Private Pay 6: Should You Choose a Specialty in a Cash-Based Private Practice with Miranda Palmer
I love working with BLANK who BLANK. That’s a specialty, or a niche. And when you have a niche, you are able to speak to the heart of the person you’re trying to help.
Miranda Palmer of ZynnyMe helps therapists create a work/life balance in private practice and she’s our amazing guest today. Our topic: A deep dive into the importance of a specialty in a cash-based private practice.
You can access all other episodes in the Private Pay Mini-Series here.
Miranda Palmer built a cash-based private practice during the recession. But, she is most proud that she did it to take care of her family and created a work-life balance that allowed her to avoid the all too common burn-out a lot of therapists experience.
As the co-creator of ZynnyMe.com she provides how-to articles, free monthly webinars, and co-leads the Business School Bootcamp for Therapists.
You can find out more about Miranda and what she’s up to at the sites below:
- ZynnyMe’s Worksheet on Setting Your Fees
- ZynnyMe’s Amazing Free Trainings
- Business School Bootcamp
Thanks to Miranda for joining me this week. Until next time!
You can access all other episodes in the Private Pay Mini-Series here.
TranscriptClick here to read the Transcript
Miranda: I’m doing great, I’m really excited to be hanging out with you.
Perry: Yes, same here, I am so excited you and Kelly are doing such great work and you know this better than anybody else out there so thank you so much for taking some time out of your day and joining me on the show here and giving our audience on this topic.
Miranda: Oh for sure, I think it’s such a powerful topic because it’s all empowerment which we preached to our clients all the time that you can choose what works for you and that this is a choice and an option for therapist who explore and it’s okay to explore and it’s okay to realize that it’s very possible for most and if not all therapist to have this option.
Perry: Fantastic and so we’re going to be diving into specialties and niches here but before we do. Let me tell our audience a little bit more about you for those that might not be familiar with Zynnyme and Miranda Palmer yet.
Miranda: I’m a marriage and family therapist by training and I built a cash-based private practice during the recession. I hadn’t plan to do it. I sorted stumbled. I felt really guided and led after having my son and I realized that to have the kind of work-life balance I wanted to have and to be the kind of mom to be that I wanted to be that I needed to be really smart about the way that I built a business and so I built my private practice and as I did it people started asking going, going, hey wait a minute, how are you doing that? And how did you do that so quickly and can you help me and it sort of snow balled over time to the point that Kelly and I joined and now we help a lot of therapist all around the world learn how to create practices that have that work -life balance that are really smart and intentional and that are about doing exemplary work with clients and making sure that you’re taken care off in such a way that you can keep doing this work because unfortunately, there’s a lot of people being ran out of their professions because they get really burnt out and they try to do things in a way that’s just not sustainable and then they feel bad that , well , I’m behind on my billing I’m behind on my notes and why am I not doing this and why am I doing that and then you look at the big picture and then go, do you see your life ? Do you see the time? Like, you’re really talking about you’re trying to cram 60-70 hours’ worth of work into a forty or fifty hour week and think that you have time for a life after that and the work we do is really tough.
Perry: It really is. So you hadn’t planned on opening a private practice or you hadn’t planned on opening a cash-based private practice?
Miranda: I had not planned on opening a private practice at all. In fact, when I got licensed I was at a party and there was a psychologist that I had been friends with, he’d been one of clinical supervisors but he was also like a family friend and he said, “oh Miranda, you’re licensed, you’re going to open a private practice and I looked and I laughed and I said, “oh no.” I said private practice is not for me I was like, do you know how isolated those people get, like that would just be terrible, like I don’t want anything to do with private practice and so it was really a significant shift and-this is a little bit off topic but it was very unexpected even through my entire pregnancy, I’d planned to go back to work. I made a pretty good income and so I was able adjust my hours a little bit so that I could go back part-time, full timish , somewhere in that midst, kinda place to put my son into childcare several days a week but not every day and then literally had for lack of better description like a spiritual moment of that’s not what my higher part wants me to do and that’s not what I’m supposed to do and I’m supposed to quit my job and I put in my notice the next day.
Perry: Oh man, that’s scary.
