Episode 141 | Rethinking Growth When Therapists are Hard to Find
WITH MAUREEN WERRBACH
- Episode 141 | Rethinking Growth When Therapists are Hard to Find 00:00
Rethinking Growth When Therapists are Hard to Find
Hi Group Practice Listeners! In this episode, I’m talking all about different ways to expand your offerings and allow room for growth in your practice when therapists are hard to find.
In this episode I cover:
- why “normal” growth (hiring, expanding to a new location, etc.) is hard right now
- how COVID has made us change how we look at our offerings & methods of growth
- alternative methods of growth that aren’t hiring or expanding
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So I’ve been thinking about the struggle that group practice owners have been having these past few months with regards to finding good therapists that are looking to join a group practice. And it’s something I’m seeing a lot of struggle with among group practice owners. Just not finding quality talent and not having as many applicants as they normally do. A lot of it is obviously due to COVID. And the ability to relatively easily set up a virtual workspace with minimal amount of financial investment. That’s leading to a reduction in new applicants looking to work in a group practice.
So I’ve been thinking about just all the posts I’m seeing from group practice owners from startup all the way to really established practice owners who are struggling to grow their businesses. And to make decisions around growth, or expanding locations or adding locations, when they’re having such a hard time finding therapists to actually fill the spots of all of these, you know, client calls that are coming in.
So I’ve been thinking about just all these alternatives. It’s so interesting, because a lot of people get kind of pigeon holed into seeing business as as one way, rather than as this like fluid entity that can shift and pivot. And obviously, all of us have had to make that shift once but I know that’s not something that necessarily comes natural for everyone. I’ve been thinking about just my own journey and what I’ve done in the past year or so to keep up with how times are changing responsibilities that we all have are shifting, expectations are changing. And you know how to keep up while actually still growing, even if it means not growing in terms of actual clinical team members, right.
One of the things that’s really just been surprisingly fun and is working is diversifying how you show up in your communities. And that can look different. I’m seeing it in our Facebook group, just all of the amazing ways that group practice owners are learning to pivot in their businesses in in ways that they show up for their community. I’ve seen some really successful practice owners decide to implement a CTE program where they provide CEs for other therapists out in the community, right. And they’re able to not only diversify their income, but also diversify the therapist income and the services that they’re offering.
I’ve also seen real success with practice owners–using the therapists that they actually have in their group practice already, since it’s hard to find new therapists–and having them provide trainings in the community.
Psychoeducation trainings through webinars and virtual workshops, where they’re reaching an audience that might not be ready to engage in one on one therap. Or who need an extra touch point or two before they feel comfortable investing that amount of time and energy and finances into getting one on one therapy by watching their potential therapist provide a psychoeducation training through a webinar. I find that these two things, these CEs, virtual webinars and trainings, we all have the ability to provide that right.
And I think this is where the beauty of really pivoting and looking at what your business has to offer, what your team has to offer as a whole. If growth in the traditional sense in our industry, of bringing on new therapists, having more clients be seen is something that’s not accessible right now, because there’s a lack in you know, talent, essentially, look at other ways of being able to offer the community what you normally are offering them.
And like I said, webinars, and CE’s are great ways to use the amazing brains of your team that already have all this knowledge and information that they can share, that they’re sharing with their clients in a broad sort of way. I just wanted to share, you know, for those of you who are just struggling to figure out your growth and feel like you’re plateauing, even though there’s a huge need, and you’re seeing all these calls coming in.
There’s this like, difficulty in seeing like how much of a need there is and how many clients you’re having to refer out with the same concept of not being able to actually allow for growth to support those needs.
It’s really fun to see how many group practice owners are learning to figure out how they can use the resources that they already have to grow their impact, and their income, by diversifying some of the services that they’re offering, that are already in line with the resources they have, the therapists that they have, and their overall business plan.
Now, obviously, when thinking about diversifying services, you know, you come up with this, this block of reminding yourself that you don’t want to have, shiny object syndrome, which I think most of us can agree we’ve had had this happen. I think that’s just like a common phenomenon for business owners to at some point or another, if not chronically, feel like you’re always missing on the shiny object. To see someone doing something new, thinking I need to do that.
