We had the good fortune of connecting with Erica Thompson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Erica, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
Starting my own business as a therapist in private practice has helped me achieve the work life balance that I had been craving for years. I have always had a good self care regimen including exercise. However, prior to private practice the work life balance could be challenging at times. It was hard to maintain my ideal schedule allowing for fitness, quality time with loved ones, cooking a healthy meal when I got home, to have needed time off (both PTO and sick leave), and to attend professional development or networking events. Other work settings had limited PTO, work responsibilities could go into nights or weekends, or when I got home I would be so exhausted that I didn’t always have the energy for all the other things. Limited PTO would sometimes mean making the choice between taking a much needed vacation or attending a conference (choosing between “life” or “work” sometimes). Work life balance means to me the ability to show up more fully in all areas of my life as my best self. It allows me to spend regular time on important activities / personal values (i.e. education, family, friends, volunteering, career, adventure, creativity, health, loyalty). Examples include, family traditions like pizza & movie night, a fitness routine, quality time with loved ones, continuing education, and vacations. When I start to feel a bit “crispy” at work, taking a vacation or going to a really good training, will help to recharge me for when I return to the office. Now that I am my own boss, I have the ability to plan for my calendar to include time for all of those things that are important to me. Looking back I wish I made this transition sooner. I want to do everything in my power to show up as my best self and to be the best therapist I can be for my clients. Having work life balance helps me to do that. It’s also a great thing to model for clients.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I’m originally from Massachusetts, where I received my Master’s in Counseling Psychology with a concentration in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy from Assumption College in 2006. In my years of counseling experience, I’ve worked in a variety of treatment settings, including community mental health, outpatient programs supporting individuals with both mental health and substance misuse disorders, and higher education. Before moving to California, I spent over six years working at Worcester Polytechnic Institute as both a counselor and later Associate Director of the Student Development & Counseling Center. There my responsibilities included counseling college students and overseeing all outreach and prevention education (substance abuse, suicide, and sexual assault prevention). While working at WPI, I had the privilege of working on two grants – SAMSHA’s Garrett Lee Smith Campus Suicide Prevention Grant and the DOJ Office of Violence Against Women Grant to Reduce Sexual Assault, Dating Violence, and Stalking. These grants allowed me to take part in training with national experts and to develop programs that supported students. Supporting survivors of sexual violence and reducing the stigma around mental health struggles are both things I’m very passionate about.
When I first moved to California, I had some hoops to jump through as I became licensed here. Every state has different licensing requirements and sometimes even different licenses. Luckily, I was able to get an intern number so I could start working while I prepared for the California exams and waited for the license applications to be approved. I began my professional career here working at a dual diagnosis treatment program (IOP/PHP). There I was part of a multidisciplinary treatment team which provided holistic services including therapy, psychoeducation groups, psychiatry, yoga, massage, and acupuncture. A few years after being in San Diego, I decided to go into private practice so that I would be able to support individuals without the limitations of academic or program schedules and insurance driven time restraints. Sometimes the therapeutic work an individual wants and needs to do may take weeks or months. Sometimes that person has more long term goals.
I support adults who are healing from trauma or past relationships so that they can thrive in their lives today. I’m trained in a variety of treatment modalities including CBT, ACT, Motivational Interview, and Mindfulness. The modalities that most clients come to me for are EMDR and IFS. I’ve seen amazing healing happen with EMDR and IFS, both professionally (as a therapist) and personally (as a client). I believe in these modalities of therapy because I’ve personally experienced their benefits. Additionally, I’m very committed to continuing education so that I’m always deepening my skills to better support my clients. I focus my training on specializing in certain topics and approaches, rather than learning a little about many different things. I focus on my niche (trauma, attachment, substance misuse/addiction). This allows for meaningful work that benefits both my clients and myself.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m originally from Massachusetts, so we have a decent amount of out of town visitors. Their first visit is usually the same itinerary. Here’s a sample of some of the places we visit if it’s a long weekend. Friday is often lunch at George’s Ocean Terrace, walk around La Jolla, and visit the seals and sea lions. Then we may head over to Coronado for appetizers at the Hotel Del and to dip our toes in the ocean. Saturday, is the San Diego Zoo or Safari Park which are both always a big hit. I could go to the zoo or safari park monthly or more and always have an amazing time. Sundays often include stops at some of our favorite breweries. Throughout the weekend there may be dinners at home or out at some of our favorite spots including Little Italy, Brigantine, Del Frescos, and so many more. Balboa Park, Seaport Village, Gaslamp, Pacific Beach, Old Town, Del Mar… are all also fun to take friends to. We never run out of places to go see or amazing restaurants to eat at.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I am so grateful for the love & support of my husband, friends, and family. My adorable & sweet dogs help melt the worries away on busy or stressful days. They have been fabulous work from home assistants while I moved to telehealth this past year. I also want to send thanks and recognition to Sara Cole, Torie Cueto, Callie Meyer-Lee, Erin Taylor & the SD CAMFT Board, Therapists of 10 Story, WPI SDCC Staff, former colleagues, the IFS & EMDR therapist communities, all the other amazing therapists I consult/network with, and many more.