Are you excited about the idea of working in a team of like-minded clinicians? Have you considered leveling up your solo practice? What has been the experience of other clinicians who felt the same way as you do about launching a group practice?
In this podcast episode, Whitney Owens speaks with Christie Jacobson about launching a group practice.
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Meet Christie Jacobson
Christie Jacobson is a Licenced Mental Health Counselor and the founder and owner of Back To Good Counseling. Her practice aims to provide therapeutic and relational support to children, couples, individuals, and families.
Prior to starting Back to Good, Christie worked as a clinician at Justice Resource Institute, providing family therapy to at-risk youth and their families. She has received extensive training in the Attachment, Regulation, and Competency (ARC) Framework, which is an intervention used with children and adolescents who have experienced complex trauma, along with their caregivers.
Visit the Back To Good Counseling Website, and contact them at (617)466-3738 or email@example.com
In This Podcast
- Christie’s solo practice before joining the Masterclass
- Transitioning from solo to group
- Christie’s experience in Group Practice Launch
- How the new group practice currently looks
Christie’s solo practice before joining the Masterclass
Christie worked in her solo practice for a little over a year, seeing a range of clients, before realizing she prefers to mostly work with couples.
I was also feeling kind of lonely … I didn’t realize how much time [was spent] just on my own, so I wanted to either join a group practice or create my own. (Christie Jacobson)
After some time working alone in her practice, Christie began to crave working in a team and working in proximity with other clinicians.
Finding a community to be a part of is integral to the success of any business, therapy practice, and otherwise.
Wanting your community within your practice … I think that’s beautiful to start a group practice for that very reason. You get to hire the people you want to hang out with. I think that’s so cool. (Whitney Owens)
Christie was inspired to know that her future group practice could take shape the way that she wanted it to be.
Transitioning from solo to group
Once Christie had her idea, she went back and forth for a while, trying to see how she could make it work and fit it into her current schedule.
In the end, Christie decided to just jump in and give it a try to see if it would work.
I initially reached out, wanting to join Group Practice Launch during the first cohort … but [I] was too late … there was a deadline I did not meet because of my ambivalence … I [got] on the waitlist … at that point I said, “I just need somebody to hold my hand and teach me the steps to this”, because I had no idea, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity. (Christie Jacobson)
Christie’s experience in Group Practice Launch
Even though she felt ambivalent in the beginning, over time Christie met people who shared her experiences, and she felt seen and welcomed by a community that was made up of people just like her.
Learning the same systems and techniques alongside other people helps to foster accountability, encouragement between fellow practice owners, and motivation to keep going and push through difficulties together.
How the new group practice currently looks
Currently, Christie has hired two clinicians and a virtual assistant.
She is getting a lot more referrals than she did before and has received positive feedback from clients in the practice about the high-quality care that her clinicians provide.
If you are excited about learning a new skill set and you really like people and developing new relationships at work, definitely go for it [and start a group practice]. (Christie Jacobson)
Useful Links mentioned in this episode:
- Join Noble for free!
- Check out the How to Make Bank Free Webinar on March 2nd 2022
- Visit the Back To Good Counseling Website, and contact them at (617)466-3738 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Connect with Christie on LinkedIn or PsychologyToday
- Check out the Group Practice Launch
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- Apply to work with us — decision-making matrix for your next steps
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.
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[JOE SANOK] This is the Practice of the Practice podcast with Joe Sanok, session number 675.
Well, I am so excited about this series that Alison and Whitney are doing, session 672, why to start a group practice in 2022. 673 we’re going to be talking about how it’s easy to start a group practice, a step by step guide. In 674, Alison is going to be interviewing someone from Group Practice Launch and giving some real behind the scenes look. 675, same thing, except it’s Whitney. They’re going to be doing all sorts of interviews with people from Group Practice Launch to give some real life stories of people that have launched group practices. Then session 680, which is going to be on the 3rd of March, group practice story time where Alison and Whitney are going to talk all about different things that have gone on in group practice.
I’m just really excited that the two of them are putting on this series because leveling up oftentimes means going beyond starting a practice where you only make money when you show up and having a group practice is one of those great ways to add another stream of income. There’s lots of other ways. It can be doing a podcast, can be doing e-courses, offering other sorts of consulting. But a group practice really is that low-hanging fruit for most people. So without any further ado here is that series with Alison and Whitney all about starting a group practice.
