We had the good fortune of connecting with Heather Murphy and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Heather, how do you think about risk?
Risks are necessary and unavoidable when you’re trying to live a life worth living and own a business. They’re scary as shit though!
Personally, the first real big risk I took was when I moved to Houston from South Carolina when I was 17. As a female POC, I knew I needed to be somewhere more diverse, which is what got me to Houston. No better city in the country for diversity in my opinion. The personal risks have kept rolling since then, including becoming a mom, getting divorced during a pandemic, and learning to ride a motorcycle!
Professionally, the scariest thing I’ve done was expand my solo private practice to a group practice. I moved into a 2000+ sq ft 5-office space when it was just me and one other therapist who rented an office from me. As cheesy as it sounds, the line from the movie Field of Dreams – “Build it and they will come” – kept going through my mind and The Feelings Healers was born. That was in January 2020 and covid shut the world down just 2.5 months later. Here I was, starting a practice with the hopes of being a part of the community, tripling my rent, and terrified that this would bankrupt me. I channeled all that fear into creating the TFH brand, building my team, becoming a supervisor, and getting ready for when the world opened up again and it’s paying off! Our practice is thriving and we’re becoming known as one of the most diverse counseling practices in the Houston area.
The most recent risk I’ve taken has been since the overturn of Roe v. Wade. Therapists walk a fine line of promoting social change and making sure we’re remaining neutral and not alienating our clients. However, research shows time and time again that outlawing abortion leads to higher mortality rates, crime, poverty and abuse, particularly in people of color, marginalized populations, and children, which is why The Feelings Healers has partnered with an initiative called Let’s Talk Mental Health HTX. As a practice, The Feelings Healers is being very outspoken about how WRONG outlawing abortion is. Let’s Talk Mental Health HTX is spearheaded by another amazing therapist, Alicia Neeley, who feels just as passionately about this, and she is doing pop up booths at a lot of reproductive rights functions.
Let’s Talk Mental Heath HTX’s goals are to de-stigmatize mental health and create more access to mental health resources, which aligns perfectly with The Feelings Healers’s mission. It was a no-brainer for me when I was approached with this opportunity and jumped at it. I thought more mental health professionals would do the same, but we’re finding that people are hesitant to take such a firm, vocal stance on this issue. Most are concerned about the legal and business ramifications, and I am, too, but, as therapists, we often serve as the voice for the voiceless. If we’re hesitant to stand up for women’s rights, which are HUMAN rights, how can we expect others to do the same?
We have a saying at The Feelings Healers that “we’re human first” and that’s why we’re doing this important work, that’s why we’re taking a clear, vocal stand, and we hope that others will too.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
The Feelings Healers is a collective of mental health professionals that are passionate about de-stigmatizing mental health and creating more access to mental health resources. We currently have a team of eight psychotherapists and we’re culturally diverse – we have two therapists that speak Spanish, several POC providers, and one is a veteran as well. Our team provides individual, couples, family and group therapy. We each have our issues and populations that we geek out on and we’re well-trained. We’re adding new stuff all the time, including an eating disorder DBT group, board game social nights, and there are several workshops in development. Our team is trained in a wide variety of therapy modalities, including EMDR and ART, and work with people from all walks of life with a range of issues. We love what we do and we do it with passion. We pay attention to detail, and creating safety and attunement with clients is paramount to the work we do.
A major component of TFH’s values is creating community. We regularly provide training sessions to other helping professionals, schools, and parents. We connect with other providers by doing things like social mixers and providing CEUs. We just recently partnered with @LetsTalkMentalHealthHTX in order to provide more community outreach for POC and marginalized populations.
Business mentorship is also a passion and the main way of creating connections among the therapists in our office. Therapists don’t receive much information as far as owning a practice, running a business and staying relevant. These are all services that I provide to my team. My hope is that they will feel so valued and taken care of that they will want to be a part of the team for the long haul. If not, they will have the tools (clinically and business wise) necessary to go into their own private practices.
