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Meet Jacqueline Plante and Traci Medeiros-Bagan of Gather & Grow OC in Orange County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jacqueline Plante and Traci Medeiros-Bagan.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Jacqueline and Traci. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Jacqueline: Traci and I first crossed paths as young therapists in training at the LGBT Center in Orange County. We sort of knew “of each other” but weren’t in the same supervision groups and didn’t get the opportunity to really know one another.

Traci: We ended up reconnecting in a consultation group six years later! It was a really lovely supportive community of therapists in North Orange County who were really invested in being safe and affirming spaces for the community. Jacqueline had an online practice supporting couples and was looking to get back into an office and I fortunately had some extra space. After sharing an office for just a couple of months, we realized our “dream” practices aligned more closely than we anticipated!

Jacqueline: What started as talk of just looking for a bigger office quickly turned into hours-long conversations about what our future group practice could be. We talked a lot about what we felt was missing from the community, and how we could offer it in an accessible way.

Traci: A few more coffee brainstorming sessions and a lucky real estate opportunity later and Gather & Grow OC officially had its first home!

Jacqueline: Once we were able to settle into our space and hit our flow, we found that we drew in clinicians and clients that aligned with our core vision of what we wanted to offer. The energy and essence of our brand has really been resonating in a way we appreciate.

Traci: Like any new business we’ve certainly had to roll up our sleeves and put in a chunk of sweat equity but the whole process has actually been easier than expected! We’ve loved settling into our home in the heart of Fullerton and are really grateful for all the folks that have chosen to share their healing work with our team of clinicians.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Jacqueline: In many ways, it has been a smooth road. Launching a business is by no means without its challenges, but mostly we’ve just been taking things one step at a time and have been utilizing one another as support throughout. That’s not to say I haven’t had my share of anxiety dreams in the process though!

Traci: I agree! I’m sure part of it is the luck of finding a business partner that compliments you so well in skills, personality, dedication and humor (something we had to have with a slew of move-in plumbing issues!) but we also made a commitment early on to show up to Gather & Grow OC as a business in the same energy we wanted to bring to the community we are seeking to serve.

Jacqueline: I think the most challenging has just been the new weight of responsibility. It’s not just me and my clients anymore, it’s all of us. And I want everyone to thrive.

Traci: Yes! It has been a shift to add administrative duties to the care work we were already doing but two intentions have always been really important to Jacqueline and me: support and abundance! We want everyone that is a part of this community – us, our clinicians, our families and our clients – to feel like the work is appreciated and sustainable!

Gather & Grow OC – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Gather & Grow OC is a place for counseling, education and wellness. We offer individual, family, couples and group therapy sessions as well as additional healing modalities such as Reiki and private yoga. We also provide community space for wellness professionals and those seeking wellness support. Diversity and inclusion is a top priority for us and we’ve tried to reflect that in our team as well as the physical office space. We did a lot of searching to find a space that is as accessible as it is warm and inviting. We provide our clinicians with continuing education and are always in the process of discussing how we can continue to serve vulnerable populations in a private practice model.

Dreaming Gather & Grow OC into being has been such a passion project for both of us! It’s honestly hard to say what we’re *most* proud of about it. We’re often struck with gratitude when we see bigger picture plans starting to manifest but we’re just as often in awe of the small ways the office is coming together and/or our staff are collaborating. Maybe that’s what we’re most proud of– that we’ve been fortunate enough to create a space that we see ourselves working and thriving in long-term and that we have been able to connect with other clinicians and clients that are equally invested.

For too long, therapy and mental health have carried a stigma, and we want to shake off that idea! We want our clients to feel empowered to come to therapy because they want to not just because they need to. In the work we do, we hope those that come to Gather & Grow OC feel that they aren’t just working toward symptom management, but towards a life they are passionate about. We are in the business of thriving, not just surviving.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
We often joke that as a therapist your goal is really to work yourself out of a job! And I think that applies here too. Unfortunately, we don’t anticipate that a world without a need for mental and emotional support will exist anytime soon but we hope that Gather & Grow OC contributes to us getting a little bit closer to that place!

As mentioned, we’d love to see folks coming to therapy because they want to rather than just when they are in crisis! We can all fall on hard times and our clinicians are certainly here to support folks through these moments, but we hope that they’ll also stay on because therapy feels like a positive part of their self-care routine! We know there are logistical, resource and social challenges to this so we’re trying to build a practice that supports us getting through these together. We see success as a business that is sustainable for our clinicians doing this important type of nurturance labor but that also honors the need for this work and makes it accessible!

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