Investing in your business is critical to helping you grow a thriving, successful private practice. And it wasn’t until April invested in the Business School Bootcamp through ZynnyMe that she discovered her niche and her private practice exploded.
In This Episode, You’ll Learn:
Best Marketing Move for Business
- Networking and building relationships with colleagues
Links & Resources Mentioned in This Episode
- Business School Bootcamp
- Recommended Book: Building Your Ideal Private Practice by Lynn Grodzki
- April’s Website
Weekly Website Tip
Sorry! We were swamped this week and traveling across the country (AGAIN), so we never got the website tip put together this week. We’ll have one for you next week!
Thanks to April for joining me this week. Until next time!
TranscriptClick here to read the Transcript
Perry: In this episode of the therapist experience, I’m speaking with April Forella from April Forella Child and Family Therapy. This is The Therapist Experience episode number 16. Welcome to The Therapist Experience. The podcast where we interview successful therapists about what it’s really like growing a private practice. I’m Perry Rosenbloom, the founder of Brighter Vision, and I’m so excited to introduce our guest today April Forella from April Forella Child and Family Therapy. April, are you prepared to share your therapist experience?
April: Yes Perry, I am. I am so excited to be here.
Perry: Awesome. I love when people are excited to be here because I’m excited to be here and we’re just going to have a great time. Alright, April Forella is a licensed mental health counselor. She’s offered a wide range of counseling and psychological services since entering the field in 2003. She provides counseling and psychotherapy services in her private practice, brief and longer term therapy for children and adults. April is a trained EMDR therapist and works with clients who’ve experienced traumatic or stressful events. EMDR has helped her clients find relief from anxiety, depression, and trauma. April also has 20 years of experience working in business She worked in Ogilvy & Matter Advertising in Detroit for 12 years while completing her BA in psychology. She moved to South Florida to complete her graduate education at Palm Beach Atlantic University. April, I gave a little overview of you there but why don’t you take a minute, fill in the gaps from that introduction and tell us a little bit more about you personally and about your practice?
April: Okay. Well, my practice is in Jupiter, Florida and I’m located just about five miles from the beach so I really like the beach and that’s why I pursued graduate work here in South Florida to get closer to the beach. Moving from Michigan where you have cold winters, it ain’t closer to the warm weather and the beaches. That was kind of what drew me to South Florida was to complete my master’s and in completing the education you have all your agency work and different aspects. That’s kind of a little bit of an overview but what specific questions might I answer for you?
Perry: That was perfect, April. Can you let me know a little bit more– So, Detroit to Florida. That’s quite a transition. I went to school at University of Michigan and I just know how awful those winters are. It would make everybody want to be in therapy. Hahaha.
Perry: But I love Michigan, it’s a beautiful place just not in a winter time. Hah. But anyways, how long did you move to Florida? Let’s figure out that timeline here.
April: Okay. I’ve been here 14 years and it’s amazing how quickly time has gone by. I started graduate school in 2002 and that was– I graduated in 2004. It was quite a journey. Once you get your master’s degree completed– It was a master’s in counseling psychology. Then you have to get your experience in doing jobs that are in the field and initially I was a case manager and that was several years doing case management to agencies, and then that led to eventually doing therapy and getting hours under supervision. So it’s quite a process. You get your master’s completed but then you have to shift and then begin to get your experience and all your hours accomplished so that you can sit for the state exam. So it’s definitely a lot of hard work.
Perry: As any good never is, right?
Perry: And if you chose to open your own practice you can just quadruple that amount of hard work, but the joy and the pleasure that brings of owning your own business and being an entrepreneur far outweighs the hard work, in my opinion. Would you agree?
April: I absolutely agree. I am a very determined person and I don’t let hard work deter me.
Perry: April, how long have you been in private practice for?
April: I’ve been in private practice for three years.
April: Thank you. Prior to private practice I was part of a group practice for five years. So in a sense, being a part of the group practice I was able to kind of get a feel for what private practice would look like in a sense. I mean, I got referrals through the group practice, so I didn’t have to do the marketing piece. That’s different.
Perry: What was it that made you want to transition from working in a group practice to owning your own private practice?
April: That was always my goal, from the beginning when I pursued my bachelor’s degree. I just had a dream and just knew what was going to be the end goal. All the hard work, all the education, the end goal was going to be to be in private practice.
