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Are you looking to connect to a church in your area? How can you approach a pastor in a way that fosters a good starting relationship? Can the connections you already have, help you to make more?
In this podcast episode, Whitney Owens does a live consulting call with Jason Wilkinson about how to connect with churches.
Meet Jason Wilkinson
Jason Wilkinson lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife and two kids. He is the owner of private mental health practice, Wellspace Counseling, located in Tualatin, Oregon. Jason is passionate about helping marriages move from cycles of pain into rhythms of peace. He also is focused on helping individuals experiencing anxiety, low self-esteem, and depression discover the emotional and mental wellness they desire for their life.
Visit his website. Connect on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
In This Podcast
- Work on the things that work
- Creating an invitation list
- Work with your connections
Work on the things that work
As your practice has grown, keep track of various systems and marketing tools that have actually boosted your practice, instead of looking at what everyone else has been doing.
Work on things that has worked in the past for your practice, even building on old and trusted relationships, especially when you are wanting to incorporate new systems and build new relationships and connections for your business.
Creating an invitation list
Every single person that you talk to that works at a church, get their email address and add them to an email list. (Whitney Owens)
Email lists are like gold in the business world, and they will grow over time. Keep building one from the moment you get your first client and keep it going because you can use this database to connect and send out information about your services to your audience.
Meet first with the churches that share the denomination that you are a part of, speak with them and listen to them to see which issues they are dealing with to figure out how you can help them.
It’s more about creating something that meets the needs of the pastors instead of … we can sit here all day and come up with ideas, but until you hear what pastors actually need in your community, it’s hard to really offer them [anything]. (Whitney Owens)
Work with your connections
Use the connections you have. It might feel a little strange in the beginning to reach out to your friends and see who can connect you, but the fact that you reach out to them to promote yourself and give them the chance to support you goes a long way. Often our loved ones take a lot of joy in supporting us.
If you do get in good with a church, use that as leverage to go to another church in the same denomination. (Whitney Owens)
You can also get in touch with the churches that your clients go to if they are comfortable with you doing that and you provide them with a release form to sign.
To keep tabs in between the connections you have made with people, and to keep track of how many times you have reached out to them, you can create a spreadsheet in Google to easily track when last you saw them, their contact details, how many referrals have come from them and when you last contacted them.
Depending on the level of your practice, you can look to try to make a connection once a week, and over virtual work, this could look like two to three phone calls to potential connections a week.
- Live Consulting with Brenda Stewart: What are the First Steps to Starting a Group Practice | FP 88
- Next Level Practice
- Join the Faith in Practice Mastermind
- Practice of the Practice Podcast Network
- Group Practice Launch
- Group Practice Boss
- Email Whitney at firstname.lastname@example.org
Meet Whitney Owens
Whitney is a licensed professional counselor and owns a growing group practice in Savannah, Georgia. Along with a wealth of experience managing a practice, she also has an extensive history working in a variety of clinical and religious settings, allowing her to specialize in consulting for faith-based practices and those wanting to connect with religious organizations.
Knowing the pains and difficulties surrounding building a private practice, she started this podcast to help clinicians start, grow, and scale a faith-based practice. She has learned how to start and grow a successful practice that adheres to her own faith and values. And as a private practice consultant, she has helped many clinicians do the same.
Thanks For Listening!
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Faith in Practice is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a network of podcasts that are changing the world. To hear other podcasts like Empowered and Unapologetic, Bomb Mom, Imperfect Thriving, Marketing a Practice or Beta Male Revolution, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.
Well, hello and welcome back to the Faith in Practice podcast. Thank you for taking the time to hang out with me and listen to this show. So I have loved the month of June because we’ve been doing some live consulting. Consulting is one of my favorite things. I love helping practice owners build their practice, but also have a better work-life balance and I love seeing the change that comes in their lives. So I’ve got to do that in these live consulting calls. So I’ve really enjoyed that.
