How can instilling your values in your practice help it grow sustainably? Can modeling a life of integrity aid those around you? What does self-care and working with values look like in a practice?
In this podcast episode, Whitney Owens speaks with Allison Puryear about identifying your values in private practice.
Allison Puryear is an LCSW with a nearly diagnosable obsession with business development. She has started practices in three different cities and wants you to know that building a private practice is shockingly doable when you have a plan and support.
You can download a free private practice checklist to make sure you have your ducks in a row, get weekly private practice tips, and join the Abundance Party to gain the confidence and tools you need to succeed.
In This Podcast
- The importance of working with values
- How to maintain your values
- Allison’s tips for practice owners on identifying values and self-care
The importance of working with values
It comes down to knowing what your values are clearly.
Many people that I talk to feel like they have to think about their personal values as a separate entity from their business values, and I wanna say ‘bring it all together!’ You are your brand essentially, you show up every day in your practice and it makes sense for you to be really clear on who you serve and how you serve them with the grounding points of who you truly are. (Allison Puryear)
Sit down and think about what matters to you – these are not the things you fret about, these are the things that you want for yourself, for your practice, your community, and for the ideal world.
Try journaling as a direct method to get in touch with these values and flesh them out to yourself. By placing your practice alongside your values, you can grow your practice sustainably.
How to maintain your values
Your business relies on you, and it will fall apart if you do not take care of yourself. Keep boundaries around your family life and business life so that they do not overlap, because you run the risk of losing your family values when you are too business orientated and that can cause problems.
When the on-switch is running continuously, and if you are completely engulfed by work and putting off family, consider if there is something you are perhaps avoiding having to deal with.
Allison’s tips for practice owners on identifying values and self-care
Modeling proper self-care can positively impact everyone around you. By your setting a good example to your clients and your family, you can create a ripple effect of positivity simply by starting first with yourself.
Encouraging people to extend grace to themselves. Acting or seeking full control begets the need for more control, and this cycle can be broken by treating yourself and others with grace and humility.
You can have what you want in your practice, and the first step to this is becoming clear on your values because they will guide you to achieving your goals and enjoying what you would like to create for yourself and your practice.
Through the use of boundaries, you can layout the parameters for the values of your practice for yourself and your staff, and hold them.
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Meet Whitney Owens
Whitney is a licensed professional counselor and owns a growing group practice in Savannah, Georgia. Along with a wealth of experience managing a practice, she also has an extensive history working in a variety of clinical and religious settings, allowing her to specialize in consulting for faith-based practices and those wanting to connect with religious organizations.
Knowing the pains and difficulties surrounding building a private practice, she started this podcast to help clinicians start, grow, and scale a faith-based practice. She has learned how to start and grow a successful practice that adheres to her own faith and values. And as a private practice consultant, she has helped many clinicians do the same.
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Faith in Practice is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a network of podcasts that are changing the world. To hear other podcasts like Empowered and Unapologetic, Bomb Mom, Imperfect Thriving, Marketing a Practice or Beta Male Revolution, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.
If you’re a group practice owner with at least three clinicians, including yourself, and you’re wanting to really focus on growing your group practice in 2021, head on over to practiceofthepractice.com/grouppracticeboss. Alison Pidgeon and myself, run a Facebook community, membership community and a Teachable platform that helps you learn all about your group practice. We cover tons of topics such as how to delegate in your practice, to how to manage your money in your practice, to how to hire the right clinicians for your practice. So please go check out practiceofthepractice.com/grouppracticeboss.
Welcome to the Faith in Practice podcast. I’m your host, Whitney Owens, recording live from Savannah, Georgia. I’m a licensed professional counselor, group practice owner, and private practice consultant. Each week, through personal story or amazing interviews, I will help you learn how to start, grow, and scale your private practice from a faith-based perspective. I’m going to show you how to have an awesome, faith-based practice without being cheesy or fake. You too can have a successful practice, make lots of money, and be true to yourself.
