Lauren Legere from latitude counselling

Lauren Legere from Latitude Counselling: Making Mental Health a Priority In Your Entrepreneurial Journey

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Most of us might expect a linear career path with little bumps and turns. But in reality, our careers—and our psychological wellbeing—can pan out in quite the opposite way. In fact, it can be very non-linear and full of bumps and turns. It may start out in one direction, but zigs and zags through life experiences, insights, and unpredictable curveballs that life tends to throw at us.

That’s what happened to Lauren Legere, who despite wanting to take her life down one trajectory, ended up in a much more fulfilling, rewarding, and at times, tough career. Thankfully, it’s one that allows her to do what she loves: work with clients from all walks of life to help them improve their mental health including high-stress environments, work-related emotions and issues, and so much more.

We recently sat down with Lauren to get her take on her journey to entrepreneurship and how she transitioned from a career in corporate sales to now the founder of Latitude Counselling, a private counselling practice in Vancouver, BC.

Let’s get to know Lauren!

From a Career in Corporate Sales to an Entrepreneur

Tell us about yourself and your career path!

“Growing up, I had always thought I was going to be a lawyer so I definitely took a hard left! In my first year of university, I fell in love with Psychology. I started to realize how much I was drawn to understanding why humans behave the way they do, how different environments reinforce certain aspects of our lives and how two people who experience the exact same event will have totally different perspectives about what happened. I was completely fascinated! After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a business minor, I started my Masters.

Unfortunately, due to some family health issues, I had to put a pause on school. I started working in corporate sales as an in between and fell in love with the people. I ended up working in corporate sales for almost a decade with a couple different companies and it was always my clients that lit me up. I remember having a conversation with my previous manager about how I wanted to be doing more and offering more to the humans I engaged with other than selling them on a new product or service. She had encouraged me to go back to school and shortly after that conversation, I went back to complete my Masters in Counselling Psychology.

I continued to work and go to school. Shortly after graduating, I started to look around at the environments therapists were working in and realized I could create space for other folks to feel free to be themselves; to show up authentically and do the hard work they were already doing. So I spent the next few months creating Latitude Counselling and launched in February 2020.”

What is your business?

Latitude Counselling Ltd. is a private counselling practice originally based in downtown Vancouver but due to the global pandemic, we have shifted to a completely virtual model for the time being. We have a team of therapists who specialize in a variety of different areas such as anxiety, depression, trauma, relationships, body image issues, LGBTQ2+ and a whole lot more.

Each of our therapists have a minimum of a Master’s degree and have spent additional time taking trainings, courses and sought out supervision to really hone their skills to offer our clients the best support possible. We work with subsidized programs such as the First Nations Health Authority and Crime Victims Assistance Program and do some pro bono work with the Mamas for Mamas foundation to ensure we are giving back to our communities.”

Why did you start this business?

“Starting Latitude Counselling was something that I had thought about for a while. I looked around at the environments being offered to therapists to work in and a lot of them didn’t align with how I envisioned practicing. After working in sales for so long, you quickly learn that when the people doing the work are really happy, it benefits the customers. In our case, when therapists are thriving in their work environment, feel supported and are able to show up as they are, whether that is wild and funky blue hair or a sleeve of tattoos, they are able to do better work than showing up as a scripted outdated version of self that then takes a toll on the mental work they are doing with our clients.

To me, Latitude Counselling is more than just a private practice. We are creating a community. Community has always and will always be something that is really important to me. When our therapists and team can show up authentically, so can our clients.”

latitude counselling mental health in the workplace

How has going from working a corporate job to transitioning to running your business affected your work/life balance? Has it made your life easier or more difficult?

“I think overall, transitioning to running my business has made my life easier in a lot of ways. I have the flexibility to get things done on a timeline that works for me, my team and my clients. Because I feel much more in control of my days and my purpose, I don’t feel as burnt out as I was when I was in corporate life. I love being able to think up an idea and be able to execute it on my own without all the red tape. There were and still are scary moments, especially when you are betting on yourself, but overall the transition felt natural. Like I was supposed to be doing this all along.

When I was working in sales, I was always on, available and working—even when I wasn’t being paid to do so. It was taking a toll on all the relationships in my life because even when I was present, I wasn’t really.

When I transitioned to working for myself, yes I am working a lot still but I see the benefits first hand. When you are working for yourself, there is always more you can be doing and there is always a never ending to-do list not far away.

