How Carole Cullen Created a Self-Pay Couples Therapy Group Practice | GP 56

How can interns help grow your group practice? What are some marketing tips can you follow if you run a self-pay practice? Should you consider offering therapy packages to your clients?

In this podcast episode, Alison Pidgeon speaks with Carole Cullen about her self-pay couples therapy group practice.

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Meet Carole Cullen

Image of Carole Cullen speaking with Alison Pidgeon about her self-pay couples therapy group practiceCarole Cullen is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, AAMFT Clinical Supervisor and public speaker. She is a Certified Gottman Method and Emotionally Focused Therapist specializing in working with couples in crisis.

She has a group practice in Wake Forest, NC where she helps couples learn practical tools to reconnect with their partner and create lasting love.

Visit her website and connect on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Call Carole at 919 551 7222

In This Podcast

Summary

  • Have you considered hiring interns at your practice?
  • Marketing techniques as a self-pay group practice owner
  • The allure of therapy packages
  • Advice for upcoming group practice owners

Have you considered hiring interns at your practice?

Having interns allows us to offer a sliding scale, which means that anyone who calls my practice can get therapy so there’s no reason anyone should be turned away, everyone should be able to get the kind of services that they need to create a healthy relationship and a healthy family. (Carole Cullen)

In terms of owning a group practice, it is worth thinking about hiring interns as you will no longer be turning people away and referring out, unless necessary.

This helps your practice to grow faster, bring in more income and allow more people access to the services that they need.

[Having interns] is a wonderful way to, not only help interns help the community, but it also provides a steady income because internships are usually, and mine is, unpaid … so any money that they bring in pays for their supervision and for them to be there but also is straight income. (Carole Cullen)

Marketing techniques as a self-pay group practice owner

  • Google Ads: Carole spends $250 a month on Google Ads to boost the reach of her group practice.
  • Psychology Today profiles: Carole herself and all her therapists and interns have profiles on Psychology Today.
  • Social media: Carole hired a social media manager who manages all their social media accounts, blogs for the group practice and works to reach a wide audience across all platforms.
  • Revamping the website: Carole hired a website consultant to revamp their website and used the Don Miller model to construct the website.
  • Hired an SEO company: Carole hired Simplified SEO to work on her group practice’s SEO and she has seen a large return on investment since working with them from October 2020.

The allure of therapy packages

Some therapists consider creating counseling packages for potential clients to buy: a package that stipulates how many sessions for a fixed fee to get them introduced to therapy, instead of the clients perhaps feeling nervous to commit to ongoing therapy if they are not used to it.

Therefore, offering packages is a great way to introduce therapy to new clients if they are unsure whether or not to commit to therapy sessions indefinitely.

 I think a lot of people are nervous about getting into therapy because it feels like there’s no end … they may feel like they don’t have a sense of control, so I think with a four to six-session package, there’s an end-date and it doesn’t feel like a big thing they don’t understand … [it gives] them a sense of control. (Carole Cullen)

Advice for upcoming group practice owners

  • Hire a business consultant: You don’t know what you don’t know and business consultants know a lot about business. They can give you advice and guidance while you work to transition your business from solo to group and can point out loose ends that you may not have noticed.

 That was so helpful to me because once I had a guide I could start accomplishing things and really quickly we grew into a group practice because I had the instruction that I needed and the information that I needed. (Carole Cullen)

  • Consider a W2 practice instead of 1099: It created a sense of culture and community in Carole’s group practice.
  • Hire a virtual assistant: It frees up your time to do the things you need to get done as the CEO in your practice instead of answering emails. Hiring a virtual assistant will reduce your workload and assistant you in growing your practice.
  • Take the leap and start your group practice: You can create the lifestyle you want and create a community of like-minded therapists to work with.

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Meet Alison Pidgeon

A portrait of Alison Pidgeon is shown. She discusses ways to grow your group practice on this week's episode of Practice of the Practice. Alison is a serial entrepreneur with four businesses, one of which is a 15 clinician group practice. She’s also a mom to three boys, wife, coffee drinker, and loves to travel. She started her practice in 2015 and, four years later, has two locations. With a specialization in women’s issues, the practices have made a positive impact on the community by offering different types of specialties not being offered anywhere else in the area.

