Podcast: Mud Runs, Spartan Races, and Private Practice Inspiration

Podcast: Mud Runs, Spartan Races, and Private Practice Inspiration

I was so honored to be on this podcast with Matt Bierds, LPC. We had a great, real conversation about what it takes to be successful, where people get stuck, and what inspires me. I even shared my thoughts on how physical training and outside experiences can mirror what we do in building our businesses. I even share how and why "shouting expletives" might be added to one of our Business School Bootcamp checklists. 

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Becoming a Therapist in Seattle, WA

We are excited to share another story of the journey to becoming a successful therapist in private practice. Dr. Jane Tornatore joins us from Seattle, WA to share why she decided to become a therapist, how long it took, and her journey to a full private practice. 

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The tax lesson it took me years to learn

Let's just start by saying I am not a tax expert. I'm not a CPA, or an accountant, or a bookkeeper. I'm a therapist, consultant, and small business owner. I don't have a degree in business, so I learned a few lessons the hard way. This particular lesson wasn't painful per se, but it was important- so I'm excited to share it with you. 

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First Play Therapy

Are you wondering how to get the most out of attending a conference? 

The truth is, the people who get the most of conferences are those that build relationships. No, that doesn't mean shoving your business card into a hundred people's hands- but it does mean having meaningful conversations with people and really getting to know them. 

If you are introvert- look for people who you can go out for coffee or lunch with and have a good 1:1 conversation. If you are an extrovert- make sure you temper yourself so you can slow down and enjoy the individual people. 

Today we are going to introduce you to another professional we met at the Annual Play Therapy Conference in Houston. Janet Courtney, Phd is passionate about children's play. She has developed amazing books and trainings programs for parents and clinicians about First Play.

We talk with her about teaching parents healthy touch, the fears that clinicians have about talking about touch in play therapy, and more. Watch this video, or listen to the interview by clicking the button below today! It is a great story of how therapists are going beyond the couch into multiple streams of income and taking their message to a wider audience. 

What did you think? What questions came up for you? Learn more about Janet Courtney, Phd and her work here. Oh, and sweet Janet sent me home with one of her books to check out- I got home, spent time with my family and by the time I woke up the next morning my son had read her book! I asked him how we liked it- and he said he did- but said "you are supposed to do it with me mom!" So, there you are, 7yo approved! 

Miranda Palmer

I have successfully built a cash pay psychotherapy practice from scratch on a shoestring budget. I have also failed a licensed exam by 1 point (only to have the licensing board send me a later months later saying I passed), started an online study group to ease my own isolation and have now reached thousands of therapists across the country, helped other therapists market their psychotherapy practices, and helped awesome business owners move from close to closing their doors, to being profitable in less than 6 weeks. I've failed at launching online programs. I've had wild success at launching online programs. I've made mistakes in private practice I've taught others how to avoid my mistakes. You can do this. You were called to this work. Now- go do it! Find some help or inspiration as you need it- but do the work!

These 3 Words are KILLING Your Practice

Words are powerful. They carry thought, emotion, perspective, and beliefs. They are used to motivate, to tear down, to educate and to connect with others. Words are a major tool for therapists. We mirror, reframe and challenge the words of our clients. I think we can all agree that words matter. 

Words don't just matter in terms of communication with others, but also with the self. So as a business coach for therapists, I try to be aware of what languaging is limiting my clients from another perspective or influencing behaviors that hold them back from their vision.

I thought it would be fun to give you three words that I commonly hear from therapists (and have used myself) that hold a major impact on their business success.

  1. "Just" - This word is a weak link in whatever you are talking about, but especially when it is referring to YOU. In fact, many grammar experts and speaking coaches will say to cut it out completely. Think about when you hear someone say, "I'm just an intern." - "Just" here diminishes being an intern, as if being an intern isn't awesome?! "I am an intern." Factual and, in my opinion, more confident. When you use the word "just" you are saying that you are not completely worthy of what you are, you don't want to offend others, or you are uncomfortable with who you are. "Just" holds you back because in business it takes an amount of confidence, an awareness that you can't please everyone, and knowledge that your dreams matter and are important.

  2. "Nobody" - When marketing your practice, remember that you can't fit your entire zip code into your office. You aren't looking to serve everyone, and many of you are only able to serve 10 to 20 people in your entire city, county, state, and country. That's it. When you start to say "Nobody can afford that, will pay that, wants this or that," you have set up a core belief of limitation in your business. If "nobody" exists for your business, how are you going to find anybody at all? Why even bother having the business? The start of a business is founded upon researching your market, understanding the need and identifying the mere existence of the people you seek to serve. I wouldn't set up my hamburger joint in the middle of the Mojave Desert or on a commune full of vegetarians (unless I only sold black bean burgers); I would set up my restaurant where there is a need.

