The Healing Collective started with a conversation about a year ago. I don’t remember how it came up, exactly, but by the end of it, I knew there’d be another.
The six months that followed were full of conversations. I think we shelved the project a few times, only to come back to it a day or two later. We didn’t let it drop, not really. We looked at a lot of spaces, not of them quite right. We both agreed that the right space was essential.
There was the perfect place on the second floor, which wouldn’t do because we wanted an accessible space. There was the space that was very affordable, but was crawling with mice, evidence of their existence choking us as we stood in the doorway. There was the place that was really big, with space to grow, that was the right price, but upon checking in with a past tenant, we decided it was a space worth avoiding. There was the space that was the right price, but was just not the right configuration, no matter how many times we reimagined. It. We even looked at taking part of a church, but in the end, it wasn’t feasible.
Together, with a couple of real estate agent friends, we kept our eyes open. And eventually, the first space we’d coveted, that ticked nearly every imaginable box became a possibility, and then a reality.
With the space in place, we began to plan in earnest. We chatted a lot about what we’d need to do to meet the needs of the project we kept having conversations about. We went back and forth about how we’d charge, and what we’d offer, and what our goals were. Finally, one night, we decided that, in order to be the collective we wanted to be, we’d charge a flat rate to practitioners. This would limit our profits, but it would ultimately mean that those around us would have the best chance of thriving in their practices. It would take work on our end and theirs to grow, but it was ultimately a model with the most potential for community.
The Healing Collective operates under a few guiding principles:
- Accessibility – Mental health services are important and having them available in a community, through the collective means that clients have choice in who and when they see people, and are able to prioritize their mental health. Our space is also on the ground floor, with a rare main floor bathroom (that we wish was wheelchair accessible, but is very small).
- Flexibility – We believe that supporting flexible employment opportunities in our community is good for everyone. Almost all of our practitioners practice part-time and have other jobs, or are retired, or have family obligations that prevent them from working in a traditional 9-5. Because of our model, practitioners are also able to offer sliding scale and set their own fees, based on their availability and their clients’ needs. They’re also able to book space outside their regular timeslot to grow their practices as desired, and to meet community needs.
- Community – We believe in community over competition, and the therapists, practitioners, and healers that share space with us follow this principle as well. Our community is a supportive one, where therapists and healers refer to one another based on client needs and provide encouragement through challenges from everything to marketing and growing a practice to working with clients with specific needs that may be outside their experience level.
We planned to open in July 2018, but, like most best laid plans, this didn’t happen. Instead, we spent the summer managing a renovation and finding spaces in our community for our growing community of therapists to see people when we kept missing our planned opening date. We’d meet on the site and sigh loudly together at the progress, which was happening, but not at the rate that we imagined. The thing with renovating a space like we did is that there are a lot of moving parts. Trades need to line up, and if one thing falls off for whatever reason, the whole schedule shifts. It’s also a progressive project, with drywall needing to dry before paint can be applied. Paint needs to dry before art can be hung and furniture can be assembled. We both kept running lists of what needed to happen and with relief, by August, we began to tick things off and making lengthy lists for endless IKEA trips. Our butts sat on a lot of chairs, all over the city, imagining someone spending important hours in them. This went on until we were in the space late into the night putting together gallery walls, happy that we’d put the A/C in, despite the headache that HVAC had caused.
Alongside this, what really kept us going was the community we were building that would eventually come to live in the space. The Healing Collective’s practitioners are all very different, but the underlying current that existed when they came together was (and is) really powerful, and we knew, on a lot of levels that what we were building would be something that our community needed and would use, and be better for having.
To our community at the end of 2018, thank you, thank you, thank you. When we imagined this project a year ago, there was no way we could have imagined it being as enjoyable or successful as it has been, and that extra piece is because of all of you. It’s the workshops you’ve hosted and attended. It’s you showing up for our opening to affirm that we set up the collective in the right place. It’s the session you decided to book with a member of our community that helped them grow their practice (and hopefully helped you too). It’s you, tracking us down to tell us you’ve enjoyed an offering we’ve hosted and promoted.
2019 will be our first full year in operation, and we’re very much looking forward to continuing the work we’ve started and continuing to grow our community for our community. We’ve got some exciting and enthusiastic new additions to our collective, including mindfulness classes and workshops for all ages, fundamentals like first-aid for families, and unique offerings from artists and creatives designed to encourage people to move outside their comfort zones and into personal growth and healing. If you’d like to be a part of The Healing Collective in 2019, either as a practitioner or a workshop host, we’d love to hear from you. One of the most exciting parts of operating the collective is being able to see needs in our community and connect them with members of our community to fill them. If there’s something you’d like to participate in, and haven’t found an opportunity, we’d like to hear from you as well.
Thanks again, and we’ll see you in 2019.
Caroline & Abby