Live Consulting with Brenda Stewart: What are the First Steps to Starting a Group Practice | FP 88

Are you thinking about starting a group practice? How do you set up your group practice so that you encourage clinician retention? What are some of the early financial pieces to be aware of?

In this podcast episode, Whitney Owens does a live consulting call with Brenda Stewart about the first steps to starting a group practice.

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Simply visit brightervision.com/joe to learn more and get your first month free of a new website for your private practice.

Meet Brenda Stewart

Brenda Stewart holds a MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Regent University and is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Florida and a Nationally Certified Counselor. She is the founder of Wellspring Therapy Associates, a clinically sound faith-based practice in the Orlando area.

She specializes in working with clients who struggle with anxiety and those have experienced trauma. Brenda’s additional trainings and certifications include EMDR, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Compassion Fatigue Educator, and Compassion Fatigue Therapist. Brenda is a member of EMDRIA, the American Counseling Association, American Association of Christian Counselors, and Chi Sigma Iota where she served as chapter president.

She has presented at various professional conferences on topics including grief, infertility, spirituality in distance supervision, and the impact of childhood sexual abuse on adult relationship patterns through the lens of attachment. She has also appeared on the Hope Unabridged Podcast and conducted webinars for Jay Johnson Ministries. Brenda is passionate about helping others heal and imparts hope to her clients throughout the therapy process.

Visit her website. Connect on Instagram.

In This Podcast

  • To start a group practice or not?
  • Initial steps for starting a group practice
  • Early financial investment
  • Retaining clinicians

To start a group practice or not?

There are many benefits to starting a group practice. Here are some things to consider:

A group practice is a launching pad:

Once you have your systems running well, you have hired more staff who are seeing clients, you are making vicarious income off of their seeing clients and this income provides you with the space to see less of your own clients, giving you the chance to do more things to grow the practice.

Try to not do it all at once

Even though you may have lots of ideas that you are excited to try out, pick one to start with because when you commit to too many new projects, you burn yourself out and often struggle to complete them all.

Consider your own energy levels

Think about how you feel energy-wise with the clients you are already seeing before adding on new projects onto your current workload.

What I’m hearing as you’re talking is that a group practice might be the way to go initially … so that bigger things can happen and there’s more ideas and more resources to pull from. (Brenda Stewart)

If you decide that you want to start a group practice, do not delay it unnecessarily. You can start even when you are a little uncertain, even if you are a little nervous – because the sooner you start, the sooner you will have that extra income and the sooner you can begin to work on the projects that excite you and grow your practice further.

Initial steps for starting a group practice

Once you have decided that you would like to start your group practice, and you are unsure as to how many clinicians to hire, Whitney recommends that you always hire two clinicians at a time.

But at the same time, if you get three or four [therapists] and you just think that they are fantastic, do not turn away a good therapist for your practice, they are not always easy to find … don’t let somebody fall through the cracks just because you’re nervous about filling them up with clients. (Whitney Owens)

In the beginning stages of a group practice, the philosophy “if you build it, they will come” does ring true. If you set up your practice for four clinicians, even if currently you only have one or two recently hired, you will either find the other two or they will come to you.

The more people at your practice, the more people that know about the business, the more clients that are coming, the more specializations they can offer, the more people you can market on your website. (Whitney Owens)

When you hire clinicians in patches of two, you save yourself time and money because you can train them together instead of spending time with them individually, and you encourage comradery between them because they get to know each other well while they train together.

Depending on the type of practice you would like to run, you can either hire clinicians whose skillsets compliments your own and thus your practice will share similar ideal clients, or your practice can host a variety of therapists who specialize in different fields.

Early financial investment

With regards to finances, it does become important whether you hire W2 or 1099 clinicians. If you choose the W2 model, it is slightly more expensive in the beginning but it definitely pays off in the end because you can receive higher profit margins than if you had 1099 employees.

Most businesses that go with the W2 model tend to have better profit margins … I’ve talked to several other people, and I’ve noticed in my own practice when I made that transition from contractors to W2, the [W2] model had better profit, and I could invest a lot more in the business and do more for the clinicians than when they were contractors. (Whitney Owens)

First, when you hire a new clinician you have to think about initial expenses, such as:

  • Phoneline,
  • EHR,
  • Email

Some of these are expenses that you may already be paying and do not need to add more of, however, there will be small expenses each time you hire a new W2 employee.

