David Sturgess on Creating a Relationship with First Responders | FP 27

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David Sturgess on Creating a Relationship with First Responders | FP 27

What is the benefit of joining a system that works and not recreating the wheel? How do you serve a certain group of people?

In this podcast episode, Whitney Owens speaks to David Sturgess about creating a relationship with first responders.

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Meet David Sturgess

David Sturgess

David has practiced counseling for over a decade in both short and long-term psychiatric residential centers as well as his group practice, Foundry Counseling, LLC, in Marietta, GA. He has extensive training in trauma therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and is fully licensed in Georgia, holding the status of National Certified Counselor, through the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC). David is also a Certified Professional Counselor Supervisor, providing supervision to associate level clinicians working towards their license. He facilitates training to different agencies on DBT and Trauma-Informed Care while also teaching undergraduate psychology courses at Point University.

David’s passion for the mental health and well being for First Responders and their families is seen in his work providing counseling, training, and consulting services to the local First Responder departments and their communities. His group practice offers a faith-based approach to those that desire and serves adolescents and/or their guardians, men seeking support with male issues, couples and families looking to improve their family systems, people noticing barriers to their goals and needing to problem solve, dual-diagnosis, trauma, anxiety, depression, emotional regulation, mindfulness, and conflict resolution.

Visit David’s website, connect on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Reach out to David by emailing him at [email protected] for a Grief and Trauma Resource freebie.

In This Podcast


  • Following a system that worked
  • Working with first responders
  • Moving from a passion to working with a group
  • Knowing your numbers

Following a system that worked

That mindset of I didn’t have to recreate the wheel, I have to do something that’s been demonstrated to work, really spoke to me.

For the first year and a half, David received many referrals from different counselors that he knew in the community. This was a few hours an evening and it filled up within 2-3 months. Over time, more referrals started to come in and he went to 2 nights a week. He came across Joe Sanok’s podcast and learned about Next Level Practice. It took him a little longer than it would for other people, merely because of the fact that he wasn’t spending all his time focused on the system.

Working with first responders

I just recently realized, that while I may not be in a police car or a fire truck, I can still serve and be helpful to those folks that are on the road daily.

While David was doing his undergrad he worked at 911 as a police and fire dispatcher and operator. He left this job as his shifts did not match up with his semester schedule. He did his undergrad and fell in love with Psychology, but always had a burden and guilt of leaving and not sticking with it.

He has now come to terms with the fact that he is still able to help and play his part by serving first responders. The first responder community is a very unique one, they’re not just going to come to counseling without something really big happening or being forced to go. The guarded approach that they have in general because of what they do is real, and there are not a lot of counselors that understand this. Having worked in the field, and still having a lot of friends in the field, David saw a gap he could bridge.

Moving from a passion to working with a group

  1. Know the population and culture of the group you want to work with and spend time with the group and create relationship
  2. Create a practice that allows you to spend time with the population
  3. Connect with others that help the population such as the peer support team.
  4. Be available to go to their workplace.
  5. Join the company’s Employee Assistant Program (EAP).

Knowing your numbers

When I got to know my numbers and I stopped looking at a client as a $ figure and I looked at how can I serve this person. Cost of session was nowhere near the top, or the front end of the conversation.

In the beginning, David didn’t know his numbers and he was very concerned about whether he was going to make the bills. When he finally got to know his numbers and got organized, this became a non-issue. David works with a traditional 101 budget, he realized that he had a lot more money which allowed him to do additional things such as hiring an admin person to help him so that he could spend the valuable time developing relationships with the first responder community.

Joining the Mastermind

A Mastermind are folks coming together and are wanting to take things to the next level.

Before joining Whitney’s Mastermind, finances were a big worry and David was operating from a fear standpoint. From a faith in private practice standpoint, Whitney assured him that she had been there before and that he needed to operate in faith, that it will work out for His glory and His good.

Schedule a pre-consult call with Whitney to see if the Mastermind, which is launching on June 11th, is the right fit for you.

