This is my second interview in my series "Interviewing Creative Therapists in Private Practice." In this interview, I speak with Noel D'Avy, co-owner of The Well Mesa. My questions are in bold and Noel's responses follow in regular typeface.
What is the name of your private practice?
The Well Mesa
Where is your practice located?
Downtown Mesa, Arizona. (Land acknowledgment: Hohokam, Piipaash, Akimel O’odham)
When did you open your private practice?
What therapy modalities do you provide?
We provide Art Therapy and experiential trauma therapies (psychodrama, EMDR,
Who is your ideal client?
Someone who feels stuck and wants something to change! Most of the time we work with trauma and pieces of our past that keep coming up and interrupting the present. We do alot of experiential therapy, so we don’t just talk, in fact we discourage talking for too long about something because it often isn’t helpful. We encourage the exploration of how it shows up in the body, emotions, and mind through sensorimotor/body-oriented work, psychodrama, art therapy, and EMDR.
What ages and populations do you work with?
I work with ages 10/11 and up. Brittany works with teens 16/17 and up. We also have a new LAC addition to our team, Marie Olson, who works with kids ages 8/9 and up!
How do your clients find you?
We do not really advertise, but we do meet with people in our community,
colleagues, and try to keep building connections in our city to let people know
what we are doing and collaborate. Collaboration and spending time connecting
with others in the field really helps! We have had short wait lists here and there
during the past year, and we are always pretty full up.
What services does your private practice offer?
We offer individual and group therapy. We offer art therapy and trauma focused therapies: EMDR, Sensorimotor, and Psychodrama.
We have a few new groups that we are offering in the Fall:
Reconnecting with the Body - a sensorimotor based group to increase resources in the body.
Grounding With the Senses - an art therapy based group that increases the ability to stay present.
Moving Through Emotions - an art therapy based group that builds language and expands experience of emotions.
ReStory - a psychodrama and sensorimotor based trauma processing group to shift something from the past and find new meaning in it.
Do you practice in-person, telehealth, or hybrid? What fuels this choice?
We do hybrid, but mainly in-person. We offer both because people need the options and it keeps therapy accessible for those who have financial barriers, physical barriers, or when things come up.
What is something that delights you in your physical space?
We love the textures and colors in our space. We also love our art studio because it is a great place to create, explore, and get a little messy! We also love snacks, so we have plenty of those around as well as cold brew, french press, and ice tea :).
What made you decide to open a private practice?
Brittany and I had a similar struggle with how private practice is often not accessible to those who need high quality care but don’t have the funds to get it. We both came from agency backgrounds and were curious if there was another way in between agency land and private practice sliding scale models. Brittany brought up Tom’s shoes as a model and we thought, why not try!
We currently offer very low fees for those who can’t afford private pay to 25-30% of our clients. Low fees are defined as $30-$50/session. Our normal rate is $150/session. You may ask how this works? We pay ourselves a flat rate for each client so that the extra goes back in to care for others. It works really well for us and we haven’t had people wait very long to get in either! We love the metaphor of “the well” - a space where we all have needs and all of us get cared for.
What has been most challenging about starting your private practice?
Math and noticing my limits. We have some good math people we go to for help with that :).
What advice would you give to other therapists who want to start a private
Reach out and get to know others in the field. Make time to connect and
collaborate. Building new community relationships is helpful for building trust in
your field and in your city.
Also, take your self-care practices seriously. That is half of our job, so know your
limits and adjust them in each season to match your capacity and personal
needs. You won’t do good work if you are running thin all the time :).
What has been most rewarding about your private practice?
Working with Brittany and developing new rhythms and ideas for groups. Working in community has made many things easier as it isn’t just one of us figuring out what to do. We can lean on each other and even let the other person decide sometimes :).
What’s a typical work day look like for you?
4-6 sessions, including groups and an hour or two of consulting, documenting, or planning. We work a 4 day week to take more rest as well.
How do you balance the emotional demands of being a therapist?
Lots of self care . . . meaning focusing on the limits and capacity of the season. I have gotten a lot better at saying no, or “in this season, I don’t have room.”
I move my body almost everyday, which is one of the main ways I get stress out.
I prioritize creating and being in nature, which both ground me and reconnect me
to myself and the beauty of life. I go slower. I don’t plan as many activities. I am
also an introvert, so there ya go :).
What advice would you give to therapists in private practice who are struggling?
Find a therapist you trust to help you through times that are challenging
personally or when your trauma story gets hit (cuz it will). Also, find consulting
groups where you can be authentic when things are confusing or difficult with
specific clients. We all need these spaces to get input and learn!
How do you ensure your own needs are met in your practice?
Our main goal for us as therapists at The Well is to take care of ourselves really well so we don’t do weird shit. In a nutshell, this means take care of ourselves. So, we are trying new ways of doing that. We are each taking a summer sabbatical each year - a one month break- to help us reset and refresh and disconnect from trauma, so we can show up better for the rest of the year. We are planning for the long term and planning for rest.
How do you know the work you are doing is making a difference?
Great question! Something I have been thinking a lot about is how embodiment is the proof of change. When I was in grad school and in my first jobs, I heard many therapists talk about how you may not see the change in the office, but you may have planted a seed. I heard many professionals talk about how “ending well” is not common to see and many will stop coming instead of saying goodbye or won’t let you know if something isn’t working.
I am finding a different experience with many client’s ending well and I think the
difference is we are checking out the embodiment of their experience in most of
our sessions. If you don’t feel connected to your body, how do you know if you
have what you need? I am having more people let me know that they have what
they need and are able to identify their goals being met! It has been surprising
and exciting to see.
What are your hopes and visions for your private practice in the future?
Our current plans are to expand group work and do more art based therapy! We are excited about the new groups we are offering now. We are open to and currently have room to supervise more LAC’s!
Where can people see more of your work?
Social Media: @thewellmesa
What is the best way for a potential client to reach out?
Email or phone email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org our phone numbers are on our website too!
Thank you for reading. If you would like to be interviewed for this series, please email me at email@example.com