All Things Private Practice Podcast for Therapists

Episode 138: Overcoming Adversity: Homelessness, Teen Motherhood, and Entrepreneurship [featuring Victoria James]

Show Notes

In this episode, I had the opportunity to speak with Victoria James who is not only a LCSW and psychotherapist but also an anxiety and mindset expert who overcame difficult odds to establish a thriving private practice dedicated to helping ambitious individuals navigate their mental health and entrepreneurial journeys.

Here are some key takeaways:

  1. Embrace Your Journey: Victoria's story is a testament to the power of resilience and courage, moving from teenage motherhood and homelessness to becoming a successful entrepreneur and wellness leader.
  2. Bet on Yourself: Even when faced with unimaginable challenges, investing in your self-growth and education can change your life trajectory. Victoria's determination to pursue higher education despite financial and personal obstacles is a powerful reminder that we hold the keys to our future.
  3. Redefine Failure: Viewing failure as a stepping stone rather than a setback can significantly alter your approach to life and business. Failures are merely setups for greater successes, providing invaluable learning opportunities.

Victoria's insights are a treasure trove for anyone looking to break cycles and chart new paths. Let's get inspired and empower each other to go beyond our limits!

More about Victoria:

Victoria James is an experienced Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Psychotherapist, Anxiety & Mindset Expert, Wellness Entrepreneur, and the Founder of Ever Growth Counseling®. Ever Growth Counseling was created for overachieving Young Professionals, Millennials, and Entrepreneurs who are struggling with mental health challenges and in need of support across the states of New York, New Jersey, and Florida. 

Victoria is a member of the BIPOC community. She was born to a multi-racial immigrant family. She provides support around issues related to racial/ethnic identity and the challenges of being a first-generation American and person of color. She has a passion for Mental Health and hopes to destigmatize mental health services in BIPOC communities. Victoria enjoys working with the black sheep of the family, high achieving young adults, women in male-dominated careers, business owners, creatives, college students, wellness and STEM professionals. Her specialties include generational trauma, stress management, anxiety, self-esteem, impostor syndrome, depression, and career unhappiness. 

Additional services include life coaching, consulting, wellness workshops for businesses, business coaching for therapists and wellness professionals who need support with starting private practice. 

Victoria also offers 1:1 Empowerment, Mindset, Wellness, & Business Coaching services for millennial overachievers and aspiring entrepreneurs who feel stuck and need support with maximizing their potential to live a life of freedom and abundance.


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A Thanks to Our Sponsors: The Receptionist for iPad & Freed!

โœจ The Receptionist for iPad:

I would also like to thank The Receptionist for iPad for sponsoring this episode.

From new patients faced with an empty lobby and no idea where to find their therapist to clinicians with a session running over time and the doorbell ringing, some of the most anxiety-ridden moments of a therapy appointment happen before a session even starts. The Receptionist for iPad, helps you tackle some of that pre-appointment apprehension and anxiety.

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I would also like to thank Freed for sponsoring this episode.

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PATRICK CASALE: Hey, everyone. You are listening to another episode of the All Things Private Practice podcast. I'm your host Patrick Casale, joined today with Victoria James. She's an LCSW, psychotherapist, anxiety and mindset expert, wellness entrepreneur, and the founder of Ever Growth Counseling, serving young professionals and entrepreneurs who are struggling with mental health challenges in New York, New Jersey, and Florida.

Victoria is a member of the BIPOC community, born in a multiracial immigrant family, and provide support around issues related to racial and ethnic identity, challenges of being a first-generation American and person of color.

I've been following your social media. I know you also do like an entrepreneurial mindset, empowerment, business coaching. And your story is a really cool one. And I'm excited for you to be on and share a little bit of it.

So, today, Victoria and I are going to talk about, the topic you proposed was some of the struggles and the upbringing of going from homelessness to teen motherhood, to becoming a successful entrepreneur. And want to say thank you for being willing to share that story on here. And just thanks for coming on and making the time to do it.

