Who‘s behind AURORA, you wonder? Hi!
My name is Nora.
For as long as I can remember, I was always the odd one out. I rarely ever spoke, and if I did, it felt like I was speaking a language different from those around me. As I grew older, I started appreciating my unique perspective more and more, until I realized it was actually one of my core strengths.
When I was 12, I read my first psychology book and was immediately OBSESSED. Not only did I know this is what I wanted to be, but I also knew I would not settle for anything less than becoming the absolute best psychologist in the world. I devoured every book I could lay hands on. I asked my mom for a subscription to all the psychology magazines in the country. These were the ancient times when paper would be sent to your mailbox, unlike how it is mostly digital nowadays. Of course she said no to subscribing to all, but I could choose one, woohoo! And so what followed was me testing out every single theory I possibly could, observing what people were like, and trying to figure out why they were so.
At 21 years old, I successfully completed my study in Applied Psychology. If that sounds young, it is! I went to a private school that allows one to take more than a year’s worth of classes so the entire study can be completed earlier. Then at 23, I successfully suffered my way through the pre-masters Clinical Neuropsychology program at Leiden University. Even though I succeeded with pretty good grades, whilst still running my company, I decided then that such a route wasn’t for me. I did not quite see myself working at a hospital and, frankly, was done with the school system! Done being accused, once again, that I ‘’did not really write this myself’’. Plot twist, I did.
But enough about school traumas. If you live in the Netherlands, you may know me from the company I started in 2015, when I was only 21: “Altaïr”. There I learned that there is a massive wall between people and healthcare professionals. Whether it was the government funding programs or insurance, the people with power weren’t always accepting of things they’re unable to envision yet or simply don’t understand. Our work-style was way ahead, I’m talking light-years over here. The clients wanted to be helped in a certain way, yet the people in charge of the money demanded it to be done their way. This meant people had to pay out of their pocket. Then there was the issue of being obligated by law to set your price above a specific standard. Spoiler alert: this was sky-high, which meant only upper-class people could get the help they needed. I find it absurd that mental health is still a luxury in this modern day and time.
Things changed rapidly when I moved abroad in 2019 and COVID-19 hit the world. I started working through phone calls because of the international lock-down. At this point, I was pregnant and hadn’t worked with clients personally for years, as I had to lead a team and run my company. But during the lock-down people were more in need of help than ever before. So I started accepting some free clients and later on started working donation based – this meant people could pay what was affordable to them. Not only did I notice working through calls really helped, but also that the therapy sessions go deeper and faster because of the comfort and anonymity. Before I knew it I had clients asking for me from all over the world.
Now why on earth would someone all the way from the UK, Canada or Saudi reach out to me without me having advertised any of my work? I didn’t even have a personal website! Well, it’s because people started talking about how easy it was: no paperwork, no waiting list, no negotiation with the government, no systems and rules about methodology. Just the help you need!
The whole reason I started my first company was because the system was outdated! People no longer want to sit across a psychologist, be given a form and then told what is wrong with them. If this is what helped people, then I would have saved myself the fuss of business and just worked for a regular healthcare company. I mean, Elon Musk couldn’t have described it more perfectly: ‘’Running a start-up is like chewing glass and staring into the abyss. After a while, you stop staring, but the glass chewing never ends.” And yet, here I am, doing it again. This is how much I believe the world desperately needs accessible and affordable healthcare for everyone.
When you look at the WHO statistics, this seems fairly obvious. Why is nothing changing? Well, guess what, WE are going to initiate the change. You and I!