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Episode 104 | Adding Coaching to Your Group Practice with Alyssa Adams

Episode 104 |  Adding Coaching to Your Group Practice with Alyssa Adams

WITH ALYSSA ADAMS

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  • Episode 104 | Adding Coaching to Your Group Practice with Alyssa Adams 00:00

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Hi Group Practice Listeners! In this episode, I’m talking with Alyssa Adams all about adding in a coaching service to your group practice.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Dos & don’ts on adding on a coaching service
  • Aligning your coach with your practice niche
  • How coaching will help to round out your practice
  • Managing therapist vs coaching roles
  • Marketing your coaching services in your group practice

This episode is sponsored by TherapyNotes. TherapyNotes is an EHR software that helps behavioral health professionals manage their practice with confidence and efficiency. I use TherapyNotes in my own group practice and love its amazing support team, billing features, and scheduling capabilities. It serves us well as a large group practice owner.

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Transcript:

Maureen Werrbach

Hey, everyone, welcome to another episode of the group practice exchange podcast.

This time I’ve got Alyssa Adams with me. She’s going to be talking about how to add coaching into your group practice. I’m really excited about this one. I know a lot of you have been asking questions about how to do this in an ethical way. So I’m excited to have Alyssa on and to talk about best practices for doing this and what that what that looks like. So hi, Alyssa, how are you?

Alyssa:

Hi, I’m so excited to be here. I’m doing great.

Maureen:

Tell us a little bit about you and what your practices like and what you know about coaching and why this is the topic that you’re talking about today.

Alyssa:

Yeah, for sure. So I’m a clinical psychologist by training–so trained as a therapist–and then I went back to get my training in coaching. I was just super interested in, you know, how do we create transformation as a coach as well.

So what I do with folks right now is I help therapists really tour at two points in their business. One is that they want to grow their practice and get more people in the door. And then the other side is to who wants to really diversify in add in coaching to their group practice or who wants to add on coaching to their practice themselves. So like kind of the edge of: how do you do that and what works?

Maureen:

That’s awesome. So I think one of the biggest questions that people have when it comes to it–I guess, for my listeners there might be some group practice owners who are thinking about adding coaching themselves as like to become a coach–but I’ll say probably 90% are, if they’re thinking about coaching, they’re thinking about adding someone as a coach. Just because we end up working a little bit less on that clinical side as a group practice owner with having to manage the business.

So tell us a little bit about what are the some of the things that we should be thinking about if we’re a group practice owner who is thinking about adding a coach. What are some initial thoughts or things we should be thinking about that might not be super obvious if we haven’t brought on a coach before? Maybe some do’s and don’ts or some like, you know, thoughts on this would be good for you if or this would not be good for you to bring out a coach, if kind of thoughts.

Alyssa:

Yeah, absolutely. So one of the things that I think is really helpful to think about is kind of your group practice niche area, right? Like adding coaching as a way to really solidify your niche area. Like you are the practice that specializes in blank, right. So is there a current gap in any of the services that you provide that you think offering coaching might be a helpful way to hit people at a different kind of point in their journey?

Or if they need really targeted specific support in some way that therapy maybe wouldn’t offer or wouldn’t be typically in the scope of therapy that you could kind of layer on to your practice, but with a coach makes sense.

Yeah. So that’s kind of like the first question I tend to talk with people about right like, how would it look?

How would it round out your practice to offer coaching?

For example, you know, some folks I know who may be doing like a health psychology practice where they’re really helping people adjust to cope with chronic illness, and it’s more of a kind of like therapy side of their practice. You know, dealing with how that impacts relationships and coping with that grieving, the loss of different things, coping with that emotional experience. But then they have a health coach who might help with some very specific targeted lifestyle changes, or making healthier choices or kind of what are the things that are getting in the way of like executing a specific providers plan for them.

So like these different ways that you can kind of layer on coaching to really round out your practice.

Or I know of another practice where you’re offering therapy to folks who are maybe in a stressful work environment or in kind of a life transition. And maybe they would benefit from adding a career coach to their practice, who can help people really hone in on their strengths, learn about negotiation, interview, prep, resume prep, like targeted job searching. So I think the first step is kind of figuring out like, Are there gaps in your practice? And how might you fill them with a coach?

Maureen:

That makes a lot of sense.