  3. "Can't" - This word is a bit controversial. There are literal facts in which "can't" is very real. Fact - I can't eat certain foods because I am allergic to them. That reality isn't going to change. However, many times I hear the word "can't" attached to choices and perceived limitations which are in actually self-imposed limitations. "Mamma, I can't do it." - is a common daily phrase in my home. When I know my daughter can do things, but she just hasn't realized she is capable, I am there to show her how. This is when coaching is so helpful, when we need to learn to decipher for ourselves what is a choice or what is out of our control. For example, "I can't afford to invest in my business." Is it that you "can't" or that you choose not to? "Can't" shuts the door to any possibility. Even if you didn't have two pennies to rub together, what if you said: "I will make a way to invest in my business." Just by this you are opening up your mind to look at options. Be honest with yourself. What is really going on with you? What is fact and what is fiction?

When you speak, when you write, when you think, hold an awareness of these words and their impact. Start eliminating the language that holds you back and you will find yourself being more creative, confident, solution-focused, and driven. Are there other words that you or others use that hold them back? Share below!

Love your Life and Your Practice,


4 Tips to Take Care of Fear

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Ever feel like it could all fall apart? That your private practice one day could just shut down and you have to return to agency work?

Now, I know this thought is ridiculous, logically. But as my daughter's 3rd birthday approaches, I am reminded that I have been completely on my own without my county paycheck for 3 years. And before those 3 years and after I have had the fear of not being able to make it on my own. 

Tell me I am not alone. I don't think I am. After 100's of consultations with therapists, I get the feeling we are riddled with fear at times. And that fear has led us to charging less, having poor boundaries, taking whoever walks through the door, and making other decisions that don't allow us to progress happily and healthily in our businesses.

So what do you do when fear starts to take a hold? 

  1. Give thanks. I am humbled and grateful that I have been able to work the way I want. It hasn't been perfect and there have been many frustrations, but through it all - I am still standing. Gratitude can neutralize fear faster than air freshener in a public restroom (ok, well those things don't work at all, but I can't think of another neutralizing example at the moment.)

  2. Get a reality check. Turn to a mentor or a less fearful friend and really talk about how you are doing. It may not be as bad as you think. Fear can crack the whip on our worrying mind and force it to run like a hamster in its' wheel. (I am full of metaphors today, sorry) And to add to this, I don't always think talking to other therapists is always a great idea, unless you have a lot of positive ones in your life. There can be some fear mongering in our community, so just be aware.

  3. Carry on. Think about it, fear is meant to protect us. But when it is in hyperdrive, we can miss out on opportunity. I tell my clients to hold the fear and move forward. Acknowledge it, have awareness of it but don't let it dictate your choices. Resisting it or running from it will usually make it worse. When you are reactive, you are responding to fear. When you take a moment, step back, think and respond, you are balanced in your decision making.

  4. Get creative. Fear will squelch your creativity and then you feel stuck. Get outside, do some art, talk with an outsider from our profession, listen to music, do something to get inspired and spark the creative part of yourself. You have options. So many options in fact that it could take a lifetime to try them all. This is the beauty of owning your private practice. You never stop creating. It shines the light on your soul so fear doesn't creep in.

Join me and fight fear. It won't be perfect but I bet if we all support each other and hold ourselves to our dreams, the world will be better for it. Don't you agree?

Be Fearless,


Single Best Thing You Can Start Today To Have a Successful E-book or Product Launch (Even If You Aren’t Launching for 5 Years)

Mari A. Lee, LMFT, CSAT-S is a successful and whole hearted therapist who cares deeply about her clients, colleagues, and the people in her life. She recently launched an amazing e-workbook that contains 31 of her top therapy exercises and activities for clients, couples and group therapy called, "

The Creative Clinician: Exercises and Activities for Clients and Group Therapy


Within 72 hours she had sold over 100 copies 

Now,I have talked to enough therapists who have launched e-books, products,and workbooks to know this is

not the norm-

many e-books sit on the virtual shelf and people are lucky if 20 or 30 people buy them ever


. We are going to be interviewing Mari and outlining the specific steps Mari took to make this launch a success on our

free webinar this Thursday, March 13th

at 10 AM PST, but I want to highlight a few things that made her e-book launch a success in today’s practice building article.

Networking, Relationships, and Reputation.