[WHITNEY OWENS] Hello, it’s Whitney Owens here doing a podcast takeover for the Practice of the Practice podcast and excited to be interviewing my friend here, Christie Jacobson. Welcome to the show, Christie.
[CHRISTIE JACOBSON] Thank you. Happy to be here.
[WHITNEY] So Christie is in our Group Practice Launch. We’re doing our second cohort right now, almost done with the program, I guess and wanted to bring her on the show to tell to you about her process and what it’s been like for her. But even when we first got on this chatted a few minutes about this interview, she said it was through a podcast about six months ago that she heard about this. So you’re listening now, hearing about it, and she did the exact same thing six months ago. So awesome. Well, Christy, why don’t you first talk a little bit about you? Tell me about your practice and where you were at before you joined Group Practice Launch.
[CHRISTIE] So I was doing the solo practice thing for a little over a year, actually, not all that long. I really loved it. I was seeing all types of different clients, starting to really focus on seeing couples and so I realized that was a passion of mine. I was also feeling lonely. I didn’t realize how much time was just on my own. So I wanted to either join a group practice or create my own. So I became, I was in a place where I craved that connection. I wanted to bounce ideas off of other clinicians and just figure out how to move forward with a team.
So I had been listening to Practice of the Practice for a long time. It actually helped me with my individual setup when I opened my private practice initially. Then I realized there was a whole community built around supporting people when they want to expand and take it to another place. So I got really curious about starting to hire other clinicians to work with me. Then I also was really excited about potentially training other clinicians in couple’s therapy work too because I realized that that was a need in my community.
[WHITNEY] For sure. You’ve already brought up so many important points here about first of all, the importance of community. I felt the same way with Practice of the Practice. I started listening to the podcast. I’d listen to it when I ran and I’d come home and get done running and my mom would be racing. My husband would be like, oh my gosh, every time you hear that show, you have to do something new in your practice. I’m like, yes. I actually joined a program when I started my group, just this similar to what you’ve done. And you’re reasoning with the wanting your own community as well within your practice, that’s beautiful. I think a lot of people start a group practice for that very reason. I mean, you get to hire people that you want to hang out with. I think that’s so cool.
[CHRISTIE] It was very exciting to realize that it could take shape the way that I was dreaming of it as opposed to trying to mold and fit into something that was already out there. So that was what was appealing about forming my own, because I didn’t see anything like what I wanted to do already in the greater Boston community.
[WHITNEY] All right. So you’re thinking to yourself, I want a community. Should I start my own practice? Should I join a group? Then I guess you made the decision to start your group practice. So how did you actually go, okay, I’m doing it?
[CHRISTIE] That’s a good question. I went back and forth for a while for many months trying to figure out if I could even fit it in to my life. I have two little kids and a teenage stepdaughter. So my life was already very full. I was intimidated by how much work was going to go into it and also the fact that I didn’t know if I could be a boss because I’ve never seen myself that way. I wouldn’t say that I’m a natural manager or authority figure but I decided to just jump and then if it didn’t work, then just cancel it and say actually, never mind. Like I changed my mind.
[WHITNEY] Yes. I always remind people about that when they’re thinking about it, because most people do what you just said, you vacillate back and forth for months trying to decide. But that’s the good news like with any, with most business decisions, if you don’t like it, just go back to what you were doing. You were already having a successful solo practice. You never mind, scratch that and you’re still going to be okay. So I love that you took that leap. So then you decided you want to start a group. How did you decide next steps from there?
[CHRISTIE] I think I initially reached out wanting to join Group Practice Launch during your cohort, your first cohort, cohort one and it was too late because there was a deadline that I did not meet because of my ambivalence around the issue. So I had a couple more months then to decide. I was excited about joining and I was going to get on the wait list. So I officially signed up for that and then I got an email saying that there was an early bird special or something at the time. At that point I just said, I need somebody to hold my hand and teach me the steps to this because I had no idea and it seemed like the perfect opportunity. So it was right place, right time.
[NOBLE] Our friends over at Noble have some exciting news to share. Their goal is to help mental health professionals serve more people and less time support a worthy cause and earn passive income. They are on a mission to add 50,000 mental health professionals to their platform over the next few months. If you join Noble right now, you’ll be able to continue using your Noble account for free forever. Learn more and join for free at noble.health/joe. Again, that’s noble.health/joe.
