020: Therapist Burnout Traps with the “Bad Therapist” Felicia

May 13, 2024

In this episode, Felicia, also known as the Bad Therapist, shares her unique perspective on avoiding burnout in the therapy field. She discusses the importance of setting strong boundaries with clients and the challenges therapists face in maintaining those boundaries. Felicia also reflects on the unrealistic expectations placed on therapists to always be available and unaffected by abuse or rudeness. She emphasizes the need for therapists to prioritize their own well-being and challenges the notion that sacrificing personal needs makes one a better therapist. Felicia advocates for a shift in the therapy field towards a more supportive and compassionate approach. In this conversation, Jen Blanchette and Felicia discuss the taboo of talking about finances in therapy and the impact of low pay and gendered expectations on therapists. They explore the exploitation of therapists’ labor and the clash between good therapist conditioning and advocating for financial security. They also discuss the influence of the healthcare system and tech companies on therapists’ fees, as well as the need for support and roadmaps to navigate financial sustainability in private practice. Finally, they highlight the importance of self-care and finding joy in personal connections.


  • Setting strong boundaries with clients is crucial for avoiding burnout in the therapy field.
  • Therapists often face unrealistic expectations to always be available and unaffected by abuse or rudeness.
  • Prioritizing personal well-being does not make one a bad therapist; it is essential for sustainable and effective therapy.
  • The therapy field needs to shift towards a more supportive and compassionate approach, challenging the hazing mentality and promoting self-care. The taboo of discussing finances in therapy perpetuates the undervaluing and exploitation of therapists’ labor.
  • Therapists, especially women, often face low pay and gendered expectations in the field.
  • The healthcare system and tech companies play a significant role in artificially lowering therapists’ fees.
  • Therapists need support and resources to navigate financial sustainability in private practice.
  • Prioritizing self-care and finding joy in personal connections are essential for therapists’ well-being.

More from Felicia: https://www.thebadtherapist.coach/

Links to my free 20-minute consult, and the rest of my free stuff: 


Speaker A: 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, Doctor Jen Blanchette.

Speaker B: Hey, therapists. Welcome back to the podcast. Today we have a good one. I’m talking today with Felicia, aka the Bad therapist. I love that name, by the way, is a dynamic figure in the field of therapy and business coaching. She stands out for her unique approach to empowering therapists, helping them transition from feeling overworked and underpaid to running joyful, profitable, and ethical private practices. Our business coaching services focus on a range of areas including marketing, money, mindset and team building within the private practice context. And with that, I want to welcome you. Felicia. How’s it going today?

Speaker C: It’s going so good. Thank you so much for having me. I am in my hometown today, and so, yeah, I’ve just had a really nice morning so far. Yeah, exciting.

Speaker B: Awesome. So, generally, how I kick off the podcast is asking you, what is your burnout story? And you have an interesting answer. So I’m really excited for you to tell the listeners about it.

Speaker C: Yeah, so I’ve gotten this question before, and of course, when I knew I was coming onto your podcast, I thought about it, because I know that’s the center of the podcast, talking about burnout stories and making sure the stories have a place to go. And when I look back on my career as a therapist, I actually. I don’t consider myself to have ever had a time where I am burnt out. I feel like it’s not as if I’ve moved through the industry unscathed, but I do feel like I’ve avoided burnout throughout my career. So, yeah, it’s kind of different in a way because I think that’s really standard for therapists. But I think one of the things that I started doing really, really early on is having pretty strong boundaries with clients. Maybe not always with my, with like, the work outside of seeing clients, and maybe not always, like, within the organizations that I worked in, but I feel like that was like a really helpful thing super early on to have very strong boundaries with clients.

Speaker B: Yeah, that’s awesome.

Speaker C: I think.

Speaker B: I wonder what makes it difficult for us as therapists to hold those boundaries. I think of the ivory tower of grad school and how we are taught all these ethical standards and how boundaries should be. And I feel like with all that tethering of support, likely I’m thinking of my own training. I remember a time where we had, like, I remember I forget how much supervision I had, but it just felt like, I think I had four or 5 hours of supervision a week, and that was. Whoa. That’s a lot going on, you know, to have a group supervisor, a site supervisor, this supervisor, that supervisor. And so I felt like with the minimal amount of therapy work I was doing and that amount of support, I was like, I could never think about poor boundaries, but I got to the place of making some choices. Or I was like, ooh, this really isn’t a great situation that I put myself in clinically, and maybe why that happens. So I wonder if you have any ideas about that.

Speaker C: Sorry, you cut out there. Can you say that last part one more time?