I particularly have to comment on Jason because he is the person that I interviewed for this. This is Jason Wilkinson. And today we’re going to end up talking about connecting with churches and how to make those contacts. So we did this recording, I don’t know it must’ve been about a month ago, maybe three weeks ago and I talked to him just the other day and he told me about multiple new connections that he had made in the mastermind group. And I was like, wow. Like he did the consulting, he walked away, he made changes in his practice. That is awesome. He also started the mastermind group back in December, 2020. He started his practice during the pandemic, which is just bonkers.
He joined the mastermind group when he was seeing about four to six clients a week and we really worked on filling his caseload and now he’s seeing about 17 clients a week. So cool. So it was real gift to me to see him grow his practice and feel better about the work he’s doing. And that is what we do in the mastermind group. So if you are looking for a place to grow your caseload, to learn tips on that, such as how to optimize Google My Business, how to connect and market with churches, how to create a website with good search engine optimization and service pages so that people can find you with a lot of other things, consider joining the Faith in Practice Mastermind group. For more information, go to practiceofthepractice.com/faithmastermind and you can learn more about that group. Or send me an email, email@example.com. Happy to answer questions about that.
We’ll be meeting in the month of July through December, every other week, working on growing your business. So I’m excited that you get to meet Jason. You get to learn more about making connections with churches, and I appreciate you taking the time to listen to this show. So now we’re going to jump on into the episode, and this is episode number 89, How to Connect with Churches.
[WHITNEY] Today on the Faith in Practice podcast, I have Jason Wilkinson. He lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife and two kids. He’s the owner of a private mental health practice, Wellspace Counseling located in Tualatin, Oregon. Jason is passionate about helping marriages move from cycles of pain, into rhythms of peace. He’s also focused on helping individuals experiencing anxiety, low self-esteem and depression discover the emotional and mental health wellness that they desire in their life. Thanks for coming on the show, Jason.
[JASON WILKINSON] Yes, thanks. I’m excited to be here.
[WHITNEY] How do I pronounce that town?
[JASON] It’s per Tualatin.
[WHITNEY] Man, I was like, ooh. So Tualatin? Okay, cool.
[JASON] Yes. You were so close. You were so close.
[WHITNEY] Well, I try. You know, Portland that’s like on my list of cities I want to live in if I could move somewhere.
[JASON] Oh yes. It’s a beautiful one. It’s not at its peak right now, just with everything that’s kind of going on with, during the past year with some of the cultural stuff and but it is a beautiful city, there is great food, there are great people, and there’s so much nature. Like everything is green and so you don’t have to go very far to get anywhere. You’re an hour from the beach. You’re an hour from, you’re less than an hour from beautiful forests and hikes everywhere and waterfalls and all with a city, a small city really just kind of smack dab right there. So it’s great. It’s a great place to be.
[WHITNEY] That’s good. I hear there’s good coffee too.
[JASON] Oh, when do you come out? You come out to Portland and I’ll take it to some places.
[WHITNEY] That sounds good. Coffees, hikes and beach town, all my favorite things.
[JASON] It’s all here.
[WHITNEY] Yes. Well, why don’t you share a little bit about yourself and kind of how you started your practice and some of the dynamics of your practice, what it’s like there?
[JASON] Yes, so I started, I graduated with my master’s degree last may, so it’s been a year now. I graduated last may and I started my own private practice in July. July I opened the doors to my private practice. So I am a pre-licensed counselor working towards a marriage family therapist, full licensure here in Oregon. So that means I am all cash-pay in my practice and I really just, I jumped into it, previous experience and ministry working with students and young adults and lots of parents. So I did that for a number of years and really felt like I wanted to, I just wanted to get started on a private practice and start creating a life where I would be able to control my hours be with my family, spend more time with my family.
