010: The Entrepreneurial Therapist: Building a Path Beyond Burnout with Joe Sanock

November 15, 2023
Joy After Burnout Podcast Cover Art

In this episode of the Finding Joy After Burnout podcast, host Dr. Jen Blanchette interviews Joe Sanock. Joe Sanok is the author of Thursday is the New Friday: How to work fewer hours, make more money, and spend time doing what you want. It examines how the four-day workweek boosts creativity and productivity. Joe has been featured on ForbesGOOD Magazine, and The Smart Passive Income Podcast. He is the host of the popular The Practice of the Practice Podcast, which is recognized as one of the Top 50 Podcasts worldwide with over 100,000 downloads each month.

Joe shares his personal burnout story, which involved working long hours, dealing with medical emergencies, and reassessing his career goals.

He delves into the challenges he faced as a therapist and the decisions he made to transition out of therapy and embrace new opportunities. The conversation highlights the importance of self-reflection, setting boundaries, and exploring alternative paths to find fulfillment in a changing professional landscape.

More From Joe: https://practiceofthepractice.com/

More From Jen: Are you beyond burnout and need to know how to get out of so much 1:1 therapy? Sign up for a career refresh consult call. In this 20 min call, we’ll identify the need for changes in your career and learn more about how my services can help you feel a greater sense of calm and direction Click Here to Book!

Speaker A: Hey, therapists. Today we’re talking with Joe Sanok. He’s the author of Thursday is the New Friday and also the host of the Popular Practice of the Practice podcast. Many of you know Joe and his work with helping therapists starting a private practice. I’m not a walking advertisement, honestly, but I talk about the episode, how I only had a book when I started my own private practice, and I kind of cobbled together different resources that I found online and really just talked with people. I don’t think there was anyone really online talking about how to start a private practice. And part of me reflected on that and thought maybe that was a good thing, that we weren’t using social media to promote our practices or having to do a bunch of things that really don’t push the needle to advance your practice, from my perspective. But I think that Joe has some really dialed in resources for therapists to help because it can be really difficult to start a private practice and to figure out how to make some good money. We talked about how therapists are struggling financially and how many do leave the field. Now, I encourage therapists. We need therapists. I want them to stay in private practice if that’s what they want to do, believe me. So I would definitely check out some of the resources that are in the show notes. So if you are a therapist who wants to stay in private practice, I want you to do that. I had my own private practice for several. Certainly, you know, you can ask me some questions about what worked and what didn’t work. Maybe that would be a good topic for a podcast, actually. What works and doesn’t work in private practice. Go. All right, so for this episode, Joe is sharing a lot of his own burnout story and why he developed the business he did. His podcast is one of the top 50 podcasts worldwide with over 100,000 downloads each month. That’s a lot, y’all. If you don’t know. It’s a lot. I really feel honored and privileged to have him on the podcast. And I’m on his podcast. It’s airing the same day. So check out his podcast, Practice of the practice, and you will hear me on there when this episode drops. I hope you enjoy this conversation. This is the Finding Joy After Burnout Podcast, a podcast for therapists and mental health professionals. Together, we unravel Burnout and find our road back to Joy. Here’s your host, Dr. Jen Blanchett. Hey, Joe. Welcome to the Joy After Burnout podcast. It’s so great, and I’m honored to have you on my podcast today. How’s it going, Jen?

Speaker B: I’m so excited to be here.

Speaker A: Awesome. So I’m going to start how we start the podcast with your burnout story. So I’ll kick it off to you to just share a little bit about that.

Speaker B: Yeah, so I think it goes back to probably 2012. So at that time I was working full time in a counseling clinic within a university setting. And so it was a community college that also had some four year things there. I had my side counseling business that was growing and also had just started practice of the Practice podcast and blog that I have. And so collectively was working probably 50 plus hours a week. In the middle of that, my oldest daughter, she was right before her first birthday, needed to have open heart surgery. And it was like a year of just trying to get her up to weight, trying to see doctors, and she had double heart murmur and then some stuff around her lungs that was going to have to get taken care of. And they were predicting they would all be fine. But it’s just we had to get her up to, you know, anytime you have a sick kid, even if it’s, know, regular sickness, it can be stressful as a parent, let alone a brand new parent. So that was going on. And then in May, right before her first birthday, she had full open heart surgery. Had to stay at University of Michigan and go through all of that. And then just a couple months later, we got the all clear. She’s healthy, she doesn’t need to have any long term treatment or basically the surgery was a success when they looked at it later in that summer. And just a couple of weeks later, I was diagnosed with Thyroid cancer. And it was one of those things like, oh my gosh, right when I thought we were out of the medical world. Are you kidding me? And actually, I didn’t even plan this at the time of this recording. It was exactly eleven years ago today that I had my thyroid out. And so during that time, it really was a time to look at what have I done with my career. The job at the community college was absolutely an amazing job. I loved my boss. The pension was great, the way we were compensated overall, compared to other therapy jobs in town, it was that kind of golden handcuffs. But I knew that I couldn’t sustain that 50 plus hours a week and I had to pull back during my daughter’s medical and my medical to really look at is this what I want anymore? And then really over time started to make a plan to leave that, to go into full time private practice. And there’s second burnouts. Third burnouts within that, where I eventually realized I didn’t want to even do therapy anymore, which we can dig into any of that as well. But for me, I think it was really just that medical emergencies with both my daughter and myself that made me step back and say, I’m a person that values things outside of work, things outside of achievement. And what I was living at that time was not that.

