Design The Bridge To Your Future Private Practice


One of the first questions I ask therapists and healers is: “What do you want your private practice to look like a year from now?” Perhaps you want to change your specialty, double your income, or start running groups.  You need to thoughtfully design a bridge between your current practice and that future practice.

This bridge will allow you to use the success you already have to support your changes. You’ll continue moving forward thoughtfully, neither getting stuck nor rushing things in a clumsy way.

Let’s say you have a general therapy practice now and you’d like to become known for a specialty. Having a specialty is an excellent way to stand out from others and grow a practice quickly. The bridge to your future practice could include adding a page to your site about the specialty and writing articles for your blog about that topic. You could begin talking to your colleagues about your specialty. You can pay special attention to what is working best with the clients who come to you for help with this specialty. Build your expertise with these people while you also enjoy your general practice.

When you are ready to transition your website and your marketing away from reflecting a general practice and towards your new specialty, you will have plenty of content and experience to do the transition well.

Here’s another example: perhaps you want to charge much higher fees within a year. The bridge may be to look at your practice and examine what would need to be different in order to charge more. Look at your practice and how you’re presenting yourself, from your sofa to your shoes to your intake process. Ask for feedback from a trusted and honest colleague. Begin to clean up anything that holds you back from charging more. You might choose to maintain the highly valued clients you have now at their current fee.

As new clients come in to your more polished practice, your average fee will begin to rise.

One more example is moving from a one-on-one therapy practice to a practice in which you facilitate groups. Part of your bridge might be to create a one-day workshop. You could create this workshop around the topics your group will cover, and begin getting the word out to your community. This gives potential group clients a chance to know your work, and it gives your colleagues a chance to think of you in a new way. You can also ethically and thoughtfully build your email lists for both potential group members and potential referral partners as you are spreading the word about your one-day workshop.

What is the biggest difference between the private practice you have now and the practice you’d like a year from now?

If you need some help designing your bridge, sign up for a free 30-minute consultation now.

How Many Clients Should You Have?

Lots of clients

If you’re just starting out or you don’t have very many clients, the answer might seem obvious: more. If you ask a room full of therapists how many sessions per week they consider full time, you’ll hear everything from 15 to 35. It is important to answer this question carefully so that you are building a practice that will work for you. In addition to working directly with clients, you need to have enough time to get consultation, get training when you need it, take care of yourself and your family, and do all of the things that help you stay present and available for your clients. Don’t set your schedule based on what other people say they are doing, but rather on what you know your capacity is.

I’ll give you an example of why knowing your ideal number of sessions is so useful and important. I worked with a therapist recently who found herself in a bind. She had almost as many clients as she wanted based on her need for time for good self-care and training and consultation, but she needed to make more money. Many of her clients paid on a sliding scale, and she didn’t want to raise their fees.

I helped her calculate how many more hours of therapy she could comfortably provide and how much more income she needed.  Here’s the strategy we implemented: She created a new VIP service based on the work she loves doing the most, priced higher than what she charged for other services. She knew exactly the kind of client she was planning to work with. Within a couple of weeks, she had filled those appointments. If she hadn’t taken that step back to look at the big picture, she would have taken the next few clients at the same fee and with the same services she’d offered before.

By stepping back and looking at her capacity, she was able to recognize that at this time she needed to offer something different.

The closer you are to having a full practice, the more crucial it is for you to calculate your ideal number of sessions. Rather than basing your answer on what others say, consider these questions when you’re setting your hours and your fees:


  • How many therapy hours can I provide in a day and still feel energized and present with my clients?


  • How much time do I need for my practice building and business activities every week?


  • How much time do I need for self-care?


Now consider basing your fees and number of sessions on honoring those answers.


To get help taking a bird’s eye view of your practice and creating the right strategy, request a free consultation.



The Third Part of Worry Free Client Attraction: Support

Support is the third part of Worry Free Client Attraction.

(You can read last week’s article about the first 2 parts.) When you’re challenging yourself to build your practice to the next level, you need a higher level of support. So what do I mean by support? You need support that is both kind and challenging: someone you can turn to when you’re feeling discouraged who will offer you empathy and then help you get back on track. For some of you, support can come from a colleague who is motivated and comfortable with the business side of running a private practice. You might create an accountability partnership with this person in which you each check in about your strategy and support each other in owning your value.

