Valencia Agnew, Ph.D., always loved psychology, but she was so sensitive to the feelings and needs of others, her mother often joked with her to "take it down a notch." Agnew decided she was good at math, so she pursued a business degree and majored in accounting.
"There's no crying in accounting."
After working for a few years, however, Agnew couldn't shake the call on her life to help others. She had a true passion for listening to and supporting people, and she believed in a unique potential each and every person harbored within them to live life—not just exist.
So, she hit the books a second time and pursued that degree in psychology.
Today, Dr. Agnew is a licensed psychologist in the state of Michigan, sits on the Licensing Board of Psychology, and serves a diverse population of clients through her practice, Adolescent & Family Behavioral Health Services.
"I see people come in here, and they're at their worst. Their pain is so raw, and I get to give them hope.
"We get to say: As long as there's breath, there's hope."
At some point in her career, Agnew always wanted to own her business. She found her inspiration when her sister passed away unexpectedly from meningitis, and her mother suffered a stroke just one month later.
"I thought: Life is fragile, and if you're going to do it ... if you're going to help more people, what are you waiting for?"
With her business background, Agnew set out to open a business that not only survived, but thrived.
In May 2012, she opened her practice, serving 11 clients through 12 appointments. Five years later, Agnew and her staff have served over 500 clients through over 5,000 appointments. In March, she won the Grand Rapids Business Journal's 2017 Top Women Owned Businesses Award.
As her client base grew, so did her practice. Adolescent & Family Behavioral Health Services now staffs seven psychologists and an intern. They completed a grueling process to become a Dialectal Behavior Therapy (DBT) Accredited Facility, moved into a bigger space and continue to offer a number of specialty groups with plans to add DBT groups for eating disorders, substance abuse, high-conflict couples and more. Soon, they'll be adding an educational series at no charge for the public, focusing on self injury, suicide prevention and family matters.
Yes, it's a lot more work. It doesn't end when the clock strikes five, and Agnew will always get calls, even while on vacation in another country. But in the end?
"I get to help more people. More people get to live better lives."
Learn more about Agnew and her practice at www.AdolescentFamilyBHS.com.
Written by Cassie Westrate, staff writer for West Michigan Woman.