Speaker A: Yeah. Wow. I don’t know when this is going to come out, but I know I’m going to be on your podcast. But I think there’s just so many parallels in our stories, which is, I was just kind of taken aback because my son had heart surgery at day five. So he had a correctation, which is like a murmur in his aorta, so he’ll always have a murmur. So he had heart surgery. So there I was, new mom, day five, and that was part of me leaving agency. So I didn’t go back to my agency job because I had this baby, brand new baby, brought him home after heart surgery, and there’s no way that I could work. They wanted 32 hours minimum. There’s just, like, no way. I’m not doing that. It’s just kind of similar with the medical piece. Not personally, but I’ve been through all. We don’t want to divulge my whole medical history here, but I have some stuff, certainly regarding that, but, yeah, that’s so interesting when it’s like, we have that existential moment when our life really takes a turn and we take stock. We take stock of what’s important in our lives and what we need at that time from our careers.

Speaker B: Yeah. I kind of feel like this just kind of came to me that it’s sort of like a spiral that maybe would be like an oval shape where it was like I kept getting closer to my ideal work life balance, which I kind of hate that term for just a lot of reasons, because it’s like as if work is outside of your life. But it was almost like this spiral where I kept getting a little bit closer and I’d get farther away, a little closer, and then farther. But each time it was a little bit closer to what I wanted, whether it was through the job or decisions or boundaries I set, where I just kind of had to shed certain aspects of my career to get closer to the kind of life and the kind of work that I wanted to be doing.

Speaker A: Yeah. And I think parenthood, too, right? Parenthood is a big layer to that in clinical work that we don’t really know how that will impact our ability to be a therapist or to be a mental health professional. And for me, that was a big layer. Adding on that role of parent was huge to that balance. Or I know I hate the word balance. I often talk about counterbalance. So if I have a new layer in my personal life, I’m a parent, then that means I only have a number of resources in my professional life. So I need to counterbalance that new dynamic that’s happening in my personal life with raising young children, whatever it is, with counterbalancing that from the needs from my work. So I can’t be as active in my work life because I have this other thing that’s countering that, if that makes sense.

Speaker B: Yeah, well, and a lot of the research. So I wrote this book called Thursday is the New Friday, about the four day work week and why that’s better for Mental Health, Better for Business, that we can do a lot more with that. When you look at the 40 hours work week, it’s completely arbitrary. Henry Ford decided to do that to sell more cars to his own employees. And so it really isn’t something that biologically, in our brains, we need to have this 40 hours. And a lot of the research coming out on 40 work weeks is showing that really you can have the same or better productivity in 32 hours if you’re looking at full time workers. And so even when we sort of dig into the data side of it, it’s just not supporting that the way that we live our lives is sustainable, to build long term health outcomes, to reduce our stress and anxiety, to help our kids have the kind of support that they need to thrive. And so I love that a lot of this is being disrupted in our generation.

Speaker A: It really is. I think it’s an important conversation that we’re having that why are we doing this? Why are we working 40 hours a week? Is there a better way? And how do we. I think a lot of us are trying to create that. So for me, I went into private practice because my job told me I had to work 32 hours and that didn’t fit with my life. So I was like, okay, I’ll do private practice because then I can dictate my schedule more and I can work one or two days a week and that’ll work for me. And it worked for a while until it didn’t, until financially I had to bump up against. That’s not working for me now. Financially.

Speaker B: Yeah. And I think that there’s a lot of factors that are unique to our generations and the ones that are behind us. Where you look at, even if we just take any topic like housing costs as a percentage of income, how much housing cost for the average millennial right now, it’s so much larger as a percentage of typical wages than what it was for boomers. And looking at inflation, all these other things where it’s great for us private practitioners to say, we would like to work these hours, we want to reduce our burnout. That’s great. But for a lot of our clients, or for a lot of just like our friends that have traditional jobs, they can’t really make ends meet with a lot of what used to be a very good income. And so looking at wage stagnation and all these other more macro types of things, and then how that plays out into people’s stress and burnout and lack of time with friends or family or doing hobbies to help them actually bounce back from a difficult work week. Instead, they have side gigs to just make ends meet, which then is problematic if you have a whole society of stressed out people.

