Nicole Ponce, Sugar Land mom and experienced mental health therapist, is on a mission to help others prioritize their mental well-being. Through her practice, Nicole Ponce Counseling, Nicole and her team provide a safe and supportive space for individuals, including children ages 9 and up, to talk about their challenges and develop the skills they need to overcome them. In this interview, we’ll get to know Nicole, hear her story, and learn more about how she is making a difference in the lives of those around her through therapy and writing. She’s also sharing why and when to consider therapy for yourself and/or children along with the top 3 qualities we should all look for in a therapist!
If you could describe yourself in one word, what would it be and why?
Compassionate. I think that compassion for others has been a driving force in my life. I have always been sensitive to the pain and needs of others and want to do my best to help people live more peaceful lives, whether through counseling, yoga, educating, or even just being a calm presence.
What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
There are two of me! I have an identical twin sister who also lives in the area.
Anyone special you’d like to thank for helping you along your motherhood journey?
Too many to list! At the risk of sounding like I’m giving an Oscar speech, I would like to acknowledge the people that have, and continue to, make my journey through motherhood better. Thanks to my husband for loving being a dad and being so supportive, my mom and mother-in-law for loving my son and helping out, and my close friends Hugo, Gigi, Cecilia, Brenda and Shawn, who bring joy to even the hardest days!
I struggled with pretty bad postpartum depression when I first had my son and am forever grateful that I had so many supportive people to help pull me through!
Your best shortcut or routine for helping you through parenthood?
Scheduling out my to-dos! Being a small business owner and a toddler parent, my to-do list is never ending! I get overwhelmed looking at everything at once, so I get out the calendar and schedule out to-do’s for the whole year! This helps me only focus on one thing at a time. Landscape my backyard? Seems like an April problem! Reorganizing my child’s toys? That’s good for November. This skill is a MUST to reduce stress.
What advice would you give to the “old you” before you had kids?
Be grateful for spare time! I can’t believe I ever muttered the words, “I don’t have time,” before having my son. I love motherhood, but I would tell younger me to soak up the free time while I can!
Tell us a little bit about your inspiration behind opening your counseling service?
I always knew I wanted to be in the helping profession. I saw the impacts of mental illness and lack of support pretty early in life and wanted to be a changing force. My intentions were always to work my way up through different mental health corporations, but the universe had other plans!
I kept running into roadblocks on the traditional path, and one day just decided to make the jump. I slowly built up the practice while still working for other companies but realized how much I LOVE working with and being connected to people in my community.
What type of counseling do you offer?
Our practice offers individual counseling to adults, adolescents, and kids 9 and up. Our specialty is trauma, attachment and anxiety, but we love working with all mental health backgrounds! We have experience with addiction, self-harm, eating disorders, depression, prenatal/postnatal mood disorders, personality disorders, and life stressors.
What are some reasons why and when a mom (or parent) should consider seeking therapy?
Therapy isn’t just for people with severe mental health concerns. Anyone can benefit from the support and self-discovery. Parents tend to put themselves on the back burner to focus on their kids’ needs and the chaos of daily living. Therapy can be the one hour per week where you just get to focus on you! Whether you just want to process your stressors, or you want to dive deep and work through personal patterns and anxieties, therapy is a safe space to start.
What are some indicators that therapy may be a good option for our children?
Children typically don’t have the skills yet to be aware of how stressors affect them, much less know how to communicate that! The way kids communicate when they are struggling is through behaviors, such as defiance, anxious movement, acting out, self-harm, isolation, poor focus, or failing grades. Therapy can help kids understand what’s happening in their bodies and minds and teach them better coping skills and communication techniques.
Finding a therapist that you gel with can be difficult! In your opinion, what are the top 3 qualities one should seek out for the best personal experience?
Everyone has different needs and there are so many different styles of therapists! But the most important thing when healing is the therapeutic relationship, so finding someone that you can build a healthy connection with is important.
Unfortunately, this is hard to know until you go to that first session or have a consultation! If you are not clicking with your therapist after 2 or 3 sessions, give feedback or ask for a referral! That being said, here are the top 3 qualities that I would recommend in a therapist:
- Unconditional Positive Regard. This is a therapy term meaning that I, as the therapist, should see you in a positive light. If a therapist is saying judgmental statements about your behavior or making you feel bad about yourself, it can be pretty hard to feel safe.
- Treating you as an Equal. Gone are the days where the therapist is the expert and tells you who you are. You know yourself better than anyone! Your therapist’s role is to help you discover yourself, your goals, your patterns, and educate on psychological concepts.
- Professionalism. Professional boundaries are important in a therapist. It helps them to maintain neutrality and focus on you. If a therapist starts acting more like a friend, talking about themselves, not having boundaries, or being inappropriate, then it takes away from their ability to be an objective therapist.
Do you offer virtual appointments, and if so will it be of the same benefit?
Yes! Most of our clients do prefer in-person, but telehealth has shown to be just as effective. However, it’s important that the client is in a private space, where they feel safe to explore their feelings.
We love to support local small businesses. What is your favorite place in the Sugar Land and/or Pearland, areas to:
- Take your kids out for some fun: The Little Gym in Sugar Land! My son has so much fun at these classes.
- Have a date night: My husband and I do daytime dates. We like to go to Minuti in Sugar Land and walk around the lake behind it or go to Blendin Coffee off 90 and have a child-free/dog-free morning.
- Have fun as a family: We go to lots of parks! Our favorite is the Meadows Place Park or Cullinan Park
- Get your hair done: MG Salon. Manny and his team are the BEST
- Get your nails done: Sweet Escape Nail Lounge by Target (hwy 6 and 59)
- Get a facial: I’ve never had one
- Shop for yourself: We are Target people! I don’t get around to shopping much.
- Shop for your kids: same as above