Roseann Bennett, a licensed family and marriage therapist practicing in the state of New Jersey, amassed years of experience working as an in-home therapist. Within this compassionate role, she provided guidance, counseling, treatment planning, and crisis intervention to many families within the Northern portion of the state. Roseann Bennett devoted a vast majority of her early career to providing aid to adolescents , as well as their families, and she has garnered diverse experience as a direct result of her all-encompassing work.
In 2009, Bennett parlayed her practical therapy experience, along with an entrepreneurial spirit, into a non-profit organization called the Center For Assessment and Treatment, which opened its’ doors within the following year. As the Executive Director of the Hackettstown based center, she has upheld the Center’s vision of providing compassionate, caring, and effective services to individuals, and families, dealing with mental health concerns, trauma, and other life-altering situations. As a charitable 501 c (3) organization, the Center For Assessment and Treatment aides community individuals regardless of income, payment, and specializes in providing compassionate care for marginalized people, and underserved populations.
Within her current role as the Executive Director, Bennett is responsible for all aspects of daily operations, as well as long-term planning for the Center. Roseann plays an instrumental role in the development of programs relevant to the various populations served, prepares agency budgets, and maintains an adequate system for proper accounting of funds. Additionally, she hires, trains, supervises, and evaluates all agency employees, and of course, maintains a caseload of her own.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?
While I have amassed great experience within the realm of mental health as a family and marriage therapist, I was always aware of the discrepancy that existed within the field. Within my local geographical area, there were very limited opportunities for lower income individuals to receive quality outpatient mental health services. As I have always truly believed in the healing powers of outpatient therapy, I knew this lack of availability was impacting thousands of local people in a highly negative manner. Thus, I decided to take steps toward closing that gap, and being able to provide quality care for those who found themselves seeking such care, but unable to pay high prices out of pocket.
How do you make money?
The Center For Assessment and Treatment is a non-profit organization, and our funding sources are somewhat limited. Thus, the Center relies on billing insured patients via Medicaid, and all HMO’s through NJ Family Care. For uninsured patients, we offer a sliding scale, in order to ensure that virtually no patient will opt to not receive the treatment they deserve due to financial struggle.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
In the beginning, profitability literally meant the difference between being able to help people, and having to close our doors. Thus, I strived for the financial stability for the Center as a means of being able to actually do our jobs, help the local community, and carry out our professional passions. When the Center was merely a fledgling idea, I started out conservatively, avoiding paying for anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary in a clinical sense. There were no leather bound notebooks, and no extras. Those items weren’t absolutely necessary to our jobs in a productive, caring, and effective manner, and thus, they were simply not considered.
Throughout the inception of the Center, I had to utilize my own credit cards in order to support the costs associated with successfully opening. We brought in office furniture from our own home, and started as a grassroots movement that we believed would work. Though we are not a funded organization, we are currently thriving, and continue to provide the care that we wholly believe in.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
Of course! Self-doubt is a completely human response, and I am certainly not exempt from it. When my husband and I decided to open the Center, we went full steam ahead, and while we always believed that our passion, drive, and love for the work that we do would guide us to the path of success, I would be lying if I didn’t admit to having stressors within the beginning stages, especially related to funding. Essentially, I handled these self-doubts by recognizing the choices that I had, and choosing to move forward. By making a conscious decision to keep moving, no matter the setbacks, stressors, or uncertainties, I made a personal vow to myself to look forward, and go for it.
How did you get your first customer?
Prior to opening our doors, we thankfully made a deal with the building’s landlord, and were able to have some padding prior to filling our caseloads. During the inception of the Center, we regularly attended community meetings to talk to individuals about our role in the local community, we maintained extensive hours to accommodate for the hectic lifestyles of our potential clients, and before we knew it, we received our first customer. From there, we never turned anyone down, regardless of circumstances, and our clients have steadily walked through the doors.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
As I’ve mentioned previously, attending local community based meetings has been a tremendous way for our mission statement, values, and passionate approach to be effectively parlayed to the local residents. While individuals seeking treatment have the opportunity to Google various providers within their geographical area, forging real community relationships means the difference between feeling confident to take the first step toward receiving care from someone who has shown compassion throughout an initial meeting, and facing a total stranger with some of life’s most aching troubles.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
After the birth of my child, I began to feel as though I always needed to sacrifice something for the sake of something else. There’s an old adage about having to Rob Peter to pay Paul, and though it is somewhat out of context, I can certainly attest to the feeling behind the old saying. As a wife, mother, sister, leader, and therapist, I certainly wear many hats, and many people rely on me to be at my best, in order to provide whatever is needed for them. Thus, I had to make a conscious decision to let go of this notion of having to “do it all” in order to consider myself successful. Slowly, I learned to take time for my own mental wellbeing, without feeling guilty about it, and began to recognize self-care as an integral part of success within all of the other roles that I play.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
I believe that I have been successful within my professional life due to the passion that I have for the work that I do. One can only run on passionless motivations for so long before being burned out, disenchanted, or a combination of the two. Throughout my career, various professional experiences have reignited the fire that burns within me, and is strengthened by the desire to see real change, hope, and happiness within my patients. Within the scope of the Center, passion plays a huge role, and certainly offsets the grueling hours, need for constant multi-tasking, and the hundreds of other stressors associated with entrepreneurship and business ownership.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
I get the most satisfaction out of seeing tangible progress within the lives of patients, and seeing them flourish provides me with great pride. As for the Center, its’ continuous ability to thrive, and maintain life, proves to be satisfying daily. Since my husband and I have been able to avoid traditional business interest when opening the Center, we are now solely in charge of the manner in which it is run. Without a bureaucracy to run things based solely on the numbers, rather than patient care, we are truly free to operate in a way that is most engaging to patients, and fruitful to us.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
As the stigma around mental health continues to slowly diminish, it is exciting to see individuals who seek self-betterment, and who abandon all shame when they are receiving services. This changing outlook on mental health, and its’ role within our society, leaves me excited about the future. As for the future of the Center, we are certainly excited to welcome future generations of therapists, and mental health professionals. We offer extensive internships within the Center, and supply students with the opportunity to amass insight into the field. Additionally, we offer scholarship opportunities for young people who are considering entering the mental health, and social work fields. My generation has already created impactful change within the scope of mental health, and I am truly excited to see what the future holds as a new generation of professionals enters the field with fresh eyes on the system as a whole.
What business books have inspired you?
Though I tend to read constantly, and hunger for knowledge on a never ending basis, I do have a particular recommendation, a book titled “The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working” by Tony Schwartz. Though it is research heavy, it also provides an honest look at the concept of work-life balance, management, and generally being successful professionally. There are several tidbits within the book that I have successfully applied to my own existence, and I am certain that readers can find their own lessons to adapt within their daily lives. The book has not only helped me to become streamlined, productive, and more successful professionally, but has also helped me to be more personally satisfied within my professional scope.
What is a recent purchase you have made that has helped with your business?
Though it has undoubtedly helped the business in a completely tangential way, the most helpful thing I have recently purchased for myself was a massage! Within the scope of my work, I often stress to people the importance of self-love, and treating one’s body and spirit to things that make it feel empowered, nourished, and rejuvenated. Thus, I take my own advice as often as possible, and truly believe in the mind-body connection and revitalization that is the result of a particularly effective massage. The adage about not being able to help others if you are unable to help yourself applies to me, and to every other professional in all industries. When you are functioning at your peak, you are able to help others in the most fruitful of ways.