Speaker A: Yeah, I read in the therapy groups of therapists who are saying, like, I’m just out of school. And unfortunately, a lot of these tech companies are gobbling up a lot of these new clinicians. And it sounds really attractive, like you can work from home, and if you’re coming out of an agency job or coming at an internship making close to nothing or minimum wage, if you’re getting like 20, $30 an hour, that sounds pretty good. But you don’t realize all the fallout from that and kind of what you need, because I think as a profession, we are laboring off free labor when we’re coming out of school and things like that. So it’s a difficult model, I think, that we fall into when we come out of school and try to make ends meet.

Speaker B: Yeah. And so I think then for a lot of us, then the discussion is, well, what are we going to do about that? What do we have the power to do and what don’t we have the power to do? And for my audience, that’s mostly private practitioners that are wanting to build their own businesses and create their own direction. But there’s a lot of people out there that also may be listening. That seems very scary for them, figuring out then how can we make kind of steps in our lives even if we can’t adjust our work schedule or go start a business. To me, that’s what a lot of the research I did that I found really interesting was how much even micro breaks can have an effect on our brains. And so there’s this term called vigilance decrement that some researchers out of University of Illinois looked into. And vigilance how? Well, we pay attention to something decrement, meaning breaking down over time. So the idea was you’re doing a task, and then over time you do it worse and worse because you’re tired. And they wanted to seek, is that just guaranteed to happen, or are there ways that we can do it? And they actually did this big study where they found that if every 20 minutes, you just take a 1 minute break, that can completely eliminate vigilance decrement. So even finding these ways that science is teaching us to inform our own lives, to say, sure, maybe I can’t work a four day work week, but there are ways that we can change our environment, change the way that we work to reduce that burnout potential.

Speaker A: Makes sense. Yeah. And what about for therapists? Maybe a therapist who might be listening to this, who is back to back to back, and they’re full and they feel like they can’t get that break. And a lot of times your phone or something like that, I feel like you want to scroll or do something like that just to kind of regulate your system, because we know all those strategies, but we don’t often utilize them, and burnout kind of leads us not to utilize them.

Speaker B: Yeah.

Speaker A: So what would you say to that type of person?

Speaker B: Yeah, I would separate therapist into two categories. Like, are you an employee of someone else working at an agency, CMH University setting, where you have maybe less control over your schedule, or are you a therapist that has your own private practice where you have more control? So for those that are in a typical agency type setting, and we’ll just use that as a generic term for anyone that’s an employee looking at for one, is the amount that I’m being paid worth how many hours I have to work, including the stress and recovery. And so you can only work 35 hours, but if you have a boss or clients or other people that just. You have to vent to your partner, you just feel like it takes you a couple of hours after work to just get back to baseline. Those are all hours that you’re putting into that bucket of your employee job. And so to look at, okay, if I’m venting for half an hour every night with my partner, and I really just need to have some downtime away from the family to even just feel like I need to regroup, that’s all part of that job. And to look at that whole package and say, I’m getting paid this much amount of money for 50, 60 hours of the job, the stress, the anxiety, the Sunday night blues, all those different things, is that worth it? So starting there, and then I would say looking at, are there boundaries within work that you can set for yourself that maybe are within your job description to set, or do you need to work with your supervisor on creating more boundaries? Now, you may not have a supportive supervisor, and then that becomes a different conversation. If you do have a supportive supervisor to say, hey, for three months, I want to try this boundary out. I want to try this new schedule. I’m finding that I’m not going to be able to probably sustain in this job with the way that it’s going right now. So it may be I’m going to make sure I always end my sessions on time. The number of therapists that just giving them permission to do a 45 minutes session, when you’re paid for a 45 minutes session, it’s like they feel like they need to take on this martyrdom and go over time. No, they are coming in for a 45 minutes session. If you’re scheduling 60 minutes sessions, do 60 minutes. If you’re scheduling 90, do 90. Be respectful of other people’s time and be very clear at the end of the session. And so even just those kind of boundaries to give yourself permission to say, I’m going to do a 45 minutes session, so I have 15 minutes to do progress notes, go to the bathroom, get something to eat, go for a quick walk outside, whatever that thing is. And then I think also our hormones, our energy levels, all of those things change throughout the seasons, throughout phases of life, throughout phases of stress. And so the schedule that worked a year ago for you might not work anymore. Maybe it’s that on Tuesdays you really shouldn’t start Till 10:00 a.m. Maybe across the board you shouldn’t start till 10:00 a.m. And you should work a little bit later. Maybe you need to start taking 90 minutes lunches and come in half an hour earlier if you’re an employee, all these ways of testing and adjusting your schedule for your energy levels, just your overall attention, that’s making you a better therapist. Also, I would add that those that have their own business, that are in private practice, ultimately, if you’re not happy with your job, you are your boss. And so if you’ve structured your business in a way that isn’t sustainable, then we need to just start from scratch in saying, well, what are we doing here? And so to even just start with financially, how much money do you need to make per year? How many total weeks per year do you want to work? So taking that amount that you need to take home, multiplying it by a factor of usually 1.5 to account for taxes and other things. So, you know, okay, I need to bring in one hundred and fifty K to take home 100K or whatever your numbers are. I want to work 46 weeks a year, 44 weeks. Now, we have a number of weekly when you are working, how much, and then setting that money aside. So if you take two or three weeks off, you don’t just say, oh, I don’t get money this month. No, you still get paid, but you just factor it on. 44 weeks a year, 46 weeks a year, whatever you want. And then to say, okay, how many days a week do I want to work and how many hours do I want to do each day? You may find that the hourly you need to make for the lifestyle that you want is $25 more per session than what you’re charging. It could be $50 more than what you’re charging. It could be that, wow, the insurance companies are paying you $112, but my average needs to be 150. But my private pay is 150. So my overall average is 130. So you can never meet those goals. So just a basic understanding of how your numbers, your time, your ideal life all interact together then allows you to say, you know what? I need to be charging 175 per session for private pay and have at least 50% of my clients do that. And then the other half Is Going To Be IndiVidual sessions that I’m billing Insurance. Now we have some Goals and Some action items to Do to be Able to move towards that Lifestyle that you want to live.