So if you haven’t heard about Group Practice Boss, let me tell you a little bit about what that is. It is a membership community hosted by two consultants, Alison Pidgeon and myself. We help group practice owners learn how to make more money and work less hours. That’s our goal in everyone that we work with. We also want to take the stress out of owning a group practice and be able to answer your questions. So the way that we have this membership community set up is through a Facebook platform and through the Teachable platform. Within Teachable we have tons of content, I have no idea how many courses but just tons of resources and courses to help you with your practice. And then we are uploading things there all the time. In fact, just the other day someone was asking me, hey, how do I get back into the office after COVID? Okay, well, I uploaded the forms that they needed for that, that they can alter and get signed by clients so that they can return to the office. So we’re always putting resources in there relevant to you and your practice.
Also, within that community, we cover a certain theme, and we dive deep into that theme. So for example, in the month of December, we’re working on goal setting. We will be talking about goal setting the entire month, we’re going to be reading a book together, Atomic Habits, and talking about that book so we can have great habits going into the new year. We run these webinars live, once a week, where you’re asking questions to a consultant and learning how to actually implement these tips into your practice, how to have different habits in your practice. We also have asked the experts every month where we bring an expert in a certain field in to be able to talk to you about the topic that we’re covering. And we also have open office hours. And so if that sounds interesting to you, or you’re looking for some extra help in your group practice, please head on over to practiceofthepractice.com/grouppracticeboss. We already have a great community formed. And so we’d love for you to consider joining. We are opening the doors to Group Practice Boss December 29th through the 31st. So it’d be a great way to invest your money here at the end of the year as you go into 2021 ready to really work on your group practice.
I am super excited today to have Allison Puryear on the podcast. She is someone that I have followed for a very long time and I love her spunk, her authenticity and the way that she’s just so real about what it’s really like to be a consultant, what it’s really like to run a practice and really adhering to your values as a practice owner. And so without any further ado, we’re gonna get into the interview with Allison Puryear.
On today’s podcast, I’m interviewing Allison Puryear. She’s an LCSW and a nearly diagnoseable obsession with business development. She has started practices in three different cities and wants you to know that building a private practice is shockingly doable when you have a plan and support. You can download a free private practice checklist to make sure that you have your ducks in a row, get weekly private practice tips and join the abundance party to gain confident tools you need for success. Thanks, Allison for taking the time to be on the show today. [ALLISON]:
I’m so happy to be here. Thanks for inviting me. [WHITNEY]:
Yeah, one of my favorite things, of course most of us would say, about podcasting is the cool people we get to meet along the way and the stories we get to learn. [ALLISON]:
Absolutely, yeah. And I was lucky enough to have you on my podcast not long ago. So yay. [WHITNEY]:
Yeah, that was fun. So I’d love to first kind of hear your story and your journey to owning a private practice and you’ve been in three cities – would love to hear more about that. [ALLISON]:
Yeah, absolutely. So I started out with a part time private practice, like many of us do. I was working at a university counseling system and it was a really great place for a long time. And I just wanted to make some extra cash essentially, because college counseling doesn’t always pay super well. So I had this part time private practice that I started up and it was pretty easy. I didn’t really know what I was doing from a business or marketing standpoint, I just was known in my community. So it wasn’t hard at all to get the few referrals I actually needed to stay full. And the College Counseling Center I worked at didn’t maintain being awesome. And so like many of us experience, I realized that this was a pretty toxic place as some things changed and I needed to get out. But I knew that we were leaving soon and we would be moving across the country, for my husband to go to school.
So I ended up having a part time practice and full time agency work for five years, which is too long for anybody who’s curious. And then after that, we moved to Seattle. And I was so burned out from working in bad systems that my move from Athens, Georgia to Seattle, Washington, I possibly over confidently was like, well, I’m just going to do full time private practice from this point on. I knew literally no one in Seattle. And so it was a pretty huge risk. But I’m outgoing, I’m extroverted and I was lonely. So it worked out that I just, like, networked my tail off. And I met a ton of really amazing people and had a really great website and made enough connections that I was able to have the full time practice that I didn’t even realize was available to me in the years prior.
