For many small businesses, the COVID-19 outbreak has been bad news. But some, such as the Greenville-based Soar Firm, haven’t missed a beat.

By transitioning to teletherapy in place of face-to-face sessions, The Soar Firm, which offers coaching, counseling and consulting services, was able to avoid many of the major disruptions that other small businesses have had to endure, according to Lakia Downs, a 2009 graduate of Lander University who established her practice three years ago.

In some respects, the pandemic has actually been good for business.

“COVID-19 initially caused an increase in referrals to my practice due to the uncertainty around the virus,” she said.

Downs, a licensed independent social worker, utilizes a strengths-based approach in helping clients with a wide range of problems such as depression, anxiety, adjustment challenges, trauma and grief.

A strengths-based approach, she said, “is simply helping clients identify their own personal strengths and helping them build upon them. When some clients engage in therapy, they tend to believe that they are weak. A strengths-based approach empowers clients to see their resilient nature, which helps motivate them to navigate through their challenges.”

Helping people reach their personal and professional goals — helping them to “soar” — is another part of what Downs does. A leading reason for failing to reach one’s goals, she said, is being unrealistic.

“Many of us tend to set goals that are unachievable, due to our need to be perfect. This can lead to disappointment and frustration, which can cause individuals to give up. Learning how to set realistic goals can help people feel more accomplished,” she said.

Formulating a plan to reach one’s goals, and sticking to it, is key to achieving success, and it’s helpful to have someone else who makes sure that we stick to our plan.

“We often tend to achieve our goals quicker when we have external accountability,” she said.

Downs, who has a master’s degree in social work from the University of South Carolina, has “always had a passion for helping others.” She credited Lander, from which she graduated with a degree in sociology, with providing her “a great educational foundation. Lander was instrumental in helping me prepare for my work as a clinical social worker,” she said.

The best part of her job, she said, “is hearing clients express how excited and proud they are of themselves when they recognize how much progress they have made. It is very encouraging to me, and is a nice reminder that I am helping to make a difference.”

Submitted by Jeff Lagrone