Speaker A: That’s so good. When you said all this, I know this stuff now, but when I came into private practice, I had no Business plan. I was hoping a prayer, okay, maybe I’ll talk to some people. And I had this one Book, like how to start a private Practice. And I really just tried my best to do what I could. I mean, I did the best with what I had, but I didn’t have a Business degree. I didn’t have training in those areas. And it was trial by fire, Honestly, of how I learned. So I appreciate so much with what you’re doing for, with therapists who want to be in private practice. It can start out the right way. And I would add with a Business plan, it sounds like what you’re talking about.

Speaker B: Yeah. I think just even some people hear business plan, they think I’m going to spend days and days writing this whole thing out for it to sit as a file on my computer. To me, we don’t necessarily have a Specific business plan in regards to what we’re doing, but we do have an annual plan. And so every year we look Quarter by Quarter, what are the three big areas? So for us in the coming year and throughout the year, it’s going to be our Operations. That’s the one big Umbrella. One is going to be in regards to our finances, and then we have another one that’s going to be around our membership Communities. And So looking at in the Operations, what are we trying to do here? What’s the big thing? And so for example, our chief Operating officer, Sam, I said if things were Clicking Along In a Year, what would that mean for you and your Schedule? Because she’s the one that ends up getting hit with any of the Operational issues. And she said if I didn’t get sucked into more than 5 hours a Week of Meetings that were unexpected, Then we would be on Track. Great. Now we have a big PicTure KPI key performance indicator as to what good operational efficiency is. Now we just say what projects do we have to do to make it that Sam doesn’t get sucked into 5 hours a week or more? And so then we can start to say, well, how are we communicating, how are we onboarding new projects? And then just break it down quarter by quarter almost like a treatment plan for your business where you say, okay, you want less anxiety. How are we going to measure anxiety? Okay, I don’t wake up with a pit in my stomach five out of seven days a week. Okay, let’s keep track of that. Now, now that we know what we’re shooting for, that pit in your stomach in the morning, let’s focus on when do you have that? When do you not? Let’s do some projects or some treatment goals within that, and then we’ll have some interventions. Same sort of thing where we’re saying quarter by quarter, we’re creating this treatment plan for your business. And then we go into the marketing side of things and the finances, and then we go into our membership communities. How do we make sure people are getting out of it, what they want and they’re achieving things? And then now we can say, okay, we have this one project for say next level practice, our membership community for solo practices, and we want to increase membership by say 100 people next year. If we then look at, well, we are doing a referral program in quarter one and we’re going to do some pay per click advertising in quarter two, then I can just not think about that stuff until the middle of next year. Instead of having it all running in my head, now it’s all out there. And to me, that’s a much more functional way of planning and saying, what are we going to do this quarter? Okay, we’ve already done it. We can just keep working on other things. We don’t need to worry about that next stuff for the next quarter unless we want to get ahead of schedule.