[WHITNEY] Well, just to share with people a little bit about what Group Practice Launch is like, and Christie spoke to it, it’s a very structured program. So we do have a start or entry date, I should say and then we cap it off because it’s a six month program. So if people are joining late, they’ve really lost a lot of the time that they could have been in the group and we don’t want them to lose the material. When I say lose, I mean be able to study the material and learn from the material. And it is a process. We don’t want to rush people through the group practice process. So Alison Pidgeon and I have found that six months is a really good timeframe for you being able to set the foundation for starting a group for hiring, for onboarding.
Then at the end of the program, we really go back and look at how did this work? Are you making money? How do you market a group practice? Because we don’t want you to just hire someone and walk away and be done with it. We want to make sure the pieces are in place to have success. So yes, so we don’t let people start after that waiting period. So I love that you join that wait list. If you’re listening to this episode go ahead and go to practiceofthepractice.com/grouppracticelaunch. That’s where you’ll find out the dates that we’re starting in March and also be able to join that wait list if you are checking it out in advance. But let’s go into a little bit about what’s the experience been like for you in Group Practice Launch?
[CHRISTIE] It has evolved over time. At first, when I logged into the Facebook group and started meeting people, it was intimidating. I had no idea who these people were and I was still every day, second guessing the decision to even move forward with this whole thing. But over time it has been such a supportive group of people. Everybody having similar or at least very relatable issues along the way through hiring and trying to set up the business, the foundation, the ups and downs involved with that process, the emotional ups and downs that go along with it. It is also really helpful to share and then hear others’ feedback around that as well.
So over time, over the past couple of months, I’ve felt more supported in that community and really grateful for the chance to hear other people say, ah I have no idea what I’m doing or I’m still trying to hire someone and have other people be like me too, it’s a really hard process, but we’re all in this together learning and just trying different things. Then sometimes when other people have tried things that are successful, it’s really helpful to hear that and then start to implement them myself.
[WHITNEY] The community is so special. I’ve really enjoyed this cohort. I’ve enjoyed all of them, but I really have enjoyed this group and there’s a lot of gumption and excitement and really just a lot of vulnerability there. I think when we are vulnerable. We tell clients this all the time, that’s where we have success and change in our lives. I’m definitely seeing it in this group. It’s been real fun. So let’s see, six months ago you were thinking, I think I want to start a group practice. Now we’re in January recording this episode. Where are you at now with a group practice?
[CHRISTIE] I have hired two clinicians and I love them very much. We have a good time together. I consider them friends. I am in the process of looking for a virtual assistant and this has been a long process. I’m still going back and forth about the finances and figuring out how that’s going to all fit in and then figuring out what the virtual assistant will be able to do at this point, just because of COVID and the different regulations in my area. It’s a complicated situation to have somebody jump in and do what I’ve been doing in the manager realm. But I am excited about it. I’m getting so many more referrals. I’m getting a lot of positive feedback from the patients that my clinicians are seeing. So I feel really positive about my decision to hire these wonderful women that are working with me right now. So, yes, it’s very exciting. It’s almost like I can’t keep up because it feels like there’s a forward momentum that’s really fast.
[WHITNEY] Yes. Yes. That’s so common for people when they first start their group practice. There’s a lot excitement, momentum. Then when you get to like three or four clinicians, you slow down and go, okay, let me look back and make sure things are in place. Then you start growth again. But that’s so exciting. So let’s see the program started in September, so we’re in month four of the six and you’ve already hired two people. That’s awesome.
[CHRISTIE] Thank you. I did take your advice. You said to hire two at once and every day I keep thinking, well maybe somebody’s going to change their mind. Maybe they’re not going to like working here. So it does feel really nice to have multiple hires at once just because there are so many things that can intervene, so many issues that can take a over
[WHITNEY] Welcome to being a boss and having all those fears that you just said. I still have those fears and I’ve been doing this for years. They’re there, but we talk about them and we work through them.
[CHRISTIE] That’s been really helpful to hear that you still have those fears as well and you’ve been really honest about your own journey as well, which is so helpful because, to feel not alone in the confusion and in sometimes the anxiety that comes along with it is really helpful.
[WHITNEY] Now you had said you specialize in working with couples, is that right?