Books mentioned in this episode

Useful Links:

Meet Whitney Owens

Whitney Ownens | Build a faith-based practiceWhitney is a licensed professional counselor and owns a growing group practice in Savannah, Georgia. Along with a wealth of experience managing a practice, she also has an extensive history working in a variety of clinical and religious settings, allowing her to specialize in consulting for faith-based practices and those wanting to connect with religious organizations.

Knowing the pains and difficulties surrounding building a private practice, she started this podcast to help clinicians start, grow, and scale a faith-based practice. She has learned how to start and grow a successful practice that adheres to her own faith and values. And as a private practice consultant, she has helped many clinicians do the same.

Thanks For Listening!

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Faith in Practice is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a network of podcasts that are changing the world. To hear other podcasts like Empowered and Unapologetic, Bomb Mom, Imperfect Thriving, Marketing a Practice or Beta Male Revolution, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.

Podcast Transcription

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Welcome to the Faith in Practice podcast. I’m your host, Whitney Owens, recording live from Savannah, Georgia. I’m a licensed professional counselor, group practice owner and private practice consultant. In each week, through a personal story or amazing interviews, I will help you learn how to start, grow, and scale your private practice from a faith-based perspective. I’m going to show you how to have an awesome, faith-based practice without being cheesy or fake. You too can have a successful practice, make lots of money, and be true to yourself.

Today on the Faith in Practice podcast you’re listening to episode number 27, an interview with David Sturgess on creating a relationship with first responders. David has practiced counseling for over a decade in both short and long term psychiatric residential centers, as well as his group practice Foundry Counseling in Marietta, Georgia. He has extensive training in trauma therapy and DBT and is fully licensed in the state of Georgia, holding a status of National Certified Counselor to the National Board of Certified Counselors. David is a Certified Professional Counselor Supervisor providing supervision to associate level clinicians working towards their license. He facilitates training to different agencies on DBT and trauma informed care while he also teaches undergraduate Psychology at Point University. David’s passion for mental health and wellbeing of first responders and their families is seen as his work, providing counseling, training, and consulting to first responder departments and their communities. His group practice offers a faith-based approach to those seeking to work with adolescents and their guardians. Men seeking support with male issues, couples and families looking to improve their family systems, people noticing barriers to their goals, and needing to help problem solve dual diagnosis trauma, anxiety, depression, emotional regulation, mindfulness, and conflict resolution. Welcome to the show, David.

Thanks for having me.

Yeah, I’m sorry, I butchered your name. Even though we practice I still did it.

Okay, everybody does it.

Sturgess. Sturgess. Well, I’m glad that you’re here on the show today, and would love for you to kind of start out sharing with people a little bit about your private practice journey. I know you’ve kind of worked inpatient or residential for a while and then made that leap into private practice. Can you share a little bit of that story?

Yes, so about 11 years ago I graduated with a master’s degree and started working at one residential facility here in Georgia that focused on youth and children, primarily juvenile justice defects type of population. And then after a few years transitioned to a different residential facility; that was more of that insurance based private pay type of environment, but still that residential. So that danger to self, danger to others, psychosis, severe trauma, things of that nature that would require that short term hospitalization. So, did that for a while, having gotten married and had kids, it was very hard to balance that type of schedule, and that stress load. And so, my wife and I talked about private practice and what that would look like. Took a couple of years to build up clientele, working evenings and weekends while still working at the hospital. When I saw I was able to adjust and build that clientele up, I turned in my resignation to the hospital and have done group practice ever since. And I’m not turning back, it is very rewarding, the freedom, the flexibility, and you get to be able to help people and still spend time with your family.

Yeah, that’s the best combination. So, tell us, how long have you had your private practice?

Full time, it has been just over a year. Total, it’s been about three.

And tell us kind of where are you in your practice as far as your caseload? Did it take a long time to get to a full caseload? And how was that for you?