Alison has been working with Practice of the Practice since 2016. She has helped over 70 therapist entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses, through mastermind groups and individual consulting.

Thanks For Listening!

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Podcast Transcription

[ALISON PIDGEON]: Is managing your practice stressing you out? Try Therapy Notes. It makes notes, billing, scheduling, and tele-health a whole lot easier. Check it out and you will quickly see why it’s the highest rated EHR on Trustpilot with over a thousand verified customer views and an average customer rating of 4.9 out of five stars. You’ll notice the difference from the first day you sign up for a trial. They offer live phone support seven days a week so when you have questions, you can quickly reach out to someone who can help. You are never wasting your time looking for answers. If you’re coming from another EHR, they make the transition really easy. Therapy Notes will import your clients’ demographic data free of charge during your trial so you can get going right away. Use the promo code [JOE] to get two free months of trying out Therapy Notes for free, no strings attached, including their very reliable tele-health platform. Make 2021 best year yet with Therapy Notes.
Grow a Group Practice is part of the Practice of the Practice podcast network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you grow your group practice. To hear other podcasts like the Imperfect Thriving podcast, Bomb Mom podcast, Beta Male Revolution, or Empowered and Unapologetic, go-to practiceofthepractice.com/network..
Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Grow a Group Practice podcast. I am Alison Pidgeon your host. Today, I have one of our members of our Group Practice Boss membership community, Carole Cullen here to talk about her practice. Carol is a licensed marriage and family therapist. She’s an AAMFT clinical supervisor, she does public speaking, she’s certified in both Gottman Method and Emotionally Focused Therapy and specializes all in working with couples, especially couples in crisis. She has a group practice in the Wake Forest, North Carolina area, and she started the practice all in the past year. So she’s going to talk about all the things that they’re doing in terms of all the different services they offer, which creates multiple streams of income for her practice, how she takes on interns and how that actually is a very profitable stream of income for her practice. And she gets into talking about marketing for her self-pay practice, and also has some good advice if you’re thinking about starting a practice. So yes. So this is Carole Cullen from Wake Forest, North Carolina.
[ALISON]: Hi, Carole. Welcome to the podcast.
[CAROLE CULLEN]: Hi, Alison. Thank you for having me. I’m so excited to be here.
[ALISON]: Yes, I’m really excited to talk to you. I was checking out your practice’s website and saw some really cool things that I wanted to ask you about today. So maybe we could start out with you giving us an introduction of your practice.
[CAROLE]: Absolutely. So I have a group practice in Wake Forest, North Carolina, and the name of my practice is called My Therapist. We specialize in marriage and couples therapy, and we offer just a variety of different services that I think we’re going to get to in a few minutes. I started as a solo practitioner and then recently expanded into group practice in 2020.
[ALISON]: Nice. And so how many people do you have working for you now?
[CAROLE]: So currently I have, and I’m very excited to say, two W2 employees, three graduate interns, a virtual assistant and a social media director.
[ALISON]: Oh wow. Excellent. That’s all been in the past year?
Speaker 3: Yes. The interns I’ve had all along, I’m an AAMFT supervisor, so early in my practice, I was doing couples therapy, working as a solo practitioner, but then I really wanted to go into teaching and supervising and mentoring. So I went for my supervisor status about 10 years ago and ever since then, I’ve always had an intern with me and I’ve been an internship practicum site for about 10 years and I just love it.
[ALISON]: So how does that work in the model of your practice then to have an intern? Like do you charge less for clients to see them? Or how does that work?
[CAROLE]: Yes, it’s one of the things I’m actually really excited about and proud that we’re able to provide. So, having interns allows us to offer a sliding scale, which means that anyone who calls my practice can get therapy. So there’s no reason anyone should be turned away. Everyone should be able to get the kind of services that they need to create a healthy relationship and a healthy family. So having interns in the practice is wonderful, not just for the interns who get to learn and grow and get supervision in a specialty couples therapy, but we also get to provide to the community and we’re working really hard this year on outreach to the community to let people know about our services so that no one can say that it’s not within their reach and get really quality services. So that’s something we’re really excited about for 2021.
