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Episode 172 | Shame and Money with Wendy Wright

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WITH Wendy Wright

  • Episode 172 | Shame and Money with Wendy Wright 00:00


Hey Group Practice listeners! In this episode, I’m talking with Wendy Wright about navigating shame around money as a group practice owner.

In this episode we cover:

  • Meeting our relationship with money where it is
  • Undoing shame based learning
  • Abundant compassionate curiosity with regards to our financials
  • Exploring your relationship to debt & savings
  • Resource Discussed: Master Your Money Workgroup

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.

Do you ever wish for a financial therapist who could relieve you from the last few months’ bookkeeping, talk you off the edge when you’re running into issues with Quickbooks, or help you work through a profit plan for growth? GreenOak Accounting does just that! GreenOak Accounting is an accounting firm that specializes in working with group practices. Their value goes WAY beyond bookkeeping; they can help you get on track for financial success. Schedule a free consultation by going to


Maureen Werrbach

Maureen Werrbach
Hey, everyone, welcome to another episode of The Group Practice Exchange Podcast. Today I have an expert on and I’m really excited to chat with her. Her name is Wendy Wright. And she’s an LMFT and also a financial therapist. So we’re gonna be talking about decreasing shame around money. And as a group practice owners, we know there’s shame in those initial stages of getting started. And then there’s also shame that continues to grow sometimes with more established groups. So, hi, Wendy, I’m really excited to have you on to share some nuggets of wisdom that you’ve learned along the way.

Wendy Wright
Hi Maureen, it’s, it’s great to be here, I’m excited to share these things.

Maureen Werrbach
So tell my audience a little bit about you who you are, what you do, how you got to the place that you’re at, where you like to give some knowledge around shame and money.

Wendy Wright
Yeah, I am a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist based in Denver. But I do mostly telehealth even before the pandemic, because financial therapy is a very newer, unique brand of therapy where we bring our therapy skills and we talk about money in session. So often, we would actually get on to logging into bank accounts and looking at the transactions and talking about them and beginning to do that. So even when we were in session, we would both be on the you know, be on the computer and looking at that. So it lended itself very well to telehealth. I have recently expanded into a group practice called financial therapy solutions. That’s the website, financial therapy solutions dot com to increase the the number of financial therapists in the in the nation because there aren’t that many of us. And I know you’ve recently had Lindsey on she was talking about I think archetypes, great podcast. So listen to that too. And there’s just so much it’s a very rich and rewarding place to enter into a therapeutic exchange with someone around their relationship with money. Majority of our money decisions are the high or the high percent of them is they are emotional decisions. And so when we begin to look at that, unpack it in a therapy setting it begins with really cool changes in our clients lives.

Maureen Werrbach
Yeah, I, I, I see a lot of conversations in the group practice owners circle and you being a group practice owner to you have some good insights because as a group owner, you’re in those spaces. And so you’re seeing how new group practice owners are reacting to money and making decisions that relate to money and also established group owners kind of that evolution of what might have had some emotion based decisions in the beginning when they were first starting off. It kind of looks a little different as you become more established, on what might create some levels of shame when you have a large team of clinicians working for you. So I’m really excited to get some feedback on what are you seeing, what are you thinking and what can group owners do to reduce that shame that they have around money?

