Are you on the fence about getting started because you don’t have everything perfectly set up yet? Not quite sure how you can get your first clients? Do you know that there is a great community of people who could help you along the way?
In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks with Jennifer DiGennaro about how she got seven clients in her first month.
Next Level Practice is an industry-changing project to help counselors to start a private practice. Unlike many programs that are time-limited, or just an e-course, this brand new approach offers live and recorded trainings, small group accountability, and feedback.
Meet Jennifer DiGennaro
Jennifer is the founder of Nourished Energy, a holistic psychotherapy practice in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She specializes in treating binge eating disorder, chronic stress, body image concerns and trauma.
Jennifer’s website and blog can be found at http://nourishedenergy.com/
Find out more about Jennifer here:
Jennifer DiGennaro’s Story
Jennifer originally founded Nourished Energy to help people step out of diet culture and into their bodies. She quickly realized the often-common link between unresolved past hurts to current issues and symptoms.
From working with people experiencing devastating depressions and overwhelming anxieties, to body disconnection, binge eating and troubled relationships, Jennifer could see the depth of the hurt. Jennifer believes that as powerful as talk therapy is, there is more. She began to take training’s that brought the body, heart and spirit into the therapeutic relationship.
In This Podcast
In this episode, Joe speaks to Jennifer about how she started her practice in 2015, when she was heading into grad school. Jennifer started this practice before she attained her Masters Degree, she got a certification in intuitive eating counseling – something she is very passionate about.
She was doing an internship at a private practice where she given a lot of autonomy and was working with several clients. Jennifer made these clients aware that she would be going into her private practice in a few months.
Jennifer got her license at the end of February this year and since then she has moved into her office. When she opened up her doors for business she already had seven clients on her books whom she had previously worked with.
Before Launching Jennifer Focused On:
Embrace imperfection, it will paralyze you if think everything needs to be perfect. You’re allowed to make mistakes.
- Her website and writing her own copy
- Getting business systems in place
- Opening a bank account
- Joining Next Level Practice
Why Jennifer joined Next Level Practice
If I hadn’t joined I think I would have felt lonely and lost.
- Being in a community of people who could guide her
- Sharing real life experiences within their businesses
- Having the human connection aside from all the resources made available
Next Steps for Jennifer to Grow her Practice
- Creating more visibility and getting a marketing strategy
- Get more consistent with her blogging
- Connecting more with people who her work speaks to
Meet Joe Sanok
Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.
Thanks For Listening!
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JENNIFER DIGENNARO GOT SEVEN CLIENTS IN HER FIRST MONTH
This is the Practice of the Practice podcast with Joe Sanok – Session Number 312.
INTRODUCTION[JOE] Well, today in the Practice of the Practice podcast, we have Jennifer DiGennaro. She’s the founder of Nourished Energy of Holistic Psychotherapy Practice in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She specializes in binge eating disorder, chronic stress, body image concerns, and trauma. Jennifer, welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast.
[JENNIFER] Hi, Joe. Thanks for having me.
[JOE] Yeah. I’m really excited to have you here, a fellow Michigan-er! I love Grand Rapids.
[JENNIFER] Oh, it’s a great city.
[JOE] Yeah. East Town has some wonderful restaurants there. Well, all of Grand Rapids does. It’s a great place.
[JENNIFER] Oh, for sure. Yeah. I can work through several great restaurants right from my office.
[JOE] Well, what part of town is your office?
[JENNIFER] I’m right in East Town. Yup, right there.
[JOE] Oh, nice. The Green Well, is that the one that’s right down there?
[JENNIFER] Yup. That’ s a few blocks down but I’m like right there by Terra and Early Bird, and some other great restaurants.
[JOE] Nice! Very cool. Very cool. Well, Jennifer. Take us through a little bit of your story of starting a practice. When did you start it? And then I’ll ask some questions there.
[JENNIFER] Well, it’s really interesting. I actually started my practice in 2015 right when I was heading to grad school. So, I actually started to practice when I had my master’s degree and I had gotten a certification in intuitive eating counseling I’m very passionate about. I thought to myself. Well, now, I’m going to do this and make it bigger and bigger. Why not start it now? I already knew what I wanted to call my practice. I was ready to go. When I did, I started seeing clients at a subclinical level and worked with people who were maybe seeing a therapist. And then, they also wanted to work in intuitive eating with me as sort of a mentor. So, I started that business then. And so, this past few month it’s switching over to a clinical practice. That’s been quite an adventure.
[JOE] That’s great. Wow. So, for most people, they think, “Oh, I can’t start a practice before I have my license.” But, that wasn’t you. How did you decide that you’re going to do that before you got licensed?
