How to Host a Conference with Katie Vernoy & Curt Widhalm | FP 102

A photo of Katie Vernoy & Curt Widhalm is captured. Curt Widhalm is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage & Family Therapy from Pepperdine University and a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice with an emphasis in Behavior Analysis from Saint Joseph’s UniversityKatie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, with a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from California State University, Fullerton, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Theater from Occidental College in Los Angeles, California. Katie Vernoy & Curt Widhalm are featured on the Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.

Are you interested in starting a conference? What are some tips to remember and mistakes to avoid? How can you foster a strong relationship between your sponsors and your attendees?

In this podcast episode, Whitney Owens speaks with Katie Vernoy and Curt Widhalm about how to host a conference

Podcast Sponsor: Brighter Vision

An image of Brighter Vision Web Solutions is featured as the sponsor on The Practice of the Practice Podcast, a therapist podcast. Brighter Vision builds all in one websites for therapists.

How would you like to fall into cash this month? Every year, my friends over at Brighter Vision kick off the fall season with a month-long digital conference event they call ‘Fall Into Cash’.

For the entire month of September, they’ll be teaming up with the top brands, consultants, and coaches in the mental health industry to provide you with the best advice, tools, content, podcasts, and giveaways; all centered around one main theme – helping you grow your practice and make more money.

Plus, in celebration of the 5th anniversary of ‘Fall Into Cash’, they’re also offering a very special discount exclusively for Practice of the Practice listeners. From now until the end of the month, they’re offering new websites for only $49/month for your whole first year plus no setup fees – that’s a savings of over $200!

For more information and to take advantage of this great offer, head on over to brightervision.com/joe.

Meet Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy

A photo of Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy is captured on the Faith in Practice Podcast. They are both Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, as well as the creators of the Therapy Reimagined Conference. They speak with Whitney Owens about how to host a conference.Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy are both Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists in the Los Angeles area and co-hosts of The Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide Podcast. They are also the creators of the Therapy Reimagined Conference – bringing together #moderntherapists to talk about how to build practices that welcome diversity, integrate technology and business systems, engage in advocacy for our profession, and how to grow yourself as a clinician by incorporating deliberate practice and self-care.

They have both created successful private practices and are actively involved in the profession in many ways – Curt is a former Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences and former CFO for the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT), and Katie is a former CAMFT President.

Curt and Katie provide training and consultation to therapists who are entering the profession, starting and growing a therapy practice, and who are ready to step into leadership, all while navigating #moderntherapistproblems.

Visit their conference website, listen to their podcast. Connect on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Visit Katie’s website. Connect on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Use code TRC10 to get a 10% discount on any ticket at the Therapy Reimagined Conference.

In This Podcast

  • Mistakes to avoid when planning a conference
  • Conference tips
  • Katie and Curt’s advice to Christian counselors

Mistakes to avoid when planning a conference

The biggest thing I think about planning a conference is having a vision of what it’s actually going to look like. (Katie Vernoy)

Have an idea of the end-product in mind when you start so that you have a guiding light to follow of what you are working towards.

Not working with an event planner:

An event planner will take care of the smaller details and the running of the event so that you can focus on being the host and be able to spend time with your attendees, instead of you taking pictures or handing out cards.

Not letting people help you:

It is a vast moving experience with many systems and cogs to turn. Allow people to help you or oversee some aspects while you can do what you do best; clinical work and working with people.

Not recognizing where your limitations are:

Know what you are good at and know what you can delegate out. Work with your skillsets and do not be afraid to hire people whose skill sets are suited to sorting out lighting, electronics, microphones, and liaising with hotels.

Not being upfront

Make sure to be upfront with your attendees and clients about what type of therapy it is that you provide and primarily work with. This will save your time and energy, as well as that of the client and attendee, and helps to create an overall positive workspace when everyone is on the same page as to what to expect.

Therapists should make clear their values upfront, and so that way clients know what they’re walking into … take some of that guesswork out for your clients by being able to say “here’s the way that I practice and if you don’t want this kind of practice, then I’m okay. There are other therapists out there who you might match up better with.” (Curt Widhalm)

Conference tips

With regards to conferences, there are at least three main bodies of attendees what you will be working with:

  1. Continuing education body: if your conference is offering CE’s, it is going to support and provide compliant continuing education?
  2. Your attendees: are they going to have a good time? Observe your conference and its systems through the attendee lens to see its experience all the way through.
  3. The sponsors and partner audience: how are the attendees going to interact with the sponsors and vice versa?

