How to start a practice with our Accountability Coach Dana Barber | PoP 681

A photo of Dana Barber is captured. Dana Barber is featured on Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.

What can therapists do to overcome impostor syndrome? How can you help yourself out in achieving your goals? Can you sidestep perfectionism to maintain progress?

In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks with our accountability coach, Dana Barber, about how to start a practice.

Podcast Sponsor: Noble

A an image of Noble Health is captured. Noble Health is the podcast sponsor to Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.

Our friends over at Noble have some exciting news to share. Their goal is to help mental health professionals serve more people in less time, support a worthy cause, and earn passive income, and they are on a mission to add 50,000 mental health professionals to their platform over the next few months – and if you join Noble right now, you’ll be able to continue using your Noble account for FREE – FOREVER!

Learn more and join for FREE at

Meet Dana Barber

A photo of Dana Barber is featured. She is a certified Coach and Breathwork Facilitator. Dana is featured on the Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.Dana is a certified Coach and Breathwork Facilitator. She loves supporting people to achieve their goals, encouraging integrity-aligned action and self-responsibility. Dana supports Next Level Practice as the Accountability Coach and fosters community within the membership community.

Along with her coaching, and skills as a social worker from her previous career, she also brings her event planning experience to our annual Killin’ It Camp preparation.

In This Podcast

  • Overcoming impostor syndrome
  • Helpful mindsets and habits to create
  • Sidestep perfectionism
  • Dana’s advice to private practitioners

Overcoming impostor syndrome

I think the first thing is reminding each other of who we are and what we have accomplished … it’s not that you need another certification, it’s not that you need another thing behind your name, you already are a therapist … you have this. Everything you need you already have. (Dana Barber)

Therapists often struggle with impostor syndrome.

Remind yourself of what you have accomplished and how far you have already come each time you think that you cannot take another step ahead.

By being in a small group of therapists just like yourself, you are reminded of the journey and by supporting one another, you support yourself.

Helpful mindsets and habits to create

If you are a therapist who is wanting to start a practice with the potential goal of launching a group practice, how can you help yourself out?

The people that show up consistently are the ones that are proactive in their journeys. Create habits that help you to achieve your goals, such as:

  • Writing out the date of each webinar you want to join
  • Scheduling in your small deadlines
  • Mapping out your journey ahead of you

Every week [you are] reminded [that], “oh yeah, this is what I am doing”. Those are the people that go the farthest the fastest. (Dana Barber)

Sidestep perfectionism

The clinicians who often have success faster are those who sidestep perfectionism and focus on getting something done rather than getting it done perfectly.

Keep going. What you are doing now you will be able to see in six months, it is not immediate, [but keep going]. (Dana Barber)

Be creative, keep moving, and take one step at a time to help yourself achieve your goals and make progress rather than be paralyzed by perfection.

Dana’s advice to private practitioners

You can do it. You have everything you need to be successful. If you join Next Level Practice, it is another tool in your toolbox.

Useful Links mentioned in this episode:

Check out these additional resources:

Meet Joe Sanok

A photo of Joe Sanok is displayed. Joe, private practice consultant, offers helpful advice for group practice owners to grow their private practice. His therapist podcast, Practice of the Practice, offers this advice.

Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.

Thanks For Listening!

Feel free to leave a comment below or share this podcast on social media by clicking on one of the social media links below! Alternatively, leave a review on iTunes and subscribe!

Podcast Transcription

[JOE SANOK] This is the Practice of the Practice podcast with Joe Sanok, session number 681.

I’m Joe Sanok, your host, and welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast. If you just discovered us, welcome. Really glad that you’re here. You’ve got a couple episodes to catch up on, 680 to be precise. If you’ve been here for a while. Thanks for coming back. Thanks for hanging with us. We cover all things, private practice on this show from the moment you think to yourself I want to start a private practice to when you’re thinking you might want to hire your first people, maybe do a group practice, all those ancillary things like accounting, marketing, and just inspirational stories. So it’s fun for me to just follow my curiosity and see where it takes me.