So if we take that into consideration, and just remind ourselves, you know, is my excitement towards trying this new thing, based off of shiny object syndrome, and me just wanting to do something that I see a lot of other people are doing and they’re successful at? Or does it line up with what our community is needing the skills that our team already has, and is in line with our business plan?
And I think that’s really the sweet spot to be thinking about when it comes to growth.
So I encourage you guys, you know, all of you who are having a hard time finding new therapists and growing your business in the normal sense, and the way that you’ve been used to doing it, to think about, what is it that your team already embodies? And what is it that your community is asking for? So obviously, on the outset, it might look like they’re asking for one on one sessions, right, because that’s what they’re calling you for, because that’s what they know you to do.
But in looking at what the community is needing, you need to expand that vision a little bit beyond what they’re communicating in those phone calls. And it might mean adding a different screening tool to see, you know, what is it that they’re calling and requesting an appointment for that might help you see that creating a live webinar, or a recorded webinar for the community related to that topic. What you’re seeing most calls come in for is likely to be a success.
And so it’s really, you know, taking all those things into context and seeing how can I create something? And how can my team be able to create things that still communicates to their ideal clients in a different way? You know, I think about five years from now, 10 years from now, what group practice is going to look like. And I envision that there’s going to be so much more to it than individual and group counseling that webinars, trainings, community engagement, partnerships, that these things are all going to be a part a normal part of through practice ownership and how therapists are engaging with their clients.
So I like to look at, you know, all of this crap that’s been going on this past year, as a sort of wake up call for us as business owners to look at, how have we been managing and leading our businesses up to this point?
Have we been sticking with the comfortable? The easy, the unknown? And what does it mean for us to step into the uncomfortable of the unknown, similar to when we first started our group practices, right? We didn’t know you didn’t know if it was going to work out if it was gonna be successful. But we stepped into it. And I think a lot of times group, practice owners and business owners in general, you know, feel like that initial difficult decision to start and run a business is so heavy and scary that every other decision that they make is like one step below that level, for the rest of their professional lives. We obviously always make difficult decisions and have to decide on expanding and taking risks in that way.
But I wonder how many opportunities are left on the table?
Under normal circumstances, because we’re so used to sticking in like a very specific lane, without actually looking to our left and looking to our right to see what are in the other lanes. And do those lanes make sense for our businesses? Could a small pivot to shifting from one on one to doing a partnership with another wellness provider in the community, be the thing that so many community members are needing? And is it the thing that allows your team to be able to exercise and expand their regular workload outside of the heavy one on one?
You know, obviously, we are all feeling this burnout as clinicians and this can be a great opportunity not only to serve your community, and provide more services, when there’s not a whole load of new therapists who are wanting to go into group practice, while also serving our own mental health and having alternative ways to create an impact and legacy in the community.
So I just want to leave you with that thought, as I’ve just been thinking about how my group practice has pivoted to make room for growth over the past year.
How I’m observing what other group practice owners are doing, and seeing what’s really successful, what’s really working, what’s creating continued camaraderie, and positive workplace culture. And a lot of it aligns with the fact that business owners are expanding their view of what good practice looks like, and allowing new things in so that their team can can function and create outside of one on one therapy.
So I would ask, as a closing sort of statement, you know, what is it that your group practice is doing right now? How is it serving the community? And have you had to pivot or shift? Or have you expanded the way you look at what services your business is offering in the past year? And if not, like, write that down and see what comes up. I think you’d be surprised to find that there’s probably a lot of alternative ways that you can support your community while supporting your team, which I think is really amazing. So I hope you have a great day and I’ll see you next week.
Thanks For Listening
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Here are the resources and guides we recommend based on this episode
Group Practice Start Up Checklist
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Recruiting & Hiring Your Ideal Therapist
Whether you’re a seasoned or a new group practice owner, one thing we all have in common is the overwhelming, sometimes painful process of recruiting, interviewing and hiring of therapists.
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Meet your host
Maureen Werrbach is a psychotherapist, group practice owner and group practice coach. Learn more about her coaching services here:
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.
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