Lauren Dawood (’11, ’13) wants her clients to know that “therapists are only human too.” Hoping to bridge the gap between therapist and client, Dawood has created a place for people to come, talk about their struggles, and reach healing in a safe environment through Bull City Safe Space, a counseling agency located in downtown Durham, North Carolina.
Dawood, a 2011 bachelor of science in psychology graduate and a 2013 Master of Arts in mental health counseling graduate, founded Bull City Safe Space in February 2018 after spending four years working in a group practice. “I decided to take the jump into my own private practice,” she said. “It takes a lot of prep work: getting on insurance panels, getting your business license, finding office space, making a website” – to name just a few of the time consuming preparations that went into opening her own practice. However, she also says that the time commitment has been worth the effort: “I am able to decide the exact kind of client I want to work with, when I want to work, [and] how I want to work.”
Although she graduated from Campbell with a psychology degree, Dawood entered college uncertain of how to combine her creative spirit with her love of service. “I had a General Psychology class with Dr. Gary Taylor and that is where everything changed. I discovered I could still help others and be creative in my work, which satisfied both areas that I desired. Mental health counseling is such a necessary service,” she said. Beginning her own business has provided Dawood much-desired flexibility as she follows her passions. “Being able to create my own schedule, find my own space, and provide counseling in my own community felt like the best choice, and it has been,” she said. A year after its opening, Bull City Safe Space is now an essential part of the Durham mental health landscape.
Dawood is quick to say she did not reach her goals alone. “There are quite a few professors at Campbell who were influential in shaping my career and who I am as a counselor,” she said. “Having supportive professors who challenged me to grow, learn and build confidence was the key. My education at Campbell was thorough, and did prepare me with most of the skills needed to begin my business.” In addition to Taylor, Dawood also credits Dr. Harriet Enzor in the psychology department as a positive influence on her career. “Enzor was a huge support at Campbell and continued to be outside of Campbell as well. She helped me to enhance my skills and most importantly, build my confidence as a counseling professional,” she said.
Bull City Safe Space provides counseling for people of all ages, genders, and sexual orientations. Dawood says, “Being able to provide that safe and supportive space for someone is an incredible feeling – just knowing that I am able to establish a safe space and a trusting, healing relationship so they can verbalize and process difficult situations…It is an unexplainable feeling to know that a child or teen has been able to share something with me that I know they haven’t been able to discuss otherwise.”
Now, as a part of Orange Owned, Dawood is ready to represent the Campbell University community to Bull City. “Orange Owned is a great way to support my business goals as it reminds me of where I came from and who is always standing behind me with support,” she said. “Campbell is more than just the university I attended. It feels more like a network and a community of support that I can always turn back to. I have a place I can always return to.
Lauren Dawood (’11, ’13) is the founder of Bull City Safe Space. For further information on Bull City Safe Space and related resources, visit www.bullcitysafespace.com.
For more information on the Orange Owned recognition program visit alumni.campbell.edu/orange-owned.