Highlands Ranch Local Business Feature

Featuring Amanda J. Chaney, LCSW

As someone who preaches about self-care and self-love and taking care of your WHOLE self, I have to admit that for me that did not always include the mind or any sort of mental health.

Growing up my immediate family seemed to think of depression, or any “negative” emotional displays (such as crying), as weakness and we were taught as kids to suck it up and get back on the horse; literally and figuratively on the latter (I grew up on a cattle ranch) 😉 .

As I got older and experienced more intense times of struggle I would not only feel sadness but then I would judge myself as weak for such feelings. I had no idea how to work through the emotions I was experiencing which created even more confusion and chaos at times in my life.

I would often handle these emotions in a relatively healthy way, by going on a hike or exercising and reflecting. Other times were probably not so healthy but it never once crossed my mind to talk about them or address them in any way.

Oh how I wish I could go back and have a chat with the younger version of myself. I probably would have had a much easier time getting through some of my major obstacles if I had some guidance or if I even understood the triggers causing my feelings.

This is why I am super excited about our 1st Highlands Ranch local business feature on Amanda Chaney LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker), a Highlands Ranch resident that started her own therapy practice and specializes in working with female clients.

Amanda J. Chaney, LCSW: Individual Therapy

I had the pleasure of getting to know Amanda Chaney last week when we met up to talk about her business. It was a fun process because we connected on the Highlands Ranch Nextdoor app. We both thought that it was really great that so many people can connect locally and just the general sense of community, or even small town feel that Highlands Ranch provides.

Amanda and her family have lived in Highlands Ranch since 1997 and like most people here she expressed that it is a great place to raise a family. She has enjoyed the addition of many community amenities, as well as the easy access to nature, and to Denver and her office in Downtown Littleton.

We talked a lot about her business and how she got started, the type of clients she helps and even some tips for those that might not be able to make time for therapy (yet)!

I’ll start in reverse by talking first about how to manage some day to day challenges that we discussed, then go over how therapy can help, what kind of clients Amanda sees and then we’ll talk more about this amazing lady and how you can get in touch with her!

Managing day to day challenges

I’ve personally had points in my life where there was literally no time in the day to schedule a bathroom break much less a therapy session. This is likely the case for many Americans. Women in general have more pressure on them than ever before. Women are expected to work hours like they don’t have a family and then take care of their family like they don’t have a career. 

Amanda gave an example of a scenario of the busy woman who may be having trouble sleeping at night and then has to have 5-cups of coffee per day to get through work, never has a chance to sit down then comes home and has to take care of everyone else; never having a moment to themselves. Sound familiar?

When you are in a situation like that you really just feel like you’re surviving. It’s hard to even have the mind-space to consider that there might be ways to ease the chaos.

Ultimately we discussed that often you can’t control your circumstances but you can choose how you respond including your mind set. I asked Amanda to give me 3 suggestions for a more balanced life when things feel out of control and we talked about how to incorporate them into the day to day. She recommended:

  • Mindfulness: be really present in your body and work on not letting the script of problems run through your mind, quiet it. Focus on what you are doing and don’t get lost in all that you have to do. If you have time for an activity go for a walk and stay present during your walk, even if it’s just to the water fountain. At lunch or if there’s a break try brain games, a meditation app, or coloring. If you have time during the week (even just an hour) consider learning an instrument or another activity you enjoy. You can’t run a script through your mind if you’re really present with another activity.
  • Get outside: take a walk at lunch or eat lunch outside. Sometimes just breaking out of your routine or getting out of a stressful environment for a few minutes can change your whole day. In Winter if you can’t get outside maybe walk around the building or go sit by a window and try to catch a mountain view.
  • Don’t bottle it up: find someone close you can talk about your day with. If you don’t have anyone like that try journaling or seek support through therapy.

Another practice I would suggest, and it’s not always easy,  is finding the good in a situation. Sometimes it’s really hard to do this but it helps me keep a positive mind-set and to look forward to each day.

If I had a rough day I will give myself 10 minutes when I get home to vent to my husband then I will focus on the positive or even what the stressors of the day taught me. It keeps a balanced perspective and it keeps me feeling grateful.

How can therapy help?

Sometimes no matter what we do life is still challenging or maybe we don’t feel good and don’t know how to work through it ourselves. We can talk to our friends and family but it’s not always enough.