Speaker B: Yeah. So I’m just wondering if you have any ideas about why therapists might struggle with boundaries specifically.

Speaker C: Oh, there are so many reasons why we struggle with boundaries. I think I’ll give you some stories. I listened to some episodes of your podcast, and I love the anecdotes and stories that you share, so I definitely have some of my own. I remember when I was in grad school, I worked at this cafe in San Francisco, and my poor boss was so stressed out, and she really took a lot of that out on me. And I remember after I worked there for way too long, oh, my gosh, I wish I would have left sooner. But it was eventually. One day I confronted her and was like, hey, it’s not okay that you talk to me like this. And she said, well, aren’t you studying to be a therapist? You should be able to handle this. And so it’s like, not only. Not only are we getting this in school, but it’s like the wider public also thinks we’re kind of these not fully human entities that can just handle anything that you throw at us because we’re therapists. So we should. We should just be able to handle it all. Any rudeness, like, inappropriate behavior. We should be like these Jedi knights who can just not affect it.

Speaker B: I know exactly what to do with this.

Speaker C: Yeah, it’s okay. Abuse doesn’t affect me because I’m studying to be a therapist. Like, what the hell? That doesn’t even make sense. So, yeah, I think there’s a general perception that we are just. We can handle it all. And then in our trainings and, yeah, in our education with our supervisors, this also gets reinforced. So, another anecdote. This is before I went to grad school, when I was still living in Bakersfield, and I was, like, fresh out of undergrad, and I got a job in a methadone clinic as a drug counselor, which was nuts. Like, I can’t believe they gave me that job. Like, looking up back on it now, I’m like, I must have been so convincing at those interviews because no clinical training. It was 22 when they hired me. I turned 23 shortly after that. But, like, even so, like, it was a 22 year old that they hired, and they gave me a caseload. Within months, I had a caseload of, like, you know. Well, I should say within months, I had a few caseload, and by the time I left, I had a caseload of over 75 patients, so.

Speaker B: Oh, my gosh.

Speaker C: Yeah, I think I quit just before I was 25. So by the time I left. Anyway, one day, I was, like, walking through my boss’s office, and I was like, hey, I need a mental health day. And his response, I kid you not, was like, we don’t get mental health days around here. And I was like, dude, like, what if we don’t get mental health days here? Where would we get them?

Speaker B: Like, right? Yeah. Yeah. Wow. That is. You know, I’ve often thought about that. Like, we often have the most difficult clinical positions that we have. Our whole careers, the earliest part of our career.

Speaker C: Oh, my God. You and I could talk about that forever. I feel so strongly about how ****** up that is, not just to us, but to our clients. Like, some of the most highest high need clients get the least trained, least supported clinicians out there, not to rag on, like, young or early clinicians. I think I did a fantastic job in that role. However, still, wildly inappropriate research would support you.

Speaker B: Yeah, research would support you. We don’t actually clinically get better with age.

Speaker C: Really? I didn’t know that.

Speaker B: Yeah. So they’ve done some research on early career therapists and later career therapists that, and I don’t know. I think we have to look at some research with that. But on the trend, there’s not huge differences in therapy outcomes. So it’s like, what are we really measuring in that place? And I think there’s lots of reasons. Like, could it be that they’re fresh.

Speaker C: 100% careers?

Speaker B: Because I think about myself in that early career phase, and it was like, I wasn’t a mother. I didn’t have a lot of these responsibilities I had. I just had, like, that job and my life. That was it, you know? So I really was really more. I wouldn’t say the words invested, but I was very much more focused on that particular client in some ways, which I don’t know if is realistic for real life, you know? What I mean, no, I think you.

Speaker C: Make a great point. I mean, when I started that job, I was incredibly aware of how little I knew. And I was so, everything was so fresh and new, and I was so curious. I truly had that beginner’s mind and what I learned in that role. And I was there for two years. That’s how long I intended to stay there. When I got hired, I knew, I’m going to stay here for two years, and then I’m going to leave and I’m going to travel. And that’s exactly what I did. I tend to have pretty good foresight. I knew I wanted to be a therapist when I was 13, and when I went to school, I studied psychology, and I graduated with that. When I got hired for this job, I went in thinking, I’m going to be here for two years. Then after two years, I’m going to travel. But at the beginning, I had no background in this, but I was, like, hungry to understand my caseload. A lot of them were older than me. People had been coming to this clinic, in some cases for decades. They were old enough to be my grandparents. They had life experience that I had no idea about. And so really, the only tool I had in my toolbox was my attention. And so I gave, like, every single person sitting in front of me as much as I possibly could myself, full attention. And I. Ever since then, I feel like that is the best gift we can give to another human being, is our complete and full attention. It felt like marathon meditations when I was in it, it was like you would come, I would go into the lobby, I’d get you, we’d come into the room together, and I would just be like, I am totally focused on you. For the next 50 minutes, you are the most important human being that has ever existed, and I’m just going to be laser focused on you. And there was something about, I think, being new, being young, having energy, never doing this before, not knowing how to do anything else, that I was so ******* good at that job.

