How do you add clinicians to your faith-based practice? How do you find the right clinician for your practice? Are there any legal issues to be aware of when hiring based on faith?
In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks with Whitney Owens about how to add clinicians to a faith-based practice.
Meet Whitney Owens
Whitney is a licensed professional counsellor 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.
In This Podcast
In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks with Whitney Owens about how to add clinicians to a faith-based practice. Throughout this series in faith-based practice, we spoke about attracting your ideal client, setting up your vision, how to market a faith-based practice and how to get referrals. If you’ve been doing this right, you’ve built your practice, and you’re growing. Now how do you attract the right type of clinicians to add to your business?
Think back to your vision
It all comes back to your vision. When you’re starting to add clinicians, think back to your vision and if you are meeting that vision. If you’re growing, it’s likely that you are.
When hiring a clinician, ask yourself questions like, “Do they understand the vision I have?” and “Do their values align with mine?” These are important questions to ask because if/when you hire them, they will be representing you and your practice.
The first step in hiring is getting the word out there.
How do you know they’re good for your faith-based business?
You’ll need to know what faith they have to begin with. But it’s important to also know where they are in their faith. Make sure you are aligned. Whitney starts with 10 min phone interviews which ask the following questions.
- What is your ideal client?
- Do you use any therapeutic techniques?
- What are you trained in?
- When is your ideal time to work?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- How would you feel if a Christian came in and wanted to work with you?
What are the legalities of hiring based on faith?
You can’t hire someone based on their faith. But you can hire based on their values. Ask them if they feel comfortable with the types of clients your practice serves.
Once you’ve hired them, have in-house training together to make sure everyone is on the same page. Then meet with all employees once a month to make sure you’re always touching base.
Going forward with your faith-based practice
Where do you see your practice in the next year and even the next 5 years? How do you create a team that supports that? Think about specialities.
When you think about having a faith-based practice, why is that important to you? It’s important to Whitney because faith is always a part of her life. And it’s important for her clients because they often request it.
If you’re scared to make that jump, need help adding clinicians or even need help with your marketing, consult with Whitney.
Don’t do it alone, walk the journey with someone. Hire a consultant to help you.
- How to Get Referrals from Churches | 4 of 5 | 05
- Email Whitney for consulting
- Free resources to help you start, grow and scale
- Join Next Level Practice
- Apply to work with Whitney
- Consult With Whitney
Thanks For Listening!
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Welcome back to the Practice of the Practice podcast. We are doing our Faith in Practice series with Whitney Owens, our resident expert on faith-based practices. How are you doing Whitney?
[WHITNEY]: I’m doing great.
[JOE]: Oh, I’m so excited just for this series because for so long we’ve had people that would reach out to us and wanted specific help around faith-based practices and you know, we would always kind of say, “Whether it’s faith-based or you know, just kind of a regular practice, most of the principles are the same,” which is true, but to now have you on board to specifically come from this perspective with the mastermind groups and consulting that you’re doing here. I’m so excited to see, you know, people just have their practice authentically mirror what their values are. So welcome to the team.
[WHITNEY]: Yes, I’m excited. And there’s just such a need for, and this is why I’m doing it, for a consultant that does bring that perspective into it because for those that are wanting a faith-based practice, that’s so much a part of what they’re doing. They need kind of that direction and help and I’m really excited to be a part of their journey.
[JOE]: Yes. I probably should’ve mentioned this earlier in this series, but if anyone wants to email Whitney, her email is firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll also have links to all that in the show notes as well. So today we’re talking all about adding clinicians to your team. So if you are just joining us, we had four episodes before this. The first one we talked about your ideal client, how to sketch out your ideal client for your faith based practice. And the second one we talked vision for your practice and how you set that vision, how do you define where you’re headed, and then in the third one we went over marketing and branding of faith based practice. The last time we covered specifically marketing to churches, which is always one of the most common questions that I get of how do you market to a church? And today we’re talking adding clinicians. So you’ve built this practice, you have this vision for it, you’re marketing it and now you don’t want other people to screw it up. So Whitney, how do you attract the right people to your faith based practice that don’t screw up your vision?