WHAT IS INTUITIVE EATING?[JENNIFER] I just decided that’s what I’m going to do. I didn’t actually get tons of advice from other people. I just sort of know what I want to do, and I know there’s a need for it. Clearly, there were women that were struggling with food and body in a way that they just wanted someone more to talk to. Maybe, they’re on therapy they’ve dealt with some of their own. Body shame, there’s so much shame around it. And so, they could come to see me. I actually did some body work with some of my clients because I’m also certified in Reiki. I just did it.
[JOE] So, for some people that haven’t heard about intuitive eating, what is that?
[JENNIFER] Well, it is a sort of like a list of principles of guidelines. It’s not about rules. It’s definitely not a diet. It was developed in the 90s by 2 dieticians that specialized in working with people with issues around food. And, often people that who wanted to lose weight. What they say is that sure they give people a plan. People will lose ether weight. And then, as soon as the people stop the plan, the weight would come back on. And so, it just became unethical sort of to recommend these restrictive eating protocols. But, they’re like, “What can we do?”
They developed intuitive eating in the 90s. They wrote a book. There have been several editions. They have a certification process where you can become an intuitive eating counselor and I just loved it because that’s what I did with my own when I didn’t even know there was a thing. But, I was like, “I can’t diet anymore. This doesn’t work for me.” So, then, when I found the work of Elyse Resche. I was like, “Oh my gosh. Yes.” So, I was really passionate about it personally. So, I help people step out of dieting and into their bodies and listening deeply to what nurses them and what fuels them.
[JOE] Oh, that’s so great. I feel like for me, just personally, I feel like when I eat healthier, I just feel better. I create less and less of those things that are bad for me like Cheez-It and Pringles.
[JENNIFER] Well, yeah and intuitive eating, we really want to take away any of those labels really. There are no bad foods. It really is about listening deeply. I even noticed. I used to think that sugary foods are bad. But now, well no, they’re just food. I have them sometimes. Sometimes, they make me feel great. Sometimes, I know that’s not really what my body wanted. But, it’s about legalizing all foods.
[JOE] Interesting. Very cool. So, when you graduated, when you got licensed, and when you made the switch from being pre-clinical and then you’re fully licensed, how long has that been going for you?
[JENNIFER] Well, I’m here in Michigan. I actually have an LLPC. I have a limited license so I’m still under supervision but in Michigan, you only got a week of practice under supervision. So, I got my license at the end of February. Just not that long ago!
[JOE] That’s incredible! I love seeing people so early in the process that has joined Next Level Practice that is involved with just rocking it out. So, have you been working on? Take us through February till now. What have you worked on? How many clients are you seeing? What have you learned?
NUMBER OF CLIENTS[JENNIFER] Yeah. Yeah. My gosh. It’s just that my brain has just been intense. It’s been more intense than being in grad school actually because I care so much about my practice and I want to learn. I’ve been following you and obviously engaging in some of your offerings and some other people. So, I moved into my office in East Town on April 1st. That was just a whirlwind of getting my website revamped. I had a website, but I redid it and it’s still a working process. So, I’m getting that up.
[JOE] Let me pause you there. So many people feel like they just need to do it perfect the first time. I love what you say, “You know what. I got it up. It’s a working process. This is what we’re doing.” And so, you just move forward, and you can work on it later. Not get paralyzed by perfection. I just wanted to say, “Awesome!”
[JENNIFER] Yes. Bravo to that. I’m all like to embrace imperfection because it will paralyze you if you think everything needs to be perfect. You’re allowed to make mistakes. So, absolutely. I move into my office April 1st and the really awesome thing… I’m really proud of myself so I’m just going to let myself have that. Like, I had several clients. I did an internship at a private practice where I was given a lot of autonomy. I was working with clients and several of them knew that I’d be going into my private practice in about 4 months. I’ve told them probably Spring.
It was so awesome. As soon as my doors opened, they were all reaching out to me. They’re like, “Jen, we’re ready to work with you again.” You know, it felt really good to have these people that I already have worked with. So, it wasn’t like it’s hard to do a bunch of intakes. Let me tell you. It’s not fun. So, it was really great to have some people that we have trust built and we were able to pick up where some of the places that we left off. It’s just been such a gift.
[JOE] Did you reach out to them and said, “I’m opening now.” Or, did they just kind of follow you? How did you maintain that relationship?
BEING ETHICAL IN PURSUING CLIENTS[JENNIFER] Well, you know, I mean, you have to be ethical about it and that pursue clients. So, what I did when I left my internship, I urged everyone, of course, “Please here are some referrals. Take care of yourself. I’m not available. See someone.” Of course, they have the autonomy to choose what they’re going to do. And, I just said, “Here’s my contact information. The ball’s in your court. If you want to keep an eye out, I have a fairly active Facebook page. So, I was hosting all kinds of stuff.” People kind of knew and they reached out to me and I reach out to them. So, that felt right.
