practice finances

Are you ready to fill your therapy practice? Find out.

I can give you a ton of tools to fill your therapy practice. If you create a good strategy, and work it consistently, you will fill your therapy practice. BUT, none of that will happen if part of you is saying no to filling your practice. Are you all in? You can’t fill your practice when a part of you does not feel ready to bring in new therapy clients.

Mindset really does matter.

Why is it so important?

In this business, what you are offering is YOU. If there is a part of you that doesn’t feel ready to fill your practice, you will unconsciously get in your own way. You’ll sabotage your practice building efforts. You’ll take a little longer to call a potential client back. You’ll sound bland about your work in a networking lunch. You’ll forget to do the next step in your marketing plan.

Here are some questions to clue you in to whether you’re truly ready to take on that next influx of clients:

  1. Are you feeling overwhelmed in your schedule, so bringing in a new client would make you feel too busy?
  2. Are you feeling insecure about your skills, so bringing in a new client makes you feel anxious?
  3. Are you burned out and needing a break, and bringing in a new client would get in the way of that?
  4. Are you somehow unhappy with the clients your practice is attracting, and you’re worried your next client won’t be a good fit?

Here’s how you want your life to be so that you can happily welcome more clients into your practice:

  • You have enough time that a new client in your schedule would not be stressful.
  • You are getting all the consultation and ongoing training you need to feel confident in your clinical work.
  • You have days off and vacations coming up, and you’ll take those no matter how many clients fill your practice.
  • You know who you want to work with, so when clients call, you feel comfortable referring them out if they aren’t the right fit.

 Of course taking care of your life in this way doesn’t guarantee the clients will come. You also need a practice building strategy based on your strengths and preferences. If you need help with creating a practice building strategy and following through, apply for a free consultation right now. We’ll talk about both the strategy and the mindset work that will help you build the practice you really want. 

When You Feel Discouraged

When you’re building your practice you're going to hit moments when you feel discouraged. Maybe you feel overwhelmed by your marketing activities. Maybe you feel worried because a few clients leave. Maybe you feel deflated because you don’t get a big response for a workshop or a group you’re offering. Maybe you talk to a potential client and they choose not to work with you. Or maybe you just feel a lack of inspiration or optimism.

This is not the moment to give up. It is the moment to access your tenacity.

Take a step back and see the big picture of your practice building. Remember that building your practice is a long-term process. Always have a clear strategy that takes you at least 3 months forward, and have a vision of your practice that is at least one year away. When you’re feeling discouraged, lean on your strategy and your vision.

Many therapists I work with go through times of feeling discouraged. One therapist I work with went through a discouraging few months. Some long-term clients left, she had some health problems, and she started to believe she just wasn’t “cut out” for private practice. She had already been through a few other careers and had tried working as a therapist in agencies. Private practice was her dream because it gives her the freedom to do her best work.

I helped her get back in touch with the big why of building her private practice. I helped her access the vision of her practice a year away. She recommitted to her strategy and followed through with her daily and weekly commitments like weekly networking and a simple online plan. Within six months she had doubled her income from that low point. Her tenacity paid off.

Here are some questions to answer when you’re feeling discouraged and need to access your tenacity.

  • What is your practice building strategy for the next 3 months? (This should include networking and an online strategy)
  • What is your vision of your practice one year from now?
  • Who in your life knows you are building your practice and believes in you? (Hint: you can lean on those people when you need a reminder of why you’re doing this.)

You don’t need to do this alone. If you’re serious about creating and following through with a great practice building strategy, set up a free consultation now.

Don't Waste This Crucial Moment

You became a therapist because you wanted to help people. You wanted to relieve pain for your clients. As you became a great therapist, you got better at allowing your clients to struggle at times. You don’t always jump in with a quick fix.

There’s a particular kind of pain your potential clients feel as they are deciding to invest in therapy. When your client is getting ready to make that investment, she may struggle with making room for therapy in her life.  Therapy can be a big commitment of hard work, time and money. Until she’s ready to say yes to therapy, she might feel like she doesn’t have room in her budget or her schedule. She might need to be in significant pain before she feels she can make the investment.  

When you’re talking to potential clients before they have made that decision, do you allow them to experience that tension, or do you jump in and try to take the tension away with a quick fix?

Two common ways this tension comes up are around your schedule and your fee. Let’s say you only have a few openings in your schedule. When you name those times to a potential client, he says those times don’t work well. Maybe you feel tempted to jump in and offer another an evening appointment even though you don’t really want another evening appointment. Stick with your optimal times and let the client struggle for a moment. Let him consider making the changes he would need to make for one of those times to work.

Perhaps you have a new fee you’ve raised to recently, and you’re still getting used to saying it out loud. If you ask a potential client “is that okay for you?” you’ve just taken away an opportunity for her to say yes to making that investment in herself. Her decision might be “I can’t afford that fee right now.” Then you can be very generous with your offer of referrals. You may be connecting her with the therapist who is perfect for her.

If you’re willing to watch your potential client struggle for a moment, the client will know you are clear in your communication, that you’re taking care of yourself, and that you trust his or her ability to make the right decision. Before you start the conversation with a potential client, be ready to tolerate your own anxiety so that you can witness that struggle.  