Vet the quality of the sponsors so that your attendees know they are working with the best of the best. Think about how you can foster a relationship between your attendees and the sponsors to encourage both of their businesses to grow.

Katie and Curt’s advice to Christian counselors

Honor your values, beliefs, and faith and you can be clear on how it can show up in the room. However, keep the space open for your clients as well.

Provide clients with a clear idea about who you are and communicate that with them upfront is something that invites a healthy shared space.

Details about Group Practice Launch

Group Practice Launch is a membership community for the solo private practice owner who wants to start a group practice. Over a period of six months, two group practice owners and business consultants, Alison Pidgeon and Whitney Owens, will lead you through the step-by-step process to start your own group therapy practice.

By the end, you will have established a solid foundation for your growing business as well as hired at least one clinician. You will have access to an e-course, private Facebook Group, live webinars, and tons of other resources to help you!

  • Month 1: Systems: Phones, Email, EHR, Payroll, Liability Insurance
  • Month 2: Hiring First Clinician
  • Month 3: Onboarding and Hiring and Assistant
  • Month 4: Branding and Marketing
  • Month 5: Creating a Positive Workplace Culture
  • Month 6: Managing Your Numbers: Finances, KPIs

Useful links mentioned in this episode:

Check out these additional resources:

Meet Whitney Owens

Photo of Christian therapist Whitney Owens. Whitney helps other christian counselors grow faith based private practices!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.

Visit her website and listen to her podcast here. Connect on Instagram and email her at whitney@practiceofthepractice.com

Thanks For Listening!

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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.

Podcast Transcription

[WHITNEY OWENS] 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 practice from a faith-based perspective. I will 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.

Hello and welcome to the Faith in Practice podcast. If it’s your first time, thanks so much for taking the time to be with me today. If you have been listening for a little while, thanks for returning. If you haven’t already, please follow the podcast. I learned recently actually from a good friend Gordon Brewer when I was listening to show, which is Practice of Therapy about the changes that have been made with apple podcast. So yes, now you follow and set to subscribe. So there you go. Would love for you to be a part of the community and follow the podcast. So I am so excited today because we just opened the doors to Group Practice Launch. Group Practice Launch is a membership community that myself and Alison Pidgeon host for people that are starting a group practice. You can go to the website, practiceofthepractice.com/grouppracticelaunch to register for that and to get more information.

But basically every single week for six months, we meet with you and help you go step by step through starting a group practice. We find that when people start without any kind of as assistance in this, sometimes mistakes are made along the way. I did do an episode with Alison just a few weeks ago on that if you want to go back and listen to that about the five mistakes that we often see when people are starting a group practice. So this course is a six-month membership community, all the videos, all the paperwork that you need to start your group practice. And the bonus is you get to do it with other people. This world can get lonely, the world of starting a group practice the world of private practice, so it’s really great when you have a community to do it alongside.

So this is our second cohort. We just finished up with our first. We saw people hire clinicians, get their systems in place, work on their names, work on their branding, hire their first administrative assistant. It was fantastic. So if you’ve been thinking I want to hire for my group practice in the next six months, Group Practice Launch is a good step for you. Now, if you’re listening to this episode, the day it airs, which is September 8th, then you can get in on early bird special. So that’s two payments of $650 every three months and that’s going to save you $200 off of your membership registration. After the early bird, it’s $750 for two payments of $750. So $1,500 total. Now I know that might sound like a lot, but when you think about having a group practice, you really can save a lot in the long run by doing it the right way and having somebody walk alongside you when you grow it.

So think through it like that. We’re looking at six months of consult that runs you about $250 a month. That’s a pretty good deal when you get all the paperwork, save you in attorney fees, saves you in time and money and you get a consultant to walk us beside you the whole way through. So we’d love to have you join that. If you have questions concerned, you can email me whitney@practiceofthepractice.com, happy to answer those questions. If you’re ready to start a group practice, head on over to practiceofthepractice.com/grouppracticelaunch.

Now, I also am just excited about this interview today because I have heard about Katie Vernoy and Curt Windhalm for years. They have this awesome conference called Therapy Reimagined. It is different than your average conference. So today on the show, you’re going to hear them talk about how they started it and the work that they’ve put into it and how amazing it is and then at the end in the show notes, we should have information in there for how to register for the conference.

