Photography by Liesbeth Powers. 

It took a while for Jennifer Bradford to settle on a career path. As a child, she thought she wanted to be a teacher, like her mom, or perhaps a dentist or marine biologist. But those ideas only lasted until high school. Then an AP psychology course sparked her interest in becoming a psychologist who worked in state hospitals. After interning at a facility near Norman, she decided against it. Later, while working toward her master’s degree at the University of Oklahoma, she started helping at the student counseling center and thought she wanted to pursue college counseling.

“I think students are really amazing people,” she says. “They’re bright. They’re motivated. They want to learn more about themselves.”

Bradford, who grew up in Tulsa, moved to Dallas after getting her master’s degree to be with her fiancé, Scott. She earned a doctorate at the University of North Texas before leaving our state for a while. The couple spent most of the next decade living in Philadelphia, Los Angeles and New York. And this was all while Bradford was finishing up her postdoctoral work and counseling college students.

In 2012, they moved back to Texas, and it’s been home ever since. Bradford continued with college counseling at SMU while also working in private practice. She and a colleague at SMU, Dr. Elizabeth Huber, had children around the same time and wanted a more flexible work schedule. Bradford also began noticing that college counseling programs were adding more session limits and focusing on crisis management.

After working in the industry for almost 10 years, Bradford left college counseling and co-founded Preston Hollow Health & Wellness with Huber. They established their first office at Preston Royal. As co-founder, Bradford has a schedule that allows her to see five to six patients a day, complete session notes and supervise an intern or postdoc. And she also has time to drive her kids to and from their Lakewood home and the Episcopal School of Dallas in Preston Hollow.

When the tornado destroyed the office, they moved to a new one on Walnut Hill, which has reopened for in-person visits. Many of the 14 therapists have an interest in helping women.

Bradford has a particular passion for working with women because of the way they assume different roles throughout their lifetimes. As they transition from daughters and sisters to wives and mothers, many often prioritize caring for everyone else in their lives. That comes at the expense of ensuring their own well-being.

“I really enjoy helping women understand that dynamic and how can they, not do less taking care of other people, but kind of rebalancing that,” Bradford says. “Focusing on the self a bit, paying attention to the self’s needs and having a kinder voice to the self.”

Bradford is a relational therapist. She’s focused on helping people understand the dynamics of their relationships but also realizes she can develop a relationship with her clients. If they need help in the future, they can return to her, a therapist they already know.

Just as Bradford encourages people to seek help when they need it, she seeks help when she needs it — through attending therapy, talking with her husband or walking around the neighborhood or the Dallas Arboretum.

It’s no surprise that the biggest lessons Bradford learned as a child revolved around having empathy for others. A decades-long career in psychology could only work for someone who has a genuine interest in helping others see their lives more positively.

“I love what I do,” Bradford says. “So no, I haven’t considered something else.”

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