Joanne Kim On The Six Steps To Start A Private Practice I PoP 314

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Joanne Kim On The Six Steps To Start A Private Practice

Are you stuck in a job that is draining you emotionally and physically but you are just lacking motivation or guidance on how to start your own private practice? Are you feeling lonely and not sure what next step to take on this journey? What if  there was a space where you could connect with like minded people and learn from them?

In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks with Joanne Kim about the six steps to start a private practice.

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Next Level Practice is an industry-changing project to help counselors to start a private practice. Unlike many programs that are time-limited, or just an e-course, this brand new approach offers live and recorded trainings, small group accountability, and feedback.

If you are ready to get some support for your current practice or you want to take your practice to the next level, simply visit this site:

Meet Joanne Kim

Joanne is the owner of OliveMe Counseling. She is an associate marriage and family therapist in San Jose, California. She helps adult survivors of emotional abuse and neglect and high conflict couples. For those who feels stuck, anxious and frustrated with their relationships, Joanne helps them thrive.

Joanne’s website and blog can be found at

Find out more about Joanne here:




Joanne Kim’s Story

In early 2017 Joanne was working two jobs, which was leaving her feeling utterly exhausted. Joanne had a moment where she realized she had to leave her second job which was of an administrative nature, in order to start her own private practice. She really wanted to do what she loved, which was to connect with people, have flexibility and to be able to make her own decisions. She realized that she works best when she is the direct point of contact and wanted to connect with people by eliminating those barriers in-between by having her own practice.

In This Podcast


In this episode Joe speaks with Joanne about how she went from working two jobs to starting her own private practice. Joanne found motivation and had a big mind shift when she read the book From Clinician to CEO by Casey Truffo. This book speaks about all the different hats that private practice owners have to wear.

The Phases Kim Went Through In The First Year of Starting Her Practice:

Having the chance to slow down and tune in to who I am and what I want to see happen.

  • She started a dream session in an attempt to regain inspiration and hope
  • Named her practice
  • Evaluated her practice
  • Blogging
  • Joined Next Level Practice

Joanne Wrote A Blog Specifically for Pre Licensed Therapists

In order for me to build a thriving practice, I need to be healthy.

  1. Track your data – taking a look at the health of your practice.
  2. Know thyself – taking a look at your emotional health.
  3. Know thy why – identifying the specific vision you have for your practice, why did you come into this field to begin with.
  4. Find your sweet spot/ideal client – the more you work with your ideal client the better you and your client will feel.
  5. Find your tribe/community – connect with other professionals in your area and not seeing them as your competition, but rather as your allies or ‘co-opetion’.
  6. Learn the business – doing all the things that you need in order to run your business such as operations, finances and administrative duties.

Read Joanne’s blog here: 6 Steps for Prelicensed Therapists to Build Their Ideal Practice

Why Joanne has Joined Next Level Practice

She wanted to be intentional about her journey and be part of a space where it was safe to share, be vulnerable and learn. Joanne found comfort in the fact that she was not alone on this journey and that she had a community she could turn to for advice and connect with.

Joanne found that having the daily and weekly challenges also gave her a focus and keeps on pushing those personal limits. She recommends that anyone who is interested in creating a practice and a life that suits them should sign up for Next Level Practice.

March to the beat of your own drum, find out who you are, find out who you aren’t and create a practice that looks like you. Your ideal clients are looking for you!

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Meet Joe Sanok

private practice consultant

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!

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Podcast Transcription

POP 314

[So much of learning online can be hot pudge – a mixture of actual, accurate information, and then, people just saying what they think. To keep it all straight, especially when you’re alone in the office, it’s really hard. That’s why we have a personal nature with Next Level Practice where you get accountability partners. You get small groups. You get a system to walk you through exactly what to do next, so you can use your limited time in the best way possible to grow your practice. If you want to join the next cohort of Next Level Practice and have that discount of $77 a month, compared to the regular $100 a month, head on over to We would absolutely love to help you start and grow your practice.]

This is the Practice of the Practice podcast with Joe Sanok – Session Number 314.