[WHITNEY]: Oh, that’s so good. Yes. That is something that I’m thinking about when I’m interviewing people. So yes, I think the, when you’re starting to add clinicians, kind of the first step is thinking about your vision, and are you meeting that vision still? So think a lot of times we’re growing in our clients and we’re not able to see them because we don’t have space and we don’t have energy. Well then you’re no longer meeting that need. You’re no longer fulfilling your vision the way you could. So I think that’s how a lot of people start adding clinicians. So you know, that fear of hiring the wrong person messing up. There’s so much to think about with that, but I think at the front end considering, do they understand the vision that you have and do their values align with yours?
[JOE]: Yes. And then I think even just starting to understand what types of referrals you’re turning away, but that’s all going to come after you find the right person, especially when you have a faith-based practice to make sure that you’ve done all this hard work of, you know, last time you talked about this whole series you guys do in churches where you know, on a Friday night you do these great teachings and then people go on a date night. You know, you put all that time and energy into that. If you’re going to bring a clinician with you that’s going to help speak in a church, they have to be able to speak in a church and do it with authority and do it with kind of the blessing of the church and the blessing of you because they’re speaking on behalf of multiple organizations that have taken a long time to kind of build up what their audience believes and thinks and trusts.
[WHITNEY]: That is also correct. And they’re representing me and they’re representing my practice.
[JOE]: Yes. So do you have specific questions that you ask them? Do you have, like how do you weed through the people that are good for your practice because people can do a great interview and say a lot of good things and still like later on and you’re like, “Wow, that was a bad hire.” Or you know, maybe someone on the front end doesn’t interview real great, but they’re also an awesome hire. Like how do you sort through adding clinicians to your practice?
[WHITNEY]: Sure. Well I can kind of share with you how it starts, that kind of whole process of how we go about hiring and that’ll help answer that. And also we’re not only dealing with finding the right fit as a person, but I’m also thinking about where are they in their faith and does their faith kind of go where mine goes because I don’t want someone who’s necessarily extremely devout because that’s not what our practice is aiming at. But I don’t want someone who has no faith at all because that’s also not where my practice is at. So finding someone who knows how to adequately integrate their faith in their counseling in the way that I kind of do is something that also have to think about when we’re hiring. So the first step in hiring is just getting the word out there.
So, there’s so many ways to get the word out there. SimplyHired, Indeed, Facebook, talking to friends, all those things. I honestly have found Indeed to be really helpful, but I know a lot of people don’t find it helpful. So finding in your community, your area, what’s working on and just personal relationships, going back to relationships if someone knows someone who’s a therapist and that’s kind of how it comes around. Also putting the job on your website. That helps too. So getting the word out and then you get the applications, and I actually have my assistant weed through those, the front end. We have a couple of different question, things that they’re looking for. Do they actually have a master’s degree, do they have their license yet, are they working on their license, what are their specialties? Considering it just depends on kind of where we’re at or am I looking to hire a child therapist, am I looking to hire a couples counselor or a substance abuse counselor.
So, so having the assistant kind of weed through some of those, usually it’s probably four or five different things like that, that she’s looking for it. And then she narrows those down and does 10-minute phone interviews and we have questions that we already created on the front end that she answers on the Google doc, shares with me and I can kind of see that conversation. So some of those questions are what is your ideal client? What kind of therapeutic techniques do you do, maybe CBT or DBT on a personal therapy? So, what are they trained in? What’s their certificates? And then I also, we talk about the schedule, when is their ideal time to work, strengths and weaknesses. And then on the last question, she lets them know that we do a lot with churches in the area and how would you feel if a Christian came into the practice and wanted to do counseling with you? So that way we kind of feel where they’re at in their comfort level with that, without outright saying, “How do you do this, or are you a Christian? Because we don’t want to come across like that. We want to know do they integrate their faith in a way that we do. And so that kind of helps with that.
[JOE]: Now, and you may not be able to answer this and, you aren’t a lawyer and neither am I. So we are only speaking from our own experience, but in regards to the legality of hiring based on faith, how does that work? Have you consulted with an attorney to figure that out? Maybe, maybe not. So like, do you know how that works in most states or do you have a guess?