Miranda: It was like a Sunday and I was supposed to go back that Tuesday. I went back to work but went in on Monday and I put in my notice and I really was tough because I’m such a worker bee, I loved at point in my life like being an employee and making bosses happy and this did not make my boss happy in any way, shape or form. There was yelling. It was actually a really traumatic experience.
Perry: Oh no….
Miranda: But it was what was supposed to happen so I started really having not budgeted for that financially to for the loss of income. I hadn’t done a business plan. I hadn’t studied anything about private practice, like I literally was just completely green.
Perry: So here you are jumping into private practice and I no idea what you were gonna do so you needed to be really smart about how you built your practice.
Miranda: Oh yeah.
Perry: How did you do that? When you said that you need to be smart about how you built your practice? What are some things that you considered that you feel were really wise choices as a business owner and an entrepreneur?
Miranda: I think the biggest thing is that I went out and I started getting information because I knew that I didn’t know so I started reading and I started listening to teleconferences cause that’s what they were back then cause there was no webinar. I’m not old cause everyone is like and I’m like no, I’m old so I started to listed to teleconferences and started to have conversations with people and chats and one of the best pieces that I got in that process is from Casey Trevough was to sit down and look at how many hours a week do you want to be seeing clients? What is the big picture? How much time do you really have to work? Like what will all that look like and what’s the income you need to make? You’re going to be thinking about taxes and all these other things and to really do the math and so when I did the math and looked at what my average hourly rate need to be, there was this place where it really kept me in check regarding what needed to happen financially and I really just looked at it and went, this is where it needs to be no ifs, ands or buts and I kind took my own stuff out of it. I think that happened that was a blessing in disguise and it’s not always necessarily accurate and I’m not sure that it was completely accurate at the time but as I was talking with people again, getting information and talking with colleagues and I said OK, well, I’m gonna start a private practice and I go well how long have you been licensed? Have you been licensed two years and they said no I haven’t and they said, “well, you’re not gonna be able to get on any insurance panels.” Now, sometimes that’s true, sometimes, it’s not but I was naive enough at the moment, somebody said, you can’t get on any insurance panels before two years and I went, Ok, I can’t get on any insurance panels and so it sort of took that whole thing out of mind and it was well there’s no other alternative, I have built a cash-pay private practice.
Perry: Blessing in disguise there.
Miranda: It was a blessing in disguise really, truly and I had friends that went through that process and the credentialing and all these things and then they looked at the whole process so it really and it also gave me a little bit permission so when I got pressure from colleagues which I did and I got pressure from referral sources, why aren’t you taking insurance? Why, I haven’t been licensed for two years, you know and thankfully the people in contact I had done trainings at this point. I was well known in the community. People came to me for consultation. I had been very active in my community and I had a lot of really good relationships so people that I was really great strong clinician so it wasn’t like, they were going like oh , you haven’t been licensed for two years so I’m going to refer to you. It was, “wow, you’re a really strong clinician but gosh, what do I do? you know, people need insurance and you don’t take insurance and so it kinda put me in this funny position and I always when I been license for the 2 years or the 5 years that some panels take then I’ll reassess and when it came to that point my practice was in a place where it was like, no.
Perry: That’s amazing.
Miranda: It was not a necessity, I did have referrals from insurance panels that had called me and tried to recruit me because of my specialist as a trauma therapist and doing AMDR and what have you and it was always a really interesting conversations. I had some that were great like Walgreens, oddly enough has an EAP (Employee Assistance program) and I do up three sessions and they have a standard rate. This is rate. Their rate was actually higher than my rate.
Miranda: At the time, yeah, it was crazy. I think it was 150$ and at that time, I was at 125$ for the living expenses and everything and that area and asked them, well, I only charge 125$ and they were like, you cannot bill, you must bill 150$. This is what we bill, no if or buts and I was like, well, if you insist.
Perry: If you insist, I’ll take the raise.