Speaker A: Yeah, that makes so much sense. Yeah. I think also getting over the fear of writing things down. I mean, I’m thinking of myself starting private practice and what that was like, and I probably Just needed someone to say, just keep it simple. Get 85% of the way there. I think one of the recommendations you said was, figure out what your average session fee needs to be to make that annual goal. I think if I had that information in my head, I would have gotten so much further in getting that fee that where I needed it to be, and then understanding what insurance panels could I take? Like, if they offered me, okay, X insurance panels would tell me, we’ll give you 112. We’ll just take that number again. Does that fit into my eQuation? Is that going to work? Can I take this other panel that’s telling me $86 an hour for a session? No, that’s not going to work for what I need to make for my Family. So I think all those decisions, it’s really helpful to think of how do I conceptualize it and how do I make it easy, because I think there’s a lot of fear with therapists in the money, in the finances, and trying to figure that out for themselves, especially from my perspective. I ALways Said I’d never go into business for Myself or By MYseLF BecaUsE It Was ToO CoMpLicated. But I’m now on my third business, so I guess I got over that a few times.

Speaker B: Well, I think it’s also the narrative that we’re given. So I was raised by a school psychologist and a school nurse. They worked for someone else. The narrative I received as a kid was, get really good grades, go into honors programs, get a double master’s degree, and then someone’s going to hire you because you’re going to be an awesome candidate. It never was. Do all that and then go start your own business. And so we all have these narratives that say, like, business is hard, business is difficult, it’s risky, and a lot of that comes from very individual situations. My uncle went bankrupt because he had a business. We don’t know what your uncle was like. HE CoULD HAVE BEEN AN AlCOHOLiC. He could have been a narcissist. He could have been sleeping with the secretary. Who knoWs? BUt ThEn, you Know, this Narrative is Created in families where it’s like, yeah, business is risky because Uncle Bob went bankrupt. That’s one person. Oftentimes, rather than saying, are these narratives that we just internalize and say, business is risky, is it? Well, let’s challenge that in the same way we challenge cognitive distortions all the time. Use these skills. We already have to apply them then to our business to say, where does that come from? Okay, I’m from a family that was employees. I’m from a family that had state and school pensions. Of course it worked for them. So of course they’re going to want that for their son. So then I can start to challenge it. Right? But then I want their kids to.

Speaker A: Challenge that makes logical sense. They wanted you to be safe. They’re like, oh, this is the safe path. We want you to take that path.

Speaker B: Yeah, it worked for us within our generation, within that economic environment, but that doesn’t mean that’s going to be true for our generation. And so being able to then start saying, what skills do I need to develop to push back or to just see, is that true? It may be true that my best path would have been to be an employee. That could have been true, but also I need to challenge that narrative and then say, is that the path that, for one, do I want? Does that feel good to me? Am I happy with being an employee? If so, then stick with it. If not, don’t.

Speaker A: Right? So good. Yeah. I think we could spend forever on that topic, but I do want to transition you back, because you had said there was part of your burnout story that you came to the conclusion you didn’t want to do therapy anymore. And that’s kind of the group that I work with, folks that feel like they can’t do therapy or they can’t do their private practice anymore. I’m wondering if you could speak a little bit to that, either from your perspective or just on people you’ve worked with.

Speaker B: Yeah. So, when I left the community college in 2015, for four years, I owned my counseling practice, mental wellness counseling, and eventually sold that to Nicole, one of my clinicians, and she has just blown it up in a really good way. So, during that time, I started doing more with practice of the practice. I started doing more podcasts. I, every year, said, if I did something that really expanded things for me, what would that look like the book, the one thing early on was very pivotal to me. And the central question of that book is, what’s the one thing that I could do now that would make everything else either easier or unnecessary? And so one year it was, if I can get enough consulting clients that are double my counseling rate. So I think at that time I was probably 150 per session. So I was shooting for 300 per session for my consulting. If I had a handful of those, that would really help me not be as reliant on the practice. And then I did that and I liked it, and then it was okay. What if I had a mastermind group where I had six to eight people each paying $500 a month to be in a group setting that’s smaller, that would be the next step. And then the next year was, what if I started a membership community that people paid a monthly amount and they got access to these things that weren’t always tied to my time? So over time, every year, I’m adding these things. And what if we doubled or tripled the number of podcast sponsors that we have? We’re already doing the show. What if we tried to have multiple six figures come just through the podcast sponsorship? So then as we hit those goals, I realized I liked that a lot more and I was good at it and got feedback from people that, hey, consulting with you is really helpful. And I’m hitting these goals and realizing my energy is shifting away from therapy. And at that point, it was less about burnout and more about interest and joy, where I started to notice that when clients showed up or I saw that it was more of a clinical day than a consulting day, I was kind of bummed out. And that’s not fair to my clients, that’s not fair to people that they’re showing up for their counseling sessions. I would hate to know that my therapist that I see is like, Dang, Joe’s on my schedule. That sucks. I wouldn’t want that. So really started to whittle people down and saw only a handful of people that I knew basically were going to turn off the lights with me when I sold the practice, which is exactly what they did. Literally, my office was empty except for one couch and one chair, and they left. And then immediately after the movers showed up and moved the couch out, I.

Speaker A: Had a couple of sessions like that, too. That’s why I’m laughing. When I was moving out of one office, I go like, I got one or two chairs today, so they’re going to hang with me until the end, though.

