December 10, 2021
By: Alisha Shibli
Karen Cinq-Mars and Judi Heppner started their journeys as social workers and are now the co-founders of Five Vines Therapy and Consulting–a place where they help people grow physically, socially, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. They believe that therapy and good counseling can give people the tools to manage their grief and live healthier, more meaningful lives.
In this exclusive interview with us, they talk about their journey, the thought behind their name and logo, and philosophies that inspire them in their lives and work.
We are Karen Cinq-Mars and Judi Heppner, two registered social workers. Both of us have had long careers in social services. Karen’s work has involved working with domestic violence survivors and victims of crime. Judi has been involved with adults with intellectual difficulties, mental health conditions, and children and youth with conditions like FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders) and autism. Before starting Five Vines Therapy and Consulting, we worked at a treatment foster care program. That’s where we met, became friends, and that’s how our journey began.
We both needed a change and deep down we knew it was going to happen for us. We had a lot of upheaval in our personal lives which also led to a deep reexamination of our work. We realized counseling made us feel like we were using the best of ourselves and our skills. At some level, we also realized we wanted to be in charge of our own work. We envisioned these things together until one day we looked at each other across the table in a coffee shop and said, “Are we doing this?” And we did.
It was difficult to find a name. We had a couple of false starts where we came up with names that seemed perfect but then discovered that they were very close to the names of other counseling agencies in our city. As a brainstorming exercise, we looked for connections with our names. Cinq is of course French for five, and Heppner is associated with a keeper of hops or vineyards. We liked the sound of Five Vines and saw a deeper meaning: vines are symbols of growth and we hope our clients will grow in their work with us in five ways: physically, emotionally, socially, intellectually, and spiritually.
We both love being outside in nature and find that to be a place of healing, so our plan was to incorporate visual nature themes into our website and other materials. We wanted the logo to reflect that idea of nature and growth. We chose to go with dark blue as it is more of a calming and peaceful color.
In September of 2021, we moved into a new office space that has 3 counseling offices. We put our name out letting people know we had space and inviting conversations about working together. Our model is that of renting per time used, even if that’s just a few counseling appointments a month. There was a counselor in the city that provided office space for us with that arrangement and it enabled us to make a start without the expenses being overwhelming.
We want to honor what she did for us and pay it forward by taking a step into private practice affordable for other counselors, as well as other wellness professionals (e.g. life coaches, massage therapists).
Each professional is self-employed, but we are also a community of professionals that are supportive of each other in our work. Right now we have four others working out of our office and we still have room for more. We are also looking at training in specific therapies to be able to better serve our clients.
Another area we will be expanding to over this year is group work, consulting, and training. We hope to begin developing group work that would speak to common issues we are encountering in our clients, like grief, healthy relationships, parenting issues, and anxiety. We also have begun working on the development of corporate and non-profit workshops that include work/life balance, wellness, reducing burnout, and increasing staff retention.
We asked ourselves who we are, what are the values that we feel define us, and we came up with these:
Compassion: We recognize that our clients have been through difficult circumstances, often beyond their control.
Respect: We see our clients as experts on their own lives, people with agency, and their own beliefs and values.
Integrity: We strive to have relationships of honesty, recognize our own strengths and limitations, and are committed to our own professional growth.