Miranda: Right, one of things I learnt again Perry, I asked alot of questions and so I was always very clear about asking about what paperwork is involved? What the time periods was, what the turnaround was for that process because even without raise of 150$ and working with someone for three sessions if it took years to get paid or the paperwork took hours then that wouldn’t make sense for me because I wanted my practice to be a streamlined as possible from a business practice because I really understood that it’s about doing solid clinical work and I don’t really like sitting doing business stuff. You know, I’m not like the person who wants to sit down every week and do ten hours a billing. I’m gonna put that off and procrastinate it because that’s not my favorite thing.
Perry: I won’t even call that business stuff. I’d called that paperwork. Busy work. Yeah. Business stuff is sitting down and what you do in the beginning. Looking down and seeing how many hours per week that you want to see clients. Give a big picture of how many hours you want to work? What’s the income you need to make? Think about taxes and doing the math and figure out where your average hourly rate is. That’s the business stuff. The paperwork, that’s no fun, nobody wants to be doing that right?
Miranda: I think I made that distinction between I actually like documentation when it comes to like the paperwork and doing my clinical care and my clinical files, It’s a very cathartic experience for me at the end of the session to do my documentation or my paperwork and then there’s this other thing of like logistical organization trying to get billed. Not my favorite thing and I need it to be as streamlined as possible , that was even why I was really an early adopter or of electronic health records and practice management systems. I consulted with a lot of people who have started programs and was beta testing for them, sometimes for good and bad experiences with that but I understood from my work and my previous life as I say it that working in corporate America that when you have things outlined and you have a clear process and you automate the task that can be automated then it really frees you up to do the important and to do great customer service and to give people good experience. When you’re bogged down on the details then it really sucks you energy. You know one of the things that people really struggle with private pay is having that conversation with clients and feeling like a sense of obligation when a client says, well, why don’t you take my insurance and one of the things that I got really comfortable being honest about because I’m a real person and they’re a real person is to be able to say, hey, I could totally help you find somebody awesome on your insurance panel. You give me list and I’ll do my best to get you connected. For me, I just had to make a decision that I really wanted to be a really great happy present therapist and I just can’t do the insurance and be happy. They drive me a little crazy and just being kind of playful about it and being really real and most clients will go, oh yeah, seriously, they drive nuts too and they would often call other therapist and not get phone calls back cause people are over worked and not being able to schedule out for a weeks, they would go to therapist who were falling asleep or wouldn’t remember what they talked about. They didn’t give them a good continuum of cognitive care versus they would have an experience with me where like I knew them and I knew their story and I had enough mental energy to sit down not just , oh, I took good notes but I would recall because I’m only seeing fifteen, eighteen, maybe max of like twenty clients a week and I ‘m working with them doing trauma work long-term do I’m pulling out something and going , I recall that you were telling the story three weeks ago about , lalala and they were like, “wow, you remember that, or I remember in our first session , you said this. Wow, you remember that and I’m like, yeah.
Perry: You’re doing better clinical work because you’re not doing all the billing and paperwork to see so many more clients.
Miranda: It means something when somebody says like, well, my best friend, Katie, yeah Katie, oh god. You know like people feel really cared for and so I think that’s powerful but I know we’re like so off-topic.
Perry: Definitely is. Well, this all great stuff Miranda and I even gave you the warning before we started and so it’s totally fine. I love seeing where the conversation takes us but I would like to dive into something you mentioned before regarding your specialty when you started you private practice, you were getting alot of referrals because you were known for doing really great trauma work and EMDR. When set out and started your own private practice, did you set out with that intention of focusing on that niche or how did sort of evolve for you?
Miranda: It was such a process, I had probably than even know as a trauma therapist, I was known as a domestic violence and sexual assault specialist and when I thought about being in practice on my own , the idea of advertising to do domestic violence work did not sit well with me and it didn’t feel safe to me . You know, I had worked in places where we had to be on lock down. I’ve been threaten by my clients’ partners and things like that and had really worked in some intense crisis situation in the hospital and so I’d originally kind of like went down this path of like , ” I don’t really know,” I’m gonna figure this out and I got a lot of information that I needed to really specialist but I was scared of specializing in domestic violence and my view point was very narrow and thinking, I either have to do domestic violence or I need to figure out something else and so I ended up initially niching in overworked Christian women specifically and I did the whole website thing and it was all about that , like nothing else, nothing general, just all about that and my first referral that came from my website after I did this was a man with sex addiction issues.
