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


  • 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.

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