But to tell you a little bit about each of them, Curt is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a master’s degree in clinical psychology with an emphasis on Marriage and Family Therapy from Pepperdine University and a master’s degree in criminal justice with emphasis in behavioral analysis from St Joseph University. He has a private practice in LA and in CNO where he works with clients who have experienced trauma with high achieving teens and adults. He’s also a professor at Pepperdine and California State University Northridge, and he serves on the California Association for Marriage and Family Therapists ethics committee. Previously, Curt has served with the California MFT board of directors and as a subject matter expert in the California Board of Behavioral Services. So he’s got the credentials. So he’s wonderful to listen to because he has so much to offer on so many.

His sidekick here, Katie Vernoy is a licensed marriage and family therapist with a master’s degree in clinical psychology with California State University Forton and a bachelor’s degree in psychology and theater from Occidental College in LA. She has always loved leadership and began stepping into management positions as soon as she got her license in 2005. She has experience that spans many leadership and management roles in the mental health field, programmed coordinator, director clinical supervisor, hiring manager, recruiter, and currently as the past president for the California Association for Marriage and Family Therapists. Now in business for herself, she provides therapy, consultation and business strategy to support leaders, visionaries, and helping professionals and pursuing their mission to help others. You can learn more about her at www.katievernoy.com.

We will have all the links in the show notes. I have heard not only great things about Curt, but Katie does really great consulting and I have spoken to people who’ve worked with her. So I’m giving her a shout out here. So I’m really looking forward to this episode today. And this is the Faith in Practice podcast episode 102, how to host a conference with Katie and Curt.
[WHITNEY] Welcome to the Faith in Practice podcast. I have Curt and Katie here with me today. How are y’all doing?
[KATIE] Good? We are five weeks out from our conference when we’re recording this. So it is an exciting time to put a positive spin on it.
[WHITNEY] That’s for sure. You got to be positive and laugh about it because if you get too fixated on every thing, it just doesn’t make you happy. Awesome. Well, we’d love to first have y’all kind of talk about what Therapy Reimagined Conference is. Tell us a little bit about the backstory and how you created it. I know it’s unique in so many ways, so I kind of want to really focus on that too, that it’s different than your average therapy conference.
[CURT] It is. And even our origin story is maybe in a place of frustration. It started in the back of a continuing education class that Katie and I were sitting in there saying, this is the same old stuff by the same old people and doesn’t really represent where our field was and still doesn’t. So Katie and I left that meeting. I ended up calling her in traffic one day, she picked up and I was like, maybe we should do something about like actually getting our fields, representing people that were trying to serve the world that we live now. And rather than just continuing to sit in a lot of really old ideals that, you know to their credit they still work, but are not necessarily impacting everyone in a really great way. Let’s bring the way that therapists can get educated, and from there we were like, let’s build a conference, let’s put something together where we actually embrace really good learning principles, practical applications, learning by doing, not just by sitting there and getting rewarded for staying in your seat for 60 minutes so you can get a continuing education unit to really be able work —
[KATIE] Spending more time on Candy Crush rather than learning therapy.
[CURT] Exactly. So from that, we put together our first Therapy Reimagined Conference four years ago. We’re on our fourth one this year and started to call some of the therapists that we knew, some of the people that we admired from meeting online that really were bringing this fresh energy towards, you know it’s a good idea to maybe let clients know what you stand for. And maybe we should make some space for some representation in our fields. We put together a really energetic first year of conference and from there, we’ve just continued to try and build on our message and having to adapt along the way. Last year, we planned three different conferences for dealing with COVID and ended up with a really wonderful virtual conference. This year we’re putting together a really solid hybrid lineup asterisk so far, depending on where COVID leaves us here the next five weeks, but really continuing on our ideals of let’s continue to move this profession forward. So that way it’s giving more of the population, more access to mental health, more people who like them, more people come from those backgrounds in ways that take care of therapists and take care of our professionals too.
[WHITNEY] Hmm. That’s great. I love how the best ideas kind of come from just, “Hey, let’s do this.” Like just kind of bringing something together and you try it and it works and you’re like, “Wow, that worked. This is cool.” So I love that origin story. And what I really love about your conference is you talk about things that super relevant like current research not just the same old, boring talks. Could you speak a little bit to kind of the way you organized that?
[KATIE] I think the biggest thing, and I’ll end up turning this back over to Curt, because he’s our continued indication director, but the biggest thing that I think philosophically Curt and I have tried to do is actually continue to innovate and not sit back and allow something that worked last year even to stand for this year. We continually reassess who’s not on the stage, who needs to be on the stage. We send out our call to speakers to, we’ve sent that out to so many different organizations with folks who had been underrepresented or types of treatments that had been underrepresented on other stages and making sure that we have applicants from all over the world, all different walks of life, making sure that we’re really, to the best of our ability, creating a lot of space for new ideas.