Today we are going to be talking all about Next Level Practice and about what it takes to grow a practice and all the different things that go into it because we’re hanging out with Dana barber, who is one of my favorite people in the world. Dana and I were friends for years before I brought her on to Next Level Practice. She’s a life coach. She’s a breathwork specialist and she is our lead accountability coach with Next Level Practice and also did all of the conference planning for Killin’It Camp this year. I mean, what can she not do? Dana Barber, welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast.
[DANA BARBER] Hey, thanks for having me.
[JOE] It’s so fun to have a friend work with Practice of the Practice. Like it’s totally a gamble where it could make our friendship just fall apart or we get to hang out more.
[DANA] Yes.
[JOE] Yes. Well, let’s just start with, tell us a little bit about your life, coaching, your breathwork, the things that you were interested in well before Practice of the Practice, because you do a lot of things outside of just working with Practice of the Practice.
[DANA] Well, my first career was in social work and then I had kids and I was home for a bit and I decided, well, I hired myself a coach and decided, oh, I can do that. That’s totally for me. So I completed all of that training, I started my own business virtually in 2017, just life coaching, accountability coaching, transition coaching, all that stuff. I love it. It’s a natural fit for me. But what I didn’t love was owning a business, but I kept at it anyway. Then I completed my breathwork certification in 2019 and started doing that. I love it, but still like owning a business is not my favorite. I just really love coaching. It was about that time that you and I saw each other and you offered me this job and I said, yes.
[JOE] So at that time in Next Level Practice I was not keeping up with Facebook very well. A lot of the small groups out of everything people were saying was just like the least popular thing because they were being self-run. So I had recognized that I really needed to have some sort of accountability coach and you and I were sitting outside of our camper at Fort Collins, Colorado, or my camper. You were visiting, your have a house. I was on the road. So I remember being like, well, Dana, why don’t you work for me? We talked through it and sketched out all the things for you in Practice of the Practice. So how, when someone asks you what you do with Practice of the Practice, how do you describe your role with Practice of the Practice?
[DANA] Ooh, well, I describe it, like I get to interact with really brave people starting their own practices and help them reach the goals that they set out out to reach and offer support. I think that’s probably how I describe it. That’s my favorite part, meeting with everybody in the small groups and just hearing what they’re going through and figuring out ways to accomplish their goals in a manner that works for them.
[JOE] Yes. It’s Interesting. because now that you’ve been in this role, like a year and a half or so. You’ve seen four or five cohorts. When you think about how each cohort is different, it’s cool because you get to see from a macro perspective, maybe different attitudes towards counseling or feelings, what’s going on in society. What have you noticed since fall of 2020 until now, 2022 in regards to how people are thinking about counseling and the stresses they have and all that? What have you noticed changed over that time?
[DANA] Well, the first couple of cohorts, I think it was earlier on in the pandemic and I think people were a little more excited about the potentiality of working from home and figuring out all the new things and over the last year the last couple of cohorts, you can just feel the fatigue in people. It’s feels heavier and people have more self-doubt than in the beginning. That seems to be a topic that comes up a lot lately, is the imposter syndrome, just trying to show up, even though it’s hard to show up for themselves.
[JOE] Why do you think there’s that connection between fatigue and imposter syndrome? Because I’m thinking, when I’m tired it doesn’t necessarily lead to, I’m bad at, I don’t make that jump for me personally. What’s your guess? I know that you have a limited sample, but why do you think people are jumping to imposter syndrome when they’re fatigued?
[DANA] Maybe we have less energy to be connected to our gifts or what we’re really good at. When we’re tired and tired of looking at ourselves on a computer screen and you just, I think when you’re tied, it just brings up stuff that you’re able to keep in check when you’ve got more energy.
