Successfully Host & Market a Retreat with Megan Gunnell | PoP 701

A photo of Megan Gunnell is captured. Megan Gunnell, LMSW is Founder of the The Thrive Advantage Group, a Group Practice for Psychotherapy Services. Megan Gunnell is featured on Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.

What is the difference between a retreat and a conference? Why should you start with a one-day retreat? What is the number one mistake most therapists make when launching their first retreats?

In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks with Megan Gunnell about how to host a retreat.

Podcast Sponsor: Noble

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Our friends at Noble believe in using technology to enhance, not replace, human connection. With Noble, your clients will gain access to between-session support through their automated therapist-created Roadmaps, assessments to track progress, and in-app messaging. These tools help you and your clients gain a better understanding of their progress between sessions – how they are feeling, and what areas may need more focus – so you can tailor your one-on-one sessions to their needs more effectively.

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Meet Megan Gunnell

A photo of Megan Gunnell, LMSW is captured. She is Founder of the The Thrive Advantage Group, a Group Practice for Psychotherapy Services. Megan is featured on the Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.

Megan Gunnell, LMSW is the Founder and Director of the Thriving Well Institute where she provides coaching, courses, retreats, and summits for therapists who are ready to build and scale their businesses. She’s also the founder of the Thrive Advantage Group, a group practice for psychotherapy services.
Her work helps clients transform, restore and reach their highest potential.  Megan believes that there’s a formula to thriving and she’s on a mission to help therapists learn how to increase their impact and income so they can spend more time doing what they love to do.  As a coach, therapist, speaker, writer, and international retreat leader, Megan enjoys providing clear guidance and support to help therapists who are ready to thrive.
Visit Megan Gunnell’s website for more information or connect with Megan on Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

In This Podcast

  • Start with a one-day retreat
  • The first steps to your event
  • The difference between a retreat and a conference
  • Selling tickets
  • Megan’s top tip for hosting retreats
  • Megan’s advice to private practitioners

Start with a one-day retreat

I always caution [therapists] to think about their timeline first. It takes quite a lot of time to build a weekend retreat, and I back that up to say that people should start by testing the waters with a one-day retreat first. (Megan Gunnell)

How to make a one-day workshop or retreat:

  • Between 9 am to 3 pm
  • Start with something for the body like yoga or a walk
  • Plan for the type of talk that you will be giving
  • Plan for the type of training that you will be teaching
  • Cater healthy lunch
  • End the day by touching on the spirit

For me, the perfect retreat, whether it’s one day, one weekend, or one week, is a perfect blend of body, mind, and soul. (Megan Gunnell)

If you do not have any activities in your retreat that is creative or spiritual, people may leave feeling like they have missed the sacred, and often that is what people come back for.

The first steps to your event

1 – Timeline: it can take up to six months to properly plan a weekend workshop, and even up to nine months to plan a great week-long retreat.

Give yourself adequate planning time and space to experiment. Avoid rushing this process.

2 – Venue: as the host, consider:

  • Common environments
  • Participants’ privacy
  • Proximity to the airport
  • Distance to the attendees
  • Facility sharing

3 – Liability: consider liability contracts, insurance requirements, and your risk involved in the retreat. Put the correct disclaimers on your website and on the event’s page to make sure this is not seen as a psychotherapeutic intervention, but as a wellness offering.

The difference between a retreat and a conference

A retreat is about helping people to discover – or rediscover – what was lost or hidden within themselves.

The hosts of retreats are holding a space for people to reconnect with aspects of themselves or their abilities. A retreat is more experiential and grounding.

On the other hand, a conference is about learning new skills and methodology. The host is giving out information and teaching, and so conferences are education-based.

Selling tickets

It is important that you have the right platforms so you are getting information in front of the people who have asked for this … it didn’t take me long to sell out an international retreat … because I had 14k people who were interested in going, and were at least looking at it. (Megan Gunnell)

  • Have the right platform: to sell out your tickets, you need to advertise your workshop on the platforms where your audience is.

Put the information in front of the people who are asking for it, instead of spreading it out to anyone.

  • Advertise the benefits: be sure to identify what the problem is that you are helping clients to solve, and how attending this workshop or retreat will benefit them.
  • Work on creating a buzz long before you open the doors so that the audience is warmed up and ready to purchase tickets.
  • Have a waitlist ready for the next offering: if you launch a successful retreat and market the next one well, you will most likely have a second fully booked event.

Megan’s top tip for hosting retreats

Do not overschedule.

People are likely to join your retreat because they want to retreat and have a relaxing time.

Schedule some buffer time for your participants so that they can downshift and enjoy themselves. Move from doing to being, and let them relax, which is one of the best ways to support fellow therapists.

Books mentioned in this episode:

Useful Links mentioned in this episode:

Check out these additional resources:

Meet Joe Sanok

A photo of Joe Sanok is displayed. Joe, private practice consultant, offers helpful advice for group practice owners to grow their private practice. His therapist podcast, Practice of the Practice, offers this advice.

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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