Being intentional about when I am turning off for the day and when I have the capacity to keep working has been something I continue to work on. I show up for my loved ones now in a way I didn’t have the capacity for when I was in corporate. I think of it more as a practice more than anything else because there are still days I get sucked into an administrative day that eats through my entire day before I even have a chance to look at my list (today is a perfect example of this; where did the day go?!).”

Diving Deep in the Entrepreneurial Journey

As an entrepreneur herself, Lauren shared key knowledge that every entrepreneur or “soon-to-be” entrepreneur should have in their toolkit.

Here’s what we learned:

What knowledge and skills would you say are the most important to you in your job?

“Apart from the years of education and training to actually be a therapist, work with clients and have some sense of human behaviour (haha), I would say that spending so much time in sales before opening Latitude has been a huge advantage. Most therapists or health care professionals aren’t taught anything about running a business or really the business side of anything.

Learning to wear not only a therapist hat but also being an entrepreneur took a lot of juggling, and honestly some trial and error. Now that I’m in it and feeling more in the flow, I would say that boundaries, with clients, team members and when to take a break, communication and active listening are the skills I use every day. You can learn a lot about someone by listening to what they are saying and being able to communicate when things need to shift.”

What have been your biggest challenges in starting Latitude Counselling? What was the solution?

“Apart from the global pandemic that inevitably forced us to shut down our physical space and pivot to a completely virtual model, I would say the journey is lonely. As a therapist, the nature of our jobs can be quite lonely, but add in entrepreneurship and it’s a whole new ball game. You are responsible for not only showing up and doing some really hard work of supporting other people, but you are also in charge of making sure the business continues to run, so even when you aren’t seeing clients, there is still more that needs to get done. In corporate jobs, you have your coworkers to vent with, strategize with, who are in the trenches with you but when you venture out on your own, you don’t have someone who’s in it with you to share the highs and lows.

One of the ways I was able to overcome this was connecting with other people, specifically my business bestie, Kate Fisher. We were connected through a mutual friend and our relationship really took off. Both of us had just started our businesses, had just left corporate life and both were feeling the weight of starting out. I had originally hired her and her company, Time Is Now Marketing agency, to help with some of the marketing of Latitude Counselling. When the pandemic hit, our business relationship shifted and our friendship took off. Kate is hands down one of the best people I know and is someone I can have real conversations with about the highs and lows of the entrepreneurial journey. We laugh together, cry together, strategize together and celebrate lessons and wins together even though we are in totally different fields. Building that sense of community ultimately lead Kate and I to start a joint venture, the Collective E., which helps female entrepreneurs build their community and help shed some light on the loneliness of entrepreneurship.”

💡 TLDR: find a business bestie in a similar stage of business as you to lean on and support each other because entrepreneurship can be lonely AF.

What’s your best piece of advice for those who are also looking to leave their corporate job to start their own business? How are you able to help them?

“I think it’s hard to narrow it down to just one piece so I am going to share my top 3!

  1. If you are ready to take the leap into entrepreneurship, invest in yourself and don’t stop investing. I know that may sound cliché but seriously.
  2. Also, make a business plan. I know this sounds textbook but creating my business plan allowed me to think through scenarios that I hadn’t considered, allowed me to niche into the areas I wanted to focus on, and helped me identify how I was going to differentiate Latitude Counselling from every other private counselling practice.
  3. And third, find your business bestie or community. Having people who understand what it’s like to build a business from the ground up, the ups and downs and how lonely it can be is going to be a huge success factor. Anyone who says they did it alone is lying. My business bestie, Kate Fisher from the Time is Now Marketing agency and I actually created a community, The Collective E, to support female entrepreneurs in the early stages of their journey (haven’t taken the leap yet to 2 years of business). We know what it is like to have so much information coming at you, different people telling you different things and how overwhelming it can be. Our hope is that we can connect women with each other to share the real, raw versions of their journey, not just the Instagram worthy stuff.”

Lauren and Kate

The Importance of Mental Health and the Workplace

The life of an entrepreneur or anyone changing their career path to a solo one is not easy. Running your own show, wearing multiple hats, and doing it all alone can be stressful and lonely. As a licensed clinical councillor, we made sure we carved out time to speak to Lauren about the importance of mental health—in general and specific to the workplace.

Are there any patterns you’ve noticed amongst the people who’ve reached out to Latitude Counselling for help in their careers?