So, the first year and a half or so it was a lot of just getting referrals from different clients that I was aware of, or referrals from different counselors that I was aware of, and knew of, in the community. That was several hours an evening. And so, it filled up within probably two or three months of that four to five hours that I could offer it. And then over time, more referrals started to come in and I went to two nights a week type of deal. And then ran across some podcasts, ran across Joe’s Next Level Practice podcast and the idea of being able to work a program that was proven six figure in two years, that was attractive to me. I knew if it was a proven program that actually worked, and I wasn’t just paying for a blog post and a podcast, but an actual system, that I could definitely make it happen. That mindset of I don’t have to recreate the wheel, I have to do something that has been demonstrated to work, really spoke to me.

And so, I joined Next Level Practice. And I would say that I could have grown faster had I been willing to sacrifice a little bit more of my time to put into developing website type of things and kind of burn that candle a little bit hotter on both ends. And so, I made that decision of, I’m gonna do this and I’m not gonna sacrifice that family time that I’m trying to create, just for a dollar. And so, I think it took me a little longer then it could some folks, but I am a year and a half to two years into Next Level Practice and numbers do reflect that six-figure revenue. It has replaced my hospital salary, which was another kind of marker, so to speak, of effectiveness. And so, it’s allowed my family to continue to have that lifestyle. It’s allowed me to have that freedom. And I’ve been able to turn around and reinvest into Next Level Practice with staying connected to folks that are just starting out, and that kind of brushes up my skills as well. It reminds me of the basics, which I think sometimes we can get a little further down the road and forget some of those basics because we’re trying to do something bigger and more complicated. So, I found a good balance in that. Case load wise I would say, on average, 18 to 20 hours a week of clients, and that’s face to face – well, telehealth with pandemic living – a week and that is an average. Some weeks, it’s a little lower because folks are every other week. Some weeks, it’s a little bit heavier, you know. So, it’s working.

Yeah, I love, you brought up some really great points. I think a lot of people, when they’re starting their practice, that fear – and you remember it, we all do – of leaving that full-time gig and jumping into private practice. And I love how you made those steps of you kind of started the practice on the side, which is how I had kind of done it as well. And then you make that leap into full time. And I love that you’re saying hey, I replaced my salary. And that’s, I think, the goal of us when we first start our practice, and that’s our fear is oh, am I going to get back to where I was, financially? You know, you have this responsibility of your family, and now you’re able to do the type of work you love and have that money. And I love that you’re also talking about the importance of community, and educating yourself, and practice, and not doing it alone. And the NLP group, Next Level Practice, for those of you that don’t know what Next Level Practice is, it’s a private Facebook group through Practice of the Practice. There’s probably about 450 people in there. It’s a membership group. But it’s chock full of like, information on building specifically a practice from the ground up, really great for first level people kind of starting their practice, so many courses. I mean, you could never take all the coursework that is in there. But then they also have a lot of live webinars during the week and so you can get a lot of information. So, I love that you brought that up because you, David, get very involved in that and you make extra efforts to build relationships and I think that speaks to your success as a private practice owner.

Well, one thing that I’ve always heard in private practice communities is that it can get very lonely. Folks get into their full caseload, they’re isolated if it’s a single private practice owner type of scenario. And one thing that I value, just as a human, I’m a relational person and at the hospital, we had treatment teams, we had consultation teams and things of that nature. And so, I knew that I wanted community. And I also knew that there were a lot of private practice folks that just didn’t want to bother with it. They wanted to see their clients and then go home, and they were fine being isolated. But I’m not going to be able to help everybody, and so I think that’s another aspect of that also where we’ve got to have that connection and community, so when we aren’t able to help this referral, we’ve got folks that are different than us that can see the client instead of trying to force something to happen.

Yes. So, I want to talk about your work with first responders because I really admire this about you. And so, you have this passion for first responders. Can you just share a little bit about how that started and kind of walk us through where you’re at now in your work with first responders?