Perry: Oh gosh. Wow.
Miranda: And what was said, “I chose you because I really felt like you could understand what my spouse was going through and I thought like, isn’t that interesting, right. It was very clear to me from the beginning that when people saw and they got a sense of your compassion and empathy that it doesn’t necessarily keep you as narrow as you think it does but there’s actually a broad piece.
Perry: And so, time-line wise, when was this if you don’t mind me interjecting in you private practice. Was this a few months in? Was this a year in? Give us sort of sense of where….
Miranda: No, no, no, so this is 2007 and this is like 3 weeks in I’m niche. I’m niche for overworked Christian women. This my thing. Here’s my something that I think is really powerful that this is information that I didn’t get is there was this huge pressure to pick one specialty , having to be known for that and known for that only and to have you whole website just about that one thing but there wasn’t a lot of….. There was no training about doing market research about looking at who else is out there. There was no room for how you could have one broad specialization and some sub-specialties. There was sort of like no room. It was either you’re gonna have this generic practice that’s like everybody else and you’re just gonna list that you do everything under the sun or that you’re gonna have that super-super ultra-specific niche.
Perry: And where was this pressure coming from?
Miranda: It was coming from the training that I was getting.
Perry: Okay. So these teleconferences that you were participating in?
Miranda: Exactly: And at the time, I knew something didn’t feel right but I couldn’t quite figure it out and what I realize later and it’s actually one of the reasons that I started coaching and consulting and didn’t just refer out was that like the consultants that I was working with were down in the L.A were there were hundreds of therapist who all had websites and who were all on psychology today and there was pages and pages of whatever and it was a different vibe versus I’m Modesto, California during the recession , they are five people total on psychology today, only one other person had a website and it wasn’t up to date. Like, there was so many different things of where that process and so when I realized it that I liked the specialization aspect, I loved talking. I mean one of things that’s really nice about niching when it comes to your marketing is that it’s more aligned with what we do in the session with a client that we look at them and we ask them questions and we get to know them and then we share and we go along the path of where that process end but when you’re trying to do that everybody, right, if you’re trying to like talk to the world , if you’re trying to talk to everybody, you end up speaking to nobody right cause you’re just at are you depressed and you can’t get out bed? Are you anxious and you can’t sleep or are you this or you that? And you just have list of thousand questions and people are like “bleh”, it just doesn’t feel good and it doesn’t feel engaged versus saying, it’s really tough to find someone that you can talk. It’s really tough to find someone that you can trust. It’s really tough to find the kind of therapist that is going to help you break through the blocks that you are trying to figure. You know some of specialties include: Depressions, clickable page, anxiety clickable page, couples work clickable page and then to talk and call out on that individual page, hey, here’s how I work with clients or this what you’re probably experiencing if you’re looking for marriage therapy. This is probably what you’re experiencing if you resonate with word anxiety and this is what you look when you have clinical depression. then you can just really speak to the heart of the person and what’s really cool that it’s not just and I think this is really important for you guys to know that having niche mentality whether you choose one niche or you have several that it’s really about removing barriers to people getting help, right. This is not just that like it well it get you more clients and you’ll make more money and you’ll be able to do the work that you love. It’s that when you speak to people in a way that connects with them at a heart they feel hope. They feel like wow, maybe I can really have my life be the way that I want it to be. I remember the treatment planners, I know that this is like out of your purview but the other people listening will get it but these treatment planners and it was like a little booklet and you would click through and be like Ok, I’m working with this person who has depression or they have suicidal thoughts and it would go through and it would have like your long -term goals and your short-term goals and your interventions or what have you and one of the things that I would laugh and especially like when I worked in the psychiatric hospital and you have all these people looking over your nose , you want to make sure that the care that you’re giving really aligns and the wording aligns with what is the standard of care for the work that you’re doing. Under every single issue, installation of hope, installation of hope, installation of hope, every single issue; what the first thing you need to do? You need to give someone the sense that this can get better. You need to instill an amount of trust that you can be their guide and you can come alongside them and that they don’t have to live like this forever even if they have an issue that is not going to go away that they have a better quality of life from this process. Really good niche marketing, really good niche material on your website gives people that. They go, “oh my gosh, this person is speaking to my heart. They get me, if they’re talking like this, I can’t be the only one, right . Wow, they just gave me something to do even if this isn’t the person for me I now feel excited that like maybe, I could find the person. I feel more like I could get on the phone with this person and have a conversation and maybe it’s not as terrifying as it was before. I mean the process of calling up a stranger and saying, “Hi, I’d like to talk about psychotherapy.”
