How to Start a Membership Community with Dr. Mēgan Pickens | GP 169

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How to Start a Membership Community with Dr. Mēgan Pickens | GP 169

Do you and some of your colleagues interested in creating a group that’s beneficial to your practices as well as your skillsets as therapists? Would you create a membership community? How can you take what you already have and build from it?

In this podcast episode, LaToya Smith speaks about membership communities with Dr. Mēgan Pickens.

Podcast Sponsor: Blueprint

A photo of the Blueprint podcast sponsor is captured. Blueprint sponsor the Practice of the Practice podcast.

Providing great therapy day after day can be challenging – even for the best of us!

At Blueprint, they believe that nothing should get in the way of you doing your best work, which is why they created a platform that provides therapists with an array of clinical tools – things like therapy worksheets, intervention ideas, and digital assessments – that are designed to help you and your clients can stay connected and confident throughout the care journey. Even better, Blueprint helps streamline your documentation so that you can spend less time on your notes and more time on the things that matter.

To learn more and request a free 30-day trial, visit

Meet Dr. Mēgan Pickens

A photo of Dr. Mēgan Pickens is captured. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor. Dr. Mēgan Pickens is featured on Grow a Group Practice, a therapist podcast.

Dr. Mēgan Pickens is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor with nearly 20 years of clinical experience. She provides supervision and training for counseling students and associates new to the field (about LPC Supervision).

Dr. Mēgan was once a High Achieving Black Woman (HABW™) who struggled with setting boundaries in all of her relationships. During a ten-year troubled relationship, she learned that the more you accept and allow people to take what they want, the more they will continue to take. She worked in the counseling field for several years before realizing that she had a calling to help other HABW™, specifically black women who have been socialized to believe that the only normalcy is not having healthy boundaries. 

Visit The Volition Collective and connect on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

In This Podcast

  • The MBHPN
  • How to start a membership community
  • Create a variety of offerings


The Multicultural Behavioral Health Provider Network is an organization made up of therapists.

Dr. Pickens created a group of therapists with her supervisor – and later mentor – to facilitate and create a space where black mental health providers could connect.

As the organization began to evolve, they could start providing CEUs.

MBHPN right now is a membership group. We have a private network, [and] I still answer questions [personally].

Dr. Pickens

MBHPN hosts talks, continuing education, supervision, peer revision, and much more. It’s a community of black mental health providers where people can learn from and support one another in their private practice journeys.

How to start a membership community

At a foundational level, you can just start it! Meet with people and start collaborating. Dig into your existing network, see where you can create a network, plan a day and a time, and invite them to join with any questions or ideas to dive into.

Therapy can be very isolating, especially if you’re an individual practice, and I think even more so for group practice owners because you’re the boss, so there’s a layer between you and the employees in a sense … so, I would say, just start it!

Dr. Pickens

If you don’t yet have a following, think twice about charging a joining fee. Build up a base and a name first before charging people to join, otherwise, it might be difficult to get people in the door.

Create a variety of offerings

Once your community starts building a following and your attendees are committed enough to invest in it, consider offering a variety of different choices that they can choose from.

Have free events or meetings available, and then events or speakers too.

We have the regular monthly events and then … bonus events … so if you’re a member of MBHPN you can get that for free as part of your membership.

Dr. Pickens

If your membership is well-structured and well-resourced, it could be cheaper than other CEU programs that your attendees might be considering.

A membership community of therapists is not only then a place for networking and support, but also more affordable continual education and skill development.

Useful links mentioned in this episode:

Check out these additional resources:

Meet LaToya Smith

An image of LaToya Smith is captured. She is a consultant with Practice of the Practice and the owner of LCS Counseling. LaToya is featured on the Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.

LaToya is a consultant with Practice of the Practice and the owner of LCS Counseling and Consulting Agency in Fortworth Texas. She firmly believes that people don’t have to remain stuck in their pain or the place they became wounded. In addition to this, LaToya encourages her clients to be active in their treatment and work towards their desired outcomes.

She has also launched Strong Witness which is a platform designed to connect, transform, and heal communities through the power of storytelling.