I asked Amanda how talking to a professional might be different than venting to a friend or family member.

She explained that an outside objective person can really help navigate what is affecting one’s thought process or maybe how thoughts and actions are affecting relationships. A therapist might be able to help an individual understand and identify triggers that are leading to unhappiness or other problems. Sometimes the stressors involve friends or family and it’s difficult to talk to them about it or even identify why it’s so bothersome until it’s looked at from a different angle.

Amanda explained that, “During big life transitions, sometimes we feel that a change should be positive, yet we are struggling with it. For example, when a young person moves out on their own for the first time, gets married or has a new baby, it’s common to experience a lot of stress or sadness. Sometimes that is hard for everyone to understand, but a professional can help work through those thoughts and feelings and get to the bottom of it”.

“Additionally, a professional therapist (licensed with the State of Colorado) has the expertise and training to help with diagnosable mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. If there are any safety concerns, such as thoughts of suicide, it’s important to consult a professional as soon as possible”. Amanda has training in this area. She also highly recommends the Colorado Crisis Line for 24-hour phone support: 1-844-493-8255; www.coloradocrisisservices.org.

An example I have heard before about seeking outside help is like when you are looking all over for your glasses and they are sitting right on top of your head. You might be driving yourself crazy trying to find them when someone else can simply look right at you and solve your problem.

About Amanda and her clients

From talking to Amanda I can tell you that she is absolutely wonderful. She is a great listener and has a very calming presence. Just talking to her about business I left our meeting feeling lighter and more optimistic. Some details about Amanda:

She has amazing and diverse experience, with over 20 years working in mental health as a social worker. She has a passion for working with women and helping them transition into recovery from abuse or difficult situations to becoming self-sufficient and discovering themselves.

She sees clients ages 12 and up and of diverse backgrounds (including men). Some examples of client goals we talked about include (but are not limited to):

  • Working on boundaries: setting healthy boundaries with yourself and others
  • Improving personal relationships
  • Learning to make decisions that improve health and life circumstances
  • Helping determine a path in life during times of transition
  • Getting support during major life transitions such as grief and loss, empty nest, divorce, parenting
  • Learning how to cope with and recover from common mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety
  • Creating a wellness plan for thriving in life

This is obviously a shortened list but a few major themes she sees on a regular basis.

One of my favorite themes that Amanda and I talked about is also not looking at mental health as separate, mental health=health and it is part of holistically taking care of your WHOLE self. So even if you don’t feel like you’re struggling with anything it’s a great idea to talk to a therapist regularly just to keep trying to be your best self!

You can read more about Amanda and her experience on her website, HERE.

You can also join her Facebook group, All About Mental Health and Wellness, where she shares useful information about the topic.

About starting a business

Starting a business can be overwhelming and when most people think about it they associate it with big start-up costs and major transitions all at once. I really enjoyed hearing Amanda’s story of starting her business because she did it gradually and built things up slowly; she went at the pace that was manageable for her and her family.

She explained that she initially started working with other therapists and renting space from them to keep the financial burden down while also trying to raise children. In 2014 she filed for her LLC and was working to grow her business when she found her own space among a group of other therapists. It seems to be a perfect fit as Amanda can still run her own business, and make her own business decisions, but also has a network of other professionals to collaborate with.

When I asked Amanda about difficulties she’s faced as a business owner she actually explained that her work-life balance has been better since becoming her own boss. She is able to control her schedule and be there for her family much more than she was able to before. She expressed feeling fortunate that her spouse has a job with health-care benefits as that would have been tough for her family if they did not have that stability.

I asked what advice she would give new business owners and she suggested that it’s ok to try things out. If you make a decision on say an office, it doesn’t have to be permanent; try it out and if it doesn’t work find a better fit.

Book recommendations for a more balanced life

I’ve always been a researcher, and I love to solve problems,  so before I even knew therapy existed I would search the internet or the library for a book that might give some insight to what I was experiencing.

I now have a few favorites that I recommend to others when they are going through a hard time or even if they just want to better themselves and don’t know where to start. I am also always looking for recommendations as well!

I asked Amanda Chaney if she had any books she thought would be helpful to clients or those that would like to do some DIY therapy and she gave me some great rec’s as well! You can see both of our recommendations below.

Amanda Chaney’s book recommendations

Ali’s book recommendations

Learn more about services, costs and scheduling with Amanda J Chaney