Sure. So that was the little kid, I want to be a cop when I grow up, type of dream. I did, in undergraduate days, which was now probably 20ish years ago, work as a 911 police and fire dispatcher and operator. So, you call 911 and you would have gotten one of me or my colleagues and then we’re turning around and dispatching the police or fire trucks and things like that, and that was right around 9/11. I worked a couple of years and left because I was doing undergraduate, and shift work doesn’t always match up with semester schedules and got into undergraduate and fell in love with psychology and in just the whole field. I always had a burden or a guilt of leaving and not sticking with it as I was pursuing psychology, and so just recently realized that while I might not be in a police car or a fire truck, I can still serve and be helpful to those folks that are on the road daily. And I’ve got a lot of friends in law enforcement and fire rescue. From a law enforcement standpoint, some of them are at that city, municipality level, some are county, some are federal, and so the connection was always there. And one thing that I’ve recognized with counselors and first responders is there’s this huge stigma of mental health in general. And then the first responder community is a very unique community. They’re not going to just come to counseling without either something really big happening, being forced to go, or those few folks within the population being able to go, yeah, I need to go start taking care of this. And so, the guarded kind of approach that they have just in general because of what they do is real, and there’s not a lot of counselors that understand that culture and understand the difficulty of coming. And so I think having worked in the field, having a lot of friends still in the field, and then as a counselor, I saw an opportunity where I could bridge the gap, and hopefully be of service to the city my practice is in and then right next door, the city that I live in.

I love how you kind of shared you started when you were young, like you had this passion, you know, for this community. And I do think there’s a way that God like, gives us these when we’re young. And as we grow, and we start to see our passion grow, or we start to move into occupational things, or volunteer things, that we didn’t necessarily think, oh, this is gonna lead to this, this and this, but then we look back and we see how this led to this, this and this. And so, there are probably people out there listening that are thinking, okay, I have a passion for this group of people but how do I serve them in my practice? And so could you kind of walk through, step by step, how you were able to take this group you were passionate about from, this is a group I want to work with to now you’re really working with them?

Yes, so I think I had a unique situation where I had friends on the force and the police department that I initially engaged. However, that friend was not the one that I courted, so to speak. It was another officer that he kind of put me in touch with and it was probably six to nine months’ worth of talking on the phone, meeting for lunch. And also, I was developing this relationship when I still worked at the hospital and was doing private practice on the side. So, you know, in any kind of business development relationally or, you know, a big business deal, it takes time. And again, this population is not one that you can just rush in and say, here, I can do this, this, and this for you, and this is what you should do. It requires a relationship. They need to know that you’re genuine and you’re authentic, and not just be able to handle what they might bring into sessions, but that you’re not going to turn around and gossip about it. You’re not going to go talk to other officers, you’re not going to talk to chain of command about something that they’re struggling with. And so, developing that relationship – they would call and ask, hey, we got this situation, what do you think we should do? Is this something that you can handle? Or again, going back to what I was saying, this isn’t really in my wheelhouse, let’s get you connected to somebody else that would be a better fit.

So, it started in more of that consultation kind of role. And as things developed from my private practice, and I had more freedom to be there from a time perspective – I wasn’t at the hospital for however many hours a week – I was able to actually start to spend time at the department, I was able to meet more than just the two officers. There’s something called peer support teams that law enforcement and fire rescue folks have. It pretty much exists at every level of first responders. But it literally is folks that are within the departments that go and receive specific training on how to support their peers in terms of what they do; it could be grief in terms of an officer killed in the line of duty, it could be helping somebody with alcoholism or financial troubles or things of that nature. And so, connecting with the peer support team was kind of that next step for me in being able to help those folks know who I am, what I do, how I can help. They’re kind of the fingers in the department. So, folks are going to come to them before they’re going to reach out to me.

