Dr. Doug Friesen ’91 (right) with partner Dr. Ron Vogt founded the The Emotional Health Center of Lancaster (Pa.) in April 2014 to serve children, teenagers, adults, couples and older adults. (Courtesy photo)

Royal Connections Business Spotlight: The Emotional Health Center of Lancaster

The Royal Connections Business Spotlight is a monthly feature about businesses owned by EMU alumni.

September’s spotlight is on The Emotional Health Center of Lancaster, co-founded by friends Doug Friesen ’91 and Ron Vogt. The practice opened in April 2014 and serves children, teenagers, adults, couples and older adults from its Lancaster office.

Both Friesen and Vogt hold doctorates and have advanced training in Emotionally Focused Therapy for couples. Vogt is also a certified EFT supervisor. The practice employs Stephanie Sims, who holds a master’s in family therapy and specializes in work with couples.

Dr. Friesen, tell us about how your practice began.

It has been a dream of mine to own my own private practice. After 15 positive years in a group practice, I felt it was time to go out on my own.  However, I didn’t really want to go out and start a business totally alone. When my good friend, Ron Vogt, decided he was ready to make the move into private practice, it was a no-brainer to combine our friendship, our love of baseball, and desire to provide high quality psychological services and form a partnership here in Lancaster.

We chose the name Emotional Health Center because we wanted to emphasize health and wholeness for both the individual and for relationships. Rather than turn away from pain and brokenness, we have found that therapy is much more about helping people come into contact with their pain and grief. When we can be vulnerable with each other, emotional health and restored relationships has a chance!

How did your EMU education impact your choice of career and choice of business? 

I spent four wonderful years at EMU. I majored in psychology and knew that I wanted to pursue a career in serving others in some capacity. My psychology classes opened my mind to the wide range of options within the field of psychology and mental health treatment.

Specifically my semester in the Middle East at the start of my senior year impacted me deeply and changed my worldview from more narrow to much more broad and inclusive.

How do your values impact your business operations? 

My values have been shaped over my lifetime during my childhood, time in college and seminary, and they continue to be a work in progress. Being a psychologist and a business owner, I am constantly thinking about ethical treatment of my patients, maintaining confidentiality and only practicing within my area of knowledge and expertise.

One thing I have specifically appreciated about owning this practice is that at the end of each year, Ron and I sit down together and consider a number of charitable contributions. It feels great to share some of the revenue from the year and particularly it has been good to help sponsor the “Voices of Hope” benefit concert featuring EMU aluma Madelyn Bender ’93!

Please share a few “best business” practices you’ve learned over the years.

Perhaps the best advice I can give is “Know what you know and be very aware of what you don’t know.” That is, I am trained in provide psychological and therapeutic services to individuals and couples. However, I don’t have much expertise in accounting, taxes and other business practices. I never took a business class at EMU and none were offered in graduate school either, so I have definitely learned to seek out persons with more business knowledge than myself!

We partner with a local tax and accounting firm, and let them tell us when to pay our quarterly taxes and take care of our payroll so we are free to provide the patient care.

Ron and I are good friends and we take time each week to connect, discuss challenging cases and pray for our patients and families. The business pays for our gym membership and we block off two hours each week to play racquetball. It is very therapeutic to have a competitive outlet like this!

Both of us have lived in this community for over 20 years and have developed a reputation that is well respected. We are actively involved in our Mennonite churches.   Referrals regularly come in from pastors, physicians and friends. We have a full practice, but have been careful about not growing too quickly.

To learn more about the Royal Connections Business Spotlight, contact Jeff Shank, director of alumni and parent relations, at jeff.shank@emu.edu.