We had the good fortune of connecting with Nickie Haine, LCSW-S and Amy Acosta, Phd and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Nickie and Amy, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Nickie and I came together as, neighbors, fellow mental health professionals, and as moms with children the same age. We had much in common and we soon learned we had the same dream: to build a diversified wellness group practice that would not only serve the needs of individual clients, but also become a place of comfort, healing, and growth in our community. We are both eager to learn and grow, as the mental health needs of ourselves, our culture, our world are always changing and evolving.

Nickie and I have worked in multiple settings, such as private practice, hospitals, residential treatment facilities and schools. We have worked with many clients in multiple modalities: children, teens, adults, family therapy, group therapy. We have each been on effective teams and we felt strongly that we knew what it takes to build a cohesive, positive, productive team. Two things feel very important to our clients and community:

1. You belong here! You can see yourself in our practice. Whether a young adult, family, or child, no matter your race, gender, ethnicity or creed…you belong here. I believe that as human beings “we belong to each other“ and walking together through life with support is essential in the human experience.

2. We aim to be resource-rich at WHCP and share resources openly and collaboratively. Offering our collective expertise, and knowledge, to one another, our clients, and our community. We believe our clients are resource-rich as well, and we aim to support people as they tap into their strengths with self-compassion and curiosity.

We are lifelong learners, and we invite those we work with to learn, build, share, and grow with us.

It was with these mission-driven goals that we founded this business together and we are thrilled as it continues to grow.

Amy B. Acosta, PhD

Agree! I have been practicing as a Therapist in some capacity since 2000 but in private practice with a group while living in Maryland and then solo when moving to Houston. I hardly knew anyone in Houston in 2016 and so doing a solo private practice, while wonderful, was a little isolating. When Amy and I met around our children, we connected immediately around our philosophies when it came to mental health care, the amazing strength and resilience of our clients and how we wanted to best support them. As we talked we knew we needed to take this leap into building a practice that reflected those beliefs and that could support the community in which we lived, no matter race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, belief or phase of life. We wanted mental health care to feel easy and approachable and supportive. And so we just jumped in! And now, here we are, loving what we are doing, growing as a practice and hopefully reaching more people in the community.

Nickie Haine, LCSW-S

What should our readers know about your business?
I feel alot of pride in having built this business as a newcomer to the city of Houston, all while growing a family through a lot of change and some struggle over the years, from flooding to covid and the subsequent upheaval that covid has had on the mental health of us all. It has not always been easy. Some years were just really exhausting and stressful. Covid and the stress in our world makes mental health heavy and hard sometimes, but private practice has allowed me to stay engaged in my career at a pace that worked for me and my family. Additionally, coming together to form WHCP created a support network to lean on when things were hard. Now, growing a business, learning how to balance the books, and hire and run payroll, supervise and manage people is all just so much fun! It feels creative and energizing to be able to work with clients clinically, encourage new, motivated therapists and to support people’s growth and healing. I really love what I do. I love sitting with people and hearing their stories and helping them learn to trust themselves, or heal their pasts. I feel great pride in this work every day.

Nickie Haine, LCSW-S

I am very grateful for my professional training in life. I started at Texas children’s as a practicum student and “professionally grew at TCH” and later became faculty there. I worked there for years and I credit that experience with teaching me so much about myself as a clinician. It was a little scary to me to branch out and start a business. Nickie And I just kept talking about our dreams and goals and we had so much in common, we felt led and inspired to start this business. I feel the profession of psychology really needs to have finance and business classes baked into the curriculum. The number of mental health professionals who end up running their own business is high. I was learning how to run a business in real time. Add to that, starting WHCP was the biggest professional leap and risk of my life, and we started our business summer of 2019 with no foresight of what was about to happen in March 2020! I’m proud of the way we were able to pivot, flex and adapt as a business and answer the needs that came with the pandemic. I have a fellow colleague that said “we are in the second pandemic now, and it is a mental health pandemic.” Watching the whole world get stretched thinly as our collective emotional, physical, and relational resources were getting maxed out. It is an honor to be a mental health professional and do our part in times of stress and crisis. I was in awe of the resilience of others and proud of the way our business was growing and adapting in a time of scarcity. I think it helped Nickie and I form our professional identity. As we grow, adapt, expand and change, it’s important always to remember where “we came from” and that WHCP formed our processional identify honoring the needs of our community.

