“What does this look like to you?”
It’s a series of interconnected red lines on Blake Webster’s business card for Executive Psychological Resources, and one wonders if this is a test of some kind. What will the answer reveal about my state of mind, my relationships with others, my capacity for empathy or self-acceptance?
The answer, it turns out, is much simpler. It’s a simple design that captures the essence of the new building that houses his practice with AmyKay Cole at 505 W. Second St. in Joplin.
Cole, who has taught psychology at Missouri Southern for the last 15 years, has formed a strong business partnership with Webster, who graduated from the university’s psychology program in 1998.
The pair first worked together professionally at Joplin’s College Skyline Center. It was there that Cole says they discovered they have a shared sensibility when it comes to how they wanted to approach their practice.
“I think we share the philosophy of really prioritizing confidentiality,” says Cole. “We didn’t want a crowded waiting room. All of us in the field know that people can be self-conscious when you run into other people. It’s uncomfortable.
“We decided we wanted something smaller, quieter and with very little interaction in the waiting room. We also didn’t want to mess with insurance. We give our clients a courtesy bill which they then file with their insurance themselves.”
The pair rented a small office in Joplin’s Gryphon Building and, after about a year, knew they were ready to expand. Shortly before signing a lease on a larger office in the same building, they happened to pass by the empty building on Second Street – the former home of Madison Lane Interiors in the historic Murphysburg neighborhood.
“We had gone out to dinner, with my husband and his wife,” she says. “We drove by this place and stopped to look in the windows. We couldn’t get it out of our heads.”
The bottom floor lobby is as spacious and comfortable as it is quiet, with works by a local artist adorning the walls. The pair’s offices are located on the second floor. Many of their clients are professionals … a group Webster says can be a forgotten group.
“AmyKay has a really great mind about business people and those working in a caretaking-type industry – doctors, lawyers and those who are thought of as ‘the support team.’”
As both a teacher and a practicing psychologist, Cole says everything she does on one side helps to inform how she approaches the other.
“Anything I do here makes me better in the classroom, and vice versa,” she says.
If Webster’s name sounds familiar, it may because it stirs memories of the local band – The Websters – that he fronted with his brother, Conrad, dating back to the ‘90s music scene.
“I think psychology is one of the reasons our band never went anywhere,” Webster says with a laugh. “I always had to get back to my psychology studies.
“Missouri Southern is really interesting. I always tell people, now that I’ve been to every college in the Four States, that it’s like a little master’s program. I really learned research chops, what post-graduate work would be like and about the life of psychologists. It’s a really impressive program that inspired me to want to do more.”
Still, music remains a big part of his life, and it’s something Webster says dovetails nicely with his interest in psychology.
“There are a lot of great books out there right now about compassion, mindfulness and shame,” he says. “Big researchers are teaching people how to self-accept, to know that they’re enough and they’re not alone. Music is that, too.
“The thing I always loved about being in a band is the idea that songs bring people together. When people come to therapy, they learn that they’re enough and know they’re human … they’re working on making their life better. Is that not music?”
As they talk about their practice and their passion for psychology, it’s easy to see why Cole and Webster are a natural professional fit.
“We have such a shared perspective,” says Cole. “I have a comfort here I’ve never had in another agency.”