Get your income rolling in first before you hire office space, and a good rule of thumb is to not pay rent that is more than 10% of your annual income.

Retaining clinicians

Often group practice owners worry about retaining their clinicians. In most cases, W2 employee clinicians tend to stay in the group practice longer than 1099s.

In your interview process, you can vet potential clinicians to see if they are willing to, and want to, stay with you in your group practice for the long term.

Ask them what their long-term goals are, and see if they are the kind of people who would want to start their own business or if they are the kinds of people to work within a company.

You can create a group practice where your clinicians would like to stay, and this opportunity is opened up through good communicative channels.

Ask your clinicians what services would be important to them to have, what they like and don’t like, and you can structure the group practice around their needs because then they would be more likely to stay.

Useful Links:

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.

Thanks For Listening!

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Podcast Transcription

[WHITNEY OWENS] Do you need help building your brand? Feel like you don’t even know where to begin when it comes to marketing your practice online? Whether you’re a seasoned clinician with a website in need of a refresh or you’re fresh out of school needing your very first therapist website, Brighter Vision is the perfect solution from building a brand and designing the perfect website to reflect that to helping you rank higher with search engines. They’ve even created tools to make online marketing simple that are specifically for therapists. Best of all, we’ve worked with them to create a special offer just for our listeners. Simply visit brightervision.com\Joe, to learn more and get your first month free on a new website for your private practice. Again, that’s brightervision.com\Joe.

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. Thanks for taking the time today to listen to the show. I’m excited this month of June. It’s great because the podcast has some cool episodes and live consulting, but tomorrow is a particularly special day for me. June 17th is not only my husband’s birthday, but it’s also my daughter’s birthday. Yes, she was born on her daddy’s birthday. Like could you ask for more? But actually her name is Abigail, which means father’s joy. When we went to the hospital, we did not know what we were going to name her, a lot of good names on a piece of paper and just couldn’t decide. But then when she was actually born on daddy’s birthday, it pretty much solidified what we were going to name her. So June is always an exciting month for our family and we get to do parties together, which actually my husband likes, because he doesn’t like all the attention of birthday parties, as opposed to me – I want everyone at my birthday party. So he likes being able to share it with his daughter so that she can get some of that attention and he doesn’t have to have all that attention.

So anyway, early shout out to their birthdays. I’m also excited about this podcast episode because I got to interview Brenda Stewart. She is near and dear to my heart. I would say about a year ago, I don’t know, it could have been longer than that, she signed up for a free consulting call with me and we jumped on the short phone call and kind of talked about her practice and what she was doing. She was working on another group practice wanting to start our own practice, didn’t really know what steps to take to start, and I encouraged her to do some consulting because I thought it would help her and starting a practice. But at that time she just wasn’t ready financially to do that and she was just trying to think through her options.

And then a few months later as I was getting a mastermind started, she came to mind and so I reached out to her and I said, “Hey, I know it’s been a few months, but here’s a way for you to get the steps and starting your practice at a lower cost way in a group setting.” And she emailed me right back and we had a conversation and she joined the group. And then even beyond that, I got to meet her in person at a local conference. That was the one down in Jacksonville, back in April of 2021. And I love getting to hang out with her and talk about not only her practice but her life. And that’s one of the things I just love about being a consultant and having a podcast and getting to know people all over the nation is people reach out to me when they’re at different things and I get to meet them in person and hang out and it’s a really special time.

So I think Brenda is super cool. She took the leap and left a group practice and started her own practice and it’s going awesome. I still stay in touch with her as I do many of the people that have done consulting with. So in this episode, she’s asking about the steps to starting a group practice. So we discuss that as she’s looking at getting her solo practice really up and running and thinking about next steps and having her solo practice ready to start expanding. If you’re listening to this episode and you’re thinking I want to grow my solo faith-based practice, or maybe I’ve started a group practice, I’m still trying to get all the steps in place, please consider joining the mastermind group. You can go to practiceofthepractice.com/faithmastermind, or send me an email, whitney@practiceofthepractice.com.

