We all have our own story. How did we start, what struggles we had to overcome, and the challenges that we had to face.
We all have defining moments. Those moments we realize things will change. Moments that will be a turning point. In this episode, I’ll be sharing a piece of my story--the moment I knew something needed to change!
Here's a few highlights:
- My start as a therapist
- That time I went to Law school!
- Now, here’s where things started to change…
- My Biggest Concern
- What's your story?
We all have our own stories about how our experiences have shaped us both personally and professionally. And today I'm talking a little bit about my story and how that's led me to make the shifts and changes that I have been working to make over the past year and a half in my business.
Thank you for joining us for today's episode. One of the things that I love most about coaching and consulting with therapists is that I get to hear about their stories that's brought them to that point where they feel like they need to make a shift. And they feel motivated to make a change in their business. And I think most all of us have a story like that at some point as an entrepreneur and a business owner, and they love hearing those stories and then being a part of the shift that then shapes their business into what they want it to become.
And today I'm talking a little bit about my story, and some of my experiences that created the realization and the need for me to make some changes in my business and kind of a little bit about how I got there. I started practicing as a therapist back in 2005. And as most of us do, I began as an independent contractor doing outpatient therapy with children and families, and then I also worked part-time at an adolescent inpatient facility. And I pretty much did some moonlighting there and working some overnight shifts on-call weekend shifts, some stuff like that. And it was a great experience. And I actually really enjoyed that work.
However, one thing that I noticed that was a recurring issue was many of these children on the inpatient unit were in state custody, there will always seem to be some intertwined legal issues for these kids. So issues related to child abuse and neglect, advocacy issues, systemic failures, you know, from the state, we are all very aware of those, and I saw it come up time and time again, as far as the interaction of these legal issues. And how it really impacted these kids. And I became increasingly interested in that intersection between therapy and legal issues, and particularly how it impacted these kids and families and all of it.
So although I think many of us might be intrigued by that kind of stuff, I tend to take things a step too far sometimes. And so my intrigue eventually led to me about a year later, enrolling in law school. And so in fall of 2006, I began law school. And my primary interest and my primary purpose for being at law school was to really learn more about child advocacy issues, family issues, and mental health issues and the legal aspects of those. I will say that I did not enjoy law school as a whole I met great people. I made some great connections with classmates. And that piece of it, I did enjoy. But as far as the coursework, although I found some of it incredibly interesting. I did not have the same passion for law school that I did for studying psychology and undergrad and studying therapy as a graduate student. And so it was a bit of a challenge. And every semester, I had a bit of an internal conflict about whether I was going to return for the following semesters, the law school, I was on scholarship and so oftentimes, I would just say, if I did not make the grades to maintain my scholarship, then I'm not going back. And this was a continuous thing for me probably pretty much every semester of law school. So it was something that I always wondered if that was really cool. What I was supposed to be doing and where I was supposed to be, there was no doubt that my passion and my interest was in working with people, families in more of a therapeutic role. So once again, like I said, I tend to take things a little bit too far sometimes.
And so in 2008, which was my second year of law school, I was independently licensed as a therapist by that time, and I made the decision to start my own therapy practice. So I decided to move from an independent contractor role into actually establishing my own practice. And so I did that. And very quickly, I became full in my practice, like within about two to three months, I had all the clients I could handle. I was seeing about 20 to 25 clients a week and attending law school full time and it was, it was all I could do. So I immediately moved into what I felt like was the next step and began hiring independent contract therapists for a group practice. So I, within a few months, made the shift from starting my own practice to moving into a group practice model and hiring other therapists to work with me.
Honestly, I did not even really think through these steps. I was just doing I was going through the motions, and I was doing and at the time, it was working for me. I was increasing my revenue, increasing my income on per month. I really enjoyed the work that I was doing. And most of all, I had found that I absolutely loved working with the other therapists that I was bringing on. I loved every bit of that I enjoyed supervising them. I enjoyed mentoring them. I enjoyed helping them build their practice and learn what population they loved to work with. And my group practice gave me the platform to really do that, to really do that mentoring coaching role with other therapists, and I loved it. After I graduated from law school and passed the bar, I began doing consulting work illegal consulting with other therapists on issues related to their practices. So issues such as how to set things up legally entity formation from the beginning, as well as other issues involving clients, such as records requests, responding to subpoenas, for orders, and I would do both consultation and representation for other therapists on these kinds of issues. And I really enjoyed that work too. I loved working with other therapists and educating other therapists on some of these sticky legal issues to help them gain more confidence in their practice and in how various laws would apply to their practice. So at this point, I was doing some consulting work, I was primarily focused on managing my group practice and my group practice continued to grow and ultimately became self-sustaining.
After a few years of having my group practice continuous growth and become self-sustaining, I started to make the shift into practicing family law, and I absolutely hated it. I was representing parties, parents in divorce and custody matters. This was original divorce actions, modifications of custody, child support matters, all of the family law stuff, and I hated it. It was so contrary to everything that I felt like I did as a therapist and working with families in family therapy. I felt like I never knew exactly what was going on in the case because you can only speak with the party, that's your client. You can't speak with the other parties, you can only speak with their attorneys. So very different from family therapy where we value speaking with each person in the system. So we have this very well rounded picture of what's going on and the dynamics within the family system. And there was just none of that. And then you go to court and you present your client's case. And, you know, it's your client's reality. Absolutely. But you don't know the other pieces of the story. You don't know how it all fits together. So after about, I'd say a year and a half of practicing as a family law attorney, I really started to move away from that.
