March is one of my favorite months of the year here in the desert. I always look forward to the warm weather transition, the first glimpses of pastel-hued wildflowers and the overnight re-emergence of Zebra-tailed Lizards. New life is obvious in the desert this time of year. Appropriately, it’s also the time of year when I first re-located here from the midwest to start a new life chapter. It’s when I took on my first Tucson client and when Intuition Wellness Center officially sprouted in the desert! This year, Intuition Wellness is celebrating a double-digit birthday, which certainly calls for some acknowledgment! In honor of 10 years of service to Southern Arizona, here’s an overview of how Intuition Wellness sprouted and grew!
Intuition Wellness Center Takes Root
Intuition Wellness started in March of 2013 when Dr. Yoendry Torres and I (both clinical psychologists), began our teeny tiny Tucson private practice together. At the time, we both had other day jobs and projects underway. So we started by seeing counseling clients just a couple afternoons and evenings a week. Dr. Torres and I had met in our doctoral program several years before starting Intuition Wellness. Although we had never worked together before, we had each served in numerous roles dedicated to emotional and physical health and had overlapping interests. The two of us were and still are heavily influenced by our early career experiences working in big agencies. Those agencies had a lot of great attributes, especially the variety of services, multiple disciplines represented and training opportunities. Sometimes, though, those same agencies were cumbersome to navigate both for clients and providers.
When we were hatching our Intuition Wellness plan, our first priority was to create a welcoming space that supported our clients to embrace their whole health– body and mind— and emphasized the wellbeing and growth of team members, too. We knew that we wanted to, one day, offer a range of services, create a team and train developing professionals. The original vision certainly included serving children and families. However, neither of us fully grasped just how much Southern Arizona’s shortage of pediatric services would shape our future.
Intuition Wellness Sprouts!
After a year of renting space from another therapist in town, Dr. Torres and I were ready to make another big leap. By 2014, our part-time practice had really exploded. I had done one of the things that I still enjoy most about my job. I had started making connections with other local providers and poking around in the resources for collaborative opportunities. By doing that, word spread quickly that we knew how to and enjoyed providing counseling to children and teens. Very suddenly, Dr. Torres and I had more families calling for services than we could possibly serve. By this time, we were essentially taking over the office we were borrowing from another therapist. We decided it was time to go all in! Dr. Torres and I moved out of our office share situation and rented a charming 3-office suite in an ivy-covered brick building. Even with more space available and my transition to full-time, there was simply no way for the two of us to see all of the families asking for our services. We made our first hire— a licensed clinical social worker with a love of children and teens.
This was a really fun time! Before we knew it, another social worker and another social worker had found us. Our little team was also grown up enough now to hire our first admin team member. We were lucky enough to be able to hire the best of the best! Our growing team was also now hosting “Visioning Days” to work on our growth plan, create policies that supported team-ness and determine what collaborative care really meant. Our tiny team was regularly consulting and learning together. It was an excellent sampling of more to come.
The next year was a really big one, too! By 2016, we had, again, outgrown our space. After several months of preparation, the team moved into our much larger current center. We had also started to really understand our limitations and realized that growing our counseling team was only one of many ways that we could make pediatric services accessible to the community. We turned our attention to developing a training program for students and other professionals. The idea was that this would have a more widespread impact. Our team partnered with the University of Arizona to train PhD students. We also applied and were approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor professional continuing education. When I look back at that time, it’s wild to me how much we achieved in our first few years!
Intuition Wellness Grows!
With expansion of our counseling services already moving at a continuous pace, the Intuition Wellness Team started a more careful examination of the needs of our client community. We understood that, although counseling was certainly a well-utilized service, there were limitations to what we could do with our counseling training. What’s more, we started to inventory the wait lists for other pediatric services in Southern Arizona and found that people were waiting several months to get critical services for their children. It takes a village to raise a child and their health and wellness villages were failing them.
Between the years of 2017 and 2019, we started a new service each year. First, came psychological testing, then occupational therapy and finally naturopathic medicine. Each of these services started both as an extension of the needs of current Intuition Wellness clients and with a serendipitous meeting with the “just-right” next new team member at somewhat unexpected moments. These new team members were incredibly motivated to help grow these programs. Again, it’s hard to believe how ambitious our team is sometimes. A new service per year! Wowza it was an inspired time!
The challenge of 2020 put a lot of plans on hold. It slowed down some of services while placing greater-than-usual demand on others. However, the team worked tirelessly to ensure connection with clients and each other. The silver linings that we discovered that year will have a forever impact. It became clearer than ever that serving parents IS pediatric care. We were all reminded that just because something has always been done one way doesn’t mean that it always should be. We also learned a lot about virtual platforms! Surprisingly, we came to appreciate telehealth as a very useful treatment tool with children in some instances. We also found that virtual trainings brought us lots of opportunities. The resilience of our team was truly revealed in 2020 and beyond. We will never take our team members for granted!
While bouncing back from that tough time, we’ve continued to work to nurture our existing programs and plan for the future. By hiring two additional team members near the end of 2022 and with at least two more joining in the upcoming months, we’re taking our current services and training programs to the next level and broadening our reach to even more families and professionals!
Intuition Wellness Blossoms!
Intuition Wellness Center started as a 2-person part-time team in March of 2013. As of early 2023, Intuition Wellness Center’s 15-member multidisciplinary team provides about 7,000 hours of counseling, occupational therapy, naturopathic medicine, parent support and consultation annually. That number is projected to grow to nearly 8,500 hours annually by the end of 2023.
Intuition Wellness Center’s team of experts truly believes in the power of community when it comes to helping families thrive. It takes a village! Our community— all of you— have also been critical to Intuition Wellness growing and thriving over the last 10 years. Thank you for the honor of serving your children, your family and you for the last decade.
Happy 10th birthday to our Intuition Wellness community!