Wellness + Work: How to Live Well with Psychotherapist Angela Ficken

Angela Ficken, LICSW is a full-time psychotherapist in private practice. She specializes in OCD, eating disorders, depression, and anxiety-related concerns. She started her career at McLean Hospital, one of the top-ranking psychiatric hospitals in the country, and affiliated with Harvard University. She was the head social worker on an inpatient unit that focuses on anxiety […]

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Angela Ficken, LICSW is a full-time psychotherapist in private practice. She specializes in OCD, eating disorders, depression, and anxiety-related concerns.

She started her career at McLean Hospital, one of the top-ranking psychiatric hospitals in the country, and affiliated with Harvard University. She was the head social worker on an inpatient unit that focuses on anxiety and depression. During her time at McLean, she trained in exposure therapy and became certified in CBT and DBT. Shortly thereafter, she worked at Harvard University as a primary therapist for undergraduate and graduate students.

During her time there, she taught students CBT and DBT skills to help them manage a range of challenging emotions that young adults face daily. Along with her work at McLean and Harvard, Angela had a small private practice for years before she decided to move to full time in 2013. From there, she focused her attention on working with young adults and entrepreneurs primarily after noticing that both groups struggled with anxiety disorders and stress-related issues due to life transitions and the uncertainty of what was coming next in their lives. The struggle, as they say, is “real”.

She spent years fine-tuning her practice and building her business into something more than a standard full-time private practice. She began writing for Huffington Post as an expert, which then catapulted her into writing for other major online sources which include Marriage.com where she was a verified expert, YourTango.com, ThriveGlobal.com, and has been quoted in Allure.com, Oprah Magazine, and on MSN.com, Bustle.com, Popsugar.com, Buzzfeed.com, Nylon magazine, Getstigma.com, and Justluxe.com. She has also been a guest on Onward Nation with Stephen Woessner where she talked about OCD and intrusive thoughts, as well as on the radio in Chicago and Reno speaking about stress and anxiety.

Through her writing and hearing from her clients how difficult it was finding an understanding therapist – one who could actually teach coping strategies to manage difficult emotions – she decided to create the Breaking Every Day into Slivers Not Chunks: Practical Skills to Deal With Everyday Stressors course to reach more people other than those she could meet within her office.

Please tell us a little bit about your company.

I started my career as a psychotherapist in private practice about a decade ago, but after hearing from prospective clients outside of the Boston area that they wanted to work with a psychotherapist like myself but didn’t live within a reasonable distance to my office, I put together a series of products that anyone can buy anywhere at any time. My products are designed to be used together or individually. They include all of the following:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Thinking Your Way to Feeling Better ($19.99), a workbook designed to help eliminate intrusive or negative thinking. Anyone can use the skills in this workbook to help control those ruminative or negative thoughts.

 The Stress-Buster’s Guide: How to enhance your mood and shift your mindset ($49.99), a complete bundle that contains 75 stress management skills, a mindfulness scavenger hunt, as well as a series of worksheets and calendars. This bundle is designed to help anyone at any age relieve stress and develop a positive mindset and attitude.

The Breaking Every Day into Slivers Not Chunks course ($299.00) is the ultimate resource for anyone who struggles with short or long-term stress and anxiety. Based on my one-to-one in-person sessions, I designed this seven-module course to focus on ALL aspects of life—whether stress interferes with someone’s sleep, affects their work life, or impacts their home life.

My team and I are also working on developing a Covid Coping Kit for anytime of the year. This will be released in the spring. 

Aside from the products above, we will also be offering individual course modules available for purchase on the SimpleStressManagement.com and ProgressWellness.com shop in case someone just needs help with that one aspect of stress management.

Tell us about your online course business. What is called and who is it for? 

My online course is called Breaking Everyday Into Slivers Not Chunks Practical Skills for Everyday Stressors. I designed the course for women who experience high stress levels at work or in relationships, and want to learn how to manage that stress so they can put their focus back on themselves and their loved ones, while achieving their goals. 

What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur, and why? 

Based on my own experiences, I would say that: 

  1. Being able to tolerate and even welcome failure is critical. Failure creates opportunities for growth and learning. 

2. Believing in yourself, even when products don’t sell as how you had hoped, or plans unravel is vital to making it through the hard times. Believing in yourself can make your business happen and that you have something to offer keeps the fire burning when challenges arise. 

3. You should have healthy outlets for stress. Talking with friends, engaging in hobbies, trying new exercises, or seeing a therapist are all great ways to relieve stress. Being an entrepreneur means that you have signed up for a risky career, so having skills to refuel your well-being tank will keep an inherently stressful job as an entrepreneur more manageable. 

What are your plans for the future, how do you plan to grow this company? 

My future plans include a short video course on stress management, possibly doing a weekly show on Instagram, creating a wellness journal that will tie in nicely to the courses, and a few more skills kits. Feeling stressed is not a good place to be, and my goal is to teach people how to manage their stress and make it fun, because it can be! 

What were the top three mistakes you made starting your business, and what did you learn from them? 

This is an easy one–fear, fear, and more fear. Seriously–fear can really slow down achieving goals and building a business. I was afraid I wouldn’t be successful, that I didn’t know what I was doing and it would look that way, and on and on. That fear really slowed me down. When I realized how much fear was dictating my business decisions, I had to make a change. It was a conscious choice to embrace fear and do it anyway. That’s why as I said earlier, believing in yourself and seeing failure as an opportunity for growth are so important. I lean into fear on a regular basis. It’s not always easy but the outcomes have been tremendously rewarding. 

Tell us a little bit about your marketing process, what has been the most successful form of marketing for you? 

Pinterest has been one of the best marketing strategies we have used to promote the Progress Wellness brand and my courses. My marketing consultant creates infographics and pins linked to blog posts, and we are able to connect our community to the branded content.  

Partnering with a knowledgeable publicist has also helped build my credibility as I’ve been featured in Allure.com, Healthline.com, Bustle.com, Buzzfeed.com, Oprah Magazine, MSN.com, and many other media outlets. Publicity has been a huge help in growing my brand.

What is the one thing you wish you knew before starting your business? 

I have a few things but the most important thing to learn is to radically accept you are going to fail and flub and embrace those as opportunities to learn and grow. Failing is part of the job description as an entrepreneur. Even the most successful entrepreneurs have failed.

What are the top three online tools and resources you’re currently using to grow your company? 

I’m currently using Pinterest and Instagram at the top of the funnel, and then ClickMeeting for my webinars. 

How can readers get in touch with you? 

I would love to hear from your readers. They can contact me through my websites Progresswellness.com and SimpleStressManagement.com. I am also on Instagram @progresswellness and Facebook.

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