[ALISON]: Nice. That’s cool. So can you tell us a little bit more about the different services you offer at the practice? So I know you said that one of your big specialties is all kinds of couples therapy. I know you offer some other things as well, but maybe you can just sort of explain to us what you offer, because I think some of the things you’re doing are a little bit unique compared to other practices. So it’s always good to hear what other people are doing because I feel like it gives other practice owners good ideas.
[CAROLE]: Yes, my therapists always say, I’m always coming up with ideas for new things and I want to slow down a little bit, but I love coming up with new ways to help couples. And we offer the traditional couples therapy and right now we’re doing a hybrid of virtual and in-person. So that’s great. We can reach more couples that way. I’ve been offering for a few years, something that’s called a couples intensive. It’s also sometimes called marathon therapy and this is a full day or two or three, so six hours a day of couples therapy with one couple. So it’s just you, the therapist and the couple, and you work with them a minimum of one day, but a maximum of three days. And it’s really designed for couples in crisis, maybe a couple of deciding whether or not they want to continue the relationship, or maybe there’s been a disclosure of an affair, they’re going through a difficult time. So that services like a crisis service for couples, which is extremely helpful for the couple to really dig in and they accomplish about six months worth of therapy in three days. That’s pretty fantastic.
[ALISON]: Wow, yes. So, how does that work from a, like a business standpoint? So obviously you’ve kind of explained the clinical side of it, but from a business model standpoint or a financial side, how does that look for you?
[CAROLE]: So you would, it’s not based on just the regular hourly rate, so there is a little bit extra work. So you’re working a little bit beforehand to prep. You’re also working to get follow up sessions afterwards. And I always have an intern with me as like a co-therapist, so I get that additional piece, but it’s an additional service that couples are looking for. So we market it a little bit differently and then you get clients that come in that really are looking for some specialty service. So it’s just another service that we can offer from a business perspective, not just the traditional. So you want to expand your services so that you’re reaching different demographics and different needs of the client. So we just market it a little bit differently as well.
[ALISON]: Yes. So is doing that amount of therapy in that short of a time, is that more profitable than maybe seeing the same couple over a period of six months once a week?
[CAROLE]: Yes, it is more profitable, because you’re charging just a little bit more for the intensive, because you’re clearing your calendar of all your regular clients and you’re just giving your attention to one couple. So there is a little bit of a premium charge for that and I do it during the week, but sometimes you can offer it on the weekends. On occasion, I might do that and then there’s a premium for that too. So, if you’re able to dedicate that kind of time and clear your calendar for clients, it is a premium. You do charge a little bit more for that like I said, because you’re not seeing your traditional clients, you’re kind of pushing them off to the following week, but you are making a little bit more money in the short term because you’re charging that premium.
[ALISON]: Nice. Yes, and so what are some of the other things that you’re offering? I know you said you also do couples retreats, is that right?
[CAROLE]: Yes. So we do couples workshops and couples retreats. The couples workshop is called the Art and Science of Love and that’s based on John Gottman’s work. I’m also a certified Gottman therapist as well as a certified EFT, which is Emotionally Focused Couples Therapist. And both of them have workshops. I don’t currently offer the emotionally focused workshop. I do just the Gottman one right now because I got my hands full with that one. But I do plan to add that service down the road. The Gottman workshop, they Art and Science of Love, we offer that. I do that with a colleague Shelly Hummel, and we present together in Asheville four times a year, and it’s a two day weekend workshop. And it is just transformational for couples to see them arrive on Saturday morning and you can see that they’re nervous and you can see they’re maybe not sitting like as close together as you would expect at a couples workshop.
And then throughout the weekend, we teach them tools and skills and we walk around and assist them individually with getting through the exercises. And by the end of the weekend, they are sitting closer together and maybe they have their arms around each other. We do a short renewal, like a small vow that they do to each other at the end of the weekend that we customize for the couples that attended that particular weekend and you can just feel the energy in the room. It’s one of the things I love the most about working with couples; is doing this workshop because you get to see so many couples transformed so quickly over a short period of time. And we get to be in Asheville, North Carolina, which is like beautiful and a wonderful, like romantic couples getaway.