I’ll be launching two groups in July. Those groups are about eight people each and we really work on having a group practice or growing your solo practice. So those are the two different groups they’ll be doing. It’ll last six months. We’ll finish up before Christmas and your practice will be in a better place than it was when you started. So let’s jump into this podcast episode with Brenda Stewart on the Faith in Practice podcast, episode 88, What are the First Steps to Starting a Group Practice?
[WHITNEY] Today on the Faith in Practice podcast I have my good friend, Brenda Stewart. She holds an MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Regent University and is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Florida and a Nationally Certified Counselor. She is the founder of Wellspring Therapy Associates, a clinically sound faith-based practice in the Orlando area. She specializes in working with clients who struggle with anxiety and those who experience trauma. She also has additional training and certification in EMDR, DBT, Compassion Fatigue Educator, and Compassion Fatigue Therapist. Welcome to the show.
[BRENDA STEWART] Thank you. Thanks for having me on. It’s a privilege to be here.
[WHITNEY] Yes. Well, we’d love for you to just start out sharing kind of where you are at and about your private practice so that people kind of get a feel for you.
[BRENDA] Sure. I am, I’ve been a therapist for about five years and just recently have gone into private practice from being a 1099 independent contractor. So I’m in the stages of getting everything off the ground. However, I’m able to take clients that I’ve marketed and been working with already. So I’m kind of new in private practice with a full caseload, which is nice.
[WHITNEY] That is very nice. Yes, most people want that for a long time, so way to go.
[BRENDA] Thank you.
[WHITNEY] Yes. Okay, so you’re starting your private practice. When do your doors open for that?
[BRENDA] June 1st, actually.
[WHITNEY] Great. June 1st, 2021. So by the time this episode comes out, Brenda will be killing it in her practice. So let’s hit your question today. What’s your question for the show?
[BRENDA] Sure. I’m learning the business side of private practice, which thankfully I’ve been part of your Faith in Practice consultation group, which has been invaluable in helping and really giving me practical steps along the way as I’ve taken action towards opening the doors officially, June 1st. So thank you for that and all your work in that. So as I learn the business side and I’m also having a full private practice caseload, I’m looking at which direction to head next and I have two questions or two options I’m wrestling with. One is I love group work. I love doing kind of intensives groups on different topics and there’s a high need, I keep getting calls for groups for the summer. And I thought of I could do some intensive weekends or a nine to 12 week on group for teens on emotional regulation or social relationships or things like that. Or I could get a group practice started and wait on the intensives until I have more staff in place. So I’m not sure where to spend my time or which direction to go that would be most beneficial.
[WHITNEY] Hmm. Brenda, I hear this question often from practice owners as they want to start a group practice, but they also have some really big ideas that they want to do. And honestly, I want you to do both, because they both sound great and they both meet your clinical need. They both help the community. But some things that I think are important to think about, one great thing about a group practice is it’s a launching pad for so many other things, because once you can really get your systems running and you’ve hired people and they’re seeing people you’re making that income off of them working with clients. And that provides you some more space to see less clients and do other things such as intensives and groups and things like that.
[BRENDA] That makes sense.
[WHITNEY] I think, yes, I think one of my concerns is for people, they want to do it all. I mean, we’re entrepreneurs, we’re excited, we think we have all this energy, but if you try to do too many things, you’re going to burn yourself out or one thing’s not going to be done well. Something’s going to give. So I encourage you to consider one or the other in moving forward. I mean, also think about your own energy level here. And how you’re feeling right now with your current clients, do you feel like you would have the energy and stamina to also do intensives on the weekends when you’re seeing clients during the week?
[BRENDA] That was a question that I had just with a full case load and I see fairly high acuity clients. So it’s been a challenge to just balance being an entrepreneur and managing all of that with full-time practice. So I wasn’t sure if that was wise to do, although I love it. So I think maybe what I’m hearing as you talk is that starting group practice might be the way to go initially so that bigger things can happen and there’s more ideas and more resources to pull from.
[WHITNEY] Sure. Yes, I mean, I think you could consider these courses. I wouldn’t do them on the weekends. You need your rest. I would consider maybe decreasing your caseload so that you can take on a group. If you already have people that would be appropriate for the group and they’re asking for it, then you’re not really having to reinvent the wheel because you already run groups. So you would just run the same groups in the summer, see less clients. What I don’t want to see is that you pull these intensives on your plate and see your same caseload.
[BRENDA] A recipe for burnout.
[WHITNEY] You got it. You got it. Yes. So I don’t know, do you think you could just take your current groups that you already run and kind of morph those into like a IOP, almost like a mini IOP program over the summer for adolescents?
[BRENDA] I could potentially do that. Sometimes I see a little bit of a decrease in the summer months with clients just because of vacations and trips and going away. So I’ll already have a little bit of a shift, I don’t know. I tend to see more long-term clients. So I don’t have a lot that are going to be discharging in the next month or so. So it might be an overlap, but I could put the current groups I have in adolescent groups for sure.
[WHITNEY] Yes. I would definitely consider doing that now. So you’re thinking about starting a group practice. I think that’s awesome. I love owning a group practice. I love helping people start group practices and right, there’s so many benefits. Like not only the things we just talked about for your own caseload, your own finances, but you’re helping the community. You’re hiring therapists offering more services. Like it doesn’t get any better than that. So I encourage people, if you already know, I want to start a group practice don’t delay and write for, not only for all the services you can provide in your area and there’s such a need right now, but the financial piece. So let’s say as a group practice owner, and most people don’t make a ton in their first year owning a group practice simply because they put a lot of money into the upfront part of it and you only have a couple of therapists. It’s really, when you hit that four to five therapists threshold, that you start to notice a pretty significant change in your own income and your own client load. But you got to hit, you got to get those first therapists to get to those four or five.