[WHITNEY]: Yes. So, and I think that might be different for W2’s and contractors. So that’s something else to consider on W2’s. But I cannot hire someone based on if they’re a Christian or any other religion. But what I feel I can do is consider their values and those values line up with our values as a practice. So without Christian or not, it’s just do they feel comfortable seeing these types of clients because these are the types of clients they’re going to get. So someone who’s not Christian can’t see Christian clients for sure. And so that doesn’t necessarily say that we’re saying one thing or another. But I do have a dear friend in Atlanta and his practice, they have contractors and they just outright say it. They say, “We only hire Christians,” and, “What do you think about this?” and, “This is what we do.” So I’m a little different in my approach, a little more soft.
[JOE]: Well, and I think that that just points out how important it is to have someone that understands not only federal employment law but also your own state’s employment law. Because you know, you don’t want to get in trouble nor do you want to discriminate unnecessarily, but you also want to make sure that if a client comes expecting to work with a Christian counselor and that’s what they’ve been told by say their pastor or someone and then the person says, “Sorry, I don’t feel comfortable with that.” You want to make sure of kind of both sides of it. So there’s a lot of complexity to sort through there. So an attorney is usually a good idea to have them weigh in on just some of that for your state too.
[JOE]: Yes. And you’re really looking out for their needs. I mean, I’ve had people we’ve interviewed that say, “I really don’t want to work with that population. I don’t feel comfortable.” And so it’s good for them because then they can go to a practice that’s more tailored to where they’re at and we can have a practice more tailored to the types of clinicians that we want to work with.
[JOE]: Yes. So talk about maybe your onboarding process. Once you get the right person, what kind of onboarding do you do to just kind of keep that vision going for your practice, make sure that everyone kind of represents the direction that you’re headed?
[WHITNEY]: Yes. so some of the onboarding is I do a training on the front end. It’s a full day training. I’ve actually started hiring two people at a time, which I found to be so helpful because if someone doesn’t work out long-term, we’ve got somebody else there and it kind of brings more camaraderie to the team as they’re training together. And it saves my time that I’m training two and not just one. So we do a training on the front end, and then my assistant also works with them a little bit on explaining calls and all the things that she does, so she’ll work with them as well. And then we pretty much haven’t seen clients. I do meet with all my employees once a month to review how are they doing, how’s your clinical work, how are your paperwork, administrative and asking all those questions to make sure we’re kind of always touching base because what we don’t want is to never talk to them and then you talk to them when something bad happens. That’s terrible. So being able to stay in good standings.
[JOE]: Awesome. And then when you think kind of ongoing, just building the team, building just the overall practice, group practice feel, long-term, what are just some quick tips that you have for building out that team, building out the culture, just moving from just you being in charge of everything to other people? Also kind of getting the word out to the community.
[WHITNEY]: Yes. So I think that goes back to your vision. Like where do you see your practice like in the next year and the next five years? So how do you create a team that meets that vision? So, for example, my vision is to meet as much of the needs of the community as possible. So I want to have the most well rounded group of clinicians that when someone calls our practice, we have someone immediately that we can refer to without having them make other phone calls. So I have someone who does couples, I have another, I have somebody who does substance abuse, somebody who does eating disorders and someone, two that do children, some teenagers. Like we try to run the gamut in that sense. But if you have a practice that really does maybe eating disorders, that’s kind of what you’re tailored to and thinking about your vision within that. What do you want to specialize within eating disorders or maybe you want to be the best eating disorder practice in town. So you have that vision set and when you’re adding clinicians you are thinking, “Who can help me meet that vision?”
[JOE]: Awesome. So we’ve talked ideal client, vision for the practice, marketing and branding, marketing to churches, adding clinicians. Let’s wrap this package up. So, Whitney, when you think about just having a faith-based practice, like maybe zoom out on why that’s important to you. Like just big picture, why is that an important thing to even care about or think through?
[WHITNEY]: Yes, I think about that on multiple levels. It’s important to me just because faith has always been a part of my life. And so I’m making that a part of meeting with my clients because not only do I see counseling as a clinical thing that I do to help people, but it’s a ministry for me and being able to help people where they’re at. But then also thinking about the faith of our clients. So many people, if they are faith-based, they are looking for a therapist that’s faith-based. I mean we get calls, I mean I would say at least once a week where someone is saying, “Oh wait, I want to make sure that my child sees a Christian counselor. Do you have one of those in your practice?” So being able to offer that to people is so important because that’s where they’re at. And then just within the community, being able to kind of do clinical counseling but also kind of minister to the hurting community around us. I mean, that’s what our job is as counselors.
