PoP Culture, Meet Laura Pratto, Marriage & Family Therapy, MA, MFTI

I sent an email out to folks on my email list (click here to join or learn about it). I said to them that I wanted to feature them on my website. I thought to myself, I know them, they know me, but y’all don’t know one another!

Today I want to introduce you to Laura Pratto, MA, MFTI (Exam Eligible). I met her at The Most Awesome Conference. What’s really cool about the conference, is it has given us all a huge network of people that can help us grow! For me, I have all these new people that know about my work and want to be a part of my community. For them, they get all sorts of tips and leads to grow their practice, it’s such a win-win.

Name: Laura Pratto, MA, MFTI

Practice: Psychology Today

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What’s something you learned from Practice of the Practice?

Practice of the Practice has shown me I can begin to create a lifestyle that fits me. I have worked for a school district as an intern carrying over 20 students and then needing to meet with their parents. I do not want that frenetic lifestyle anymore. That is why I chose the more difficult route of MFT vs School Counselor with a PPS credential. I would be working in a school at this time if I chose the latter, however, probably miserable. I LOVE private practice for the flexibility and the energy to still offer my own family. This is what I want and need. Any other option would be selling out.

What is your therapeutic specialty?

My specialty is launching young adults with disabilities. (My area of expertise is in Asperger’s Syndrome and ADD/ADHD.) Sub specialties are: Special Education Consultation K-Post Secondary Emotional Regulation Social Skills Certified UCLA PEERs Social Skills Treatment Provider Certified Prepare and Enrich Provider for Couple and Teens Family Systems and Trauma

What is an action you took to grow your private practice?

I chose to use a collaborative approach to help grow my private practice. Two colleagues – Juanita Black, LMFT and Rodney Ziebol, Life Coach have joined me in treating not only the young adult stuck and unable to launch but also the family by offering them resources and skills that will enable the launch. Juanita has been teaching parenting courses since the 80’s. She has both personal and professional experience enabling her intuition with clients and easily building a repoire. Rodney also has both professional and personal experience with the population we serve. As a computer programmer he raised two children and has been married over 25 years. In his retirement he hopes to share the golden nuggets of wisdom he has learned with his wife the hard way to offset some of the time and heartache for families currently in the trenches. My small team has triaged families and individuals in crisis and led the individual client toward achieving personal goals and living a high quality life, full of meaning and friendship.

Complete this sentence: When I first started a private practice, I…

When I first started a private practice, I was unsure of how effective I would be in helping. With each success my confidence has grown. That confidence has allowed me to go from charging agency fees (as Kelly and Miranda put it) to fees that I can live on. I am still in the middle. My struggle is raising fees on established clients. I find clients are very willing to pay a typical insurance co pay. However a $60 fee split with your supervisor 60/40 is not much. Most of my client families have had to incorporate therapists into their lives long term, not the typical I feel icky let me see a therapist for six months and done. My guilt kicks in as I personally know the struggle of incorporating that bill permanently within your budget. $125 weekly, as many need to be seen, is just not doable for many. Perhaps I need to develop a non profit or foundation to supplement what clients can afford? Bottom line is I know I do good, quality, effective work. I am growing in my confidence to ask for the fee comparable to what I am worth.

How have you grown your income and influence?

I noticed Jo offering free support as a means of developing relationships and clout. Many of the other consultants, such as Brendon Burchard and Kelly & Miranda, recommend the same. Brendon Burchard states to offer free material to help potential clients get to know you. So I began by starting a FB page – HB Special Needs Resources – that is attached to my personal one. Don’t be alarmed. It was created for the friends in Huntington Beach who I have gathered as an advocate within our school district who already know my family. To differentiate I set up the FB Page to replicate my posts on Twitter to gather potential clients. This weekend I now have 100 followers on FB and nearly 2000 followers on Twitter. I also started a Pinterest Board posting some of my favorite books and resources that relate to my specialty. I use about an hour each morning perusing all the resources I have for relevant articles, workshops, webinars, books, etc. to share with my community. I feel this has helped me establish myself as an expert in my specialty. I have paid for advertising to no avail. Social media allows me to access more people who may actually need my services and be more precise with my message. My street cred via my social media posts means more to my community than a static piece of advertising!

What’s next for you?

The Licensure Exams! I cannot seem to think about much else. Following, my dream is to open a clinic which houses multiple services supporting our prospective client. Services may include counseling, life coaching, parenting coaching, yoga, mindfulness, art therapy, life skills group, social skills group, overcoming fear / trauma group. Whenever I drive around I see offices I like and I am looking forward to having the income to rent on my own as a Licensed MFT. Right now it is all about the “L”!

What is one specific podcast or article that helped you grow quickly?

This is difficult because I watch and read everything that can potentially help me. On my mind right now is Joseph Sanok’s podcast on passive income. My head is churning with ideas for the table of contents of a book I can write, classes to offer online, a product or app I can sell. This would allow me to live a lifestyle I want / need. Time to develop is next. However, as I mentioned before – if I have any spare time it is being allocated to studying for the exams. I have, however, listened to any podcast about social media marketing and have implemented the launch of my FB Page, Twitter Feed and Pinterest Board. I believe this has helped me gain a reputation faster than a static ad on Psychology Today or Linked in or even in the local church newsletter. Street cred matters to many of our clients, most especially those with permanent disabilities or chronic illness. This population is vulnerable to being duped and need to know they can trust you.

If every counselor in the world was reading this, what would you want them to know?

I would want them to know that their work matters. If they are reaching one person or one thousand it matters. I would want them to know the importance of self-care and self-inventory- meaning do the work yourself if you expect your client’s to go there with you! 

What are 2-3 resources you love? How do you use them to grow your practice?


My favorite private practice resources are Practice of the Practice – Joseph Sanok, www.zynnyme.com with Kelly and Miranda, Mastin Kipp, Danielle La Porte, Marie Foleo, Jennifer Sneeden and Casey Truffo!! They ALL offer FREE help to some degree. On an intern budget this is extremely helpful. As I told Kelly in my boot-camp interview – if I have $1000 to spare it is going to Gerry Grossman to study for the licensure exams. The boot-camps to help launch private practices to six figure levels are enticing, although expensive. This really should be part of our graduate studies, like chiropractic students who get trained prior to graduation. Graduate programs should include a business course on running a private practice, developing streams of passive income, writing your first book, and using the internet to sell your product. This not only helps us redeem our income faster, but also develop a healthy lifestyle, which as we know, is necessary and ethical for the work we do. So now that we have $50,000 of school loans to pay back it seems so risky to go out on your own without a safety net. I am GRATEFUL you all are out there helping us bring our dreams into fruition!

Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC

Joe Sanok Private Practice ConsultantJoe Sanok is an ambitious results expert. He is a private practice business consultant and counselor that helps small businesses and counselors in private practice to increase revenue and have more fun! He helps owners with website design, vision, growth, and using their time to create income through being a private practice consultant.

Joe was frustrated with his lack of business and marketing skills when he left graduate school. He loved helping people through counseling, but felt that often people couldn’t find him. Over the past few years he has grown his skills, income, and ability to lead others, while still maintaining an active private practice in Traverse City, MI.

To link to Joe’s Google+ .

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