We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. Sarah E. Carlson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dr. Carlson, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I started Mighty Oaks Counseling with a vision that combined my clinical work and my own personal growth experiences. After years of working in clinical, school, and agency settings, where I supported children and families through trauma, grief, abuse, bullying, and other difficult life stressors, self-care, mindfulness, and movement became an important addition to my personal and clinical work. I felt that I could provide more wellness and healing services, outside the confines of an agency setting.
The main vision of Mighty Oaks is empowerment; individually, and as a family system if applicable. We provide individual play therapy, adolescent counseling, adult therapy, family therapy, social skills groups, yoga, meditation, and mindfulness classes. Additionally, I wanted to provide services based on the family’s financial needs, not based on an insurance company’s dictation of what happens in therapy. Mighty Oaks provides families with a sliding scale, to not only help families work from a budget, but to find more meaning in their counseling process. Although COVID-19 has been tough, our Mighty Oaks branches have grown immensely over this past year. I am very proud of the team of strong clinicians under the Mighty Oaks tree, that empowers individuals and clients all over the State of Texas.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
The Mighty Oaks vision is simply one word: EMPOWERMENT. We work help our children and families feel empowered in their words, feelings, and actions, with the hope that kindness and caring of themselves will translate to others! One of our most popular services (besides individual play therapy) is our Mighty Girls socials skills group. This group helps girls learn confidence, assertiveness, kindness, empathy, and helps them feel that they are not alone. I think we all need to feel connected and understood right now.
As a female business-owner, it has been wonderful to also see my female clinicians feel empowered in their work, too. My hope is to not only support and empower the clients I work with, but also my clinical team (and their clients). There have been bumps along the road, including COVID-19, but I have learned to stay true to my vision. Staying flexible (mental, physically, and emotionally) has also been important. I truly believe the energy you put out will be returned to you. I think this is why we have had such growth over the past year. When COVID-19 first hit, I began shifting how we deliver services. We offered child and family fitness classes, social stories, and mindfulness lessons online. I also began publishing more on my blog series, specifically how to talk to children about different events. This contribution has allowed us to reach a wider audience, and for our community to know our main goal is to support our families. Mighty Oaks believes that connection and support is much more important than profit and large therapy fees.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
North Texas has so many wonderful neighborhoods to visit!
Here are some of our favorites: in Oak Cliff: Whitehall Exchange, Eno’s Pizza Tavern, and The Kessler Theatre (which will start outdoor concerts soon); in North Dallas: Alamo Drafthouse, Masami Japanese Sushi & Cuisine, and Josey Record Store; in Plano: Whistlebritches, Arbor Hills, Nature Preserve, and Pie Tap; and in East Dallas: The Dallas Arboretum, Good Records, and Hypnotic Donuts.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would definitely say that my husband has been my biggest support and encourager. Opening my own business, leaving a consistent income, jumping into the deep end with only 5 clients, etc. was a scary and overwhelming process. His encouragement through every bump and hiccup helped me continue to push through. Even as COVID-19 hit, and we were unsure what Mighty Oaks would look like during a pandemic, he quit his job, became the business manager of Mighty Oaks, and helped create content for our children and families. We would have not made it through this past year without his dedication.
In addition to my husband, Dr. Brooke West of HOPE Child and Family Center of Texas has been a wonderful mentor. We met back in 2006, when I was attending the University of North Texas Center for Play Therapy’s fall conference. She encouraged me to apply to the doctoral program, and I was accepted a few months later. When I thought about opening a private practice, she allowed me to use her counseling room a couple of nights a week. When I was ready to move full-time, I rented an entire room from her practice in North Dallas. This allowed Mighty Oaks to grow big enough to need our own multi-room counseling space. She has always been there for questions, and helped me navigate all things private practice, and I am forever grateful.
Youtube: Mighty Oaks Counseling and Wellness
Richard Hill Photography