On November 15, 2016, Southwestern College began its Entrepreneurship Series with a panel discussion composed of a variety of helping professionals in Santa Fe. The presenters were former President Jim Nolan, Ph.D., LPCC; Emilah DeToro, M.Ed., PCC; Ginna Clark, PsyD., LPCC, ATR, Faculty member, Coordinator of the Human Sexuality Certificate Program; and Jessica Reeves, LMT, student and doula. On the panel titled” Entrepreneurship in the Helping Professions”, presenters discussed topics such as self-employment, managing the complexities of private practice, defining success, the pros and cons to private practice and agency work, working with insurance providers and clients who choose to use insurance, marketing strategies and finances. Here are some of the questions posed, and some of the responses.
“What is entrepreneurship to you in the healing field and in your private practice?”
* It involves confronting risk aversion, anxiety and vulnerability
* It takes a lot of confidence to work independently
* It is not always one’s only job
* It is great because one gets to set all the parameters in their career
* It is an opportunity for self-growth and to align one’s self with internal passions
* It is working from a heart-centered place and this increases sense of safety
* It is a creative way to serve others by putting together unique systems and offerings
* It involves answering philosophical questions regarding process and product orientation
* It involves defining financial worth to services rendered; to personal connection and therapeutic processes
When asked how prices are set, presenters replied with a variety of answers. Some work with insurance companies and the entire panel chooses at certain times to offer sliding-scale prices depending on their clients’ ability to pay for services. It was also mentioned that offering sliding-scale prices allows the opportunity to be of service to those in need and that flexibility in pricing, even pro-bono work, allows for flow of abundance while decreasing scarcity mentalities within their own thinking and business model.
What are some challenges you have had?
* Working with insurance companies is extremely detail oriented and can be complicated
* Lack of organizational skills
* Assessing/assigning diagnoses, a requirement when working with insurance companies
* Learning to incorporate mental health software/data bases which are very helpful
* All of the extra work beyond the therapeutic alliance which the most rewarding aspect
* Balancing private practice and client load with other jobs
* Monitoring time and energy/self-care
* Loneliness and lack of social outlets when personal life lacks support systems
What are some successes you have had?
* Creating collaborative, supportive partnerships with other professionals in private practice
* Enjoying working alone, private practice can be especially great for introverts
* Cultivating self-knowledge, self-trust and self-motivational skills
* Freedom to follow one’s dreams, to do what one wants and needs
* Being present for clients’ growth and transformation
* Increased capacity for intimacy/long-term connection within professional and ethical contexts
* A rich life due to committing to one’s own personal therapy and self-care
* Enjoying strategizing how to navigate the systems of insurance in order to help clients
* Cultivating a WIN!!! mentality and Robin Hood archetype
Other helpful bits of information from the presenters:
* When creating a profile on Psychology Today or Good Therapy.org, specialize on therapeutic styles, don’t be a Jack or Jill of all trades
* Find inspiration from personal issues, values, experiences, etc
* Following passions is the best way to attract clients and professional relationships
* Out-reach through events and public speaking skills help to build a marketing platform and client base
* Cultivate a self-compassion practice
* Really listen for triggers regarding any aspect of the practice whether that may be due to pricing issues, work load, personal issues, therapist/client relationship, etc.
* Be willing to increase prices if/when clients’ financial situations improve
* Maintain healthy boundaries in personal life and with clients
* Working for peanuts while accruing hours of experience in the beginning is fine but it may not always be fine; know your worth yet practice flexibility
* Working with insurance means having to market one’s self less, the client finds therapists’ names and profile on a list, perhaps on-line, and client contacts therapists directly
* Insurance companies may not pay therapists’ set price, but it may balance out if taking insurance brings in more clients
* It’s realistic for graduates to first accrue their 2,000 licensure hours while working in agencies, once the LPCC is obtained private practice may become an option
* Some go-getters were able to set up private practices within months after graduating, so the sky is the limit if one is willing to work hard
* Psychology Today and Good Therapy.org are sites for mental health practitioners to post a profile and for consumers to shop for a therapist
* “Nuts and Bolts to Private Practice” (video)
* Facebook groups: Selling the Couch/listen to podcasts (Facebook group and podcasts); Authentic Marketing for Therapists (Facebook group); and Therapists in Private Practice (Facebook group)
Stay tuned! More to come in Southwestern College’s Entrepreneurial Series!!!
Laura Murphy is a first-year at Southwestern College studying Art Therapy and Counseling.