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#SheOwned Gratitude: Nurturing Mental Health through Entrepreneurship!

Welcome to another inspiring edition of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce #SheOwned blog series! 

Today, in honor of National Gratitude Month we’re thrilled to spotlight a remarkable woman who’s not just breaking barriers but also normalizing mental wellness in our community – Odeline Jean-Baptiste. 

As the Founder of @therapywalk, Odeline is a licensed psychotherapist, a passionate speaker, and an insightful author dedicated to guiding individuals through the maze of mental health challenges. Her approach is not just about managing symptoms; it’s about empowering individuals to reclaim their lives from the clutches of anxiety and to find joy and fulfillment anew. 

Let’s dive into her journey and learn how she’s making a difference one step at a time.

Can you share a bit about your journey to becoming a licensed psychotherapist?

My journey to becoming a therapist was an unexpected and transformative one, guided by the unexpected twists and turns of life. I never had a clear career path in mind, and it was only through the challenges and experiences I faced that I found my calling. In my life, I faced a series of traumas and adversities. These experiences were profoundly challenging and pushed me to the limits of my emotional and psychological endurance. It was during these times of resilience-building that I began to understand the importance of mental and emotional well-being. Becoming a therapist was not just a career choice; it was a calling that emerged from the depths of my own life story. It was a way for me to give back, to be there for others during their most trying times, and to provide the support and understanding that I had wished for during my struggles.

What or who inspired you to enter the field of psychotherapy?

My journey to becoming a therapist was unexpected, diverging from my family’s traditional aspirations of medicine, law, or engineering. I grew up with a passion for art, finding comfort and expression in drawing. This early love for art, unknown to me then, was my way of coping with challenging emotions.

It was only later, when I began learning about mental health, that I realized the therapeutic value of my art. This insight was a turning point, leading me to pursue social work for its stability and eventual realization of my true calling in therapy.

Through my studies, I discovered a deep connection to the therapeutic process. I recognized that therapy offered a way to help others navigate their emotions, much like art had helped me. This understanding transformed my career aspirations, guiding me from an artist to a social worker, and ultimately to a therapist.

This path not only fulfilled my dream of helping people but also allowed me to blend my love for art with my desire to aid others. My journey to therapy, fueled by self-awareness and a passion for making a difference, shaped my approach to helping others find balance and healing.

Can you highlight the importance of seeking professional help when dealing with mental health issues?

Seeking professional help for mental health issues can be an essential step on the journey to mental health recovery and well-being. Seeking professionals empowers individuals to take control of their mental health, fostering resilience and improving overall quality of life. Mental health professionals have the knowledge, skills, and experience to provide adequate support and guidance to individuals facing emotional and psychological challenges. They can offer evidence-based treatments and interventions tailored to specific needs, facilitating the healing process. Therapists and counselors also provide a safe and confidential space for individuals to express their thoughts and feelings, free from judgment. This therapeutic relationship promotes self-awareness, emotional healing, and personal growth.

What are some common signs that someone might benefit from seeing a therapist?

It’s crucial to recognize when you might need mental health support. Early intervention can lead to better treatment outcomes. Key signs include:

  • Persistent sadness, anxiety, or hopelessness impacting daily life.

  • Unmanageable mood swings, irritability, or anger.

  • Behavioral shifts like increased substance use, social withdrawal, or altered sleep and eating habits.

  • Difficulty coping with trauma, grief, or major life changes such as divorce or job loss.

  • Low self-esteem, self-destructive thoughts or behaviors, or feeling stuck.

Seeking therapy when noticing these signs is a proactive way to enhance your mental and emotional well-being, leading to a better quality of life and more effective coping strategies.

How does the concept of gratitude play a role in mental well-being?

The concept of gratitude plays a pivotal role in mental well-being, akin to a ray of sunshine breaking through the clouds on a gloomy day. Imagine waking up each morning and taking a moment to reflect on the things you’re grateful for—be it the warm embrace of a loved one, the simple pleasure of a hot cup of coffee, or the beauty of nature outside your window. It’s like a daily dose of positivity that sets the tone for the day. 