Speaker B: Yeah, to me, that burnout was moving away from something that would have been fine, but I’d outgrown that for myself. I felt more compelled to go into consulting and podcasting and the things that really were lighting me up in my business and within that world and saying, it’s not fair to those clients, it’s not fair to myself, it’s not fair to the practice for an uninterested leader to still be leading this company. Which is why within six months of really identifying that I had sold the practice, I had stopped doing counseling, and I had moved on into just doing practice, the practice full time.

Speaker A: And I think part of what, when I was reflecting or listening to you, that you wanted something else, you wanted something else. And I think that’s okay, like that permission I think some therapists need if they want a different career, if they want something else, that can be a hard shift from being a therapist to being something else, whatever that is. Can you speak a little bit to that from your perspective?

Speaker B: Yeah. I think it’s such an identity shift for me. In second grade, I wrote a paper about why I wanted to be a psychologist. Now, my dad was a psychologist, so obviously I saw that. I saw his flexibility. It was a world that I knew. I thought it was interesting, all the psychological tests that he’d have around the house. So I was interested in it. And throughout high school, I dual enrolled in college and took psychology classes, went in declaring my major, and got through school in three and a half years because I was focused and knew exactly what I wanted to do. And then went into a master’s program and all these things that I did it the right way from age seven all the way through. I got the jobs, I did the internship, I worked as a foster care supervisor in community mental health. And all the things all the way through to finally get that golden handcuffed job where you get to work with college students that are more, they have less crisis, oftentimes crises than maybe a bunch of the people at community mental health. So I finally get this kind of cake job only to say, this isn’t good enough. And then I leave that and have a successful private practice where I’m working 20 hours a week and I say, that’s not good enough. It felt selfish, it felt like my identity has been, I want to be trained as a psychologist and counselor, have potentially a business and then do that. I even had a podcast about how I have this business. Now I’m going to leave that the thing that often gives me validity, like what if my audience says, well, we don’t want to follow you because you don’t have a practice anymore. So many internal things that question my very identity as a professional, and I knew it’s what I needed to do. And so you then are at a crossroads. Where do you keep going forward on something that you know isn’t a fit anymore, or do you double down and keep trying harder and harder, or do you let it go?

Speaker A: Right. Yeah. What helped you make that decision?

Speaker B: Part of it was that our lease was coming due for the space. So I had this beautiful four office view of the Bay. Even though we had 13 clinicians, we were highly effective with it. Beautiful office that I just absolutely loved. And was I going to keep spending that money on that, not wanting to be there? So I had to make a decision. By July of 2019, am I going to sign another five year lease and drop hundreds of thousands of dollars over the next five years? I knew for sure I was not wanting to do that. Did I want to move into being a silent owner and then try within six months to get, like, a clinical director in there? That didn’t sound fun for me at the time at all. And I could totally support myself on just practice of the practice. At that point, the finances had outpaced the private practice. So I do think that having Nicole come to me, I still remember where she said, so what’s going to happen in July? This would have been like January. Of that, I said, I don’t know. I’m sorting through that decision. And she said, well, if you want to sell it, let me know. Let’s have a conversation. And that really opened the door in a way that’s.

Speaker A: Hey, therapist. I just wanted to invite you if you need some help with figuring out what’s going on in your career, in your life as a therapist. I know the struggles of doing one to one therapy, back to back to back, and feeling like it isn’t a good fit for multiple reasons, whether it’s burnout, your temperament, your caseload, I’m here for all of it. So if you want to untangle the knot that is going on in your practice or in your role as a therapist, jump on a 20 minutes free career refresh consult call with me. The link to do that is in the show notes. I hope to connect with you soon.

Speaker B: I had thought I could sell it, but when you don’t have buyers knocking on the door, to have someone that I trust that knows the culture of mental illness counseling that I could easily hand it off to, that definitely opened that door for me in a way that I couldn’t see the exit other than really just like shutting it down or selling it super cheap for basically the website. So that really did add value by her bringing that up to me to allow me to really kind of exit.

Speaker A: Yeah. So it sounds like partly a financial decision. Your finances were secure somewhere else, which I find that was part of my story. Right. I got another job that wasn’t my therapy practice. And I felt like, okay, well, I can do this thing because I have the finances to do that. But I’d already been thinking about that for a long, long time, that this is probably not something I want to continue.

Speaker B: Yeah. I think that for a lot of the people that I talk to and work with, we want to do it right. We’ve got our doctorates, our master’s degrees. We’ve had a thesis we had to do. Dissertation, you get marked down because you don’t do it either, like APA style or MLA or whatever your school does. And we’re trained to refine, refine, refine, and don’t turn that in, whether that’s your dissertation or anything else, until that research, till all of that is perfected. And that’s just not how the world is. And that’s just not how business is. And so, recognizing that we’ve been trained in a way, as we should, as clinicians, I don’t want someone that just bums their way through grad school and then says, sure, I’ll be your therapist. And it’s like they had C’s all the way through and they never did anything right. Yeah. We want highly trained therapists, but applying that to how we run a business or how we run our lives so much of the world now is giving it our best shot, learning as we go and adjusting over time.