Amy Acosta, PhD

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?
I am a lifelong Astros fan so I love seeing the Astros play at Minute Maid. I’ve been a fan since I was a little girl watching Nolan Ryan throwing fast balls at the Dome with my Dad. I also love all the restaurants and cafes in Houston, we have such an eclectic range of cuisine and environments to choose from. An old favorite since I was a teenager is Cafe Brazil and Empire. And my latest favorite restaurants are Hando and Rosie Cannonball, both are delicious and have a cool vibe! I loved watching Houston on Top Chef and seeing Htown and a culinary powerhouse! I also love the green spaces in Houston: Discovery Green, Terry Hershey Park, The Arboretum, Edith Moore etc. The Post is on my list to visit, but I haven’t been yet!

Amy Acosta, PhD

Although I’m a native Texan I’m from West Texas and so Houston was a very foreign city to me until moving here about 6 years ago. My husband grew up here and he’s a great tour guide so he makes sure to show us his favorites and we are slowly exploring! We love to see the Astros play. They are so fun to watch. As a family we also love going to Galveston for beach and bay time, oysters at Pier 6 in San Leon is a new favorite. The breweries around town like Karbach or St. Arnolds are all so good and fun. The Houston museums are all fabulous and our crew loves the Museum of Natural Science and Children’s Museum especially when they were younger. One of our kids is really getting into Theater and there are so many wonderful theaters to check out so I would probably add a show to the tour.

Recently, I was taken to Bludorn for dinner and it was probably the best eating out experience I’ve ever had!

I’m still exploring and there is so much to do and see so I need a few more years for a really good list.

Nickie Haine, LCSW-S

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many moments and people along the way to mention here but my Shoutout would go to my Mom. My Mom was the first entrepreneur that I knew and she probably didn’t even realize that this is what she was doing. My Dad supported her all the way and he may not have even realized how fabulous that was, to encourage her and let her do her thing. She started up a horse farm when we were young, with very few resources. She did it all. Turning a terrible piece of land into an amazing home for us and farm for the horses and various animals we had. Tending fences, building and fixing the barns, cleaning stalls, getting up every morning 4 am to feed and tend to the horses, sitting with laboring mares, and sick animals when needed and then going back again every evening. She started boarding people’s horses, then providing riding lessons. By the time we were in high school this was a very busy business that she did all on her own! And she did it all while running the house, managing our crazy schedules with sports and school. Watching her do this and my Father’s support of her made a huge impact on me. I think I’ve always just assumed that you just start doing and it will all come together. Sometimes the doing doesn’t exactly result in what you want but at least it’s moving forward!

Nickie Haine, LCSW-S

I think the shout out that I’d like to give is to my colleagues and supervisors. As part of the practice of psychology, I had the opportunity to be in supervision with some of the most creative, thoughtful, intelligent, insightful practitioners I have had the fortune of knowing (ie Marcy Lavaige, Jean Doak, Deb Ebner). I have also had amazing colleagues throughout the years and we have built such wonderful teams together (such as Beth Garland, Rachel Wolfe, and of course Nickie Haine!)This kind of work is about relationships and collaboration. I have learned so much from other clinicians and our supportive exchange enhances the support I am able to give clients in therapy.

Amy Acosta, PhD

Website: www.westhoustonpsych.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/whcpwellness/?hl=en

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/westhoustonpsych

Image Credits
Sara Murphy

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