It is estimated that more than 50 percent of people who need help with mental-health issues do not get the treatment they need. The reasons are many, but Rachel Kazez, a Springfield native who today is a practicing therapist for a hospital in Chicago, was inspired by the many questions she receives about her career to do something to help.
“I always thought that therapists were like psychics,” said Kazez, who graduated from Springfield North High School and moved to Chicago after college in 2011. “So I can relate to people having questions about therapy. I just thought they magically knew the trick at being good at their jobs.”
Kazez didn’t start out thinking about a career in the mental health field. During high school, she took classes at Wittenberg University and took a job at the university book store. She enjoyed working with customers and thought about working in advertising.
“While I was in college at Vassar majoring in psychology, I took a semester off to study at the Art Institute of Chicago,” Kazez said. “I ended up taking some classes in art therapy.”
Kazez said it was then that she decided she wanted to be a therapist and attended graduate school in clinical social work at the University of Chicago. She started working as a therapist and that was when she realized that most people had some misconceptions about what was involved in the field and how people became therapists.
“I would get such weird comments from people when I said I was a therapist,” Kazez said. “It made me realize there was a knowledge gap and the way therapists are portrayed in the media is really inaccurate.”
Kazez founded All Along as a service to help people connect with a licensed therapist outside of the therapy office. All Along offers individualized consultations, Q&A’s and information sessions for community groups, and customizable services. Kazez also offers expert input for articles and books and her business can help individuals with anything from finding a therapist to understanding a mental-health diagnosis to navigating the mental-health system and even helping with insurance.
“People have questions about mental-health care and I think there is so much value in getting to know what therapy is and the different options available,” Kazez said.
Kazez, who also continues to work as a therapist and coordinator for an intensive outpatient program for teens, is excited about her growing business. All Along can help people outside of Chicago, too, including in Ohio, where her parents still live. She visits her hometown Springfield several times a year.
“All Along is just me at the moment,” Kazez said. “It’s mostly based on email and phone calls for consultation and Q&A’s for workplaces and community groups.”
Helping people navigate through the often-confusing world of mental-health therapy is the ultimate goal of All Along. Kazez does not provide therapy through her business, but instead, non-medical, general consultation.
“As far as I can tell, this is the only service of its kind in Chicago,” Kazez said. “All Along is unique in that the whole focus is helping people find what they are looking for in therapy. I can have that conversation with anyone, anywhere in the country.”
Kazez has been developing her business and building an online presence since starting All Along last year.
“It’s fun to talk about what makes people tick,” Kazez said. “I haven’t been in the therapy profession for 50 years, but by nature of being a professional in the field, I can provide information. All Along is a way for me to have conversations in my field while helping people get the treatment they need and get a more accurate picture of what therapy is like.”
For more information, log on to www.allalong.org.