[JOE]: Yes. Now, I know you’ve just started consulting with Practice of the Practice, which we’re so excited about. Maybe sketch out who are some of the ideal people that might want to work with you?
[WHITNEY]: Yes. So lots of different types of people I’d like to work with. First of all, if you’re just scared to make that jump into private practice, maybe you’re doing agency work, you really unsure, I can kind of consult with you and help you figure out is that the leap of faith you want to take and how do you actually start taking that and moving forward? That way you’re actually doing it with intentionality and you have a process you’re going through and so we can get you from starting a practice to growing it within six months, something that would’ve maybe taken you two years to do. So we’re doing it a lot faster. Also people who are so low, but maybe they’re having a hard time building their caseload; so, I can help them with their marketing, specifically especially to churches and other faith-based organizations. How do I kind of increase that client load.
For people who are so low and wanting to act clinicians, kind of helping you through that interview process, figuring out what you want to do with that in clinicians. And there’s just so many questions that come up and doing that that I can kind of help you walk through that. I’ve also had some situations where I’ve consulted therapists who have a group practice and maybe they, it’s not a faith-based practice, but they bring on a faith-based counselor to kind of add that component. So when someone calls and wants a faith-based approach, they have a counselor for that. So I’ve done some consulting around how do I market this particular person to the practice? How do I bring out their Christian skills and market them as Christian counselors? I think there’s a lot of questions about kind of market as a Christian counselor, what is a Christian counselor that can kind of help people through that process.
[JOE]: Yes. And I know you’ve been so helpful within the mastermind groups and at Slow Down School and you know, soon Killin’It Camp, around just kind of faith in all those different ways and especially a practice that doesn’t have that focus and brings in somebody; how do you appropriately market that person? That’s an angle I’m really excited about. So if you want to contact Whitney, you can email her at email@example.com. Or we have all those services and the application over at practiceofthepractice.com/Whitney, and so go over there. She’s got mastermind groups starting, individual consulting, we’ve got a lot of big ideas including a podcast in 2020 and so, the Faith in Practice podcast, we’re going to be releasing that and announcing it here on the Practice of the Practice podcast. And so, look out for that.
We’re building more and more podcasts, with our team. So Whitney, thank you so much for being on the Practice of the Practice podcast. The last question I always ask is, if every practitioner in the world were listening right now, what would you want them to know?
[WHITNEY]: Yes, I should have been ready for that question. So, if they were listening, what would I want them to know? It’s that counseling, building a practice is a journey. You’re going to have ups and you’re going to have downs and that’s okay, and that you need to just keep moving forward. Like setting that vision and moving forward and whatever that is. And I would also say hire a consultant to help you. And when I hired Joe to help me two years ago, my practice has been, just exploded and it was really scary and I went back and forth forever about it, but it really made the world of difference in my life and in the community here in Savannah. So don’t do it alone. Walk the journey with somebody.
[JOE]: Oh, so great. Whitney, thanks so much for being on the Practice of the Practice podcast and YouTube show. Whitney, that was such a fun interview there. And we have a webinar coming up on November 12th, 2019 at two o’clock Eastern, one o’clock Central, 12 Mountain, and 11 Pacific. It’s all about Faith in Practice where we’re going to go deeper talking all about these issues, but then adding more, doing some Q&A. What sort of things are you excited about in regards to this webinar?
[WHITNEY]: Yes, well, I’m excited to answer your questions. I know that starting a practice and growing your practice is not only a lot of questions, but then when you’re specifically talking about how do I make my faith a part of that, we’re talking about a whole new world. So being able to kind of meet people where they are in that and specifically address those.
[JOE]: Yes. So if you want to register for that webinar, head on over to practiceofthepractice.com/faithinpractice, and when you do that, you’ll go right to that registration page. And if you happen to miss that webinar, we’re going to redirect, do something awesome in the future and maybe the email series and maybe future webinars. So if you heard this after November, 2019 fear not. There are lots of resources there for you to talk about Faith in Practice.