TTE 37: Starting a Private Practice is Not a Linear Journey
Entrepreneurship is never a linear journey. And if you’re going into private practice, you are an entrepreneur. In this episode of The Therapist Experience, Jihan Madyun from The Fulfillment Project shares her Therapist Experience and all the twists and turns of starting & growing her private practice.
Links & Resources Mentioned in This Episode
- Joe Sanok with Practice of the Practice
- Psychology Today
- Simple Practice
- Jihan’s Private Practice Website
Thanks to Jihan 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 Jihan Madyun from The Fulfillment Project. This is the Therapist experience, episode number 37. Welcome to the Therapist Experience. The podcast where we interview successful therapists about what it’s really like starting and growing a private practice. I’m Perry Rosenbloom, the founder of Brighter Vision, and I’m so excited to introduce our guest today Jihan Madyun from The Fulfillment Project. Jihan, are you prepared to share your therapist experience?
Perry: Alright, we are so glad to have you here, Jihan. Let me tell our audience a little bit about you here. Jihan, Madyun is an avid self-care advocate and licensed clinical social worker. Her interest in social work began as a college senior at the University of Maryland college park where she saw the prevalence of violence and incarceration involving youth in the Washington metropolitan area. After obtaining a master of social work degree from Howard University in Washington DC, Jihan developed a sense of experience providing direct services to at risk and vulnerable populations within the fields of child welfare, mental health, education, criminal justice, and substance abuse. Working with complex and challenging problems, Jihan developed adept skill and expertise in using her creativity to provide therapy, prevention education, crisis intervention, case management, and consultation all from a strengths based perspective. Jihan now seeks to help women in their 20s and 30s, move towards self-acceptance, personal growth, and wholeness through self-care, individual psychotherapy, groups and heart-centered workshops in private practice, The Fulfillment Project based out of Washington DC. Jihan, 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 our audience a little bit more about you personally and about your practice?
Jihan: Sure. I am in Washington DC. I’m originally from Los Angeles, California and I didn’t quite make my way to the field of social work initially. I actually wanted to go into the field of sports management and journalism.
Perry: That’s quite a contrast there.
Jihan: Yes, yes. Absolutely.
Perry: What brought you to social work then?
Jihan: I was a journalism major at The University of Maryland and journalism wasn’t working out so great and I was approaching my junior year, and I said to myself, I’ve got to graduate on time. And coincidentally family studies was the major that was going to help me to graduate on time. And I ended up loving family studies and a lot of the students that major in that degree go out to get a degree in social work. So that seemed to be the best next step. So that’s kind of how I ended up in the field of social work and I ended up fellowshipping at a non-profit in DC that advocated for youth that were being tried as adults, and for better improved policies. So that kind of got me into social policy work. So policy as we know kind of moved slow and that was not so exciting to me. So I said I really want to be on the ground working with youth. So that’s kind of how I really got into direct services and kind of started my full journey into therapy and case management. And all the things that social workers do.
Perry: So tell us about The Fulfillment Project, when did you start that and what is it that you love to work with, and how did you end up starting The Fulfillment Project?
Jihan: I started The Fulfillment Project a little over a year ago and I actually had the idea to start it several years ago, but because of fear and just being paralyzed by perfection I just couldn’t get started. So I contacted Joe Sanok of Practice of The Practice. And he became my consultant and he kind of really put the fire underneath me. So that’s kind of how I really got my private practice started.
Perry: And did you contact Joe while The Fulfillment Project was live or was that still an idea for you?
Jihan: So it was still an idea and I just didn’t quite know how to start. So I said, I got to get a consultant. So I did some research and there are so many great consultants out there, from Julie Hanks, to Zynnyme. So I really kind of gravitated towards Joe because of his podcast and all the great guests that he had on there. And just his perspective on private practice and not having to have everything together and be your authentic self. So that really resonated with me and so it really started with a consultation with Joe. So I said, okay, this is the start of my private practice journey.
Perry: So what were you doing when you contacted Joe? What were you doing for work then?
Jihan: I was working full-time at an agency. I’m actually still working full-time at an agency.
Perry: And growing The Fulfillment Project on the side then?
