Susie Lang has combined her two lifelong passions, photography and counseling into two wonderful startups in New York. Susie has a private counseling practice, working with individuals and groups. She is also a professional photographer and has lived in New York since 2004 with her husband.
Susie is a valued AWNY Committee member and is also hosting two group sessions in October – The Emotional Transition of Moving to New York.
Tell us about these businesses and what inspired you to begin.
SUSIE LANG COUNSELING: www.susielangcounseling.com
I have been in the Caring Profession since 1975. In Australia I was a Registered Sick Children’s and General Registered Nurse in Adelaide, and the Manager of the YWCA Child Care Center in Darwin. Throughout the 1990’s in the UK I worked in Women’s Centers offering women low cost, long term services – counseling, childcare, women’s health issues, legal support and computer training. I also worked in a center for women who experienced domestic and relational violence – here the women were offered counseling, emergency and safe re-housing, emotional, legal and financial support. I had a small private practice. When I arrived in the USA in 2004, I was employed as a Psychological Consultant with a company in Arizona which dealt with Identity Theft. In 2009 – 2011 I worked alongside the family caregivers at the NYC Chapter for the Alzheimer’s Association. Throughout my personal life and my career I have been fortunate to have women in my life whom I have felt inspired by. I have never forgotten their “way of being” – being available, supportive and present to me throughout my life. I realized that at an early age I didn’t have enough wisdom, presence, life experience, personal growth development and healing to go into the counseling/psychotherapy field as a younger woman.
My husband and I arrived in NYC in 2004. Being in NYC I found my previous work experiences in Australia and the UK didn’t cut it. It felt easy to simply give up on the notion that I could “make it” in NYC. As a requirement to become licensed as a counseling therapist, I needed to go to University to get a MA (Mental Health Counseling and Wellness), degree in order to practice. Since 2012 I have been in Private Practice as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and a National Certified Counselor (NCC).
I am passionate about my therapeutic work, gaining much experience in my intimate and professional work with clients. It is one of my life’s joys.
SUSIE LANG PHOTOGRAPHY: www.susielangphoto.com
In growing up on a farm in rural South Australia I shared a camera with my 4 brothers. Luckily for me they weren’t interested in using the camera that our father bought for us, so I began to experiment with film photography. My inspiration came from John Sprod, a well-known and much-admired South Australian portrait photographer who traveled throughout the State, to photograph families in remote areas. He “knew” how to work with us, as small children.
I traveled to the UK in the early 1980’s, where I was accepted to the four London Colleges of Photography. I chose to attend Watford College where I received a BA in Design, majoring in Photography. I was awarded the prize for Portrait Excellence from Kodak in 1986. I have continued to photograph with a passion, receiving positive feedback from many who have seen my work.
In 2005, I switched from film to digital photography. I have always referred to my photographic work as my “creative outlet”. It is in contrast to the intense and intimate work I do in my counseling field.
In 2013, I created my photographic website – this has been a massive personal step, stating that I was ready to show the world that I love what I do. Photography offers and gives me great joy. I simply come alive!
I am passionate about connecting with people in both professions.
As I like to say, it is my “art of connection”.
Do you find that the synergy of these businesses overlap?
Yes! In the Summer of 2014, I was talking to a woman, also a photographer, who said to me, “What sets you apart as a photographer?” I had never been asked this before. In considering my psychotherapy training, my passion in photographing and my ability to connect with people, and after many hours of processing, thought and conversation with close allies I began to realize that I have an “art of connection” in my two fields of work.
In counseling, I am very present with each client, listening intently to them, empathizing with their experiences and offering unconditional positive regard.
In photography, I am able to “see” and be with a person, as if there is NO camera between us. The synergy is electric to me, and in this, I trust that there is mutual connection with those whom I am working with. Counseling clients continue to return with greater self-awareness and a willingness to delve deeper into their own self-understanding and self-awareness. Photographic clients delight in images of self – I often hear their “WOW” factor being expressed!
What has been your “Aha / I’ve made it in the USA” moment?
I continue to strive towards this “aha” moment and I never take this for granted. It is a very competitive world out there, and I am up against lots of others in the same fields. “Aha” moments come with my connections I make with my clients. They are often brief moments in time, and I have learnt to really feel and acknowledge them each time this joyous experience happens.
