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|Amber Brooks • 7/11/16|
The Short Version: A website with heart, Growing Self offers effective therapy; marriage counseling; love, life, and career coaching; and classes — all to help you grow as a person. The site’s Founder, Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, pulls together a team of counselors and life coaches who offer singles and couples a pathway toward better relationships, careers, and lives. On her mission to make therapy more available to everyone, she wrote a book counseling singles through a breakup. She also hosts The Love, Happiness, and Success Blog + Podcast, where she applies her clinical expertise to common relationship struggles with free advice. In all aspects of love, success, and happiness, you can reach the very best version of yourself by turning to the therapists at Growing Self.
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, a marriage and family therapist, patiently counsels couples through difficult times in their relationships. In her office sits an unobtrusive bowl of stones pulled from a river. This is more than a decorative item — it’s a teaching tool.
When couples clash during a session, she asks them to hold the rocks in their hands and feel the smoothness that comes from years of bashing against each other in the riverbed.
“These rocks are like both of you,” she tells her clients, “knocking the edges off each other, and helping each other uncover the natural, gentle beauty within.”
In her view, relationships are engines of growth. Through therapy, couples tackle their issues in a healthy dialogue. Dr. Bobby herself went through couples therapy with her husband of over 20 years, so she knows the tremendous impact that it can have.
“The work my husband and I did together back then knocked the rough edges off me. It made me more compassionate, more generous, more tolerant, and more unconditionally loving. This was good not just for my marriage, but for me as a person.” — Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, Founder of Growing Self
To make therapy available and accessible to everyone, Dr. Bobby founded a website called GrowingSelf.com that brings together psychologists, marriage and family therapists, and dating, life, and career coaches to advise people through relationships, careers, and life in general.
“I like to tell people that I specialize in love, happiness, and success,” she told us. “Those are the three domains of my practice.”
Dr. Bobby’s first degree was in marriage and family therapy. Her passion for strengthening relationships spurred her to continue her schooling, obtain a Ph.D. in psychology, and eventually become a Board Certified Life Coach.
“I do relationships, that’s my thing,” she said. She got into life coaching out of a desire to offer specific guidance to singles and couples. Her counseling technique is to make concrete suggestions that can improve the relationships, careers, and lives of her clients. This can range from date coaching (how to fix an online profile, what to say on a first date, etc.) to couples therapy (how to communicate more effectively, how to validate your partner’s feelings, etc.).
Working with couples over the years, Dr. Bobby sometimes found herself counseling individuals through the end of their relationship.
“I developed expertise in breakup recovery, helping people heal their broken hearts, recover from divorce, move on, and basically rebuild their lives,” she said. “It’s an enormous growth opportunity for a lot of people.”
Her guidance puts clients on a path toward forming healthy and meaningful relationships.
Her success is evident in her accomplishments. In June 2014, she was among only nine national dating coaches invited to attend Match’s first ever Relationship Experts Summit. At the headquarters of this high-profile dating site, she gained insight into modern dating research and strategies.
Last year, she penned a book called “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to an Ex Love” for readers dealing with a recent divorce or breakup.
The book focuses on coping with the grief, loss, longing, and all the hurt that comes from the end of a relationship. Self-discovery plays a big role in the healing process. Dr. Bobby told us that she counsels singles to figure out who they are, what they can learn from their experience, and what to do to make a relationship work better in the future.
From her practice in Denver, Colorado, Dr. Bobby is able to reach thousands of clients online through the blog, podcast, virtual classes, and consultations by video or phone.
“It’s a huge responsibility,” she said. “People come to us in a vulnerable position, and there’s a certain level of authority that you have as a therapist.”
At Growing Self, a plethora of helpful services give everyday people access to valuable lessons for life. The site has a team of coaches and therapists trained to get clients on a path toward overall wellness. Dr. Bobby puts particular emphasis on relationships and happiness.
In one-on-one premarital, relationship, or marriage counseling, trained professionals support positive changes. They use evidence-based strategies that are supported by research. The first consultation is free. You can choose to go in person to one of two offices in Colorado or you can contact the counselor by phone or online video. These relationship experts serve clients all over the world.
“One of the foundations of this practice,” the Founder said, “is to make meaningful help affordable and accessible to everyone.”
With the online Happiness Class, Dr. Bobby applies the same lesson and strategies from her private sessions into a straightforward curriculum. In four steps of classes, these instructive guides take a person through how to have a happy mind, body, heart, and life. Anyone can enroll online and begin to grow into the best version of themselves.
Online, you can find therapy from knowledgeable professionals. Whether enduring a breakup or feeling frustrations with your career, there’s a wealth of counseling, coaching, and classes available. “Our online service is convenient, it’s affordable, and we try to make it accessible,” Dr. Bobby told us, “because people deserve that.”
Growing Self even offers coaching for anyone entering the dating world. In these dating coaching sessions, singles learn strategies for finding and maintaining a solid relationship.
“We have all kinds of people who come to the site just for dating coaching, and it’s wonderful,” the Founder said. “We show them how to understand themselves and get clarity about who they are, what they’re looking for, what they do not want to do again, and how to connect with people in the future.”