[JOE] So, how many clients did you have around early April?
[JENNIFER] I mean I was out the gate. Oh dear. I had seven clients on the books my first month.
[JOE] Wow, incredible.
[JENNIFER] I worked really hard for that.
[JOE] Take us through March. What were you doing that month before you launched? What are those things that you’re truly hard on?
[JENNIFER] I mean my website really, it was so much of my heart. And so, I went into that website and writing my own copy. That was a lot of work because I wanted to have some real core information on my website so people that have to go to other places to learn unless they wanted to. It was the website that I spent the most amount of time on. And then, you know, getting some business systems in place. Just so, I knew, I used Electronic Medical Record. Getting that at sort of squared away. And you know, the bank account and all of those little checkboxes.
[JOE] The nuts and bolts in that, first little bits.
[JENNIFER] Absolutely. Yes. And that’s where being in your group…Your Next Level Practice group is absolutely priceless and journeying with other people who had either been there or right in the middle of it. And so, I could just ask the quick question, you know, like I got signed up with Hushmail. I have Hippo compliant email service. I would have never known anything about Hushmail. I could ask people. “Do you like it?” They would say yes. These were people that I was starting to build relationships with. So, I would kind of trust what they have to say. So far, everything’s just been fantastic, the advice that I’ve gotten, relationships that I’ve made.
[JOE] I think that’s what one of our values definitely. We give you options and ideas. It’s your business. You get to decide what you want to do. So, we may recommend an EMR because we’ve connected with them. We’ve got lots of people that liked them. But then, you look at it and say, “That doesn’t for me.” “Awesome! We’ll support you in that too!” So, I love that we have this community that can really just dive in together.
[JENNIFER] Yes. The community is everything to me. In my training, I have several certifications, getting the training, being with the community. That’s when I knew I wanted when I joined Next Level Practice. I go with the community. I like being able to have people that are real, that talk about, “Hey, I’m struggling.” Hey, here’s a win and it’s so awesome to hear someone else’s win even if you’re not there to know, “Oh gosh, okay. Someone else is doing well.” The energy will come back around to me. It’s just a matter of time.
[JOE] That’s awesome. And, were you in the first cohort? Or second cohort?
[JENNIFER] I was in the very first cohort.
[JOE] You always have that badge. Well, I think that’s incredible that you’re… you were 3 months before you even opened, and you saw value and saying, “I need to be in this community. I need to get this guidance, so I do it right and don’t waste time. For you, being in that community from January until April, what did that do for you that say you weren’t in it. Like, what would have been the difference between not doing Next Level Practice and then doing it?
NEXT LEVEL PRACTICE[JENNIFER] I think I would have felt lonely and a little lost. I had a checklist. I have lots of your free resource that you awesomely provide even to people that aren’t in it. I had all the papers, but it was like to have the human connection, you know. Other people that were working on the same things that I was working on, it made me feel so much less lonely. And then, I just have to say, my absolute favorite thing about Next Level Practice is my partner, my buddy, that Emily, your assistant, matched me up with my partner who is like a soulmate.
I love her. I could cry, Joe. It’s priceless to me because now, I have this person in my life who I think should probably in my life forever now. We practice our practices. Our practices are similar. We practice the same way. So, we have had some real heart-to-hearts. Just having her support… My first piece of mail that I got in my new office was a card from my Next Level Practice buddy telling me how proud she was of me. She was just awesome.
[JOE] That gives me shivers. To have an idea as a team and say, “You know, I think that the online world is really lonely even if there’s lots of information out there.” How do we personalize it and create something that’s just not happening? And, to say, accountability partners, small groups, and having that personal side of it. And then, they have the real story like this. This thing we dreamt of and thought, what if we really tried to disrupt the private practice consulting world and making something that’s mind-blowing? And then, to have you have this relationship, whether or not you stay in Next Level Practice for a long, long time, you still have that connection and that relationship with her. That’s just incredible.
[JENNIFER] Yes. Yes. It’s such a gift. I mean, I’m just so grateful.
[JOE] When Emily, she did that with Slowdown School last year. In Slowdown School, we have roommates for that. It’s out for this boarding school. It kind of feels like a college but it kind of feels like a conference. But, it’s in the woods. So, everybody has a roommate, which for adults is usually kind of weird. But, the deep connections, she did such an amazing job. I remember this lady, Jen, and this other lady, Dana were roommates. And, Jen is this like dog-lover kind-of-hippie like ruff and the gruff lady from Detroit. And, Dana is this proper New York city blonde. You look at the two of them and you would say, “Come on. Who would put those two together?” But, by the end of the week, they were like best friends. And, Emily had connected them. They knew that they both loved dogs. They were each other’s best friends throughout that whole week. It was so cool. Emily’s a master of doing that.