And so what has happened is as I’ve developed those relationships with the peer support teams in these departments, they’re hearing about stuff day to day, they’re having those peer support type of conversations, and then they’re like, you know what, this is kind of passing that line from peer support to I think you need to go sit down and talk with somebody. And so, it’s helping out in terms of it’s not leading to a big job interruption where it’s forced from an HR or chain of command type of scenario. It’s keeping it a little calmer. And it’s a little bit more off the radar, where they can personally just reach out to me and start whatever counseling services that they want. And then, on top of that, it has allowed fire chiefs, police chiefs, you know, in that chain of command, to pick up the phone and say, hey, I’ve got an officer that just needs a couple of hours to talk through a situation. It’s not a big crisis, but they’re struggling, and they just need an ear. And so, it’s me swinging up to the department when I’m available, within the next day or two, usually. They refuse to give me the sirens and the lights, I’ve asked. But then I get to spend a couple of hours just chatting with somebody in terms of whatever it is they’re struggling with. And sometimes those short, brief, solution focused type of sessions can turn into 3, 4, 6-week-long counseling opportunities as well. And this is also leading into being able to do grief counseling for them, helping them from a training standpoint on different mental health type of topics and things of that nature.

Now, you’ve also created an EAP, or you joined an EAP as part of this process, right? And can you kind of talk about that?

Yes. So, Employee Assistant Program – EAP – most companies have them. And it’s that kind of hotline that you can call if you need legal advice or get two or three free counseling sessions, things of that nature. Typically, something that’s included in employee benefit type of packages. And with the city I’ve been working as I just described, and they kind of approached me in the sense of, hey, you’re doing this and from an employee assistant standpoint, they’re able to do two or three free sessions. You’re right here in the neighborhood; my office is literally a mile around the corner from the main police and fire departments. And you could kind of be that go to point of contact. And the thing with that, much like insurance companies, is there is a reimbursement rate, and so I did have to negotiate that a little bit in terms of how long I’ve been a counselor, my specializations, the fact that I can connect with that first responder community where a lot of counselors cannot. I’ve heard from first responders that have done EAP type counseling or gone into counselors, where those counselors were just visibly disturbed by what the police or firefighter was reporting in sessions. It might have been a traumatic gunshot or car accident or something of that nature, and that first responder didn’t go back to counseling because the counselor was crying on the phone or made some facial expression of, oh my gosh, you know, type of scenario. And so, the EAP kind of allows the folks to have that two or three free session aspect.

And then what I’ve kind of decided just from a business standpoint and serving this population, is your entry level first responders don’t always get paid a whole lot of money. It is a, say, tax funded job, right. So depending on how taxes are allocated, and budgets, and things of that nature, an entry level police or firefighter might be in that mid $35,000 to $40,000 range and might have kids and a second part time job or might have somebody at home that is medically fragile or special need type of scenario, and so they can’t walk in and pay somebody $125-$150 a session and continually, consistently come. And so that EAP allows those two or three sessions to kind of get paid for through their city benefit. It’s completely unrelated and separate from the chain of command, from a confidentiality standpoint, and all that type of stuff. And then it’s after those three sessions, I have a conversation with them about okay, we’re in agreement that this is probably a two- or three-month type of treatment plan. What can you realistically afford to be able to come in here and consistently do good work? And when it’s that type of conversation, after two or three sessions, they’re able to commit to a reasonable rate; it’s not my full rate, but at the same time, it’s still being able to be there for training, it’s still being able to be there for consultation. And so, from a business standpoint, I’m probably gonna make more money doing the consultation training aspect than the counseling aspect. And so, I’m serving these departments in multiple ways. And, you know, with a general referral caseload from other referral streams, everything seems to be working out so far. Is that…?