VICTORIA JAMES: Thank you for having me.

PATRICK CASALE: Is there anything I missed in your bio that you want to let the audience know about or anything about you that feels really important to highlight?

VICTORIA JAMES: I think you captured everything. My practice is mostly around helping overachievers manage their mental health challenges. I really enjoy working with very ambitious people, you know, people that are interested in leaving a nine to five, and helping them cope with impostor syndrome, the anxieties, and roadblocks that come with wanting to make changes. And especially, when you come from an immigrant family, you come from a BIPOC family, or if you were raised in a family where, you know, business and entrepreneurship weren't really spoken about, those are some of the challenges that you experience, you know?

And when we go to college, and when we go to grad school, and depending on what the type of family you were raised in, there's no talks about business, and other ways of making money other than, you know, applying for your next nine to five job.

PATRICK CASALE: Right. So, a lot of this is really breaking that mold of what was expected in terms of what the family system says I should do versus what I want to do, and what I want more of. That's kind of the vibe I get from a lot of your content.

And can you share a little bit about some of your journey because you share so openly, which I appreciate, I do the same. And I think that's really the stuff that is relatable when you're talking about some of the areas that you experienced a lot of struggle, or a lot of pain and suffering in some ways.

So, share about anywhere you want to start in terms of going from homelessness to successful thriving entrepreneur because I think this is a topic we haven't covered yet. And I think it's a really, really important one and a really powerful one.

VICTORIA JAMES: Okay, there's a lot of history. And I could start off sharing, you know, I grew up without my parents. My mom was pretty much sick since I was born. I was raised by my grandmother. My family is from Jamaica. And I did get pregnant at 18. And I lived around being raised by extended family.

And at the time I got pregnant, culturally, that's not really acceptable to have children outside of wedlock, especially, at 18 years old. So, I pretty much got kicked outside of the house. My grandmother who raised me passed away a year after my son was born, so I pretty much was left stranded. And I had to move into a teen mom program at 18 when my son was a few months old. And from there, I stayed there for about a couple years.

And I was in college at the same time. I had to bring my son to school with me. A lot of my classmates also knew my son. Any place I went he had to go. And life was pretty much hard since birth.

PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, that sounds like it had to be unbelievably challenging and trying to juggle all of these roles and responsibilities simultaneously while putting yourself through school. That sounds like a lot.

VICTORIA JAMES: It definitely was. From birth, I always felt this hypervigilance about what I needed to do to change circumstances. I always knew I would go to college, I always knew I would be in a helping profession. Initially, I thought that I would be a lawyer because I was always told that I had a mouth on me, or it asserted myself. I was always known for not listening. And I just knew I was, like, different and I wanted to change things. I never would once accept things that were given to me and do as I was told.

And you know, culturally, when you're coming from an Asian West Indian background, children are seen not heard, right? And especially, being a woman, men were the head of the household back in the day. So, I totally felt like, you know, the outsider.

PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, I saw in your bio that you really enjoy helping the like, "black sheep" of the family. It sounds like some of that comes from some of that experience as well, I imagine.

VICTORIA JAMES: Yes. My grandmother had eight kids. And out of eight kids, my mom was pretty much the only one that got sick and couldn't raise her children. And then from there, you know, I almost went into foster care. I was known as, you know, the little girl that never listened. And so, I grew up as the problem.

But then, even throughout all of that, I knew I was going to go to college, I knew I was going to become something. I was always the daydreamer and the one that didn't listen. And that got me places.

PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, I imagine. Like, the familial system at home that caused some issue, but then it's also served you in so many ways to be able to have that mindset and that mentality to push yourself, think bigger, think more creatively, think outside of the box. Can you share a little bit about, like, what was that like for you going into college, raising your son, simultaneously, but also having these ambitions, having these dreams? Like, knowing I have to make this work.

VICTORIA JAMES: I think, so it was very challenging. I almost dropped out several times. I was failing in and out of my classes. It took me like, I almost got a certificate program and quit outside of my bachelor's program. And it took like the admissions counselor seeing me there with my son speaking me out of it. And so, I would drop out and jump back in.

