From banking to psychology, how Garima Juneja was able to build a mental health startup during the pandemic

Lightroom Therapy is a Chandigarh-based mental health startup that provides online counselling to patients. Started during the pandemic, the startup aims to help people with mental health during the pandemic.

In late 2006, like any new mother, Garima Juneja had a dilemma - whether to chase her flourishing career or quit her job to be a full-time mother. Garima, who was a banker with ICICI Bank, knew she was amongst the lucky few who had the liberty and option of quitting her job, so she quit her job. But, her interest in Psychology stayed put.

This got Garima thinking about turning her interest into her profession, and she soon pursued an MA in Psychology, and undertook many courses in therapy like the Gottman Couple Therapy, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy, Hypnotherapy and many more. She spent close to six years training and counselling as a psychologist.

“I have two daughters, and I’m fortunate enough to have been around them while they were growing up whilst slowly readying myself up to cater to the society as a psychologist,” says Garima. 

And it is her journey as a psychologist that led her to start her mental health startup - Lightroom Therapy. 

Online counselling to starting up 

Talking about her eureka moment, Garima says, 

“As a psychologist, I was already meeting my clients in person for sessions, and at the same time, I was associated with two NGOs looking after school children. During the first wave of the pandemic, a few people contacted me for online counselling, which worked out very well. Before this, we rarely imparted therapy sessions on phone or zoom calls, but the online sessions turned out to be such a successful therapeutic experience for the client/patient. After this, I wanted to reach out to as many people as possible, and the first step towards it was to make a website for Lightroom. Since then, there has been no looking back,” says Garima. 

Starting Lightroom out of her hometown in Chandigarh in 2020, Garima says she named her therapy and counselling services as 'Lightroom’ as a metaphor for bringing light into her patient’s lives, after being in the morass of dark and turbulent times. 

“So Lightroom is not a physical room as such, but it’s more so about the state one’s mind which gets enlightened through online/in-person therapy sessions. My clients and I work collaboratively towards mitigating old dysfunctional patterns of thinking and processing of information by working towards their communication style, thus uplifting them from depression, anxiety, and issues with adjustment, relationships and personality disorders,” says Garima. 

Steps to starting up

Building up Lightroom required a strong foundation, which involved not only a professional degree, but also enhancing Garima’s skillsets in terms of understanding the human psychology, behaviour and cognition. 

“It also required delving into my patients’ lives, empathising, and thinking about how I could help them, after due consideration of their personality type and conditioning. It’s my passion, and I wanted to be the best at it,” adds Garima. 

She says there is still a stigma attached to mental health and seeking help, so reaching out to people was difficult. 

“There is an urgent need to de-stigmatise mental health through talking about it, and circulating information on media. What worked wonders for me was word of mouth. My existing clients referred me to various people as they knew about the multidimensional benefits of therapy. Online platforms also helped me to overcome the problem of reaching out to people in need,” says Garima. She also had her clients as a practicing Psychologist. 

She also adds that while it is difficult to quantify the impact of the pandemic on both men and women, and different age groups, it would not be far-fetched to say women have really borne the brunt. 

Help one another 

Garima thinks this is due to the female of the gender being sensitive, emotional and more attuned not only to their own issues, but also that of their loved ones’.

“Women are mostly seen to be a C Type personality, who seem to be too worried about the future, having perfectionist tendencies, outward passiveness and difficulty adjusting to unwanted change. First and foremost, change must be brought in their acceptability level and on their perfectionist tendencies. They need to work on their expectation levels too, and work towards communicating assertively,” advices Garima. 

She adds that mindfulness practices emphasising on deep breathing will help women a great deal. Taking up a hobby or indulging in any creative activity or workout can certainly help in relieving them of their tension.

Advising women entrepreneurs, she says, “Women are the foundation of any society and when they grow, the whole nation grows by leaps and bounds. My advice to them is to follow their dream and work passionately towards achieving it. Be resilient as ups and down are a part of life, and never ever give up, as patience always pays. Be consistent and surround yourself with people having a positive outlook. Remember the best view comes after the hardest climb.”
Edited by Anju Narayanan


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