Therapy is a very crowded business both in Israel and in the US. It comes in lots of flavors. but I have found Logotherapy, the field that Batya Yaniger specializes in, to be the most interesting and positive. It also has echos the Torah’s approach to self-development. Here’s Batya’s take on therapy and business.
My name is Batya Yaniger. I was born and grew up in Chicago. After graduating from high school in 1974, I came to Israel and have lived here almost continuously, since then. I am a certified social worker in Israel and have an MA and PsyD in Psychology. I am also a certified logotherapist, which is Viktor Frankl’s therapeutic modality. Based on this training, I co-facilitate the logotherapy training program in Israel, in addition to my workshops and private practice.
What can you tell us about your business?
I don’t yet have a name for my business yet. It’s a personal growth business. It helps women attain higher levels of inner peace, joy and self-mastery. It does more than simply help cope or solve problems. It helps unleash their spiritual potential so they can find their own solutions. Most importantly, it frees them to celebrate life!
It’s based on principles of Torah and logotherapy. Viktor Frankl’s logotherapy starts from the assumption that every person’s life is meaningful, and whatever happens to you, even if you don’t always understand “why,” you can always figure out the “what for” of what you can do with it, how you can use it for good. The attitude that life is a journey that invites them to grow, helps women to trust in the process and to believe in their potential.
The business includes individual and group work, and includes four different six-week packages to choose from: Overwhelmed Package, Confidence Package, Health and Wellbeing Package and the Meaningful Living Package. During the course of the six weeks, participants learn skills and tools for learning to know what they deeply want, what they are capable of and what their reality demands. In this way, they’re not following anyone else’s agenda; they’re figuring out what ‘fits’ for them.
I think you have done something really important by turning open-ended therapy into “packages” in which people can work through an issue and feel a sense of closure. Where did the idea for the business come from?
Exactly. The idea of a short-term personal growth workshop came from seeing how therapy can be an endless process that often causes huge financial stress. I decided to create a process that would be short and focused, but not superficial. Logotherapy’s effectiveness has been well documented, and its close affinity with Judaism is self-evident. Its principles emphasize the power of the human spirit to overcome adversity by seeing life challenges as opportunities to reach for higher ideals.
Additionally, the idea of incorporating texts as sources of personal insight came thanks to years of developing my own inspiration-generating learning style, and I wanted to share the power of my life-changing experience with others.
How did you turn the idea into reality?
In a way I have been doing this my whole life. Everything in my life is connected. This is one of the facts of life that I teach people as well. I had already made myself a blog and a newsletter, and I did a workshop over the internet for which I received positive feedback but I didn’t know how to make these things grow.
I realized that nothing was going to move forward without more direct guidance. That’s where working with you, Leah, helped me communicate my ideas in a way that aligned my vision with the clients’ descriptions of what they were looking for. There were plenty of times I got frustrated, but I just kept relentlessly asking myself what I could do next.
Talking in your clients’ “language” is just about the only way to get clients. Can you tell us about the people you can help the most?
My ideal client is a woman approximately between 30 and 60 who thinks of herself as a spiritually sensitive, thinking person. She enjoys learning that is thought-provoking as well as experiential, and not a purely intellectual exercise. She’s the kind of person who wants to keep growing. She often feels overwhelmed and underappreciated, but she knows what she wants. She wants to make sense of her life, to sense a purpose to her existence, and to feel alive.
That’s a great description. I think many of the women reading this blog would identify with it. There are so many kinds of therapies out there. How are you different from others?
The Israeli market is glutted with therapists, especially in the Jerusalem area. At the same time there exists a lot of variety, and there are those who will particularly gravitate to what I have to offer.
My goal is to empower clients with awareness of who they are, what they want and why it’s important to them, so that they can respond from a place within them that is centered, conscious, and active rather than passive. There are no fixed techniques. Instead we work to develop a process of awareness, so that one’s emotions, values and struggles become important sources of information to learn from. In the group, my aim is to facilitate a potent Jewish learning experience, where you learn about yourself and your connection to self, to other, and to God through the text.
Sounds like this kind of learning can really turn someone’s life around. Did you experience a game-changing moment in your business?
It wasn’t so much of a moment but a gradual realization that although I need to learn how to do certain things on the computer or the internet and it is good to learn new skills, there are tasks that it is worth paying a professional to do, even if I think I don’t have the money. Partly this is because my time is limited or because the tasks are too crazy-making for me. I’m better off spending time on what I am good at and letting other people do what I’m not very good at, or don’t have an inclination for. One example is a website. Although it is possible to make my own website for free, it will not have the same appeal or impact as it will if I get a webmaster to do it.
I also turn to other people for advice when I am stuck. I consider who has had experience with this. I can either learn from other people’s expertise or their experience. When it comes to content, I brainstorm with friends, students and colleagues.
As a therapist you must be aware of how important our “inner game” is in business? Have you ever found yourself held back by an internal obstacle or a mindset issue?
In the past, I had the thought that because I have done certain things unsuccessfully in the past, I will be unsuccessful in the future. I addressed it by understanding that there was something positive in my perspective. I wanted to be cautious and not repeat old mistakes. But I reminded myself that the way I am doing things now is not the same as what I had done in the past. In the past I had only thought about what I want to give, and now I am thinking about what people need. Everything has to start with listening.
Listening! How do you make time for listening? How do you manage your time?
I have found that scheduling activities by time does not work for me. Sometimes I sleep late. Sometimes a friend or family member has a pressing need. Sometimes I have a sudden spark of inspiration and I have to go and write.
So what works better is having a morning routine that I go through in a certain order. If I’m interrupted by something I come back again to my list and continue from where I left off. Then I have a list of tasks which changes every day. I usually start this list after lunch. And if I don’t get to the end of it, that’s okay.
I really like how you build flexibility into the routine. That’s a very valuable perspective and it takes other people’s needs into account. How do you take care of your own needs? How do you avoid burn-out?
I make sure to take the time to prepare healthful food and to get enough sleep. I don’t take on more projects than I can handle. I devote time to play piano every day, and I have a group that I play with once a week. Learning Torah every day really fills me up, especially when I’m learning with a friend. Sometimes I slip up with these things, but I usually get myself back on track again. I also do spontaneous things on the spur of the moment like going out with a friend. But I really would not be able to take care of myself properly if I were to wait until I get everything done before I go to sleep at night. I know my limits, and my health is a priority. It gets back to what I said before about not doing everything myself. If that means my business will develop more slowly, never mind. Not everything is in my hands. I can only do my best.
What’s your single most important takeaway from managing a business?
The important thing for me has been to know that I need to be committed to it and not worry about how fast or slow the process is going but just keep going, keep doing what I love doing and hold on to my dream.
What do you love most about being an entrepreneur? What are your least favorite parts?
I’ll start with my least favorite first. I don’t like having to find clients. It’s not so much because I think marketing myself is a bad thing. It’s just that it would be so much easier to have a framework all set up for myself, where I could just walk into a room and do what I do with the group, whereas this way I have to spend energy looking for the people who will be interested in what I’m doing.
I love being able to make my own schedule and having the freedom to be myself. I am forced to believe in myself and to remind myself that it’s okay to be me, and that I have something to contribute to the world that no one else can do. And after all, isn’t that what I’m trying to teach my clients?
Batya, your perspective is invaluable. It’s so easy get caught up things when building a business. Your advice of taking things slowly, getting help when needed, accounting for everyone’s needs, and not forgetting your own should really help many readers build businesses they can love.
Thanks so much.
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