So where other conferences have found some speakers that are like, hey, and I’m, I’m thinking of some of the bigger ones that kind of have the same speakers over and over again that are potentially super relevant in the sixties and not necessarily as relevant now. But in instead of just saying, “Hey, let’s keep building on the speakers that we have every year,” or keeping the same speakers every year, we’ve really been thoughtful about what do people need to know now? How do we actually support clinicians so that they’re not just saying, oh, that’s really interesting or oh, that’s foundational and that’s a good reminder, but oh, I need to know this for my session tomorrow and I know what I need to do.
[CURT] And a big push from the continuing education side, and I’m aware of the developing reputation that we have from some of our speakers in the past is that we really do challenge them to bring something new and not really wanting people that, even with some of our returning speakers, not wanting them to just kind of settle into their own patterns of, all right, I’m on a pathway to be that person speaking about the same thing 30, 40 years from now, but really being able to say, what is it that you’re bringing new? And with that, and even with some of our really good friends, it’s like, “Hey, you’re having an opportunity here to push your own boundaries as a speaker and to ground it in research and to ground it where our profession is because we’re not doing this for just this nice little business venture for Katie and I. There’s probably a lot of really other monetary —
[KATIE] There’s things that we could do that would be much better for us.
[CURT] But we’re doing this to really actually make an impact on our industry as far as being able to say we have a transforming profession, whether we like it or not, we have those apps based text, therapy companies that are now becoming a viable option for some of the population to get mental health. How is that actually working for those clients? How is this working for professionals to be able to deliver good therapy? And a lot of the research that’s out there on this seems to be put forward by those app based companies themselves. So looking at all right, who’s willing to dig through the academic peer reviewed research of those kinds of consumers, what they’re getting out of therapy and how all therapists can adopt the principles that they’re bringing in to make therapy a better experience for both clients and clinician?
[KATIE] And I think to nutshell it, it’s kind of pushing the envelope, not letting anyone rest on their laurels and really looking at innovation skeptics, outliers pushing against the status quo, but also grounding it in laws, ethics and clinical excellence. Because I think oftentimes it becomes one or the other. It’s either, this is the tried and true, or this is something that’s so crazy and weird that we’re going to put that out and everybody just try it. It’s going to be great. Like it’s something where we wanted to pull from both arenas and really challenge folks.

That’s the other thing that our speakers kind of get upset with us about is how rigorous we are with the continued education standards to make sure that even if they’re talking about a business topic, if there’s an intersection with clinical practice, that we understand that and that there’s sufficient research and grounding and that it will qualify for continuing education. And so that’s, I think the biggest difference I think that we see. It’s that we truly are holding with a more standard practice of deep clinical continuing education, but setting innovation and current events on top of that to make sure that it’s a really relevant material.
[WHITNEY] I love it. That’s so great. Now let’s, I know I’m just like sitting here soaking it in, so let’s talk about how to do a conference. So maybe you could share a little bit about when you first did the very first one, like what did you do? What were some of the mistakes? What were some of the wins, and then maybe after that, if we have some time we could talk about specifically dealing with COVID, because I think people would be interested in that as well.
[KATIE] The biggest thing I think in planning a conference is having a vision of what it’s actually going to look like. I think when we started, it was like, this’ll be fun and we really didn’t have a big picture. I think part of that actually lends to the energy that I think is unique to our conference as well. It just is something that we’re doing because we think it’s going to be fun. I get really bored at conferences. So I wanted to make sure we weren’t going to get bored. So we had bite size information. We also had lots of interaction with folks. All the speakers are actively involved throughout the conference. For the most part we’ve got just everything being put together. All these people are coming together in one room and really having an experience together. But I don’t know that I would recommend that that’s how you start out because we tried bootstrapping it. We did not necessarily understand how critical it is to have an event planner for example, and making sure that the event planner is walking side by side all the way through to navigate negotiation with a hotel or using their knowledge base on what are all the things that make up a conference, and what are ideas that have worked for other folks?