Visit LaToya’s website. Connect with her on FacebookInstagramStrong Witness Instagram, and Twitter.

Apply to work with LaToya.

Email her at [email protected]

Podcast Transcription

[LATOYA SMITH] The Grow A Group Practice Podcast is part of the Practice of the Practice Network, a network of podcast seeking to help you market and grow your business and yourself. To hear other podcasts like the Practice of the Practice Podcast, go to You are listening to the Grow A Group Practice Podcast, a podcast focused on helping people start, grow, and scale a group practice. Each week you’ll hear topics that are relevant to group practice owners. I’m LaToya Smith, a practice owner, and I love hearing about people’s stories and real-life experiences. So let’s get started. Welcome back to the Grow A Group Practice Podcast. I’m your host, LaToya Smith. You know that we talk about all things group practice, how to grow, how to scale, just how to start your group practice. Today’s guest is somebody I know from here in the DFW, Dr. Mēgan Pickens and I was excited this is a person that I think we go, we go back in some interview stuff. I remember like the radio days, I would ask her to come on and chat. Yes, she’s real cool. She’s got a big persona. She’s a person like when you look up the definition of extrovert, I see her picture there and I’m like, I’m a far introvert. Dr. Pickens welcome so much to the Grow A Group Practice podcast. [DR. MĒGAN PICKENS] Thank you. Thank you for having me. [LATOYA] Yeah, yeah. You know what, I never talked about with you. We got that Super Bowl thing. I know that you a Kansas City fan and I’m a Eagles fan, and I was so sad, I looked on Facebook and I saw you cheering and I was just like you know what, I’m, I was so upset that night. I went and did work. That’s how I was upset. I did like an Excel spreadsheet. I should [DR. MĒGAN] I mean, I turned it down a little bit for y’all because I, but I was overly excited and I just, I mean, they’re the Super Bowl champions. I don’t know what to tell you. Yeah, I mean, we never expected it, so it’s awesome. [LATOYA] It’s sad months later. But welcome so much. Yeah, Mēgan, tell us, tell the audience about who you are and about your practice. [DR. MĒGAN] All right. So I am Dr. Mēgan Pickens. I finished, I actually finished my doctorate right at the beginning. Well, the middle of the pandemic, the beginning that first year. My Ph.D. is in Marriage and Family Therapy and I am in private practice in Arlington. I’ve always been in this area. This is actually my 14th year of practice. I started off like in Mansfield proper and now I’m in South Arlington right there on the border. I specialize in work with high achieving black women and their partners. I also work with men to address healthy masculinity. I don’t like to call it toxic so much just because it’s like a buzzword and I don’t think masculinity is toxic. I just think that some of the behaviors that society perpetuates are toxic. I also am a supervisor and so I’ve been a supervisor for 12 years because when I started you could do a supervisor license in two years, which, I’ve learned so much through that. So I teach the LP, the 40 hour supervision course, and I keep saying LPC, but actually now I can do LPC and LMFT. So I’m excited about that. Then I also do the supervisor refresher. I can do that for LPCs, LMFTs and social workers. So I’m pretty excited about that. Yeah, for the board rules, it says that we can do CEU for all three groups and so the only one that has any extra qualifications is the supervisor one and so I’m trying to find out some clarification about the social work one. [LATOYA] Yeah, that’s awesome. [DR. MĒGAN] Yes. So I have that my next 40 hours actually next week and then I have a refresher on May 6th so those are coming up for me. Then also I speak and do community events as well. I like to be involved in the community so you’ll see me at health fairs and events like that and I will, I’m involved with the Arlington Black Chamber of Commerce, so I do a lot. [LATOYA] You do a lot. You definitely do a lot. But this is good. You definitely, like, even when we talk about when it’s time to grow, scale of practice and residual forms of income, not just your practice, but the speaking engagements, supervision itself. So this is a perfect example that practice owners can begin to, as you grow, branch out. What made you want to start a group practice like 14 years ago? [DR. MĒGAN] It’s funny you say that. I actually didn’t set off to start a group practice. I just knew I wanted to be in practice because I had worked at hospitals and facilities and things like that and I just did not, I wanted to do something different, if that makes sense. So I was in my practice minding my business, and this practicum student comes in and says, “Hey, I want to do my hours with you.” It’s funny because I still know her till today. It’s funny, we just spoke. So she came in my office and said, I want to do my internship with you and I’m like, I can’t do that. Like