Well, today on the Practice of the Practice podcast, we have Joanne Kim, the owner of OliveMe Counseling. Joanne is an Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in San Jose, California. She helps adult survivors in emotional abuse and neglect in high-conflict couples, those who feel stuck, anxious and frustrated with their relationships. She helps them thrive. Joanne, welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast.
Yeah, Joe. Thank you for having me.
Yeah, absolutely! So, take us back to when you started your practice. Tell us about when you started it.
Well, the clear memory that I have was early last year, I was working two jobs, one with clients at the site where I worked – Christian Counseling Center in San Jose. I was also working at a second job. It was more of an administrative physician. I remember I was just feeling really exhausted. I was sitting in a cubicle without any windows. And, I was like I can’t do this. I really want to do what I love which is to connect with people.
It was increasingly getting more difficult for me to have the energy to do both. And so, I had this one moment when I was like, I need to change something. I need to make some big shifts sooner than later. And so, a lot of that was behind my decision to eventually leave that second job and just focus on building my practice. I was just wondering. Is it possible for me to build a practice that looks like me, feels like me, sounds like me where everything that I do, whether it’d be website or marketing or doing workshops or what-not, where people, those who attend or listen in can get a feel for who I am? Guess from the very beginning whether or not they’d be interested in connecting. So, that was the big steps.
Wow. What were some of those core things that you said, “I want this to be part of my practice from the beginning that maybe you weren’t experiencing at that other job or hadn’t experienced?”
I think a lot of it was a possibility. I tend to have a personality where I like making decisions for myself. In newer experiences I’ve had to work with people, I’ve noticed that I tend to work best when I can connect more immediately with the people that I’m serving instead of going through like the middleman or going through in an organization or an agency.
Because I felt that so many outside factors were impacting how well I could show up for them, and so, that was my guess that private practice would probably be a good fit for me. I can eliminate those barriers in between. A lot of my clients are coming. They’re reaching out in times of high stress and experiencing a lot of pain. I want to make these processes smooth and simple as possible for them.
Yeah. So often I hear people. They work for a community mental health. They’re a non-profit, foster care, maybe a hospital they say. I love the work, but I hate the politics. It’s so… I’ve mean, we’ve all… I mean, if you’ve done any work in this field, it’s like you have those jobs where the actual client work was awesome. You feel like you’re making a change, but all the ancillary junk was just like, “This is ridiculous. This is the part of this job.” And now, it’s weird to be in a position where I have so little drama or politics. And if I do, it’s my own fault. It’s really nice to be on the other side of that.
I think a big game changer for me was reading Casey Truffo’s book From Clinician to Confident CEO. The big part of that book was in exploring these different hats that private practice clinicians need to have on in order for them to have a really thriving and excellent practice. Of course, one of them is the clinical hat that we’re trained to operate in our graduate programs. We used all of that but there are so many other aspects like the operations, the finances, the marketing, or the visionary aspects that most people don’t think about.
That’s not what we’re trained to think about unless we go into private practice and we find out afterward. One of the main things that I learned in reading through that resource is that all these other four rules are also inherently clinical. For example, if we’re thinking about doing intake phone calls, well some of us may consider that us strictly administrative aspect where we can outsource it. But, I consider it maybe as an extension of the work that we actually do with clients in joining them in their pain. So, once I started converting these rules through the clinical lens, I’m like, “Yeah, of course, I would want to clean all those bumps in the middle and want to make this as easy as possible for people whom I can serve, and I can care for, and I can show up for.” Come and find me.
Yeah. So, what were some of the kind of big phases you went through in that first year of starting your practice?


The very first thing that I did after I left my other job was to sit down and pull out a sheet of paper and just start dreaming.
You didn’t go out to eat or celebrate or have drinks with friends? You sat down…
After that… After that, I was so depleted, honestly, emotionally I was just so tanked that I needed inspiration. I needed hope again really. After I did, you know, I go out and celebrate with people. Just having the chance to slow down and tune in to who I am, and I want to see happen, the reason why I came into this field in the first place.
I love that that’s where you started because so many times, people will leave a job that was draining. And then, they’ll just jump into the next project. And then, you even used that term “slow down.” I mean, obviously, that term… I love, having that Slowdown School and all of that. But, you took that time to refocus and then recognize I was depleted. I had to really allow myself to feel inspired again for the field. I just love that that’s more of the places you started.
So, from that particular dream session, that’s when my practice’s name came up – OliveMe Counseling. The reason that I came up with that name was, one because I love seeing all the motif of olives, olive branches, olive leaves, and just the meaning that goes with that in terms of healing, restoration, reconciliation, all of that. But, I also like having played on words too. So, “olive” who I am as a clinician, “olive” who the client is, how they show up. I want to make space for that to be okay but that to be part of their journey too.
You know, when I heard it, I think it was more like, “I love me” – “olive me.” And like, you have to love yourself. I think there’s that and there’s “olive me”, and then, there’s like the olives come from that. It’s like having triple meanings there. Well done! There’s kind of push-and-pull in discussions on naming a practice that maybe we can dive a little bit into.
Would you go super practical and have like Traverse City Counseling or you know Michigan Counseling? Some of that may rank in Google? Do you go with your niche, you know, or Michigan Marriage Counseling? Or, do you go into a kind of a more creative name? For you, you went to the creative name route. There are other names out there like Bluebook Counseling and all that. The guy that I know named Andy has that. And there’s also like, Little Red Telescope Counseling up in Portland. And so, they stand out but there isn’t necessarily a traditional name. How did you decide to go that route? Did you know that you wanted a unique name?