Wendy Wright
Hmm, yeah. You know, I I came to this with a rather you unique blend of–I have my undergrads in business I was in mortgage banking. I’ve been a realtor, flipped houses, done some other things and then got a therapy degree. So I came into looking at a therapy practice as a business pretty easily. But I work with a lot of therapists and private practice both solo and group practices, who that’s the last thing that was on their mind was like, Oh, this is and this is a business what you know, kind of feeling. And so one of the one of the reasons I developed financial therapy solutions was to create a place for therapists who would like to become financial therapists to learn about it on a more like intimate basis. In doing that I developed 10 principles of financial therapy that I take people through because in the hiring, as group practice owners know hiring sometimes their tent, one of the challenges of hiring for financial therapy group practice, is there aren’t that many out there with experience in group therapy. And so I thought I’d bring a couple of those principles today, the foundation because the foundational principle is bringing abundant compassionate curiosity and zero judgment to money, which means as we know, as therapists, that means we’re bringing in a lot of self compassion. And sometimes that’s really hard with money. Whether we are a group practice owner or a therapist trying to figure out who am I going to work for how much you wanna get paid or the idea of, you know, knowing what is your money story is it you do come from a place of a lot of therapists will connect with that coming from that place of noble poverty. Poverty, if I’m going to help people, then I have to suffer you know, whatever it is. It’s really helpful to meet yourself where you are, which is something that I think you’ll understand, you’ll agree with me that it’s really easy for us to do for our clients, and sometimes hard to do for ourselves. Just come with that compassionate curiosity. And, and notice, like, one of the person I was working with recently, she was like, when you say the word money, I want to do a full body shudder, I can’t even I just want to shut down and, and hide. So okay, if that’s where you are, that’s where we want to start. We want to meet that person where they are, and then decide, because sometimes one of the things–and tell me if this connects for you–but one of the ways often that we learn about money is kind of what I call shame based learning, we usually learn from the mistakes we made. Often it’s like, as you know, in, in therapy school, there’s no business classes yet. Hopefully, they’ll eventually be there. But we’ll learn because we forgot to put money set aside for taxes. That’s a biggie, we learned because we don’t know how to take time off. Last week, I had a cold, I had a took a few days of a lighter schedule, and I felt really comfortable in it because I had a plan for PTO. So these places, though, we usually learn. In general, the general public learns money this way, and therapists especially learned money this way. And so we want to come in to crack through that shame and help begin to meet them where they are that connect for you.

Maureen Werrbach
Yes, yeah, I 100% agree that probably most people as a whole learn strictly by looking at their mistakes versus even being proactive or thinking about where you know, where potentially things can go wrong, or where they might need to, to learn and grow before they actually have issues. Like, oops, I didn’t save enough for my, for my taxes, which is probably one of the biggest money issues that business owners have.

Wendy Wright
Yeah, it really is and the amount of shame that I see them come–because usually when they come in, we start talking about it. It’s gone on for years. Yeah. And they’re so scared. So sometimes literally in session, we’ll log on to the IRS website, or we’ll you know, we’ll take those steps in session. So that one of the things that people will say about financial therapy that it feels so good is that they’re not alone in it anymore. And that makes such a big difference.

Maureen Werrbach
So what is your–What are you seeing with group practice owners specifically that are kind of like high shame experiences that relate to money?

Wendy Wright
Hmm, yeah, there’s several but let’s talk one about how to figure out how much to pay your employees, whether the contractors or employees either way. Because I think one of the things that we typically know as therapist is if the word should shows up, there’s probably some shame, right? Okay. So when we think about and I thought a lot about this before I even started my own group practice to like, when you think about well, I should pay them blank, then automatically. Let’s go ahead and pause there and learn where that “should” is coming from. One of the–so one of the first principles of financial therapy is coming at it from abundance, compassionate curiosity and zero judgment. There was another key principle is, is learning to live out of a plan, not your bank balance or not, not public opinion or other social media posts about what people are paying their employees. So you want to come into it. So I, I wanted to come into this very slowly, so that I could help other group practice owners know how you know how to reflect on this, and part of that is doing the math. So if numbers are really hard for you, get support, some people have number phobia, that does not mean you’re bad with money. And that’s a key thing to notice. Because people who think they’re bad with money tend to see it as a character trait that’s ingrained in their DNA. And that’s not a truth

Maureen Werrbach
And not fixable.

