How to Thrive in Private Practice, Part 2

Conference Notes: I still have to edit this... But here it is rough for now... Additional notes from the panel discussion: Private Practice Panel, UAMFT Conference

Insights from my colleagues

3 Things: Vic Nelson

  1. Ongoing training. Stay sharp through research, education, colleagues, in-services, reading, etc.
  2. Innovation. What new and different ways are there for you to leverage your skill sets? Jonathan, for example, does business management consulting with the unique psychological and systemic understandings that only an MFT can bring to an organization. Jonathan also markets himself as a relationship strategist instead of a counselor or therapist because there are lots of therapists but how many “relationship strategists” do you know? That gets people thinking.
  3. Effectiveness. Track results and outcomes. Jonathan actually offers an unheard of money-back guarantee for his marriage transformation work.

Thorana Nelson advised: “Be good to your colleagues.”


  • Go to business workshops in the business community. NSA, etc.
  •  Confident ≠ cocky. “I’m not conceited, I’m as good as I say I am.” —Will Smith
  •  Not “just” a therapist. Take pride and ownership of the unique knowledge and skillsets you possess.
  • Say “yes” when asked, “Can you _________?” whether it’s a speaking engagement, new project, etc. Wayne Dyer’s story on grants. Pablo Picasso qoute. How I became a bullying prevention and intervention expert.
  • “When I don’t know how to do it I give it to someone else. I have a lot of friends.” —Owner of a successful janitoral business.
  • Do columns for local churches’ monthly newsletters.
  • Radio talk shows, PTA meetings, speak for organizations monthly meetings.

5/5/5 for 3

(Vic) over 3 months

  • 5 contacts a week with potential referral sources (network lunch, EAPs, etc)
  • 5x/mo meet with the Top 5 potentials face to face.
  • 5 different ways get your name out in the community: Biz, workshops, column, etc.

Referral Sources

  • Take care of your referal sources. Call and thank and give feedback and anything you want me to do? and send thank you notes.
  • Getting ref sources: answer your ref sources pain vs. telling them about you.
  • Rel buidling
  • Persistance.

Describe your ideal client: 

Biz model

Aggressive Marketing Mindset, by Jonathan Sherman

  • People don’t know I’m there if I don’t tell them.
  • website and drive to it!
  • Articles
  • Follow-up
  • collect contacts--use evals
  • workshops (free and fee-based)
  • Tell people vs. wait for them to come to me

What makes me unique?

  • guarantee outcomes
  • Rel strategies

What do you like/dislike about your work in private practice?

  • Up/down seasons, free schedule, own systems

What has helped you?

  • Mentors!!! Reading and live.

Things you wished you had known?

  • Increase fee early
  • Less fear

Most valuable lessons?

  • Unstoppable book
  • I had a community MH background and didn’t know how to attract high-functioning, high-paying clients. Never saw myself as a “money-grubbing souless business person.” It wasn’t until I realized that I could help more people by doing a sound business plan than by avoiding intelligent business practices.

Private Health Insureance?

  • AAMFT has group insurance
  • HSA--keep premium low, high deductible, turns into IRA if money not used (you keep you rmoney vs use it or lose it like a cafeteria plan)