Speaker A: Yeah. And I think that you’re tapping into kind of that willingness to take some risk, and that’s really hard, I think, for therapists, because I find most of my therapist friends and colleagues to be probably the most risk adverse group that. Actually, my last podcast, I was just talking about this, how therapists are the most risk adverse group I know because of good reason, because we create these warm, cozy offices. We have our plants in the corner. We want clients to feel like we are here for. We’re growing into the carpet and we’re not going anywhere. So it makes sense that we are probably the type of person that doesn’t make very fast moves, and that’s really hard for us. So I think making some of these decisions that a quote unquote typical entrepreneur might make more quickly may not be something that we feel comfortable with.

Speaker B: Well, and if you’re sloppy in your therapy, people can die, people can commit suicide, they can have mental health breaks. We don’t want sloppy therapists. So the kind of person that’s drawn to that field is someone that’s going to take their career seriously. They’re going to take their clinical skills seriously, they’re going to take their ethics seriously. Those are all really good things. And the very thing it takes to become a successful business owner is often moving when you don’t feel ready. Do I think you should be sloppy? No, but you should probably jump way faster than you’re overthinking that whole being paralyzed by perfection and you don’t get things done. Well, there’s times that we need to jump before we’re ready. And those are the things that, in the business world, definitely help us get a jump on things faster than if we overthink it for forever.

Speaker A: Yeah, I think there’s this thing about, like, and I see it sometimes. So I do consulting. Like, I do some training for therapists, and there’s this thing when I do EMDR consultations where I have to really give them a lot of reassurance that you know a lot of stuff. You’ve went to school a long time, trust that expertise that you already have, even though you’re a new clinician, you can make these decisions. So I really feel like therapists do need to be empowered, that they have a lot of skills they may not even know about. Like, okay, maybe you don’t know exactly how to run a business, but you know how to make the treatment, playing like a boss. So if we make that alignment with the financial treatment plan or how they can structure their business in a way their brain already works, can be really helpful. But I think there is this inherent doubt that sometimes I see in therapists that I’m not good enough or I don’t have it right. Kind of tapping into that perfectionism or wanting to get it right and not do harm.

Speaker B: Yeah. And so then it’s, what are we going to do about that? How are we going to challenge that way of thinking? And then how do we create systems that help us to get things done quicker? Parkinson’s Law tells us that work expands to the time that’s given. Okay, so if we think this is going to take six months to launch, which happens so often in consulting, where people say, yeah, by the end of next year, I want to do these things. And it’s like, what if you had to do that in six weeks and then all of a sudden they figure out how to do it in six weeks instead of twelve months? And so just that little thing of questioning, why am I giving myself this much time to do that project instead of just shortening it in half or a quarter? That can help you start to move on it, because when you’re moving on it, then you’re getting that feedback. You’re seeing the cracks in your idea. You’re not trying to figure out how your clients are going to respond to something or say you’re launching something outside of your business, like an e course or a podcast. You can get that real feedback from people. So say Jen, you overthought and wrote out what your 1st 50 episodes were going to be, and then you recorded them all and one of those 50 episodes already. What if episode three was on burnout and couples and then it went through the roof? People loved it. But you have 50 more episodes that don’t ever cover burnout in couples. Wouldn’t we want to do the thing that works more often? Imagine where you’d be if you did 50 episodes on burnout in couples, if that’s what was a hook really early on in your podcast. And so getting that feedback actually helps us grow faster. It helps us reach our goals quicker because we’re not being delayed by our perfection.

Speaker A: Yeah, I think that all makes sense. When I see therapists are like, but I have to write a book before I can do that course or have the podcast.

Speaker B: What I hear all the time is I have to have a PhD in order to fill in the blank. And it’s like, no, only 8% of the US has a master’s degree. So in any room of 100 people, eight have a master’s degree. And if you look at those eight, it’s probably an attorney, it might be a doctor, it might be other people, an accountant. You’rE probably in most rooms of 100 average people, the smartest person in the mental health field from the second that you leave Grad.

Speaker A: Listen to this. I listen to this podcast. What is her name anyway? She has the life Coach school. Maybe you’ve heard of her, but it’s Bert Castillo, and she developed this thing called the model. It is CBT, okay? There’s no bones about that. It’s CBT. And I was like, oh, I might want to do that coach certification. And I paid for one month and I canceled right after I went into what the model was. I was like, you are telling me that they are packaging CBT as a new thing, but it is like all these people listed. I still listen to the podcast because I really like her delivery, but it just empowers me to know, like I have a doctoral degree, I have four degrees in psychology, but I feel like I don’t know enough. I feel like know well, there’s other people that do it better or say it better, but this woman has developed a model which is CBT and makes millions of dollars and does not have any training like the training we have.