Jihan: Yes. So it has been a part-time private practice and it’s been slowly growing ever since then and kind of moved me in different directions with groups and workshops. So yeah, Joe was definitely the catalyst for that and I was definitely motivated by my own personal journey. So The Fulfillment Project emanated from my own personal self-care journey as a social worker and dealing with burnout and having to deal with the stressful caseload. At the time I was working in foster care and that was a real turning point for me in terms of my self-care and being able to take care of myself and feeling happy and passionate about what I did. So I thought, wow, there’s like other people who are going through the same phase as me particularly as a 20-30 something woman. And trying to figure out what direction you want your life to take and dealing with relationship issues and career issues. And I thought, wow, I wish there was a support group for women in their 20s and 30s. So that’s how a concept for The Fulfillment Project came to fruition.
Perry: And so you’re working full-time in an agency and you have essentially a part-time private practice but as we probably know, that quickly became a full-time job. How were you able to balance that and what were your plans like?
Jihan: So I see clients during the evenings, I see clients during the day, I do have a kind of alternative work schedule that allows me to see clients during the day on Mondays. And I just make it work however I can work.
Perry: That’s what you do, right? That’s what you have to do. So how many clients are you seeing right now and is it mostly one on one sessions or are you doing groups? Tell us more about what your current caseload is like?
Jihan: Sure. So right now I have about seven clients and they’re all individual clients. I am gearing up to start a mind body skills group this fall and incorporate mindfulness, visualization, creativity, and movement of women in the DC area. And yeah, I think groups are a wonderful way to build your practice and get your name out there. And I also want to be able to make myself known as someone that is kind of outside of box and uses a lot of creativity, but typically to connect with women in their 20s and 30.
Perry: I think that’s really crucial. As soon as you said that, using creativity in your practice, I was like, that makes more sense, that’s going to resonate so much with women in their 20s and 30s. So you’re purposefully crafting your private practice and the strategies that you take in therapy and how you implement therapy and working with your clients in private practice, and purposefully implementing it all to revolve around your ideal clientele, which are women in their 20s and 30s. How are you acquiring your clients though?
Jihan: I am attracting clients from Psychology Today and most definitely my website. I get a lot of awesome feedback about my website. Like, I got an email the other day about someone who said they love my website and wanted to work with me. I attract clients from Google, Instagram, Facebook, and definitely word of mouth through other therapists.
Perry: Fantastic. And you know, your website, I always say it’s still one of my favorites. It really just speaks to your target market and your target audience. So you’ve been able to slowly but surely grow a private practice and grow a brand, and by knowing exactly who you want to work with, it makes it that much easier to craft your brand. And through that you’re attracting your ideal clients and getting them to contact you.
Jihan: Absolutely. It’s key, especially for the demographic that I work with who have Instagram pages and that my colorful attractive visuals. So I feel like my website really communicated that really well.
Perry: And so Jihan, what are your plans? Do you want to keep this a part-time private practice or do you envision this growing to being a full-time private practice and eventually leaving the agency that you’re working at?
Jihan: I definitely envision going full-time hopefully sooner than later. Definitely private practice is not– Or starting a private practice is not always a linear process. And I definitely had some bumps in the road along the way and since my father recently died this past year, that was, you know, a huge setback for me. So I kind of had to kind of slow things down and kind of reevaluate some things. So yeah, I definitely want to take it full-time. I’m definitely hoping to build my group and workshop offerings, and hopefully even offer retreats in the near future. And incorporate more yoga and art, and I really want to create a real community for women in the DC area so that The Fulfillment Project is not just for those seeking therapy but for people who want to connect and heal in community.
Perry: You know, I really feel that the name of your business, The Fulfillment Project, speaks to that. And your strategies that you– Things that you want to implement with your private practice, it’s just going to resonate so well for your target audience. And you’re correct, starting a private practice is not a linear journey but neither is anything in life. Especially entrepreneurship. You have your ups and your downs. And I’ve spoken with so many therapists in this podcast that have started off with a private practice on the side while working a full-time job. And slowly stair-stepping up in terms of number of clients they’re seeing until they get to a certain level with like, okay, I’m going to take the leap and go full-time. Do you have a number of clients in mind that you feel will allow you to take that leap to go full-time?