And that’s one of the things I really love about private practice is it’s kind of limitless, and we’ll be talking some about this in our conversation about, you can set it up in whatever way is sustainable for you. And you’re still serving your clients well, and you’re still serving your community beautifully and it’s amazing. So I had this, like, every time I think about my years in Seattle, I’m like, oh, it was so blissful. And then we moved back across the country, because why not, to Asheville, North Carolina, where we are now. And I knew we were putting down roots here and I wouldn’t have the opportunity to start another private practice again. And that for some reason, maybe because I don’t know why, I love a challenge, it made me really sad. So that’s when I started doing some practice building as well, because I wanted to be like a stage mom and, like, live vicariously through other people starting their private practice.[WHITNEY]:
I love that. [ALLISON]:
Yeah, yeah. So I’m still in practice here. I have a group practice. And I’m not in a place where I want to give up therapy, because I love it. But spend most of my time doing practice building. [WHITNEY]:
Yeah. And so now I’m curious, how many clients do you see? [ALLISON]:
Right now I have four clients. And I just keep it there. And none of them are weekly. [WHITNEY]:
There’s something about, I mean, it’s great to give up clients if that’s like what people feel, but there’s something grounding about it, I feel like. [ALLISON]:
Yeah, yeah. And managing a group practice, too, is helpful, because I, like I’m really in it. Like, I understand the importance of marketing, not just because I used to understand the importance of marketing, like, I understand it day to day, so that my group stays full. [WHITNEY]:
So now I have to ask you, were you in Athens, Georgia? [ALLISON]:
I was. [WHITNEY]:
Oh, my gosh, we have so much in common. Did y’all go to school there? [ALLISON]:
I did. Yeah, I went to undergrad and then I moved away. And then I went to grad school, and then I worked for the university. [WHITNEY]:
This is crazy. You know, that’s where I went. [ALLISON]:
I didn’t know that. [WHITNEY]:
Go Dogs. Go Dogs. Ah, cool. What was your degree? And when were you there? [ALLISON]:
So my undergrad was, what was it? I graduated in nope, that’s the wrong year, 2001 with my undergrad degree in psychology and women’s studies, and then I got my MSW in 2004. [WHITNEY]:
I know they have a great program. Wow, we should have way more conversations now. Because we were there at the same time. [ALLISON]:
That’s wild. I love it. Yay. [WHITNEY]:
Really small world. And I just love the Bulldogs. Cool. Okay, and then tell me a little bit about your private practice in Asheville. And like, what’s kind of the setup for that? [ALLISON]:
Yeah, so right now we have a group practice. I’d never intended to have a group practice, I actually intentionally did not want a group practice. But somebody that I knew that I knew was clinically excellent and that I trust, and that I know will be straight with me and I can be straight with her, kind of fell into my lap needing a position and I was like, well, I’ve got more calls than I can take. And so, of course, the group practice is a lot more, there’s just a lot more paperwork kind of things on the setup than I anticipated. But I was lucky to have other consultants that I know and love that were willing to help me out with some of that. So I’ve just got one person and the only way I would bring on another person is if they fell in my lap and I just totally loved them and trusted them. Because it’s just not where, it’s not where I want to put a ton of my energy honestly, and I feel lucky that I, like I have somebody who I don’t have to, like, manage. Because I don’t want to manage somebody clinically. [WHITNEY]:
Yeah, totally. And the whole hiring process is so daunting. I’m like that every time, I’m like, okay, God, just like, bring somebody into my lap, because I really don’t want to do the work of hiring. [ALLISON]:
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I feel like there’s so much at stake that you just have to trust the people that you hire so completely. Yeah. [WHITNEY]:
Yeah. Okay, so wanted to talk today about values within private practice. So what do you kind of have to say to that, how do you create values in your practice? [ALLISON]:
Yeah, well, I think it comes down to first knowing your own values very clearly. And I think that, I don’t know where we get this but many people that I talk to feel like they have to think about their personal values as a separate entity from their business values. And I want to say bring it all together. Because I mean, like, you are your brand, essentially, you’re showing up every day in your practice. And so it makes sense for you to be really clear about who you serve, and how you serve them with the grounding points of who you truly are. So that feels flowery, so let’s get less flowery. [WHITNEY]:
Um, so what I don’t think enough people do is sit down and think about what actually matters to them. We fret about things right, like, we’ll fret about the things that aren’t going the way we want, or concerns we have, but we’re not sitting down to be like, okay, well, what do I want for myself, in my life, for my practice, for my clients, for my community, for the world? And I think some of it comes down to journaling, like, sitting down and journaling, not just thinking about it, but putting pen to paper. And then unapologetically holding to those values. We cannot have sustainable practices, which is the thing I care most about in my practice building work, I really want everyone’s practice to feel sustainable. Because I want to sell doing this for as long as we want to. I know way too many clinicians who have left the field because it burned them out. And part of that is because they were in agencies that were toxic. And sometimes it was people who were in private practice, who didn’t realize they like, really could set the rules.