Perry: It’s hard.
Miranda: It’s really hard and I remember my experience in looking for therapist being in school and feeling very encourage because I was very focused and they’d bribe you to get psychotherapy. Every hour of psychotherapy, they counted towards three hours towards your three thousands of California.
Perry: Holy Cow.
Miranda: Right, so I was like, I’m gonna get therapy, this is going to be fantastic and I was really excited about the process and then I started making phone calls and then I got a lot less excited , Perry. It was really an uncomfortable experience. Nobody had websites. I knew nothing about them. I had to go ask people and then people will go , what are you looking for help with and you can get general and go , “oh well, I’m in school and I just need therapy. You’re not gonna say well, here’s some of my issues and things I’d like to dig into because that feels like really uncomfortable.
Perry: Thank goodness for websites now, you can just email right. It makes it a lot easier.
Miranda: No, nobody had email at that point either. An email, I don’t know like to write out what I was looking for. I mean, that would’ve been uncomfortable too and I ended having to schedule like initial sessions with 3 different therapist and go in and pay three therapist in order to find out of whether they were a good fit for me , right and it was a really different sort of experience and there were people…. and this is going to sound really silly but I was really willing to invest and do this as private pay but like I went into one woman and it was like 115$ but I had 20$ so I gave her a 120$ and she’s like “oh, we’ll apply the five to the next one, she had no change for me. Okay fine, and then we go and by the end of the fifty minute session I knew all about her daughter and her husband, all these things.
Perry: Yeah, I’m not coming back for a second session.
Miranda: No, I thought, “man and I gave her an extra 5$ tip.” Like, this is frustrating. This is so uncomfortable and I wonder you know, if there was more information out there about her could I have been more selective out of that. You know to be going from therapist to have that.
Perry: Are you sort of implying that if you have a niche, if you have a specialty, you’re going to be able to more effectively weed out potential clients who might not be a good fit for you and instead allow you to work more closely with ones that want to work with and will be engaged in the work that you are doing together and you’ll be a happier clinician overall, is that fair to say?
Miranda: Yes, 100,000 times yes.
Perry: So Miranda, what happens if someone is listening to this show right now and they’re thinking, I need clients now. What if they were in the same position that you were when you first opened your private practice? You had no idea what you were going to do. You just quit. You didn’t save up the money to offer against the income loss and you need clients now, you want to work with anyone. You have the skills. You like dealing with a variety of issues and topics. You’re not sure which ones you wanna focus one at this point in your career and you just need clients. How would you respond to that?
Miranda: I have like a thousand responses to that. This is where I’m gonna go with that so you say yes to everybody, You have this great diverse case load and in some of the things you have a lot of experience with some of them, you don’t. Okay. What are odds that with, let’s say everything goes well and you get twenty very diverse clients. The first twenty people you call, they are coming on a weekly basis. What are the odds that are you are able to give them a 9 or 10 out 10 experience with every single one of those people when you’ve got one person who needs intense OCD work and then another person really working on personality disorder stuff and that needs a different level of care and boundary setting and then you have this other person who is dealing with some intense trauma stuff you know that I’ve done a little bit of work on but like wow, this is stretching you and then you’ve got 3 different couples that are coming in that are just fireworks and blowing up in your office and you’re doing all these things that are stretching and growing you and you’re seeing where your edges are and you’re seeing the places where you need training in but there’s like ten different places that you’re noticing that you need training in . How do you choose? Where do you get consultation? Where do you focus that energy? You only have so much times in a day. You can’t read book on every single issue that you’re working on simultaneously in that week. Right. You can’t really dig in and be absolutely fricking great at everything. For the most part, there are people who are awesome , awesome clinicians and they have enough stuff under their belt and they have enough training and they happen to be great clinicians because we do know from research that years of experience and hours of training do not necessarily co-relate with outcomes for clients unfortunately, right. What we do that co-relates with outcomes for clients is that these therapist , these super shrinks this is from Scott Millers research that these super shrinks are very focus on figuring out and checking in on a very regulate basis as whether the outcomes and interventions they’re doing are working and are very engaged with the client that they tend to really focus in a particular area and try to get better in the specific place, like, just like a violinist isn’t trying to learn twelve different pieces a week. They work on piece, that’s just outside their comfort level until they get it perfect and then they stretch their edges and then they work on another piece and they work on it until they get perfect but that seems to happen for high performers in general as well as for super shrinks that they really focus in on an area and they try to get better not just better as broad sense. I’m gonna get better with engagement and I’m gonna get better with couples and I’m gonna bet better with OCD. I’m gonna better with anxiety. I’m gonna get better with narcissism. I’m gonna somehow become better with all these things at the same pace simultaneously and I don’t know about you but that’s not how I grow.
