David Sturgess on Creating a Relationship with First Responders | FP 27

David Sturgess on Creating a Relationship with First Responders | FP 27

What is the benefit of joining a system that works and not recreating the wheel? How do you serve a certain group of people?

In this podcast episode, Whitney Owens speaks to David Sturgess about creating a relationship with first responders.

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Meet David Sturgess

David Sturgess

David has practiced counseling for over a decade in both short and long-term psychiatric residential centers as well as his group practice, Foundry Counseling, LLC, in Marietta, GA. He has extensive training in trauma therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and is fully licensed in Georgia, holding the status of National Certified Counselor, through the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC). David is also a Certified Professional Counselor Supervisor, providing supervision to associate level clinicians working towards their license. He facilitates training to different agencies on DBT and Trauma-Informed Care while also teaching undergraduate psychology courses at Point University.

David’s passion for the mental health and well being for First Responders and their families is seen in his work providing counseling, training, and consulting services to the local First Responder departments and their communities. His group practice offers a faith-based approach to those that desire and serves adolescents and/or their guardians, men seeking support with male issues, couples and families looking to improve their family systems, people noticing barriers to their goals and needing to problem solve, dual-diagnosis, trauma, anxiety, depression, emotional regulation, mindfulness, and conflict resolution.

Visit David’s website, connect on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Reach out to David by emailing him at david@foundrycounseling.com for a Grief and Trauma Resource freebie.

In This Podcast


  • Following a system that worked
  • Working with first responders
  • Moving from a passion to working with a group
  • Knowing your numbers

Following a system that worked

That mindset of I didn’t have to recreate the wheel, I have to do something that’s been demonstrated to work, really spoke to me.

For the first year and a half, David received many referrals from different counselors that he knew in the community. This was a few hours an evening and it filled up within 2-3 months. Over time, more referrals started to come in and he went to 2 nights a week. He came across Joe Sanok’s podcast and learned about Next Level Practice. It took him a little longer than it would for other people, merely because of the fact that he wasn’t spending all his time focused on the system.

Working with first responders

I just recently realized, that while I may not be in a police car or a fire truck, I can still serve and be helpful to those folks that are on the road daily.

While David was doing his undergrad he worked at 911 as a police and fire dispatcher and operator. He left this job as his shifts did not match up with his semester schedule. He did his undergrad and fell in love with Psychology, but always had a burden and guilt of leaving and not sticking with it.

He has now come to terms with the fact that he is still able to help and play his part by serving first responders. The first responder community is a very unique one, they’re not just going to come to counseling without something really big happening or being forced to go. The guarded approach that they have in general because of what they do is real, and there are not a lot of counselors that understand this. Having worked in the field, and still having a lot of friends in the field, David saw a gap he could bridge.

Moving from a passion to working with a group

  1. Know the population and culture of the group you want to work with and spend time with the group and create relationship
  2. Create a practice that allows you to spend time with the population
  3. Connect with others that help the population such as the peer support team.
  4. Be available to go to their workplace.
  5. Join the company’s Employee Assistant Program (EAP).

Knowing your numbers

When I got to know my numbers and I stopped looking at a client as a $ figure and I looked at how can I serve this person. Cost of session was nowhere near the top, or the front end of the conversation.

In the beginning, David didn’t know his numbers and he was very concerned about whether he was going to make the bills. When he finally got to know his numbers and got organized, this became a non-issue. David works with a traditional 101 budget, he realized that he had a lot more money which allowed him to do additional things such as hiring an admin person to help him so that he could spend the valuable time developing relationships with the first responder community.

Joining the Mastermind

A Mastermind are folks coming together and are wanting to take things to the next level.

Before joining Whitney’s Mastermind, finances were a big worry and David was operating from a fear standpoint. From a faith in private practice standpoint, Whitney assured him that she had been there before and that he needed to operate in faith, that it will work out for His glory and His good.

Schedule a pre-consult call with Whitney to see if the Mastermind, which is launching on June 11th, is the right fit for you.

Books mentioned in this episode

Useful Links:

Meet Whitney Owens

Whitney Ownens | Build a faith-based practiceWhitney is a licensed professional counselor and owns a growing group practice in Savannah, Georgia. Along with a wealth of experience managing a practice, she also has an extensive history working in a variety of clinical and religious settings, allowing her to specialize in consulting for faith-based practices and those wanting to connect with religious organizations.

Knowing the pains and difficulties surrounding building a private practice, she started this podcast to help clinicians start, grow, and scale a faith-based practice. She has learned how to start and grow a successful practice that adheres to her own faith and values. And as a private practice consultant, she has helped many clinicians do the same.

Thanks For Listening!

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Faith in Practice is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a network of podcasts that are changing the world. To hear other podcasts like Empowered and Unapologetic, Bomb Mom, Imperfect Thriving, Marketing a Practice or Beta Male Revolution, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.

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