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Meet Laura McLaughlin of HeadFirst Counseling in Preston Center

Today we’d like to introduce you to Laura McLaughlin.

Laura, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
HeadFirst Counseling began as a small idea about a better way to serve clients in the counseling field, and grew into a private practice! I had been working in the non-profit agency world in Dallas and felt that the focus was slowly shifting away from the client and towards things that benefited the agency. I didn’t like the shift that I was perceiving, and decided to break away and start a practice that was focused on helping clients find their true and best self.

I wanted a practice that focused on the whole client- their strengths as well as their struggles. I also wanted to incorporate the latest neuropsychology research and advancements into therapy treatment. When I began searching for other agencies or practices to join, I wasn’t able to find anything that fit that bill and would have allowed me to practice counseling in a way that gave the client the control and focused on the therapeutic relationship as the tool for healing and the vehicle for change.

I can happily say that HeadFirst Counseling now fits that bill! We work to create a safe environment in which all clients feel accepted for exactly who they are and do not feel that we are trying to change them. We also go above and beyond by incorporating the latest neuropsychology research and provide educations to clients and parents about child development, brain development, and why people act the way they do in certain situations.

Has it been a smooth road?
There have definitely been some obstacles along the way- one major one being the recruitment of new clients. When I left the agency world behind, I left my client caseload as well. This was a very intentional move for me as I wanted to get out of the nitty gritty, survival and crisis based counseling and work with clients that were out of the crisis and in a place where they can focus on developing more self-enhancing ways of being. When clients are focused on where their next meal will come from, or needing a bus pass to get home safely, not much actual therapy can take place.

Starting from scratch is apparently very unheard of in this field, as growing a practice typically takes a good amount of time. Luckily, I was able to market to my ideal population (young children and their parents) and found my niche. Within 2-3 months I had built a good sized caseload and was growing my practice.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
HeadFirst Counseling is a private counseling practice located in Dallas, TX. We serve children, adolescents, and adults struggling with a wide variety of presenting concerns.

Some of our specialties include parenting, anxiety, oppositional or defiant behaviors, trauma, attachment, addiction, LGBT, and all issues related to low self-worth or self-confidence.

We take a different approach to therapy by working to keep children and teens off of potentially dangerous psychiatric medications. We do not believe in labeling children- or in medicating them. We use brain-based approaches to connect with children and teens on their level to help them develop insight and coping skills. Once they are able to regulate their emotions and impulses, the inappropriate behavior or symptoms seem to go away (and a lifetime diagnosis is not needed).

We steer clear from a one-size-fits-all approach to counseling and engage in a more authentic, personalized way of being with clients. Our goal is to remove the stigma associated with mental health in order to empower people to seek the help they need. As we work together to remove the shame and secrecy that is attached to going to therapy, together we can help change the attitude about seeking help from one of helplessness and weakness to one of empowerment.

As a company, I am most proud of our commitment to give back to the community. Every therapist at HeadFirst Counseling sees one pro bono client each week and provides services to clients that would normally not be able to afford therapy services.

We also have an annual Give-Back campaign that takes place in November, and benefits a local non-profit or community organization that serves the needs of our community.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Absolutely! Dallas is a wonderful city for therapists. I have found that although Dallas is a large city, the therapy community is quite small. There are many other agencies, group practices, and private practices that I consult with on a regular basis and have gotten to know the therapist very well. We have been able to establish this sense of community and working together to benefit the counseling field as a whole, rather than viewing each other as competition.

In addition to the great therapy community, there are also so many wonderful resources for our clients here in Dallas that help make our practice successful. We regularly work with occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech therapists, pediatricians, and psychiatrists for the benefit of our clients- many of which are within walking distance from our office in Preston Center!


  • Initial Therapy Intake Session $150
  • Individual Therapy Sessions (Children or Adults) $135
  • Parent Consultations $135
  • Reduced Fee Sessions (with Licensed Interns) $85

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