So, how did I get where I am? I wanted to be a journalist when I was in high school. I was on my high school newspaper and was always interested in the stories of students’ lives. Then I took a Psych 101 course my senior year. It was a no-brainer for me from there – I could be a therapist and REALLY get to know the stories of people’s lives and maybe help along the way. I majored in psychology with a minor in theology from the University of St. Thomas. I managed to get a great job at The Menninger Clinic working directly with patients after I graduated. It was a great experience to work with patients at the inpatient level in a multi-disciplinary team approach. It took me 4 years to earn my MA from UHCL (hello working full-time!) and I did an internship as a Primary Therapist at the Houston Eating Disorders Center with Dr. Terry Fassihi. I continued working there as an LPC Associate and was supervised by Rachel Eddins, LPC-S. I had such an incredible training experience with them and learned so much. From there, I joined Micki Grimland’s practice Southwest Psychotherapy Associates. I went into private practice in 2017 and grew into The Feelings Healers in 2020.
Genetics and life experience created a curiosity about human behavior. School gave me the knowledge and a solid foundation to start as a therapist. Terry Fassihi, Rachel Eddins, and the treatment team at the Houston Eating Disorders Center trained me well, clinically speaking. Micki Grimland and her group Southwest Psychotherapy Associates showed me how my training translated into an outpatient setting, but perhaps most importantly how to lead and inspire. My job history isn’t a résumé — it’s an homage to all the incredible supervisors and women who inspired me to push myself.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Houston is impossible to distill into just a week. I’ve lived here for years, and there is still so much still to see and experience! Still, something great about a place like Houston is that you can take visitors to places that are “touristy” but still worth every moment. You definitely want to leave some down time for just hanging out, though — and for traffic. If you’re looking for a quintessentially Houston itinerary, you are going to get one that is all over the place. That’s what you get when you visit one of the biggest and most diverse cities in the nation.
Nature Day – Hermann Park, Bayou Bend, Houston Botanic Gardens – yes, you really can fit in everything, but make sure you take the time to live like a local and roll down the hill at Miller Outdoor Theater! End the day at Axelrad Beer Garden — food trucks, drinks, and hammocks to rest your achy muscles after all that playing like a kid.
Keep Houston Weird – If you can’t make it to the world’s largest (I think) art car parade, you can at least make it to the Art Car Museum. But, you can’t forget the Orange Show — an immersive art exhibit that is part carnival, part museum dedicated to the healthful benefits of oranges — and its beautiful mosaic park neighbor, Smither Park. On your way back, stop at the Beer Can House, and then go on a little scavenger hunt and see if you can find John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Grab a quick lunch somewhere during the day, but leave room for a mangonada at Treats of Mexico on Telephone.
Space Day – Get up early, hit up Brothers Taco House, and head south to the Johnson Space Center. Tours, talks, you name it. If ever you wanted to say, “Houston, we have a problem,” but with a huge smile on your face, this is it. You might as well set aside a whole day, but if you have a little extra time, head out to the Nassau Bay Peninsula Wildlife Park.
Galleria Day – Even for people who didn’t love Mallrats and never wanted to be Cher in Clueless, or are too young to know what I mean, the Galleria is an adventure unlike any other. People come from all over the world to wander the Galleria, whether they’re shopping, ice skating, or just enjoying the AC. The Galleria is more than just a building with shops, though — explore the surrounding area for more luxury [window?] shopping and food. My personal favorite for all ages? Rocambolesc, the first US location of Spanish pastry chef’s Jordi Roca sweets shop offers gelato, herbed teas, and popsicles shaped like the chef’s nose.
Galveston Day – Galveston has so much more than just the beach, but, if you’re into that and have 4-wheel drive, drive down to the San Luis Pass. It’s a beautiful drive along the water and you can pull right onto the beach. Stop at Woody’s if you need an adult beverage and head down to Pleasure Pier for carnival rides and Murdoch’s for those souvenirs.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
To the women in my life, particularly my therapist Dianne Pulsipher. A therapist is a person’s best kept secret – they love and accept unconditionally without judgment.
Crystal Marsh Photography