As this practice becomes a part of your routine, you notice a profound shift in your mental landscape. Negative thoughts and worries start to lose their grip, creating feelings of contentment, joy, and inner peace. Gratitude redirects your focus from what’s lacking to what you already have, fostering a sense of abundance. It serves as a natural antidote to stress, anxiety, and even depression, helping you navigate life’s challenges with a more resilient and optimistic outlook. 

Gratitude not only enhances your emotional well-being but also strengthens your relationships as you express appreciation to those around you. In this way, the simple act of recognizing and acknowledging the good things in life, both big and small, can have a profound impact on your mental health, illuminating the path to greater happiness and well-being.

Can you share a few self-care practices that can be easily incorporated into our daily lives?

In our busy lives, integrating self-care into our daily routines is essential for well-being. Journaling is a powerful tool for self-expression and emotional release, offering clarity and understanding. Regular scenic walks in nature provide a mental reset, immersing us in tranquility and grounding us in the present. Reaching out for support, whether to friends or professionals, fosters connection and shared understanding, lightening our emotional load. Creative pursuits like painting or drawing serve as an outlet for expressing feelings that words can’t capture, offering solace and rejuvenation. Lastly, practicing mindfulness, by focusing on our breath or bodily sensations, brings calm and anchors us in the present, helping to manage life’s chaos. These self-care practices collectively contribute to a balanced and enriched life.

How do you practice self-care, especially given the nature of your profession?

In my journey as a therapist and the founder of TherapyWalk Innovative Counseling Service, self-care is not just a concept; it’s deeply woven into the fabric of my profession and my overall well-being. My path to my mental wellness was guided by my own coping skills, primarily art and scenic walks. As a therapist, I understand the transformative power of these activities in my life, and it’s my passion to introduce these coping mechanisms to my clients. I’ve named my practice “TherapyWalk” to incorporate the importance of my own self-care routine. I believe that by sharing what has helped me navigate stress and find solace, I can empower my clients to experience the same healing and rejuvenation through art and nature. Through this, I aim to create a therapeutic space where the tools that have been my own sanctuary can become a guiding light for others in their journey towards well-being.

What do you love most about Haitian culture, and how do you integrate or celebrate that love in your daily life?

My deep connection with Haitian culture is rooted in its rich traditions, the rhythm of our music, the flavors of our cuisine, and most importantly, the resilience and ambition of the Haitian people. This spirit of determination is central to our identity.

As a therapist working with a diverse client base, including many Haitian Americans, I emphasize cultural competence. I’ve organized workshops and participated in podcasts and radio shows to educate and bridge cultural gaps in mental health, underscoring the importance of understanding and respecting diverse backgrounds.

In my daily life, I celebrate my Haitian heritage through music and cuisine. The rhythms of kompa and rara music connect me to my roots, while our flavorful dishes are a vivid reminder of my culture. These elements of Haitian culture are integral to my identity and professional approach, enriching my life and work.

How can we best support you? What is your ask? 

Embarking on my entrepreneurial journey in mental health has been incredibly rewarding. The learning curve in managing a mental health practice has been steep, but my passion drives me forward every day, motivated by the positive impact on those I help.

Throughout this journey, I’ve conducted workshops on cultural competency, mental health, self-care, mindfulness, and intuitive eating, finding these experiences enriching and enlightening.

I’m now looking to broaden my reach by engaging in live, in-person speaking opportunities in the mental health field. My goal is to share my experiences to attract clients and offer empathetic support to those in need.

As I seek to expand my practice in the diverse Miami area, I welcome advice on effective marketing strategies to connect with a wider audience and contribute meaningfully to this vibrant community’s mental health landscape. Any guidance to enhance my presence and reach in this dynamic setting would be invaluable.

As we conclude our feature on the incredible Odeline Jean-Baptiste, it’s clear that her impact extends far beyond the therapy room. Through her person-centered approach, Odeline has illuminated the path for countless individuals wrestling with anxiety, helping them build resilience and foster healthy relationships.

We hope you’ve found encouragement and insight in Odeline’s story, and we invite you to join us in celebrating her contributions to mental wellness. We invite you to follow her journey at @therapywalk and send her a DM, book a consultation and spread her mission. 

Stay tuned for more empowering stories here at the Women’s Chamber of Commerce #SheOwned blog.

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