So in our practices, in any business, I think it’s really important that we live by our values so that we can continue doing what we want to do. So for instance, I’m an eating disorder therapist, I would not feel good or comfortable if in my consulting business, I was helping a pro diet dietitian to build their practice. So if someone were to join one of my programs, I would probably say this is probably not a good fit for you. Even though I don’t love confrontation, even though I do like money, you know, like, it’s, I value good in the world, more than I value comfort and money. So, yeah, go ahead.[WHITNEY]:
Yeah, that was such a good example. So I appreciate you kind of like putting some meat to it, you know, and understanding it. I’m actually thinking about values within just your own life in general. It’s like, obviously, the practice is an extension of who we are. But I think a lot of us, at least I see with people I work with, we kind of lose our values in our personal life, like, value of my time or self care, or church or family, and we so easily let go of those. But it happens so slowly that we don’t realize the practice has kind of taken over. I was curious, is that something that you see? And how do you kind of address that with people? [ALLISON]:
Absolutely. And I think that a lot of, like attracts like, right? And so I end up working with a lot of go getters and a lot of people who have a hard time finding their off switch, because you know, me too. And what I realize is I’m the fuel for my business, just like each person is the fuel for their business. And we can’t run out and still have the kind of business we want to have. And so for those of us who are super ambitious and really love building this thing out of thin air, which is so cool, isn’t it? That we do this with our private practice. We like build something out of thin air. We have to remember that that’s going to fall apart if we don’t take good care of ourselves.
For some of us, it takes getting sick, like that’s what it took for me. It took me getting sick and my kids getting sick, like, significant illnesses before I was able to like you know, cut back a little bit and realize like, oh, even though I’m not, like I’m pulling my boundary of not working when I come home, I’m still thinking about work all the time. And for a while, like, in the building phase of my business, half my sentences to my husband were like, oh, babe, what would you think if I blah, blah, blah, some business thing. My husband doesn’t care about business. Like, I would just watch his sweet face glaze over. And he’d be like, sounds good, but my brain was there so much. And so even though I had great boundaries around like not popping open my computer or typing in my phone, just for a minute, I had great boundaries with that over time, I still wasn’t putting safeguards in place, so that I could let my family values show up when I was with them.