That’s perfect. That was perfect. Thank you. Yeah. And that’s the way that you serve your community. I think as therapists we’re all kind of looking obviously to make income, but we all got into this not for the money. We got into it because we love the people we serve. And so, you’ve taken that, and you offered the ability for clients to be able to come in but also able to take care of your family at the same time. And I love how you kind of walked us through that idea of the EAP and how you joined that, and how you’re using that. And I love also private practice, like, we are the business owners, so we get to create different things for different people based on their needs. We don’t have to go to somebody else and say, oh, is this okay, or…? They create whatever they want to create, like, we get to do that. And so I encourage private practice owners, if it’s working with first responders, or maybe there’s another group in your town that you enjoy working with, like, create your own EAP like, where, hey, if you tell the boss there, if you refer somebody, I offer this rate for them because I enjoy working with this population. And then they’re kind of referring to you first and you could create some kind of contract. I’ve also done that with churches where a church creates a contract with me where they send clients to my practice first, and then I know that’s more for parishioners than employees. But just that concept of you refer to us, I offer this discount to be able to help your people who can’t afford to be able to afford. And so, you can create some sort of like an EAP, or partnership with really any organization in private practice. As long as you kind of walk through these steps that David just pointed out for us, the importance of courting – that’s the word he uses a lot, and I love that word, the courting a relationship – and getting to know someone and then showing them the value that you can offer. And then actually having people come in and get better. And that’s just a beautiful thing.

Yeah. In the beginning, I was very – and you know this from our mastermind days – very concerned about numbers. I didn’t know my numbers well, and I was very worried about am I going to make the bills, you know, and when I finally got to know my numbers and got organized, it was a non-issue. There was plenty of money. I mean, not to… money wasn’t just falling out of the closet, but at the same time, there was plenty of money to have some clients that were not at full rates; there was plenty of money to go and hire that admin assistant that I needed, that I was reluctant to do because I didn’t know if there was enough money and things like that. When I stopped, when I got to know my numbers, and I stopped looking at a client as a dollar figure and I looked at how can I serve this person, money was nowhere – cost of session was nowhere near the top or the front end of the conversation. We get to it. It definitely would be on the agenda. But at the same time, it’s about serving the human being and the first responder population is a very special population that has a very unique need. And there’s not a lot of folks that they feel like they can go to. And I think that’s where the relationship and the genuineness comes before the here’s my full rate type of conversation.

Yeah, so I want to kind of switch gears here and talk a little bit about the work you’ve done in your practice, because you just brought this up and I think everyone listening probably is thinking this question. You just said, I got to know my numbers and got a handle on it and then realized, you know, all right, money coming out of the closet. I love that. But, like, your money was improving. So, you had the same amount of money, but you got a handle on your number. So, what actually changed for you to see that you had more finances than you thought you had?

I was trying to force QuickBooks to work, and QuickBooks and I don’t get along. There was too much syncing of bank accounts and reports and all that stuff. I went back to basics in terms of an Excel spreadsheet. I worked with my accountant to make sure that the spreadsheet was set up correctly. And I manually look at, okay, here’s what the income is and here are my expenses. It is a traditional 101 budget. I track how many sessions are projected for the month, and that allows me to see okay, well, I will… on the top end this month so far, no new referrals, no crisis response with first responder type of stuff, here’s what I’ll make. And when I sat down and got that organized, I realized I have a lot more money here that I can hire that admin part time, I can work to bring on a part time person or contractor to do counseling so that I can go and develop this relationship with the first responder community, because that is time spent just as much as sitting in front of somebody, one on one. And so from a business growth aspect, if you don’t know what your numbers are, you can’t (A) pay bills just for the month to include your salary, but (B) you can’t dream and create of okay, how do I expand to be able to serve this group better? There are certification courses that counselors can take that specifically help them work with the first responder community. And those can sometimes be several hundred dollars for a 40-hour course, and you don’t necessarily get CEUs for that. So, one thing I know a lot of counselors will do is, if I’m not going to get a CEU for that training, I’m not paying for it, you know? Next Level Practice, masterminds, you don’t get CEUs for that. But you do have to financially invest in yourself, and financially invest in your company, to be able to continue your growth mindset, your business growth, and that requires additional funds outside of just paying the rent and the phone and the internet and let me try to live on whatever else I can bring home. So as you’ve talked about, many times – and I think you even had Mr. Michalowicz on your program here a few podcasts back – that profit first type of setup is what helped me gain not just an understanding of the dollar amounts from my accountant aspect, but the percentage aspect of, okay, this percentage goes towards operating expenses; that allows me to have this percentage to invest back into the business or bring home for family bills or a family vacation or something of that nature.