And every time I looked at my son's eyes, I remembered what I went through growing up without having. And I didn't want him to experience what I did, you know? So, I think that, you know, when you think about the term generational cycle breaker, I knew that these were things that I had to go through and push myself through if I didn't want that to be my son's story when he grew up older.

PATRICK CASALE: That's powerful, for sure. So, just having that constant reminder right in front of you, like, I'm not going to allow this to happen. That feels pretty damn powerful.

VICTORIA JAMES: Yeah, you have to have like, a burning desire. And it wasn't just about me, it was about this life that I brought into the world as well.

PATRICK CASALE: Sure, absolutely. So, fast forwarding a bit from that point in time, when did you decide, "Okay, I'm not going to be a lawyer. I'm probably going to end up being a therapist." How did that happen?

VICTORIA JAMES: So, while I was in college, financially, I just couldn't like work and go to school at the same time. On top of that, I was living in the shelter. And I wanted a way to be on my own and provide on my own while I still finished school.

So, I applied for public assistance. And at the time, who was president at that time, they told me that they didn't pay for people to go to school. So, I had to choose between staying in college or apply for public assistance, which will require me to work while I collected public assistance. So, I walked out of the office and I was like, "All right, I'm going to have to figure out another way."

And so, from there, I decided, you know, this doesn't make any sense that, you know, as a young mom, I don't want to be on public assistance for years. And if I didn't have like a bachelor's or a graduate degree, how much money could I potentially make without needing government assistance down the line? I was thinking 5, 10, 15 years away from that time how well could I be living. I just decided that if I didn't go to college, I feel like even if I would have collected a public assistance, I don't know when the last time I would be able to step away from that and actually thrive financially.

So, I had to stay in college. And then I decided to change my major to social work. I wanted to be in a profession where I can make change. And then from there, during my studies, I got an internship in a psychiatric hospital. One of my first supervisors became a mentor to me, and from there, I got exposure to the mental health field.

PATRICK CASALE: That's cool. Once you got exposure to it, and you were like, it sounds like that felt like a really good fit, just trying to make change, and at a more micro level too with your feet on the ground because we see so many programs that just are not designed to be helpful for people.

And did you end up doing any community mental health after grad school? Or did you go straight into private practice?

VICTORIA JAMES: I did several years. I have over 15 years of experience working in almost every borough across the state of New York, from anywhere, from children, family, adults, doing high-risk level work. And I actually didn't know anything about private practice. And I got exposure from my mentor, but it's like, I find myself even though I got out of… Well, I thought I got out of survival mode. But I always felt like I was still in it because in New York City you have to make a certain amount of money to be somewhat comfortable.


VICTORIA JAMES: And especially, when you have children, it's really hard to live. And even as a person that was a helper, I felt like I had some of the same issues of the clients that I was helping. I was struggling to pay my rent.

And I just thought that all right, you know, I did the work. You know, I went to grad school, I got a degree. And I just still felt like I was struggling financially.

And struggling financially, it started to affect my mental health. Like, I was working nine to five, I had to get a second job. I was away from my son who was young at that time because I had to work several hours just to live and I still felt like I was always running out of money.

So, eventually, I got to the point where I didn't want to do that anymore. I wanted to be able to take vacation, actually pay for it, you know, not feel like I'm living paycheck to paycheck. And every job that I get, even though I moved upward, it still felt like it wasn't enough. And I just decided that all right, you know, for me to be comfortable I wanted to have freedom. And for me to have freedom I just have to be my own boss at this point. And that's exactly what happened.

PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, that's a great reminder. Because I think so many people are like, okay, I've got my master's, I go into this profession, whether I'm a clinician, whether I'm in middle management, and it's like, I still can't survive. Like, I still can't survive financially. I'm still not being able to get my needs met. How long have you been in private practice now since leaving community mental health?

