The Story

Mary Stafford is a native Tucsonan with bachelor's and master's degrees in microbiology from the University of Arizona. She earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of California.

From 1974 to 1978, Stafford did research at University Medical Center and then became a research associate in the UA microbiology department. Stafford had altruistic motives for research but decided to end that career.

"I became disillusioned with science and the way it was done," she says.

In 1979, Stafford took a vocational interest test that pointed to teaching or counseling. She went back to school for a master's degree in counseling and guidance. From 1982 to 1985, Stafford was a career counselor at a recruitment firm, +Bernard Haldane Associates. She moved on to career counseling for welfare recipients at Arizona's Department of Economic Security.

Welfare reform eliminated her job in 1990. She became a DES crisis counselor, dealing with welfare recipients who have experienced trauma or abuse.

In 1995, Stafford attended trauma resolution training. Roger Callahan Ph.D., a licensed psychologist in California, introduced Thought Field Therapy. It seemed strange, Stafford says. A year later, a trainer was in Tucson teaching a one-day class on Thought Field Therapy. Stafford was still intrigued and attended it.

At DES, she tried the technique on staffers and clients. Her clients liked the therapy and, in most cases, felt they could cope better with problems and life, Stafford says. The technique involves tapping on a series of acupuncture points while the client focuses on a problem. The tapping can be done by a therapist or a client, and Stafford usually teaches clients how.

In 1997, she contacted Callahan for training. The training enables Stafford to teach other therapists. She left DES and, in April 1997, opened Mind Body Therapies to treat clients and train therapists. The technique can be used for a variety of problems, including anger, anxiety, depression, phobias and trauma, Stafford says.

Stafford treats clients for $75 an hour with a version of Callahan's methods called Emotional Freedom Techniques. EFT is short-term therapy, and clients don't pay if they aren't helped, she says. Stafford trains therapists in a one-day seminar that costs $125. To bring in business, she mailed brochures to mental health professionals and gave demonstrations.

Stafford has trained more than 200 therapists, but many mental health professionals don't believe in EFT's effectiveness, she said. The Arizona Psychological Association does not give continuing education credit for Stafford's training, but the Arizona Counselors Association does. Stafford is thinking of opening up issue-specific training sessions to the general public.

The Advice

Stafford is a sole practitioner of Mind Body Therapies and should do self-planning rather than organizational planning, says Business Coach Dale Bruder. Her planning should include some traditional steps of a business plan.

Stafford has records of income and expenses for four years. Her experience and research provide enough data on markets, competition, client profiles and costs to analyze her business.

Stafford's enterprise is propelled by five drivers, Coach Bruder says: financial resources, an individually controlled agenda, personal achievement as a measures of success, time management and a set of business, family and community priorities. The drivers should be described and quantified to build a business framework.

Stafford should develop financial models for her revenue streams. She earns fees from client counseling sessions, professional training and workshops aimed at smoking, stress, weight or self-esteem. The models will break down Stafford's time into revenue-raising sessions and multiply them by different price structures. Models covering costs and providing appropriate income for Stafford make it easier for her to care for clients, says Coach Bruder.

Stafford's best marketing tool is to be an example of EFT benefits. Her passion and commitment will open doors, Coach Bruder says. She should market to the personal services and business communities by pursuing speaking opportunities at leads clubs and meetings of health care professionals. She should join with nontraditional health practitioners to organize half-day seminars.

Stafford competes with traditional talking therapies, issue counseling and psychotropic drugs prescribed by physicians, says Coach Bruder. These services are often paid by managed care plans or health insurance. Stafford's patients and workshop participants spend their own money. Success could draw scrutiny to the methodology, and Stafford should maintain the highest possible work standards. The result will be high customer satisfaction and ability to collect appropriate fees.

Since Stafford is a sole practitioner, she should build a support network with an accountant, an attorney, an insurance agency, a coach and fellow practitioners in her field and related fields, Coach Bruder says. They will help Stafford stick to the Mind Body Therapy mission and business plan.

Mind Body Therapies owner, practioner and teacher Mary Stafford confers with Business Coach Dale Bruder




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