I am a 100% disabled female Veteran who served in the Army for six years. I joined at 17 because I grew up in a single-parent home and knew I wanted to go to college and have opportunities. Financially I didn’t think it was possible without joining the military because I was also a first-generation college student. After completing a year of college, I was deployed for 16 months. I served as a 92Y, which meant that I worked in logistics. I then was sent to multiple trainings and countries to specialize in weapons systems that were being developed and transitioned to. After returning from this deployment, I finished college with a BS in Psychology. As much as I would think it is implied of why Psychology interested me, I will further elaborate that I became the person that everyone would come to for support while serving in the Army. During my deployment I became the advocate for sexual trauma while also being put on guard of individuals who were on suicide watch due to having previous attempts before they could send them back to the United States for further support. I also recognized my own struggles during this time and began wanting answers and also knew my time was going to end in the Army, but I found the passion for serving. I wanted to continue to serve my fellow Veterans as well as my community. I then applied to graduate school and three years later I had my MS in Counseling. Since I graduated, I worked for the Veterans Health Administration for 8 years at our local Vet Center doing complex trauma counseling for Veterans and their family members. During this time, I have won awards, provided national level trainings and then became an international consultant. When the pandemic started and all counseling services shut down face to face, I quit my job and opened up my own private practice to be able to continue providing services to my clients in person. I am highly recognized in the Veteran and counseling communities. I met my husband at the end of graduate school and he was already a chiropractor who owned and ran his own business with his entire family. His parents cashed in their entire retirement to start up and begin the business for him and his brother who are both chiropractors. So, we both have the knowledge and skill set of starting up, investment of time, energy and money of a business.
Trauma Life Consulting, TLC, is a thriving practice, currently run out of my home office. By expanding to a commercial location, I will be able to offer space to other solo practitioners and have the opportunity to offer group counseling. Approximately half of my current business is to provide supervision and consultation to other clinicians. I have identified a need and a desire in all the other clinicians I work with that they need to decrease their virtual availability and increase their face-to-face interactions. In creating additional office space in this idea, I am not only able to meet this need for providers in this area, but also contribute mental health care to our community. At this time, I have to refer out approximately 3-7 new client referrals a week that are in search of support and services. This business has an established clientele and is easily able to grow with very little effort needed.
I will continue running my practice and will also work with my husband in running the LLC that will manage the building. Although I work 5 days a week, I have decreased the number of hours I work each day leaving time to be able to manage these additional duties. I will be able to collect rent in the office or they can mail to the LLC address. I will be in charge of managing all the spaces and who has it rented each day and will also provide a calendar that all providers have access to so that they can use it for planning and coordinating groups and workshops they would like to host. During this process of creating this business plan and gathering all the information and managing all of it, I have been able to be more flexible with my schedule and also am able to manage coordinating information in a highly effective way due to the training and experiences I have had in my career.
In 2019, after a successful career with the Veterans Health Administration providing complex trauma counseling for Veterans and their family members, I opened Trauma Life Consulting (TLC). I’m Jennifer Sluga and I’m a US Army service-disabled Veteran and hold an MS in Counseling. I have done a significant amount of additional training since graduate school, studying for years to learn treatment modalities for complex trauma. I have developed my skills and experience and am now considered an International Consultant.
I currently carry a caseload of 40 active patients that I see out of a secure home office. Since I started my private practice, I have worked with over 65 clients. Many of these have remained clients and have remained engaged even after their treatment is over for maintenance visits and to keep ongoing support in their lives. In addition, I consult with many providers and have learned of how high of a demand there is for space for private practice providers to see face to face clients now that individuals are no longer willing to accept virtual therapy and want a more personal experience. Based on my interaction with other providers there is a need for co-located independent practices in the Madison area. This allows for providers to maximize their earning potential while also still being able to benefit from collaboration and consultation. Many providers are facing burn out after the pandemic and are looking to reconnect and get back to an office setting for more support. This also benefits all the clients as it allows for quicker and easier referral for family members and couples therapy when it can be done within the same office setting.
With this in mind, I would like to build a facility to accommodate my growing practice and allow for room for a second business. Along with my spouse, Sam Sekanick (a practicing Chiropractor), we plan to build a facility that will house both a therapy practice in one part of the building and a service-based business on the other side. Sam will continue to run his chiropractic business independent from the businesses discussed in this plan. Sam and I will establish another LLC to manage the properties rental spaces and then this LLC would have a contract with our investor who will fund the project and the building for the commercial space for both the therapy business and laundry business.
Waunakee is a rapidly expanding suburb of Madison, WI with almost 15,000 residents according to the US Census. The average home price according to census data is just under $400,000. Yet, the community still lacks some key services. By expanding the mental health services space, we will meet a need. In addition, we plan to open the only laundry service which will include dry cleaning and wash/dry/fold laundry services in the community, Waun-it-Kleen. As successful services-based business owners we feel we are well positioned to leverage our relationships and strengths and operate another business.
My plan is to build a commercial property that will house a mental health facility that will allow for practitioners to have a space to go back to in-person therapy and allow for less isolation in the profession while providing more collaboration and consultation for them as providers. Trauma Life Consulting will be housed in one of the offices and the other offices will be rented out to other mental health providers in the area. This building will have two restrooms along with a break room area and a group room for larger therapy interventions. From my years of therapy and from what most of you learned from COVID, is that we as humans struggle more with less connection. Over the years of practicing, I have seen the greatest growth in clients when they are able to connect with others that are going through similar experiences. Clients are reporting to me how lonely and disconnected they are since COVID and are craving the ability to reconnect.