I’m thinking I don’t know anything about that. Can’t do it because I had no thoughts of having anybody else in my practice. And at that point I wasn’t even, I don’t think I even knew anybody else with the group practice. So I took her on and from there I was like, okay, I like having people in the office. Then the word spread, because number one, in Mansfield at that time, I’m pretty sure I was the only black provider. Now there are probably five, a new practice opened with like five of them so there’s probably 10 or 15 now. But at that time I was it and so she was so excited just about being able to find a black woman and so she told other people so I started getting these students and then as the years passed, I met somebody that I really has been a great mentor friend to me Stacy Alexander. That was, Stacy’s practice has been around for like 20 years, so almost since I got here. So I somehow, I guess Facebook started getting more, I started using it more because before then Facebook used to be for college students and all that. So anyway, I think I found her, I saw her on Facebook or something like that, and she was running a group practice so I started researching her and I was like, oh, I want to do what she does. You can have like a group of people working for you. That started it. So I reached out to her and she’s the reason, she’s a lot of the reason why, number one, I do what I do and number two, that I will, most of y’all who have ever been in my class or know me, I get questions from people all the time. Like, hey, I want to ask you this, so I want to ask you that and I’ll usually answer you, I’m not like charging for every second of my time. That’s because of her, because she literally, we went to Olive Garden, I’ll never forget and she said, well, what do you want to know? So I just sat down and asked her. She just gave me an overview of what she did and was like, if you need some help, let me know. So from there, that just sparked my group practice growth, but it also sparked my, I guess desire to like help other people and really get into supervision and things like that. [LATOYA] Yeah, that’s a blessing and that’s how, I can’t remember how we met, but I know I started attending those, the Friday — [DR. MĒGAN] Yes, MBHPN. It’s the 10th year now. [LATOYA] That’s a blessing. [DR. MĒGAN] Yes. That’s what I saw. That’s why I took the because people had been saying for years to charge them. But you know me, I’m really, it was more about operating costs is why I, but it’s $55 for the year and you get like 33 CEOs like right now — [LATOYA] Tell the audience what that is for those that don’t know, for those that don’t know what it is for those outside the DFW, tell the audience what that is that you do. [DR. MĒGAN] So MBHPN is the Multicultural Behavioral Health Provider Network. It was started by me and a colleague 10 years ago. We started it because we would meet up all the time. She actually used to be my supervisor at my job and once I started wanting to be a supervisor, she started being a mentor to me. So we would meet all the time and then we would talk about how we knew other black mental health providers and even those of different races as well. But people would come looking for them and say that they couldn’t find them. So between having somebody to peer review with and helping people find other people, we just started meeting and we, it was really informal at first. Actually our first meeting, there was like three or four of us and what’s so funny is one of the three people that was there, well, she was one of them, but one of the other people, she is still involved with the group to this day. She’s the first ones logged on every time. So I think, I just think that’s so awesome. I think she’s awesome. So as it evolved, we started, and to be able to provide, we started to move from there and so in the last three years, I ended up doing it by myself because the person that founded it with me had some other stuff going on. So we just decided to stop doing it together and, but I didn’t want to let the group go and people were always asking about it, they still do to date. So MBHPN right now is a membership group. We have a private network. I still answer questions. Right now I have, like I said, 33 CEUs for this year. You can join either month to month or you can join for the year or you can visit one session. It really costs you a lot more to visit one session so it just makes more sense to join yearly. But our speaker this month is Lindsay Altra of Nexus Recovery Center. She’ll be talking to us about engaging Hispanic clients into therapy. [LATOYA] That’s good. [DR. MĒGAN] Last month we had Dr. Kimber Shelton speaking to us about publishing. Because one of the things that we definitely should know about as group practice owners and just therapists, even if you’re in practice by yourself, is having multiple streams of income. For me, that works well, not only because I don’t have to concentrate on just one thing, but because that variety keeps me from being