Features - Entrepreneurial Alumni
Elizabeth Cobb (nee Bloss)
Posted 01 March 2017
March 2007 Intake
Elizabeth, a graduate of The George Washington University, used her background in international business to springboard a career in psychotherapy after postgraduate study at Columbia University in New York. Elizabeth is the founder and lead therapist of Cobb Psychotherapy in New York, a group private psychotherapy practice that serves children, adolescents, adults, and couples. Elizabeth explains, "While our clients often aren't in crisis, many of them are struggling to reach their fullest potential. This is why our motto is, "Don't just survive. Thrive".
Elizabeth leads a team of 12 therapists whose mission is to provide "quality therapy for the modern age to as many people as possible. While we see a broad range of clients, my mission was to make sure that millennials and college students were getting their emotional needs met. I work every day to normalize therapy and explain how it can benefit everyone, regardless of where they are in life".In addition to working with clients, Elizabeth’s role includes supervising her therapists and carrying out marketing and business development for the practice.
How did you get into this line of business?
Cobb Psychotherapy is a result of my second career in clinical social work. I started out on a very different path, majoring in International Affairs and jetting off to London with the Mountbatten Programme right after graduation. During my time in London I was placed in an executive search firm, and at the end of my time in London I accepted an offer to move to New York with the company.
I liked my job, but I wasn’t passionate about it. I had always been interested in psychology and found that I ended up being the "unofficial therapist" to friends and family. When my company had widespread layoffs and I had to consider the next step in my career, it made sense to get my Master’s degree. I did an accelerated Masters of Social Work at Columbia University, and within 15 months was practicing.
In the three years leading up to getting fully certified I gained great experience working at a psychiatric hospital, mobile crisis team, and community mental health clinic. After getting my LCSW, I went into private practice part time and eventually transitioned to full time.
How did you go about setting it up and getting established?
Founding a group practice was a happy accident. After getting fully licensed I started my practice all on my own, and frankly, it was a bit of a mess! I wasn’t organized and didn’t have a plan to keep my finances, scheduling, and other important processes streamlined. I was fortunate to be connected with a company that took over all of those responsibilities. Having the right people on your team is the key to growth.
As more and more clients started coming in, I found like-minded therapists and had them join the practice. I had no idea how much demand there would be for our services. Over a year later, the practice is thriving. We have three office locations, twelve therapists, and continue to grow.
What else is in the pipeline?
There are so many exciting things in store at Cobb Psychotherapy. We recently added our third location in Williamsburg, and continue to add more staff and offices in our other locations. The goal has been to make this practice into a community of therapists. We all have different specialties and training, but we come together with our shared philosophy that every person deserves to be heard. We believe that every person should have the opportunity to work with a therapist in a collaborative, individualized, and eclectic way.
In the coming year we hope to offer more group therapy and solidify our clinical training program for our therapists. We already partner with NYU to serve their students, and hope to make more connections with universities. I also hope to expand Cobb Psychotherapy's reach and influence using technology. We already offer online video therapy, but I am always thinking about additional ways to use technology to make therapy more accessible, while still remaining personal.
The practice is so dynamic and we’re always coming up with new ideas. If you ask me the same question in two months, I’ll probably have an even longer answer of what’s in the pipeline.
What has been the proudest moment in your working life thus far?
My proudest moments are when I get feedback from clients about how therapy has really changed their lives. So many of our clients have had bad therapy experiences in the past, or it's their first time coming to therapy. I see it as an honour and opportunity to get them started out on the right path so they can get as much out of therapy as possible and see change in their lives.
Having a streamlined, simple process to get clients engaged is also something I'm proud of. The following testimonial from a client sums up what makes me so proud to be the owner of Cobb Psychotherapy:
"It took me months to find a practice/therapist that both fit my budget, schedule and state of mind. It seemed like it might never happen...I happened across your practice in a Web search and could hardly believe there was a place that 1. took my insurance and 2. could see me in less than a week and 3. was conveniently located and 4. didn’t turn filing and billing into some kind of bizarre science project...Your place has been a real light for me."
What has been your biggest mistake/learning experience?
If I had to do things over again I would have taken the time to plan out my strategy before jumping into my practice. When there’s no planning on the front end, you end up with administrative hassles later on. That takes away from expansion and other exciting opportunities you really want to be spending your time on. However, I would say there are definitely advantages to being decisive and spontaneous at times!
Any words of advice/wisdom would you impart to others thinking of setting up their own business?
Have confidence in yourself. I think a lot of people sell themselves short when it comes to entrepreneurship. Starting a company is not something that only a Steve Jobs can do. The most important lesson I’ve learned is that you can’t be good at everything. Accept the things that don’t come naturally to you, and outsource it! Find a good team to support you and focus on your core strengths.