Joyce Marter: Psychotherapist, Writer, Speaker, & Founder, Urban Balance

My NativeAdVantage:


Joyce Marter has been a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor since 1998 and is the Founder of Urban Balance, an insurance-friendly counseling practice with over 100 therapists working from ten locations Greater Chicago, St. Louis & Denver. Joyce was awarded Distinguished Alumni of the Year in 2008 by The Family Institute at Northwestern University and was selected by Crain’s Chicago Business for the “40 Under 40” List of 2010.  She is the Chair-Elect of the Midwest Region of the American Counseling Association, the immediate Past-President of the Illinois Counseling Association and a two-term Past-President of the Illinois Mental Health Counselors Association. Joyce is the Vice President of Marketing & PR for Refresh Mental Health, which owns and operates outpatient mental health practices across the country. A keynote speaker, trainer and workshop facilitator for corporations, universities and professional organizations, she is a member of the National Speakers Association. Joyce is a blogger for PsychCentral and The Huffington Post and is routinely consulted as a psychological expert in the media. She has been featured in such outlets as The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report, CNN and MTV.

What do I do best?

My greatest gift is to see people’s strengths and unique qualities and positively mirror them back to them,  as well as motivate and support them in aligning those gifts with a greater need in the world.  I strive to do this personally as a partner, mother, and friend and also professionally as a therapist, mentor, business owner and board association leader.  This ability to encourage people to become their best selves has resulted in me having a dream team of support, both personally and professionally.

In my career, I’ve been able motivate and empower people to come together and collaborate for a shared mission.  At Urban Balance, the outpatient mental health practice I founded, we aim to de-stigmafy mental health issues by educating the public that they are a normal aspect of the human experience.  We also promote access to premier counseling services by making it affordable because we are in-network with most insurance plans.  It feels amazing to be part of a system that provides so much healing and good in the communities we serve, as we now have over 100 therapists providing counseling services from ten locations in three states.  

These mental health outreach efforts are extended through my board work serving in leadership roles for the Illinois Counseling Association, the Illinois Mental Health Counselors Association and the American Counseling Association.  It’s part of my mission to advocate for the profession and the clients we serve by leading legislative advocacy for bills that support mental health, school counseling, and early intervention services.  I also feel passionately about promoting access to counseling services, especially for populations such as the elderly, veterans, children and for individuals with Medicaid.  Again, identifying, mentoring and inspiring others who can help with this mission is one of my greatest gifts.  

What makes me the best version of myself?

I believe our personal and professional success are two sides of the same coin, so doing my inner work has been a huge part of achieving success in my career.  For me, my inner work has involved personal therapy, meditation, yoga and seeking mentoring, consultation and coaching from individuals who could teach me and help me grow and develop.  

The most important quality that has helped me get to where I am at today is compassion—both for myself and others.  Self-compassion has helped me to silence my inner critic and detach from ego and connect with my deeper self so I can speak from that place with authenticity, courage and empowerment.  Compassion for others has strengthened my relationships and provided me with the support systems to achieve great things together.  

What are my aspirations?

My personal aspirations are to enjoy my life with the ones I love and to laugh often.  I aspire to have work/life balance and create time for self-care, wellness, leisure, travel and to live a full and well-rounded life.  

My professional aspirations are to take what I have learned from counseling thousands of clients over the past 20 years, as well as from my own personal and professional journey, and share those through public speaking and writing.  I have two books in the works and am enjoying serving as a keynote speaker, trainer and workshop facilitator for corporations, universities and professional associations.  I’m honored to help clients access services through my role as Vice President of Marketing and PR for Refresh Mental Health, the company that bought Urban Balance in 2017 and owns and operates leading practices across the country.  

My Biggest Success?

My greatest personal success has been learning to love myself to the point where I have welcomed great love and abundance into my life.  I’ve come to believe that learning to truly accept and love ourselves may be life’s most important lesson.  Through my personal therapy and spiritual practices, I have let go of many self-limiting and self-defeating beliefs and patterns that were holding me back from living a greater life.  By doing this, I’ve inspired others along the way (my clients, staff, students, readers, etc.) to do the same, and this is my greatest success.  

The creation of Urban Balance and selling it to Refresh Mental Health has also been one of my biggest successes.  I’m grateful to have successfully sold my company to a group that has invited me to continue with them on the mission of providing clients with access to quality mental health care on a national basis.  

My Most Challenging Moment?

In 2011, my business experienced serious cash flow problems because the bigger we got, the more money was outstanding in insurance payments.  My former business partner left and many of our staff and clients did as well.  I thought I would have to file business bankruptcy.  This challenge caused me to shift from operating from false confidence to humility.  I allowed myself to be vulnerable and ask for help, and help came out from every direction!  My leadership team, the staff therapists, consultants and friends all helped me turn the ship around.  I realized how much better things go when instead of trying to take care of everything myself, I relaxed into allowing everyone to pitch in and share in the creation of something good.  The result was significantly less stress and a lot more support in bringing Urban Balance to where it is today.  

My Motto?

“Silence your inner critic and choose to be your most compassionate advocate.”  This means being your best parent and taking good care of yourself emotionally, relationally, spiritually—and accessing support in pursuing your dreams.  

“Love is the currency of life.” Prosperity can be achieved through love of self and others.  I ascribe to the abundance theory, that there is more than enough money, love and resources for all of us and nothing is lost through sharing. 

My Favorite People/ Role Models?

Some of my favorite thought leaders are Brene Brown (authenticity), Eckhart Tolle (presence), Wayne Dyer (intention), Louise Hay (affirmation), Tara Brach (mindfulness/consciousness), and Arianna Huffington (work/life integration.)  They are my heroes as authors/speakers and I aspire to be like them someday.  

My favorite people are my children, my husband and friends and family.  My children have been my greatest blessings and motherhood has also taught me great lessons in humility.  

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

My favorite travel destination so far has been Istanbul, Turkey. What I loved most was the blending of cultures from Asia, Europe and Africa through some Moroccan influence.  I enjoyed visiting mosques that had been turned into churches and churches that had been converted into mosques.  I love identifying universal truths in cultures and religions and believe diversity is always a strength.  

I love raising my family in Evanston, Illinois because it is a diverse and open-minded, affirming community for all.  I think of it as an “urburb”, rather than a suburb, because you can still walk to coffee shop or restaurant or take one of two trains into Chicago yet can have a nice house and yard.  I enjoy living near the lake as water is soothing to me and I appreciate the intellectual resources available through having Northwestern University in town.  

My Favorite Products/Objects?

My most essential objects are my yoga mat (for meditation and yoga which I need to keep me sane and well), my bed (which I need for sleep and love), and my computer which I need to share my truth through writing.  

My Current Passions?

My current passion is a presentation called, “The Psychology of Success”, which I am enjoying facilitating for various professional audiences and am making into a book!  It ignites my inner fire to share the lessons I have learned from my clients and my own journey in hopes of inspiring others to live a greater life, both personally and professionally.  

I also am passionate about my husband, who teaches me so much about love and life.  I am very fortunate and grateful to have him as a life partner. 

Finally, I’m passionate about Vinyasa Flow yoga, which is really meditation with movement.  My yoga practice helps me connect with my deeper being and provides me with balance, strength, flexibility, resiliency and the courage to live a greater life and continue to blossom.