VICTORIA JAMES: It's been about two and a half years now.

PATRICK CASALE: Cool. And fast forward us two and a half years, kind of like where are we at today leaving community mental health. Like, what's that look like for you on a day-to-day?

VICTORIA JAMES: I feel much more happier. I make my own schedule. I feel like I'm living more life. It doesn't feel like work anymore. I get burnt out sometimes but now I can actually afford to go on vacation and take vacation. I work virtually. I can pretty much bring my laptop anywhere and not fear loss of income. I'm in control of my income. If something doesn't work, I can change it. You know when I want to take off I just take it, I don't have to ask anyone for it. I also work in a capacity that I like to work with the population that I like to work with. And I feel like a lot more secure. Like, my security is not in anyone else's hands, but my own.

PATRICK CASALE: I love that. I love that last part, especially, because that mentality is so often what people actually fear, right? Is like, if I leave this, "safe, secure" job for a nonprofit, for community, mental health, for group practice, whatever, and I go out on my own, then I have no security. But in reality, you have so much more control over your situation when that is the case. Have you found that to be the same for yourself?

VICTORIA JAMES: Totally. Today I didn't… Most times I don't even set an alarm clock anymore. I go to the gym in the morning, sometimes I do my grocery shopping at 10, 11 o'clock. I don't see my clients till later on this afternoon. And like, if I have like a Pilates or a workout class I want to go to I could do that anytime of the day. It's just so much more freedom and flexibility.

And, you know, even being from New York, again, like everybody's in a rush to get somewhere. And now that I don't have to do that anymore, I don't feel, you know, that extra anxiety to rush and get to anywhere because like I make my own schedule, I give myself time in the morning, I can wake up, and not feel like I have to rush into my workday, I can ease in, and just do what works best for me.

PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, that alleviates so much stress when you get to kind of dictate your own circumstances. And it sounds like you knew for a long time like this is the direction and a trajectory that I want to go in, I want to move towards this.

And you're now moving into like, coaching as well, helping entrepreneurs, like, work through some of the mindset shifts, work through some of the mindset blockages that they have. Where's that transition going? Because I think that's what happens for entrepreneurs is like, iteration, and iteration, and iteration. And evolution, and evolution, and evolution based on interests, based on goals, based on what makes sense for them this moment and this year.

VICTORIA JAMES: Yeah, I find that there are many people who are high functioning, and not necessarily have mental health issues where they need therapy, and just need some supports around their goals. And I find that I bring coaching into my therapy sessions. Most of my clientele are young 20- and 30-year old's. And it's different, it's a different workforce. No one really wants to work for other people. And you know, people are now working remotely, they want to do more influencing work, they want to work abroad, and they want that freedom as well. And those are the clients that I really enjoy working with. So, I decided to expand my services.

And often online, you know, when I'm posting and sharing a lot about my story, more times than not I get inboxed about, you know, how I can help them without doing therapy. So, I'm hoping to launch coaching in the next couple of months.

PATRICK CASALE: That's awesome. And I mean, I see you posting a lot and posting consistently, and sharing your story. And I think that's the side for people that a lot of people miss out on is just being authentic, being relatable, sharing some of your own journey because that's the stuff that lands for other people. It's not the, like, logistical side of things. It's much more about knowing that I see myself in you, in some ways. And if you are saying you can do it, then that means I can do it. And I think that inspires hope, that also kind of creates motivation to say things don't have to look a certain way all of the time in order to "be successful." And I think that feels really empowering.

VICTORIA JAMES: Thank you. I totally agree because at one point too I thought that, you know, you needed to have an excessive amount of money to start a business. Everyone talks about having a business plan, but people plan to the point that they don't even start. And I honestly think that you get experience through doing.

PATRICK CASALE: Yep, I agree, 100%. Do you think that is just massive amounts of perfectionism showing up when it's like, I have to have a business plan, I have to know all of the ins and outs, I have to have some, like, X amount of startup funding? In reality, I'm like, I don't think you need to have really any of this. I think you just need to learn how to get started.

