are—all the time. In many ways, aspects of how you run your business are how you run your life. If you’re disorganized and chaotic in your private life, there will most likely be some semblance of this in how you run your business.
The first step in changing your own lifestyle is recognition and owning of behaviors you want to change. Seek out help from a therapist, your Higher Power, and/or a trusted friend or family member. In order for any change to take place though, you must practice accountability and recognition of your problematic behaviors at your own volition.
If the readers of this interview series would like to read more about you, how they can reach out?
Currently, Rachel Ann shares inspirational posts on her Instagram page: RachelAnnDineCounseling, Facebook page: Rachel Ann Dine, LPC at Humanitas Counseling and on her blog: www.myhumanitasmusings.com. You can also learn more by going to her business website: www.humanitascounseling-consulting.com.