So one of the mistakes the first year was having very little help from an event planner and we ended up running around doing a lot of the things that we’ve since delegated and hired out where people were like, “You were the host, but we barely saw you because you were running around shooting video, taking pictures, negotiating with the hotel, doing all these things.” So I think it’s something where we started with an idea, but trying to bring it into reality has been a year by year process, especially as we’ve had to like Curt said, plan the conference three times last year. It was in-person, then it was hybrid, then it was virtual and then I joke that we’re planning three conferences this year because we have an in-person, a virtual and a hybrid, because that’s what a hybrid really is. So I think it’s something where it is this vast, huge planning experience that has so many moving pieces. So the biggest thing is let people help you.
[CURT] And really recognizing through the process that, the end of the day, Katie and I are therapists. We have our practices and while we do things like the conference and our podcast, that we don’t have the skillset to do all of those things nor the time to do all of those things ourselves and to really continue to check in with ourselves. I’m somebody who stress wakes up in the morning. So just as conferences get closer, it’s like, oh, guess I’m up for the day at 5:30 and the next day it’s oh, that stress dream’s coming a little bit earlier and a little bit earlier. So there’s a lot of just really being able to be kind to yourself and do the things that help you maintain your practice, which are the things that we all know as therapists anyway, but to really recognize early on where your limitations are.

And a lot of that does come back to that big vision at first of what Katie is saying that at the end of the day, our conferences are a lot of fun. And it’s really interesting to talk in the profession of things where it’s, come to a conference that is largely, mostly about you as the professional. We’re used to going to these professional conferences that are about things that we do to our clients. Here’s a new way to do this particular theory at a client or here’s a new way to conceptualize where a client’s experience might have been. But for us to bring in a new vision of this is also where you fit into the picture, where your values fit in and how those impact our clients is also a really fun way of bringing some very experiential aspects of, well, have you ever considered the, you can go off script and that might be better for what your client is because that provides a space for healing, not just what the next step in the manual says that you should do. And it’s things like that, that Katie and I have known in our own practices for years. And part of why we’re friends and part of why we’re business partners is really sharing a vision like that but being able to scale that up comes with having that really big vision of let’s make this more okay for more people.
[KATIE] I love these topics. I mean, I’m sitting here just thinking about this podcast and how I reach out to faith-based counselors and we’re always talking about how can you be adherent to your own faith and your own vision, but also not put that on your client. And then how can they come to the room wanting faith-based counseling, but that could look so different in so ways, depending on what their faith background is. So being able to do that ethically, I’m just kind of thinking about that as you’re sharing about the importance of what the clients are bringing into the room and understanding yourself and what you’re putting out there. Because you’re right. Therapists need to think about that a lot more than they do.
[CURT] Outside of my practice and outside of the conference, I teach law and ethics at Cal State Northridge. I also sit on the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists ethics committee and this question comes up quite a bit. What I like about where the CAFT code of ethics has changed in the last couple of years is really around this idea of therapist values and beliefs. And I’m seeing this slow ripple effect through a lot of the professional organizations. And as far as I’m aware, the CAFT code is the first one to really emphasize that therapists should make clear their values upfront and that way clients know what they’re walking into. And for the variety of different ways that faith-based practices can show up from clinician to clinician is take some of that guesswork from your clients, by being able to say here’s the way that I practice and if you don’t want this kind of a practice, I’m okay.

There are other therapists out there who you might match up better with and it’s probably better for you as a client to be able to know that the therapist that you’re working with is also clear in their ideals. This is where, a lot of therapists are taught, don’t talk about anything. It can be as have as boiler play of language on your website as possible. It’s a really good way of saying here’s the way that I practice. Here’s what you can expect. And it’s not necessarily saying I’m going to make you believe this, but at least know what you’re going to walk into if you come and work with me as your therapist,
[WHITNEY] Definitely.
[BRIGHTER VISION PROMO] How would you like to fall into cash this month? Every year, my friend’s over at Brighter Vision kick off the fall season with a month long digital conference event that they call Fall Into Cash. For the entire month of September, they’ll be teaming up with the top brands, consultants and coaches in the mental health industry to provide you with the best advice, tools, content, podcasts, and giveaways, all centered around one main theme, helping you grow your practice and make more money. Plus in celebration for the fifth anniversary of Fall Into Cash, they’re offering a very special discount exclusively for Practice of the Practice listeners. From now until the end of the month, they’re offering new websites for only $49 a month for your whole first year plus no setup fees. That’s a savings of over $200. For more information and to take advantage of this great offer head on over to brightervision.com/joe. That’s brightervision.com/joe.
[WHITNEY] Any other tips that you guys have if somebody’s listening, thinking about playing a conference that would be helpful for them?
[KATIE] So many. I think the biggest thing that I think that I grapple with in the area that I end up working in is I do a lot of sponsorships and partnerships as well as kind of marketing the conference. And obviously I’m a therapist so those things are, I get assistance from other experts and help there too. Not always has that been the case, but I do that now, but I think when putting together or a conference, there are at least three, I’m going to think out loud a little bit here, but at least three audiences that you’re really looking at. One is the continuing education body. If you’re going to offer CEs does your conference purport and actually provide compliant continuing education? So that’s kind of the bummer one for me.