For some of you, you’ll need to step up your support and work with a business coach individually or in a group.

If you have a clear sense of your value and pretty good strategy and you still aren’t filling your practice, you may need some professional support. A kind and challenging business coach will see where your blind spots are, where you need to take more action, and will hold a bigger vision of your business than you do.

I’ll give you an example. I worked as a business coach with a therapist who had a decent private practice but wanted to bring her income up. Her strategy was good, and she had a sense of her value, but she had hit an income plateau. I challenged her to step up her activities, hold a stronger vision of herself as an expert in her field, and I held her accountable with deadlines. When unexpected illnesses and family problems came up, we adjusted her strategy, and then each time I supported her in getting back on track. In each session, I took a stand for the bigger vision that she wanted for herself. She was able to push past that plateau and fill her practice while also raising her fees.

Consider what kind of support you’ve got right now for your business. Here are some questions to consider:

1.     Who are the top 3 people you call when you run into a business dilemma or problem?

2.     When you are discouraged about your business, who is kind to you?

3.     When you are discouraged about your business, who challenges you?

4.     Who holds a bigger vision of your business than you do?

5.     What would you do differently in your business if you had more support?

To learn more about Worry Free Client attraction, sign up for my free webinar on September 18th here. If you can't make it live, you'll receive a replay. 


Introducing Worry Free Client Attraction

Worry Free Woman

On September 18th, I’m offering a free webinar in which I’m going to introduce you to Worry-Free Client Attraction. One of the hardest things about building a private practice is the worry, anxiety, stress, and self doubt you can experience. I help therapists build their businesses in ways that help them feel more peaceful, confident and optimistic. I’ll tell you a little bit about Worry Free Client Attraction right now, and you’ll learn more on the 18th.

When you’re implementing Worry Free Client Attraction, you own your value. You are so clear on what you have to offer and how it helps your clients heal, you don’t spend much energy doubting yourself. You know that when you work with the right people, they benefit immensely and you feel great about the work you do. You know who your people are, so you don’t worry about the fact that you’re not for everyone. When you put yourself out there in authentic ways, it attracts your people. I’ll tell you a story on at the webinar about how a therapist got to the other side of this and learned to own the value she offers her people.

Another part of Worry Free Client attraction is knowing the right strategy to build the private practice you want and deserve. You get so clear on your strategy that you stop worrying whether you’re doing the right things or whether you’re doing enough. Of course practice building still takes work. This isn’t work free client attraction. You have to do certain things consistently. You know for today, for the next week, and for at least the next three months, exactly what you have to do and why. With this clear strategy, you don’t worry every time you get a cancellation or the phone doesn’t ring for a week.

You feel like the captain at the helm of a solid ship, and those waves that move the ship around are just waves. You know you'll move through them. When your practice has a dip, you see that as part of the process because you have the big picture in mind. You know that you’re doing the right things to get what you want.

I’ll tell you a story at the webinar of a therapist who through our work was able to cut through all the clutter of the things she was trying to do and I'll tell you how we created a clear and streamlined strategy.

Next week I’ll tell you about one more crucial part of Worry Free Client Attraction.

Make sure you sign up for the webinar right now because space is limited. 

One Reason You're Not Getting More Referrals

This article is a sneak preview to my free webinar: The 3 Reasons You’re Not Getting More Referrals.

Bad advice

One of the reasons many therapists and other healers don’t easily fill their practices is that they listen to the wrong advice. Let’s say you run your practice building ideas past your colleagues. Maybe you show your new web copy to your partner or best friend. Or perhaps you talk to your mom about a workshop you’re thinking of developing. Unless they share the issues of your ideal clients AND they have an entrepreneurial mindset, your colleagues and loved ones might be the LAST people who can encourage you in building your business. Your colleagues have the same fears about practice building as you do. They may discourage you from making bold and authentic moves because they are not ready to do that themselves. Your loved ones may feel protective of you. If they see you doing something new, they may respond with caution because they don’t want you to get hurt. People who have known you for a long time may not be able to see the professional you are becoming because they can only see the person you’ve been up until now.

I am working with a therapist who has allowed me to share her story because it illustrates this perfectly. Sarah Soul had been planning on marketing a more general therapy practice, but through our work together she got clear that her specialty is in helping women suffering with eating disorders and body image issues. This is her passion. She’s helped a lot of women in this way, and she wants to help thousands more. Once she got clear on this focus, she was able to write her web copy quickly and her practice building work is flowing easily. 