[ALISON]: Oh, nice. That’s awesome. It’s so gratifying to see people improve in such a short amount of time, I’m sure.
[CAROLE]: Yes, totally.
[ALISON]: Yes. So for you then, are you just sort of putting on the workshop and they’re kind of showing up to the, I don’t know if you call them classes or what, but or are you also planning like the rest of their trip? Like, do you book their hotel, do you like take care of their meals or are they expected to sort of do that on their own?
[CAROLE]: For the Art and Science of Love, they kind of do all of that on their own. We do host it in a hotel. So the hotel has rooms available and blocked out specially for our attendees. So that part is kind of taken care of and their meals and all are on their own because we want them to go out and explore the town and enjoy and have a good time. So for the workshop, we don’t do the extracurricular activities. However, we also have a retreat where we do organize some of those things and that retreat is called Love and Sex 360. And that is based on the emotionally focused work of Sue Johnson, as well as some sex therapy aspects of it. And that piece is more retreat, like where we help organize some dinners and activities, like a food and wine tour. We also include the hotel as well as an intensive therapy portion of the workshops. So they will get private therapy for six hours over the course of the three days with one of the therapists. So it’s a combination of workshop and intensive therapy and retreat. So it’s a little bit of a combo and that’s also in Asheville.
[ALISON]: Yes. So does that end up being a lot of sort of like event planning for you? Or do you have somebody take care of that for you? Or how does that work?
[CAROLE]: I do it all. However, I will say now that I have my virtual assistant and she’s magnificent and I absolutely adore her, she probably will help me some more going forward, but it was me and my colleagues putting that together. And it was quite a lot of work, but I’ll tell you what it paid off again. The weekend was fantastic and we got wonderful feedback on the progress that the couples made even six months later. So it was worth it and it was a lot of fun.
[ALISON]: Wow. Yes, because that’s kind of almost a whole different skillset of planning an event and having to think through all of those logistics compared to the work that we do as therapists. So I can imagine that it might have been a little daunting in the beginning, but then once you got it sort of planned out, you just kind of do the same thing every time, I’m assuming.
[CAROLE]: Yes, you have to really enjoy that aspect of it. And I do, I like event planning and putting together different aspects and curriculum and events together. It definitely uses a different part of your brain, but that’s something that I enjoy and brings out more of the creative side. So that’s been fun for me, but I can see that if that’s not your thing, that that could be challenging and then you definitely would want to get some assistance in the event planning part of it.
[ALISON]: Right. So how does that compare to, so it sounds like in your practice, you have kind of multiple streams of income from these different services that you’re offering. So what do you feel like is the most kind of profitable stream of income for you?
[CAROLE]: Ooh, that’s a good question. Yes, so we have couples therapy and that’s me practicing as well as my therapist, then I have supervision and then the interns. We have the workshops, the retreats, and then we also have like a package that we offer, which is called Foundations for Lasting Love. And that’s like a four or six therapy package that we offer to teach the basics of the Gottman skills to get couples a strong foundation for their relationships. So that’s kind of all the services. So I would say of all of that, the workshop has been the most profitable for us, for me and my colleague who run it. And I’ll tell you what, this year with 2020, our last workshop was February 14th when I was staying on Valentine’s day in Asheville last year and we haven’t done one since because of the coronavirus.
So we haven’t been able to be in person. So we’re hoping that our next one will be in April, but I am missing that stream of income. That is definitely something that was a big source of income for my company. So we’re looking forward to getting back and doing that. The other thing I would say coming in second would be having interns. This is a wonderful way to not only help interns help the community, but it also provides a steady income because internships are usually, and mine is, unpaid internships. So having an intern, any money that they bring in pays for their supervision for them to be there, but also is straight income. So having an intern is a great way to have an additional source of income.
[ALISON]: Hmm. Yes. It’s interesting that you say that because I know in different states, there’s all kinds of different setups in terms of interns, whether they get paid or unpaid or whatever. But I haven’t found too many people who say that having interns is profitable.
[CAROLE]: Really? I love them.