Perry: Definitely not. We focus on mental health professional here, if we were trying to build websites for therapist and dentist and pediatricians and interior decorators, we were never be able to expand and be excellent in this one specific niche .
Miranda: Yeah, so even within a specialization, okay, I now want to say one more thing on this topic, so you have twenty clients and let’s say you have a pretty good success rate, a quarter, a half of those people have an amazing experience with you, right, like they go away raving about you and going oh my gosh, this person is really great but half or three quarter go , “eh” therapy, okay, sure, right , what does that do ? Is that person is going to go out and look for another therapist? Are they gonna go, I tried therapy but it didn’t work when people around them say , do you know a therapist, well, I went to this one but I don’t know it was just “eh”, right versus when you have you know whether its five or ten clients and they all rave about you . They go oh my god, this is the most life changing experience, you have to go and see this person that is worth more in growing your business and giving hope and having a good reputation for a profession. Here’s the truth guys, our reputation professionally is not super-great all time and I don’t think it’s because there’s a bunch of terrible therapist out there. I think it’s because there’s bunch of therapist out there who’s been sold this bill of goods that they’re supposed to be awesome at everything and so we try to be awesome at everything and when it doesn’t work out we go , “well, you know that client was just resistant to therapy, you know like well, they gotta come half way,” and that’s absolutely true but my experience has been that when I’m really engaged with a group of people and when I feel that there’s not a click on the phone and my stomach starts to drop a little before they even come in the room that I would much rather connect them and refer them to someone where I know intuitively and for my work with other therapist , wow, I think this person would be great, they work really well with this issue and I think you’re gonna be a really good fit and I’ve had excellent luck with being able to cause I get know therapist and I really listen to the person on the call and I really trust my intuition to give really good referrals , that is better for my practice and for my bottom line financially and for my mental health and for leaving space and room for the clients who really need me than anything else.
Perry: Absolutely is, that’s really well put there Miranda. So you spoke a lot about niching and having a specialty and the benefits but one thing I think we sort of glossed over and haven’t dug into enough is the specifics of the benefits of niching, specifically for a cash-based private practice versus perhaps if you’re more insurance, do you see and what are the benefits in your mind of having a specialty if you’re going to be solely on private pay.