Wendy Wright
Yeah, exactly. And if you if you think that something is not fixable, that leads to certain decisions, right? If you’re bad with money, why make a plan? Why check your bank balance, blah, blah, blah. So when we come at it with looking at, okay, let’s look at the plan. And let’s look at what you need to make in order to have a group practice be a positive in your life? What do you, how do you want to explain it? So, you know, and of course, if, as I’m leading financial therapy solutions, we’re having a lot of money conversations, because I want my financial therapist really comfortable with it. So we look at these numbers, but you want to be able to look at the numbers and feel comfortable with, okay, here’s what’s going to make my life work to make this group practice something fun for me, right? Something exciting. If we’re doing it because you feel you should, or because you know, feel like it’s the the next best way to fill your office space or something like that, like, you want to be able to evaluate those decisions in light of your business plan.

Maureen Werrbach
So if someone is saying, like “I should” or–even if someone so what I see a lot of times is especially in my Facebook groups is people saying what other people should do, right? Like you, everyone pays at least, you know, 50% to employees, like if you are paying and whatever that dollar amount comes out to if you’re paying less than that, then then there’s a problem, you should be paying at least 50%, there’s no reason that you should, like you shouldn’t be able to. And you see a lot of that. And I know that there’s it causes a lot of anxiety for people because it’s also what reimbursement looks like in all of the US is so different, you know, and cost of living is different. And just average rates for therapy is so different that it always causes me anxiety. Because I’m like, don’t start telling people what they should do when it comes to compesnating their staff. It all looks different. And also it also depends on other things like adding benefits and such right, which people don’t often think about. Yeah. What’s your suggestion? If someone is is adding those “shoulds” in there? What is likely–what does it likely mean for that person that’s putting that in there?

Wendy Wright
Such a great question. Well, some, there’s so many different things. But when again, when there’s a should, let’s do a full body check in, you know, let’s really go into taking a deep breath and noticing either what triggered you to to tell someone what they should do, or what comes up for you, when you hear someone say you should pay X number of dollars or X percent. Like so stopping right there is going to be so powerful because we really want to dive into and dig into what’s coming up, other than, because otherwise you will make a decision out of that energy that may or may not make sense. And then that leads to burnout, that leads to resentment that you know all those things. So we want to be able to pause there and say, for instance, okay, if you are feeling uncomfortable with what you’re doing, and that shows up by the advice giving, telling everyone else you may want everyone else to do what you’re doing to help validate what you feel I’m doing that is that is a codependent loop. That is, yeah, yeah. And that it’s not helpful. It actually builds the resentment and it builds the burnout. So coming back into okay, why am I wanting to give advice, and asking those questions can be really powerful. Maybe you’re so busy and so overloaded that you haven’t had time to really think about what numbers work for your personal life. That’s a place I find a lot of therapists skip is knowing what numbers they want for their personal life. And that is a place where you want to actually start. You want to know Do I want X number of dollars to come in to help pay my mortgage support my kids activities, do the, like, for me, it’s very important that I have money set aside for my ski pass here in Colorado. Of course, that is a basic need. You know, things like that you want to know those are the kinds of things that make my work life have the meaning I want it to have. But if we’re living out of scarcity, and we’re just hoping we make some money, and hope it works out and we live in, then we’re on the edge of burnout all the time, but we don’t know it. So pausing looking at this, I lead work groups, their signups are starting right now. So there’s information on the website that in these work groups. We get to pause, and meet people where they are looking at, where their struggles are. Talk about, it’s a small group, they’re limited to six. So it’s a small group, and, and figure out like, okay, what’s driving, for instance, that urge to give everyone else advice, or what’s driving that fear of like, oh, everybody says, this is what I should pay. Maybe that is actually what you’re going to end up paying. But we want the numbers and the plan to guide that decision to decrease the resentment, the fear, the anxiety, because I want everyone to feel like they can take a deep breath all day long. And to feel like they can rest on the weekends or, you know, whenever their weekend is like, because, you know, honestly here sometimes I’ll have a weekend day on a week. I mean, a weekend day on a weekday so I can go ski. So, you know, we want to build those kind of things by exploring with compassionate curiosity.

Maureen Werrbach
I really like that. Okay, what were the two things then? Compassionate curiosity, and non-judgmentalness right?

