Olga Ward came to neurofeedback as a way to help her own household, consumed with the challenge of trying to support her foster daughter with PTSD. After seeing the results on her family, she did a 180 on her career and trained to deliver neurofeedback therapy herself.
Ward had never been involved in any kind of medical or therapeutic jobs — she’d previously worked in human resources and government-sector jobs — but the improvement she experienced personally from neurofeedback convinced her to help bring the same benefits to others.
Today, her Oregon-based neurofeedback practice Beaverton Neurofeedback is thriving, having helped over 500 people since she founded it in 2018.
Ward came to neurofeedback through her own life experiences. A number of years ago, she and her husband adopted a daughter from foster care. Their new daughter was eight years old, but she’d lived many lifetimes worth of trauma from abuse and neglect. Despite all their efforts and hopes, the first year after her adoption was, as Ward put it, “a year from hell.”
While Ward and her husband never gave up, the social welfare system did. It was clear that no external help was going to materialize, and the Wards were rapidly reaching the end of their rope.
“I had nothing left to give,” Ward says. “I was losing myself and needed support.”
Ward went to a therapist, but talk therapy got her nowhere. She wasn’t interested in taking medication and didn’t have any mental health diagnosis that would underpin a prescription. Eventually, with no other options left, Ward tried NeurOptimal’s neurofeedback program.
Somewhat to her own surprise, Ward saw results after the very first session. After completing the program, Ward felt a big enough improvement that she wanted to see what neurofeedback could do for the rest of her family.
She rented a device to use for her daughter, son and husband, and they all appreciated the impact. For her daughter, Ward explains, neurofeedback helped reduce her nightmares and make her less jumpy and easily startled.
It was enough to make Ward feel that there must be many other people out there who need help with frustration, irritation, burnout, stress, and PTSD. “Compared to standard pharmaceutical approaches, neurofeedback is a lesser-known modality, but it’s gaining popularity among those who are looking for a more natural solution to their long-standing problems,” says Ward.
Ward jumped straight into running a neurofeedback business. She bought her own NeurOptimal machine, completed training courses to deliver the treatment, and opened Beaverton Neurofeedback. Her business offers in-person neurofeedback sessions, rental for neurofeedback devices and training for people to use them at home, and support for people who want to buy their own.
Ward essentially learned business management through trial and error, finding her own way over the many bumps in the road.
“There’s so much to learn and figure out building your own business,” observes Ward. “I still needed to figure out what kinds of clients I wanted to serve, how to price my services, there were questions about the business structure, marketing, office location, and much more.”
However, demand grew quickly, testifying to a need for Ward’s services. “It’s deeply satisfying to see clients get better and, as a result, reduce their need for medication to treat their anxiety, ADHD, sleep disorders or depression,” she says.
Ward began the business out of a desire to help others, but quickly found she was spending more time on administrative work than on actual treatment. “As my business slowly grew and I started to get in the flow of how I wanted to serve and stay in touch with my clients, I realized I need a more comprehensive system,” she remembers.
Appointment scheduling, marketing to raise awareness, staying on top of her finances, and other tedious, time-consuming tasks were starting to take over. Ward needed a better solution both so that she could run a professional business, and so her clients could enjoy a smoother customer experience.
“As a client myself, I hate the idea of endless phone tags and email exchanges. If I need a massage, for example, I just want to open the schedule and book an appointment,” explains Ward, adding “I figured, my clients are busy. I certainly do not want to bottleneck the process of them scheduling with me.”
She discovered vcita’s SMB management platform “accidentally,” after appreciating the ease of booking an appointment with a different practitioner. Using vcita helped double Ward’s client return rate, while the automated reminders slashed her clinic’s number of no-shows and latecomers.
“Neurofeedback works best when performed in a series of sessions,” Ward explains. “When a new client schedules a single session, I have an automated follow-up session go out not only thanking them for coming but reminding them to book their next session. This makes it easy and convenient for clients to adhere to their goals and keeps the clients coming back.”
Ward recognizes that her relationships with clients are almost as important as the therapy itself. It helps make them feel secure and relaxed, so they are open to the treatment, but nurturing a relationship is tough when so much time goes on ensuring HIPAA compliance, completing forms, and sending and chasing up invoices.
Once Ward automated those processes, she was able to focus on connecting with clients. “Communication with both potential, current, and past clients is very important for me,” she emphasizes.
“I developed an automated sequence of emails to help those who are doing neurofeedback at home. These sequences make my clients feel like I am always nearby and care about their progress, while taking away the administrative burden for me to stay in touch with them manually.”
Ward didn’t expect to end up with a new career when she sought help for her own struggles, but that’s what ended up happening. A combination of positive personal experience, a desire to share it, and finding the right business management tools and support all made it possible for Olga Ward to turn an intervention that helped improve her own life into a successful business.
Instead of being a grind, Ward finds her work life-affirming. “Building your own business can be fun if you think of it as an artistic creation rather than a daunting task,” she says. “You can do anything you want whenever you want. With this comes fun and freedom.”