Jihan: I think it’s kind of hard to say, I think especially with doing groups. I think with groups you can definitely get more paying for your buck so to say. So I definitely– For me ideally, I would love to work 25 hours a week and have at least two groups. So for me that would be my real sweet spot.
Perry: So when you say working 25 hours a week, do you mean seeing a certain number of one on one sessions a week plus your groups, or are you including marketing in that 25 hours? What do those 25 hours look like for you?
Jihan: Seeing 20 to 25 clients about individually, and maybe one or two groups in there. That probably would not include time spent on marketing and networking with other therapists.
Perry: Absolutely. So Jihan, one thing we’ve found therapists really struggle with over the years is marketing their business. You’ve crafted a really brilliant brand, great name, great target market. What has been the most effective marketing strategy for you so far and why do you feel like it’s worked so well for you?
Jihan: So the most effective marketing strategy for me has really been my website because there’s just a lot of content on there and hopefully my goals that people are able to look at my website and get a feel of who I am and how I work and what’s my approach. On the flip side I would also say networking with other therapists, and psychiatrists as well as other wellness professional has been really key to getting my business name out there and just letting people know who I am.
Perry: And how have you been connecting and working with these referral sources? Do you have a target in mind or is it just sort of been reaching out to people that you think might work pretty well for The Fulfillment Project?
Jihan: I’ve been really hitting the networking pavement pretty hard lately. I typically network with at least two to four therapists or like other wellness professionals a month. And I usually just send out an email to that person. Usually I do some research and get a feel of would I want to refer out to this person and would I want this person to refer clients to me? So I’m kind of looking for that person to share the same ideal client. So my client, she’s a woman in her 20s and 30s, she’s interested in her own self-care so she might like massages. I might contact a massage therapists in the city and email that person, see if they would like to connect over coffee or tea, and just meet up. And often times people agree and are super cool and awesome. So it’s been nothing but a great experience networking.
Perry: And so have you been tracking how that has been working for you? Do you know if therapists are sending more referrals your way or wellness professionals, yoga instructors, massage therapists? Have you been tracking this at all for your practice?
Jihan: I would say that it’s kind of hard to see who’s kind of converting the most clients for me. I think I do keep an Excel spreadsheet of everybody that I meet with and if I meet with them again and if a particular client came through one of those referrals sources. I don’t think it’s been long enough for me to see whether one person or the other has been referring more.
Perry: Well definitely to keep in mind is to make sure that in addition to tracking who you’re meeting with start tracking how many referrals you’re sending out, how many you’re getting back from a person. Obviously, you can just make an X next to their name or something for every referral. And that way you can start seeing, okay, massage therapists are actually a really great referral source for me. I should be meeting with more massage therapists because they’re sending me the best clients. And yoga instructors, not so much, I’m not getting any clients from them. So that way you’re able to focus your energy and your efforts into networking with other practitioners that will send you your ideal clients more often.
Jihan: Exactly, yes.
Perry: So Jihan, you went to school to become a therapist, not to get your MBA. But I guess you actually went to school to become a journalist but along the way you opened your own private practice, with the urging and consulting from Joe Sanok. You’ve branded yourself so well, but what’s the one thing that you wish you would have learned in school about starting your own business?
Jihan: I would definitely say just having the conversation about that it’s actually possible to own your own business and be a social worker or a mental health professional. So there was never really those conversations in grad school which is unfortunate. I didn’t really know that this was really even possible for me. So I think it would be really awesome just to even have like maybe a symposium or a seminar even continuing education about private practice or just starting a business. I think definitely marketing is so key and takes a lot of effort and time so I would love to have learned marketing fields and even learning how to create your business plan would have been awesome.
Perry: Absolutely. And did you create a business plan when you worked with Joe?
Jihan: Yes. I did. He definitely recommend this book called The business plan generator which is really a great tool, especially if you’re just getting started.
Perry: Business plan generator, great. Of course, we’ll have links to that book and all the other great resources Jihan has mentioned over at this week’s show notes at Brightervision.com/session37. Alright Jihan, now we’re going to move into the final part of our interview. The part that we really like to refer to as Brighter Insights. I really love this part because, you know, what I like about this is we get to drill down into your knowledge and your expertise, and really get those quick soundbites that our audience can use to motivate and inspire them in growing their practice. Are you ready?
