Hello to all you passionate therapists and mental health advocates out there,
Join me on a very personal journey as I open up about the rollercoaster ride of building my own mental health practice. It's a story filled with not just achievements, but also heartfelt mistakes that have taught me invaluable lessons. I'm here to share these intimately, in the hopes that my experiences can guide you, helping you avoid the pitfalls I encountered.
Mistake #1: The Overlooked Essence of Branding
In the beginning, I thought being a great therapist was enough. But I quickly learned that without a meaningful brand, my practice was just another in the crowd. Branding isn't just about a logo; it's the heart and soul you offer to your clients. When I invested in my brand, I was investing in the identity and essence of my practice.
Mistake #2: The Absence of Clear Business Goals
Initially, my practice was a boat without a rudder, driven by passion but lacking direction. Setting specific, tangible goals transformed my approach, allowing me to measure success in more than just financial terms, but in client happiness and my own personal growth as well.
Mistake #3: The Isolation of Going It Alone
At first, I thought I could do it all by myself, a mindset that limited my growth. Networking with peers and mentors didn't just expand my clientele; it enriched my personal and professional life in ways I couldn't imagine.
Mistake #4: The Personal Cost of Neglecting Self-Care
There was a time when my practice consumed me, and I forgot to look after myself. This led to burnout, affecting my ability to be there for others. This tough lesson taught me that caring for myself is not just important, it's essential to being an effective therapist and business owner.
Mistake #5: The Reluctance to Embrace New Technology
In the early days, I clung to the old ways, hesitant to try new technologies. But embracing tools like telehealth and modern marketing strategies didn’t just change my practice, it revolutionized it, bringing me into a new and exciting era of mental health care.
Mistake #6: The Misunderstanding of My Financials
One of my biggest challenges was not fully appreciating the significance of understanding my financials. Learning the power of keeping consistent Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) was transformative. Embracing my numbers, rather than fearing them, was a pivotal moment. Understanding your financials is not just a part of the job; it's a critical component in steering your practice towards success.
Sharing these lessons is deeply personal for me. It's not just about telling my story; it's about offering you a path forward based on real, lived experiences. Remember, every mistake is an opportunity to grow and become better at what we do. If you're looking for personalized guidance to navigate these challenges, I'm here to help with my coaching services.
Here's to our shared journey towards growth and success,
Christina Runnels is the founder and owner of Private Practice DIY-a coaching service for mental health professionals, as well as the owner of a multi-million dollar mental health practice and a Mama Bear of 3. She gives a heartfelt reflection on her path to creating a successful mental health practice. She openly shares the crucial mistakes and lessons learned, highlighting the importance of branding, setting clear business goals, embracing technology, understanding financials, and the essential role of self-care. This personal account aims to inspire and guide other mental health professionals on their path to success
Hey there, fellow therapist! If you’re anything like me, you've felt both the excitement and anxiety of navigating the vast world of digital marketing. In today's connected age, simply relying on word-of-mouth doesn't quite cut it. But fret not, I’m here to guide you through this digital maze and ensure you find your unique online voice.
Grasping the Digital Marketing Basics
Think of digital marketing as the online version of a town square – it’s where you set up your stall, converse with folks, and make your services known. Only now, your audience isn’t just your locality, it's the entire world. Mind-blowing, right?
Picking the Right Hangout Spots: Where Are Your Clients?
The online world can feel like a gigantic cocktail party. So, it's essential to know where your ideal clients hang out. Facebook? LinkedIn? Maybe a subreddit about mindfulness? Find that cozy corner and start mingling!
Spinning Web Tales: Crafting Your Content
Everyone loves a good story, and you've got plenty to share! From insightful articles about mental well-being to quick tips on managing stress – every piece of content is a chance to connect, help, and share your expertise.
SEO for Therapists: Making Your Practice Visible
Ever wondered how some websites always appear at the top of search results? That’s the magic of SEO. It’s like wearing a bright signboard in a crowded marketplace. Need more insight? Here's an introduction to [SEO Basics for Therapists](#).
Social Media: Your Digital Coffee Shop
Remember those coffee shop chats? Social media is your digital equivalent. Share tidbits, success stories (with consent), or simply spread positivity. Engage genuinely and watch the magic unfold.
Paid Advertising: A Little Boost Perhaps?
Sometimes, it's okay to jump the queue. Paid ads can give your practice that little boost, making sure you’re seen by those who truly need you.
Keeping Tabs: Understanding Your Impact
Setting sail without a compass? Not the best idea. Tools like Google Analytics are your compass in the digital sea, helping you understand where you’re headed.
Treading Online with Care: Digital Ethics for Therapists
Our primary duty? Our clients' wellbeing and privacy. The online realm has its pitfalls, so always, always prioritize ethical considerations. Check out these Ethical Considerations in Digital Marketing.