Well, I think the first thing that I considered was not to use my own name as part of the practice because I did have in mind… Well, I was doing the dream session. I had OliveMe Counseling. That would be the more clinical stuff and I also kind of thought of maybe down the line doing consulting or supervision or serving other clinicians in the field, so I came up with it. I’m not sure if I’m actually going to go with it or OliveYou Consulting. But part of my dream is to be able to serve not just as an individual but also as a community. So, it should be an opportunity to arise from me to eventually do a group practice. I would want the flexibility instead of just call it my name.
That was one thing. In my area, in the Silicon Valley, there is a lot of therapists here. And so, one of the challenges I’m currently experiencing is around the SEO, Google ranking and all of that. But, honestly, I just went with the name that sounded like me. When I told my friends, they’re like “Yeah, that is totally you.” And so, a lot of it is branding association. When I do seminars or workshops, or I network with other therapists, they’re like “Oh yeah, I remember her practice’s name.” So, it’s kind of worked out for me.
That’s great. After you got all that up going, what else helped you start to get clients and get a role at the beginning phase?
I recently wrote a blog specifically for a pre-licensed therapist because I am currently a pre-licensed therapist. I was reviewing some of my own journeys and I kind of made a list of 6 different steps.


Oh, let’s go through them.
Okay. So, the first one is to track your data. Second is know thyself. The third is known thy why. Fourth is find your sweet spot. Fifth is found your tribe. And, the last one is – know the business.
Well, let’s walk through each of those. Let’s start with that first one.
First one is to track your data. As we sit with our clients, when in the first phone call, or when in the first actual session, a lot of what we do is to do very thorough assessment just, so we have some clarity as to who we’re serving, what their resource is, what their stress points are. I can apply that same concept to my own practice. So, after I did the dream session, I took the time over the next months to have a very thorough and sober evaluation of my practice.
It was pretty painful actually just to measure things like how many current client caseloads I have? Or, how many of them are full fees, sliding skill fee? What does my schedule look like? Is it like a squeeze cheese? Are there tons of breaks in between? Is it streamlined? So, I was kind of asking a lot of very hard questions about the state of my practice. The reason for that was because it was hard for me to figure out what to do next because there are so many steps I could take in improving my practice. I was getting kind of distracted and overwhelmed. In order for me to get some clarity, I wanted to take a look at the health of my practice, so it wouldn’t bore me of what my immediate next steps are.
One of the first things I did was identifying which clients were really sucking all the life out of me. Finding out how to reduce those situations from happening again and tightening up my initial phone call and also identifying clients with whom I worked really well and they’re more life-giving. I feel more energized about working with them. So, that was one of the first things that I tended to after I did the diagnostic.
It’s amazing how if we take that time to look at those things. The things that you’re experiencing every day, you then realized, “Woah, wait. This is not what I want here.” Like, every year, I take all of my monthly income reports and I look at my breakdown of how much the practice brought in. How much did my consulting, my Mastermind? I realized that each year, you know, the practice side is getting smaller and smaller because I was putting in more energy into other things which I wanted. But, it’s great to have that time to reflect on what’s actually happened behind you. So, what’s step two?


Step two is known thyself. And, this is more specifically about my own emotional health. I had this guess that if I were to dive in to practice building, it would be like the major art project. My practice will look like me for better or for worse. And so, my own strengths will show up. My own limitations will show up. And, there’s going to be a lot of room where my own distortions kind of stills into the next… wrestle with impostor syndrome and inner critique, and shiny object syndrome.
None of us deal with any of those.
No. It’s just me. It’s just me and my shame. So, in order for me to build a thriving practice, I need to be healthy. That’s the same message that we give to our clients and so I decided as I was going into this practice building phase to look for a good therapist that I can process things with as they come up because I’m going to be doing and exploring a lot of areas that reveal my vulnerabilities and knowing how to confront them. So, that was actually a lot of this past month. And so, on the number side, things have kind of slow down a little bit but because I assume that I am my greatest asset to my practice. It’s kind of a quick detour. I guess.
Yeah. So, what’s the next step after that?