[JOE] Like your worst habits come out a lot easier when you’re tired. So if you already have some self-doubt, then if you’re tired and if you’re sick of COVID, that’s going to come out.
[DANA] Perfectionism, I think that really is raising its head recently too. It’s always an excuse to not launch a website, it’s not perfect or and it’s hard for people to remember that when somebody’s looking for a therapist on a website, they don’t care what your font looks like. They just want the button to schedule or find out if you have room.
[JOE] It’s like launching things is better than overthinking it, especially when so many people are counseling right now.
[DANA] Yes. That’s a trend too. It seems like everybody’s either full or they’re not getting people, they’re not getting clients. There’s less middle of the road right now.
[JOE] Are there any things you see with people that aren’t getting clients that seem to be commonalities between them or is it all over the board?
[DANA] When people are putting their stuff on Psychology Today or the other listings, I think maybe expectations could be like, I think that sometimes people think if you do this one thing, everybody’s going to start pouring in your doors and that’s not really the case, especially when it’s up to somebody else’s algorithm or whatever.
[JOE] So when people have this self-doubt and perfectionism in the small groups, what advice, because small groups, you’re not the consultant telling them what to do. You’re facilitating, you’re the person that’s saying, you’re a bunch of smart professionals. Let’s brainstorm this. You’re great at facilitating. I mean, all our surveys are just like, Dana’s amazing. How are people supporting each other? What advice are they giving one another in those situations when they have the self-doubt or when they have the imposter syndrome, perfectionism, all of that?
[DANA] Well, I think the first thing is just reminding each other of who we are and what we have accomplished. It’s not that you need another certification. It’s not that you need another thing behind your name. You already are a therapist. You’ve all already seen thousands of hours of people. You have this. Everything you need, you already have. It’s not going to come from somebody else. I think it’s everybody, and since everyone’s been through what the other people are going through, it’s easy for everyone to be like, “Hey, I’ve been there.” And just that, just people hearing other people say, I’ve gone through this. I am going through this. You’re not alone, I think that’s the biggest benefit to the small groups, just the comradery of like, okay, okay. We’re trudging through this to together.
[JOE] So when people are successful in launching their practice, so Next Level Practice is all about from that moment you say to yourself, I think I want to start a practice all the way till you’re ready to get your first hire of a clinician, in that phase, the people that quickly move through that, what do you see them do on a regular basis? What are the habits? What are the actions? What are the mindsets that they have that they just cruise through Next Level Practice and maybe join Group Practice Launch in six months or nine months? What are they doing?
[DANA] Whether or not they start this right at the beginning, or have an awakening, it’s going through our content and mapping it out with the blueprint that we provide and then putting all of the webinars, all of the live events into their calendars so that they’re showing up and every week reminded of, oh yes, this is what I’m doing. Oh yes, this is what I’m doing. Those are the people who go the fastest, are the ones who show up and contribute and ask questions and offer support to their small group, partners, accountability partners, all the things. It’s the people that show up consistently.
[JOE] I still remember there was one person, her first name’s Michelle and she showed up, this was probably a year ago to one of the what’s working. I think we only had seven or eight people. I mean we have hundreds of people in Next Level Practice and there’s times when just a handful show up for our events so they get all this individual attention. She wasn’t sure how to frame out her specialty. We spent probably five or 10 minutes, just laser coaching around that. To be that vulnerable with a group and say like, “I can’t figure out my specialty, I’m not giving the clients I want,” and then now she’s in Group Practice Boss, and she’s growing it, crushing it.