VICTORIA JAMES: I agree. I actually started while unemployed. I lost my job during the pandemic. And I actually took a boot camp on how to start a private practice a couple years before I actually started. And when I got my clinical license, I still sat on it because I thought that I didn't know enough.

And it took me being put in a position where, you know, when I lost my job and I applied for other positions, the salaries just wasn't really speaking to me. I had to get to the point where I was like, "You know what, I don't want to go back to that because I know that I'm going to last at that job for a year or two, I'm going to feel miserable again. So, it's up to me to really change these circumstances."

So, I think that has to happen for a lot of people. You have to get to the point where you don't want anyone dictating to you, you know, how you spend your time, what your worth is, financially, or when you can take off for vacation and how you can provide for your family. So, it's up to your why.

PATRICK CASALE: Sounds like that's kind of been thematic throughout your life is like, it's up to your why, and really anchoring into, like, circumstances and trying to change them, and making sure that you have control over your day-to-day, and your livelihood, and the things that bring you joy, and things that inspire and spark your passion.

VICTORIA JAMES: I totally agree. I just think that a lot of greatness comes out of things that you don't always have planned. And more times than not, it comes unexpected.

PATRICK CASALE: Yeah. I couldn't agree with that more. I think that is so true. And I think it also allows us to reframe perspective. Like, if we can do a zoom out in a timeline from like, where you start your journey and your story to now it sounds like there has been tremendous growth, but there's also an appreciation in some ways of saying, like, I know what it's like to really fucking struggle. And now I know what it's like to also change that narrative, and really shift that trajectory for my family and for myself.

VICTORIA JAMES: Absolutely. Like, they say, no pressure, no diamonds.

PATRICK CASALE: True story. And so, with that all being said, any messages or takeaways for people who are listening, who may feel like they're in similar situations or have experienced similar struggles from your perspective?

VICTORIA JAMES: I would say to reframe failure. I think a lot of people are, you know, don't take risks, or don't bet on themselves because they don't want to fail. But success comes out of failure. If we're not failing at anything, like, what are we really accomplishing? Right?

I think the more that you fail, and you learn, and you recover, your success is how big you recover, when you've gone through some losses, when you've gone through some failures.

PATRICK CASALE: I agree, 100%. Yeah, I think, societally we look at failure as like this negative word or this like, dirty word that we shouldn't say. And in reality, it's like, how would we ever know success if we don't know failure? And how would we be able to differentiate between the two if we don't understand what it's like to fall down, or to really struggle, or to really stumble?

And I think it's really pivotal for entrepreneurs, especially, to be okay with that word, and normalize the fact that it's a part of the process. It's not a reflection of something you don't know how to do, or a sense of self, or character flaw, it's like, this is a part of the process if we want to get to where we're going and being able to anchor into that is so freaking powerful.

So, I just want to really thank you for coming on and sharing a little bit about you and your story. And I know you mentioned you were nervous before we started recording, and I hope it didn't feel that anxiety-provoking. You did a great job. And you have so much to offer people. I think those that you're helping and impacting by the way you show up is a really powerful thing. So, I just really want to commend that and applaud that as well.

VICTORIA JAMES: Thank you. I appreciate you having me on.

PATRICK CASALE: Can you tell everyone where they can find more of you if they want to work with you in either a therapy or coaching perspective?

VICTORIA JAMES: My website is You can find me on Instagram @evergrowthcounseling. And also, on Facebook, Victoria James.

PATRICK CASALE: Perfect. Thank you so much, Victoria. And thank you for coming on. All of Victoria's information will be in the show notes for all of you so you have easy access to that. Make sure to check her stuff out. It's really inspiring. It's really empowering.

Doubt yourself, do it anyway. To everyone listening to the All Things Private Practice Podcast, new episodes are out every single Saturday on all major platforms and YouTube. Like, download, subscribe, and share. We'll see you next week. Thanks, Victoria.



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