Curt has to navigate it, but it’s kind of like they, I feel like there’s antiquated ideas there of what is quality continuing education. I think business topics should be more included than they are. I think self-care topic should be more included than they are. We don’t say they are when they are not, but certainly that is something where I recognize that that’s one of the audiences that you have to pay attention to. The second audience is your attendees. Are they going to have a good time? So looking at the conference through the attendee lens, I think is probably the most obvious because that’s, we’ve handed conferences, now we want to put on a conference, but I think actually trying to look through what is the attendee experience all the way through? How are they going to interact with a conference? How are they going to know that this conference is for them and kind of what are the things that they can do at any point? We actually have our live attendees and our virtual attendees this year and how are each of them going to walk through the three days of the conference, as well as the kind of the interaction beforehand and reviewing the content afterwards?

But the third audience that I think a lot of people forget about, but is what I think is really important is also the sponsor and partner audience. What are they going to get out of it? And those two audiences interact. How are the attendees going to interact with the sponsors and how are the sponsors going to interact with the attendees? So in looking at sponsors, the piece that I’ve always really wanted to do, because we, our podcast is called The Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide, we want to be supporting therapists. So what we do, and I’m going to blow my horn a little bit, but what we do, I think really effectively is that we seriously vet the partners that we allow to come into our conference so that these are people, the people that we trust, who are going to help bring amazing content, they’re actually doing some practical and business sessions this year for us.

They’re going to have services and special offers ready for folks, and they’re going to provide additional value to our attendees. But in return, we have to provide value to them and make sure that there are going to be eyes on their stuff, that they are going to have the conversations that they need to have, that there’s going to be traffic to their physical exhibitor booth or to their virtual exhibitor booth. It’s something where that audience, and I’ve seen it from a lot of organizations. With the switch to virtual that audience had gotten mostly forgotten because it be like they’re over on this extra page that nobody ever goes to versus we have opportunities for these exhibitor sessions or demos and commercials during the virtual presentation.

It’s something where we’ve got these video rooms that people can just pop into, that you can pop into that with another attendee, but you can also pop into it with a speaker and have a consultation or a sponsor and have a consultation. So to me, being able to see the conference from these three different lenses and put together the best thing that you can, hard to balance, but I think it makes it for a really positive productive experience for everybody involved.
[CURT] What Katie said.
[WHITNEY] That’s right. I love what she just said about the virtual part and just offering that space and really supporting those sponsors. That’s fantastic.
[KATIE] Well, and I think if people can interact, it becomes really hard too. It’s hard to go to a virtual conference when you’re just sitting in front of a whole bunch of webinars
[CURT] And to really be able to create that space and to pull back the curtain on putting a conference together we, a lot of therapists are going to look at the price of admission to a conference. It’s not cheap and there’s a reason for that. It’s expensive to put on a conference. There’s a lot of negotiations that happen with hotels that are guaranteed amounts of money that the host organization has to put on as far as spending on food, beverages, hotel rooms on their own end. And I look at the cost being a barrier to entry for a lot of therapists who go to a space. And it’s something where it’s not just affecting our industry, but it is something that affects anybody who’s putting on some sort of a live event.

