Seven years ago, Esti Brizel dropped her nearly-six-month-old son Shimon off at the babysitter and went to work.
Shimon never came home.
“The horror of crib death touches every member of the family,” Esti relates.
“There’s the agony of attending your baby’s levaya (funeral). And then there’s the pain of everyone around you: your husband, children, parents. Everyone is mourning.”
There were technical questions: How do I get up and go to work after shiva has ended? What do I say to coworkers and friends?
“Just one month later, my sister-in-law got married,” Esti shares. “It was challenging. How do you celebrate in the shadow of tragedy?
“At the wedding, I met a woman who had given birth at the same time as me. She proudly showed me her baby and asked, ‘Where’s your little one?’
“I wanted to bury myself.”
The desire to gain tools for facing grief compelled Esti to become a therapist and help others navigate the desolate terrain of life after loss.
“My core clientele are women who have experienced loss — death in the family, miscarriage, a stillborn. We process the grief and find ways to move forward.”
Esti also does public speaking, addressing those dealing with hurdles in life, and she’s created booklets — one addressing those who experienced a loss and one for friends or relatives who want to support a griever with sensitivity.
Her clinic was open for a year, and still getting off the ground, when Esti saw an ad for a Temech networking group in her neighborhood in Haifa. Intrigued, she joined.
“At first, I was confused,” she admits. “My group had a graphic artist, a sheitel macher — obviously, they were business owners.
“But was I a business owner? I was a therapist. What does therapy have to do with marketing, branding, and partnerships?”
She quickly learned that, yes, she needed the skills of every entrepreneur: knowing how to advertise, to balance her books, to specialize.
Esti was a quick study. Within a year, she branded her services, opened an official business, and rented office space.
“I gained so much from the groups, both the excellent lecturers and from watching the process of the other women.”
After two years, she told Temech she’d love to become a group leader. She began to train — and then corona hit.
Temech pivoted quickly and trained its leaders to offer a course called “communa” (a mashup of corona and community).
“We taught women how to use this time of uncertainty to launch themselves in new ways and to shore up their business despite the faltering economy.”
Today, Esti lives in Beitar. She has her own clinic and leads a networking group specifically for mental health professionals.
Aren’t they all competitors? Does that impact the group?
Esti dispels the notion.
“First, the group is in Yerushalyim, but women come from many locations: Beit Shemesh, Beitar, Bnei Brak, Ofakim. So we rarely have overlapping clientele.
“And second, our group includes so many different specialties.
“One woman deals with psychiatric issues; other therapists who don’t treat those with mental illness referred clients to her. One was a graphologist, another specialized in marital counseling, another coached clients with ADHD.
“The women sometimes do barters, bringing each other as guests to the groups they run. One woman doubled her income during the year she was with us.”
The field of mental health is challenging when it comes to marketing. Your success stories are the incredible changes your clients made in their lives, but you can’t share them with others, and they usually won’t share it either.
“You need to be creative when it comes to promotion,” says Esti, “And we worked on that in the group.
“The women gained confidence, learned time and business management, and conferred with each other.”
On a personal level, Esti sees Temech as a second home, a community brimming with opportunity.
“Temech offers an incredible blend of professionalism – they’re so much excellent material offered — and warmth, acceptance, and support.”