Perry: Perfect. If you have that goal send out to start with. It’s going to make it that much easier to pave that path and accomplish that goal. April, one thing we really love exploring and find really fascinating with therapists is the why. Just like you worked to explore the why with your clients, we want to hear your story and figure out what made you start working with children and families and really specialize in EMDR.
April: Okay. Well, when I was first doing agency work I started working with children that were in the foster care system. I really had a heart and passion for the kids that were separated from their families, have been either abused or neglected or abandoned. And I just had a lot of compassion and just enjoyed working with them, coming alongside them and being someone that really cared about them and wanted to be on the path within to help as they were experiencing such challenges in their life.
Perry: So do you primarily work with children in your practice right now?
April: Well, I work with in aspect with children but then I also work with women with the trauma. And that leads to the EMDR piece. The EMDR would be for both the children and women. Right now it’s primarily focusing on using it with women in my practice.
Perry: So April, let’s take a step back here and let’s go back to a point in your career as a therapist where you could have called it quits. Where you were just as low as you could possibly be in your entrepreneurial journey and you were just ready to throw in the towel. Then, more importantly, share with us how you overcame that obstacle to continue down the successful journey that you’re on.
April: Probably was about a year ago and I invested in business bootcamp through some great business coaches, Kelly and Miranda from ZynnyMe because I just knew that all my experience in education was a great step but I needed coaches to kind of help me to just kind of refine the process and get real– Go deeper and get more specific and get the foundation built. So that has been the best investment that I’ve made in addition to redoing my website last year. Those are some aspects.
Perry: The ZynnyMe girls Kelly and Miranda– And we’ll have links to their website and business Bootcamp in this week’s show notes at brightervision.com/session15. But ZynnyMe girls and the work that they’re doing in helping educate therapists and coach them to be successful in private practice is just so invaluable and we hear all the time– We love working with clients who come from the bootcamp because they have this new sense of dedication and know how it is that they want to go about marketing and sales. That’s just so important, to have that differentiation out there. You invested in the business bootcamp about one year ago, what made you decide to make that decision? Tell us about how your private practice was at that time?
April: I was getting clients but I just knew that I needed to– I think the one piece that became very clear to me– I mean there’s many aspects during the business bootcamp but realizing that I really needed to get clear about my niche. I don’t know if I’m saying that right.
Perry: Niche. you can say the reeches or the neeches, or the riches or the niches.
April: Yeah. So over the last year since being in business bootcamp I have begun to really get more clear on that, my niche, which is EMDR and the trauma work. That’s what I’m most passionate about and just finding ways to really get that message out and have that be a part of my website, my business Facebook page, any of the social media outlets that I’m using. That’s been part of the process.
Perry: Perfect. You’ve come such a long way in the last year from where you were to where you are today. And especially over the last three years in private practice. One thing that we really see therapists struggle with in the early days is actually pricing themselves well. Would you mind sharing other audience what your current session rate is to see your clients and your journey to that rate?
April: Sure. My individual rate is 125. That would be for individuals. For family or for EMDR it’s 150. Family session would be 150, EMDR session if it went to, sometimes, as a 60 minute session, sometimes it’s 90, so it would be up to 150 for EMDR.
Perry: And were those the same prices you had before the business bootcamp?
April: No. Actually, in speaking with Miranda before I started the business bootcamp, she challenged me with my goals that I had in mind that I would need to raise my rate. And I took her advice and I did, and it’s been moving forward since.
Perry: Would you mind sharing what your rate was before?
April: My rate before was 100 dollars or individual.
Perry: April, that’s a pretty substantial increase from where you were before. 25% increase there. Did you receive any push-back from existing clients or did they just sort of accept it pretty easily? Did you notice that potential clients were giving you push-back or did it just go over pretty smoothly?
April: I was really surprised but it went over smoothly. And it gave me a boost, it just increased my confidence and I just knew that it was heading in the right direction. It was a positive.
Perry: Fantastic. Rarely is raising your price as a negative in what we found. You deserve to be paid what you’re worth. And what your education and what all the skills and experience brings to the table. I’m so glad that you went through the bootcamp and it’s had such a positive impact on your career in private practice.
April: Yes, I’m very thankful.
