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Meet Anita Chlipala of Relationship Reality 312 in Loop

Today we’d like to introduce you to Anita Chlipala.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I frequently get asked why I decided to become a relationship therapist and my answer is: “It’s my calling.” I don’t have another explanation. People wonder if I came from a family of divorce but nope! My parents are still happily married after almost 40 years together.

People come into our lives for a reason. When I lived in Phoenix and was a teacher, one night my friends and I decided to attend a talk on relationships. That night changed my life forever. The speaker was Amy Cooper Collier, a marriage and family therapist. Everything that she talked about fascinated me. I met with her to learn more about being a marriage and family therapist and I remember the experience feeling like, “This is what I am meant to do.”

After graduating with my Master’s in Marital and Family Therapy from the University of San Diego, I worked at an agency and then at a group practice. I founded my business Relationship Reality 312 in 2011 because I wanted to focus exclusively on romantic relationships. We’re a team of 5 but will be moving into bigger office space and adding more team members later this year.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
No, there were some bumps along the way. My passion for the work has always kept me going, but no one taught me how to be a business owner. As therapists, we have advanced degrees, attend professional development events and peer consultations, but we’re not taught how to run a business. There were trial and error, seeking the advice of successful business owners, and a lot of creativity, instinct, and hustle. The struggles motivated me even more because I believed so strongly in my mission and purpose.

Also, at the very beginning of my career, there was a fear of whether or not my clients would trust me and if I could build up my practice. Being a single couples counselor came with a lot of questions and judgments about my competency. I’ve since proven myself given that a large number of my clients are word-of-mouth referrals.

Please tell us about Relationship Reality 312.
We are Relationship Reality 312, a practice with therapists who specialize in romantic relationships. We work with singles who want to find a good fit and with couples to help them make their relationship healthy and strong. We work with anything under the “love” umbrella – why you’re single, why you attract the wrong type, effective communication, conflict resolution, whether to stay or leave the relationship, lack of connection, infidelity, etc. I’ve built a team where we also have different specialties including addiction, sex therapy, infertility, and compulsive behaviors. We also address common issues like anxiety and depression, but most of those clients also come to us because they’re experiencing these feelings because of bad dating experiences or struggles with a partner or relationship situation.

What makes us different is that we use research to inform our work with our clients. This means we don’t just listen or give advice based on our own experiences but provide information and tools that have been proven to work to make relationships successful. We don’t sit back but are very proactive in sessions. Our goal is to teach clients the skills where they don’t need to see us any more or do check-ins once or twice a year.

From the beginning, I knew I didn’t want to just have a private practice but also help address the stigma of therapy. Frequently we get clients who have never been to therapy before or people who are resistant to therapy and then thank us for teaching them and helping them. Part of this is because we are real. We take a no-bullshit approach and tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. This builds trust with our clients. I had a client recently tell me he went to 10 different therapists and he keeps coming back to see me because I’m the only one who yells at him. We had a good laugh over that one!

I’m proud of a lot of things, like my team of therapists who do an amazing job. I’ve built a team of therapists who although we all do relationship therapy, they all have different specialties that I don’t have. I’m also really proud of my date coaching and infidelity services. With date coaching, I’ve taken the things I’ve learned from research and my couples work and teach them to singles so that they find a good relationship. I’m really big on prevention and love helping people make good decisions and take appropriate actions so that they avoid unnecessary pain later. With infidelity, there’s a stigma to people staying in a relationship with someone who has cheated. Infidelity will only continue to affect more and more relationships, and I’ve developed a process to help couples heal from infidelity — and it works. I’m also the author of FIRST COMES US: THE BUSY COUPLE’S GUIDE TO LASTING LOVE. We’re busier than we’ve ever been, so I wrote a 365-day tip book for couples where they can connect in seconds or minutes a day.

There isn’t a relationship problem we haven’t encountered, so give us a chance and let us help you achieve the best love life possible.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
My parents are Polish immigrants so we didn’t have a lot of money growing up and only went on vacations locally. Every summer, my family and I went blueberry picking in Michigan or Indiana and then to the beach afterward. It was a huge family affair — aunts, uncles, cousins, even second cousins! It was a ton of fun. We picked so many blueberries that we would freeze them and have them for months. My favorites to make with my mom were (and still are) nalesniki (Polish pancakes that are thin like crepes) with the blueberries as filling and my favorite Polish food, blueberry pierogi.

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