August 09, 2023
A driven team of talented specialist providing Maine’s leaders with high quality flexible therapy.
For her entire professional life, Hannah Curtis has been dedicated to finding the best possible method of providing valuable therapeutic services to her clients. As she has developed as a therapist and as a business professional, she has come to identify the need for therapy designed around supporting those in leadership positions. She recognizes the unique needs and struggles this community faces, and also that leaders are often underserved in terms of emotional support. She set out to create her own organization that would allow her to design a program that met these needs and drive the industry forward. Today, her business New Approaches has a team of nine fantastic therapists who all work to ensure that the goal of providing unique and groundbreaking therapy to leaders and others is achieved.
Here is New Approaches’ story in Hannah’s words:
Back to the Beginning: How did New Approaches come to be?
I’m a licensed clinical social worker, and I’ve been a licensed and practicing therapist for the last 18 years, so my training is in social work. So, the first thing I did after getting my master’s degree was to become a therapist.
What I love about social work is it’s about tangibly helping people, but it’s also about thinking in the big picture. So, you can think of how all of us are impacted by our culture and our environment and it’s always bigger than just the person. We’re all part of the social fabric.
Social work is really interesting because it helps you think on both levels, the interpersonal, but also the big picture. That was really interesting to me. I was a sociology major in college and I understand how society’s functioning directly impacts how we are doing as individuals.
I’m interested in working on both of those levels. In addition, social work is really appealing to me to its focus on social justice. So, one of the problems I try to solve at New Approaches is how can we reach people, um, in an accessible way while still having a successful business model.
What I found just working in other environments is that I couldn’t really fulfill my personal mission. There were always limitations. So, I knew in starting my own business I could create an organization that could elevate the people who work with us, the other professionals, the other social workers; but it could also expand to really meet the mission that I wanted to see, which is helping people, but also to create more functional workplaces.
An Overlooked Profession: How does Hannah focus on building communicative skills?
I think it really comes down to the fact that most of us are not taught the emotional and interpersonal skills we need to be our best self. Both in our personal lives and especially in our work lives as well.
So, whether it’s through individual therapy, couples therapy, or in the workshops that we provide, we’re really trying to fill in skills that support people feeling better and more confident.
Knowing how to like, navigate conflict, for example. Very few people have a lot of skill and training for that. We walk people through that process so that they can be a principal of a school, be a business owner, or raise a family. So we’re meeting these needs that almost none of us were taught, but we’re running into again and again in our desire to be happier and to get along better with other people.
I had different people in different professions and I was supporting them. I worked a lot with people in helping professionals, so in education and healthcare, other therapists, people in social services, and they bring in topics.
I noticed a lot of themes right through all the people that I was serving. When you’re a leader, it’s like you have a huge responsibility umbrella. So, the kinds of choices you have to make means you have to look out for so many different things.
Some of the people that you’re working with are impacted, they’re not going to like your choices, and so you have to tolerate some discomfort around. Being a good leader means that people are unhappy sometimes, that there is conflict, there’s always friction. So, one of the big things I focus on is really tolerating the friction that comes from being a leader.
So, we do that in our talk therapy in various ways. Now I’m really working consulting and coaching with leaders specifically to help them move forward on the exact things that they need to do in their business and their organizations so that they can enact the values which are important to them, while tolerating how difficult that is emotionally.
There’s an emotional element to being a leader that I’m not sure is really talked about, that I feel particularly well equipped because that’s what I’ve been dealing with for the last 20 years is the emotional part. So, for me, I really like to think about the values, the strategy, and just the emotion that comes in all those processes.
A Shoulder to Lean On: How CEI came into the picture
I started working with the Women’s Business Center at CEI in 2007. so that was a long time ago. It was one of the first things I did as a business owner. I’m always looking for the resources to tap into it, but I think the reason I knew about CEI is because I took a first-time home buyers’ class.
CEI offers so many wonderful things and I did the home-buyers’ class, got support for my first home, which ended up being a good resource from which I could create value and invest in my business. So, it all ties together.
Then I started working with Gretchen Hen, who was the Women’s Business Center’s single advisor at the time. I have worked with CEI Women’s Business Center ever since. I was invited to run some programming as a consultant through CEI Women’s Business Center in 2020. I was supporting women business owners in groups with the idea of self-worth at the center. That’s one of the topics I’ve really worked with people on in my practice. So, we created a program to bring to women business owners, and that’s been popular and supportive, and we’ve sort of grown a community around that.
A Word to the Wise: A piece of advice for aspiring business owners
I think it would be to really know why you want to run this business. Because if the why is big enough, then you’ll figure it out.
Learn more about New Approaches here:
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