Alumni Profile: Patricia Adams
Helping Others with Real-Life Issues
Contrary to what many people think, therapist Patricia Adams doesn’t deal all day with people with serious mental illness. “It’s a misconception,” she insists. “These are everyday scenarios that may occur at your own home or work, such as difficulty compromising or deciding whether to spend Christmas Day at one in-law’s or the other to avoid a family quarrel.
“There are those who seek services to resolve a personal dilemma, such as whether they should fulfill their parents’ desire that they become an engineer, or pursue their own personal dream of opening their own business. Some are dealing with aging parents or a chronically ill child. We deal with everyday, real-life issues.”
Of course, that’s not to say Adams doesn’t deal on occasion with a person confronting a suicide crisis or the death of a loved one. She hears and sees it all, both positive and heartwrenching situations. And that’s exactly what drives the licensed marriage and family therapist.
“I like to see people resolve their issues,” she said. “There is a sense of accomplishment in seeing a couple stay together when one of them has had an affair. This would not be possible without a commitment to change and the tools presented in therapy. It brings me pleasure to work with people when there’s a glitch in the road and they need a little help and guidance to get them back on the right track.”
For all the counseling that a therapist provides to clients, and the knowledge she or he possesses about mental or emotional issues, there are times when even a therapist needs to see a therapist. Adams did so two years ago following the death of her father, Famous Whitewater Byers, a half-Cherokee Indian with whom she says she shared the tightest of bonds.
“It was the hardest part of my life,” Adams recalled. “I talked to my sisters a lot. I waited two years before I went to see a therapist. I felt my life was out of balance. I got up in the morning, got dressed and went to work, but felt that I was just going through the motions. I realized that I lost my wisdom because my dad and I were so close, and he was a very wise man.”
Although some might expect that a therapist should be able to solve his or her own problems, this is not the case, Adams said. “That would be like a preacher preaching his own sermon to himself,” she said. “It’s important that people know we are people, too, and death is profound. In my case, it was very profound.”
She remembers her father visiting and comforting families in times of crisis as a hospital chaplain. She was impressed by his gentle manner and his ability to put people at ease and offer solace to the grief-stricken.
This experience led Adams to follow in her father’s footsteps into the business of caring, whether as a chaplain for the Methodist Healthcare System in San Antonio, or as a licensed marriage and family therapist, or as president and CEO of Zeitgeist Wellness Group.
Adams opened Zeitgeist near downtown San Antonio in 2001. The company offers individual, pre-marital, marriage, crisis marital, family, foster parenting, adoption and adolescent counseling, among other services. It is a one-stop network for individual, family, corporate and military clients seeking overall health and wellness services. The company provides counseling, coaching, fitness, massage, acupuncture, crisis intervention and nutritional guidance to its clients through specialists in all 50 states and U.S. territories.
Because of Zeitgeist, last year Adams was named one of Ernst & Young LLP’s Entrepreneurial Winning Women. Every year the program identifies and connects a select group of 10 women from across the country with the advisors, resources and insights they need to expand their businesses and become market leaders.
“Dr. Adams is an exceptional business leader with great potential to scale her company, and we are pleased to honor her as one of this year’s winners,” Herb Engert, Americas Strategic Growth Markets leader for Ernst & Young, said in a press release. “Women entrepreneurs are among the brightest spots in the economy, continuing to successfully grow their companies despite the volatile market. They will be important contributors as we look to get our economy back on track.”
Adds Adams: “When a company like Ernst & Young tells you they’re poised to provide guidance in helping to take your business to the next level, they really believe you have the potential to capture market share. That’s a great feeling. This evergreen award opens doors for you that you might not otherwise have.” Evergreen is the expression used by Ernst & Young to indicate that their support will be provided to awardees as long as it is needed.
Adams also is the author of The ABC’s of Change: Three Building Blocks to Happier, Healthier Relationships, which focuses on improving the quality of your relationships for a more enjoyable life related to family, marriage, work or health. The book, she said, was a true labor of love.
“I wrote it because I learned a lot from my clients,” Adams said. “I enjoyed writing it, although it was like birthing a baby for nine months. One of the challenges was putting the concepts down in simple terms so people can understand it.”
To maintain a healthy balance between juggling a heavy work load and being a mother of four children ranging from age 5 to 19, Adams makes a point to take every Friday off from work and spend it with her husband, Roosevelt, who works with her at Zeitgeist Wellness Group.
“We joke that we couldn’t wait for the kids to go to school, so we can date during the day,” she said, laughing. “We’ll go to a spa to get massages or check into a hotel on the Riverwalk for a mini-vacation.”
Adams received her bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1989 as a “commuter student.” Since then she has acquired a passion to develop a training program for UTSA students studying counseling. As an alumna, she hopes to bring her business development/practice model to UTSA to support master’s level students in their transition from student to professional.
She has designed counseling internships and externships for students at UTSA to learn both the art of the business and clinical aspects of being an effective and ethical counselor. “The transition is not as smooth as it sounds; however, with a good mentor on both sides, one can meet the clinical and business goals needed in this helping profession.”