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Meet Monica Denais of Café with Monica in Trinity Groves

Today we’d like to introduce you to Monica Denais.

Monica, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Wow, it’s been a long journey to get here so I’ll start from the beginning. I was born and raised in Laredo, Texas by a single mom and my grandparents. As a kid, I always felt this immense passion to help others, especially those who were entering the same stages of life as myself. I felt that if people would be able to talk through their issues and receive the guidance they too could be successful despite their obstacles and traumatic experiences. At the age of 18 years old, I got a heart-wrenching call that my cousin, who was more like a brother to me, overdosed on drugs and then shortly after my grandmother fighting years of depression and illnesses died as well. A year after that my grandfather also passed, so I spent a year grieving only to grieve some more, all while pursuing a degree in psychology and then a Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. Despite all the obstacles I kept moving forward.

Prior to graduating with my Master’s, I experienced three rejections from a job I desperately wanted. I was told by my interviewers, “ Sometimes, less is more” and “We chose someone with more experience”. I felt crushed and like I had failed to secure a job after graduation, but 4th time was the charm and I received a job working for the state helping individuals with disabilities address their issues and return back to work. I love helping people find their passion to work because I felt work meant having a purpose and access to resources!

I love what I do but I felt something was missing; I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I’ve always wanted to help millennials like myself minimize the stigma of mental health and just start open conversations with people. I received guidance from friends and my now husband about pursuing my dreams but had no clue how I was going to execute this.

In November 2018, while driving back from Louisiana to our home in Dallas, my husband was reading Gary Vaynerchuk’s book Crushing It. We were talking about passions and he was sharing some of Gary’s advice in the book and that’s when my husband said, “You should do a podcast”! Of course, self-doubt immediately kicked in and I said no way I couldn’t do that I don’t think my voice is that important. My husband gave me a pep talk and said, “You have so much to say and no voice is the same as yours.”

So, we talked more and combined both my love for coffee and counseling for my business. I am an avid coffee drinker and love scoping different coffee shops in DFW and I also love looking out and see all the conversations people are having over coffee so that’s when Café with Monica came to life. I thought, how cool would it be to make difficult unspoken topics into conversations you can easily talk about with a friend over coffee. I want to change people’s view on therapists in that we are not all clinicians who have you lay in a long couch to ask you, “How you feel about that?”

I figured that I could use social media to build a brand and start adding value to my followers by providing anxiety, stress relief techniques, and everyday life encouragement. I knew I specifically wanted to help millennials like myself.

I am happy to say I have already interviewed several amazing millennials who will be sharing their stories ranging from mental health, quitting their corporate jobs, joining the military, and losing a husband. All of these, and the stories yet to come are about topics that people tend to be afraid to talk about. All will be brought out on the Café with Monica podcast, launching April 24, 2019. I am so excited!

Has it been a smooth road?
Heck no! I am a perfectionist by nature and tend to be so hard on myself so I have had self-doubt days where I want to quit. I also had no idea how to produce a podcast and so I had to learn how to record, edit, and get everything ready for the big launch. I’ve had negative people try to discourage what I am doing and I think closing out the noise has been the hardest part for me. Also, did I mention I still have a 9-5 job? So, finding time to balance work, have a social life, and my side hustle has been a challenge, to say the least!

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Café with Monica story. Tell us more about it.
Café with Monica is a brand/podcast I am creating that depicts a millennial counselor’s view on how to deal with the everyday and not-so-everyday situations that surface in the lives of millennials. I am the voice behind the brand, an individual who knows the struggles are real, having my own unique perspective as a first-generation college graduate and Hispanic-American. The stories I share are full of failures and accomplishments, family struggles, and personal growth. With my expertise as a vocational and mental health counselor, I offer personal advice, professional knowledge, & actionable ways for listeners to start improving their quality of life. All of this takes place in a setting that makes you feel like you are in a coffee shop talking to a friend. So, my biggest accomplishment is just starting it all and finding other millennials who are willing to be part of this journey.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I hope that people like me who are being a part of minimizing mental health stigma continue to emerge. I see mental health becoming more of an everyday open conversation. I see people feeling more open to therapy.

There is a major shift in how people continue to become more reliant on technology as a means to learn information about mental health. Therapists are going to need to adapt their practice to reach clients through the technology they currently use in a more up-to-date language.

My business & podcast aims to adapt to this trend, informing the general public and enticing people who want to tackle their mental health issues to become a client. I imagine my future clients saying to themselves while listening to my podcast, “This therapist is just like me and is willing to help me grow and be successful and work through my past trauma. I think she can help me through what I am currently dealing with!”

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Barbara Escamilla, Adam Denais

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