So you might, let’s say in your first year, and I’m just throwing numbers out here, I don’t really know. Let’s say you made $20,000 extra because you hired three clinicians in a year. Well, let’s say you told me, “I want to wait. I’m not ready. I don’t think I’m ready.” Well, that’s $20,000 that you’re not going to get until two years from now. And then if you’d started now, that two years from now could have grown to 30 or 40,000 extra, I’m thinking big here.
[BRENDA] I like it.
[WHITNEY] We want to think big. So I’m just saying, if you already know it’s what you want to do and you already are setting yourself up for that, go ahead and start doing it instead of delaying it.
[BRENDA] Okay. So if I were to move in that direction with beginning of group practice, do you suggest hiring one clinician on at a time or kind of two or three and training them in processes altogether?
[WHITNEY] Yes, a lot to say here. I always encourage people to hire two at a time. But at the same time, if you get three or four and you just think they’re fantastic, do not turn away a good therapist for your practice. Like they’re not always easy to find. A lot of good therapists have their own businesses or they’re just working somewhere else. Like somebody has already snagged them. So don’t let somebody fall through the cracks just because you’re nervous about filling them up with clients. It’s so amazing, the whole idea of if you build it, they will come. It’s so true. So a lot of people will say to me, “Well, I don’t want to hire two because how am I going to fill up two.” You are going to fill up two and the more people at your practice, the more people that know about the business, the more clients that are coming, the more specializations that you offer, the more people you can mark it on your website, Psychology Today, and other online platforms.