Alyssa:

Yeah. And then kind of the next step around like, okay, logistically, sort of what does that look like? So, from the business side of things, thinking about, you know, requiring your coach to have their kind of separate liability insurance–which is different for coaches, especially for those who don’t also carry on mental health license. Really getting clear on the scope of work you’d like for them.

How will it compliment the therapy practice? Just getting really clear on that scope of work for them, so that you know how you’re using them and they know how they’re going to be most helpful.

Maureen:

What about if you have a therapist who also wants to do coaching? How do you tease that apart? Because I can see with your previous statement, talking about making sure that the coach knows what their role is in your practice and what they’re doing, versus maybe what the therapists are doing. But what about if you have a therapist who wants to also do coaching? How do you tease that apart so that they’re not bringing one role into another role? Like if they’re doing coaching to not start bringing therapy into the room, and that kind of thing. What do you what do you say about that?

Alyssa:

Yeah, great question. I think there’s like, two ways to think about this really. One is sort of like the kind of internal responsibility of the coach/therapist to really understand kind of what hat their wearing at what time.

So to me, you know, having the bulk of my training be therapy, it was really helpful to actually do a coach training program. You don’t have to certainly, but for me, it was really helpful to actually do training and coaching so that I had a very clear understanding of how to conceptualize clients as a coach versus a therapist, right? How do I structure my session differently? What do I talk about during a coaching session? What things do I hear about that maybe I don’t ask about don’t go down the road with that I might in therapy. So kind of positioning my questions differently.

So for me like that, really came when I did my coach training and then I actually started coaching so that I was really clear on like, what does this look like when I stay in my coach lane versus when I have like my therapist hat on?

Maureen:

Yeah, and I feel like as a group practice owner, you know, there’s just even if you have therapists only, there’s so many things that you have to have in place. Even though most therapists know how to provide therapy–or should know how to provide therapy–there still ends up being so much work on the leadership team to ensure that people are following through on what they should be doing and how they should be doing it. You know, just ensuring that they’re actually doing notes well, and that they’re doing them on time and that you know, checking and making sure that clients feel like the therapist is focused on them and not eating during sessions or not doing things that are distracting or whatever.

So I feel like with coaching, I can see this being a little bit of an added obstacle for the group practice owner or leadership team if they’re not also a coach in terms of, you know, putting policies in place, so that therapists who are also doing coaching feel like they’re being supported. And really keeping those hats separate, you know.

I get from a solo practitioner perspective all of the expectation is sort of self imposed, and they can follow the direction of coaching programs or not. But I think when it comes to the group practice it can be a little bit tricky. As I’m listening to you it sounds like there’s got to be a good amount of policies and procedures just like there are with your clinicians, but that focus on coach client relationship as well.

Alyssa:

Yeah. I think for sure. And I think it’s a really great like, very responsible question to think about. Like, what is the integrity of your services in the practice that you run? Making sure people are doing what they say they’re doing. And I think if someone’s going to be providing coaching at least or an element of what they’re doing, making sure that they’re plugged into either having like a mentor coach or a coach consultation group, so that they have someone to really plug in with and connect with for their coaching support. Yeah.

And then really from like a marketing and contracting perspective, making sure that you’re marketing in a way where it’s very clear what it is that they’re doing and what they’re not doing and kind of lifting out all of the mental health language.

I also talk with coaches, who are even group practice owners who are doing this is to make sure that it’s clear in whatever contract or whatever paperwork materials that if you’re getting services from the coach like they are not, it’s not an established mental health relationship. They’re not providing mental health care. So that everyone has really clear expectations on what will be happening.

Maureen:

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. You mentioned you hit something that I wanted to have you dig deeper on is the marketing piece. Tell us a little bit about what are some of the best practices for marketing something that’s completely new, like coaching in a group practice? If you have been marketing therapy this whole time? Are there some tips or feedback that you have for group practice owners who are thinking about bringing on a coach and how they might market that?

Alyssa:

Yeah, absolutely. I think so. There’s definitely lots to say about this topic. One is that you want to make sure that you’re taking off any like diagnosis based language. So we’re taking out words like anxiety or depression, things like that. That would be very appropriate to have on your  therapy marketing, but on your coaching area of your website or your marketing materials or wherever it is, that you’re making sure that we’re kind of lifting off all that language and you’re talking very specifically about what that person would be helping with. Right?