Perry: What or whom inspired you to become a mental health professional?
Jihan: I would definitely say my own personal self-care journey and my own experiences with therapy and just knowing the value of really taking care of yourself.
Perry: What do you do to clear your head and get a fresh start in your day?
Jihan: I always say, if you can just pause in little moments in your day, like, before you get out of your car or before you get out of your bed, before you start your workday. Just breathing is so essential.
Perry: What are some tools that 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 for you?
Jihan: Brighter Vision has definitely been a great asset. Simple Practice has been a real time saver for me in terms of just keeping all at one place and keeping me organised, and also hypo-compliant. I also use social media, Google Drive, Trello. I use Trello for just to keep all of my private practice ideas all organized in one place, and it kind of helps me give a checklist for myself.
Perry: And we love Trello here. I think I have probably about five personal Trello boards that I use just for marketing and ideas. And then believe it or not, we track and maintain all of our website development and where projects are, all on this absolutely massive Trello board.
Jihan: Yeah. Actually Joe Sanok introduced me to Trello and that’s kind of how we tracked our consulting goals.
Perry: Fantastic. It’s such an effective tool and obviously it’s not hypo-compliant so don’t be writing anything about patients on there but in terms of managing your ideas and marketing, and idea flow, it’s absolutely great. I just pulled up our website development Trello board and it’s really crazy because we have like every single client that has a website that we’re working on in this board and where the website is and who it’s assigned to and what stage it’s at. There’s just a lot there, but what’s really nice about Trello is it’s all organized nicely so we can see everything in a clear condensed fashion without being too overwhelmed.
Jihan: Yes, I encourage anyone to use it if they’re interested in project management.
Perry: Jihan, what’s a quote that you hold near and dear, something that has helped formulate your perspective on live or has inspired, motivated or provided guidance for you?
Jihan: When I started this journey I was really attracted to this quote by Maya Angelou which says, “My mission in life is not nearly to survive but to thrive and to do so with some passion from compassion, some humor and some style.”
Perry: Yeah, that’s the key part right here. If you could recommend one book to our audience, what would that book be?
Jihan: I would highly recommend The gifts of imperfection by Brene Brown which just basically teaches us that we’re all perfectly imperfect beings and that we all deserve play and rest, and to be creative, and just be our authentic selves.
Perry: Last question. If you moved to a new city tomorrow, you didn’t know anybody 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?
Jihan: I would definitely setup my website and definitely get a Psychology Today profile and just start emailing different therapists and other wellness professionals in the area.
Perry: Fantastic. Both so important. The website, that’s your epicenter, focus on marketing, everything branches out from there. And Psychology Today or Goodtherapy.org profile, both of those are so key to really ensuring that your name is getting out there in other places where people are searching. You got to be everywhere, right?
Perry: Fantastic. Jihan, where can our audience find you to connect and learn more about you?
Jihan: You can find me at Thefulfillmentproject.com. I also have a Facebook page called The Fulfillment Project. And also on Instagram.
Perry: And what’s your Instagram page?
Jihan: It’s The Fulfillment Project as well.
Perry: Perfect. Of course, we’ll have links to Jihan’s website, Facebook page, Instagram page, and all of the great resources that she’s mentioned here over at Brightervision.com/session37. Jihan, thank you so much for being so generous with your time, your expertise, and your knowledge. I know I’m speaking for our entire audience here when I say that we appreciate all the great advice that you’ve provided and the therapist experience that you have shared.
Jihan: Thank you so much Perry, you have given so much to our therapist community and just with Brighter Vision it’s just really been an awesome asset.
Perry: Thank you. We love the community here, we love giving back and if we can do our small part to help private practices succeed and help people who are running them succeed, it means a world to us. Everybody listening, thank you so much for tuning in today. If you have question for us, you can email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and if you would like Brighter Vision to help brand your business on the web, reach out to us. We’re the worldwide leader in custom therapist website design, for less than two dollars a day, you’ll get a website that’s as unique as your practice. We’ll provide you with unlimited tech support and do all your SEO so people can find you online. To learn more, head on over to Brightervision.com and drop us a note through one of our contact forms. That does it for today, thanks again for listening and we’ll see you next week.