However, the thing that I found I did enjoy as a family law attorney was serving as what we refer to as a guardian ad litem or a GAL and GALs are appointed by the court to represent the child's best interest in a custody matter. And so in that role, you do speak with pretty much everyone involved, and you make some findings as to what is in the best interest of the child and then you advocate for that in the court hearings on the child's behalf. So you speak with the parents, you speak with the child, you can also speak with collaterals, such as teachers, therapists, etc. to really get a well-rounded picture of the family systems, the concerns in the family system, and what would be the best outcome for this child what's in their best interest. I still actually do some of that work. I find it very emotionally taxing. And so I don't do it a lot, but I also really enjoy it and I feel like, with our background as therapists, I feel like I'm well equipped to do it well. And I enjoy serving children and families in that way and in that role. So I continue to do some of that.
Now, here's where things started to change, around 2016, things really started to shift for me. And a lot of it was surrounding regulatory changes that were outside of my control. And one thing I had really prided myself on in my group practice was that I had always done innovation pretty well. So as things changed, my practice was pretty adaptable and able to change in a way that allowed us to continue to thrive. The other thing I was very proud of was the culture that I had created with my therapist. It was a great group practice culture. The therapists enjoyed working with one another. There was not a feeling of competition between each other. It was very collaborative. And we had a cohesive group of therapists. A lot of them had a long period of longevity with our group. And we had incredibly low turnover.
However, the shifts in 2016 were dramatic. I have built my practice on a combination of Medicaid reimbursement and private insurance. We did have some private pay clients, but the majority of our clients were Medicaid and private insurance, and that was the majority of our revenue. And when 2016 hit, there was a major rate reduction in Medicaid rates, the reimbursement rates were cut to half of what they had been eight years earlier. And that was a hard change to adjust and innovate too. There has also been some shifts for me personally going on in my life that I feel like looking back really did impact my ability and my willingness to innovate to those changes. I now had a family. I had a husband and three children that I did not have when I started my practice. And I also think I was struggling with some exhaustion and frustration and some burnout. So I think that we all have some pivotal moments in our lives, whether it's our personal life, whether it's our business, we all have those defining moments.
So I had a moment where I was doing a one on one continuing ed with a colleague of mine, so we had sat down together, she had prepared basically an hour of material. I had prepared some material, and we were going over this together as a continuing ed opportunity. And in this one on one continuing ed, she had prepared and got some information on the issue of burnout in clinical practice, and she presented the information and then along with it was an assessment. And so basically, you've completed this assessment and answered the questions and then scored yourself. And when I scored myself, my burnout score was off the charts. And as we looked over this together, she jokingly said, and it was a joke, she did not mean it seriously or anything by it. But she said, remind me not to refer anyone to you. And we kind of laughed it off and moved on. And like I said, we have these defining moments. We all have them. But I think sometimes we realize in the moment like it hits us in the moment and we realize that's gonna be a pivotal moment for us. And other times, we don't realize it until we're way beyond and we look back on it and I wish I had had the insight to realize at that moment that that was going to be a defining moment for me, but I didn't. I didn't realize it then.
But looking back, that was absolutely pivotal. It was a turning point for me. I started to really question a lot of the things in my life, in my family, in my business, in my practice and asking what is having this impact on me what things are negatively impacting me so much that I've gotten to this point because if you took any of those pieces, for the most part, I would say I loved it. I loved my practice because I loved working with my colleagues. I loved mentoring them. I loved everything about that. I didn't love the administrative aspects. But the way I looked at it at the time was, well, there's always parts of our job that we don't love. We all have a part of our job that we don't love. So once I started really examining these pieces and asking myself these questions, I ultimately made the decision to close my practice. And it was a very big decision for me, I had decided I really wanted to go a different direction. I had accepted that I was at a place where I was exhausted and burned out and disillusioned with a lot of the changes that were occurring. And I knew that my passion was for mentoring, and collaborating with other therapists and working with entrepreneurs. And I really wanted to focus on doing more of that with less of the stuff that I didn't like.
My biggest concern was my colleagues and my friends. I considered them friends that practice with me, and I was able to do this in a way that I gave them very, I gave them I think about six months' notice that I was going to be making this change and when we would ultimately be closing the practice. And I think we were able to do it in a way where it actually worked very well for most of them because that was my biggest concern.
But as I've made the shift over the past year, I've really focused on doing things that can offer me more freedom so that I don't get to that place of burnout again. And for me, that looks like more flexibility and more travel. I love travel, and I find it very reinvigorating for me. And so ultimately, I want to be completely location independent with the work that I do within the next two to three years. And so that is a big goal for me and for my business. And although that was my experience, I have found that I hear this so much from other therapists all the time I hear about the disillusionment and the burnout. And too often it's not about the work that they do. It's about the other aspects of it. Maybe it's the administrative aspects or any number, maybe it's insurance. And so obviously, not everyone needs to close their practice. I think that was the answer for me. I'm confident that was the right decision for me. There's definitely other ways to work around it. And I help therapists do that all the time, whether it's outsourcing, delegating, or just creating more efficient systems. So I think there's a lot of ways to get around that. And one of the biggest challenges is determining what's the right next step for you. What's the shift you need to make? For me that was zeroing in on my passion of working with other therapists, entrepreneurial therapists specifically to help them create something that they loved and that they were passionate about. That I felt like it took me a long time to come to the realization of.
So I think so many of us most of us have these pivotal shifts, where we start to change course with our focus in our business based on a fundamental change that happened within us. And I would love to hear about your stories. So if you are willing to share, whether that's via email or social media, I would love to hear about the shift that happened for you. And that's one of my favorite things with coaching therapists is hearing about their story because I feel like we are all striving to integrate work-life in personal life. And I love hearing these stories of how we each take our own path to get there. So if you are willing, I would love to hear some part of your story. So feel free to connect with me. I would really love that. And thank you so much for joining us today. Make sure that you subscribe so that you can join us for future episodes as well. Bye, y'all.