Speaker B: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I just, you know, I think for therapists, it’s just hard to sustain that, right?

Speaker C: Like, 100% human. There’s no way I could do that now.

Speaker B: Cannot sustain attention, like, in general. Like, I’m a brain injury specialist and work, you know, under a neuropsychologist. So I understand, like, limitations of attention. We’re just not. Our brains aren’t really meant to do that, you know? So I think sometimes therapists have this expectation. Like, I was able to, like, really focus on that client and be with them in that moment. And I think it probably is a function of this was new, this was novel. I was trying to, like, gain this competency, and I wanted to do good. This is our segue into the good therapist role. I wanted to be the good therapist. I wanted to create change in the world. I wanted to do that. But I think not realizing that having eight to ten clients a day, focusing, laser focusing on them for 50 minutes an hour. A 50 minutes hour, right. Is likely not sustainable. Every day for five days.

Speaker C: There’s no way. There’s no way I can do that job now. No way. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it was fun at the time in so many ways because I felt so stimulated and curious. But you’re absolutely right. I think a huge reason why I was able to do that in the way I did it was because I was so young and because I actually wasn’t trained. I honestly think that if had I been trained, if I hadn’t done no client, if I had waited to do client work until I started getting trained, I don’t think I would have ever had that experience. It’s like I would have known too much.

Speaker B: Yeah, but I think the fact that.

Speaker C: I had basically nothing and they did train us there, like, we got trainings, but like, it was like once a week we would have. This woman was fantastic, a social worker. I loved her trainings, but it wasn’t like going to graduate school. That’s like giving me like these huge chunks of time to get trained. I had like 1 hour a week and this mentor that I sought out, a retired social worker that I would meet with sometimes, but absolutely, I can’t do that now. And that’s one of the things that as I’ve changed as a human being, not just like a clinician, but a human being with a different brain, different priorities, different lifestyle, I’ve had to allow myself to shift how I show up in my work and the type of business that I run.

Speaker B: Yeah, I think one question therapists will all kind of wonder, and I see in all the little groups about, like, what is full for you? Which I love that question because, you know, it just, it really is individual to the person. It’s like, how many hour sessions can I do and still maintain that laser focus on the client? I think that’s your answer. And for some clinicians, that’s five clients. Other clinicians, that’s 30 clients. And I think that’s really high, actually. Same. I think the upper limit for most clinician would likely be in the twenties somewhere, but I can’t speak for them and, like, what they can do or what their financial needs are. So because I think that that level of attention, that level of focus really takes a lot from us. You know, those are emotional resources that we have to renew, and they become depleted and we have to find, you know, I’m trained in heart biofeedback and other modalities, but I always think of, like, the renewal depletion cycle. Okay, I’ve just depleted this emotional resource. How am I gonna renew it for other parts of my life, for me, like being a mother or, you know, being a partner, things of that nature, being a family member, how am I going to renew that energy? Because there’s only a finite amount of it. I think we don’t realize that. We think we’re these superhuman beings because we’re kind of trained and that, like, okay, you can keep going, and you can keep doing as much as you can, and then we reach that level of burnout, of fatigue that is really, really hard. And I think there’s a sense of, you know, unworthiness or some other therapist has it figured out. I don’t have it figured out.

Speaker C: And we’re also, like, a. A judgy bunch, too. Like, a lot of times, like, we fear what other therapists will think of us. And so even if we may want that, even if we’re not having an actual conversation with another therapist, I feel like we always have that internal voice of, like, the good therapist that’s like, oh, you only see 15 clients, and you charge $300? Well, I see 30, and I’m starving. I never eat because I can’t afford food, and therefore I’m better than you. And it’s like, why is that our ******* standard? This is crazy. Like, it is crazy to me that we have an industry where we are explicitly charged with helping people improve their mental health and quality of life, and we’re just like, screw mine. Like that. How do we walk around with so much cognitive dissonance and then, like, do, again, do, like, this weird Jedi thing where we’re like, but this is okay. And actually, this is how you’re supposed.

Speaker B: To do this career.