As an attendee, have that relationship with the sponsors as well, because that sponsorship is what makes your ticket even cheaper than it would normally be for you to just pay up front. Often times if you’re paying three, four or $500 for your one place at the conference, you’re probably looking at the cost of the organization of somewhere around a thousand dollars per attendee. Like it is a tremendous amount and so as an attendee, definitely help your conference organizers out by meeting with the sponsors, using their services and taking advantage of the opportunities that they may provide beyond just the products that they sell. Because that is what does allow for ideas like this to grow. And it does come from you as an attendee helping make it a worthwhile conference as well.
[WHITNEY] I love that you’re talking about all that, because I think people can have this idea of, “Oh, a conference. That’s cool and I’ll make so much money.” And really you don’t make all that much by just doing the conference. It’s if you are able to sell services beyond that. We find the same with Killin’It Camp. It’s kind of a wash and we sell our tickets and it all kind of ends up being, even in the end when some people are like, “Oh, I spent all this money.” Well you’re right. It’s really expensive and I’ve even called venues and looked into conferences and I just about fell out of my chair when I talked to different hotels. I was like, “Really? That’s crazy.” So it is really challenging to balance the financial part of a practice, but also make it accessible to therapists because they’re taking time out of their practice. They’re not making money then. They’re making less money and paying for a conference. Yes, it’s a challenge
[KATIE] For folks who have a practice and are thinking about having an event of any size, I think being really clear on the costs can be very helpful, because yes, it usually ends up being a wash. I think there are ways to make money at events. I think conferences are pretty, you have to scale really big to be able to make a lot of money at conferences at the size that a lot of folks are and where Curt and I are it’s a wash. But I think understanding the cost and understanding the goal if the goal is advertising like Killin’It Camp, that’s a marketing cost. If it’s a standalone you may want to think about, okay, where do I really want to spend my money? What are the real costs? And hotels, if you have a single day event, you don’t necessarily need a hotel. Once you go past a single day, then all of a sudden you’re getting into hotels where the costs are, what they quote and then they call it plus, which actually means it’s 30% higher than what you’re looking at. So I’ll stop getting into the weeds, but just as practical advice, look at all the costs of the event and look at kind of what the dream is and what is sufficient because I think that if you need to make money or break even on a conference, you need to be very aware of that.
[WHITNEY] Yes, definitely. Well, let’s talk about Therapy Reimagined this year. We’d love to hear more about how to get tickets and some of the precautions or what you’re planning right now while we’re recording, what that it’s going to look like.
[CURT] So you can get your tickets at therapyreimaginedconference.com. That’s where we’re directing all of our traffic and giving a lot of our updates. For all of the ever changing COVID updates, follow all of our social media stuff. But we’re really excited to be offering a hybrid conference this year. We do have some of our speakers who are joining us in Los Angeles and for our live attendees who are able to make it to Los Angeles and join us as well. We’re having a combination of people presenting from the stage with us as well as being able to present from literally all over the world. We have speakers from all over the us, Europe, Australia. It’s something where one of the logistical things of something like this is figuring out who’s in what time zone at what time and what that means.
[CURT] But a couple of our keynotes, Dr. Jamie is doing a presentation on creative mindfulness as it approaches trauma therapy. And that is for our in-audience, our live audience only on September 23rd which is a really great presentation if you’ve never trained with Dr. Jamie before. We’re also being joined by Dr. Bandi Lee, a psychiatrist who over the last several years has really been outspoken about the role of mental health professionals in being able to serve for the public good, especially as it comes to identifying, in her case she’s been very outspoken about Donald Trump and some of the danger factors that she’s identified based on her clinical work. She’s keynoting our Saturday presentations.

Something that we’ve been really proud of for the rest of our slate is really helping to elevate a lot of up and coming voices. Well, you might not recognize everybody’s names on our docket. These are people that we’ve been working with over the last several months and several years, in some cases who are bringing really good and new and fresh perspectives to a variety of different things. And it’s always great seeing some of our former speakers reach those next levels out in the news and some of the stuff that they’re making. So this is one of those things where our conference has been really good at working with people who are on the up and up that are developing a name for themselves. This is an opportunity to hear them early on and hang out with them and meet them.
[KATIE] The conference environment I think is something that obviously is very important to me. I talked about it earlier, but for the in-person audience, we will have opportunities to kind of just enjoy base. We’ll be near Universal Studios, Los Angeles. So there’ll be opportunities and space to go over to the park, to hang out with colleagues nearby, we’ll have some receptions and that kind of stuff. The current COVID precautions that we’re taking is proof of vaccination or negative COVID test. LA is requiring masks so that we’ll be part of the deal in public spaces. All folks inside have to wear masks, but there’s a real effort to focus on community in that in-person space. But we’ve also rebuilt that in the virtual space with these discussion lounges, so people can jump into a discussion lounge after a talk to ask questions of the speaker.

There are going to be some thematic discussion lounges where people are going to talk about kind of big ideas and come together. There’s these video rooms where people can ping someone and jump into a video room together to just meet and talk. So we’re trying to recreate those in-person experiences in the virtual space. We have this cool app that has a social wall and a game and that kind of stuff. So it’s going to be a lot of fun concentrated on the three days of the conference, but everyone who attends all of the talks, except for Dr. Jamie, his is six-hour in-person talk will be recorded. People can access it till the end of the year. So we’ve tried to make it so that people can choose their own adventure, so to speak and really take advantage of the fun in the three days, but also all of the connection that will happen as soon as we enter the app before the conference and all the way through the end of the year, as we continue to develop community and keep people connected.