If you need some help with your therapy practice, check out our free trainings. 

Does Marketing Your Practice Feel Like Jr. High?

There’s a moment of clarity that happens when you understand how to market your practice. You realize that marketing is part of serving your people. You understand that you are meant to help people in a profound way and that marketing is a natural part of how you get to do that. When you get that clarity, you can write your web copy and call your colleagues and put together your next speaking engagement with much less discomfort and stress.

 Before you have that moment of clarity, marketing feels yucky. You feel like you’re trying to anticipate who everyone wants you to be so that you can seem to be that. That feeling reminds me of what Junior High was like for many of us. We ended up with some strange haircuts and fashion choices trying to figure out how to fit in. That picture shows me in 8th grade. Can’t you just feel my discomfort and awkwardness when you look at it? You wouldn’t settle for that feeling in any other area of your life anymore. Don’t settle for it with your marketing either. Stop putting anything out there that you don’t feel good about. Tell the truth in all of your marketing and be yourself.

I was working with a therapist recently who was writing the copy for her website. She was trying to describe what she does. She felt stilted and stressed out and couldn’t get the words out. Then I asked her to just tell me in her own words what her ideal client is going through and how she helps. I asked her not to worry about how she’ll write it. Then I started taking notes and everything she needed was right there. She shared her own personal story and the reason she does this work. She shared the way she helps people and why the work she offers is so needed. She described the feelings that her clients experience before they reach out for help.

Of course there was more work to do. We still did some editing and reworking of the copy so that it made sense to her potential clients, but the yucky feeling was gone. She no longer felt out of alignment with her values. She didn’t feel like she was trying to please everyone or fit in. She felt clear about what her marketing is FOR.

Here are some questions to help keep you out of that Jr. High feeling in your marketing:


  • When you think about all of your marketing activities and materials, does anything make you cringe? (Stop them!)


  • What is your big reason for wanting to do this work?


  • What is the pain or hope that brings your clients to reach out to you?


  • When you’re working with your ideal clients, what transforms for them?


Use those questions whenever you are feeling yucky about your marketing to get you back in touch with your mature and wonderful self.


If you need some help creating an authentic marketing plan, set up a consultation with me now.



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. 

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. 

The Top 10 Questions Therapists Ask Me...#9

tracking numbers

This is part of a series of blog posts: The Top 10 Questions Therapists Ask Me.

#9: What numbers do I need to track in my practice?

Let’s talk about the numbers in your business. Are you glazing over? Feeling dread?  The numbers involved in your practice may bore you or stress you out. I can promise you that when you know these particular numbers, you’ll make better business decisions.

Track only what is necessary and let go of the rest, because your time is precious.  

Here I’ll tell you the 5 numbers you NEED to track in order to know what is going on in your business.

Why track at all?

Why not just do the work and let the numbers work themselves out? When you don’t track, you don’t know the true story of your business. On a good day you will feel that your business is doing well, and on a bad day you’ll feel that your business is failing. Tracking these numbers will help you step back, feel grounded, and see the real story. When you have the real story, you can adjust your strategy wisely.

So here are those 5 numbers:

Average number of sessions per month

Keep track of every single session you have, and you’ll be able to calculate this easily. The easiest way is using your appointment calendar. You may already be recording this without realizing it. Add these up at the end of the month and keep a record so you can calculate the average. Consider using a spreadsheet.

Average number of intakes per month

When you see a client for the first appointment (not counting a free consultation), note that in your calendar so that you know how many people are coming into your practice. Calculate this average over time.

Average fee

Write down the fee you charge for every single session, and you’ll be able to calculate this monthly. The easiest way is to record it in your appointment calendar, and then calculate at the end of the month on that spreadsheet.

Average number of Inquiries per month

These are the calls and emails that come in from potential clients. The easiest way to track this is using a spread sheet. On that spread sheet, have a column for each of these things: date they contacted you, name (You need to keep this spreadsheet in such a way that the identities of the people are totally protected), referral source (how they found you), and current status (playing phone tag? scheduled an appointment?). The headings will look like this:

Date, Name, Source, Status

You’ll know what practice building methods are working best,  and you’ll know for sure that no calls or emails are falling through the cracks.

Expenses per month

Track every practice expense. Consider using an online program to make this tracking easy. For a simple therapy practice, programs like mint work fine. When you know exactly what your practice costs to run, you know how much you need to earn just to pay those bills. You can also look at your expenses and cut out anything you’re not using. If you don’t track your expenses, you’re very likely to miss a bunch of deductions at tax time.

When you’ve been tracking those 5 things for a while:

You’ll see more clearly when your efforts are working. For example, if you’ve been working hard on marketing and your monthly income hasn’t gone up, take a look at your inquiries per month. If that number is going up, you’re probably going in the right direction and the impact hasn’t hit your bank account yet.

You’ll see what isn’t working. Let’s say you’ve been basing your projected income on how many sessions you THINK you have each month. If you discover you have a lower average number of appointments per month than you thought, you might adjust your schedule. Maybe you’ll discover that you need to have 20 openings in order to have an average of 15 sessions per week.

Next week I'll answer the question: Why aren't my practice building efforts working?!