Plus when you hire two people, you are saving yourself time. You’re also bringing comradery with the people that you hire at one time, they get to know each other really well. And then unfortunately, we were just talking about burnout, it’s real and if somebody leaves your practice, you’re not stuck without a group practice. You still have another clinician there. So I would suggest thinking about when, when you think about your first hires, I encourage people to hire someone like themselves. Like you, I know you and your practice because you’re in the mastermind, but like you’re already getting multiple calls for DBT, for adolescents, for young adults. I would hire someone who likes to do DBT, especially because those are your critical clients. When you’re a group practice and you have to start stepping back from, I was just talking to another business owner about this last week, you’ve got to step back from those critical clients because it’s so taxing and you just don’t have the energy for it because you’re going to be doing a lot of other things on your practice.
[BRENDA] Okay. So hiring somebody that’s similar in interests than me and then waiting or at least one person, and then somebody with a different skill set, maybe who does couples or children or things like that.
[WHITNEY] Sure. And that’ll all depend on what kind of niche you want your practice. So somebody might say to me, “Hey, I want to completely DBT practice, DBT therapists.” Well, then you would hire that. I know other practices that only see women or only do substance abuse. So if you want to niche down, that’s great. So you want to have a more eclectic practice then, yes, you want to hire someone who compliments. So if you were working with teenagers, yes, someone who can see couples would be a compliment. Because a lot of times teenagers are acting out because their parents are separated or going through a divorce. Not always, but you do see that together.
[BRENDA] Couples or family therapy would be great. It’s great asset. So with starting in group practice, what would you say is a reasonable cost factor that I would invest up front?
[WHITNEY] Yes, I get that question a lot. I get that question all the time. We all want to know how much money. So it does matter if you go W2 or 1099. And I’m pretty sure if I remember correctly, we’ve discussed this when you want to do a W2 model. So there’s a little bit more that goes up front, but it pays off in the end. In fact, we found that most businesses that go with the W2 model tend to have better profit margins, not across the board perfect, but I’ve talked to several other people and I noticed that even in my own practice, when I made that transition from contractors to W2 model, had better profit. And I can invest a lot more in the business and do a lot more for the clinicians than when they were contractors. So thinking about the financial part, well, you need to first think about expenses. So every time you add some money, you have the basic expenses. You have the EHR, phone line, email, those kinds of thing. Now, the good news is there some things you’re already paying for that you don’t need to add. I mean, like you don’t have to pay more for your website. Your website is your website, but you will need to pay for a headshot or online directories that you want to add them to and your liability insurance.
[BRENDA] Right.
[BRENDA] So I would say all that stuff together, if I’m just ballparking it, I actually have this all written down somewhere for my own practice, but that’s probably $200, $300 a month, maybe if you were to take all that and average out just those basic expenses. And then you want to consider rent. Now, if you already have an office, you do not need to start adding a bunch of space just because you start a group practice. And that’s where a lot of people fail at this. They start getting these big buildings and they don’t need them yet. You can totally maximize the space that you already have first, get that income rolling in and then expand to more space. You don’t want to get more space before you actually have the money for it. And a good rule of thumb with space is not to spend more than 10% of the revenue on rent.
[BRENDA] Okay. That’s good to know.
[WHITNEY] If you’re looking for a rule, I love rules.
[BRENDA] I do too. Rules and practical steps. I’m all about it.
[WHITNEY] Yes. And then a couple of other things that you’ll be paying for would be your attorney.
[BRENDA] Yes, I was going to ask that. With just the private practice. I don’t necessarily need an attorney, correct? Or is that, but just when I started group?
[WHITNEY] No. I mean, some people do like to have their paperwork reviewed by an attorney. I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary, but —
[BRENDA] Which I have done.
[WHITNEY] Okay. Yes, you would just need the attorney to talk to you a little bit about the differences with 1099s and W2’s, let them know, “I’m going W2. Is there anything I need to know in the state of Florida about that?” And then you’ll want them to review your offer letter that you’re going to give to the person when they, yes, and once they review one offer letter, you’re good. And that’s the great thing about working with me or with anyone at Practice of the Practice. We have all that and I can give you a letter and then I’ve already had it looked at by my attorney that I paid for. So then you can just edit it for your needs and make sure that your attorney says, “Yep. That’s good for Florida as well.”
[BRENDA] And is there a specific type of attorney, just a small business or does it need to be a therapy?
[WHITNEY] Oh no, no, no. I would get a small business attorney.
[BRENDA] Okay.
[WHITNEY] Yes. And then, because really a mental health attorney is somebody that handles mental health crisis stuff, not business stuff. So you want someone who specializes in small business.
[BRENDA] Okay. That makes sense.
[WHITNEY] Yes. And then you’ll make sure you have an accountant because you’re going to need to do some of that. As far as, some people like to hire an HR person to manage some of that. There are companies out there, I know about Bambi, someone that uses that and loves it. I personally do all my own stuff. So it’s just kind of what works for you but your employees are going to need to be able to fill out their tax forms and other information. So sometimes people like to have an HR company handle that or your accountant can handle that for you.