Speaker C: And it’s. So. It’s. Now that I’ve seen it, I think before I used to swim in the water of good therapist conditioning, and I was. That’s probably a huge part of what drove me in those early years was, like, I just want to help people, and I don’t.

Speaker B: I.

Speaker C: My job started at 05:00 a.m.. I was like 23, 24 years old, and I. That meant I was going to bed at like eight, you know, because I would wake up at 334 in the morning to get ready to go to work. So as like a young adult, I had this weird impact on my social life, but I didn’t care because I was helping people and this is what I wanted to do. And truly at that time, that felt totally fine for me. I didn’t actually feel like I was missing out. Didn’t feel like a huge sacrifice.

Speaker B: Yeah.

Speaker C: But as I’ve gotten older and my priorities have changed, it’s just like that. That way of living doesn’t make sense for me. And I’ve kind of, once I began to understand, like, good therapist conditioning and I saw it, I couldn’t unsee it, I was like, I can’t play by these rules anymore. This is ridiculous.

Speaker B: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I get angry about it sometimes and wish I could have seen it when I was younger or kind of think backwards of this moment where I was like, do I become a psychologist or do I get my mba and go into business? If I know what I knew then, now, would I have done it? I don’t know. I mean, I just think that you are who you are and you become who you become, and that’s just part of who you are. And I do value my training and my experiences. I’m also thinking I’m going backwards into some of my training and thinking of those experiences. I think part of it is that a lot of the hurdles for me as a psychologist, which they torture us. We have the time of licensure. I had 6000 hours of supervised experience for 6000.

Speaker C: I think for other, too many.

Speaker B: For other, you know, not that I’m like apples, oranges, but for some other ones, it’s like, you know, half of that possibly.

Speaker C: Yeah. As a master’s level, you know, therapist with an MFT in California, I had 3000 hours in order to, I needed 3000 hours in order to take my licensing exam. So. Yeah, that’s literally half of what was required for you.

Speaker B: Yeah, it’s just. Anyway, so I always told my, I had this saying, I can do anything for one year.

Speaker C: And you would just re up that each year. Right.

Speaker B: Okay, here’s my practicum year. All right. You know, okay, here’s my externship year, here’s my internship year. And at the time of internship, I mean, that was like, ooh, that was a burnout moment. I don’t think I’ve talked about this on the podcast, but I had someone at a supervisor who targeted me and would bring me in front of a group of other clinicians or professionals and kind of ream me out. I ended up going to HR. I got to the point where I was like, okay, I have to have this experience to get my doctoral degree. And I got to the point where I said, maybe I don’t get it. Maybe I come to this point and this person, because otherwise I restart a whole internship year. I had to go through the match, which I’d gone through twice. I didn’t match the first time, so I had to wait a year because at that time, there was a huge match imbalance for a psychologist, so. And that was a year before that I threw a laptop over that experience. But it’s just part of that I reflect on that process that, you know, I needed to be good for so long. Like, okay, I got through this practicum year, this externship year, this internship year, and now I’m licensed, but I still have a postdoc year. And I had some, like, little t trauma around that postdoc year. When I got to that placement, I was. And I loved that job. I loved that job. But I got to that year, and I was. I was almost scared to make waves.

Speaker C: Yeah, we have this habit in our.

Speaker B: Oh, sorry.

Speaker C: Go ahead.

Speaker B: No, go ahead. I want to hear it.

Speaker C: Sorry. There’s, like, a lag, so sometimes I’m interrupting.

Speaker B: I know there’s a little lag. It should catch up on the morning.

Speaker C: Yes, exactly. Yeah. I think so many of us have those stories. Maybe more of us than not, whether it was like, the ongoing sort of thing, like, what you experienced with this person targeting you, really, like, systematically. But I feel like there’s, again, a general attitude that therapists have towards younger, earlier career therapists of hazing them. And I’m so sick of this. I’m so sick of this. I feel like it’s very much a hazing mentality where it’s like, things were ****** for me, so **** you. They’re gonna be like, you’re kidding yourself if I’m gonna make this easy on you. And I basically have the opposite attitude where I’m like, this is not okay. This is unacceptable. And I want it to be easier for you. I don’t want you to have to go through this. I don’t want you to go through this career thinking that if you even consider thinking about yourself and your needs, that you’re a terrible person and that automatically makes you a bad therapist. Like, I don’t want that for you because that’s how it’s been. And it’s. I think, again, there’s, like, a societal issue around that, like what my boss said to me. But we are perpetuating it ourselves within our field, and I’m 100% against that. I’m so tired of this.