burned out, I think. Because I’ve been, I can’t even believe I used to do it, but I literally used to do five days a week, eight clients a day. A lot of people still do that now. I don’t know how they did it, but I would have four back to back in the morning, take a lunch break and four back to back in the afternoon. [BLUEPRINT] Providing great therapy day after day can be challenging even for the best of us. At Blueprint, they believe that nothing should get in the way of you doing your best work, Which is why they created a platform that provides therapists with an array of clinical tools, Things like therapy, worksheets, intervention ideas and digital assessments that are designed to help you and your clients stay connected and confident throughout the care journey. Even better Blueprint helps streamline your documentation so that you can spend less time on your notes and more times on things that matter. To learn more and request a free 30-day trial visit [LATOYA SMITH] But that’s the good — [DR. MĒGAN] Hashtag, I don’t recommend [LATOYA] but that’s the good part. Like what I’ve been saying lately a lot is as I’ve matured as a business owner, dot, dot, dot, and I’ll just finish the sentence. So we learned things about our flow, about what we can, how much we can really take, but I love how we’re talking right now, especially as a practice owner, ways to scale. So I don’t always have to be in the office. Now I can branch out. My practice is making money without me and now my attention has shifted. But we’re talking about membership communities now And even as you are speaking, what I’m wondering is for the audience, like man, if somebody’s listening, how do I start a membership community? Like do I have to know a bunch of people? Can I just have an idea? Like how do you stay consistent for 10 years every Friday, and then through the pandemic? So what’s your advice for somebody who’s thinking that? And that’s something I would love to do, I would love to offer CEUs, I just don’t know where to begin. [DR. MĒGAN] Well, just start it. I mean like I told you, we started off with three people. So it was just us meeting, collaborating, talking to each other about even just our day, because therapy can be very isolated, especially if you’re an individual practice and I think even more so for group practice owners because you are the boss. So there’s a layer between you and the employees in a sense in the practice or the count, even if you do 1099s. So I would say just start it. I think if you don’t have a following, I don’t necessarily think I would start it off with charging. Now I’m not, hey some people do that and that’s fine, but for me, I love the way that we organically got to where we are. So I think that 10th year represents all the work that was done in the background but all the contribution I’ve made to the field, like, I mean because like I said, this was free, like 100% free for 10 years organizing speakers. The other thing when you talked about the pandemic, the pandemic is actually what even expanded the group because we were only meeting in person prior to the pandemic. But when the pandemic came along people were asking, “Well, what’s going on with the meetings?” I said, “Well, we can do them online.” That just sparked, I mean we’ve had people from one all over the country. [LATOYA] That’s awesome. [DR. MĒGAN] Let me see, Chicago, Oregon, Washington, you name it, all over the country. But we’ve also had people from all over the world. I’ve had people attend from Peru, Ireland, London. I think we have one from South Africa because it was all posted on Eventbrite. So people were seeing it. So it’s been a challenge switching over to the paid model because I don’t advertise it on Eventbrite like that anymore. I tried to put it on there as free, but I don’t want to do people, I don’t want people to think, oh you get to come to a free event and then you get a link to the paid event or whatever. So I’m still trying to figure out like how to do that, how to put it out there and still keep it out there but not, I don’t know, like I said, not dupe people. That’s been a challenge for me to share because the people who know about it know about it. But I have somebody that’s helping me with my social media and stuff like that because also I’ve realized that even though I have people who know me like you know me and you’ll just call me and say, hey, it’s such and such going on, but you’re not necessarily seeing it on your social media. So just learning how social media works nowadays and all this algorithm stuff, it’s also been something new. [LATOYA] But I think too, I love what you said, let things happen organically. I do like the idea of, sometimes I think we get caught up when it’s social media, like you just said, of somebody else’s, okay, let me jump on that too and charge $1000 dollars right now but it took work to get to that point. But I like the fact, I love that you said, hey just start, you don’t have to wait till everything’s ready but also let it happen