Nicole Lewis-Keeber on How Your Trauma Affects Your Business: Part 2 of 2 | GP 70

How does your personal healing journey impact your business growth? Do you have fear around your success? What are some outdated ideas that hold therapists back.?

In this podcast episode, Alison Pidgeon speaks with Nicole Lewis-Keeber about How Your Trauma Affects Your Business: Part 2 of 2.

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Nicole Lewis-Keeber on How Your Trauma Affects Your Business: Part 1. Meet Nicole Lewis-Keeber

Nicole Lewis-Keeber MSW LCSW is a business therapist and mindset coach who works with entrepreneurs to create and nurture healthy relationships with their businesses. She’s a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a Masters in Social Work and has a rich and varied experience as a therapist.

Certified in Brené Brown’s Dare To Lead™ methodology, she’s also been featured on numerous media outlets including Fast Company and NPR for her work in breaking the stigma of mental health and business ownership. She writes and speaks about the impact of small t trauma on businesses but her biggest, more important work is in combining therapeutic processes with business coaching to help entrepreneurs build emotionally sustainable & financially stable businesses.

Check out her website, follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

The Do No Harm Intensive Program available at

In This Podcast


  • Personal shortcomings can create business shortcomings
  • Trauma around success and being visible
  • Outdated ideas that hold therapists back

Personal shortcomings can create business shortcomings

I always say that you don’t drop your baggage at the door when you start a business, it comes in there with you. We bring all of who we are [into our business], all of the great stuff, and all the challenging stuff too. Starting a business really is a high dive into personal development whether you want it to be or not. (Nicole Lewis-Keeber)

You are going to face yourself when you start a business because all of your aspects, the good and the bad, are going to come to the forefront. This is why, if we are not careful, our personal shortcomings will become the business’s shortcomings.

If you struggle with handling money correctly, your business will struggle to handle money correctly and come out with a profit.

When we start our businesses, we take personal dives into who we are, and the areas on which we need to work become very clear: it is a double-edged sword, but with the right mindset and some bravery, we can bring the best and the worst of ourselves into our business and handle it well so that both ourselves and the businesses we own grow together.

Examples of personal shortcomings into business struggles:

  • Not knowing how to handle money correctly,
  • Struggling to trust people,

Not delegating for fear that your employees may let you down or are not up to par to do the job that you ask them to do is a trauma response to having been continuously let down in your past.

As your business grows, you need to be able to have people under you and trust them to do the work that you give them to do.

Trauma around success and being visible

Some business owners struggle with trauma around success for two potential reasons:

  1. They did not build for the capacity of success and feel stressed at the idea of having to work harder in order to progress their success,
  2. They doubt that they deserve their success and react to people in their lives who, due to these people’s own trauma and unhealed past, do not see them as successful.

Our family of origin, our friends… We lose people when we create a new life for ourselves and become more successful and step out of that box, we risk losing people and we often do … and that’s another reason why people take a step back. (Nicole Lewis-Keeber)

It then becomes important to ask yourself: the people who prefer you to remain in a stagnant position in life, the people who feel like they “lose” you when you grow and evolve, are they really your people? Do they perhaps benefit more from you when you are not succeeding past where they are?

It is a difficult discussion to have to make, but a necessary one, because the people that truly love and support you and have your back will encourage you to grow healthily and beyond your limits without keeping you tied down.

On the other hand, some business owners struggle with being visible in their success because at some point in their life, being ‘seen’ was unsafe for them.

… and so now, being seen whether it’s being seen as successful or being on the stage, being an author … [the] younger versions of themselves [and] their nervous system does not recognize that they are safe, they still make the connection of “being seen and viewed by people put me in harms way in my past, so how am I supposed to be seen and visible in my business … and experience myself as being safe?” (Nicole Lewis-Keeber)

Outdated ideas that hold therapists back

Many therapists go through grad school being taught that therapists do what they do because they are kind people, not business owners, and so they should not pursue money or properly charge for their services.

You cannot run a business based upon guilt, you can’t. You will not be fruitful, it will not grow, and you’ll be burnt out at the end of the day and your clients need better than that from you too, they don’t need to have their treatment in your business run from a place of guilt. (Nicole)

As a therapist, when you stick to your principles and your words, you model good boundaries and self-respect to your clients:

  • By sticking to the scheduled hours of the counseling session,
  • Providing what was paid for in a package – no guilt-ridden bonuses,
  • By speaking honestly and kindly about your terms,
  • By being clear on the cost and offering payment options if there are, no giving unnecessary pro-bono’s to keep the client happy.

Books mentioned in this episode:

Nicole Lewis Keeber – How to Love Your Business: Stop Recreating Trauma and Have a Business You Love – and That Loves You Back

Useful Links:

Meet Alison Pidgeon

A portrait of Alison Pidgeon is shown. She discusses ways to grow your group practice on this week's episode of Practice of the Practice. Alison is a serial entrepreneur with four businesses, one of which is a 15 clinician group practice. She’s also a mom to three boys, wife, coffee drinker, and loves to travel. She started her practice in 2015 and, four years later, has two locations. With a specialization in women’s issues, the practices have made a positive impact on the community by offering different types of specialties not being offered anywhere else in the area.

Alison has been working with Practice of the Practice since 2016. She has helped over 70 therapist entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses, through mastermind groups and individual consulting.

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