[JENNIFER] That’s awesome. She really is. I even thought that my onboarding call with Emily was really cathartic and healing because I felt so heard. She asked me really good questions. And, I was able to really share myself with her. I think that how she was able to match me up with my partner, who of course, probably had some similar responses. So, yeah, that’s a matchmaking machine you got there.
[JOE] I think that leads to what we all want. We want the knowledge on how to do this stuff, but we also want that emotional connection with people. We wanted to make sure on the front-end that at least one member of our team, you had a deep conversation with. And, that you’re able to say, “Here’s where I’m at.” And then, we could say, “Okay, let’s find the best fit for a small group for an accountability partner.” Do our best job with that. That doesn’t really exist in our space despite being a therapist where it’s all about the relationship.
[JENNIFER] Right. Oh, my gosh. Yes
[JOE] Now, where do you think you’re headed in the next 3 to 6 months? What’s on your mental checklist of, “Here’s what I know I need to do to keep growing, to move kind of out of the start phase into more of that growth phase?”
TO THE GROWTH PHASE[JENNIFER] Yeah, I mean, for me, I need people to know I exist. I have already been in my community a bit. But, I need to amp that up. So, for me, it’s really getting a marketing strategy that’s a little more honed in. I mean I’ve been all over the place like with Facebook and different things. To get really lasered in, to get more consistent with my blogging, to come up with some kind of a marketing plan because I have some resources. I can put towards it but I don’t want to just start throwing money at things not knowing what I’m doing. So, for me, it’s to get more visibility.
[JOE] Did we lose you? Hello? Hold on, wait. I lost you for a minute there. Say that last little bit there.
[JENNIFER] So, I had someone looking at my Psychology Today profile. She followed that to my website, read my website, and she said…
[JOE] I think we’ve got you back here. So, you’re saying, someone went from the Psychology Today to the website and that you’re the only… And then we’re left with a cliffhanger.
[JENNIFER] That I was the only therapist they wanted to work within West Michigan. They were really happy. They even think someone with my skillset. So, my sort of like profile in Psychology Today and my website spoke directly to this person who ended up being a really great fit for me. For me, it’s just to find more of the people who may work speaks to. You do that by getting out about the work that you do.
SIGNING UP TO NEXT LEVEL PRACTICE[JOE] That’s awesome. So, what kind of people do you think should sign up for Next Level Practice?
[JENNIFER] Oh, yeah. I think anybody that’s looking to grow is to build. I mean I have found the variety of people in the group. There’s a great variety of people. I don’t think that there’s anybody that wanted to be a good fit for if they’re looking for community and they’re looking for resources, and they’re looking for a connection, and they’re looking to grow. So, yeah.
[JOE] That’s awesome. So, the last question is if every private practice owner in the world were listening right now, what would you want them to know?
[JENNIFER] Oh wow. Being so new, that’s a big question for me. Don’t do it alone. Find community and talk to other people in the field. Believe in yourself and don’t stop.
[JOE] Oh, that’s so good, Jennifer. If people want to connect with you, see your website, learn more about your work, what’s the best way for them to connect with you?
[JENNIFER] Yeah. Visit my website. It’s nourishedenergy.com and I’m on Facebook at Nourished Energy.
[JOE] That is awesome. Well, thanks so much for being on the Practice of the Practice podcast today.
[JENNIFER] Thank you, Joe, for everything you do. You’re awesome. Your energy is like so awesome. You’re so much enthusiasm. I appreciate it.
[JOE] Thank you so much, Jennifer. And, for those who are listening, if you want to join the next cohort of the Next Level Practice. We would absolutely love to have you join me and Jennifer, and all the people I’ve been interviewing. We’re forming cohorts every month or say of 50 to 100 people, so we could really personally reach out to you, talk with you, find the best fit. You can have an accountability partner just like Jennifer, someone that you connect with, that would help hold you accountable, will help you grow. We also have small groups involved.
We have monthly teachings, webinars, Q&As and we have a really active private Facebook group. If you want to join Next Level Practice, we would absolutely love you in it. You can head on over practiceofthepractice.com/invite to request your invite. And then, you’ll get a link as to when our next cohort opens up. Thanks so much for hanging out with me and Jennifer today. Have a great day, everybody! [Special thanks to the band Silent is Sexy for that intro music. And, this podcast is designed to provide accurate and intuitive information in regard to the subject matter covered. It’s given to the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinic, or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one.]