[BRENDA] Okay. So in the accountant I have a tax accountant right now that I utilize. Would I also, like for bookkeeping and things like that, that’s something I can either do or is it better to hire that out as well?
[WHITNEY] Yes. Good question. I always recommend that we don’t hire out till we need to.
[BRENDA] Safe for one if we can, right?
[WHITNEY] That’s right. And you have, you’re going to have a lot of expenses up front. So if you can minimize some of those, minimize them. I actually, believe it or not, I actually love bookkeeping. I think it’s fascinating. I love numbers and I really like knowing what’s going on with my practice numbers. So that’s been really helpful for me, especially because my assistant has card. So she’s buying some supplies, then I’m going in and checking what she got and everything like that. And I actually just signed on with Green Oak Accounting, s by the time this airs, I would have met with them. So I’m really excited, but they do bookkeeping for you, which, I mean now I have this group practice, but I did my own bookkeeping until I hit 11 employees. So you can do it yourself. Get QuickBooks, hands down. Oh my gosh, before I was doing a check pad and like writing it out and I can’t believe I did that. When I did my taxes, I spent like hours in front of my check —
[BRENDA] I just have an Excel spreadsheet that I do. So QuickBooks will be great.
[WHITNEY] Yes, you’re going to love QuickBooks, man. You’re going to be so embarrassed and be, “Why didn’t I do it like this before?” Yes, do QuickBooks. And I definitely recommend, another mistake that I kind of made on the front end trying to save some money, but really wasn’t worth it was I had my accountant run payroll. And that’s okay but like I eventually got Gusto and it is phenomenal.
[BRENDA] Gusto? Okay.
[WHITNEY] Yes, you do have to pay for the number of people you have, but it’s fantastic. And all this stuff I’m telling you right now, if you go to practiceofthepractice.com, there’s like a “Tools we use,” I think, and you can get some promo codes for some of that stuff.
[BRENDA] Okay, great. I love that. It makes it more doable and feels achievable and less overwhelming when it’s like, okay, here’s the people I need. Here’s what I can do myself. Here’s the tools.
[WHITNEY] Definitely. Yes. I’ll call it the dream team. You need your dream team in place. And your dream team is your attorney, your accountant and your consultant. I hands down think that consulting is super valuable. In fact talking about accounting and Green Oak Accounting, I was speaking to Julie on my podcast episode, I interviewed her back in December, it was going into or aired in December of 2020. She said that of all the private practice they work with, because they specialize in private practices around the nation, the ones that invested in consulting seemed to make about 30% more revenue.
[BRENDA] That’s incredible.
[WHITNEY] So most people, when I talk to them about consulting and they hear the price of it, it’s a lot. Well, you know what? It’s a lot because you’re making an investment and you’re getting expert advice, but it will pay off in most cases, as long as you do the things that are being asked of you and hustle and work hard, you end up making it back. I’ve interviewed several people on the podcast who said, it was Stephanie Korpal, was one of my other episodes. I had worked with her and she’s fantastic. I just love that girl. Anyways, she worked with me for three months and then it was, I don’t know, I interviewed her like nine months later and she said she was paying herself four times, which she paid herself a year prior.
[BRENDA] Wow. That’s unbelievable.
[WHITNEY] Yes, it is. It’s hard to see that because we’re nervous and scary on the side, but you can totally get there. And a lot of times, if you don’t get consulting or get some help and I’m not saying it has to be with me, I don’t care. As long as people are getting good help. Then people come to me later and they’ve made so many mistakes and they’ve wasted so much money and time. And the biggest mistake is they pay people too much and then they don’t make enough money as a business owner. And they’re burned out because they’re hustling to see clients. They’re not doing their percentages right to make money off of their clinicians. So it’s really important that when you’re starting that group practice, you really set that foundation, just like building a house. We set that foundation and do it well. I did consulting for two years while I was building my group practice and it has obviously paid off. Thank goodness.
[BRENDA] Well, the one for private practice is already paying off, so I’ll definitely utilize consulting for the group practice as well. I do have one question, and this is probably been asked as well, but I know in order to keep solid clinicians, which that’s important for me because being a faith-based practice and kind of a standard of excellence, not perfection, but one grounded, solid clinicians in a practice. While we like to think that that’s everywhere in the field, it’s not and so what is the key to keeping solid clinicians at a group practice versus them starting their own practice and making more money?
[WHITNEY] Good question. And I love that you’re thinking about this now. Lots of things; first of all, going the W2 route, you do tend to have people stay longer. I love using Alison Pidgeon’s example for this because she had a group practice with 12 people, contractors for years and she just could not get past 12. They kept leaving and starting their businesses or whatever. And then she transitioned to W2 and now she has somewhere between 20 and 26 clinicians within like, that was back in 2019 or I can’t remember exactly, but basically pretty quickly. So that’s something, just as a testimony to that. Other things to do is your interview process. You definitely want to vet people to make sure what their long-term goals are and also think about kind of their personality. Like do they seem like the kind of person that wants to go start their business or do they seem like the type of person that loves the idea of having clients just handed to them, they do their work and they go home.

