“If you don’t see a clear path for what you want, sometimes you have to make it yourself.” ~Mindy Kaling (actress and producer)
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, to admire is to feel respect and approval for (someone or something): to regard with admiration.
Many people, at one point in their life, admire at least one person, if not more than one. Whether it’s their mom, dad, older sibling, aunt, uncle, grandparent, teacher, supervisor, friend, athlete, actor, singer, etc…, there are many different reasons why someone admires a person. However, what are those specific qualities that people admire about another person? And more specifically, what are those qualities people admire in women?
After a bit of research, some traits include being a leader, being assertive, being respectful, honest, intelligent, being adaptable, having a strong work ethic, having integrity, being a hard worker, being open-minded, expecting respect from others, and being compassionate and understanding. When women – CEOs, directors, principals, teachers, managers, artists, doctors – possess a number of these qualities, it inspires many to strive to be that same type of person.
This past August, E-Therapy’s founder, Diana Parafiniuk, was named one of “The Top 50 Women Leaders of Arizona for 2022 by Women We Admire,” a publication that focuses on acknowledging the successes of women.
“The journey and evolution of E-Therapy is one of my greatest successes. I had no idea that when I was commuting hundreds of miles a week to various rural schools in Northern Arizona that E-Therapy would be formed,” Parafiniuk said. “I started and ran my business from the corner of my kitchen, and now we’re across the country in hundreds and hundreds of schools helping and serving thousands and thousands and thousands of students.”
Diana, a nationally recognized business leader in the teletherapy market, pioneered the teletherapy industry in education with innovative practices, services, solutions, and first-to-market approaches to serve Pre-K-12 schools and students. Since founding E-Therapy over 13 years ago, her entrepreneurial innovation is the heart of E-Therapy’s programming, and its services have supported students’ special education needs nationally. As E-Therapy’s Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) and Thought Leader, she is an integral part of the company’s expansion and growth from cultivating school relationships with administrators to directing and managing marketing and sales strategy.
According to Business News Daily, a Thought Leader is “someone who, based on their expertise and perspective in an industry, offers unique guidance, inspires innovation and influences others. In other words, a thought leader has a positive reputation of helping others with their knowledge and insight.”
And since 2009, Parafiniuk has done just that.
“Through research and investigation, I leveraged existing technologies to provide teletherapy services remotely, which at the time, was a new and innovative service delivery model,” she said.
She continues to expand E-Therapy’s services to meet the ever changing demands teachers, counselors, and admin see with their students.
“When E-Therapy became a reality in 2009, my main focus was to ensure that students who needed speech therapy received their therapy. However, as the years went by, I realized there were students who weren’t receiving additional services such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and behavioral and mental health services,” Parafiniuk continued. “I knew that E-Therapy needed to offer those services because there were more students who could benefit from teletherapy.”
After schools closed their doors to in-person learning and moved to online learning in the spring of 2020, E-Therapy and its therapists were there to assist their current school and district partners and even some new partners on how to make that transition work for everyone. When many schools adopted a remote/hybrid schedule for the ‘20-’21 school year, Parafiniuk recognized that many children and teens had a difficult time with the isolation, and because of that, their mental health was severely impacted. In addition to the students who suffered, so were the educators, support staff and administrators who worked with them.
However, many of the children, teens and adults who suffer from mental health illnesses now and during COVID, most likely suffered from those same illnesses pre-COVID. The nation just became more aware of the crisis. Research shows that 33 percent of teachers leave the profession within their first five years on the job because of teacher burnout. Unfortunately, a contributing factor of teacher burnout is student behavior.
After Parafiniuk learned this information, she realized that if she truly wanted to help schools combat this crisis, she needed to have people on her team who had the skills and knowledge to help her do that. Working closely with her product managers and expert licensed professional counselors, Parafiniuk created, developed and launched E-Therapy’s new mental health platform. The three-tier program is a holistic approach to supporting the mental health and well-being of school communities: eQUIP, eCARE, eWELLNESS. Each of these three areas of support were developed with educator needs and specific schedules in mind.
eQUIP is a self-paced, online professional development platform where staff members receive interactive information that can immediately be applied to the classroom. It also supports teachers in prioritizing personal care and wellness.
“We found that we needed to address multiple areas of the mental health crisis. So, we decided that we wanted to provide counseling for students, but we also wanted to provide coaching and mental health wellness programs for educators,” said Parafiniuk. “Our eWELLNESS program was designed to support teachers, staff and administrators who need similar resources to what their students receive. Knowing that, we designed engaging, live virtual group wellness sessions to help promote staff wellness.”
The new eCARE program isn’t just for special education students who need mental health support, it’s also available to general education students.
“We’ve learned that many of these students could possibly fall through the cracks because we often don’t think about the straight A student suffering from anxiety or a star athlete being abused at home,” Parafiniuk continued.
In addition to being recognized as a top female leader in Arizona, Parafiniuk also received the prestigious “Women Achievers of Arizona” award from the Arizona Capitol Times in 2019. The honor is given to women who excel in their profession to advance their community and make a difference in people’s lives. Parafiniuk’s in-depth expertise comes from her extensive experience as a certified speech language pathologist holding certificates of clinical competence, providing speech and language services to online and brick-and-mortar schools across the country for over a decade.
“To receive this honor speaks volumes to the hard work my team and I have accomplished over the last several years, but there is no better return on investment than the success of a child. That is the most important and moves us ahead as a society to make us better human beings. One of the most important jobs we have is our students,” she concluded.
To learn more about Women We Admire and the Top 50 Women Leaders of Arizona 2022 awards, visit their page at: https://thewomenweadmire.com/2022/08/29/the-top-50-women-leaders-of-arizona-for-2022/