When she shared this plan with her loved ones, some of them worried that a more narrow focus would hurt her business. I helped her check in with herself again, and she was clear that this is the right path for her to take. Her loved ones had no way of knowing that when you market only one specialty, you still have the opportunity to work with many people outside of that specialty. Here’s her website.

If you listen to advice from the wrong people, as well meaning as they are, it will slow you WAY down in building your practice. When you work with me, we sort through the messages you are soaking up so that you can distinguish the stuff you need to listen to from the stuff that holds you back. You become more clear and confident and you learn what is right for you and your unique business. 


Sign up below for my free Webinar: "The Three Reasons You're Not Getting More Referrals"

Thursday, September 18th 11:00-11:45 a.m. PT


Webinar - 3 Reasons You're Not Getting More Referrals

3 Reasons You're Not Getting More Referrals

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It's Honesty Time!

We’re a bit more than halfway through 2014. I’m wondering how you’re feeling about your psychotherapy practice. Are you where you were hoping you’d be by now? Are you halfway to where you want to be by 2015? Let’s use this mid-year point to reassess, see what you might need to shift and what you should be celebrating. Don’t wait until it is New Year’s resolution time or until you’re adding up your 2014 income for your taxes.

It is honesty time!

I want you to look at a few areas of your practice right now:

#1: How is your income?

Are you tracking it? Exactly how much came in every month from January through June in client fees?

I want you to have a number in mind of what you need to bring in to make ends meet and another number of what you need to earn to feel well paid. If you’re not making ends meet, focus on getting there first, but also commit to being well paid soon. That number will be different for every therapist, depending on your expenses, both business and personal, what you want your life to look like and how many hours you want to work. How close did you come to being well paid in the past 6 months?

#2: How many referrals came in each month?

If you’ve been following my guidelines in this area, you know exactly how many calls and emails (inquiries) have come in. You know whenever possible where those referrals are coming from. You’re tracking what’s happening with each inquiry: how quickly you get back to them, whether they schedule a free consultation, and whether they become clients or are referred out.

#3: What have you done to build your practice?

How have you been reaching out to your ideal clients to let them know you’re doing the work you do? Write down every practice building activity you’ve done. Be specific. Have you been networking? How? Have you been going out to lunches or for coffee? Have you been creating or improving your website so that it attracts your ideal clients? Have you been getting your website out there more? Have you been speaking?

If you’ve been consistent at these things, six months is enough time to know whether or not they are starting to work. Six months is enough time to whether you are doing enough or doing the right things to build your practice.

Is the plan you came up with for 2014 working?

If it isn’t working, what do you need to do to change that for the 2nd half of the year?

Picture yourself on Thursday, January 1st, 2015.

You’ve continued on the plan you’ve been using so far. You do the same amount of practice building. You’ve got the same amount of information and tools. You have no further support. You’ve made the same amount of money and got the same number of referrals in the second half of 2014 as the first half.

Now, picture where you WANT to be on Thursday, January 1st, 2015. Where do you want to be, and what will that take? What can you commit to changing? Can you commit to getting more support? Can you increase your accountability? Can you increase your skills in practice building?

It is time to turn it around. No one can build a practice without support, so call or email me today for a free consultation. I'll help you clarify what your next steps should be. 

Who Will Refer To You?

I have been hearing a question lately from therapists new to private practice: “Who are my ideal referral partners?” I’m a big advocate of having at least 30 professionals who you trade referrals with regularly. I have found that when you have at least 30 professionals referring to you, have a good chance of building a full practice.


Why you should build your relationships with other newer therapists:

Some therapists who are new to private practice ask me if they should bother putting energy into relationships with colleagues who are also new to private practice. “None of us have enough clients, so we really can’t help each other.” I disagree. I want you to look at your practice building from a long point of view. When you’re thinking about another new therapist, ask yourself if you respect this person’s work and could imagine referring a client to this person. If the answer is yes, invest in that relationship. It is priceless to have long-term colleagues who you trust and who you’ve known throughout your career. Also, even the newest therapist will have people to refer out from time to time. Conflict of interest issues come up at every stage of private practice and no one can work with every person who calls.  