“A lot of the folks I work with who are career focused are in the contemplation or preparation stage of change. In the contemplation stage they recognize that things aren’t working for them in their current roles and know something better is out there for them. In the preparation phase, these folks are researching different opportunities, action planning based on what they are finding, and seeking ways to eliminate barriers.

A lot of these folks are high in emotional intelligence, have strong interpersonal skills and have something that they are passionate about that literally lights them up when they start talking about it.

Most of the time, the folks reaching out to me recognize that they aren’t leading the lives they want for themselves and see therapy as a way to gain more self-awareness, a deeper understanding of self, and an opportunity to learn new skills and tools for their mental health toolkit. All this isn’t to say that they aren’t nervous about the change or unsure of how things will pan out. They acknowledge their fears and nerves while still leaning into the change.”

Are there any common misconceptions about stress and dealing with anxiety in the workplace?

“Research has started to come out about the importance of emotional intelligence in corporate life. A piece of that is acknowledging that sometimes employees are going to experience stress and anxiety around their job. Some of the biggest misconceptions about stress is that if you aren’t stressed, you aren’t working hard enough; all stress is bad stress; stress and anxiety show up the same for everyone.

The fact is stress and anxiety manifest differently for different people and in different situations. Stress in small doses isn’t always a bad thing; research shows that stress can increase energy and focus for short times. When stress levels are sustained for long periods of time however, they become problematic.”

How is therapy helpful for those who are dealing with work-related emotions and issues?

“Many of us grew up in environments where emotions weren’t spoken about, let alone in the workplace. While some companies are evolving to focus on employee mental wellness, there are still a significant amount of places that believe that emotions don’t belong in the workplace. One of the ways therapy can support folks dealing with work-related issues and emotions is by helping folks create strategies and tools for managing their stress, creating boundaries, and setting realistic expectations for themselves and their environments.

When you are working in a high stress environment, everyone is operating in a fight or flight response which can lead to mistakes, absenteeism and burnout. By building on the resources clients already have, they are able to take a step back and prioritize effectively and efficiently.”

In a culture where we idolize “overworking”, what’s 3 pieces of advice that you would give to anyone who is struggling with their mental health?

I love this question. When the pandemic hit, many people were forced to slow down. We started to see increases in anxiety and depression to levels that had previously been unprecedented.

My advice for folks struggling with their mental health is:

  • Set boundaries: With coworkers, friends, family, partners. Boundaries are key.
  • Move your body in a way that feels good to you: Research shows that in order to close your stress cycle, you need to do a physical activity that gets your blood flowing for a minimum of 20 minutes every day.
  • Prioritize yourself: As the saying goes, “You can’t pour from an empty cup”. Have things that bring you joy in your schedule that you can look forward to, that help “refill your cup”.
  • Seek out support from a mental health professional: Each person is unique and has different factors that need to be accounted for, which a Clinical Counsellor can help identify and support.

I also think it’s important to acknowledge that we aren’t robots. We’re humans who are all just trying to figure it out. You don’t have to navigate this on your own. Reach out to trusted friends and loved ones, your doctor or mental health professional.

Are there any publications or resources that you recommend to others in your field?

“A big resource is finding your own therapist. For folks in healthcare, we are getting rocked right now. It is so important to make sure you are taking care of your own mental health in order to support your team, your clients and not only run your business, but continue to grow.”

For entrepreneurs and humans in general looking for a therapist of your own, check out:

BC Association of Clinical Counsellors

Counselling BC

Psychology Today

Latitude Counselling

If you are looking for free or low cost resources:

Bounce Back BC is a free skill-building program designed to help adults and youth 15+ to manage low mood, mild to moderate depression, anxiety, stress or worry

Wellness together Canada -partnership between the federal gov’t and private sector that was developed in response to the negative impact of COVID on Canadians mental health. The site offers a variety of online and virtual resources such as self-assessment tools, self-guided care and peer support and counselling.

Anxiety Canada  offers a ton of great free resources for both kids and adults.

Latitude Counselling Blog offering tips and strategies from breathing exercises to challenging negative thinking patterns

BC Crisis Line at 604.872.3311 or 911

Car 87  Crisis Line 604-675-3700

Suicide Prevention Line 833-456-4566

If you’d like to learn more about Latitude Counselling or find Lauren on any of her socials, you can check her out here: 

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