You Can Be a Therapist and Live Your Dream Life!
You've heard it countless times: "Oh, you're a therapist, you'll _______ (live a life of poverty and selfless sacrifice, get burned out, develop some weird tic, etc. etc.)."
The story varies, but so many people - especially therapists - tell you that this job begins with noble intentions, gets doused with poverty, self-sacrifice, hostile work environments and schedules and clients not of your choosing, then ends with you as a quivering lump of vicarious trauma trying to eke some joy out of gardening or yoga or something.
The best you can hope for, they say, is a career you can counterbalance with self-care and/or numbing out.
But at the same time, you see a few therapists who seem to be really happy.
They love their work
Their clients get better
They make good money
They work when and how often they want
They're always doing cool stuff
Their practice accentuates their life. It accentuates their client's lives. Their career isn't something they balance with self-care - it is a valued part of a life that is self care.
The thing is, building that type of a life as a therapist is easier than it seems. There is no secret code to crack or club to join. You will need to build a thriving fee-for-service private practice, but that's easier than it sounds once you master a few basic business management principles.
Which is where this class comes in. But first a little about me.
Meet Your Professor
When I moved to California in 2006 I was broke.
We'd just finished my postdoc, and my wife and I were expecting our fourth child. I was excited to start my job as an Assistant Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy at Alliant International University, but the starting salary was shamefully low, especially for California. If we were going to make it, I'd need a pretty major side hustle.
Survival was the goal. Thriving wasn't even on the radar.
I didn't know anything about running a business though, so I just hopped in and figured it out on the fly. It wasn't easy. I felt way in over my head for years. There was a lot of trial and error along the way, and endless hours of meeting with marketing professionals, accountants, lawyers, and successful colleagues.
And slowly but surely, it started to work! Our situation improved dramatically, and my practice went from being something I had to do to something I wanted to do. Today it is amazing - I work with clients I enjoy on a schedule that fits my life. And while life is by no means perfect, my practice has given me a life far better than I could have dreamed of all those years ago!
These days, those trial and error years are a distant memory. I know how to reach people that I'm best able to help, and I know how to help others do the same in a short amount of time. I'm fortunate enough to have grown my small practice into The Davis Group Counseling and Wellness Services, one of Northern California's most respected clinical groups. I now direct it and see clients on the side of my regular job as a Full Professor at Alliant.
A lot of my students see my successful practice and want in. I used to do free informal one-on-one coaching, but word got out so I ended up teaching a class on opening a private practice through Alliant to meet the demand. Alliant stopped offering the class but the demand kept growing, so I agreed to offer it as a CEU course through The Davis Group. The class is usually filled by current Alliant students and alumni, but sometimes there are seats available for therapists from the community as well.
Many people have taken it and gone on to establish successful practices of their own. Here's what some of them have said:
"With this class, Sean Davis stepped into another aspect of our field as a consultant and demonstrated why he is an excellent authority in business as well. Private practice is not a one size fits all endeavor but Sean expertly touches on several necessary foundational points of starting a business that most private practitioners tend to overlook. He also weaves in his own experiences to fully round out the class and lend weight to what he says. Overall you'll gain valuable insight, network with other motivated colleagues and have a good time doing it. Even with experience starting a business under my belt, this class was very helpful and I'd recommend it to anyone in our field."
"Dr. Davis’ class is THE class you need to take if you have any interest in private practice. It cleared up so many misconceptions I had. The process of running a private practice is demystified into a format that anyone can understand."
"The breadth of information was incredibly helpful! The best part was Dr. Davis sharing his very detailed trade secrets. I loved that!"
"I feel like starting a private practice is still a big job, but considerably more doable than I originally thought. The discussion was broad enough to keep from getting overwhelmed, but specific enough to have practical knowledge of where and how to start."
"The guest lecturers were knowledgeable and helpful. They addressed things in depth that I didn't even know I had to worry about!"
"It was great hearing perspectives from therapists at different stages of starting their practice. It normalized my fears and gave me confidence that I could pull it off."
Section 1: Envision
If you build a practice without clarifying why you want one and what you want it to look like you’ll end up with a well-running machine that drains you. Once you get in touch with why you want a practice, everything flows from there.
Section 2: Build
This is the part where most therapists freeze. From rental contracts, corporate structures and accounting to office location, fee setting and paperwork, a lot goes into building a practice. You’ll leave with a clear picture of what is needed and the confidence that you can do it.
Section 3: Market
Most therapists build a website, hand out lots of cards, and then…silence. The problem is they focused on their marketing methods before they clarified their marketing message. You’ll get a clear picture of what you want to say, then learn how to deliver that to the people you’re best suited to help.
Section 4: Maintain
A lot goes into the day-to-day running of a business. Coping with these surprises require a certain mindset. We’ll go over this mindset as well as a lot of the overlooked “in-between the lines” details that characterize a successful private practice.
Section 5: Enjoy!
It is easy to do everything right up to this point and yet have your practice own you rather than vice-versa. You’ll learn crucial steps of scaling, systematization and outsourcing that ensure your practice gives you flexibility and freedom.
You’ll enjoy guest presentations from marketing professionals, an accountant, a leading private practice law and ethics expert, plus hear stories of people at different points in the private practice journey.
Registration & Course Info
I don't teach this course very often - usually just once a year, sometimes less. Sometimes more if people start getting restless. So if a big enough group of you are interested, let me know and I can usually put one together. Otherwise the next scheduled course is below. I'd love to see you there!
Date: July 12th-13th, 2019
Time: 9-5 on the 12th, 9-1 on the 13th.
Location: Alliant International University Campus, 2855 Michelle Dr. #300, Irvine CA 92606
Fees: $450 ($50 discount for Alliant students and alumni)
A $100 non-refundable deposit payable via Venmo or by mailing a check to The Davis Group is needed to reserve your spot.
CEUs: 5 hours for mental health professionals governed by the California BBS.