The third step is known thy why, in other words, identifying the specific vision that I have for my practice. My practice will look like me. It won’t look like anyone else because I’m me and I’m not anyone else. So, the more clarity I have in identifying the main reason that I came to this field, to begin with, I didn’t come to this field wanting to serve kids and teens. That’s just not part of my big plan. But, having clarity around who I want to serve or who I want to do, or what I want my life to look like, what I want my ideal week to look like, those all inform big-picture decisions on a practical level as well. So, that’s step 3. The dream session that I had at the beginning, that’s what that looks like.
I like it. So, what’s that next step?


Step four is finding my sweet spot for my ideal client. I did a science project in high school around baseball bats. I came across this idea that a sweet spot is a point on the bat that requires the least amount of energy on the batter but produces the maximum amount of output. And so, our ideal clients are those with whom we can show up as fully as possible. The more we work with them, the more they benefit, the more we are energized. As clients get better, then, it frees up more space for other clients to fill in that spot. And so, it’s kind of win-win-win arrangement. The flip side of that is also identifying our non-ideal clients so that we’re very careful about not have sneaked in somehow.
Right. Right.

Step 5 is finding your tribe or your community. In private practice, building things can be very isolating or at least that’s what’s been a common feedback I’ve heard. And so, acknowledging that’s a part of this experience is a huge realization that I’ve had. That moved me to intentionally connect with others in my area whether they’d be a therapist or other professionals or friends or family members or people to whom I can go to relax and rest. So, I do a lot of attachment works. So, I named this person my safe haven people and also finding people who are my secure base people, people who know my vision and can encourage me when I’m feeling down or can launch me to pursue even more things that I would on my own with my own level of confidence.
Another part of the community finding process is not seeing other professionals as competition. I really believe in the idea of “co-opetition” or friendly rivalry.
“Co-opetition” – I like that!
…to finding other people where, you know, we can kind of spur each other on and can rally alongside one another. It’s kind of like going into a battle mentality where, you know, other people becoming stronger is actually to my benefit too. I don’t have to try and compete against them or try to fight for the same resources.
The example that I’ve often used is, you know, if 10 years ago, the one sushi place in Traverse City, I got really defensive about the second sushi place moving in. Like, it wouldn’t have done anything whereas where people find out how delicious sushi was in small towns across America. Now, every grocery store has that in it. It expanded the market. They viewed that there’s just a percentage of the population that will eat sushi versus “Hey, more people need to know how delicious this is that more people need mental health.” And so, if there’s another therapist doing great work, that’s awesome because there’s going to be more people that are having access. It’s actually going to make therapy more normalized and we’re all going to win because of that.
Yes. So, it’s actually be multiplying our resources if we were to connect other people, other clinicians. So, a big action step for that, at least for me this past year, is reconnecting with local therapists but also joining in on Next Level Practice as a cohort system. That was in January. I also recently finished Kelly Miranda’s Business School Boot Camp. And so, all these things have been very, very helpful for me in keeping my pace or keeping my momentum and direction. So, I highly recommend it to people.
So, you’ve signed up for some things that are paid versus just being in free Facebook groups. There are awesome free Facebook groups out there and that serves a purpose for sure. I don’t want to come down on those. But, what’s the difference that you see between joining, say, boot camp or Next Level Practice versus just kind of hot fudging all of your information in all of these different places?


Yeah. I will actually use an example I used with my clients. Technically, the work that clients do in therapy sessions, they can kind of figure that out on their own if they were to look into books, seminars, or watch YouTube videos, or what-not. The information is by a therapist, but it does require a whole lot of intentionality on the client’s part to do the work. And so, the benefit that professional therapy provides to those clients is that there’s someone who witnesses that person’s journey, and supports, and encourages in very specialized and very specific ways. And so, applying that principle to practice building, yeah, technically, a lot of the information that comes through like Next Level Practice, or boot camp, or Casey Truffo’s book, it’s not like locked in a vault somewhere.
Actually, I hear a lot of the same types of things in each of these circles, but I guess the secret ingredient is having a human witness, having the collaborative space where it’s okay for us to be vulnerable. It’s okay for us to show as we are. We’re not alone and I think not just blowing us down into like robots or machines that it’s all about efficiency or it’s all about efficacy. Providing space for us to be human, I think that’s one of the biggest reasons why I would actually highly recommend even paid services.
Yeah. Well, I think that kind of find-your-tribe step that you’re talking about, to me and I’ve said this in other interviews too. When you get the right people in the room, it just happens organically. I remember last year at Slow Down School. Jeremy Sharpe and John Clarke were roommates there. They’re both podcasters. They’re both runners. And, what happened is they collaborated. They had ideas. It’s like when you have the right people altogether, as a facilitator, or as a consultant, I can do way less work because it’s just the right people in the room. You know, if I have a bunch of people starting a practice on a webinar, the questions one person asks or maybe the questions that you were going to ask, or you probably should be asking, it just organically grows and gives kind of better content.
So, let’s hit on step 6.


