Jul 13, 2018
In this episode of the Practice of Therapy Podcast, Gordon interviews Kristen Breese, LCPC about making the transition from being a solo practitioner to owning a group practice. They also talk about business growth and how taking it slow is sometimes a better option for people. Kristen talks about the importance of just doing one thing at a time; “you have to walk before you can run…”. Kristen also talks about some of the mindset changes and the things that she needed to learn when she made the switch from solo practice to group practice. Kristen and Gordon also talk about the various tasks that come with being a group practice owner and some of the challenges they had to overcome as they grew.
Kristen Breese, LCPC is CEO and founder of Counseling Works and multi-disciplinary group practice in Naperville, IL. Kristen is a psychotherapist, business consultant, coach, entrepreneur and speaker. She specializes in treating co-dependency, boundaries, and generalized anxiety. Her goal is to help others overcome obstacles personally and professionally to achieve their goals.
Kristen’s website is www.counselingworks.com
Kristen and Gordon both started in similar ways in that they both were working in agency settings and began part-time private practice. Kristen tells how she focused on filling her schedule just one day at a time. In other words, she had just one day a week that she saw clients and filled that day before she added another to her schedule.
One of the challenges for many counselors and therapists is making the decision to take their practice to a new level. In particular, going from being a solo practitioner to having a group practice. Although there is no clear formula for doing this, most will make that move once they feel their own practice is full and they are losing clients because they have no appointment openings.
One thing that is so very important in making that transition to having a group practice, is having a clear vision of what you want your practice to be. Do you envision a large multi-location practice or do you want to have small group of 3-4 clinicians? Know your vision then commit to it.
Success comes from having a clear picture of where you want to be. Think about it in terms of where you see your practice 5 to 10 years down the road. Then focus on the small steps it will take to get you to that place.
One of the things that many counselors and therapists going into private practice face is trying to do too much. Growth occurs best when you build things one part at a time. For example, Kristen mentioned moving from part-time to full time practice. She did it by filling one day at a time.
Another mindset change that seems to help, is to not be so concerned about the speed of growth, but be more focused on the consistency of growth. The most lasting result, as it is with most anything, comes from deliberate and thoughtful planning. By taking the time to set small attainable goals, growth tends to be sustainable.
As a practice grows, it is important to have systems in place that will handle to growth. Spending time to make sure that you have a clearly defined onboarding process for new clinicians along with having client processes well defined will go a long way in helping things go smoothly.
One tip is to start documenting and writing down the steps to your current systems and processes. That way, as you bring on new people, you will have a clearly defined plan. This goes a long way in projecting professionalism and helping people feel good about coming to work with you.
One of the big learning curves for many private practice owners moving from solo to group practice is the whole hiring and interviewing process. It is so important to spend time on this. A person might have an outstanding resume and clinical background. But this does not always translate into them being a great person to work with.
Kristen talks about her process and how it is a fairly slow and deliberate onboarding. Not only does she look for people who will bring diversity to her practice in terms of treatment approach, but she also tries to make sure they have the same work ethic and is enjoyable to work with. In addition to a good work ethic, she makes sure they are bought into her vision for the practice.
Another part of hiring the right people is being able to find people who will benefit from what you have to offer as an organization. Whether you are using a 1099 contractor model or W2 employee model, making sure that is a good fit and in the best interest of the people you hire.
For 1099 contractors you will need to hire people that very much self starters and have a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit about them. They need less oversight and you would be more “hands off” with them. W2 employees do need more oversight and you would be able to provide more in terms of benefits. For tax purposes, W2’s are more costly for the employer and less costly for the employee, since employers have to pay a portion of their taxes, etc.
Making the move from solo practice to having a group practice can be intimidating for many. And at the same time it is one very practical way to up your game in private practice. Being a group practice owner does require some additional skill outside of what we learn clinically in graduate school.
In particular, being a group practice owner does require leadership skills, a clear understanding of the business side of private practice and a willingness to commit to taking on these additional roles. It also requires perseverance and a commitment to the people that join your group.
Group practice is a path for many, but not necessarily for everyone. But it is one of the best ways to take your practice to the next level.
Kristen’s Practice- CounselingWorks
Gordon is the person behind The Practice of Therapy Podcast & Blog.He is also President and Founder of Kingsport Counseling Associates, PLLC. He is a therapist, consultant, business mentor, trainer and writer. PLEASE Subscribe to The Practice of Therapy Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and Google Play. Follow us on Twitter @therapistlearn and Pinterest “Like” us on Facebook.