Wendy Wright
Yep. So abundant, compassionate curiosity, and zero judgment, which is really hard, because we’re used to judging a lot about our money stuff. So really coming into that. And the second one is live from a plan, not your bank balance.

Maureen Werrbach
Perfect. One, what’s another one? I really like these.

Wendy Wright
Okay, yeah. Another one is going to be lets see what would be another good one for this live for plan out your bank balance. You know, I think another one is going to be really to explore, this gonna sound strange, but I think will help, explore your relationship to debt before you try to get out of it. So it’s the idea of staying out of debt is better than getting out of debt. And in order to do that, you’ve got to really explore your relationship to debt and savings. So it’s a big part of what happens. For instance, one of the things that I help people do right off the bat, every one of your listeners is welcome to do this, right now today, is to start a PTO account, a paid time off account. It feels like a mystery for so many new therapists, for therapists who are going into practice for themselves. But it can start with as little as $5 a week, it starts with just opening that account, calling it PTO. So you’ve already made a promise to yourself that you’re going to take time off, and that money is going to be there. And if you do it at five or $10 a week, you just start. Yeah, but often, some all or nothing thinking will get in the way, or some like I’ll do that later. Or I can’t save money because I have to do you know all these other things, then we then move on to explore what is your relationship to savings? And what gets in the way? Very rich conversations can take place at that point.

Maureen Werrbach
I love that. How many things did you say you had? I know we’re not going through all of them. But how many 10? Okay, so for people who are interested in getting a little bit more information about how what kind of work you do, how you can actually help group owners who are having some unresolved or negative mindsets around money, where can they reach you? Is there anything that you want them to look at so that they can get more support around it? I would love for every new owner to have zero shame around money.

Wendy Wright
Oh, me too. Maureen. I’m right there with ya. You want to bust through it as much as we can? Yeah. Um, yeah, they can find me at financial therapy solutions dot com. And a couple different things. They have the work groups that are starting in October so they can find information. It’s on the website as well, you could sign up for that. There’s an early bird like bonus discount if they reach out to me right now. And again, that’s really exciting. I’d love to have a work group with six group practice owners who can talk about those dynamics, but they will be set up every time one feels I’ll open up another spot for some. There’s also I do therapeutic business consulting, so if someone’s interested in one on one consulting, they can email me Wendy at financial therapy solutions dot com. And if someone’s interested in becoming a financial therapist, from listening to this like joining the team, they can also email me.

Maureen Werrbach
Awesome. Well I appreciate you sharing a couple nuggets of wisdom on how to reduce shame around money. And I look forward to hearing some more from you in the future.

Wendy Wright
Wonderful. Thanks so much, Maureen.


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

Danielle Kepler went from a group practice to having a solo practice and paneling herself with over 30+ insurance/EAP panels. She feels strongly that clinicians should know how to credential and bill insurance themselves before outsourcing these tasks and created Be Your Own Biller where the goal is to empower clinicians so that they do not need to hire long-term services for insurance tasks. Services include an EHR cleanup package, a “pick-my-brain consult, and credentialing and billing packages to help you get your practice billing ready.

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Mary Beth Storjohann, CFP® and Founder of Workable Wealth works as a financial planner and accountabilty coach to help clients across the country make smart, educated choices with their money. She focuses on working with entrepreneurs in helping with personal and business financial planning and has a subset of clients specializing in private and group mental health focused practices. Her recent accolades include the “Top 40 Under 40” by Investment News, “10 young Advisors to Watch” by Financial Advisor Magazine, and “10 of the Best Personal Finance Experts on Twitter.” She frequently appears on NBC as a financial expert and her expertise has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Forbes and more.

* I am an affiliate for some of the businesses I recommend. These are companies that I use in my own group practice, and make recommendations based off of my experience with them. When you use some of these companies through my links, I receive compensation, which helps me continue to offer great free information on my podcast, blog, Facebook group, and website.

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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:


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