To see those people that show up routinely, I can picture them in my head because they’re showing up for themselves. They’re just like month after month saying, this month, I’m going to finish my website. This month. I’m going to get on Psychology today and Google My Business and just following the blueprint. It’s amazing to see how, like, when you just follow blueprint. It takes the ego out of it, where if it fails, it’s like, well, that was Joe’s idea. I have no reason saying it’s myself. Or it’s like you have a supportive community of, okay, here’s the 20 things that we’re going to walk through over the next six months and help you launch this practice and get your first clients.
[NOBLE] Our friends over at Noble have some exciting news to share. Their goal is to help mental health professionals serve more people and less time, support a worthy cause and earn passive income. They are on a mission to add 50,000 mental health professionals to their platform over the next few months. If you join Noble right now, you’ll be able to continue using your Noble account for free forever. Learn more and join for free at Again, that’s What else are you noticing in regards to what people do on a regular basis that you would say are maybe successful faster than the average practice that’s getting going?
[DANA] People who don’t let their perfectionism paralyze their decisions, like just putting up the website, even though it’s not perfect. Not getting distracted with ideas or whatever, like just focus on getting the technicalities ironed out and then you get to be creative. And just keep moving one step at a time. I think that’s it, just keep moving. Don’t stop. Just keep going. There have been a couple of people who were in Next Level Practice for a while. I’m thinking about Jason and he last, when he he joined, he had like five people and now he’s considering starting a group. But he was like, I was so discouraged when I first started because I wasn’t, but he just always says, just keep going. What you’re doing now, you’ll be able to see in months. It’s not immediate.
[JOE] I think he’s, let me look ahead. Oh, he was on the podcast a while back talking about that journey. So when we drop people’s names, they’re people who have already talked publicly about these things. Just want to say that, sorry. No, that’s fine. I said, Michelle. We’re proud of our people. It’s hard to not brag about them. it’s amazing to see. So when you look at people that maybe aren’t moving as fast, and it could just be the opposite of what you said, but maybe there’s some things that stand in the way emotionally or mindsets that they still hold onto that you’re like, man. I mean, you’re an accountability coach. So what I often say is, when people need a kick in the pants, you give them a kick in the pants. When they need a virtual hug, you give them a virtual hug. Like Dana’s doing both sides of that. What are the kicking the pants things that you just want to shake people and be like, do this, stop doing this?
[DANA] The waffling on decisions. Everybody starts out being like, I don’t want to take insurance. Then they get moving and the clients aren’t pouring in the doors immediately. So then people start getting distracted with signing up for all the insurances. Then a couple months later they realize this is such a pain in the neck. I didn’t want to do insurance, so that stuff. Like, you just got to stick with your decision for a while and see how it pans out and trust the process. It’s not immediate, nothing. There’s no magic, like, sorry, you’re not a magician, Joe, but you know what I mean? I think that’s what people feel desperate and they sign up for something and think it’s going to be immediate, but it takes work. It still takes intention and some sticking to it.
[JOE] My thought with Next Level Practice in particular is you’re going to put in hours into growing your practice either way. If you’re starting a practice you’re going to in hours. You might as well do it in the right areas. So it’s not that it’s going to be zero work. It’s the work you do is going to be the best step right now. It’s going to be the most effective and you’re going to know how to test that and know if it’s working as well.
[DANA] So I think my approach is just to gently call people on the things that might be excuses. Because therapists are really good at making up pretty reasons that sound like, not excuses, but they are.
[JOE] Can you think of any examples? Now I’m like, what if you can’t get the time?
[DANA] I know. No now, not off the top of my head. I’m not getting it out now.
[JOE] You don’t have a post-it note of crazy excuses people have made?
[DANA] No, I don’t.
[JOE] Maybe we should make a video of crazy excuses where you just read people’s.
[DANA] I don’t think people are trying to do it on purpose, but what’s really behind, like, why really are you avoiding pushing, going on your website or whatever?
[JOE] I would love to walk through the touch points that someone will experience when they sign up with Next Level Practice of where they connect with you. Because I think sometimes people get in and they’re like I didn’t realize how robust Practice of the Practice made Next Level Practice, or even just how much hand holding from the beginning there really is. Will you just walk us through the moment someone decides to sign up? So our next cohort opens, let me just make sure, it opens on March 7th. So, you can any time before that, just sign up there or rock this out. This episode is going live on, let’s just look, the eighth. Oh, so actually it opened up yesterday. Yesterday it opened up, But walk us through the touch points people have from the very beginning.
[DANA] Sure. So when someone signs up, there’s a form that Jess forwards to me and then I schedule an onboarding call. When you sign up, you get all these emails with all this information and to do lists. Then we hop on an onboarding call and always tell people, the purpose of this call is to help you not feel overwhelmed by all of the information you are receiving. So we just walk together through all of the different aspects, what times things are at, how to access things. That’s a good time for me too, to hear where someone’s at, so that when they’re looking for an accountability partner, I can remember, oh, these two would be a great fit. Yes, that’s just like the initial, “Hey, let’s meet each other. Let’s get connected and figure this all out.” That’s where people take a breath and they’re like, oh my gosh. Okay, thank you. It’s a lot of information all of a sudden.
[JOE] We don’t want to miss anything on our side in regards to like, oh yes, we have 30 plus e-courses, we’ve got small groups, we’ve got live events. A lot of people feel like they have to do all of it, but it’s more okay, what for you at your phase is the natural next step?
[DANA] Yes, and some people that’s where we figure out maybe Group Practice Launch is a better fit or whatever, a different program.
[JOE] So then after that, what’s their experience? They then go into the Facebook group in, like we’re launching Circle?