Why you should ALSO build relationships with seasoned therapists:

Just as often, newer therapists ask me if they should bother putting energy into relationships with their former supervisors, former teachers, or other highly experienced clinicians. “They already have full practices, and they don’t want to refer to a new therapist.” The truth is that seasoned therapists want to know colleagues from all stages of development. We want to know some therapists who are closer to the beginning  because it keeps us fresh and engaged. Newer therapists often have a passion and excitement for the work that seasoned therapists like to be around. That’s part of the reason so many of us supervise interns. Also, don’t assume that seasoned therapists all have full practices. Many of my coaching clients have over 20 years experience and have never learned to market themselves.

When newer therapists worry about who they should build relationships with, I notice an underlying fear: scarcity. When you believe that there aren’t enough clients out there for you, you’ll find yourself believing that networking with other therapists will be fruitless. If you don’t have a full practice, that scarcity narrative can be so convincing! Shift your mindset and see your colleagues as your collaborators. Work to have a group of referral partners who you like and respect. Over time, nurture relationships with colleagues who are diverse in experience level as well as in area of specialty.

Take the long view, and you’ll have a group of referral partners to share your success and struggles with throughout your career. 

Is It Hard For You to Claim Your Expertise?

I'm no expert

One of the best ways to build a robust private practice is to become an established expert in one area of specialty. When you choose an area of specialty and then become known for that by writing, public speaking, and talking to colleagues about that specialty, your practice will grow quickly. Many therapists get uncomfortable about this and they say “I don’t want to claim to be an expert.” If you’re thinking this, maybe you need to adjust your thinking on what it means to be an expert.

If an expert is a person who knows everything about a certain issue, can help any person solve problems around that issue, has 20 years of experience, and has none of their own problems with that issue, well then perhaps you can’t be an expert. Let’s question that definition! Here’s a secret: some of the people you think are experts probably doubt themselves too.

Here’s what I think an expert is: a person who is passionate, knowledgeable, and regularly engaged with a particular issue; someone who perhaps struggles with that issue as well, and has a lot of both personal and professional experience with the issue; someone who has a lot of ideas and questions about an issue and likes to be in complex conversations about that issue.

In order to be seen as an expert, you never actually have to say “I am an expert.” As you stand tall in your knowledge, skills and point of view in your area of expertise, others will recognize that you are an expert. Perhaps your clients will recognize that you are the kind of expert they can get real help from, the kind who doesn’t claim to know everything and is open to different ideas.

How To Make a Good Decision


You're stuck on a business decision. You may be deciding whether to invest in additional training, pay for a service, raise your fees, move your office...There are so many decisions you may get stuck on. Maybe you are able to decide and then a day later you doubt yourself. Here's a way to get grounded and clear. Think about your bigger purpose. Think about why you are doing the work you do. Remember what your message is and what your unique gift is.

Now with all of that in mind, look at the decision again.

Will this choice bring you closer to your bigger purpose, or will it be a distraction? For example, if you move your office, will you be better able to serve those who need you? If you purchase that training, will it help you get even better at what you're here to do? Now you're asking the more important questions. And you'll know the right answer. 

Who Do You Listen To In Your Business?


I’ve never met a satisfied and successful business owner without a successful leader or mentor. I spoke with a colleague about this yesterday, and we were both trying to identify a single colleague who had become successful without a leader who was also successful. We are social creatures, and the input of those around us defines what we see as possible for ourselves. When you’re surrounded by people who are struggling, you can’t see another path.

This is the biggest reason I’m never without a coach. We each have self-limiting beliefs, and sometimes we don’t even see them. My coach helps me distinguish between valid concerns we should pay attention to and self-limiting beliefs that are really useless. She’s made her own dreams come true and she’s been successful in her businesses for longer than I have, so she can easily see my self-limiting beliefs and bat them away. My coach is also never without a coach. My coach has her own self-limiting beliefs, and she knows she’s got to be led in order to keep growing.

Any time you are going to do something new with your business, something that will bring you closer to being your full and bold self, expect some backlash. This backlash may be criticism from your peers who have not felt entitled to make their own bold moves, or it may come from inside. The bigger the move, the louder your inner saboteurs will become. These inner voices will shout out with fears and anxiety, reasons you can’t do it, and reasons you really shouldn’t try. At this time you need a leader. You’ve got to have someone ahead of you who can help you quiet those voices, someone who doesn’t take them seriously. You can do it, but no one can do it alone.