Speaker B: Yeah. Yeah. I think, you know, you always think of one person, right, when these things come up in a local group, which I won’t. I won’t share that person’s name because.

Speaker C: You know, that would be anonymous anonymity.

Speaker B: Hey, by the way, Jane Smith, therapist in this, right? Boom. Check out this.

Speaker C: Yeah, exactly.

Speaker B: But there is this. There’s values. Like, who. Why are people charging full fee, you know, private pay, that is detrimental to our field? Actually, our imperative, they’re a social worker. Our imperative as social workers is to take low fees, is to help people who cannot afford services.

Speaker C: And how do you pay your bills? How.

Speaker B: And this was, like, from a post where a therapist was like, hey, you know, I’m taking out a network. Like, not even solicited. Like, I don’t need your opinion on whether or not I have permission to charge whatever I want to charge because it’s like my. My ******* business. Like, no one was this in a therapist Facebook group. It was, like, a local one in my state.

Speaker C: God. Therapist groups.

Speaker B: There was a lot. I know, and there was a lot of therapists who came around, including myself, saying, like, hey, actually, no one asked your opinion on this. And, you know, there’s a lot of therapists helping to defend. So, yeah, I was actually, you know, impressed with some of the therapists there. You know, if. If people can take a sliding scale, like, kudos to them, like, that is your choice. But we don’t. We don’t expect that of men in the careers they do. Okay. Most of us are female identifying. Correct. We don’t expect that of our dentist. I always think about my dentist, like, what did my debt? What would my dentist do? You know?

Speaker C: Right, right, exactly. I mean, again, that’s the other insurance. Yeah. That’s the weird thing about this field is that, like, we are treated super, super differently. And, yeah, you’ve mentioned, like, the fact that so many people in this field are women, or, like, female identified. And. Yeah. Like, this is historically women’s work, which is historically unpaid labor. And these are things that historically women are pretty good at doing for other people. And so how, like, of course. Of course the way that this plays out is that we’re like, but why would you get paid for this. It’s like, I don’t know. Like, I have a master’s degree or a doctorate. Like, many, multiple thousands of hours of experience, which, by the way, we’re largely unpaid or low paid. I don’t know. Like, I just feel like I should get paid for my labor, and it’s like, but you’re helping people, so you shouldn’t get paid. It’s like, is this a business or am I just like. Like a monk? Like, what’s going on here? Like, yeah.

Speaker B: And I think. I think it comes from that part of it is that low pay that we accept early, early careers, right? Like, we’re like, oh, well. And I get that we need to do some of that in, like, a practical rotation. I felt fine with that. In, like, my first practical rotation, we weren’t accepting payment. There was a free clinic, and our expectation was, like, five clinical hours. Right. For training purposes. I felt very good about offering those services under the supervision, like, getting really excellent training. Beyond that, when I was on externship and someone was, I was doing primarily testing and charging full fee for my services, which I completed a complete report. And you’re charging thousands of dollars to that one person. I have a problem with that. Of not getting paid for that now. Absolutely.

Speaker C: Yeah.

Speaker B: As I say, your friend exploited for my labor.

Speaker C: Please continue.

Speaker B: Sorry. Oh, no, no, no. Yeah. I mean, just those different situations. You know, when I worked at drug court, I’m on that internship, you know, working with highly, highly acute people, and I made less than someone makes taking out the trash, not to, you know, that person is valued person. They’re worthy. Of course they are. But again, I had two master’s degrees at that time. Lots of experience, lots of training. And, you know, it is ****** up. That’s just how we could sum it up.

Speaker C: It’s super ****** up. And I think, you know, we’re kind of having a clash of cultures right now within our field because I think there are a lot of people like you and I who are kind of like, wait a minute. This is not okay. You know, I think probably I’m really interested to see therapists who enter the field already with the mindset that you and I are talking about. Because I think historically, it sounds like you and I both got into the field with the good therapist conditioning mindset. And then it’s only through being in it. We’ve been unpacking that, coming to understand what that is and no longer being okay with it. But I think there’s an older guard and still many people in our cohort, who are totally bought into good therapist conditioning. And so I think right now in our field, there’s a huge clash between people who are coming over to the bad therapist side and other people who still strongly believe that if you are trying to make any money or thinking about your own personhood, your own life in relation to the labor you do, that you basically don’t count and you don’t belong in this club. So I think there’s a huge, huge clash, in part because the bad, quote, unquote bad therapists, like, I talk about, like, there are more and more of us every day. I think we’re going to go in that direction eventually, but I think we’re at this really crucial tension point where there’s. There’s, like, a lot of fighting happening. We’re kind of working. We’re working that out collectively in our, in our psyche. Like, our collective psyche is kind of coming to terms with this.

