Iris L. Johnson knows the challenges of nurturing healthy family relationships, especially among urban families of color. She has turned her passion for clinical social work into a thriving practice in Bed-Stuy where she provides psychotherapy to adults and children in crisis; and specializes in meeting the needs of her LGBT clients.
During her more than 15 years of agency work including managerial positions at Sanctuary for Families, the Jewish Child Care Association and most recently as Program Director at FEGS, Health and Human Services Division, she became increasingly frustrated working within bureaucracies. She decided to go out on her own in 2011, establishing a practice that would integrate psychotherapy and holistic medicine. Iris rented space in downtown Brooklyn and in Manhattan. She built up her practice, having found a profitable niche in the growing healthcare industry. “I believe that by treating our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual selves we can create the harmony that can lead to overall improvement in our health and wellbeing. This integrative approach and the benefits of participating wholeheartedly in their treatment plan is what I stress most to my clients.”
Iris brought an entrepreneurial challenge to WVF when she considered moving from her small Manhattan office to a spacious office in Bedford Stuy: How could she move her practice to this Brooklyn neighborhood that invariably invokes negative images in many peoples’ minds? Could she possibly survive the potential loss of clients and income?
Working with WVF, she developed a plan to market her services in advance of her move. During private counseling sessions, she received guidance on strengthening her brand; feedback on her proposed marketing materials; and lead generating ideas to bring in new clients. Like many entrepreneurs, Iris relies mostly on word of mouth to attract new clients. She has put social media to work for her business with a YouTube video explaining how psychotherapy can help families in crisis. In promotional messages she links to her interview about building children’s self-esteem with Karyn Parsons, Mommy-in-Chief at Madame Noire
Iris was able to surpass her previous client load in record time at the new location. The next step in growing her practice is to build a team that will implement the strategies she has successfully developed to assist her clients with their personal and career issues. She is working on expanding her practice while at the same time establishing a work-life balance so she can enjoy her family and focus on her own well-being. By exploring her entrepreneurial challenges with WVF she feels comfortable that she can now build a practice that will not only sustain her economically, but will also fulfill her emotionally.
She knows she has the potential to significantly grow the business. “I’m grateful for the valuable counseling that I received from WVF. I can count on them for support; and for help to keep me focused on activities to build my practice and become even more profitable than I am today.”