It may look like just a plucky little cottage when you buzz by The Well at 37 N Hibbert Street. Cozy, sturdy, well-groomed – a cute place that probably houses someone who bakes on a regular basis, imbuing the small home with the warm aroma of freshly baked cookies. Stroll up the flagstone walkway to the front porch (looking like it belongs in New England) and through the blue door, and you’ll find the healing place it was created to be.
What, exactly, makes The Well a “healing place”? “We are focused on trauma here,” says Brittany Johnson, one of the two owners. “That’s a big piece – healing trauma.”
Trauma, Brittany explains, is something we carry in our bodies, it gets stuck there. One must heal those emotional, more body-based parts. Trauma can be physical, emotional, environmental, or relationship based. “It’s when your mind and your body disconnect. The idea of healing is to bring those two together to be a whole person again,” Noel D’Avy, Brittany’s co-owner, says. “Using art, movement, body-based, action-oriented, and psycho drama therapy, we are MOVING through it.”
“Our brains are so cool - they heal!” Brittany says. “The brain is elastic, it can shift and change, but it takes the path of least resistance. People get through hard things, so we see the resilience of the human spirit and mind.”
But it takes work. The rewarding part comes when the team sees people feel better. For the client, the rewards include feeling connection, feeling relief, feeling like you got back to yourself - feeling grounded.
Brittany and Noel met after many people told them “Hey, you two should meet!” Both women have Master’s in Clinical Counseling, both have mental health backgrounds, and both are licensed professional counselors and art therapists – how could they not click? Meeting at Lost Dutchman Coffee Roasters many times over many cups of coffee while creating their vision as a sort of “spirit dump,” their friendship grew into a partnership.
“We are kindred spirits,” Brittany says simply. “Our visions are the same about therapy, techniques and design, in space and our community.”
The idea of “community” is important to both women, and in the vision of The Well. One core value: Suffering is what they focus on, and community is how one gets through suffering. “There are safe people here, we are all doing this together,” Brittany says. “It’s so peaceful, and that is part of the vision - to create a safe space where you can relax, a place to process trauma in order to heal.”
The interior spaces of The Well fulfill the promise of support, safety, and peacefulness the exterior reflects. All the artwork on the walls is made with love by local artists, Brittany and Noel painted the huge mural in the Group room, and the comfortable furniture was all thrifted from local Downtown Mesa shops such as Buckhorn Vintage. Another reason they wanted to be in Downtown Mesa: both Brittany and Noel live just a few blocks away - they bike, eat, play, and worship here.
The need for people to get access to quality therapy launched the idea of The Well in December 2020. Even the business name speaks to community: The Well, where everyone comes to the same source to get what they need, and then they take it with them. To that end, The Well offers a “two-fer” type special. For every two paying clients, a third person (perhaps a single mom or someone recently unemployed) is getting therapy at a much lower cost, so that they too can receive quality trauma therapy.
"The art studio is one of our favorite things about The Well - we call it The Unwell Art Studio because it is a space to get messy, explore, try out new things, and be curious about our internal world,” Noel says. Art therapy provides room for expression or processing something specific with a prompt or ongoing project. “The part of our brain where creativity functions brings important thoughts and emotions to the surface through colors, shapes, images and movement,” Noel adds. “Creating is often a gentle way to find what we need. This is a space where we meet for individual sessions, family sessions, or groups, and is one of the reasons we started The Well."
“We are unique – there’s nothing quite like The Well,” Brittany says. “We have merged our experiences and ideas to create our own special thing here.”