Building Safe Healing Spaces : Danielle Swimm
We live in a fast-paced world where everyone is en route to success. During this long-winded journey, health is often put on the back burner. This leads to instances where mental health is disrupted and leaves people struggling with anxieties, eating disorders, and depression.
Subsequently, many businesses are initiating and scaling innovative and sustainable healthcare services. One such ingenious entrepreneur is Danielle Swimm, Founder of reputed Collide Behavioral Health.
Under Danielle’s leadership, her team has helped individuals break through perfectionist tendencies, relieve anxiety and halt obsession about food and body image issues. As a leader, she believes in building a value-based business with a diligent team while embracing the culture with those values. She asserts, “In order for me to be a good leader I need to be really clear on what values the company has and how I am instilling these values into the work we do every day.”
Syncing with Psychology
Bonding has been a strong theme in Danielle’s life. During her high school years, one of her classes – Intro to Psychology – nudged her curiosity. This guided her through various concerns like mental health diagnoses, human behavior, and much more. Moreover, her own struggles during her younger years encouraged her to take up this journey. “I’ve always been amazed at the human spirit and knew I wanted to work in a field where I could help others build their own resilience,” she mentions.
In her relentless pursuit to make a difference, Danielle founded Collide Behavioral Health. She wanted to create a safe learning environment where her clients could harbor their vulnerable thoughts and emotions. She says, “I wanted to start a therapy practice that focused on both nutrition and mental health, specifically on eating disorders and Intuitive Eating.” These experiences helped her understand the emotional landscapes and find viable solutions. “I loved the idea of nutrition and mental health colliding, creating this holistic practice that is able to serve individuals as a whole,” she further adds.
Danielle Swimm is laser-focused on building trusted relationships with her clients by providing mental health and eating disorder therapies. Her team is a dedicated and specialized group of individuals that work proactively to resolve eating disorders, body image issues and high-achiever anxiety. “We use a down to earth approach in therapy, focusing on millennial therapy and college students. We want them to feel safe, welcomed and heard when they enter our virtual space,” she assures.
She loves helping people learn about themselves. As people are hard-wired in different ways, her process to help each individual is unique and empowering. Her eagerness and thoughtful nature make her clients trust her even more deeply. “I like to start with a lot of education to help the individual understand why this has been occurring and how the disorder developed,” she asserts. She then focuses on decreasing the severity and frequency of binge-eating while addressing underlying triggers like restricting, trauma, depression, and anxiety.
Incidentally, she believes that the key to long lasting recovery is to address the emotional issues that resurface through eating disorders. This is unlocked by helping her clients to unshackle trauma, depression, and anxiety so that they gain clarity, perspective, and an empowered mindset.
Through her rich experience, Danielle also suggests reaching out to a therapist who specializes in eating disorders to address any experiences like guilt, shame, or anxiety around food. She adds, “As children we come into this world intuitively knowing what foods make us feel good, when we are full, when we are hungry. Through diet culture we unlearn a lot of these important mechanisms that can lead to disordered eating, health issues, body image issues and eating disorders.”
Carving Out a Fulfilling Journey
Although the initial years for Danielle were challenging, she was on a mission to destigmatize eating disorders by launching her company – Collide. Her grit and determination kept pushing her to pursue her practice even after saving a modest $700 from her 2nd job. “I knew I had a dream of building a beautiful group practice that would help thousands of people and stayed laser focused on that dream,” she recollects.
This ingrained a sense of obsession in her to achieve her dreams. Before heading into her full-time job, she would be up at the crack of the dawn to hustle on her passion project. She spent hours working on weekends and holidays to inhale as much as she could about running a business. She says, “I was only 27 years old when I opened my practice, and a lot of people didn’t necessarily take me seriously, but I kept my head down and stayed focused.”
She feels that her biggest roadblock has been learning to be patient. Her transition to being a mother, right before the pandemic wreaked havoc, forced her to move her entire practice to telehealth. This was an important lesson for her as she taught herself to be flexible in navigating the changes and reward herself with the benefits of being patient. “Personal development continues to be the biggest driver behind why I’m able to reach my business goals,” she adds.
Danielle believes that a healthy relationship with one’s mind, body, and soul is vital for long term vitality. Additionally, she recommends reading the book Intuitive Eating to better understand and explore the relationship with food. As a therapist, she believes in breaking the stigmas around eating disorders and putting them in their true place – in the trash can. “We deeply care about holistic eating disorder care and education, as there is such a lack of it in our community,” she says confidently.
The Future of Holistic Healing
When Danielle started out, she assumed that everyone would be just as excited about her business as she was. “As entrepreneurs we can become delusional, thinking that everyone will see how important or impressive it is in the work we are doing,” she says. But that did not hamper her zeal to deliver results. She continued to hustle in silence and waited until her initiative spoke loud and clear to thousands of people.
Danielle aspires to create an uplifting space for her clients. “I hope to continue growing my team to include therapists and dietitians.” She also has plans to build a highly impactful online education platform where professionals can easily take courses to get educated on how to screen and assess for an eating disorder.
Tips for taking the right action
Danielle’s grit to put the lid on stigmas, commitment to bringing an impact, and empathy for people’s challenges have been integral to her success.
Her advice to young and aspiring clinical specialists and professionals is simple yet promising. “Don’t give up. Keep showing up for the work you love to do, seek out mentors that inspire you,” she states. It is also important to know your value while you’re seeking out to help people be better versions of themselves.
The wellness space needs clinicians who “aren’t burnt out, who are well paid and are able to do amazing work.” She suggests, “Educate yourself on ways to actually make money in this field instead of staying at a low paying agency job.”
Danielle also recommends taking business advice from someone who has actually run a successful one as this will help ambitious people to learn quickly from other’s mistakes and achieve their goals.