[CHRISTIE] I see a lot of couples. I would say 50 to 60% of my clients right now are couples. Then my new hires have already received one training in doing EFT with couples. So they are starting to take on couples. They are wanting to take it slow, because it’s a brand new skillset but part of ours staff meeting is actually dedicated to talking about the couple’s work, which has been something that I feel like I can offer them as a business owner, just that extra support around the process. Mm.
[WHITNEY] I love that. I love staff meetings too and being with my people and being able to do trainings together. So let’s talk about money for just a second. When did you hire these two clinicians? Can you remind me?
[CHRISTIE] My first hire started November 6th and the second one was December 6th.
[WHITNEY] Okay. One was two months ago and the other was a month ago? Is there any change in your own income?
[CHRISTIE] There has been a slight change. There has been a lot of upfront costs associated with the process, the onboarding process. It’s also been a slow start for them. So just schedule wise, it didn’t work for them to take on a whole caseload or even a part-time caseload right off the bat. At this point it’s slow and steady, but nothing dramatic as of now.
[WHITNEY] Okay. But you’re seeing a little bit of increase in profit for the practice and for yourself, would you say?
[CHRISTIE] Yes. Yes, definitely.
[WHITNEY] Great. I think one of the reasons and fears, and maybe you had this fear too, that people have with starting a group practice is the money, like how expensive is it going to be, an attorney, an accountant, all the systems, the space? And I try to encourage people that, okay, Group Practice Launch, I think it’s $1,500 if you miss the early bird. I think early bird’s a little less, $1,500 to have some people help you start a group practice. Would you say the $1,500 is totally worth it for where you’re at now and you haven’t even finished the program?
[CHRISTIE] Oh, totally worth it. Highly recommend Group Practice Launch.
[WHITNEY] Wonderful. So Christie, I didn’t tell you, I was going to ask you this, but so give yourself a second if you want to, what advice would you give to someone that’s listening right now who’s thinking about starting a group practice. Any thoughts for them?
[CHRISTIE] I would say if you are excited about learning a new skillset and you really like people and developing new relationships at work, definitely go for it. The worst thing that can happen is you decided it wasn’t the best fit for you.
[WHITNEY] Thank you for sharing that. I mean, I’ve helped hundreds of people start group practices and to tell you honest truth, I can’t think of one that came back to me and said, I wish I hadn’t done that. I’ve known some people who said that, not people I work directly with and there are occasional times it’s just not the right fit, but that’s so rare. Most people are super happy and it sounds like you are too.
[CHRISTIE] Yes, definitely.
[WHITNEY] Awesome. Well, great. So if people want to to get more information about Group Practice Launch, you can go to practiceofthepractice.com/grouppracticelaunch. Our next cohort is going to start at the end of the first week of March and then we’ll have that early bird special. So go there to get all that information. Then to tell you a little bit about the program, I know you heard some here from Christie, but just to give you an idea of how it works, it’s six months and every month we have a topic that we go through.
So at the very beginning, we’re setting those foundations, determining rates for therapists, determining the difference between 1099 and W2. Then we go through what culture you want to have? Who do you want to hire? How do you put out a job ad? How do you do onboarding with the person and then going back and doing some of the things to make sure that it worked out such as looking at your money and then how do you market a group practice?
There’s a workbook that goes along with it, along with videos that you watch every week in preparation for our meetings. Then every single week we meet on Thursdays at 1:00 o’clock Eastern, every week for six months led by myself and Alison Pidgeon since you can get a variety of different ideas from each of us, and then we answer all your questions and make sure that you’re moving forward in the process. We do have a couple of other special events that we do such as open office hours, or occasionally we bring in a Group Practice Boss member who already has an established practice to answer questions. But we think it’s great. It’s been working well. If you’re interested, we’d love to have you. If you have further questions, feel free to reach out, email@example.com. Christie, thank you so much for taking the time to be on the show today.
[CHRISTIE] Thank you for having me. It was a pleasure
[JOE] Today we could not do this show without our friends at Noble. Their goal is to help mental health professionals serve more people and less time, support a worthy cause and earn passive income. They are on a mission to add 50,000 and mental health professionals to their platform over the next few months. If you join Noble right now, you’ll be able to continue using your noble account for free forever. You can learn more and join for free over at noble.health/joe. Again, that’s www.noble.health/joe.
Thank you so much for letting me into your ear and into your brain. Have a great day. I’ll talk to you soon.
Special thanks to the band Silence is Sexy for your intro music. We really like it. And 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, the publisher, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.