Many years ago CAMFT had a listserve. It was a lively place with a LOT of discussion. The listserve had enlightening conversations that were healthy and supportive. It also had more down and dirty arguments than I care to count. As a pre-licensed person I joined the listserve to share the free online study group I had developed for licensing exams in order to support other pre-licensed therapists.

At the time, I had no idea what I was doing. I was one of the younger people on the listserve and pre-licensed. I had no way to know that this would be the start of building my professional reputation, as well as learning to love (and hate) networking, and that my time on this listserve would allow me to make a great friend, Mari A. Lee, LMFT, CSAT-S.

You see, Mari and I connected before either of us had licenses or certifications after our names, before we had successful businesses, or books. We were just two women, new to the world of therapy, living in different cities, who only knew one another through the listserve. However, you can tell a lot about a person by the way they write, by the way they respond when great things are said, and by the way they respond when not so nice things are said. You can especially see someone’s true colors when something nasty is said.

Mari and I were both kindred spirits - people who believe that the way you treat people is important, and that who you connect with says a lot about you. So...what does any of this have to do with a successful e-book launch?

You see, Mari didn’t just stick a book on her website and have over 100 people magically buy it in 72 hours. As part of being a great clinician, she had spent years developing her specialization, investing in professional trainings and relationships, networking, connecting, speaking, extending, consulting, supervising and teaching. And for many years, giving and supporting others from a place of encouragement, at no financial gain to her business. These activities had led to her being visible, seen, and her development of an excellent reputation.

If you want to be successful long-term, both on the couch and off, your reputation matters.

Here are 5 ways you can build or enhance your reputation online and offline:

#1. Really Connect.

Networking is all about authentically connecting. Initial contacts should never be about “selling” yourself to another person. One solid relationship made is more powerful than 20 surface conversations. Start building a list of people who you really know, that know you today.

#2. Be Authentic.

People aren’t sure how to connect with you if they can’t know you. That doesn’t mean you have to be unprofessional. Example: I am pretty sure I got a great speaking gig based on reaching out to someone at a conference who had the same horrible hotel experience I was having (ask me about it sometime it is a pretty funny story after the fact!). I made sure to follow-up and let her know that I had contacted management and that they had made some adjustments to our bill - and let her know she could do the same. I contacted her on a personal matter because I cared, that is who I am.  

#3. Be Giving.

In the example above, the women didn’t suggest I speak at her organization just because I did something nice for her. But, it did give us another way to get to know one another and have fun! When you are giving and nice, nice people tend to respond in kind. This is just a funny happenstance story. If you are looking to make the magic happen - then always make contacts about the other person. Be self-less in networking and see how far it takes you!

#4. Be Nice No Matter What.

Guess what, when you are networking people will be neutral, negative, and downright nasty from time to time. I believe in being nice no matter what. That doesn’t mean I don’t speak my mind - but I do so in a way that is focused on being nice, respectful, and really trying to hear the other’s point of view- no matter what.

#5. Be Awesome.

No matter how nice you are, if you aren’t good at what you do, it is hard to create and maintain a great clinical reputation. And guess what, it is hard to be good at, and be known for, 10 different things. Focus in on what you are really passionate about, and let people know about that passion.

I couldn’t possibly put everything Mari did in an article. I am sure even if I tried to, you would have a lot of questions!

How to not be salesy, slimy, or talk about money in your business...


Derek Halpern started Social Triggers and teaches all kinds of business owners how to blog. He shared this image in his most recent newsletter. Dan Pink, a bestselling author, did a survey of what people think when they think of sales- and this is what came  up. The bigger the word, the more often it was said in the survey. Are you surprised? I'm not. 

When I started my business 7 years ago, I thought the same thing. I did not start a sales business, I started a healing business. However, I quickly learned that I had to talk about money if I wanted to have a successful business. And guess what, I had to make sales if I wanted to have clients. Of course, I didn't call it sales. I called it "get clients." 

Is there a difference between selling your services and getting clients? 

No. Guess what, you don't have to be slimy or a jerk. But, if you want to know how to never talk about sales or money, you are going to have to close down your business. A business is how you make your living... in other words how you pay for food, shelter, and health care- with money. 

Work for a non-profit and feel like there are no sales? Ask the person who is doing grant applications whether there are sales involved. 

Ok... so does selling have to be slimy or salesy? No. 

What are the top 5 ways you can be slimy sales person in business? 

  1. Be dishonest

  2. Rope people in for things that you don't believe they need

  3. Rope people in for things that you don't believe can help

  4. Be unethical

  5. Be manipulative

Let's break these done and show you how you may be inadvertently doing this in your day to day business- even though you are trying to avoid being salesy and slimy!