And so often, and I’m not going to be prescriptive here. But often, that’s a result of us, avoiding something else. Business feels controllable. It’s a fun challenge for many of us. But I know for years, I was running away from grief, I was running away from all these things. And work was where I found, like, my most confident self. And so for anybody who’s having a hard time with the off switch, I’m going to, I’m going to ask you to look at the things first that aren’t, you know, they’re not the fun things to look at, you know, like we do in therapy. Look at that stuff and see if that’s holding you back.[WHITNEY]:
That is so powerful. I love the way you just said it. Perfect. [ALLISON]:
Well, thank you. [WHITNEY]:
Yeah, yeah. So now I want to know more about these kinds of safeguards that you’ve put in place, how do you get your mind to shut off and spend time with your family? [ALLISON]:
So I have to have my phone in another room, I have an Apple Watch, I have no notifications on it at all, except this, like, take a breath one. So I don’t know if I’m getting texts. I live by my schedule, with my actions, and I’m trying to have my thoughts fit that. Every now and then when I’m in a shower, I’ll have a good idea and I’ll like, pop out and send myself a message about it. But most of the time, I just really try to stay present. I’ve got young kids, they’re four and seven. And they are really funny. I’m not really a kid person to be honest with you. Like, I’m not super maternal. I love them to pieces, and we have a good time. But I’m not somebody who’s gonna like enjoy myself playing blocks all day. But they’re at an age now where I’m like, oh, wow, I can have really interesting conversations with my seven year old, she has opinions about the world. And my four year old has these strange assumptions that we get to play with and talk through. And I didn’t realize that until I intentionally stopped paying so much attention to work in my head. [WHITNEY]:
Hmm. That’s so good. My kids are the same age as yours. That’s funny. And my seven year old, yes, she comes to me with these ideas that blow me away. Oh, my gosh, how did you know that? Or how did you think of that? And, and honestly, it makes me think, am I missing something? You know, like, it makes me stop and go, okay, I need to not work so that I can pay attention. But I do find that to be the hardest, I don’t know, hardest phase of life, is that is it that work is so consuming? Or is it that children are so consuming, or is it that everything is so consuming? Because the ages of those kids, it’s a lot. [ALLISON]:
It’s a lot. And especially now like in pandemic times too, there’s just a lot of other stress on us that I don’t even think most of us are processing right now. And I know this is gonna air after the election, but we’re recording it before the election, which is also weighing on so many of us. So it’s just been a heck of a year. I think that there’s a lot of desire to escape, to things that we either feel confident in or that numb us. And I’m really aware that that has not served me when I’ve gone to it. [WHITNEY]:
Yeah, yeah. What other tips do you kind of have for practice owners as far as self care and identifying values? [ALLISON]:
So I think that there are these things that we often say to our clients that we’re not doing, right, like, yesterday, I had someone on the podcast who did a meditation for the podcast that’s going to air on election day. And I’m like, oh, yeah, meditation. Pre COVID, I did this like regularly. I had a set time. It was like a thing. And then when our schedules got all wonky, when we were all home and school wasn’t open, that was the first thing to fall off right? Of course it was. Because it didn’t feel productive to me even though I know deep down it is. And so like, I’m definitely not the one who’s always living it. But what I’m trying to do is to remember that if I’m taking great care of myself, I’m modeling that for my clients, whether they’re observing it or not. I’m modeling it for my daughters. I’m modeling it for my friends, like, all those times when it’s hard for me to do it just for me, I think about the impact it can have on the people I love most and that I care for. And that can help kind of scoot me towards the thing I know is best for me. It’s a similar thing with like, moving my body, right? I’m not into punishing exercise. I’m not going to do like 45 minutes of hit that I hate. But if I can go out for a walk while the weather’s beautiful, then I know that that was one thing I did today that was great for me. And I don’t have to do it perfectly. Especially right now while life is so hard. [WHITNEY]:
Mm hmm. Yeah. Extending more grace, kind of to yourself and encouraging other people to extend grace. Yeah, I think people have been way too hard of themselves during this season. [ALLISON]:
Absolutely. And it’s, you know, I think that’s another thing with control, right? I mean, I’m seeing it with my clients with eating disorders. It’s this, I don’t have any control over everything that’s going on in the world right now and in this country right now, but I’m going to over control this one thing in order to feel accomplished, or like I’m making a difference in some way. But it’s not serving any of us to over control. And control just begets more desire for control. And, you know, that’s not helping us. [WHITNEY]:
No, it’s not, no, it’s not. Any other things that you notice as far as values, maybe that you have to consult often on, someone’s kind of lost that, that you can kind of speak to? [ALLISON]:
I see it a lot when people are building their practice. And they’re taking on either clients who aren’t good fits, or they’re taking people at rates that are not sustainable for them, and that are going to create resentment, or seeing them at times that don’t allow them to spend the time with their families, or their friends, or their Netflix subscription, whatever. But it wasn’t a time they said they wanted to work. And so I do a lot of work with people around that, of like, you can have what you want in private practice, like ultimately, that is the truth. And there aren’t a lot of places in our lives where we really can have what we want. And so there’s getting through some of the learned helplessness that we have from agency work, many of us, and getting to this place of like, well, if I can have what I want, and I’m audacious enough to ask for it, like, I have to get real clear on what that is.