This can mean working with an online profile, identifying unhealthy patterns, or pointing out red flags to watch out for. At the end of the day, all this team’s efforts go toward improving the client’s interpersonal relationships and emotional well-being
“Every step of the way, we’re here to help couples come together, maintain a relationship, heal a relationship, or transition to the next level,” Dr. Bobby said.
Growing Self employs a team of eight therapists and coaches who are highly qualified to counsel people through any issues that arise from dating, relationships, marriage, family, or career.
“I won’t work with anybody who doesn’t have at least a master’s degree in a counseling program from an accredited university,” Dr. Bobby stated. “Everybody on the team is competent and does excellent work with couples.”
To grow her team, Dr. Bobby takes the time to supervise new graduates of her own alma mater, the University of Colorado at Denver. She has great respect for the marriage and family therapy program there. “Honestly, I troll their graduates,” she said with a laugh.
Growing Self is approved as an internship site so she often brings on young students to give them some experience and give her clients an affordable option for counseling. For as low as $40 a session, these interns are a resource for anyone low on funds and in need of good help.
The therapists on staff specialize in different aspects of a person’s life. Brenda Fahn, for example, is the instructor of the Lifetime of Love Premarital and Relationship Class, which teaches couples how to communicate and manage conflict before tying the knot. For married couples, Polly Drew takes the lead with more than 30 years of experience in marriage counseling, particularly with older couples.
“What makes us successful coaches is that we have such a deep understanding of the way relationships work,” the Founder explained. “We can help people make changes on a deep level so when they do go out to meet people, it’s with a clarity and authenticity that makes them really connect with people.”
The Love, Happiness and Success Blog + Podcast is a free resource for singles and couples. On this online platform, Dr. Bobby answers common questions that she hears from her clients and her audience. What began as a way to spread awareness about relationships became a popular hub of advice for anyone online.
“The truth is that the vast majority of people who could benefit from professional help will never receive it,” Dr. Bobby said, “so what I started doing is writing articles with tips and advice that come from the laboratory of our practice.”
She does this to counteract the pseudoscience being pumped out on the web. Some people in need of professional help go online and are led astray by unsupported claims. Not on Dr. Bobby’s blog and podcast. This therapist does her research, draws on her experience with clients, and makes informed recommendations in a compelling and compassionate tone.
“This is really just my effort to put more helpful information out in the world,” she said, “so even if I never meet somebody, they can still benefit from having encountered the right advice at a time when they really needed it.”
In her practice, Dr. Bobby and her team usher people through their journey in life. Typically, at 8 to 12 sessions, they part ways, and the therapist doesn’t get to see how the person progresses and grows, but every once in awhile a client will return with an inspirational story. Dr. Bobby told us about one success story that gave her chills.
Over a decade ago, she met a client who was on a dark path, struggling with addiction problems inherited from his parents. He didn’t want to make the same mistakes as his family, so he sought Dr. Bobby’s help. They spent several sessions talking about strategies to cope with stress and anxiety.
Recently, they met again, and she was blown away by how far he’s come. “It was really transformational,” she said. “He’s so clear on his values of wanting to be a father and husband and what that means to him — and he’s tying it back to our work together.”
He explained that he still uses the skills he learned with her to overcome his past and make a better life for himself. Such a profound and lasting impact is why Dr. Bobby got into therapy in the first place, and she finds it gratifying to hear about her client’s successes.
As a way of following up with people, Growing Self conducts frequent surveys of clients. Many are beaming endorsements of the counseling and coaching services.
“You provided us such a safe place to be honest with ourselves and with each other that our fear of being vulnerable and weak were transformed into a feeling of opportunity to be heard. My husband and I are better friends, parents, lovers, and companions than we have ever been.” — A Growing Self Client
Dr. Bobby is quick to say that it’s not just about anything amazing she said, but about the client’s willingness to listen, learn, and grow. She’s just happy to be part of that self-discovery process, counseling people toward a better emotional state.
“To witness that outcome is amazing because it changes the trajectory of people’s lives. As a therapist or coach, in the moment, you don’t always know the rest of the story,” she said, “to have someone say years later that this is what those sessions blossomed into is just the best thing.”
Relationships are how people grow, becoming more compassionate, understanding, and loving. Which is not to say it’s always smooth sailing.
“I’m proud to report that I have not yet had anyone throw a rock during a session,” Dr. Bobby said jokingly. Her little bowl of rocks sits as a steady reminder of the rewards reaped from patience, persistence, and love — even through adversity.
At Growing Self, a caring band of therapists talks people through their struggles, giving clients the strategies and tools to have a healthy relationship, clear communication, and strong self-esteem. The counseling and coaching done on this site often goes above and beyond helping one person because the positive influence of therapy gets passed down through the client’s family.
“If I can help a couple have a really solid relationship, I’m helping their children and their children’s children as those lessons echo down through the generations,” Dr. Bobby explained. “That’s originally why I decided to become a marriage and family therapist — to have a direct impact on people’s lives.”