Clinical Vignette: A client calls you reporting that they are really depressed, they know it is impacting their marriage, and they report problems at work as well. They report they need to get started right away. You go over fees and scheduling. When they report they can only come in twice a month because of their time and their finances. You get them scheduled for sessions every other week, but feel a bit bummed because you feel strongly after the phone consultation that they would really benefit from weekly sessions. However, you tell yourself that some therapy is better than nothing, and you really resonate with the financial struggle. You don't have a lot of extra money either.

You feel a bit anxious during the first session as they unfold everything that is happening- it is worse than they let on during the phone call. You go over your 50 minute session time by about 20 minutes attempting to make sure the client is stable enough to make it through the next two weeks. You offer to meet in a week, but when the client brings up finances- you don't push the subject. You would normally just offer to slide down farther in their weekly sessions- but you have realized that you can't keep lowering your normal fee and made a pact with yourself to not take more than 20% sliding scale in your practice- and you are already at 30%.

Are there any issues here? Have you inadvertently become a "slimy salesperson?"

Let's unpack the vignette. Over the phone you felt strongly that they needed weekly sessions. Did you go over the risks and benefits of weekly vs every other week sessions clearly? If not, you may have just "sold them what they didn't need."

If you believe clinically they need weekly sessions- isn't it your clinical responsiblity to share that with them clearly? Is it unethical to take them on in therapy in a mode or frequency of treatment that you don't think is recommended? Would you better off referring the client out to someone who they could afford to see weekly? 

Were you really honest with the client about the value of therapy? This person is looking at possibly losing their job or relationship. That costs much more than any therapist I have ever met. Did you have that conversation to ensure the client was really weighing the risks and benefits of investing in therapy at the level that they needed? 

Did you schedule him in for something that you didn't believe could help? Ok... so maybe you felt like "something is better than nothing..." But, is that what services with you should be like? Or should working with you be transformative? Should you ensure that each person who walks through the doors of your business is set-up for success? 

Did you manipulate that client into paying for services that aren't likely to get the client the outcome they need, in the timeframe they need it? Was that a waste of money? And what about going over session? How does it feel to your next client when you come out feeling a bit spent? 

I know you. I know you are an amazing person! Why? Because only awesome people are allowed to read this blog. If you aren't awesome, I'm not sure why you are here. You can run along now and play somewhere else! 

If some (or all) of this is feeling familiar- it is ok! It is awesome that you are noticing that and feeling it- that is what allows you to make change! 

You never have to be a pushy salesperson, but you do need to find your inner voice to be able to talk about money issues and ensure that people get what they are really looking for when they call you- deep transformation! 

Virtual Assistant - Part 1

There was a time when Miranda and I did everything in our business- websites, social media, billing, invoicing, phone calls, ordering, relationship building and the list goes on and on. Really, on and on. But there comes a time in your business, where you need more time, time to do the stuff that only YOU can do - your craft! And in that moment you realize, you need help. 

It's scary to ask for help sometimes too! Miranda and I actually had to force ourselves to do it. We decided to hire our assistant and pay her for a set number of hours whether or not we used her. We knew that would make us start to hand things over to her. But in the asking for help, you get back time, money (yes, it pays to have an assistant) and sanity. 

Truth is, in the past, other therapists have done their practices with an assistant sitting at their front desk, answering phones and doing billing. That cost began to be too high for a lot of practitioners and with the online world approaching, many practitioners handled all those tasks on their own. As you expand your business, and move beyond the butt in the chair - time for money trade - an assistant can be worth so much to your vision.

A virtual assistant (VA) is a real person that you work with remotely via email, phone or skype. Virtual assistants vary in their skill set. Some are more technology focused and others handle billing, copy writing, or customer care. Here is a list of some of the tasks you can have a VA help with:

  • Responding to emails

  • Handling customer concerns or questions

  • Tracking leads or referrals

  • Social media management

  • Blog writing

  • Some design work

  • Website management

  • Data entry - business cards, forms, contacts

  • Project managment

  • Appointment/calendar managment

  • Bookkeeping

  • Document creation

  • Travel booking

That is just a short quick list! "But I don't need all of that!" you might say. That is why it is good to do a business evaluation. Some might even need a time study where they look at where their time is spent and on what tasks. Then from there they can look at tasks that they can out source  or hand off to a VA. When you know the tasks that you need help with, then you can find a VA that matches those needs. You want this to create more time and income in your business, right?  Not every VA is the same. 

Lu, our VA (who is amazing) not only helps our business, but she also provides a lot of support for the clients in our programs. She in essence becomes their VA while they are coaching with us. It helps them get unstuck from the set up and logistics and focus on the bigger picture. I searched high and low for other VA's (no, you cannot have Lu, she is ours :) unless you are our client lol) and quite honestly, it is hard to know who to trust. So I found someone and interviewed her about her VA business. Part 2 will be that awesome interview where you can learn more about how a VA can help you in your practice. 