And that’s where the sitting and being still and if you truly believe you can have whatever you want and there’s no limit, it’s almost daunting, because we don’t have any boundaries around it. But if you’re brave enough to get real clear on what you want, and then you set those parameters, I want you to hold on to it for dear life. Because for this to stay sustainable. And for you to love your practice, that’s what’s required. And the therapist guilt that we get when we are not making choices aligned with what we said we wanted. Because we’re like trying to accommodate someone else, whether it’s not charging a no show fee, or whatever. Like, that’s a boundary issue that we have to look at. Our desire to be liked is not healthy or good for our clients. Our boundaries are. And so that’s another place I think of values and self care is setting the parameters in your practice clearly, communicating them clearly and holding to them.[WHITNEY]:
Yeah, I mean, one thing I admire about you, and it’s kind of coming out even through the show, is you see more than just the business side, you constantly are going back to the therapist and the inner work of us and what we have to pay attention to, what we have to do, because that’s what’s going to make the practice go well. [ALLISON]:
And so I just love that. And when you were talking earlier about the sometimes we work so much because we’re actually ignoring something in our lives, that’s definitely my takeaway today that I’m gonna be like, okay, when am I becoming a workhorse because I need to pay attention to something. And it’s so true right now with the political world that we’re in, it is so easy to bury my head in the sand and do other things and totally ignore what’s going on in the world. [ALLISON]:
Yeah, or like, drown ourselves in like the news media that just tells us exactly what we already know and want to hear. The weird dichotomy of that is it’s messy for all of us, no matter what your belief system is. [WHITNEY]:
Yeah, that’s so true. Well, Allison, tell people about the work that you do, Abundance Dance Party, all that kind of stuff. [ALLISON]:
Yeah. So we have the AbunDance Party, which is a membership site that teaches you everything you need to know to build a practice. It’s only $49 a month. And then we have a higher touch offer called The Inner Circle that we offer that has six months of one on ones, you get to meet with our copywriter, our general consultant every month, and then you also get to meet with a branding expert, plus Private Practice School with me and office hours and the AbunDance Party. It’s just like, basically, let’s hold your hand through this whole process. And that’s called The Inner Circle. [WHITNEY]:
Great. And if somebody is wanting to learn more about that, or get in touch with you, what’s the best way for them to do that? [ALLISON]:
Awesome. And then you’ve got a free gift for us today, the AbunDance Practice Building Checklist. [ALLISON]:
Yes, it’s great for getting started. It’s got a little pep talk kind of woven through it. And there are also some great resources that you can access through there. [WHITNEY]:
Perfect. And like Allison said at the beginning, she does have a podcast. So I encourage you guys to also check that out. And it’s all about starting and growing your practice. And as well, Allison, what I ask everyone at the end of the show is what do you believe every Christian counselor needs to know? [ALLISON]:
I think everybody needs to know that there are plenty of clients who are looking for you right now and to not be afraid to show up and say I’m here. [WHITNEY]:
Perfect. Well, thank you so much. I appreciate you taking the time to be on the show today. [ALLISON]:
Absolutely. Thanks for having me.
Thank you for listening to the Faith in Practice podcast. If you love this podcast, please rate and review on iTunes or your favorite podcast player. If you liked this episode and want to know more, check out the Practice of the Practice website. Also, there you can learn more about me, options for working together, such as individual and group consulting, or just shoot me an email email@example.com. Would love to hear from you.
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