Feeling inspired? Dive deeper with Christina's expertise on building a respected brand in mental health therapy!
**Quick How-To Guide**:
1. **Platform Hunt**: Start with one or two platforms. Observe, learn, and then expand.
2. **Content Calendar**: Plan a month in advance. Consistency is key!
3. **Engage, Don’t Broadcast**: Respond to comments, DMs, and emails. Make your audience feel seen.
4. **Learn from Analytics**: Spend 10 minutes every day checking your analytics. Adjust and iterate.
5. **Stay Updated**: The digital world changes fast.
Embracing the digital wave doesn’t mean losing your personal touch. With the right strategies and a pinch of patience, you can create a space that’s both professional and heartwarmingly human. Ready for the voyage? Let's embark together!
About the Author: Christina Runnels
Christina Runnels, the owner and founder of Greater Houston Counseling Services, is a beacon of innovation and excellence in the mental health domain. As a licensed professional counselor supervisor, she’s steered her multi-location mental health agency to the seven-figure mark, establishing it as a trusted name in the community. Recognizing the challenges faced by many in the field, Christina birthed 'Private Practice DIY' in 2019, a venture that aims to empower mental health practices to transition from just surviving to robustly thriving. With her deep insights and actionable strategies, Christina continues to sculpt the landscape of mental health therapy.
In this article, Christina Runnels, with her wealth of experience and pioneering spirit, guides mental health therapists on the intricate nuances of branding. With passion, strategy, and unwavering dedication, therapists can etch a legacy that’s both impactful and enduring.
In the vast expanse of mental health, three attributes stand as pillars: trust, expertise, and reputation. Therapists, as the navigators in this journey, have the arduous task of merging these aspects to ensure their services reverberate with profound impact. Christina Runnels, a seasoned beacon in this field, offers insights that are the culmination of years of experience and innovation. Let’s explore.
Understanding the Essence of Your Practice
Every therapist has a story, a unique approach that makes them distinctive. Recognizing your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is crucial. Whether it's cognitive behavioral therapy, child therapy, or a particular methodology, showcasing your specialization ensures you don’t get lost in the crowd.
Visual Identity and Brand Aesthetics
Colors converse with our emotions. Research on color psychology reveals the importance of carefully choosing hues. Your logo and the palette should be in harmony with the emotions you wish to evoke. Consistency in branding elements makes your identity unmistakable.
Developing a Trustworthy and Authentic Voice
Your authenticity is your most potent tool. Christina emphasizes that communication, in any form, should be steeped in genuine intent. This paves the way for meaningful connections with your clientele.
Engaging in Thought Leadership and Continuous Learning
The mental health sphere is evolving, demanding therapists to be perpetual learners. Engaging in advanced workshops and contributing on platforms like PsychCentral not only enriches your knowledge but also establishes you as an authority in the field.
Online Presence and Reputation Management
In the digital age, ensuring your SEO strategy is robust is pivotal. Being present and active on social platforms, while also ensuring timely responsiveness to online interactions, further accentuates your brand's reliability.
Community Engagement and Networking
Being part of therapy conferences and community events offers myriad benefits. Apart from widening your knowledge horizon, these platforms facilitate collaborations and enriching partnerships.
Ethical Considerations and Professional Conduct
The bedrock of therapy is the ethical code we adhere to. The American Psychological Association's ethical guidelines safeguard therapists legally and amplify the trust quotient among clients.
Monitoring Brand Perception and Adapting Strategy
The world of therapy is dynamic. To remain resonant, it's imperative to be attuned to feedback, making strategic shifts as and when needed.
*Q: How often should I review my brand aesthetics?**
*Christina recommends a regular re-assessment every couple of years, or whenever there’s a significant change in the therapy landscape or your clientele demographics.*
*Q: Can I manage SEO by myself?**
*Yes, numerous tools can assist you. However, if the nuances seem intricate, consider collaborating with an [SEO expert](https://searchengineland.com/guide/what-is-seo).*
*Q: How do I address negative online feedback?**
*Engage constructively, ensuring your response is professional and aligned with confidentiality standards. Every feedback is a step towards refinement.*
The history of LGBTQ+ treatment in the therapy field is still very much shadowed by the fact that, until recently, individuals within the LGBTQ+ community were labeled as having a mental health disorder and were often referred for conversion therapy (sometimes they still are). It’s a shameful, and all too recent, past that we’re all working to overcome in our therapy practices. As you get ready to open the doors of your new practice, I hope you’ve considered how you’re going to work to offer effective therapy services for members of marginalized and minority groups, including people in the LGBTQ+ community. In this blog, we’ll review some recommendations for preparing to provide appropriate, affirming therapy services for the LGBTQ+ community.
