We had the good fortune of connecting with Heather Pederson and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Heather, how do you think about risk?
Early in my career, one of the best pieces of advice I received from a successful entrepreneur is to consider how much risk I can tolerate at each stage of my development. When I first started out and was dreaming of what my ideal business would look like, I was overwhelmed because at that time I lacked the resources and experience it would take to do what I wanted to do. This required me to have intentional conversations with my partner and family to make sure we were on the same team so that when the vocational part of my life was what I spent the majority of my waking hours doing, I knew I was still connected and available to my family. It also helped me be intentional about how I invested my time and resources that I already had. When I first started working in my field I worked two full-time jobs to meet my personal goals, but that meant waiting on opening my own business. At the time this could have felt like a failure or a lack of investment in my ultimate goal of having my own business. Looking back now, I am so grateful for the experience to learn from more seasoned people in a variety of contexts to have a fuller understanding of how to run and lead a business well. If I had not listened to that initial advice, I fear I would have burned out or built something that did not actually represent my values and goals. My goal is to open my own group practice to support people develop healthy relationships, as well as mentor therapists. I am intentionally pacing myself so that I can be present through the journey toward my goals. I want to develop others and also grow to be a healthy leader and advocate for others. When the people around us feel they are given dignity and individualized support and care, everyone benefits; I can only give that authentic support if I am honoring my commitments as well.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have always had a passion for helping people grow but it took me a long time to figure out exactly how I wanted to do that. I thought I had wanted to teach high school math, then took a pivot and ended up studying agricultural policy hoping to advocate for more sustainable practices to care for our land and energy resources. Once I graduated from my undergraduate program I ended up working for a non-profit that focused on developing college age leaders to live intentionally in their vocation and found a passion for mentoring the next generation. I started to think more critically about how I wanted to impact others and invest my time. I finally found my calling as a Marriage and Family Therapist a decade later. I feel I am where I am supposed to be when working with couples and individuals and helping them seek clarity and freedom in their lives. I had the opportunity to work with people experiencing severe mental illness and socioeconomic challenges in a couple of contexts. As the Program Coordinator for an outpatient program I was honored to be able to witness people’s stories and growth as they sought to overcome their challenges and barriers to lead healthy and sustainable lives. I also had the opportunity to work with a few local small business therapy groups that have been an important part of my growth and learning. I am so thankful for all the mentors I had along the way so far that have helped me overcome the barriers of growing my practice, and really becoming the therapist and leader I am today. Part of what I love about my profession is there is always more to learn and room to grow, and sometimes that comes in small waves, and sometimes it requires all of my attention to flex and grow to meet my own personal needs and goals. I often re-evaluate to better meet the needs of the people I am serving or working alongside. It has been, and continues to be a key value of mine to provide high quality care, regardless of the context and resources available to me. Working for non-profit organizations and newly started small businesses there can be limited resources and I learned to be creative in how to meet our business and clients’ needs. It is important to me for others to know that success comes with great dedication, and a consistent re-evaluation of how you define success. I can so easily move my attention to the perception of others to define success. I feel most successful when the people I influence, like my friends, family, clients, colleagues, or people I am managing, are feeling more clarity and freedom in their lives as a result of our relationship.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love San Diego for the variety of beautiful places to spend relaxing time with loved ones or on my own, as well as places to eat yummy food. Coffee shops that I love are Communal Coffee or Better Buzz. I always try to bring friends or family to Great Maple for breakfast when they are in town. I like Marketplace Deli for a simple lunch picnic in Banker’s Hill. You can walk across the street to Balboa Park and have a picnic on the grass under beautiful trees or take a post sandwich walk through the museums, parks, and trails. You might even come across outdoor markets, cultural events, and music or art performances. My other favorite outdoor spaces are: Mission Bay for walks, bonfires or paddle boarding, South Mission Bay for volleyball and basketball courts on the beach, and Kate Sessions Park for picnics and events. La Jolla Shores is my favorite place for swimming in the water because the water is typically fairly clear and calm. There are lots of hiking options such as the Pacific Crest Trail, Cowles and Mt. Woodson (also known as Potato Chip Rock). For those who would prefer to drive to the view, consider Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial or Torrey Pines Gliderport. For dinners that will warm my soul I go to: Minh Ky Chinese food, Awash Restaurant and Market for Ethiopian food, Bahn Thai, or Twist for take-out burgers and wings. For special occasions I would highly recommend Barbusa in Little Italy where we always feel so well taken care of by this family run business.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have had the privilege to be mentored by a number of extremely talented and compassionate therapists who have encouraged me in my own personal growth to become an Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). I am so grateful for the care and knowledge they have given me. My first supervisor in grad school was so helpful to me in learning how to help people understand healthy relationships with appropriate boundaries, including people recovering from addictions and wanting to have healthier relationships with their family and friends while seeking sobriety. This has been foundational for me to support people in seeking freedom not only from addition, but in relationships with their loved ones. I then worked at an outpatient mental health clinic for a non-profit, and am so thankful for the leadership that helped me develop my skills to be able to mentor and supervise a department of clinicians. I also have trained and worked at a few group private practices, who have been especially supportive in mentoring me in couples work through Emotionally Focused Therapy, my primary model I use in therapy. I am so grateful for the investment of these mentors in my training and development. I am also grateful to my husband who is also a therapist who has been along my side through graduate school and now as an anchor through all of the challenges we have faced personally and professionally. He is a constant advocate and friend in our journey together in seeking to develop communities and people to live into their full potential and to live healthy lives.

Website: www.HeatherPedersonTherapy.com

Image Credits
Monica Johnson of @pallet_to_palate

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