So, step 6 is learning the business. There’s really no way around it. For operating our own businesses, we have to attend to the practical aspect of things because what good is it if we’re really excellent clinicians, but our clients don’t know how to find us? But, having gone through Casey Truffo’s Confident CEO book, I’m learning that even the other rules of operations, finances, marketing, and visionary. Those are basically extensions of the work that we already love to do. They’re extensions of the clinical.
Operations would be things like scheduling, emailing, or website stuff, which is basically another way of applying boundaries or being assertive in communication, and creating a hospitable welcoming space. Finances, you know, a lot of our own personal money messages or family expectations or experiences spill into how we set our fees or whether or not we charge for those kinds of things. And so, if we’re going to be communicating to our clients, the importance of building solid self-esteem and having healthy boundaries, we should probably kind of do that for ourselves do.
Now, Joanne, from Next Level Practice, what have been some of the things that have been most helpful to help you continue this momentum that you already have?
I think the biggest factor was just knowing that there are so many other people, so many other therapists who are in similar boats as I am. I think the elimination of the loneliness factor has been really helpful. In that, I’m not just in my own office trying to do things by myself. It doesn’t seem to go anywhere. We’re just having space where people can connect with one another. That’s been the biggest help for me.
Awesome. No, no. Go ahead.
Just the content as well, a lot of them have come through the podcast as well. Just having those daily or weekly challenges have also been pretty fun too. It kind of helps me to rev up my engines a little bit.
Yeah, I think the focus, you know, when we had the month where it had set up your Google My Business or if you have one, you’ll get some reviews from non-clients. It just gives everybody sort of a focus like this month, we’re going to rock this out. And then, Sam goes through in all of this kind of assessments in all the pages to help you take it up to a new level. I don’t know. I just love our team all over here. It’s really brought us together to say, “How do you really help people go from start to scale in their practice?”
Like, the first video that I did once I joined Next Level Practice, I remember saying, “You know, this practice building stuff feels like drinking from a firehose.” I think Next Level Practice is very helpful in, like you said, providing those monthly focus points. So that, you know what, I don’t have to do everything all at once. I just have to focus my energy towards building one part of my practice. I get so much more done.
Well, I think that it’s when you’re an active person like yourself, listens to the podcast, reads blogs, engages to all of that, it’s like okay there’s a million things that could be doing. But, what should I be doing right now? In just having that focus to say that this month, you need a Google My Business page, you need to rock it out and give a bunch of reviews. “Oh, okay. I can do that.” It’s so much easy than 59 other things I could be doing. So, Joanne, who would you say are people that should sign up for Next Level Practice?


Definitely, those who are interested in creating a practice and a life that suits them.
Oh, I like that you added the “life that suits them.” Tell me why you added that in there.
Well, because our personal affects what we do in our professional and vice versa. Not just considering like the practical and business aspects but, you know, really creating the space that we can attend to ourselves and do self-care and take care of our own personhood. That’s a big part of it. So, for example, if there’s something happening in our family life, that’s probably going to affect how well or how effective we can show to our clients and vice versa.
Well, you wrote a whole blog post about these 6 points and these other things. And, we’re going to link to that from the show notes. So, folks, make sure to check that in the show notes. Joanne, if every practice owner in the world were listening right now, what would you want them to know?
March the beat of your own drum. Find out who you are. Find out who you aren’t and create a practice that looks like you because we don’t need a million of the same type of therapist. Your ideal clients are really looking for you and so show up as you are.
I love it. So, if you want to check out Joanne’s website, it’s And, if you want to join Next Level Practice, if you want to join Joanne and other people like her as well as myself and our whole team, and you’re ready to create that practice, the unique practice, the kind of practice that you want to create, not just some kind of stock practice, we would love to have you join Joanne and me in Next Level Practice.
You can join over at We’re launching cohorts every month or so now. It’s going to be every month or 2 months depending on what our schedule is. And then, we’re going to personally onboard you. You’ll meet with Emily and pair you up into a small group, give you an accountability partner, you’ll get access to all of our online content and courses as well as live webinars, Q&A, and that whole private Facebook group. We would absolutely love for you to join us. So, you can go over to to request your invite. Joanne, thank you so much for being on the Practice of the Practice podcast.
Yeah, my pleasure!

[Special thanks to the band Silent is Sexy for that intro music. And, this podcast is designed to provide accurate and intuitive information in regard to the subject matter covered. It’s given to the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinic, or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one.]