Speaker B: Yeah. And I think it’s, you know, I often think that the villain is not the fellow therapist. And oftentimes, I think where our field can get wrong is we infight together and we view each other as well. You’re bad because you’re not taking insurance or not doing this thing, but we really have to zoom outward. And that real villain is the healthcare system, is some of these new tech companies that are coming in artificially lowering our fees and implying that this is the value for your service and this is how much you need to work to obtain a livable career. A livable wage. Right. So a livable wage for you. Yeah. If you saw 40 clients, you can make a livable wage. Is that doable for most therapists? Is that full time for most therapists? It is not. Most therapists that I know who have been established in the career, again, are in that lower 20 sessions a week range at the top end. I don’t know many clinicians who see 30 clients a week, that’s. That would be considered overboard. I think most of the people I talk to, it’s around that in the teens range, higher teens is like, kind of like my upper limit. Some people say maybe ten feels better for them to do. But I think we really need to kind of look at the system’s perspective of what is happening in our field and who really is driving these decisions in our career, and it’s the payers.

Speaker C: I agree with you 100%. Like, I’m so glad that you brought that up, because that’s something I think about a lot. I think that’s, like, the natural next step after you’re like, wait a minute, this isn’t working for me. And there’s a lot of cognitive dissonance between me advocating for people like my clients to have, like, be financially secure, happy, healthy, and then I’m not advocating, I’m not creating, or I would say, like, taking responsibility for creating that in my own life. And then the logical next step is like, well, then why are things like this? And I agree with you, it’s like the insurance companies, it’s now these, these third party people, like you said, these middlemen who are paying therapists ****. And the messaging they’re marketing to potential clients is therapy is cheap and on demand and, like, you don’t really have to be invested at all and you can get as much as you want for $30 a month. Like, that is so detrimental to our field, to the well being of therapists. And I think to clients ultimately. But I also think even another factor in this whole thing is also, like, our taxation, our education system and our taxation, like, the fact that, like, healthcare is not a right, education is not a right. There’s a huge problem on that level, too, is that, like, we’re not, we’re not adequately funding healthcare. And so rather than taxing, having a better taxation system and fully funding healthcare and education, we’re saying, hey, all you bright eyed, bushy tailed, bleeding heart people who just want to help, come over here. I’ve got just the job for you. It’s going to make you feel really good about yourself. People are going to applaud you. If you go to a party and you say you’re a therapist, people are going to be like, oh, my God, thank you so much. Wow, you’re amazing. But guess what? That’s all you’re going to get. You’re going to get that, but then you’re going to be broke. You’re going to be burnt out. And you know what? You might even live after a few years. But don’t worry, because there’s like, there’s another 22 year old who just doesn’t know, doesn’t know, can’t, doesn’t know, can’t know. And we can just burn you out, toss you out. We don’t actually need to improve this. And I’m super excited about, like, more and more people coming over to the dark side, therapist side, because what I’m seeing is, like, we’re moving towards a strike situation where if enough of us.

Speaker B: I see it as the good side, you know, like, I think I technically agree with you. But so, you know, I think it’s been painted. It’s been vilified as the bad side. You know, if you do this, then you’re in this group of therapists who are out there for themselves, quote unquote, because you’re. You’re for the money. You know? You’re in it for the money. You’re not in it for the clients. I’ve even been told that. Buy a client, you know?

Speaker C: Yeah, well, totally.

Speaker B: I think when I was going private, like, when I was going private pay or something like that, look. Oh, I guess it’s about the money then. And I was like, yes, partially. This is about the money.

Speaker C: My job and how I pay my due to.

Speaker B: Yeah, and, yeah. $40,000 a year at 40 years old, it’s not cutting it anymore.

Speaker C: That breaks my heart.

Speaker B: Yeah.

Speaker C: That breaks my heart, honestly.

Speaker B: Yeah. And so I. When I. One of my. My moments was like, I make nearly as much as I made it when.

Speaker C: I was on postdoc, not okay.

Speaker B: And that was like, my. And I was like, oh, I can do a lot of things. And maybe it was like, upper forties a year, but I forget what my total. It was around 45 or something like that. I was like, I could be a librarian or something.

Speaker C: Like, seriously? Seriously.

Speaker B: I could. I also teach fitness classes, and I like, I teach a yoga Pilates format. I was like, I could just, like, do fitness classes and, like, live my life. Why not?

Speaker C: Yeah.

