Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Yuko Hanakawa, Founder of Office of Yuko Hanakawa, Ph.D., located in New York, NY, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

My practice offers healing-oriented, body-mind-based, feeling-focused psychotherapy. My clients are diverse in their racial and ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, professions, and even issues - the common thread is that they tend to be sensitive individuals who have felt unseen by their family, friends, and society.

My job is to help them discover their core self, the inner wholeness - the kind of self that is free from the assigned roles and expectations by others. When the clients get in touch with their core self, they feel coherent, clear, and "this is truly me!"

They can make wise decisions for themselves. They allow authentic feelings to surface and experience them fully. Therefore, they can choose what they truly want and need. My job is to facilitate my clients' inner transformations in a safe therapeutic relationship with me.

Tell us about yourself

I'm an immigrant from a rural part of Japan where psychotherapy was almost non-existent. I lost my father when I was a teen and had no psychotherapist in town. It was hard for a compassionate child. As a result, I suffered from grief for several years. So when I experienced psychotherapy in the US, it felt like a godsend.

Then I started to think about becoming a psychotherapist myself. When choosing a graduate school in psychology, my top priority was if they offered quality clinical training because I wanted to become a competent, helpful therapist. That was the start.

After I finished my Ph.D., I worked at a hospital for nine years. I received intensive psychotherapy training in AEDP (Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy) and hypnotherapy. Then I felt ready to open my practice. I became a faculty at the AEDP Institute, which is a fantastic honor. I inherently love clinical work. Each morning, I thank God that I have a profession that I love!

Additionally, I do writing for therapists. Writing about the clinical transformations I witness in my practice and sharing those decisive moments with a broad audience is a precious experience. I've published a book of my own, translation books, and book chapters and articles in English and Japanese.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I spent my early professional years intensively honing my psychotherapy skills. I was lucky to have kind, compassionate, and highly skillful mentors. I am not perfect, and I keep learning and improving my therapeutic skills but having substantial training at first created a solid foundation for my practice.

Having my practice in the heart of NYC and helping people with diverse backgrounds. As an immigrant from Asia, I know what it's like to live in bi-cultures and feel like a visitor in either of them. Exposure to diversity in NYC helped me create a kind, accepting, and safe space for clients from different backgrounds in a way that I want to be treated.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Being alone without a team next door is probably one of the hardest things about being a business owner.

However, you can remedy this problem by creating a circle of friends who are also like-minded owners of businesses.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Work on yourself first in psychotherapy. YOU are a tool of the business. :-)
  2. Find a mentor who supports you and creates a community of like-minded friends/colleagues.
  3. Let go of perfectionism and try to shoot for good enough. That way, you can move forward instead of getting stuck and not moving for a long time.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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