Yes, that’s all great stuff. Thank you. Can you talk about the mastermind group? For people who don’t know what a mastermind is, what is that? And then share a little bit about what that experience was like for you at the beginning when you were thinking about joining – David joined my mastermind group back in January. So talk a little bit about the fears that you had about joining, cos I know finance was one of those; I was thinking about that as you were sharing, and like, how you conquered those fears and made growth through the group.

When we were talking on the phone before I actually joined the mastermind group, finances was a big worry. How can I do what I just said everybody needs to do? And I was operating, at that time… That was probably November, December when we were having phone calls like that, I was operating not knowing my numbers. And so, it was fear. You know, from a DBT standpoint, you got emotional mind, wise mind, reasoned mind. I was in emotional mind when it came to my numbers because I did not have the facts. The reasoned mind of, these are what my numbers are. And, you know, from a faith and private practice standpoint, you were like, yeah, I’ve been there before and sometimes, you know, you need to operate in faith that it’s going to work out for His glory, and His good, and that is… I think we had a conversation about this on the phone, there’s a fine line between stupid flipping a coin, gambling, okay, I’ll hold my breath and hope this works, versus operating in faith and trusting that you’re going to benefit from this and you’re going to be able to be with like-minded people. And you have to be willing to be vulnerable. You have to be willing to be challenged, be able to hear that you’re not doing something the right way or you’re wrong or whatever. And at the same time being able to go hey guys, it worked. And having a group that you can kind of struggle with but also celebrate with. Sometimes it’s just like, really simple stuff like one of our group members, a couple of days ago, send an email to the group, just saying, hey, what do y’all think about these business cards? Or what do you think about this kind of slogan or this little marketing thing, and so you have times to kind of bounce that off of each other. But then you also have those more frustrating, difficult conversations of five clients just quit this week, or whatever pandemic crisis that we all experienced in some way, shape or form.

And so again, that community aspect that I was talking about earlier, it’s another aspect of not just community, but a mastermind, are folks coming together that are wanting growth and they’re wanting to take things to the next level and not every counselor has that mindset; they’re a fantastic counselor – from a business management, business growth standpoint, they’re either just not interested in going there or they’re not really good at it because they haven’t gotten involved in a mastermind type of group. And I think that was something that I really benefited from, that we were all, you know, iron sharpens iron type of aspect, and taking our businesses to the next level, and every single one of us have definitely accomplished the goals that we all talked about several months ago. And I would say, most of us, if not all of us, are further down the road than we thought we’d be. We’ve all either hired people, we’ve all made decisions about office space, and things like that. And so, it’s just been really… it’s exciting to go okay, when’s my next meeting? And then having that hot seat where it’s like, oh, it’s my turn, okay, so what do I need help with now? And you know, you’re coming back to everybody. And you’ve gotta report on what you did accomplish. And if…

Yeah. You’ve got accountability there.

Yeah. And if you didn’t accomplish it, why not? And so, I’ve enjoyed it for those reasons. I mean, we’re scattered all over, not just America, one of our members is in Canada too. And so, you learn a lot and you get different perspectives, different ideas on how to think about things.

Yeah, I really enjoyed our group, and then we all had COVID-19, as every practice has had, but it was really nice to have a community to turn to really quickly when you’re going through something like that. So I love that you just talked about community because that’s one of my favorite parts of being in masterminds too, in the past, is people kicking me in the butt and getting me to move forward, and I have that accountability and I’m learning from other people. The thing I have also loved about the faith in practice mastermind, though, is that we also are working on our businesses but we bring faith into the mix and you know, we could talk about our practices from a faith perspective, we can offer to pray for each other and challenge each other in a spiritual way. Or think about, like you said, about money in a spiritual way that you don’t necessarily get in a lot of other masterminds. And so, I’ve loved that sense of community that we have. That’s really special.

