Heart Centered Counseling

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Welcome to the Harmony Foundation podcast series. I’m Gina Thorne and I’m pleased today to be joined with Kim Sharpe, director of provider outreach and community relations for Heart-Centered Counseling. You’re based out of Fort Collins, but you actually have sites in Denver.

We have offices in Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley, South Denver, Inglewood, Littleton, Aurora, Castle Rock and Colorado Springs.And we also reach out into the mountain communities and rural communities through Telehealth. So we are really statewide.

It’s a great opportunity to talk with an organization like yours that has the ability to reach to so many people in Colorado because there’s such a need for it. We were talking at lunch that when you first learned about this organization, what, six years ago or so, it was really small and it’s grown pretty quickly.

It has grown very quickly. When I first met Carl Nassar, the president of Heart-Centered Counseling, he had been in private practice as a psychologist and was just beginning to hire associates. He had maybe six or so people in addition to himself. And he began doing that and working as a social enterprise because he realized he could not meet the need of helping people all by himself. And since that time we now have over 200 employees at Heart-Centered Counseling and we’re growing, not for the sake of growth, but really because we are just meeting the need.That’s when we make decisions to open another office. It’s because we have overflow in another office and it’s just a very organic process.

It’s great that you all have the infrastructure to be able to grow the organization because some organizations don’t have capacity for scale.

And I have to say that’s because we work as a social enterprise and we take profit and turn it back into making better systems, hiring more therapists, just making our processes the best they can be.

Wonderful. Let’s talk a little bit about you first. So you’re a communications professional. You have experience in working in nonprofit health and human service. So this is a new venture for you working in the field of addiction treatment or have you done it before?

It is. No, it’s a brand new venture.Ā  I’m here because I have had a relationship as a consultant working for Carl over the past few years and I reached out to him a few months ago, three actually, and he has created this position for me because at one point in time he had hired me to introduce him to the people I know. And from that opportunity he began this process of partnering with organizations and in serving other organizations’ clients. So, here I am, still making relationships and I really see myself as smoothing out the way and helping people, more people, gain access to the help that they might need. So while I am not a clinician, I am not medically trained, I feel like I am that bridge to help people get the help that they need.

And that’s so important because in this field there’s so much noise and it can be so confusing for a consumer that to have somebody who can help create that kind of clear path is really important. And we see the same thing here too, so that’s wonderful that you’re doing that for them. So you’re the director of outreach and community relations. Obviously we talked, it’s a really prolific practice that’s growing really quickly it seems like. It also is very diverse. When I went on the website, you all really cover a lot of different areas of behavioral health. So, not very specialized. It sounds like you really try to meet the needs of pretty much everyone. Can you share more about what a client might experience when they’re calling in to access services?

You bet. So, first of all, we try to get people in within a seven day window, which is, I think, pretty phenomenal. We take all major insurances, we also take Medicaid and Medicare, and most of our therapists will also offer a sliding fee scale. So, we really want to eliminate all the barriers to access that we can. We have therapists trained in all specialties and we see people of all ages, children through the final years of someone’s life. And we also offer Telehealth and Teletherapy for people out in, like I said, the rural areas or for people who are shut in and just can’t get out to a physical location.

That’s important. Especially for those that are listening that don’t know about Colorado. We’ve got a pretty substantial rural community-Some have to travel hours sometimes to get access to mental health care. So it’s nice that you are offering that Telehealth. So we always like to get to know the person behind the interview and I’ve had the joy of spending some time with you and hearing a little bit about your most recent adventure. You’ve spent four years living on a sailboat Pacific Northwest. That’s incredibly daunting for me because I don’t know if I could do a four year stint on a boat. I don’t if I could do two days on a boat. So what was it that prompted you to say, “I really want to do this?” And what was that experience like?

Life is short. We had a couple of friends die and just realized that there are no guarantees and wanted to live life to its fullest. So embraced a passion of my husband’s, which was to live on a sailboat. So, we reinvented ourselves for a bit and took off and really explored the San Juan Islands in British Columbia up toward Alaska and the First Nation people there are amazing, that culture. And the sea life is… Just gives me goosebumps when I think about some of the encounters that we’ve had. And so that’s where the peace and serenity was for me in that adventure.

It’s funny, I was watching a documentary last night on Planet and it had an image of one of the blue whales. I’m sure you saw your fair share.

Oh, we’ve seen many whales. So my favorite encounter was we’re sailing down a channel, very, very Northern British Columbia area, very remote. And a humpback was coming up behind us and intentionally circled our boat and then dove down and swam underneath of it and I’m just like, “Everybody hang on,” because they sometimes are just curious and they’ll bump the boat and you don’t want to fall off. And then, if that wasn’t enough, then it swam underneath our bow sprit and rolled over to its side and waved its flipper. It was such a spiritual experience just in… Such an intentional communication by this amazing creature.

Favorite place you’ve ever been. In the last four years.

The wilderness of the British Columbia area. Just, there’s not many people. The farther north you go and just the serenity and the solitude. I can’t pick one inlet or one passageway, but really enjoy that very much.

It’s so exciting to hear that you’ve had that experience. Thank you for sharing that. If I were to offer up the word harmony, what do you think it means to live a life in harmony?

To live a life at peace with oneself as well as those around us.

For those that are listening today, if they wanted to access services at Heart-Centered Counseling, how could they get in touch with you?

Our main phone number where you will speak with one of our fabulous front office team is 970-310-3406 or you can email them at help@heartcenteredcounselors.com and that’s counselors, C-O-U-N-S-E-L-O-R-S.com. Heart-Centered Counselors.

Wonderful. Thank you, Kim, so much and thank you to Heart-Centered Counseling for all that you do.