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

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

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

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