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Meet Serena Ha: Founder of Serena's Art Therapy, a company that promotes peace of mind through a deep-rooted love for art!

Hello Serena! We’re thrilled to be chatting with you today at FEM-START. Could you share what sparked your entrepreneurial journey and the motivation behind launching Serena’s Art Therapy?

Before becoming an art therapist, I worked for over 7 years in the social work field because I enjoy working with people to improve the social and healthcare sector. My previous experience revealed a significant need for mental health support. I realised that my artistic skills could be utilised as a tool to support people and address mental health stigma, which led me to discover the profession of art therapy.

I completed my master’s program in art therapy in the UK. After graduation, I immediately started working with charities. I highly value working with community-based charities and plan to continue doing so in the future. Now, I have decided to establish my own private practice. After gaining two years of experience as an art therapist, I am eager to challenge myself further. In my private practice, I will have more control over workflow, creativity, and collaboration.

Some of the early challenges I faced were related to learning how to set up a private practice. Previously, I had been working with employers and not as a sole entrepreneur. I had to research all the requirements for online and in-person therapy, as well as how to uphold practice standards, adhere to GDPR regulations, and manage professional liability and insurance, as well as marketing.

What are some of the most essential things you did to get your business off the ground?

I’ve found the following tips essential in helping me start my business:

  1. Attending relevant workshops

Attending a workshop for therapists to learn how to set up a private practice was extremely beneficial. I highly recommend finding workshops closely related to your business to gain useful knowledge. Additionally, consider attending workshops covering topics such as GDPR laws and funding/subsidies (e.g., Fem-start).

  1. Networking

Networking is a powerful tool for connecting with potential collaborators and expanding business awareness. Though nerve-wracking at times, it has been instrumental in building my support system as a sole entrepreneur.

  1. Marketing your brand

Utilize free or low-cost tools like LinkedIn and Canva for marketing. While it requires time and patience, it’s important to find a marketing style that suits you. For instance, I’ve discovered numerous therapy directories online but am selective about which ones I associate with, prioritizing companies that value a person-centered approach over-exploitation.

How did you build your customer base and grow Serena’s Art Therapy?

I am gradually expanding my customer base, thanks to marketing and networking. Most of my clients discover me through a therapy directory or word-of-mouth referrals. 

What are some of the biggest mistakes you made along the way, and what did you learn from them?

One of the biggest mistakes I made was not hiring a tax consultant when I first started my business. I’ve heard that some people choose not to have a tax consultant, but I’ve found that having one has made me more aware of potential subsidies and cost-saving tips. While I do have a tax consultant now, I believe I may have missed out on valuable financial advice as a new entrepreneur.

In addition to a tax consultant, it’s important to have other supportive advisors for your business such as a PR professional, marketing expert, and more. For my therapy practice, I rely on my clinical supervisor and peer support to help me reflect on my work, support my clients, prioritize self-care, and prevent potential harm to my clients and myself.

What is your biggest achievement since founding the company, and how did you get there?

My proudest accomplishment is establishing my private practice, which represents the culmination of my efforts. I am still on a learning journey and acknowledge that I may make mistakes; however, I am grateful for the supportive spaces I have in place. Balancing work and rest is essential to me, as I aim to savor the process and prevent burnout.

I celebrate small milestones, such as the global viewership of my website www.arttherapist-serena.com, and the online clients it has brought in. I am also thankful to have connected with individuals interested in collaborating on future projects.

What advice do you have for other women who want to start their own business?

I recommend aspiring entrepreneurs to share their passion, much like a chef who loves to share her food to nourish and delight people’s palates.

What’s next for you and your business? Anything we can expect in 2024

If you are passionate about exploring upcoming projects, follow me on Instagram: serena.arttherapy, or feel free to email me for potential collaborations. Currently, I am excited to be working with fellow creators on various future workshops.

I am honoured to be a guest speaker at the upcoming event at UvA from Aug 1-6th. It’s a chance for students to delve into workshops focusing on mental health and well-being. Alongside me, other speakers will cover topics such as managing family relationships, body image, homesickness, and much more.

If you want to know more about Serena Ha’s company, Serena’s Art Therapy, Click here!  

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