organically. So yeah, if I’m sitting in the office and I do have a team, I can pull some therapists together, we can start chatting and then start inviting some other people, for those that are listening all over the country and then hey now we can start doing some things and teaching. It sounds like everything for you has been just that an organic, hey just a genuine conversation and growth came from that. [DR. MĒGAN] Right, because I had been doing it by myself the last couple of years. So then I started thinking, because think about it, I’m getting 11 speakers for the year. I’m getting 11 people to volunteer their time for two hours every month except for December because I always do like a little Christmas party type thing. So that’s a lot of work. And then making sure that people have their certificates because I had to get tougher on the certificates because people wouldn’t do the review, the evaluation after and then would call me five months after and say, “Hey I need my certificate.” So now I have a rule that there’s a link, there’s an automated certificate and if you don’t fill it out and you call me to do a manual one, it’s $15. Isn’t that because I’m trying to make money, it’s because I’m trying to make you do the stuff yourself. [LATOYA] There still needs to be a system in order and structure to it. [DR. MĒGAN] Yes, there’s something extra that I have to do for it. So just things like that. So I really realized in the last year or two that I really need some assistant or probably VA to help me with that. I haven’t moved that far to get that started. [LATOYA] So what happens in those, so you meet two hours, is it once a month, is it twice a month now? [DR. MĒGAN] It’s once a month. But because of the membership I have bonus events. So you have the regular monthly events and then I have gotten people to do like bonus events. So one of the bonus events is Dr. Tanisha is going to do a three hour ethics for us. [LATOYA] Oh wow, that’s good. [DR. MĒGAN] So not many black women doing ethics trainings. And Tanisha’s been doing it for a long time actually, which is why I reach out to her to do it. So she’ll be one of the bonuses so if you are a member of MBHPN, you get that free as part of your membership, there’s no additional. Now I’m thinking about that might be one that I offer like to the public where people can come for one time or whatever but it’s not going to be the same price as the monthly meetings because it’s ethics. So it’s going to be a little bit more [LATOYA] Absolutely. So two hours and, I know before we were meeting, again, this is pre-pandemic, meeting at the same location and then is it a lot of networking? Is it two hours of — [DR. MĒGAN] Yes. So I tell the presenters to have 60 to 90 minutes of material and then the rest of it is networking. Then we have some worked into the calendar that are just networking. Actually I’m going to be having, I guess I don’t, it’s going to be like old school MBHPN when we just meet up and talk. It won’t be the regular meeting but it’ll be another time because I’m finding out that I missed that part. [LATOYA] Ok. That’s the — [DR. MĒGAN] And doing the business part. As you said, I’m an extrovert so sometimes I just want to talk to y’all. And actually I partnered with another male counselor pre-pandemic and we actually did an outing where we all went out as therapists, just like for happy hour or something like that. [LATOYA] Got you. And then how do you, for those listening to, were just organically grown, I think I mentioned it a minute ago, if I just, if somebody listening just got together with, for the therapist they know somebody got to start talking about a topic that’s important and then do you just, how do you find other people? Is it like you said, word of mouth? Is it just — [DR. MĒGAN] It’s more, it started off as word of mouth because we weren’t doing a lot of social media stuff. Remember I said that the social media and all of that really started maybe in 2018 is when I started really using social media and adding that as a component to our group and post it online that you could come and just send out reminders. We had an email list, so we tried to start being more intentional about the email list. So I mean literally it was really just organic and like I said, this last couple of years after all this work, because even online it’s work, like I said, coordinating people, making sure the speaker comes, making sure people give you their presentation, it’s a lot of work to run this group. [LATOYA] Yeah. [DR. MĒGAN] So that’s when I just decided, okay, I’m going to charge something. I know, as I’ve been told that I do not charge enough for it, for what you get. But that’s okay with me because I’m really not doing it for money per se. It’s more about the community and building the community, educating other counselors because I just found I really love training and connecting people and all of that stuff, making a space for therapists actually, especially therapists that are from different cultures because