Prioritize Continuing Education Specific to Sexual & Gender Identity
It’s essential that therapists prioritize cultural competence in their continuing education courses. You have the option to choose just about any topic to devote your annual continuing education hours to, so why not make time for increasing your cultural competence to better support the LGBTQ+ community? Don’t forget that, even if you feel like you accept and affirm LGBTQ+ folks or identify as a member of the queer community yourself, that doesn’t mean you have the right sets of knowledge and skill to provide appropriate therapy for this community. Even if you’re competent in offering therapy for individuals who identify as gay and lesbian, you may not be ready to work with individuals who identify as transgender or nonbinary. Continuing education courses help you to develop your therapy muscles to offer culturally competent therapy for all LGBTQ+ folks.
Be Prepared to Help Clients Explore Their Queer Experiences – Or Not
For many LGBTQ+ folks, therapy is where they turn for help exploring and developing greater understanding of their sexual and gender identities, so it’s important to be ready to support clients who come to you for help understanding their queer experiences more fully. However, if clients don’t want to talk about their sexual or gender identity, that’s okay too.
Work on Yourself
If you don’t identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community (or even if you do), it may be beneficial to make time in your own therapy sessions to talk about your thoughts, feelings, and experiences related to sexual and gender identity by answering questions like:
I’m Christina Runnels, a licensed professional counselor-supervisor who owns and manages a large, group therapy practice based in Houston. At Private Practice DIY, I share my years of knowledge and experience in the field with my fellow therapists to help them build better practices. I offer a range of private practice coaching and mentorship packages. The consultation service is a great option if you’re trying to work through how to prioritize culturally competent continuing education courses, make time for your own therapy, and best support clients within marginalized communities. Get in touch if you’re interested in scheduling a consultation session.
Happy Mental Health Awareness Month! I’m sure you’re celebrating this annual awareness month by sharing information online, hosting educational events, and taking other steps to increase awareness and advocate for the field of therapy. This time of the year, I also like to take a minute to remind my therapist clients that they need to be checking in with a therapist regularly to decompress, learn new skills, and stay at their best for clients. In this blog, I’m going to talk a little about the importance of prioritizing your own therapy needs as part of running your private practice.
Therapy for Therapists – You Really Need to Go
During your education, you likely heard professors talk about therapy for therapists and how important it is. Then, you got out in the real world and started offering therapy, and suddenly, there just wasn’t enough time in the day for everything. Your own therapy appointments were likely the first thing to go. When you neglect regular therapy visits, you are much less likely to offer the level of support your clients need, and you increase your risk for burnout.
How Can You Make Therapy a Priority?
When you have clients who repeatedly fail to prioritize their therapy sessions (showing up late, canceling at the last minute, not practicing new skills between sessions), what advice do you give them? I usually give my clients the following advice – be consistent, ask for help or delegate other priorities, and commit to regular sessions in order to make progress. I’m sure you’ve given some of this advice to your own clients. If you want to prioritize your mental health when you open a private practice, it’s time to follow your own advice:
Want More Private Practice Tips?
Running a private therapy practice isn’t easy, but it’s something just about anyone can do well with the right guidance. If you have questions about staring a private solo or group practice or you’re struggling to even decide where to begin, I’ve got you covered. I’m Christina Runnels, a licensed professional counselor and therapy practice coach. I offer a range of private practice coaching and mentorship programs to help therapists start, maintain, and grow their private therapy practices. When you’re ready to get started, I’m here to help. From a single consultation to a full new practice starter package, I can provide the level of support you need to achieve your private practice goals.
If you’ve decided you’re ready to take the big step to open a private practice, you may be wondering whether you should go it alone or start a group practice. Each option has its benefits, and at the end of the day, the option that makes sense for you will depend on your needs and practice goals. You can learn a little more about the benefits of each option in this blog, and if you would like to spend some time talking through your options to make an informed decision, consider reaching out to the Private Practice DIY team to schedule a consultation.
Benefits of Group Practice
If you’re interested in starting a group private practice, there are some great benefits to this option, especially if you have a group of peers you hope to work with. Some of the many benefits of starting a group practice include:
Benefits of Solo Practice
If you’re more independent or like the challenge of making business decisions, solo private practice may be a better fit for you. Some of the benefits of solo therapy practice include:
Which Option is Right for You?
You are not like any other therapist. That means the decision of whether to start a group or solo practice is going to be entirely unique to you. The best way to make the decision is to take some time to talk through your options and private practice goals with a knowledgeable professional like me, Christina Runnels. At Private Practice DIY, I put my years of experience as solo and group therapy practice owner to work supporting my peers as they start their private practice journey or take steps to grow their business. If you’re struggling to make the final decision about whether to start a group or solo practice, let’s get to together to discuss the benefits and drawback of each option, so you can make an informed decision. Get started today by requesting a 15-minute initial consultation. I look forward to hearing from you soon!
