Just because you’ve made it to the top in your field, doesn’t mean you have it all together. So says Victoria Cooper, founder of The Consulting Firm LLC, located at the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center in Allentown. Cooper is a licensed professional counselor and licensed behavioral specialist with a master’s degree in psychology.

The Consulting Firm works with individuals, educators, and businesses to effectively communicate, manage stress, and reach an intended target market from a psychological perspective. Its mission is to help clients gain and apply the necessary tools toward reaching their interpersonal and business goals.

Cooper started her business in 2018, but it was 2019 before it really hit the ground running. “I did a lot of networking in the beginning to make contacts in the community that helped me find the executive level people who would need and benefit from my services. This type of business is relatively new and unfamiliar in the Lehigh Valley,” she said. “Leaders can be overlooked. There’s an assumption that they have everything under control, but they need a support system. I provide them the mental and emotional support they need.”

The Consulting Firm offers a range of services including Executive Therapy; Solution-Focused Therapy and Stress Management; Strategic Decision Making and Psychological Branding; Individual and Group Coaching and Mood Boosting; and Educational Workshops and Trainings.

“The concept of therapy can be a misconception,” she continued. “A connection to a therapist is very personal. All therapists are different and have different styles, so it’s important to find one you connect with in order to get the most benefit out of your sessions. I encourage my clients not to be afraid and to actually embrace their fears.”

“Executive Therapy is our most popular service right now because it offers support and strategies,” explained Cooper, who created this service based on client need. “Leaders need emotional health support. Everyone wants to be understood and to have some type of nurture and support. Often, they come out of this being better parents and spouses, too.”

While she uses social media to help followers get to know her and build trust through posts and videos, most of her business is word-of-mouth referrals. Although her current clientele is located in the Mid-Atlantic states, she offers her services nationally and will travel to meet with clients. She can also conduct virtual session online.

Getting started

Growing up, Cooper was surrounded by friends who needed support. She knew that she wanted to be the one to help them and other kids like them, so she began her counseling career with a focus on children. But she discovered that in order to help the children, she often had to help their parents, so her focus expanded to adults. She also had other counseling specialties including the mental health needs of homeless people, which she refers to as the often-overlooked people.

Despite having a job she loved with the State of New Jersey and the secure employment it offered, Cooper decided it was time to take the big leap of starting her own business. “I just feel that this is something I am called to do. I knew that what was in me was worth more,” she said. So she started dreaming of what she wanted her business to become.

Finding a home

Once she knew she was going to strike out on her own, she needed an office where she could meet with clients. “My colleague Joseph Berrios of BANC 7 has an office in the Flex Office Suites at Bridgeworks and I visited him there. I fell in love with the character of the former Mack Trucks industrial facility.”

She immediately inquired about renting an office space and was initially told there were none available, much to her disappointment. But a few days later she was told that an office space was opening up and she jumped at the chance to take it. “I feel like everything just aligned for me to be able to get that office space.”

Growing the business

Bringing in another team member to help support the firm’s operations and find new business in order to free her up to do the counseling has long been on her mind. So Cooper recently hired Melissa Orellana as operations manager. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Montclair State University and is fluent in Spanish. “Melissa is motivated, and I want to empower her to grow in this field,” Cooper said. “She’ll start out as part-time but with plans to transition her to full-time as our client base grows.”

Cooper feels that since starting her business she is the healthiest she’s been in years. She has taken a holistic approach to her health and lost weight while also focusing on self-responsibility. “I firmly believe that with hard work and good intentions you will get what you deserve in life.”

Mental Health Awareness Month

Cooper said that May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and she encourages everyone to examine the amount of stress in their life, both work-related and personal.

“Stress changes the chemicals in our bodies,” she said. “It’s important to recognize how it affects you and to be aware of the affects it has on your body. It can have detrimental impacts on things like strategic decision making.”

When it comes to using digital devices, she encourages everyone to set a daily limit on number of hours and to monitor it, while using blue light filters on computer screens and cell phones.

“It’s important to be well and to connect with your community. Get more movement each day even if you have to break it up in blocks of time throughout the day. And spend time outdoors when you can. Also, eat a balanced diet. Your body will thank you for it.”

In relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, she explained that the conflicting virus information that is in circulation coupled the constant news cycle can be traumatizing because it creates conflict within ourselves.

“Returning to work while feeling uncertain about doing so can trigger that trauma,” Cooper explained. “So, employers should do initial evaluations and ongoing assessments of their team members to gauge their willingness to return to work, as well as reluctancy to do so. Employers that aren’t prepared to do these screenings or don’t know how to do them can work with me if they need support. I encourage them to let a professional counselor with experience in trauma help them plan how they move forward in the coming weeks.”

Read Cooper’s blog post – Wellness Reminders During Quarantine.