Perry: One thing, I know you mentioned it once here but one thing we’ve found therapists struggle with is actually marketing their business. They feel that marketing or sales is kind of a dirty word, but there’s no way that you can build a thriving private practice without marketing. And when you were working in a group practice you mentioned that they were doing all the marketing for you, but once you moved into your own private practice for the last three years you’ve had to wear that hat. One thing we’d love to hear from you is what you feel was the single best marketing move that you made for your private practice and why do you feel like it worked so well?
April: Yes, I think networking and building relationships with colleagues has been my most effective marketing tool. I love networking and I love speaking to other like-minded colleagues, therapists that are passionate about serving their clients, building their business, and it’s paid off. Because those relationships are my number one source of referrals. I get my best referrals from other colleagues, especially colleagues that don’t work with children. So between the networking, and then the second piece would be my website and redoing it with Brighter Vision last fall.
Perry: Thank you for that compliment. Let’s go back to the networking piece though. We definitely feel like a website is a crucial part of any private practice but let’s check out your networking and how you build that network. Can you share with our audience what you did to build that network up? What was the first thing you did? Did you just hop on the phone and start calling people? Did you join some business groups or online groups?
April: Well, probably a mixture of both. I attend a monthly networking group and that’s one aspect. Then I’m part of a professional organization association and that’s the SFECC. There’s a lot of colleagues that I know through that association and I’m not afraid to pick up the phone and just reach out, have conversation, meet for coffee, lunch. Like I said, I’m very compassionate and personable person. I love people and I just like to connect and learn ways that we can kind of support one another.
Perry: Givers gain, right?
April: Yeah, absolutely.
Perry: Haha. So this monthly networking group is that specifically for mental health professionals or is it a different– Or is it all kind of professionals that meet together every month?
April: No, it’s for mental health professionals.
Perry: Wow. So what do you guys do? Do you have a set meeting place each month? Tell us more about it?
April: Well, it actually rotates.Sometimes it’s at one of the therapist office but then there are some treatment facilities that sometimes sponsor it. It’s offered during lunch from 12 to 1 and whoever is sponsoring it that month provides lunch and sometimes there’s a speaker. Sometimes it’s just an opportunity to introduce yourself, pass out your cards and just have conversation. It’s been really effective meeting new people.
Perry: And how many people are a part of that group roughly?
April: Probably about 20-30.
Perry: That’s a good-sized group. And how did you find out about it?
April: Through another therapist that I have worked with. We’ve worked together on some different cases and she told me about it and invited me to the group.
Perry: Fantastic. For me, personally, when I started my own business the number one way that I got my first clients is going to these networking groups and meeting other professionals. They weren’t necessarily in my business or in my industry but I started networking with people who were. When we were more of a search engine optimization company and actually would network with other web designers and web developers. Now as Brighter Vision, we’re networking and always trying to network with other great service providers out there that don’t do websites but are instead great tools and services or consultants that our clients could find helpful. Because there’s a natural synergy there. For you, networking with people who are not specialized in child therapy or not specializing in EMDR allows you to refer people to them and allows them to refer people to you, is that correct?
April: Yes, that’s very correct.
Perry: So April, one thing we haven’t touched on here which I would love to speak on is your business background. You spent 12 years working Ogilvy & Mather Advertising. Tell us a little more about that experience.
April: It was such a great time. I was a lot younger and it was a very dynamic group of people. I had a lot of great times that came out of working in that business. I was specifically the assistant to the creative team and they were very talented. It was just a lot of good energy and just a lot of fun. Very fast paced. We had a lot of creativity and just it really kind of helped me to see how advertising and marketing worked. The thing that’s different today is social media wasn’t on the scene like it is today, back when I was part of being at Ogilvy & Mather but it was a great experience. Lots of great people and learned a lot when I was there.
Perry: Is there anything from your experience there that you’ve been able to translate into being a small business owner and owning your own private practice?
April: Yeah. It takes a lot of hard work and you have to be determined, you have to know when to change things up or learn something new, when to invest. Yeah, you have to stay determined and know when it’s time to kind of change course.
Perry: Love it, April. You’ve given so much great advice here. With your business background, with your marketing background, with your group practice background you’re so qualified to be speaking to our audience here and helping them grow their practice. And one thing I love to explore is the fact of what they teach you in school, or in fact, don’t teach you. You got your master’s and completed all your training to become a therapist, not to get your MBA, but you always knew you wanted to open your own’ private practice. What’s the one thing that you wish you would have learned in school about starting your own business?