As therapists, many of us offer our clients services that may better be described as “life coaching” (we all also probably hate that phrase) than therapy. Rather than helping them get their lives in shape, we help them “train” for a big challenge ahead or tone their resilience muscles during difficult times. These clients are already emotional and mental health athletes. They’re talented and smart and self-aware, but we can help them dig deeper and find an even stronger and more resilient version of who they already are.
When I work with therapists who are growing their private practice, I have the same experience. I get to work with the all-star athletes of therapy to achieve their full potential and reach for practice goals they haven’t even thought of yet. It’s a joyful and exciting experience, and I genuinely love helping other therapists succeed. The word consultant sounds so sterile and clinical when describing the work that we do together, which is why I’ve always thought of myself as a mentor or coach. I share my knowledge and skill from years of experience in private and group practice to help other therapists succeed. I provide mentorship, offering words of encouragement and support, accountability, and the training you need to run a thriving private practice.
What Does Private Practice Mentorship Look like?
You may be thinking, that all sounds really great, Christina, but what does that actually mean? When you sign up for consultation services with me through Private Practice DIY, my goal is to help you get the knowledge you need to run a successful practice. For some people, that’s walking together from the moment you have the idea to transition into private practice until you start seeing clients (check out my
Full Growth Package).
Other people have gone through most of the process of opening their private practice, but they just need help in one area like getting credentialed with insurers (check out my One-Time Consultation Package). Whatever your needs, I will partner with you to create a personalized plan to help you achieve your private practice goals.
What if I’m Not Sure I Want to Go Into Private Practice?
Every therapist, before they take that first step, has doubts about entering private practice. Will I have enough clients? How do I pay the bills? Can I really run a business? If you’re still trying to decide whether entering private practice is the right option or you just want some general information about how I can help, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me via email to schedule a 15-minute consultation call. In most cases, these initial conversations are adequate to help clinicians check-in with their own needs and goals to determine whether or not it’s the right time to dive into private practice.
What Should I do Next? If you’re interested in learning more about starting a private practice, growing into a group practice, opening new office locations, or anything about the business of running a thriving therapy office, I would love to be part of your support team. By sharing my knowledge and resources to help you succeed, I hope to partner with my clients to achieve their private practice growth goals. If you’re ready to get started, give me a call or send an email today.
Want to learn even more about what Private Practice DIY has to offer and stay up to date on the latest happenings? Sign up for our newsletter.
Welcome to the Private Practice DIY Newsletter
First and foremost, thank you for signing up for my newsletter. I hope this can be a great resource for you and your private practice. I am always so grateful to my Private Practice DIY clients who let me partner with them to grow their businesses, and while I don’t necessarily have enough time to stay in touch with each and every one of you after we work together, I hope you know I think of you often and wish you well. If you’ve joined this newsletter as an introduction to how Private Practice DIY can benefit your business, I welcome you and hope you’ll find a lot of great information here. Please, reach out to me if you want to learn more.
I’m Christina Runnels, a licensed professional counselor-supervisor and licensed chemical dependency counselor offering therapy services throughout the Greater Houston Metropolitan Area. I own a multi-clinician therapy practice, Greater Houston Counseling Services, with locations in Katy, Cypress, and Spring, TX. As a therapist and business owner, I’ve learned a great deal about how to run a successful private practice, and I enjoy having the opportunity to share this knowledge with my peers. As a private practice mentor and coach, I strive to help clinicians feel confident and develop the skills they need to run successful practices.
Why Work with Private Practice DIY?
There are many reasons you may want to work with a practice consultant. The most obvious is that, while graduate schools prepare therapists for working with clients, they don’t do a great job of preparing us for running a practice. Unless you’re one of those overachievers (read wise people) who earned their MBA alongside a psychology degree, you may not know much at all about the business side of therapy practice. That leaves you with a few options. You can join a group practice, clinic, or hospital as an associate clician and try to learn a bit more about running a practice over time. Others choose to just dive into private practice and hope for the best.
Working with a consultant or mentor in private practice growth can be a viable alternative to these two options, giving you a reliable resource who can answer your questions, provide guidance, and generally, help you get your practice started on the road to success.
No practice is the same, and your needs for mentoring and consulting services will be unique. For convenience, I offer a few basic packages, which I’ll outline below, but I’m also happy to create a custom plan for you. If you don’t see a consulting option that sounds right for you, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Full Growth Package
This is a comprehensive package where I provide virtual consultations, email follow-ups, access to my resource list, and my private practice checklist.
All the basics you need to start your new practice. With options to discuss a wide range of private practice development steps over the course of two virtual consultations.
Have one or two specific things you need a little help understanding? A one-time consultation may be the best option for you.
Read Our BlogIf you’ve gotten great information from this newsletter, I hope you’ll also read the Private Practice DIY Blog to get even more information.