[ALISON]: Yes, so it’s good to hear you say that because I think that we get that question a lot through business consulting, like, “Should I take on an intern or not?” And like there’s, again, there’s all different variables that you have to think through when it comes to that and obviously one of them is the financial piece. And so it’s good to hear that you find, that obviously you love doing it, but you also make money from it. So, I think that’s great.
[CAROLE]: Yes, I think for me what has been, has made it more profitable, but also I’ve been very blessed is that my interns are so passionate about their work and they have a real thirst for working with couples and learning how to be really, really good. I guess all interns are this way. I have a special place in my heart for all of my interns. They seem to really, really want to have a specialty with couples and that’s what I look for. So when I hire an intern, I’m very specific about what I’m looking for. I want someone who is passionate about the demographic, someone who is eager to learn and continue to grow and take trainings for certifications, and is interested in the models of therapy that I use. So our therapy is extremely effective. It’s fast relief for the couples and I think that that bringing, you know people are willing to see our interns, they’re carrying their own case loads.
So, it is profitable in that way because they’re offering a very, very excellent service based on research and I think that helps. So I think for me that that does make it profitable because there’s a value there, and the therapists work really, really hard. The interns work very, very hard to get their own clients and maintain them. And we have a lot of supervision. So I don’t, it works for us. It works for us.
[ALISON]: Yes. It sounds like maybe you’re doing a really good job of vetting or interviewing the interns ahead of time to make sure you’re getting somebody who’s a really good fit for your practice. Because I think that’s such a huge piece of having anybody work in your practice that, you know if they’re a good fit, it’s just going to feel easy and good. If they’re not a good fit, it’s going to be terrible.
[CAROLE]: I think that’s right. I think vetting your therapists before you bring them on board is so important because you want to know that they’re in alignment with your values and your mission and the demographic that you want to work with. And for me, vetting the interns this way is a great way to get started. And what’s happened for over the years is that my interns never leave. They stay either in my practice or, my two W2’s where my interns prior, so they’ve just come back. I already know them, I know their their work ethic, I know their models, the therapy that they choose to use, and it’s been a good fit. Some of my older interns that have graduated have started their own practices and they are still in the building that we share. So they’re all still there. So I get to see them all the time and they stay close by, which is really nice to see them grow and build their own practices as well.
[ALISON]: Yes, that’s great. Yes, it’s always good when you have an intern who wants to continue working in your practice because you already know them so well.
[CAROLE]: Yes. So I’ve been lucky that way. I haven’t had to hire anyone that I don’t already know. I know that day will come eventually, but for now it’s been really great to have familiarity as I’m growing the practice and I know their styles, so I trust them and it feels really safe for me to kind of expand. As I’m still, I just started group practice, so I’m still expanding and learning these things.
[ALISON]: Nice. I wanted to ask you a little bit about marketing. So from what I’m gathering, your practice is all self-pay, is that right?
[CAROLE]: It is. We are all self-pay. We switched over about three years ago.
[ALISON]: Okay. So I’m always curious to ask owners with self-pay practices about the types of marketing that they do, because I feel like that’s another question that we get asked all the time. And I find that marketing a self-pay practice, it can be quite different from marketing and insurance-based practice. So, I’m just curious if you have found any specific types of marketing that has worked really well for your practice being self-pay.
[CAROLE]: Yes. So what we currently do for marketing is we do Google Ads, but we don’t spend a lot. I think I spend like $250 a month on Google Ads. It’s not a lot of money. Of course we do Psychology Today profiles. I have a profile as well as all of my therapists and interns. They all have a profile. I think, and we have social media account, of course. So I have my social media assistant and she has some magnificent stuff on social media, like just education, tools, she blogs basically on social media. It’s so good. So I think we’re getting a better outreach there and that’s been fantastic. I would say the money that I’ve invested, that’s been the most profitable in marketing has been revamping my website. And I use the StoryBrand model, which is a Don Miller model. I think some people might be familiar with that. So I did that in March. I hired a consultant to help me revamp my website using the StoryBrand model and then I think I’ve gotten the most feedback, positive feedback for marketing through that.