So that’s something to think about. Most clinicians that come work at your practice are not client hungry because if they were client hungry or financially really hungry, they’d probably go start their own practice. So don’t expect them to come in and like do a bunch of marketing and do their own thing. But you do it for them and it goes really well. other things to think about would just be your culture. And that’s so important. We actually talk about this a lot in Group Practice Boss, which is our membership community for group practice owners, but just the importance of a place that people want to work, a place it’s encouraging, a place that people to take risks, really listening to your clinicians and making a practice that meets their needs. I was also talking to someone about this today that maybe you want to offer health benefits, but if your clinicians don’t want them, then don’t do it.
[BRENDA] Sure.
[WHITNEY] So it’s doing what they need and making that culture of encouragement and helping one another. And I think you can do a lot of fun things and offer other things. You could do PTO or continuing education, or you do fun events together, whatever the case may be. You develop culture where people want to stay. So we know most people care more about the place they work than the actual amount of money they make, unless they just can’t pay their bills and they care a lot more about the money they quit. But most clinicians care a lot about their atmosphere that they’re in and then they have peer consultation and that you’re available and that you listen. And of course you should learn about the Enneagram and have all your people take it and then you will know how to better meet their needs.
[BRENDA] Okay. I am in the process of that Enneagram journey. So it’s fascinating to me and I love it, and I’m having that as part of the process of hiring clinicians is doing the Enneagram as well.
[WHITNEY] Awesome. Well, how are you feeling about starting a group practice?
[BRENDA] Good. Every time I speak with you, I’m like ready to launch and go full force head-on. So as long as I can, I’m not an intense a risk-taker by nature. I tend to be on the very cautious side. So as long as I keep my anxiety or fear about it at bay, I’m really excited.
[WHITNEY] Oh, good.
[BRENDA] It’s doable.
[WHITNEY] You know looking at the Enneagram when a one is doing healthy, they move towards seven, which is the enthusiast. So when ones are really healthy, we tend to be more risk-takers and have more fun.
[BRENDA] Fitting for sure.
[WHITNEY] Yes. Definitely.
[BRENDA] I can think of the ideas of how I can visualize the group practice that I long for. And I feel like God’s gifted me in areas, and I’ve heard this through my career history of administrative skills and abilities and managing people and things like that and training, and I love that. So I’m excited to put that to use as well, alongside being a clinician.
[WHITNEY] I can totally see that about you. Yes. I can totally see that about you.
[BRENDA] So yes. I’m excited for what lies ahead.
[WHITNEY] Great. Well, if you can share with the audience about your current mastermind group and how that’s going and what that actually, what that is.
[BRENDA] Yes. So I’ve been part of the mastermind group with Whitney since December, we started, and at six months of a group of us who would come in each week, there’s a new topic that’s applicable to starting a private practice or building your private practice, getting it to the next level. We’ve talked about website development and paperwork and marketing and referral sources and relationships, and so much more, just a wealth of information. And it’s a, it’s not information that you take notes on and don’t know then what to do with. It’s very practical and action-based and if you implement it, it works. So it has been such a valuable investment and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
[WHITNEY] Well, thank you. That means a lot to me. I appreciate it.
[BRENDA] I appreciate that it’s out there because as you said if I were to try to just figure this out on my own, not having a business degree or having experience in running a business, it would be very overwhelming. It’s already overwhelming as it is at times. That’s just part of the game but it makes something that feels impossible possible.
[WHITNEY] Man. I love that. That was a good quote right there. All right. So Brenda, I need to ask you what I ask everyone on the ship. What do you believe every Christian counselor needs to know?
[BRENDA] I think it is important to remember where our anchor lies. So when client stuff is thrown at us, when we can feel overwhelmed by the business side, when we’re kind of scrapping for what’s next or moving full force, like where are we anchored? Are we anchored in the things of this world? Are we anchored to our savior? And where are we pulling the resources from that anchor and how are we utilizing it? So I think if we, it can be an exhausting field, it’s a rewarding field as well to be in, but it can be challenging and it can feel heavy at times. But think if we can remember who our anchor is and to really plug into the source of our strength makes a world of difference.
[WHITNEY] That’s fantastic. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to be on the show today. And I’m excited to about watching you grow your group practice.
[BRENDA] Yes. Thanks so much for having me on.
[WHITNEY] Thank you again, Brighter Vision for sponsoring this episode. If you want to take advantage of the special deal, remember to go over to brightervision.com\Joe.

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. Would 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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