That’s so important to me. I mean, Curt says like, “Hey, we see our speakers in the news,” but I’m also, “I also see our speakers and sponsors and attendees collaborating, creating new business ventures, putting on new things. Like it’s something where it almost feels like it’s this think tank for folks who think differently, who are modern therapists who are ready to positively impact our profession. So we end up with all these really cool things that are like, I think they met at our conference. I’m like, “Oh my gosh, that’s so amazing.”
[WHITNEY] Yes, that’s great. Well can you give us the details as far as the dates and I think you have a discount for listeners today?
[KATIE] Yes, yes. Sorry. I was going to mention that and I got off track. So the dates are September 23rd through the 25th. Virtually you can attend from anywhere, but in-person will be in Los Angeles, near Universal Studios, Hollywood. Our discount code, this is 10% off for any ticket that you want and it’s TRC10, that’s capital T-R-C-10, the number 10.
[WHITNEY] Thank you. And then just I don’t think we really touched on this too much. You mentioned that y’all have a podcast, the modern therapist survival podcast, correct?
[KATIE] Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide.
[WHITNEY] Thank you. And I’ve listened to it several times and y’all have some great interviews and Jos has the same concept. It’s relevant information for therapists and willing to really push the mark and talk about the things that people are scared to talk about, but that therapists really need to hear about. So encourage listeners to check out their podcast as well. Anything else about the conference we didn’t hit on that you want to make sure to mention today?
[CURT] It’s really a conference that like no other when it comes to therapist conferences. What we’ve heard from some of our attendees in the past is that it was taking actually being there and participating in it to really understand and to really see where our profession can be going. And it’s something where that community is just buzzing and multiple years we’ve had the hotel be like, all right, “We need your people out of here. We got other events that we need to do.” That really does help to build that community together.
[WHITNEY] I love that. Well, I appreciate you guys coming on and, and sharing this and excited to share with everybody as well. So look at the show notes, so you can get all the information and the discount code. I want to ask each of you our last question that I ask every guest, what do you believe that every Christian counselor needs to know?
[KATIE] So for me, I think the biggest thing is it sounds like you talk about, which is that you can honor your own values and your own beliefs and your own faith and being really clear on how that’s showing up in the room. I’ve had a number of clients who have come to me from faith-based counselors, Christian counselors, who felt like there was an element of their identity or an element of a life choice that they were making, like whether or not to divorce an abusive husband, for example, that they could not talk about with their Christian counselor. And it was something where it clear that their faith was so central to who they were and they lost access to that conversation from the Christian counselor, who was not able to be with them in the self-exploration or the decision that they were grappling with. So to me, if we can, I think it’s important to recognize where our bias, where our beliefs can come into the room and may negatively impact our clients.
[CURT] And like I mentioned earlier in the show is being really clear about how you work helps to minimize the number of times that those situations can arise and really providing clients with a clear idea of who you are and being able to very clearly communicate that up front is something that doesn’t right for a very good shared worldview and being comfortable with not every client’s going to respond to every therapist. And that’s a good thing that the more that we can approach our practices in a way of providing healing from our personal experience, our human experiences and our our, our faith-based experiences allows for us to provide the healing in the way from people who can be healed by what we bring. And the more clearly that we can share that, communicate that the easier that we can get there.
[WHITNEY] It’s so true. Well, thank you so much. It’s been my honor and pleasure to hang out with you guys. So thanks for taking the time to be on the show.
[KATIE] Thanks for having us.
[CURT] Yes, thank you.
[WHITNEY] And we want to thank our sponsor Brighter Vision for this episode. I want to remind you the Fall Into Cash offer. Head on over to brighter.com/joe to earn a $49 a month website for a whole year. That’s over $200 in savings on your new website with Brighter Vision. So to get that deal, go on over to brightevision.com/joe.

Before we end today, I want to remind you about Group Practice Launch, our membership community for those that are starting a group practice. We only launch once every six months. So if you’re thinking about starting a group practice in the next six months, head on over to practiceofthepractice.com/grouppracticelaunch. Today, the doors are open. Early bird special ends at midnight tonight. So don’t miss your opportunity to join us in growing your group practice.

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 in group consulting, or just shoot me an email, whitney@practiceofthepractice.com. We’d love to hear from you.

This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard 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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