So like, if it’s a career coach, you’re helping that person, you know, find a career that they love, or seek that next promotion or negotiate for higher pay or prep for an interview. If it’s, you know, something where they’re making very specific lifestyle changes. So we’re taking up all of the language that would be around like coping, adjusting any diagnostic language so that you’re really thoughtful about how you convey what the coach will do like that. You’re helping them with this very specific kind of targeted thing.

Maureen:

And on the coaching page, this might be a stupid question, but I’m gonna ask it for everyone because I’m sure there’s someone that is thinking this. If you have a page dedicated to coaching and maybe one–I keep going back to a therapist who is also doing coaching, so you’re just in this realm right now. But and let’s say you put Suzy Smith LCPC, who does therapy in my practice. On our coaching page that has no mental health language, no diagnostic language in it. But then we put, you know, Suzy Smith on there. So they know this is too does blah, blah, blah career coaching, are we leaving their license out of it then and just saying Suzy Smith on this page and on the therapy bio page, Suzy Smith, LCPC or whatever?

Alyssa:

People ask us a lot, I think like in even break it down more is like, can you do you put your degree, or do you put that you’re a licensed provider, right, you know, even more specifically. So I’ve seen people do different things with this.

I think the most conservative approach is to you know, not discuss your licenses, but that you could put your duty breeze because that’s how I heard of your, you know, background in training and education. So, I’ve seen that be kind of the most conservative approach. And then I’ve seen other folks who do list it, but right very clearly, that if you’re interested in these types of services, you go to this other page. And here we’re kind of talking about this other way that the person helps.

So, you know, there I don’t know if there’s like one perfect answer, but I think being really thoughtful about it is important. I actually do therapy and coaching at the moment. But the coach language and kind of the road I’m walking people down is a little bit different. And I do have my degree, but I just kind of briefly say that that sort of like informs how I think about behavior change, and then kind of move forward into more coaching language. That’s sort of how I handle it.

Maureen:

I feel like the longer you’re in business, the more you realize that there’s nothing is really black and white in those areas where you’ll have, you know, 100 people with 100 different variations of an answer for this. So, thank you for that, for your variation of that. I can see how any one of those options would be fine. Any one of those ways as long as you’re discerning what your role is in this category over you know, the other category.

Being a therapist is interesting because I see a lot of people asking questions about that and how rigid some people get in terms of just “that can’t happen,” you know, that they can’t be together or that you know, you can’t have both roles within one practice are all the way to, you know, the other end of the spectrum. So it’s nice to hear that there’s a way to balance it out. There’s a way to have both coaching and counseling live under one roof. And so it’s really nice to hear that.

Alyssa:

Yeah, absolutely. And I think you there’s so many different ways to take precautions, right? You could go on the sidebar, it’s the most conservative and it’s different websites. And you’re, you know, it’s very different. Or you could be kind of somewhere in the middle. Where it’s maybe the same site, but it’s very clearly laid out differently. And you have different forms for different things. You know, I think as long as you’re like very intentional, thoughtful, and kind of making sure that everyone’s well informed. And that’s clear to me from a client perspective as well. Like, I think that that can be one of the most important things to be practicing in your like, ethical domain.

Maureen:

Yeah. Now do you find as someone who does both that it’s hard to stay in the coaching relationship, if you’re just doing coaching and not bringing in your therapist hat? I’m thinking of it more from a leadership perspective and trusting, you know, a clinician in my practice who might be doing therapy with some clients and coaching with others is really being able to take the hat off, put the hat back on, and not bring it in the room. Or is this also one of those scenarios where there’s a little bit of gray and it doesn’t need to be so, you know, black and white?

Alyssa:

Yeah, so that’s a, that’s a really great question. I think that there’s some conversation to be had or thoughtfulness around.

Like, do you want your coaching niche and your therapy niche to overlap or to be similar in some way? Or do you want them to be very different?

Like for me, the bulk of the coaching that I do is business based coaching. So I feel like I can wear a pretty different hat. Then, when I’m doing therapy, which mostly I’m doing kind of anxiety related work or health related anxiety. That’s kind of my niche in my practice. For my therapy clients where they’re all on one day, I have just kind of a small arm that’s therapy. Fridays are my therapy day. I’m doing therapy all day. I can kind of really like keep in that zone. Yes. And then throughout the rest of the week, yeah, like for me, it just helped me like, kind of keep it a little more separate in my brain.