Miranda: I think one of the biggest benefits is it really focuses on your efforts, one of the things if you’re and this can be true even if you’re on insurance panel but definitely true when you’re private pay is that you have to connect in and let people know that you’re there and that you can help, right, a lot of therapist go, well, where’s the best place to market? Like where should I tell people , like what should I do specifically and there are a thousand, hundreds of thousands and places to market your private practice but when you know who your audience is in a direct way and you know how you best work and who you are as a therapist then you can focus done and then you can probably, you know throw out 90% of the options and really focus on that 10% and go ok, you know what , I really working with moms, moms who are stay at home moms , who are professionals and decided to do great work with their kids and now they’re starting feel like they don’t who they are any more and they lost their identity and their kids getting older and their trying to figure out life and find balance get themselves back so where’s this person, this high achieving mom. She’s probably going and she’s involves with PTA, she’s got her kids in sport activities, dance, she’s probably on Pinterest. Is this a woman of faith? Is this not? So you can go down the line and get a picture of that person and then focus your efforts and really go to the places and make sure you’re information is there as opposed to just putting it everywhere and you’re just walking in the coffee shops everywhere in your area, you know tossing business cards that just say therapist, right, you know if you don’t have a specialty, it’s just gonna say, I’m a therapist and you can really be focused in a whole different way. It also helps you think about who to network with. You know a lot of times therapist are taught how to network and connect with other therapist so they go okay, I’m gonna get to know the therapist and then we can refer to each other but most of these therapist are doing what you talked about , oh my god , I need clients so I’m going to take anybody , so you’re not getting any referrals from these people, they are just hoping that you’re gonna refer to them which you are cause you are gonna be a great therapist niche and you’re never gonna take a client and I’ll say this , please don’t take a client just because you need the money , like if your gut says this is not the client for you, do not take that person for the money, I don’t think that is ethical, that is not the highest and best for you or for that client but you can sit down and think about who does this person have relationships with? Who are they going to? Who might there CPA be? Why would they need a lawyer? Would they need a lawyer? What are they struggling with? And so you can network and niche with those people, maybe they’ve gone to the acupuncture person, maybe there are doing a lot of granola and like, you know alternative healthcare kind of stuff because they’re a seeker, they’re educated and they feel like traditional medicine isn’t getting it for them or what have you, right like so you can be really focus and reach out to the people that already have relationships.
Perry: So, that’s a lot of speaking about also crafting your ideal client, is that correct?
Miranda: Like for you guys crafting your ideal client is knowing who you really wanna work with in a deep way and having that written down somewhere and trusting that you know a lot about the people that you work with and you can put together like persona or what have you and know that even with that persona, you’re gonna have so much variability that’s gonna come into, just like my silly example of the guy with porn addiction calling me for over a Christian woman. Like , you’re gonna have a lot of variability , so don’t think you’re gonna get carbon copies of the same person but it does help to focus your efforts and allow to be more intentional and relational and because you’re not throwing business card at everybody, you have a little bit more time to build relationships because people refer to people they like , know and trust.
Perry: Absolutely do.
Miranda: You know, it’s not just about going to a networking meeting and going, I’m a therapist, I’m a therapist, I’m a therapist and throwing your business card like feels icky and gross, you know, don’t be that person because you think you ought to.
Perry: And people are gonna refer to you more often, they are gonna remember you. They are gonna remember , hey, that’s the therapist who works with over-worked Christian women so when I meet somebody who fits that mold and they are looking for a therapist it’s gonna be easier to refer to them.
Miranda: Yes, and this is a great example, I don’t know, Kimberly Slagel in Seattle, Washington and I’ve lived there and so I got the pleasure of meeting here in person and it was really great cause I spoke with her and she had been like watching the stuff and we spoke doing bootcamp or something like that and she said I think we’re gonna try this on and I’m like ok, and then like we spoke again and she was okay , so here are the things I tried; I tried being really general, I figured if I was only getting this any referrals that I would cut my price in half and then I get twice as many referrals and it really wasn’t it. She just got paid half as much and so she just started going through this process of clarifying her niche and her specialization. Now, she’d been running this networking and training group for therapist for several years, running, participation, organizing what have you and one of the things she finally did and got comfortable was talking about what she was most passionate about even though she had training in a lot of different areas. She’d gotten to know a these people, they knew she was a therapist. They knew that she worked in West Seattle, all these different things but she finally said the words, I really love working with families. I love working with couples who lalala, she said this in a very specific way, after having known these people for years and basically getting no referrals in that time, you know, despite being well known and well -liked and a sweetheart and all this stuff and guess what happened, all of a sudden people have a place to put her in their brain, right. If you only know one therapist then they can go in the therapist file, if you’re a therapist and you know 5 therapist, you need to put them into a file folder that’s more than just therapist for them to be memorable and all of a sudden she started getting referrals after years of doing this and thinking like this doesn’t get me referrals, she started getting referrals because people knew who she would be doing good work with and I can feel confident.
