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Hidden Gems: Meet Grace Dowd of Grace Therapy and Wellness

Today we’d like to introduce you to Grace Dowd.

Hi Grace, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I am a mental health therapist and founder of Grace Therapy and Wellness, PLLC. If you told me ten years ago that I would be doing what I do today, I genuinely would not have believed you. Growing up as the daughter of two accountants, therapy and feelings were not common topics of conversation. However, my mom is quite the intuitive soul and my dad has never met a stranger. Without knowing it, they instilled the core social work values of social justice, service, and dignity and worth of the person in me from a very young age.

I moved to Austin over nine years ago to pursue a master’s degree in social work at the University of Texas. To be quite honest, I knew very little about the social work field at the time but was drawn to the variety of work settings and occupations that you can pursue in the social work field. The idea of diverse career options was very comforting to me as a 20-something who was not quite sure what I wanted to be when I “grew up”.

Through my internships at UT, I discovered that much to my surprise, I really loved providing direct care to individuals through clinical therapeutic work. When I graduated, I founded the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) Intensive Outpatient Program at a local psychiatric hospital where I taught skills in mindfulness, emotion regulation, and interpersonal communication. Eventually, I branched into private practice where I started seeing individuals and couples in my current downtown office.

I spent years as a solo practitioner providing mental health care to college students and adults in the Austin area. During the pandemic, the demand for accessible and affordable mental health care grew exponentially. Seeing this need for high-quality and accessible therapy services, I created Grace Therapy and Wellness, a holistic mental health practice that provides integrative therapy services to teens, college students, and adults.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Oof – some days are definitely smoother than others. And as they say, nothing worth it in life is ever easy. What I love about being a therapist and business owner is that I am constantly being challenged, both personally and professionally. There is never a dull day – for better or for worse. And yet, I do believe that there is a ‘sweet spot’ with challenge – too much and you become overwhelmed, too little and you feel bored. I am grateful that my experience so far often keeps me in that sweet spot.

Additionally, as a business owner, you wear so many hats. This fact can be exciting and stimulating at some points and overwhelming and exhausting at others. The more I learn, the more I find myself amazed by other small business owners. Some days we are the clinician, the marketing department, the bookkeeper and the IT person all in one! I definitely did not learn website SEO in graduate school but here we are.

Fortunately, working with my clients helps to keep me grounded when the business side of things feels overwhelming. Therapy is the perfect balance of consistency and surprise. It challenges me, inspires me, and forces me to grow in the best ways possible.

We’ve been impressed with Grace Therapy and Wellness, PLLC, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Grace Therapy and Wellness is therapeutic group practice specializing in treating depression, anxiety, trauma, and relationship issues. We support clients as they walk through life transitions and uncover deeper roots to present-day issues. We provide integrative therapy services to adolescents, teens, college students, and adults. Our clinicians create space for clients using a non-judgmental, client-centered, and strengths-based approach. We value and honor differences, both within others and ourselves.

What sets our team apart is that we value a holistic approach to therapy, honoring the connection between mental and physical health. In session, this approach transpires through teaching mindfulness, breathwork, and movement while using knowledge about interpersonal neurobiology to normalize and understand some of our human tendencies.

What also sets us apart from others is that we provide accessible care to the community by offering sliding scale options for clients who cannot afford the full fee for therapy. Furthermore, we offer evening and weekend appointments to help meet the demand for services during those hours. Therapy is not a one-size-fits-all situation and each clinician on our team has their own style and niche area.

While counseling is our main focus at this time, in the future I envision creating a multidisciplinary team of specialists in the fields of nutrition, psychiatry, and yoga/meditation to further serve our clients and help meet the demand for holistic mental health services.

If you had to, what characteristic of yours would you give the most credit to?
Looking back, the quality that has served me the most is the ability to trust my gut. Being able to listen to our own intuitive voice can help quiet down the noise we get from other people and our own inner critic. Listening to our gut can also tell us when the timing for something might be off or when it might be time to take that next step.

Being able to look inward, pause, and reflect allows me to make more values-aligned actions. This process served me over a decade ago when I was looking at graduate programs and continues to serve me today.

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Image Credits
Gaby Deimeke Kim Neuman

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