Maureen:

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Any, any don’ts for adding coaching? I don’t know. I don’t know if there are any don’ts. But are there any like no-no’s or don’t do this, that you have if someone was thinking about adding coaching? Like I don’t know if there would be, you know, kind of asking this question off the cuff without thinking through but it I can’t think of I can’t think of one. So I figured the expert here might know is are there scenarios where it’s just really not a great idea to bring on a coach.

Whether it’s because of the business owners frame of mind or how they want to have their business. Is there any points where you might think, you know, think twice before maybe adding coaching or you need to have make sure that you’re doing this and that before you start to add coaching into the mix?

Alyssa:

Yeah, I think that’s a good question. I would want to be very aware and make sure that the person is is a well trained coach, that they’re personally clear on the differences between coaching and therapy. So that the lines are so that you as a practice owner can be clear that those lines are not going to be blurred.

Maureen:

Yeah, was an interesting point because a lot of people who practice owners bring on trainees as therapists so that’s something to think about is you know, if you’re a practice that has a lot of provisionally licensed people or people who you know, are really under the direction of you or a supervisor in your practice who are, you know, kind of getting handheld through the process. That, you know, with bringing on coaching, you might have to look at it a little differently than and make sure that you’re bringing someone on who’s I mean, unless you as a group practice owners, also a coach who can go to the coach, that might be something to think about. I didn’t think about that.

Alyssa:

Yeah, I think that would be kind of helpful to make sure that everyone’s like being supported and doing the best that they can, in that particular environment. I think just another area where I sometimes see stuff, kind of getting a little dicey is that people are not always clear and distinguishing their messaging around coaching. So that it sounds very therapy-like so that I think, from a client perspective. And you can get a lot of confused clients not being sure what they need, and not being sure what it is that they are kind of being guided towards. So I think making sure that you’re just really clear and differentiated and how you talk about and market the two I think just keeps everyone clear.

Maureen:

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

Any last pieces of feedback for people who are thinking of adding a coach or bringing a coach on? We didn’t talk about this, but maybe this is how we can end it: questions you might ask if you’re interviewing someone for a coaching position? Obviously, it’s different than if you’re, you know, interviewing therapists, and most of your practice owners here will have their slew of questions that they asked, but I’m guessing that it’s a different way of interviewing if you’re bringing on a coach.

Alyssa:

Yeah, I would want to talk to them about their training program, you know, if they’re certified or not. Kind of how they kind of self govern themselves with their certification and what trainings they’ve done.

I also want to know a little bit more about how they think about their coaching clients. How do they create change with our coaching clients, what does that look like for them?

You know, how might they collaborate with therapists so that their work can complement each other? How do they think they may be able to collaborate with a therapist or work together in some way to do what’s most helpful for the client? And when have they referred to therapists in the past what’s been like some things that have worked really well for them? When they’ve collaborated with therapists, making sure that they even just have if this is also like, asterisk if they’re not at their best, you know, if they’re, if their work is only coaching, to ask them really about, like, how they understand therapy, and the role of therapy and how that creates change for people.

Since I know I think different coaching programs talk about that in very different ways. So just making sure that everyone’s kind of on the same page about it.

I think would be really helpful things to just really get to know the person style a bit.

Maureen:

That makes a lot of sense. Alyssa, thank you. I think there’s going to be a lot of mulling over after listening to this episode. Especially for those that have been contemplating bringing on a coach. And I know that’s something that gets brought up a lot. If people want to talk to you work with you get more support with you. How can they reach you?

Alyssa:

Everything’s on my website at dralyssaadams.com

Maureen:

Perfect. Thank you so much for coming on and talking about coaching.

Alyssa:

Absolutely. It was so great to be here. Thanks for having me.

Thanks For Listening

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Resources

Here are the resources and guides we recommend based on this episode

therapy notes

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Meet your host

Maureen

Maureen Werrbach is a psychotherapist, group practice owner and group practice coach. Learn more about her coaching services here:

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The podcast is structured so that you get practice building tips in small doses, where an episode can be listened to (and a group practice building lesson can be learned) in a single car ride.

Episodes are structured into categories: coaching sessions where I coach a group practice owner on a specific topic, tips of the day by yours truly, real talk where you get to be a fly on the wall while an established group practice owner and I talk about the highs and lows of ownership, and trainings done by experts in the field.

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