Moving From a Solo to Group Practice in 2021? You May Need a Mindset Shift
One thing that I did not anticipate when I decided to expand from a solo to group practice was the mindset shifts that happened during this process. When you’re running a solo practice, that’s entirely your show. You’re the boss, the one person who does everything and who makes all the decisions, based on what is best for you.
It goes without saying that you are a fantastic clinician, and, if you’re reading this, likely you’re a good small business owner in solo practice. But moving to a group practice means involving other people, at the very least other therapists who are practicing under your name or your brand that you’ve built up so solidly in your community. Now, there are other people to consider in your decision making, planning, and implementation.
Mindset Shift 1: No One Wants to Grow From a Solo to Group Practice Like You Do
This mindset shift was the most difficult for me to master.
No matter how hard you wish it, no one will work as hard for your practice as you do.
No one else has as much time, energy, or money invested in your practice. Even the most motivated therapist isn’t going to have the same internal drive to perform his or her best for the practice as you do. Especially if you are hiring only part-time clinicians who have other part-time or full-time jobs or responsibilities, you’re always going to be lower on the totem pole than their primary responsibilities. And that’s actually ok, because it gives you the opportunity, yes, opportunity, to set stricter boundaries and expectations. See the next section below for more on this.
Mindset Shift 2: Not Everyone Will Work Out
We always expect that our very first hire will stay and be with us forever. In reality, though, it rarely works out like that. My first therapist only stayed for less than six months and ended up lingering on with just a few clients for several months afterward. I wasn’t making any money from him, and I was frustrated because he wasn’t able to give me more hours.
What I learned from this experience, and I do call it a learning experience instead of a failure, is that it’s ok if not everyone works out.
I also learned to set clear expectations around contract length (if you have independent contractors) and to enforce the number of hours or appointments per week/month that were expected from the therapist.
Mindset Shift 3: Fill Their Caseloads, Not Yours
In a solo practice, you’re used to marketing yourself and your own unique skills and specializations so that you can fill up your own caseload. Now, you’re most likely full or close to it and you have to learn to market your therapists’ and fill their caseloads instead.
A very important logistical step to getting this done is to not have you answer the phone/email or respond to inquiries anymore.
Because if people talk to you or interact with you, they’re going to want to work with you, not with one of your therapists, and it becomes very hard to talk them out of this. Hire a Virtual Assistant (VA) or have your new therapist start to respond to the inquiries/phones/emails. This will go a long way towards moving people away from wanting to work with you to working with someone else.
Mindset Shift 4: What’s Best for Growing a Solo to Group Practice is Not Best for Everyone
Yes, this is a hard mindset shift. As a solo practitioner, it was easy to think of yourself first as a therapist and second as a business owner. But as a group practice owner, you’ll have to start putting the needs of your business first.
It is so easy for us as therapists to put the needs of our clinicians ahead of our own needs, so remembering that is of utmost importance.
It might be easy to say to one of your clinicians, sure, stop taking new clients since you’re feeling overwhelmed with your life and your other job, and when you’re ready to take new clients just let me know. In the meantime, though, is your business suffering because you’re having to turn people away? What is best for your business should always be top-of-mind when you’re making any decision about operations or practice in your business.
These four mindset shifts above I’ve had to learn the hard way. Maybe I knew that I had to fill my therapists’ caseloads before my own, but I wasn’t sure how to do that. And I didn’t know that everyone might not work out, and that would be ok. I had so much of myself and my vision invested into expanding into a group practice, that I just wanted it all to flow smoothly and work out exactly the way I wanted it to.
But flexibility of thought, not rigidity, is going to make you more successful and happier in your journey to become a group practice owner. Know that it’s a process and group practice ownership doesn’t happen overnight.
But you can do it, so keep on trucking!
Help With Setting Up Your Group Practice
Anything is possible after the year we’ve just had which is why it’s best to have a community of support and advice from individuals who have been there, done that, and got the t-shirt. We can help you grow your private practice to a successful group practice. Interested? Find out more here.
Alternatively, listen to one of our podcasts on “How to Be a Group Practice Boss with Alison Pidgeon and Whitney Owens.”
Shannon Heers is a licensed professional counselor in Colorado. She owns the private-pay group practice Catalyss Counseling in the Denver metro area, focusing on helping adults manage their anxiety, grief, and trauma. Shannon is also an experienced clinical supervisor and manager who offers business consultation services to other therapists. She balances working with raising her two young children.