Jan 20, 2020
In this episode, Aaron Potratz and Nathan Hawkins join the podcast to discuss starting a partnership in private practice. They reveal some vital things you will need to know before committing to a partnership; you especially need to know the identity of your practice and where you see your business going. Later, the two explain why there is no competition between them and the importance of trust in a partnership.
Nathan Hawkins is a Licensed Professional Counselor and has been working in the field for almost 17 years. He is a certified trauma professional and performs EMDR and also utilizes Hypnosis at times as well. He is an approved clinical supervisor in the state of Oregon. He is the owner of Life Encounter Counseling which he established in 2004. While maintaining his own client load he supervises the clinical and administrative work of 4 employees and a clinical intern program. The success of Life Encounter Counseling birthed a passion to multiply the work of counseling in different ways. One of those directions leads to him co-founding another private group counseling practice, Life Discovery Counseling Services with Aaron Potratz in 2016. Life Discovery Counseling Services has grown from 1 location to 2 successful locations that serve opposite sides of the Portland Metro. He supervises and manages the counselors and staff in both of those locations with Aaron. Nathan loves to teach and also intermittently fills in at Multnomah University as an Adjunct Clinical Supervision Professor.
Aaron is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Oregon, the owner of Discover Counseling, and co-owner of Life Discovery Counseling Services – two private group counseling practices. Aaron maintains his own client caseload while also managing and supervising his counseling staff. He started out as a solo practitioner in 2007, expanded to a group practice in 2015, and started his second practice with his business partner, Nathan Hawkins, in 2016. Between the two businesses, he has 10 clinicians and one support staff. Aaron also does consulting for small businesses, helping them become more efficient and productive. He especially enjoys helping other therapist business owners grow their practices and focus in on the areas they are most passionate about.
Nathan and Aaron get along really well. There went through a honeymoon phase; however, there wasn’t much depth at first. As time went on, they had to lean on each other and give each other additional information. Plus, they were vulnerable when speaking about their businesses and gave honest feedback about the direction of their companies. They play up each other’s strengths and complement each other’s weaknesses.
When Nathan and Aaron first started with the shared space, they had a lot to think about, like rent, square footage, and office space. It is easy to make assumptions when you find a partner – even small things need to be discussed. Nathan and Aaron have separate businesses. However, the way they treat their employees is identical. These people are in the same space, so they need to be treated equally. When you are dreaming about combining practices, this may not be something you think about upfront.
You know what you’re good at, and you stick with those things. Aaron and Nathan have niched down and found what they do well. They both know what clients they work best with. If a client doesn’t fit one practice, then they will refer them to the other practice. Getting competitive with other therapists doesn’t make sense; there are more than enough clients out there for everyone. We will be doing a disservice if we are not giving our clients the right therapist.
Both Aaron and Nathan have their own identities for their businesses. One reason they got together is because of how isolating private practice can be. However, it would be best if you spent some time understanding what you like to do on your own. Do not be in a big hurry to get together with another practice. You have to know who you are on your own before starting a partnership. Plus, Aaron and Nathan say how essential, to be honest, and open with your partner.
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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 iTunes, Stitcher and Google Play. Follow us on Twitter @therapistlearn and Pinterest “Like” us on Facebook