Have you ever used a VA? Share your experience in the comments below!


Do you need to change what you are doing?


Just in case you didn't know, I am not perfect. Yeah, big surprise huh?! But here is the cool part, I am getting better at listening to my heart and doing things that are more in line with who I am. And frankly, it is liberating. A few months ago, Miranda and I created a new webinar, "Uh Oh, I've got too many clients. What to do when your couch is full." Loved the title, but the webinar itself...meh. I don't know what it was, but it wasn't jiving for us. And the reality is we could have kept doing it. But why? I mean, why do something you don't like? 

So, we sucked up our pride and just called it what it is...and now we are revamping the whole webinar. If you don't really know us yet, we want to do more than inspire you (though I LOVE inpsiring you), we want you to walk away and say, I am going to change X in my practice or to create a new goal. Aha moments are what we love to give. 

So how about you? Are you doing something that isn't totally fitting you? When you put out a program, book, service package or whatever it is...does it reflect what you are all about? I hope so! Here is how you know if something is working or not. 2 things: 

  1. You feel passionate. You love what you are talking about and you could talk about it all day, because...you KNOW what you are talking about. It is your expertise, your interest, the thing that gets you up in the morning. Ok, well maybe not that...for me that is a toddler and she is everything to me. But it is the thing that keeps you doing your business.

  2. There is a need. You have people that could really use what you have to offer. And when you do offer it, they love it. They want more! You get more positive feedback than negative AND the feedback is from who you intended to reach. Sometimes we get feedback, but it isn't helpful because it isn't intended for that person. It's like going to an expert on biology and asking them if you have a valid philosophical argument. So, take feedback within that context of who you intend to speak to.

If you decide - nope, this isn't working for me, then be open to some change. I know. It sucks when you put a lot of time into something. BUT it sucks more to have your life whittled away by something you don't LOVE to do and to be missing out on the people that need you most. And just so you know, we consider your feedback. We don't want our stuff to not be helpful. We truly want to help change our industry, your practice and your life. 

An Amazing Therapist

I am honored to know Keri Nola. She is a gal that I met in BSchool who I hit it off with, right away. I simply love her. I haven't coached her. I don't get paid by her. So why interview her for you guys? Inspiration. Plain and simple. She is an example of a thriving therapist and entrepreneur. And as we say, if you want to be great, surround yourself with greatness. We had fun talking about the journey into private practice, ways to connect with clients, fears and getting creative with building a business. Keri has a private practice and an awesome new way of helping people in her

Go Deeper Get Lighter

program. Feel free to check it out or email her directly at info@godeepergetlighter.com . PS. I have to ask...did you like having a video? Do you want more of these? Send me an email and let me know what you would like to see in our blogs. kelly@zynnyme.com

I don't do coffee anymore.


Ok, I do have coffee on occasion - with a girlfriend or a coaching client or by myself when I got no sleep the night before with a teething toddler. But really, I have re-evaluated my coffee time.  When I first started out in private practice, I rocked the face to face networking. Several coffees every week, networking groups, phone calls, and meetings - just anything I could do to get my name out there. And it was valuable. Truly. I met amazing people and did get a referral here or there.

And then my schedule started to shift. I had clients, not a full caseload but I was busy. All of the sudden my time just got more valuable, right? I had people paying to sit with me. So then when I got a request to have coffee, I started to feel a struggle between feeling like "I should" meet with them and knowing that I have other things that are priority. Does that mean I threw my relationships out the window? No! I just go more focused on how I spent my time. (There are other ways to maintain relationships outside of spending time in the coffee shop)

I find many therapists don't treat their schedule with respect. They don't value their time and thus end up busy but not seeing a return on their investment. Busy does not equal productive. Doing things out of what other's think you "should" do will only leave you feeling resentful. So if you want to have a coffee - great! Make it productive. Have a plan. Think of how you want to work with that person. See how it is going to benefit your practice. But if there are other things you can do to grow your practice, why not explore having a more laser focus. Marketing strategies have their value and are needed in any private practice.

So before you reach for your Pumpkin Soy Latte - just remember, every decision you make impacts your business and reflects how you value your time. Learn to treat yourself and your business with the respect that it deserves. 

PS. This blog is inspired in part by the people in our Rockin' Profitable Practice Accelerator Program (All of whom are launching new products in the next 2 weeks!!!) and by my mentor - because of him, I focus on the stuff that truly matters.