Entrepreneur: Mary Kathryn Rodrigue and Katie Fetzer
GABRIELLE BRAUD | @GABRIELLEBRAUD
MARCH 4, 2015 | BUSINESS
Position: Co-owners and licensed professional counselors
Company:The Wellness Studio
What they do: A mental health counseling private practice that offers individual, couples, family, and group therapy services for children, adolescents, and adults.
Addresses: 7472 Highland Road, with locations in Covington and New Orleans as well
Next goals: Destigmatize mental health and counseling through more outreach efforts both locally and internationally
After spending five years working as a hospital clinician, Mary Kathryn Rodrigue decided the time was right for something new. “I think for any clinician, to have a private practice is the dream job,” Rodrigue says. So after much research into the Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Northshore area markets, Rodrigue set out to create a counseling center that felt intriguing and inviting, with aesthetics playing a large role. She opened The Wellness Studio in Baton Rouge in January of 2013 and in the summer of 2013, met Katie Fetzer, who became co-owner of the business by the end of the year. This meeting of kindred spirits turned into a business partnership, with both women proactively trying to change the face of mental health and therapy because of the negative stigma associated with it.
GLASS HALF FULL
In their 13 years of combined experience as wellness counselors, Rodrigue says her favorite feedback they’ve received from a client is that they left feeling a little bit lighter. “We can’t change life,” Fetzer says. “But it is about teaching people the skills they need to empower them to handle life’s crises.” Fetzer believes counseling can empower people to flip their glass-half-empty to a glass-half-full outlook. The duo is dedicated to constantly learning and researching strides being made in mental health not only locally, but internationally. In May, Fetzer and Rodrigue will travel to Europe visiting professors, teaching and attending conferences to bring back information about how the arena is changing globally and how the community can be part of that change. “It is part of a worldwide effort to help globalize the idea of therapy,” Fetzer says.
Rodrigue has found her life’s work in The Wellness Studio counseling others through the grief, trauma and the hardships of life. In the months and years following her husband passing from cancer, Rodrigue says she would always get “that pity ask of how are you doing? And I would always say, ‘You know, surprisingly well.’ ” Although she recognized that she should probably be in a darker place, she sought out the proper resource and people to help her cope. “We’ve all been there when we’ve had to find and seek out our own resources,” Rodrigue says. For Rodrigue and Fetzer, their goal is to be that saving grace for others. “When you are at the lowest point in your life and you don’t know what the solution is, the solution is counseling,” Fetzer says.
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
What sets the offices of The Wellness Studio apart from other counseling environments is Fetzer and Rodrigue’s attention to the aesthetic detail. “All the senses are intrigued from how it looks to the ways it feels and how it sounds,” Rodrigue says. “We are very sensitive to that.” The studio’s unique use of common objects creates a homey but meaningful atmosphere. Everything from the furniture, to the wall hangings, to trinkets on a coffee table is carefully placed with an intentional significance and purpose. “Most healing environments are medicinal and sterile,” Fetzer says. “They are not as aesthetically pleasing, inviting or comforting.” Rodrigue says patients will often ask questions about objects in the room, giving her and Fetzer the opportunity to use them as therapeutic tools, creating a relatable meaning in a common object.