Speaker B: Right. It’s so interesting when you hear guests that you’re just like when you find those things I was listening to really successful. They’re trained as a therapist and they wrote a book, but the book basically was really basic boundaries. Like if you don’t like something, set a boundary and see what happens. And it’s like what? Just active listening, like talking. A great follow up thing is. Tell me more about that. Those basic things really often work and we think that we don’t know a lot when the things that are intuitive to us are actually the things that a lot of times the world needs more of.

Speaker A: Right? Yeah. And I think that just to know that that skill that therapists have is marketable, it’s something that the world needs. And even if you think it’s been said a million times, you can say it in a way no one else can because your voice is different, your experiences are different. So I often think of that too for myself and for some of the folks that are trying to do these things outside of private.

Speaker B: Yes, totally. Yeah. I think that just thinking through what is it that we’re trying to do here? How are we doing then? You know, setting some reasonable goals to.

Speaker A: Get there makes sense. Well, Joe, I will ask you one of the questions I’m asking my guests at the end. And how are you finding Joy today?

Speaker B: Well, today, this moment, right after this, I’m going to go pick up my daughters from school and we have nothing planned for the afternoon. So to me I’m finding Joy. I’ve been reading the book wintering and really slowing down, and I have nine and twelve year old daughters that both still really love me. They want to be around me, they want to cuddle, they want to have time together. My twelve year old, I get little glimpses like this morning she said, because it was raining, and I said, well, take an umbrella. And she said, no, only the uncool kids take umbrellas. So I see this teenness coming and to me, just spending time with them gives me such joy. Just slow down, not feel like we have to over schedule. Like just yesterday they had school off, and I decided they needed to straighten up their room. So other than that, it was like, do whatever you want. You get a certain limited amount of iPad. But my older daughter decided she was going to go in this cookbook and learn how to make these onion pretzels from scratch. And so just like, watching that creativity and that downtime, and they were delicious. I mean, they were amazing. But that, to me, that unstructured family time, I’m naturally kind of wired to be an achiever, a mover, like, getting a lot done and making the most out of life. And I almost have this, like, I want to be a Renaissance man where I could live five people’s lives in one life. And that’s just a lot of pressure, especially for little kids that have gone through a lot of transitions in the last couple of years. So joy to me is sitting with a blanket and beating them in Mario Kart.

Speaker A: Yes, we are big switch fans that we are two boys, seven and ten. So we are into all of that. Yeah, I find it’s always the simple things, those simple things in life that are really the things that bring us joy. So that’s why I love this segment. So I’m wondering where therapists who don’t know of you, which would be amazing. They don’t know of you yet, but I bet there’s some that don’t, that might be needing some of what you offer. So maybe you can talk a little bit about what you offer and where they can find you.

Speaker B: Yeah. So the best place to go is practiceofthepractice.com. We have all sorts of services there. We help with back end it support, social media, copywriting, videos, all that sort of stuff, as well as we have membership communities for every phase of practice. So whether someone’s in solo practice all the way up through a seven figure practice, we have a community that’s specific for that phase of practice. So lots of things over@practicethepractice.com. If specific to your audience, you’re looking at adding things outside of your practice. We have two things that I would recommend. One is audience building academy. So Audience Building Academy is available over at AudienCeBuilding Academy, and that’s a program that we have that’s specific to helping you build an audience with the skills you have. So imagine you’re an amazing trauma therapist and you want to build an audience to eventually offer e courses or podcasts or things like that we believe that most of us will start with the product and then squeeze people into that. Versus if you have the audience that’s listening, that’s following, that trusts you, they’ll tell you specifically what they want to buy from you. And so maybe you’ve already started doing some audience building. Maybe you want to grow into more audience building. AudienCeBuilding Academy is the best spot for that. Or if you’re ready to get started right away, I do one on one Consulting with people. The average price for that is around $1,000 a month, just so that people can decide that before they even go over there. But that’s practiceofthpractice comfly we’ll do a pre consulting call to talk through specifically what is it that you’re looking to do outside of your practice? What kind of passive income types of things are you doing? And most of those plans. We always include audience building Academy as part of those plans as well. So if you’re wondering what to do next, just head on over to forward slash apply, and myself and one of our other four consultants would meet with you, depending on your phase of practice, to figure out the next best steps. Jen, thank you so much for having me on your show.

Speaker A: Great. Thank you for listening to the Joy after Burnout podcast. Be the first to hear new episodes by following the podcast in your podcast player. This is an informational podcast only. Any information expressed by the host or guest is not a substitute for legal, medical, or financial advice.


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