The second thing I’ve done is I’ve hired an SEO company, Simplified SEO. I think you’re familiar.
[ALISON]: Yes.
[CAROLE]: So that has been an investment and I’ve already seen a huge return on investment for that and I only started that in October. I think those two things have really made a significant change in the amount of calls I’ve been receiving because I’ve noticed we’re tracking calls and they’ve just about tripled.
[ALISON]: Wow. That’s awesome.
[CAROLE]: Yes.
[ALISON]: Yes, I was, sorry, was just going to say, I was looking at your website and it’s beautiful. So if anybody wants to see a really nice example of a very modern well-written website, definitely check it out. You want to tell us what the URL is?
[CAROLE]: Sure. Thank you. It’s my therapistnc.org.
[ALISON]: Yes, it’s really cool. So one of the things too that I wanted to ask you about that I saw on your website was that you had a little cart in the upper right-hand corner, just like if you go to any website like Amazon, you’ll see, you can put items in your cart, like you’re going to purchase something. And obviously on a therapist website, that’s not very common. And I was like, “Oh, what is she selling? What’s going in the cart?” And I was like, clicking around to see if I could figure it out. So do you want to tell us about that?
[CAROLE]: Yes, it’s just there to keep you guessing. No, we offer so I mentioned before, the Foundations for Lasting Love is a package. So clients can go on and just purchase a package of either four or six sessions. It explains the package on the website, but basically it is four sessions to address the common issues that couples face when starting a relationship. So it’s perfect for couples that are maybe newly engaged, maybe newly living together, starting their relationship and they want to have a really strong foundation. This would be the perfect for them, so they can purchase the package. They pay up front for the sessions at a discount, and then we connect you with a good match for a therapist and then you use your sessions at a time that’s convenient for you. And you can schedule anytime that the therapist is available to book your appointment with you. So that’s one of the services that —
[ALISON]: Yes, I’m curious about what was the thought behind actually letting clients purchase it directly through the website, as opposed to, “Hey, fill out our contact form.” And then that’s one of the things you could kind of talk to them about on the phone or have them sort of set up once they contact your office. Like, do people just outright purchase it without contacting you first through the website?
[CAROLE]: Yes. They can just purchase it directly online and put it in the cart and purchase it and then we’ll reach out and get them started and set up an account and become a client, fill it all the paperwork afterwards. So it’s kind of like an impulse purchase. You go on there, “Oh, this looks good.” Put it in the cart and make a purchase. So I think that that method of selling a product is enticing and engaging. They can just purchase it and put it in there. It’s a lot easier then I got to call, I got to make an appointment. It feels like they’re purchasing this special package that’s going to, that they can use it at any time and that’s really going to help them with their relationship. And we want to offer more packages.
I designed this one based on one of my therapists specialties. She loves working with cohabitating and new couples. So I asked her what her perfect demographic was, who she really wanted to work with, describe them to me. And then I developed this package along with an email sequence you know, building up to the selling of the product for her. And I’m going to do that for each of my therapists. So each one of them has something that they’re interested in and that they want to have as a specialty. So one of them wants to be an infertility specialist working with couples going through infertility. Another one wants to work specifically with infidelity. So I’m designing packages for each one of them, for their specialties and then we’ll do an email sequence. That’s like a sales sequence that will be attached to that, and then to create a package so people can go online and will be able to see several packages for specific issues that they’re having in their relationship.
[ALISON]: Oh, that’s super cool. So what do you think is the kind of allure of a package? Because I know that’s something that lots of therapists talk about. Like, wouldn’t it be cool if we could, you know like the subscription model, if we could just offer therapy like a package and you get so many sessions a month and you just pay this one fee. So what do you think from a marketing perspective? What do you think people, how are people viewing that? Or why do you think they like it?
