Building and running a successful therapy practice isn’t easy. You have to figure out who your ideal clients are and what services you want to offer them. You have to choose how to set up the business. You have to find the right space, lease or buy it, and furnish it. Then, you have to build your referral network and set up your marketing to get clients to start calling and coming in.
And all that is just the logistics. Once clients start coming in, you have to provide therapy. You know, sit in the chair for hours on end hearing people pour out their pain, day in and day out. My wife Risa loves being a therapist, but some days she comes home and she’s completely wrung out from all the pain she witnesses. If you’re a therapist, I’m sure you know what that’s like.
Aside from the therapy part, these are all challenges that a good coach can help you solve. Today I want to tell you about three challenges that I helped one therapist (let’s call her Jane) overcome that made her life much easier. So much so that she recently told me, “Your help gave me the SPACE, the breathing room to get creative. I couldn’t stop the flow of ideas now if I tried! I have more money with less time spent… though I feel busier, with meaningful, nourishing steps toward my goals and dreams.”
Problem Solved: Poor Relationship with Money
This is the big one, the alpha and omega of building a successful practice. As long as your relationship with money is unhealthy, you will always find ways to sabotage your own success. Here’s what Jane’s subconscious relationship with money looked like before we started working together.
- If I charge higher fees, I’m greedy and a bad person; clients who have to pay those higher fees will know this and expose my shame.
- Increasing my fees and not accepting insurance hurts my clients and adds to their stress; if I do this, I’m cruel.
- When I set my fees based on my own needs and wants, I hurt my clients; I’m a failure as a therapist.
Lack of Confidence:
- Who do I think I am? I haven’t even been able to… (fill in the blank with your own perceived professional shortcomings; some examples: my degree isn’t in marriage and family therapy but most of my clients are couples, I never completed any Gottman training, I just graduated a year ago, etc.); I’m an impostor, and if I charge high fees clients will realize I’m not worth it.
- I’m so imperfect because… (fill in the blank with your own perceived personal shortcomings; some examples: I’m divorced myself so how can I claim to help couples, my personal finances are a mess, I’m not so great at building and maintaining relationships, etc.); I have no business treating others – I’m a hypocrite.
- I have no idea what to set my fees to and why; I don’t know how to present higher fees to clients confidently, respectfully, and fairly.
After a few sessions working together, she realized just how distorted these subconscious ideas are, and upgraded them.
This allowed her the confidence to increase her fees appropriately. Her original fees were so low that she had to increase them by nearly 50% to cover her business costs and her family’s financial needs.
Upgrading her relationship with money allowed Jane to stop working with insurance panels that she found infuriating and frustrating. Further, they always paid too little, too late, with too many hoops to jump through, and sometimes not at all. She was able to set her rates properly, giving her the opportunity and confidence to reduce her caseload while making more money than ever before.
Problem Solved: Vision for Practice Driven by Old Perspective
In Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, the Queen of Hearts tells Alice, “My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.”
If you’re a therapist in private practice who charges less than she should, that feeling should be very familiar. If asked about your vision for your practice, you might respond that you want to see more clients so you can make ends meet. But if you keep seeing more and more clients, at some point you’ll burn out and feel resentful.
When I first asked Jane about her vision for her practice, one question was how many sessions a week she’d want to do ideally. She said she’d want to see 25-30 clients a week.
More recently, we had another conversation about that. Since we started working together, her caseload was down 43% while her profit was up 9%. I told her that if she brought her caseload up to 30 sessions a week, her profit would be more than double what she started out with.
After a brief pause, she answered that she actually doesn’t want to do 25-30 weekly therapy sessions anymore. Her vision had evolved. She’s very happy doing 15-20 weekly sessions, and is using the time that freed up to develop and provide clients with retreats, courses, workshops, etc.
Having left behind the old perspective that she needs to run twice as fast as she can, she gained the emotional and financial space to develop a new and more fulfilling vision. This new vision lets her drive her practice in an exciting new direction in addition to therapy, one that serves more clients and brings her more prosperity without burning out as a result of sitting in the chair doing ever more sessions.
Problem Solved: Office Space that’s Just Good Enough
The third problem Jane and I solved isn’t necessarily common, but it demonstrates how a coach works with the person being coached on their individual challenges, identifying those that are highest-leverage, and helping solve them.
After having moved office several times in the past few years, Jane was in a space that was good enough for her needs, at a rent she felt comfortable with.
However, after we worked through the money issues, she realized that she wasn’t afraid any longer of moving to a more expensive space. In fact, she even considered purchasing an office suite instead of renting.
After we worked through the numbers, she agreed that it wasn’t yet the right time to buy. Instead, she rented a space closer to home, paying about 30% more which she could easily afford now. The shorter commute gives her more time to develop her practice without robbing her of time spent with her son. As a side benefit, the new space gives her access to a more affluent market.
What Jane Got by Solving Her Three Highest-Leverage Problems
By working on the three highest-impact areas of her practice (and the crucial mindset around money), Jane was able to move her office to a more expensive location in an affluent town closer to her home, reduce her caseload by 43%, all while increasing her profit by 9%.
This allows her to free up a lot of office time to develop and implement new ways to help clients beyond one-on-one therapy, network with colleagues and other professionals, and get more involved with her community. The fact that her new office is closer to home also gives her more time to spend with her son.
In short, Jane now works less, spends more quality time with family, makes more money, and is able to make even more of a difference (and even more money) for clients, while enjoying a more diverse set of professional activities.
What Could You Get by Solving Your Own Three Highest-Leverage Problems?
You’ve spent years (and lots of tuition money) learning how to be an outstanding therapist, earning a graduate degree, and getting your license. You spent hundreds of hours providing therapy under supervision, learning how to improve your craft. You then spent years or decades “in the trenches,” helping people deal with their pain and traumas.
In all that time, you were likely never taught how to build and run a successful practice, including how to upgrade your relationship with money to a healthy one; your vision of your ideal practice may still be chained to old ideas; and you’re surely dealing with other specific challenges.
If you were to solve the three highest-leverage of those issues, what would be possible for you, for your practice, and for your clients? How much easier would your life be? Send me an email and let’s set up a free, no-strings-attached, 20-minute phone call to see what kind of difference we could make for you.