we can learn so much from each other. So, like I said, $55 a year, and so I’ve even had people say this is cheaper than whatever CEU program or this is cheaper than being part of whatever organization. Like they’re telling me like, no, this is valuable. The other thing is, if you’re a speaker, you get a discount, you get half off. But you still get all the benefits that everybody else does. I offer discounts for associates. [LATOYA] It’s a great, even at, I know it’s a great experience from going in the past, but like what you just said, you get, it’s a greater bonus. Not only am I’m going and I’m seeing people, I’m connecting, I’m able to network. I come out with newfound relationships. I come out with more knowledge. [DR. MĒGAN] And it’s collaborations because I’ve got so many collaborations from that because people will say, oh, I went to your group in 2015 and I’ll be like, oh, that’s where I know you from. [LATOYA] No, there’s a beauty in that. Again, I think it’s about just the organically just starting. I think too, as far as presenters, you’d be surprised somebody may be sitting there, but what can I talk about? You know more than you think when you start to talk. [DR. MĒGAN] Yes. I still have a few presenters and I’m trying to present because they know stuff, but they’re like, I’m not a presenter kind of person. But yes, I mean there’s something that you do that somebody else doesn’t do. You have some niche that you don’t know about nine times out of 10 and it’ll be something simple. Like for me, I’m pretty techy. So like my practice has been using electronic medical records before they forced everybody to do it. I’ve been doing online scheduling, I’ve been doing all of that probably seven or eight years. So I would just tell people, oh yeah, I do such and such and they’re like, wait a minute, you did what? How did you do that? What did you use? So that started, I’ve done a couple of meetings in the past about like, okay, this is some of the things that you can do to make your life easier by using something electronic. I didn’t know that was a niche. I did at the Behavioral Health Symposium. I did a training a few years ago about that and it was what to take, I want to do this. Question mark, Sylvia helped me come up with that. I’m actually going to bring that one back. [LATOYA] Yeah, bring that back. [DR. MĒGAN] That’s copyrighted. Don’t use my title [LATOYA] For those listeners. [DR. MĒGAN] Not you. I’m talking about listeners, that’s already a title, it is already my tick, the question mark. [LATOYA] I’m glad that you got that, you did that. [DR. MĒGAN] That’s trademark, question mark. I mean, copyright something. Don’t use my stuff. [LATOYA] You got a lot of valuable gems and then just once again, I just, I’m just, the part that I love the most is the organic feel of it, just starting with what you got, starting with you have and then building. Sitting on a gold mine. For most people, people realize that they’re, and you can just build where you’re at. [DR. MĒGAN] Yea, because I wasn’t thinking that. I got the idea from other people and they’re like, you giving all that away? And I’m like, yeah. So then I was even hesitant. You see, like I said, I don’t charge that much for it, because, I mean it’s about connection. [LATOYA] So how can people, not just in the, I mean of course in the DFW where they’ll come, but those across the states or world where they’re listening, how can they get in touch to be a part of this monthly group, to get these CEUs? [DR. MĒGAN] So it is M as in Mary, B as in boy, H as in hat, P as in Paul, N as in Nancy, dot org ( If you go there, then you can, it’ll give you a little background of the group and it’ll take you to the private group. I even allow people to visit. So there is a public section of the group where you can visit and I’ll, not as good as I want to, but the goal is to post like resources. Like when I find out about free trainings and things like that, I’ll post it in the group. [LATOYA] Then how can people get in touch with you directly if they have any questions about your work or want you to come present or anything like that? [DR. MĒGAN] You can find me at If you do /quicklinks, then you can find my link, which is another trick I learnt about making your own link tree versus using Link Tree. [LATOYA] Okay. I’ll figure that out. And spell Mēgan just so we, for those listening. [DR. MĒGAN] M-E-G-A-N. [LATOYA] So it’s just pronounced different, but it’s different? [DR. MĒGAN] Mēgan, like Mēgan. That’s what I’ve been telling everybody, Mēgan like vegan. [LATOYA] All right. Well thank you so much Dr. Mēgan for being on the show today. We, I definitely appreciate your time. [DR. MĒGAN] No problem. Thank you. [LATOYA] Thank you so much to Blueprint for sponsoring this episode. If you love this podcast, please be sure to rate and review. This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regards to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or any other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.