[DANA] Yes, sign up for the Facebook, get into Teachable, figure out where they’re at in the blueprint, what resources are going to be the most valuable. That’s where they sign up for our text alerts and the Google Calendar, everything’s really integrated and easy to fit into your life if you make the effort. I always tell people too, I think you’ve said this a lot, that you are creating a business that works for you, not an another business you work for. So start off by making your schedule how you want it to be and fit the important things in first.
[JOE] What are some of the things in the Facebook group, and that’s going to transition to? Circle, which is a little bit better platform, but in that group that see people getting help, assistance questions what’s that look like for people?
[DANA] Oh, that’s great. That’s like, if someone’s shopping around for an electronic health record system or what microphone to use if they’re doing mostly virtual therapy and are consulting are involved in there. If someone’s not getting traction on their question, then they can pop in there and be like, “Hey Whitney, do you have any advice here? Or Joe.” It’s a great spot because there’s people who have been in Next Level Practice for years and years and are just still there for the community aspect. They’ve got their practice up and running. So it’s people at all different levels. Somebody has been where you are in there. It’s great.
[JOE] Yes.
[DANA] It’s a great resource.
[JOE] Then we have two events a month minimum. One is Ask the Expert, the other is What’s Working. So in What’s Working everyone comes together and we have different topics. It might be what’s working with online marketing. Then we break you up into small groups and then come back to a large group and report out the best things from those groups. Then Ask the Expert we bring in different types of experts like Daniel Pink or Pat Flynn or Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman, people that we actually pay to have come in or buy a bunch of their books and then send you their books as a way to have really top level experts that you wouldn’t normally have access to. When you think about Next Level Practice, if we’re thinking big picture outcomes, Dana, what would you say someone should expect over say six to nine months of joining Next Level Practice?
[DANA] Increase confidence, more clients, and understanding of how to market your practice, how to connect with other providers, how to network, how to just have some more boundaries around your own business. I think everyone feel more of an ownership for the beautiful thing that they’re creating.
[JOE] Dang. That’s awesome, right off the top of your head.
[DANA] Yes. Just thought of it. It’s real.
[JOE] Boom. That’s amazing. Who would you say shouldn’t sign up for Next Level Practice? Who would you say like, definitely maybe it’s not right for you right now?
[DANA] If you don’t want to work, if you don’t want to try, if you don’t want to show up. If you really love working for somebody else and you don’t want to have your own business, don’t start your own business. I think somebody who’s not ready to commit to the time it takes to get it up and going. That’s it. Because even different personalities work with your program. You don’t have to be a Joe Sanok for this to be successful. That’s part of it, is figuring out how to make your steps you’ve provided work for somebody else. That’s part of, it’s a little bit fluid that way. People can take what works for them and leave what doesn’t.
[JOE] Well, to me, it’s giving people the structure, the steps, the things that we know work, that are the building blocks, but then it’s always through the lens of their own values, their own specialty, their own culture. It’s them building their business but to know here’s the basic skeleton that if you don’t have good SEO and you don’t rank in Google, you’re probably not going to be as effective as if you are on the first page. If your website doesn’t look decent you’re going to turn people away, but it doesn’t need to be perfect. There’s all these just basic steps, like what’s the bare minimum in every area to just get things rolling? Well, awesome. Dana, the last question I always ask is if every private practitioner in the world were listening right now, what would you want them to know?
[DANA] That you can do it. You have everything you need to be successful. If you join Next Level Practice, it’s just another tool in your toolbox. That would be helpful.
[JOE] So awesome. Well Dana, we love having you as the accountability coach and our conference planner. You’re such an important part of the team. I’m so glad we’re friends still after working together for a year and a half.
[DANA] Me too.
[JOE] Awesome. Well, Dana I have an awesome day.
[DANA] Thanks, Joe.
[JOE] Well, depending on what time you are listening to this, on March 8th at noon Eastern and on March 9th at 2:00 o’clock Eastern, we’re going to have our 0 – 100K webinar, which is all about how to start a private practice, running through the numbers, running through the actions, quarter by quarter for your first two years, totally free webinar. You can sign up over at, that’s the number 100, 100 K webinar. That’s You sign up over there for that free webinar. It’s going to be on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. Also on Thursday we’re going to have a Q&A all about Next Level Practice at 1:00 o’clock Eastern, 12:00 central, 11:00 mountain and 10:00 Pacific. So you can sign up for all of those over at

If you have heard about Next Level Practice, and you’re saying to yourself, I want to sign up right now, this week, it’s open until Thursday at 5:00 o’clock Eastern. You can sign up over at It has all the information there all about it. It has key things like about our small groups, accountability partners, our over 30 plus e-courses you get access to, our live events, all these things that wrap around you to help you start a private practice. Again, that’s We are so excited about this launch. It’s going to be the largest cohort we’ve had so far, and can’t wait to support you in that.

Lastly, we could not do this podcast without our sponsors, and we are so excited about our friends at Noble Our friends at Noble believe in using technology to enhance, not replace human connection. With Noble, your clients will gain access to between-session support through their automated, therapist-created, which is so important that the therapist actually created this roadmaps, assessments, track progress and in-app messaging. Not only will Noble help you offer your clients a more transformative experience, but you can also earn passive income while doing it. Learn more and join for free at Again, that’s

Thank you so much for letting me into your ears and into your brain. Have an amazing week. I’ll talk to you soon. Bye.

Special thanks to the band Silence is Sexy for your intro music. We really like it. And 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 publisher, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.