I learn more about myself in my relationships and my interactions with counseling clients. The “aha” moment for me, is in knowing that I have provided an opportunity, the space and the maturity to allow them to become who they truly are. I have moments of deep gratitude and joy when my clients experience an “aha” moment for themselves – I get “goose-bumps!” With their deep and on-going personal learning, I get a real sense of an “aha” moment. It is my quiet celebration of a mutually generated experience – a “quiet revolution!”
My “aha” moment in photography is a very different experience! When I work with a person I see a beautiful image where I know I have captured the essence of who they are. I am not so quiet in this celebration as my sitters will tell you! From that moment, our work together gets better and better. I guess, I love to experience this as our “co-creation!”
What has been the hardest lesson in getting started so far?
The hardest lesson for me in getting started has been overcoming my own self-doubt – my “inner demon!” Along with this, finding my way in navigating the NYC culture, understanding language, nuances and way of life, has been a huge challenge for me. In becoming more mature and grounded in my own person those self-doubting demons emerge every so often – often grounding me in my ability to further search the full potential of self in this new, vibrant and adopted culture. After being here in NYC for 12 years, I have learnt to adjust to my new home. I have had to be patient.
Where have you been most successful in marketing your business?
Without ANY hesitation my most successful marketing way is via “Word of Mouth”! With this, it’s taken a lot of intense learning and patience. In my fields of work, this has proven to be the best for me. I have websites, am in Professional Organizations and on Professional Websites. While I get “bits & pieces” of work from these avenues, personal recommendations from clients (counseling & photographic) have paid the best dividends for me. My actual presence is my strongest selling point – I connect with people, I engage in conversation, I offer business cards, and I trust that if someone wants to use my services, they will reach out to me.
Where do you look for mentors and how have people been with sharing information & their networks?
It’s been my experience that people generously share information with me through conversation. I make note of this information and follow up with it when at home. Mentors are people I trust in my fields – I can rely on them to give me honest and reliable information and feedback.
What advise would you give someone thinking about starting a business?
To be passionate and knowledgeable about your product/service. In conjunction with your service/product, trust enough in your capabilities to “sell” this at networking events and in conversation with others. Research your new culture in an effort to “see what’s missing for you” out there. I’ve noticed that if there’s something missing for myself – like a particular product, etc, I know that I won’t be the only one who’s missing this – and perhaps a good place to begin in starting your own business!
Other than yourself, what piece of Australia have you put into your business?
Mm – I thought long and hard about this one. In my work, I am my business. I am a mature woman, well traveled and have many rich & valuable life experiences from throughout the world, a sense of commitment to those I work with, all which bring a depth of personality to my work. Growing up in rural Australia, I come to NYC with no sense of entitlement. In this, I work hard in my fields and I notice that “simply BEING Australian” is one of my main assets in my work. In feedback from my clients, they tell their friends & colleagues about me “BEING Australian” – I am not sure if I need (or can offer) anything more than this! I am looking to expand my practices, and I deeply trust that through referrals and recommendations more will come my way.
Do you have any tips for juggling a business and family life?
I am fortunate to have an amazingly supportive, understanding and compassionate husband, who encourages me in my work (ad)ventures. Being married for 30+ years, I have found it easy to slip into “work-only-mode”. It is now important for me, to set aside a few days a week, usually Tuesdays and Fridays, for the on-going longevity of our relationship – doing the things that we really enjoy together – as if we’re going on a date! I have adult step-children and two beautiful grandsons. Along with maintaining solid friendships, it’s important to me TO MAKE TIME for my husband and step-family – they are the ones who will always be there for me.
What is the next step for ‘Susie Lang Photo’ and ‘Susie Lang Counseling’?
The next and on-going step for me is to grow creatively and develop inwardly, with deeper self-awareness, where I can reach an inner-peace. In doing this in both fields, I have a hunch that my businesses will develop well beyond my expectations – I feel it will develop organically and spontaneously. I believe that I’ll deepen my connections with clients in counseling practice and in my photographic work. In having a passion for my work, the next step for me is to trust that I never lose sight of the joy that my connections give me. I have ideas which undoubtedly will unfold into something rewarding and celebratory. Watch this space!
Follow Susie Lang at:
Website – Counseling – www.susielangcounseling.com
Website – Photography – www.susielangphoto.com
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