[CAROLE]: I think they like it because I think a lot of people are nervous about getting into therapy because it feels there’s no end. Like when is it going to end? How long do we have to go? Are we going to be with this therapist for the rest of our relationship? You know, it feels never ending. Like they don’t know, they feel like they don’t have a sense of control. So I think knowing a four to six session package is, there’s an end date, there’s a limited time on that, and it doesn’t feel like this big thing that they don’t understand or how it works and someone else’s making this decision for them. They are making the decision, they have a sense of control and they can decide after the six sessions, if they want to buy another package or they can be finished. So I think that that gives clients a sense of control over the therapy and a better understanding of beginning and end. I think that’s important to them and it is alluring. I think it is interesting to them that they can buy a package.
[ALISON]: I think that’s a great explanation. And I’m glad that you described it that way, because I always felt kind of frustrated by the typical therapy process where it’s sort of like, so ambiguous. Like, well, how long is this going to take? And it’s like, well, the answer is, it depends, you know?
[ALISON]: Yes. That’s the first question you always get. Like how long are we going to be doing this? How do we know if it’s working?
[ALISON]: Right. Exactly. Yes, so do you find that once people buy that initial package, then they’re like more obviously apt to then continue therapy or buy another package?
[CAROLE]: Yes. They’re more apt to continue. They already have a relationship and a bond with the therapist. They do feel that it’s working and maybe they don’t continue, you know weekly, but they do follow up and they will come back. So it’s good for, and it’s good, I think we should think about couples therapy as a maintenance and everybody should have a couples therapist then. Even if you check in quarterly, you should have someone that you can bounce things off of when you get stuck, because being married is really hard.
[ALISON]: Yes. Very cool. Well, know we talked a little bit about your experience being a group practice owner over the past year. I’m just curious now that you kind of have your first year under your belt, if you have any advice for somebody that’s looking to start a group practice. Maybe they want to create a group practice that has the niche of couples therapy. Do you have any tips for them?
[CAROLE]: Yes. So I wanted to start a group practice probably way years ago and just was terrified of doing it, I think. And so overwhelmed with seeing so many clients a week that I didn’t know like how I could find the time to do it. So two things I would recommend is hire a business consultant because there’s so much that I didn’t know, like you don’t know what you don’t know. I had no idea all the things that I didn’t know until I hired a business consultant. And that was helpful to me because once I had a guide, I could start accomplishing thing and really quickly we grew into a group practice because I now had the instruction that I needed and the information that I needed. So that was really important to me. It made all the difference. And then the other thing —
[ALISON]: Nice, and you worked with Whitney Owens, right?
[CAROLE]: I did, yes. I worked with Whitney Owens and she’s not rid of me yet. She’s going to be hearing from me for a long time. It’s been amazing working with Whitney. She’s been so helpful and we we’ve accomplished, I’ll say we we’ve accomplished so much in just the short time that we were working together. And I honestly don’t know how I would’ve done it without that consultation. I have friends that are in group practice and they’ve been in group practice for years and they’ve tried to kind of offer me information and help, but their practice is different than mine and the answers are different for my practice, and the direction I want to go in is different. So no two practices are the same. So even if I went to them for advice or help, and they’re willing to help me, it’s just not the same as having someone that’s focused just on your practice, what your goals are, where you want to be, and they can really help you get where you want to be in your practice. So that’s been so valuable to me and I’ve appreciated it so much.
[ALISON]: Awesome.
[CAROLE]: Yes.
[ALISON]: I’m a big proponent too. Obviously, not just because I work as a business consultant, but I’ve always had a business consultant for my practice because I feel like you just can’t see the forest for the trees sometimes, because you’re in the middle of it. And it’s so helpful to have like an objective person be like, “Why are you doing it this way? Why?”
[CAROLE]: Yes, and it’s kind of like therapy too. Like, I feel like Whitney was my therapist for a little while. She’s like, “Why aren’t you doing it?” I’m like, “I am scared.” And she’s like, “Well, let’s talk about that.” And it did help me to realize that I was scared to do some things, to make some changes, like switching from 1099 to W2. I think you know that I’ve struggled with that too and that’s been tons of questions that I’ve been asking to the Group Practice Boss group like, “How do we do 1099 to W2?” So many questions about how to do that. And I was terrified to make that switch, but I’m so glad that I did. And it’s created a sense of culture and community in my practice that I wanted, that I was craving and that I was already providing, but I wasn’t really allowed to with a 1099. So now I can do all the wonderful things that I want to do for my employees and my interns. And it’s a part of having a W2 practice versus 1099. Yes, we’re going to have a party in February. We didn’t get to have a holiday party because of coronavirus, so we are having a small get together in a private place in February as our little post holiday get together. And I can do that kind of stuff and create a culture and a sense of community for them. And we’ve all really enjoyed it. It’s been a lot of fun.