Perry: They remembered here, they knew who she was and she stood out.
Perry: Perfect. Miranda, this was amazing, you do such great work and I’m so glad and so grateful that you carved so much out of your busy schedule here to chat with us and to share with our audience your expertise. Any parting advice to our listeners here who might be questioning the value of having a niche?
Miranda: I think the biggest thing is to realize that you don’t necessarily have to pick just one thing right, but you need to just speak to just one think per page really which is really…..
Perry: Per Page on your website….
Miranda: Important…per page on your website. I mean we’re talking a little bit on your website in this process, you’re a website guy, I mean that’s probably how people connect in with you but also to realize that niching and specialization is about the highest and best service for clients. If you go back to what they taught you in grad school, nobody every taught you that were supposed to take every single client that came to you. It was very clear in all of your clinical training that you were referring out and you were supposed to begin specialize training and that you’re supposed to be finding other experts and you should know your orientation and you should know who you work with and send away the rest. It was very clear and then you would get into a non-profit and we start doing this work and there’s all this pressure and they say , well, there’s no one else to send , well just do your best . You’re better than nothing. You know and then you start to, if you’re gonna refer everybody out , you’re never gonna learn anything and then you get all of this pressure and then you get this whole different kind of training that doesn’t align with best practices. It doesn’t align with research. It doesn’t align ultimately with what is best clinical care. Everyone who is listening to this I want to freed up to give the best clinical care out there. We need to raise the bar of our profession. This is going to raise the bar of how you are financially taken care of and you can do this work in a long term and ultimately like, we’re gonna change the world, right one person at a time who has the great experience doing this wonderful shift and change and they’re gonna have this impact with all the other people that they are engaged with in their life. I mean like, it’s huge. I love Kelly Higdon, my partner, business partner. She always talks about how we’re changing family trees, right, that this isn’t just….it’s huge and you know the other piece of my big vision is that it frustrates me that we’re the worst paying Master’s degree. We have the number one and number two spot between social work and psychology and it means that a lot of people don’t go into this profession. It means there’s a lot therapist that aren’t taking vacations, are not taking sick time and they are not providing the best clinical care and then it just pull everything down and a lot people are going well, I tried therapy, let me go life coaching . Sometimes with really awesome people and sometimes with people who are under-qualified, under-trained and poorly trained, it’s not right.
Perry: Miranda, thank you again. This was amazing. Where can our audience find you connect and learn more about and the work that you’re doing?
Miranda: Yeah. Go and hang-out at Zynnyme.com. We have free monthly webinars. Just look at the events page, we’ve got some other people say that there “awesome blog post”.
Perry: I’d say that they are pretty awesome.
Miranda: I even read some awesome guest post from awesome people like Perry and here we have some awesome advanced trainings. We have our business school for boot camps for therapist which is the A to Z which is the largest private practice resource on the planet where we train you and all the moving parts of your practice beyond just the marketing so we want to help support you, tons of free training. Like you can go right now, I don’t recommend this but you go right now and get ten hours of free training just right there on demand video training on private practice. Your brain will explode, you want get anything out of it if you’re try to do it like all in a row but it’s there whenever you need it.
Perry: If you’re listening to the podcast right, you’re invested, you want to be growing your private practice and the work that Miranda and Kelly and Kelly was on episode three of the private pay mini-series. The work that you both are doing is absolutely amazing. You guys if haven’t checked out Zynnyme yet, please go check them out at zynnyme.com. They do such amazing work. Your private practice will change because of the work that they are doing in a very positive way. We have links to their website, some of their trainings and everything that we’ve talked about in this week’s show notes brightervison.com/privatepay6. Miranda, thank you again for being on. This was fantastic, always great chatting with you and getting to pick your brain a bit here.
Miranda: Absolutely Perry, anytime.
Perry: Alright everybody, we will see you next week for the seventh and final episode of the therapist experience mini-series on becoming a private pay private practice. To listen to this episode and see this week’s show notes brightervsion.com/privatepay6 and to listen the previous episodes on this min-series, you can head on over to brightervision.com/privatepay/. Thank you so much for listening and we will see you next week.