Yeah, there is a balance. There’s nothing wrong with making money. Money is not evil, the love of it is. We also can’t build and grow and be available to serve and help people; we can’t fund things that we’re passionate about. My wife and I are very passionate about a Christian summer camp up in the North Georgia mountains. , and we can’t give to that if my wife and I are not making good business decisions and continuing to grow our businesses and so, you know, the idea of… people can be fantastic therapists and not great business owners. I want you to come work for me because you’re a fantastic therapist. I’ll run the business aspect. And I think it’s a win-win for a lot of folks.

Yeah. Well, David, as I kind of come to the close of the interview I know you have a freebie for us. It is a trauma and grief resource, right?

Yes. I will make that available to folks if they will email me at [email protected]. I can send that out to folks.

Great. Sorry about that noise I think you probably heard. So yes, David’s email is [email protected], and we’ll have that in the show notes and all of his social media so that you can follow him. And then, David, I ask everyone at the end of the episode, what does every Christian counselor need to know?

You can still practice your faith, and be a good counselor, and remain within the ethical codes that we all have to abide by. People are hungry, people are searching, and there’s nothing magical about memorizing a Bible verse. There’s nothing necessarily magical about a liturgy either. The idea of that being able to ground us, that being able to help us get back to that wise mind when we’re reminded of those truths, being able to have folks come in and be angry at God, or struggling with their faith because of a mental health, emotional health type of scenario. You don’t have to feel like you’re theologically trained, you have to know where your line is of okay, this is something that, you know, from a mental health standpoint, it definitely is connected, and let’s get an authorization release and talk with your pastor some too about the theological side of this. And I think being willing to help pastors know where their pastoral care versus mental health clinical line is and the three of y’all, clergy, client, counselor – those are three C’s – can all work together because it’s all connected. And that’s something that I’ve really been able to rest in, and what is my role, versus let’s head over there to your pastor, or find a pastor, you know, I’ve got a couple on speed dial that, if that client doesn’t have a pastor, I’ve got a couple that are willing to hop in and speak with clients.

Well, David, it’s been a joy to have you on the show. And I think about that pre consulting call back in the fall and just the successes that you’ve had, you’ve worked really hard on your practice and, you know, you’re kind of a forerunner in a lot of ways and so I appreciate you coming on and sharing that with everyone. And then I wanted to let people know that we are going to have another Faith in Practice mastermind. This mastermind is going to launch in June and will last for six months. It’ll be $300 a month during that time, and you’ll be able to join on a Zoom call every other week with other practice owners; this group is specifically for people at more the middle level of their practice or growing their practice. So, this is for people who’ve had a private practice for a while, maybe solo, but seems like the calls that I’m getting for the group are more for group practice owners. They’re wanting to really work on their systems, their money management, the hiring process, delegating out responsibilities. And so, we’ll be able to kind of talk about those higher-level concepts and talk about how do we integrate our faith in that. So, if you’re thinking, I’m kind of feeling a little stuck in my practice, or I’m wanting to take it to the next level, please schedule a call with me. You can send me an email at [email protected], or the Calendly link will be in the show notes. A Calendly link is just a link that you click on and you can schedule a 30 minute call with me if you’re thinking that you want to do the group, because the most important thing is that this group fits where you’re at in your practice, and that you’re going to find benefit from it. Because we don’t want people joining that aren’t a good fit for the other group members, or they’re not in that place in their practice. And if I feel like you’re not at that place, I’ll help you find a resource that helps meet your needs. But we’re going to be launching that group June 9, and it will be every other week for six months. So, we’d love for you to join that. And I appreciate you coming on the show, David.

Thank you for having me.

All right. Well, thanks.

Thank you for listening to the Faith in Practice podcast. If you love this podcast, please rate and review on iTunes or your favorite podcast player. If you liked this episode and want to know more, check out the Practice of the Practice website. Also, there you can learn more about me, options for working together such as individual and group consulting, or just shoot me an e-mail [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you.

This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, the Practice of the Practice, or the guests, are providing legal, mental health, or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one.