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What's in a Name?

There is so much thought, pondering, and brainstorming when it comes to picking a name. For those that have children (and businesses), I know you know this is true. It has to be almost perfect- how intimidating and exciting at the same time! You want to look into meanings, avoid trends, consider cultural influences, think about nicknames, initials, acronyms, and the list goes on.


We wanted something unique, not cliché or cheesy, and nothing like any other local counseling private practices. We also didn’t want to use our names, because let’s just acknowledge that Coughlin and Thomasson Counseling and Consulting sounds like an amazingly serious legal firm, rather than a welcoming private practice office. Allie suggested Sunflower Counseling and it just “felt right”. It had a personal touch, symbolism and meaning, all wrapped in one.


So the one question that never fails in a staff interview or discussion among clients and other professionals: “why the name Sunflower Counseling Services?”. The co-owners, Allie Coughlin and myself, get this question often to the point we quietly chuckle and try to get the other person to tell the story first. Although we enjoy telling the “why” behind the name to individuals when asked, we wanted to share the story and symbolism on a grander scale. Why not just throw it out there for the universe to digest, even though we are sure the question is here to stay, and we are okay with that too. So here it goes:


There is great symbolism and meaning behind our company name, Sunflower Counseling Services. Sunflowers are typically seen as a symbol of adoration, loyalty, faith and longevity; they are also known for being the “happy” flower, making them the perfect gift to bring joy to someone’s day. And who doesn’t love flowers as a gift, right? Allie and I often gift one another flowers as a small “happy” on random, special, and non-special occasions. It’s kind of our business love language, so to speak.


Well, let’s also take it back to history class and look at the actual word “sunflower”. The latin name of Helianthus Annuus comes from a combination of Greek words. Helios translates to “sun” and anthos means “flower”. The literal meaning of this word is that it is a “flower of the sun”. Helios was the Greek sun god and Anthos was actually a Greek name used for boys- shoutout to Greek Mythology class nerds for knowing this information as well! Keep in mind, the sunflower is thought to always face towards sunshine or the sun, so the name makes complete sense.


To take it a notch further, in the mental health world sunflowers are symbolic for resiliency, endurance and hope. Hellen Keller stated, “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It’s what sunflowers do”. We even embedded this quote on our business website homepage. At Sunflower Counseling Services we strive to be the support for our clients so that they can have hope and look forward to the future rather than focusing on or dwelling in the past. Through our effective therapeutic interventions, we aim to process past traumas and experiences to help support personal growth and resilience.


“Sunflowers end up facing the sun, but they go through a lot of dirt to find their way there” – J.R. Rim. This describes life perfectly, doesn’t it? Life will throw curve balls, obstacles, and challenges our way regardless of our effort to prepare, avoid, and conquer them. The goal is to find ways to navigate life’s obstacles as best as we can while enjoying the bliss life has to offer. We do our best to adjust, just as the sunflower follows the sun from the East in the morning to the West before sunset- how fascinating is that! We believe therapy is a great tool and opportunity to help people get to their own version of bliss, all while living their life in full bloom. Kinda cheesy, but VERY true, as this is what we strive for.



On a personal note, both co-owners have even more intimate, private connections with sunflowers and their symbolism. Did you know that the sunflower is the flower for sarcoma cancer awareness? Both Allie and I have lost close loved ones due to a type of sarcoma cancer. For me, it was my father. This honorary, blunt, caring and coarse man taught me to never give up and believed in all my dreams. He would often say “your last name is Thomasson, you can do ANYTHING”. When Allie and I brainstormed and discussed the goal of opening our own business, it started as a dream; it’s almost as if I could hear my father whisper “you can do this”, and with Allie’s help and leadership, we DID. My father and I would also plant sunflowers every spring in our garden as a child. So when I see a sunflower, I always think of him and smile.


As for Allie’s loved one that passed from sarcoma, that is really her story to share; however, knowing how strong willed, dynamic, and determined she is as a person, I have no doubt there are similarities. We both desire to make our loved ones proud and to carry on their legacy while helping others in our community.


Well folks, there you have it. There is so much thought and intent that goes into picking a name, whether it is for a business, child, pet, plant, etc. It’s a great opportunity to be intentional and deliberate, while celebrating the uniqueness that gives us our own individuality and beauty. Sunflower Counseling Services has a lot of meaning and beauty behind its name that was carefully selected by the co-owners.


We only have one life to live and it is so important to be intentional with your time, emotions, and actions. What name in your life has deliberate, intentional, delicate, and powerful meaning? We’d love to hear about it- why did you chose it? Do you still love it today as much as you did when it was selected? Any second thoughts or guesses? Was it an easy choice or did you deliberate forever? What's in a name to you?



Written by: Heather Thomasson, LPC/MHSP, Co-Owner of Sunflower Counseling Services, PLLC

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