This week we’re featuring local mom Justine Carino, the owner of Carino Counseling in White Plains! Justine is a wife, a mother to her son Jackson, and a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. Two years ago she took the risk of starting her own mental health practice and it has proven to be the best investment in herself. Justine opened up about starting her own business, how she approaches motherhood and the impact of COVID-19 on families and her business. She also provides valuable insight to help parents navigate conversations with our children about COVID-19 and some much needed wisdom about juggling our current competing roles of parent, teacher, worker, chef, housekeeper, etc. I loved getting to know Justine and I know you will too!
Where are you from originally and where do you live now?
I grew up in Ulster County, NY in an area right outside of the Shawangunk Mountains. I now live in Somers, NY with my husband and son.
How many kids do you have and what are their ages?
I have one son named Jackson and is he 2.5 years old.
What’s your favorite restaurant and place to shop in the Sound Shore?
We love the restaurant Chat 19 in Larchmont.
What’s your favorite way to spend time with your family?
We enjoy doing anything outdoors. Playing outside, going to playgrounds, walking bike trails, going to the pool and beach in the summer, going to Muscoot Farm which is local to us. I grew up hiking and now my son is now at the age where he can hike a little with us and it has been lovely to pass down the tradition of being in nature.
What’s your go-to thing to do when you need some “me time”?
Running, watching reality TV and spending time with my girlfriends. Those things really help me to decompress from work and motherhood and just zone out.
How long have you been a mental health counselor and how did you get started?
I obtained my degree in 2011 and have worked in psychiatric hospitals and a community counseling agency since then. I decided to start my own private practice in 2018. It was a leap of faith but I am so glad I took it. I work with teens, young adults, families and pre-marital couples that are struggling with anxiety, depression, loss, and relationship conflicts. When I first opened my practice, I spent a lot of time meeting with other clinicians in the area to learn how they got started and I wanted to also get to know other people in private practice in my industry. This journey of going out on my own has been very rewarding and I have to say I truly wake up every day very happy about my career choice.
What advice do you give to families that are new to mental health counseling and are interested in exploring it for themselves or their family? Where do they begin?
If people are looking for a therapist, I encourage them to ask friends and family members for referrals. Another great resource is the website Psychology Today. You can plug in your zip code and see profiles of hundreds of therapists in your area. Once you get started with a therapist, give it at least 3 sessions before deciding whether or not they are a good fit for you. If they aren’t, you try someone new and get specific on the type of therapist and support you are looking for when you make the call. You have to find the right match for yourself because your therapist is going to be the person who you develop a very unique relationship with. Therefore, you want to be able to be open and honest with the person you go to for therapy.
What’s your favorite part of owning your own business?
There is so much freedom for creativity. I have been able to participate in opportunities such as podcast interviews and guest write for local blogs, which I could not have done before. I also have freedom over my schedule, holiday time and vacations which is so valuable to me as mom. I also love meeting other professionals in my industry and being able to learn from them and collaborate with them.
How has COVID-19 affected your business?
I have moved all of my sessions to Telehealth video sessions. I really miss the in person contact, but we are all trying to make this work. My clients are such troopers and have remained dedicated to their sessions as a form of self-care. I am so fortunate to be able to take my business online as I know many other entrepreneurs cannot do this and are really feeling a hit from it. I also have had many calls related to all of the changes people are facing in their lives because of the pandemic. Everyone is being impacted in so many different ways and our mental health is taking a hit.
Any advice to parents that are trying to balance work, parenting, schooling, etc during this crisis?
Please be graceful with yourself. Teachers go through years of training to be able to do what they do. You did not sign up for this job of homeschooling, so don’t expect yourself to do it right. It’s impossible to do it all at once so stop expecting to, and please don’t expect to do it all well. Some things will have to give and you may need to prioritize what you are focusing on for the time being. Allow yourself to do that. Writer Brené Brown talks about “TFT’s” which is “Terrible First Times.” I’ve brought this into so many therapy sessions lately. Many of us are doing new things for the first time and expect it to go right. That’s the wrong idea. Expect it to go terribly, because first times usually don’t go very well and this is our first pandemic. We are all adjusting.
Are there any tools or resources you recommend to parents who are trying to navigate conversations about COVID-19 with their children?
I’d say talk to your children openly and honestly about the situation based on their ages, but do not bombard them with too much information. Do not leave the TV on all day with the news. Educate them, but don’t scare them. Validate all of their emotions and give them the space to talk about what they are truly thinking and feeling without judgement. This is a huge change in their lives as well and they may be feeling sad or worried about what they have needed to give up to get through this. As much as you may need some space from them, they may need some of their own space from you too.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten from another mom?
It is possible to be both a good mother and be able to go after your dreams. Seasons come and go in life and sometimes you need to give more to your kids than your career, but you do not have to sacrifice big parts of your goals in order to feel like a good parent. It is possible to make time for both your career and your parenting and be able to do both pretty well! It’s quality of time over quantity of time. This has been so helpful for me as a mother and business owner.