Speaker B: You know, there’s lots of things that I could do that could. That could serve me and support my life, versus at the end of the day, I come home and I’m angry and frustrated with my children. And that’s the decision point I had to get to, you know, that it wasn’t working for my life anymore. And highlighted and exploded by the pandemic, you know, like, all of my decisions kind of came to a head in the pandemic. When clients were sick as they were, I had as many clients as I could handle. I mean, that was always my situation towards that time, anyway. Like, once I started, I never had a problem finding clients. They always found me. I digress on so many points, but, yeah, I mean, I think so. Talking about finances is part of. Part of this discussion is that we don’t talk about finances as therapists enough.

Speaker C: No.

Speaker B: Or at all. It’s like a tow training.

Speaker C: Yeah, absolutely. It’s like the second you mention money, people are like, why are you bringing that into this conversation? We don’t talk about that here. It’s like, well, it’s actually really important. Yeah. I just want to say, too, that when I feel like it’s so important to say that, like, how do I want to say that? Yeah. When I say, like, coming over to the dark side, what I mean by that is having these really taboo conversations. Conversations. Right. Again, I feel like just thinking about these things with fellow therapists can feel so risky because we never know what we’re going to get. We might get shamed. We might be misunderstood. We might just be basically immediately shut down by other people. And so, though I don’t believe that these things are bad to do, actually, I don’t actually believe it’s bad for therapists to talk about money or think about money or consider themselves. And I also think that it’s possible to do both, like, to be a profitable business or have a profitable business and help people. As a therapist, I 100% believe that those two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive, but the general perception is that they are right. And that if you’re even considering trying to, like, you can’t. You literally can’t do those two things at once. And so if you are going to think about money, it automatically disqualifies you from being able to do the other thing. And so, like, talking about, like, good therapist conditioning and, like, referring to myself as the bad therapist is kind of like, like my cheeky way of biting back. And I’m like, okay, I’ve already disappointed a vast number of therapists. I’ve already disappointed the field. I am a villain to any good therapist out there. To the 22 year old version of myself, I am a total monster. So it’s just a fun way to kind of take back this word that we use to harm each other, to say, oh, well, you’re a bad therapist because you are thinking about this, because you’re prioritizing how you interact with your kids over seeing a bunch of clients like, that is, like, such. The messaging that we so often get is like, you should. You should just be able to do both. And if you can’t, you should be able to. There’s something wrong with you. You’re a therapist. You should be able to do this. You should be able to see as many clients and still go home and be like, totally. I mean, you’re the same. You should be great with kids. I mean, why can’t you just do that, you know? And, like, that’s why I was just like, you know what? **** all of this. I’m a bad therapist. I don’t care what you guys say anymore? Out. If anyone else wants to come over here and play with me, I’ll be over here playing in the bad therapist world. You can come join.

Speaker B: Yeah. Yeah. I like that tongue in cheek kind of way to take power back. Because, you know, I just think for therapists who. Who think that, and I remember myself kind of coming into, coming into private practice, which was ten years ago, and I would think through those clinicians who were charging more, and it was like, they’re charging like, 200 a session. That’s crazy. You know, what do they think they’re. Who do they think they are charging that amount of money for their session? Totally. I said it myself. I said, I’ve said it myself. So it’s not that I haven’t said it, but I know where it came from. It came from that conditioning that we don’t. We don’t ask for anything for ourselves. Like, we’re only here for the client. But I think when we take that perspective, we lose a part of ourselves. We lose a part of what’s important.

Speaker C: Yeah, we increase the risk. Yeah, we increase the risk of burnout. You know? Like, that’s how we ultimately get there is. Because, again, like, if I had stayed doing what I was doing at 22, God help me, I would have. I’m sure I’d be a mess by now. Like, I can’t even imagine what that life would have looked like for me. But so many of us do that. We stay at that level of productivity. And I’m using. It’s funny that I’ve used that word because that’s what we called it at that job. Like, how many, you know, increments of, like, productivity we had, and we tally them up as if we were, like, making some sort of widget. But so many therapists, that is their life. That is the kind of work they do. They are staying at that community mental health level of work. And then, like you’re talking about, sometimes we go into our own private practices where we theoretically have the power and the control to set our own terms, but we feel so guilty and we’re so stuck in good therapist conditioning that we basically recreate the same working environment in our own businesses. I’m sure you talk to people, other therapists, who have done just that, and they’re like, I started my own private practice because I wanted to be less burnt out, but I’m still burnt out. It’s like, okay, well, let’s. What are you charging? How many people are you seeing? Okay, there’s your problem. What’s going on here.

