Giving people the tools they need to overcome challenges

Shelly Qualtieri talks about her business as a counsellor, coach and facilitator

Shelly Qualtieri is a counsellor, coach and facilitator with Shelly Qualtieri – Counselling & Coaching 

Shelly Qualtieri Counselling & Coaching
Shelly Qualtieri

Tell me what you do and what your business is about?

Qualtieri: I’m the entrepreneur and heart and soul behind Shelly Qualtieri – Counselling & Coaching. I’m a counsellor and a registered social worker (RSW).

The core of my business is providing one-on-one counselling for adults and children (eight to 17 years), and secondly, I love presenting – the coaching side of my business – and sharing my knowledge with others!

There are times when individuals of all ages struggle with tough and challenging times; be it with conflict in personal or professional relationships, depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, breakdown in relationships leading to feelings of overwhelm and potentially difficult conversations. These things can create uncertainty in how to handle these issues and move forward. This is where I come in!

Throughout our sessions we will talk about past while focusing on present – they are always connected! We process challenges, focus on achieving goals while building skills and learning tools to see the changes desired while building the life you want to live, we reflect on how far individuals have come throughout our sessions, and ensure they leave feeling empowered each and every session.

How did you get involved in this area and why?

Qualtieri: Throughout my career I have always been interested in helping individuals to see and feel they do hold the power and ability to make changes in their own lives. I will give you a quick peek into my background and how I moved into being an entrepreneur. When I graduated from university, I began a full-time job in a maximum security prison for youth. Wow! – that was eye-opening for a young 20-something gal. The stories were big, the heartbreak was huge, and the support was almost non-existent!

I then lived in Australia for about eight years and worked in child protective services. The amount of people I worked with – both big and small – who were living hard, sad, incredibly challenging lives was overwhelming.

Moving back to Canada, I’ve worked in suicide awareness and prevention, post-secondary teaching and counselling, homelessness, addictions and domestic violence.

I made the decision to take the leap full time into running my own business 18 months ago because I heard all too many times: “Counselling didn’t work. How do I make actual changes in my life? I have tried that before. …”

Seriously, this felt heartbreaking and I decided to create a practice that fills people up, provides them with skills, tools and strategies, and empowers them with ways to move forward in their life, meet their goals and live their most fiercely fabulous life!

Is there a particular area that you focus on?

Qualtieri: My areas of focus are around:

  • suicide (working with those who may have thoughts, behaviours, attempted or are worried about someone they care about);
  • anxiety and depression – these are most often intertwined, trauma, conflict resolution and skill building, communication development, relationship challenges – whether this is with individuals, couples, or children;
  • and self-confidence and self-esteem development.

I do want people to understand I’m a counsellor – there are many life coaches around now! So, what this means is not only do I focus on particular areas, I use evidence-based practices and theoretical approaches as the underpinnings of my business. I practise from a person-centred, solutions-focused, strength based approach using cognitive behaviour therapy, narrative therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy and mindfulness.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in being an entrepreneur?

Qualtieri: There are so many challenges when you’re stepping into the world of being an entrepreneur for the first time! Honestly it was all new to me! Everything from designing your website, thinking about branding and how you want to show up, be seen and recognized within the area you’re building your business, what to charge, where and how to engage and find your tribe!

I think for me the biggest challenge has been in all honesty: where to start. What I mean is I have so many ideas and exciting things I want to do that I forget I should do one thing really well and then build from there. I can get lost in my own excitement, which is great but can definitely be a challenge!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received about being an entrepreneur?

Qualtieri: For me, it has been to focus on one area of my business and make it really great and then grow and build from there. I am only 18 months in to this being my full-time gig and I think with keeping this in mind I have begun to build a business that has developed incredibly quickly!

The other piece of advice that has really stuck for me is: “Know your thing.” Be clear on what you do, how you practise, how you support people and show up daily! This will continue to be a work in progress.

I think the last piece of advice that I heed daily is: It’s okay to change, be flexible, move, understand that making mistakes is part of the growth and never forget to dream the big dream!

Interviewed by Mario Toneguzzi, a Troy Media business reporter based in Calgary.

© Troy Media


Qualtieri counselling coach

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