[ALISON]: Oh, cool. Any other tips you have for people starting out?
[CAROLE]: Yes. Here’s a big one. Get a virtual assistant. Oh my gosh, that was huge for me. When I hired my virtual assistant, I felt such a sense of relief. I was able to say, “Can you do this? Can you do that?” And I handed her all of the things that were bogging me down so that I could focus on growing the business and onboarding new therapist and figuring out Gusto for payroll and working on just creating a handbook and a procedure manual. And I could focus on all of that while she took care of the calls and she took care of the clients. And she’s tracking our inquiries and she’s wonderful. And so that was like the best decision I made, second to getting Whitney that’s for sure. The two of them, I couldn’t have done it without both of them. It’s been really wonderful. So I would say get some kind of assistant to help you. Maybe get two. I’m thinking about a second one.
[ALISON]: Yes, and that’s the thing. Like, people always think like, “Oh, it’s manageable. I can keep doing this myself,” until one day you wake up and you realize you’re like drowning in administrative work. And then it’s like, now you have to hire somebody on top of barely feeling like you can keep it together.
[CAROLE]: Yes. That was me over the summer. So I was so happy to have her.
[ALISON]: Good, good. Any, any last pieces of advice before we have to wrap up today?
[CAROLE]: I would say if you are thinking about starting a group practice, that you should definitely take the steps to do it. It is so worth it and you can create the lifestyle that you want. And having a group of therapists that are like-minded and are excited to do the kind of work that you want to do and growing that practice, it’s been one of the best things that I’ve done. I wish I would have done it sooner, but here I am, I’m doing it and I’m so excited to be able to do it. And I think if you’re thinking about it, go the consultant route, get yourself a virtual assistant and start working towards your dream because it’s so worth it.
[ALISON]: I feel like that same way.
[CAROLE]: Yes. I know. I’m so excited. It’s been a wonderful year for growing my practice. So I really appreciate it, all of the support that I’ve gotten from fellow practice owners and from you and from Whitney. It’s been so helpful and I appreciate it so much.
[ALISON]: Oh, awesome. Well, Carol, it’s been so great talking to you about your practice. If folks want to reach out to you, if they have questions or if they just want to see your beautiful website, how can they get ahold of you?
[CAROLE]: Absolutely. They can go to my website at mytherapistnc.org, or they can call me at (919) 551-7222.
[ALISON]: Awesome. Thank you so much for your time today, Carol.
[CAROLE]: Thank you. Bye.
[ALISON]: So much for listening. I hope you enjoyed that interview. Something I wanted to let you know about is Whitney Owens and I are starting a membership community called Group Practice Launch. So we talked in that interview about Group Practice Boss, which is our community for established group practice owners. And so we’re starting a new membership community that’s sort of replacing the mastermind groups that I have run for the past several years for people who want to start a group practice. So that is starting at the very beginning of March, so next week, and if you’re interested in getting on the email list, so you can be the first to know when we open the doors that URL is practiceofthepractice.com/grouppracticelaunch. It’s a six month group, it’s sort of from start to finish, you do the six months, you start your group practice and then we encourage people to then join the Group Practice Boss group for ongoing support as they navigate running a group practice. So if that’s something you’re interested in please consider checking that out. Whitney and I are really excited about getting that started. I know lots of people have been talking about starting a group practice. So if 2021 is your year for that yes, definitely check it out, practiceofthepractice.com/grouppracticelaunch.
All right, I’ll talk to you all later.
I want to say once again, thank you so much to Therapy Notes for sponsoring this show. It makes notes, billing, scheduling, and tele-health a whole lot easier. And if you’re coming from another EHR, they make the transition really easy. Therapy Notes will import your client’s demographic data free of charge during your trial so you can get going right away. Use the promo code [JOE] to get two months free to try out Therapy Notes.
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This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regards to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, Practice of the Practice, or the guests are providing legal, mental health, or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one.

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