Speaker B: Yeah, yeah. And I think that transition, I know we have to start wrapping up, but I think that transition, for a therapist to go from meeting their own needs financially, and that’s one, only one piece financially, just interest in the work. Like, it’s multifaceted. That transition can feel so foreign and the support you need to do that. It really isn’t out there. I mean, some of us are out there talking about this, but I think it’s more like. I don’t know. I mean, I just charge insurance and I just charged what my, you know, they were charging 125 when I started, so that seems like a good rate. I didn’t like, make a business plan or anything. I didn’t even know what I made in my first year in private practice. I just gave my, my all the w two stuff or whatever it is in private practice. I can’t remember w four. Anyway, 1099. My ten statements, right. To my husband, who does our taxes. And I said, how much did I make this year? That’s what I told my husband.

Speaker C: Yeah, I mean, so I was talking with one of my.

Speaker B: Yeah, it just seems crazy to me now that I just was like, had no plan, just hoped this would work. And it was out of total desperation that I went into private practice and burnout.

Speaker C: Yeah.

Speaker B: So I hear that. So I feel for therapists who are there.

Speaker C: Yeah, there are roadmaps out there, but again, it’s not like the norm. You know, there are people having these conversations. There is help out there for therapists, but, you know, now that I do work as a business coach for therapists, I’m aware of just how many of us there are. There are actually quite a lot. Before I started, well, before I started really going for this business, before I, like, really leaned into it, I was aware of a few different people since being in the field, there’s so many of us. So there are actually a lot of people who can help therapists with this. But even so, I would say it’s still minority. But I’m very encouraged to see more and more therapists who are seeking out this kind of support so that they can have. So that if they want to remain therapists and they want to continue to do that work, that they can do it in a way that’s actually sustainable and that funds their life. And so to your point about not knowing what to charge, I did the same thing where I was just like, well, at my internship or my traineeship, clients are paying my clinic like $60. So I’m like, or maybe it was $30. I’m like, $30? $60? Because that feels. And I didn’t know I did zero math. I was just like, I feel like 60. No math at all. And my colleagues were like, I had two colleagues who were, yeah, sounds good. Like, I like the vibe of 60. It’s like, but how much is your rent? It’s like, well, those two things aren’t related. Doesn’t matter. You know? But I had a couple of older colleagues in my cohort who they kind of begged me to not do that. And I was like, no, no, no. You don’t know what you’re talking about. I want to help people. 60 is enough. And so since then, I created a spreadsheet that is now publicly available to the world, and it’s called the magic sheets, and it actually helps you do the math. So you’re not just vibing out your fee, you’re actually doing it in a way that will pay your bills.

Speaker B: I like that, vibing out your fee. That’s good. Love it. Yeah. So, yeah, if you have that, we should link it up in the show notes for folks to absolutely try to. They’re wondering, like, what they should charge.

Speaker C: Let’s.

Speaker B: Let’s do some math.

Speaker C: There is an actual answer. There’s a true answer to that question.

Speaker B: I was scared by math early on, so I just told therapist, it’s okay.

Speaker C: It’s.

Speaker B: It’s super fast. I’m sure it’s going to be super simple, whatever you put together. And that’s the way I kind of encourage people. Like, don’t be scared of the math. Just take. It doesn’t take that long. It can maybe give you some clarity in just 30 minutes of. Let’s write down a couple of numbers, and we can have a little bit more clarity. So.

Speaker C: Yeah, absolutely.

Speaker B: We. Yeah, we have to wrap up for today, unfortunately. I could talk to you forever, but the question I ask everyone as they leave the podcast, what I have a guest on is, how are you finding joy?

Speaker C: Yeah. So, as I mentioned at the top of the podcast, I am in my hometown of Bakersfield, and this morning I got up really early and met up with some of my, like, oldest, best friends. These are people like, I’m out when I was 13 years old, so we’ve been friends longer than we haven’t, and I just got to spend a couple hours with them. It was so nice.

Speaker B: That’s cool.

Speaker C: Awesome. Thank you so much for having me. This was wonderful. I really enjoyed speaking with you, and I would love to talk with you. I feel like this is literally the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much here, but so much fun having this conversation.

Speaker B: Yeah, let’s we should keep it going for sure. Well, if you don’t check out anything that Felicia offers, certainly check the link in the show notes that’s right in your podcast player also links to my things. So if you’re interested in learning more about what I do about if you’re thinking about leaving private practice, that’s kind of my focus in coaching. If you you’re full and miserable and private practice is just not what you want to do, then I can help you with that. So check that link. I’ll also have it there in the show notes and we’ll talk soon.

Speaker A: 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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