April: Well, probably everything.
April: Hahahahaha. I think there is so much room to bring in some aspect of marketing specific for therapist. Because our hearts are in the right place. We want to help people. But yeah, we have to wear that business hat that’s so important. You’re not going to be able to do great work as a therapist if there’s not a solid business plan marketing systems in place. So I think there’s room for great improvement, for something in graduate school to help therapists understand business.
Perry: You most certainly hope. Maybe what Brighter Vision needs to do is just write up a course and we can go around the country teaching it to therapists. Probably not. We’re too busy with websites these days. Hahaha. I think my wife would probably kill me if I travel any more than I do already, going to conferences. Alright April, now we’re going to move into the final part of our interview. The part we like to refer to as brighter insights. What I really love about this part is just sort of like this rapid fire Q&A where we get to jump into your head and get quick little soundbites that our audience members can use to motivate and inspire them throughout their week. April, are you ready?
April: Yes, Perry. I am.
Perry: What or whom inspired you to become a mental health professional?
April: You know? It was a calling and my compassion for people.
Perry: What do you do to clear your head and get a fresh start in your day?
April: I take time to be still, pray, sometimes walk on the beach.
Perry: And did you ever walk on a beach in Detroit? What would you do if you were in Detroit?
April: Haha. No, no walking on the beach in Detroit.
Perry: Hahaha. What are some tools you’ve used to leverage the power of technology in your private practice so that technology is no longer a hurdle but instead an asset?
April: That’s probably an ongoing process. I am on Twitter, I have a Facebook business page, and Pinterest. But definitely need to learn more ways to kind of streamline it to make it a little bit more, so it’s more like a flow. That’s an ongoing process, that area.
Perry: And it’s so tough with social media, for us too. There’s only so many hours in a day and there are– We tried some automated tools out there to help us with it but you sort of lose that personal touch that is just so important to have.
April: Yes, I agree.
Perry: What’s a quote that you hold near and dear? Something that you use and have looked to motivate you and inspire you throughout your life?
April: Okay, here it is, “If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you.” And that is by Zig Ziglar .
Perry: Love it. April, if you could recommend one book to our audience what would that book be and why?
April: I would recommend ‘Building Your Ideal Private Practice’ by Lynn Grodzki. And she does have an updated edition available. I just like that Lynn talks a lot about your ideal client and I think that speaks to developing your niche and getting clear about who it is that you want to bring into your practice.
Perry: Alright April, last question. If you move to a new city tomorrow and you did not know a single person there, and all that you had with you was your computer and 100 dollars to start a new private practice, what is it that you would do on your very first day?
April: I would create a Psychology Today directory and I would also setup some meetings to have coffee with colleagues.
Perry: Psychology Today is such a phenomenal referral source for all of our clients and I think for therapists around the country. They have done such a great job. For better or worse dominating the search results. So if someone is searching for therapists in city, Psychology Today is almost always going to be number one or two. So having your profile on Psychology Today is just of crucial importance.
April: I would agree, yes. It gives you great visibility.
Perry: It most certainly does. And April, do you have any parting advice for our listeners here?
April: Well, I would just say, stay determined, get coaching, and surround yourself with great people so that you can be successful.
Perry: Fantastic. Well April, where can our listeners find you to connect and learn more about you?
April: Well, they can go to my website which is www.aprilforella.com. They can like me on my Facebook page which they could get a link through my website or they can look me up on Psychology Today.
Perry: Perfect. And as always we’ll have all the links to the resources April has mentioned here and the ones that we’ve discussed in this week’s show notes over at brightervision.com/session16. April, thank you so so much for being generous with your time, expertise, and your knowledge. All the listeners here appreciate the great advice you provided and the therapist experience you have shared. Thank you again.
April: Thank you Perry so much. I hope you have a really good rest of your day.
Perry: Thank you April, you as well. And everybody out there listening thank you so much for tuning in today. If you have a question for us you can email it to us at email@example.com, and of course, if you’re interested in launching a website give us a ring. Brighter Vision is the worldwide leader in custom therapist website design. For less than two dollars a day we will build you a professional website that’s as unique as your practice. Provide you with unlimited technical support and complementary SEO so people will find you online. Head on over to brightervision.com and drop us a line through one of our contact forms to learn more. That does it for today. Thank you again so much for listening and we will catch you next week.