Halyna Batsoura, MC, RP, owner, and practitioner at “Better Self – Psychotherapy & Counseling,” tells us about psychotherapy and counseling.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Halyna Batsoura: Thank you for asking.
My loved ones and I are all doing fine. I hope that we all get over this and return to our normal lives soon.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Better Self.
Halyna Batsoura: I am a Registered Psychotherapist. Psychotherapy is my second career and my calling. Previously, I worked in software development, where I held a variety of technical and managerial roles. Although I was learning and growing professionally in IT, something was missing – I felt like I was living someone else’s life. I started studying psychology in my spare time. Eventually, I left IT, completed master’s in counselling psychology, and started a new career. Initially, I practiced therapy under the supervision of experienced psychologists. Soon after receiving my license, I started my own practice. A lot of things had to be done. I registered my business as a professional corporation. I created a website and did some basic search engine optimization – myself. I opened an office. I also tried a variety of marketing strategies. Over time, my efforts brought about the expected results. Now I am a proud owner of a private practice, which specializes in psychotherapy and counselling.
How does Better Self innovate?
Halyna Batsoura: Last year, I switched from providing mental health services in a traditional office setting to providing my services exclusively online. Now, in addition to seeing local clients, I am offering my services via secure online video to individuals who live anywhere in Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon.
My clients seem to appreciate the convenience of accessing my services at a click of a button. They find virtual therapy to be as effective as traditional in-person therapy.
How the coronavirus pandemic has affected your practice, and how are you coping?
Halyna Batsoura: I last saw clients in person on March 10, 2020. When the news about the pandemic just came out, everybody started self-isolating, and my workload decreased significantly. Most of my clients decided to wait until the pandemic is over to resume our sessions.
After a while, it became clear that the pandemic was here to stay. As I mentioned before, I started offering my services online, and one by one, most of my clients switched to virtual counselling. As the pandemic continued, the demand for mental health services increased. My practice picked up again, and it continues to grow. I have never been busier. I love what I do, and I appreciate the opportunity to do it from the comfort of my own home.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Halyna Batsoura: In September of 2020, I closed my office. It was a difficult decision. My office was conveniently located close to my home in one of the busiest areas in Toronto.
I had put a lot of effort into finding it and setting it up. I had decorated it myself. It was my “baby.” Unfortunately, as soon as the pandemic started, it became a liability. Although it was a difficult choice for me to give up my office, I am glad I made it. I find it more convenient to provide my services online. In addition, I can now reach a lot more clients. The main lesson that I’ve learned through this experience is to let go and to adjust to the changing circumstances with more ease.
When one door closes, another one can open…
What specific tools or software are you using to navigate this crisis?
Halyna Batsoura: I’ve provided my services using a variety of software applications, including Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, and Telegram. Several months ago, I started using Sessions, which is a secure video platform designed specifically for counselling. To provide my clients with easy access to our virtual sessions, I incorporated this platform into my website. Now all my clients have to do is click two buttons: first “Waiting Room,” then “Join Session.” I’ve also made it easier for my clients to complete the Informed Consent and Intake forms. Previously, they had to print out the two forms off my website, complete them, and bring them to their first session or email the scanned versions to me. Now all they have to do is complete a short form online and click the Submit button. You can see all these changes on the “For Clients” page of my website.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Halyna Batsoura: My main competitors are larger private practices and companies that specialize in providing mental health services online. In Canada, the leader in virtual healthcare is Telus. Its new division Telus Health is currently focused on growing mental health services. I know this because I recently joined Telus Health as a part-time clinician. If you can’t beat them, join them…
Your final thoughts?
Halyna Batsoura: Undeniably, the coronavirus pandemic has brought a lot of challenges. It has also brought new opportunities, such as the opportunities to innovate. But the most important opportunities, in my view, have to do with using life’s challenges as a catalyst for personal growth. It has been my privilege to support my clients on this journey as they strive to learn new coping skills, to improve their relationships, to reinvent themselves, and to re-evaluate their lives and values. In one way or the other, each of us can use life’s challenges to discover a better self.
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