I’ve got two young kids that I love to be with, so I wanted to have more control over those aspects. So got started, I am currently at somewhere between 14 to 16 clients a week, soo I’ve gotten to grow quite a bit, even since I met you Whitney. So it’s been great. It feels like it’s been a long process. There’s parts where I’m frustrated because I really wanted it to go faster and, or be quicker, but I’m continuing to put in the work and yes, really excited about it.
[WHITNEY] Yes. You know, I love kind of hearing back on your story and really, it hasn’t even been a year yet. You do have that energy of like, “I want to get going. I’m excited.” But then also it’s so important that we stop and go, “You know what? You started your private practice. It hasn’t been a year and you’ve got 14 to 17 clients a week?”
[JASON] Yes, yes.
[WHITNEY] That’s not.
[JASON] Yes, it’s not bad. And I have to keep reminding myself of that because —
[WHITNEY] That’s right.
[JASON] Yes. And and thankfully I have good people around me and good support around me, including my wife who just helped me to remember, “Hey, you’re doing pretty well for where you are at.” So yes, I try to hold onto that.
[WHITNEY] Yes. That’s great. So what is your question for me today?
[JASON] Yes, well, I’ve got a lot of them, but one of the questions that I really uh, was curious about is I really wanted to know for me coming out with a long history of working with churches and even now it feels like my ideal clients are inside of the church that I feel like that’s where I should be reaching out, that should be the place where I really can make connections and serve a lot of people well. I’m wondering for you, my connections have been, they’ve been hard. It’s been hard to get inside of, oddly enough for me even to make those connections in the church. And I’m wondering where I should place my time or emphasis. Should I focus, should I put more focus into small churches, large churches, medium-sized churches. I’m wondering what your thoughts are in terms of putting my energy and time and creating those connections and networking.
[WHITNEY] Good question. So glad you’re bringing these to the table today. So what’s so important with marketing is that we do works and not what doesn’t work. I mean, people will tell you all day long 700 things that you need to do, and you’re going to be exhausted. But what I want you to find is what has already worked for Jason’s practice and how can he continue to work on those things instead of what’s working for everybody else. That’s the first thing. So being able to track calls, which we’ve talked about actually in our mastermind group, tracking those calls to see what’s working, what isn’t working and then utilize relationships you already have, because that’s a lot easier than making new ones. So there’s a couple of ways that we can first do that. First of all, I would start with the church you actually worked at first. And then if it’s a denominational church kind of go from there, like what are other churches within that denomination that you could use? So I’ll give you kind of my example and then I’d love to hear what you think about this.
When I first got here, I actually also worked with teenagers, I actually thought I was going to be a youth pastor for a time in my life and then ended up going into counseling instead. My husband is a youth pastor. So I used that to my advantage when I first got Savannah. I didn’t know a soul and so I was like, “Okay, well, I don’t want to see the kids at the church, because that would get really dicey with my husband being a youth pastor. But what if I saw other kids in Methodist youth groups, because my husband’s a Methodist.” So then that led to him meeting with other youth pastors because he was getting to know the other Methodist ministers and then he told every single one of them, “My wife’s a youth pastor. I mean, my wife sees youth as a therapist. What are your questions? How can we get y’all connected? She’ll come speak to the youth group for free, whatever that is.” That was my first connection and actually one of those led to meeting the member coordinator. She was on a podcast of an episode I did like a year ago, Meg Procopio and I get tons of referrals from them. So what are kind of some of your thoughts as I kind of share that with you?
[JASON] I think of my, I feel like my initial thoughts are that makes a lot of sense to go ahead and focus on some of the churches that I’ve worked at in the past. I’m curious about, a little bit about like the dual relationships, because I was the youth pastor at some of these churches. And then I’m curious to hear your thoughts just in terms of oh, shoot, my mind just went blank, but we’ll start with that first one.
[WHITNEY] Yes. Well, the thing is, you’re not their youth pastor anymore. And as far as I know, unless you were in some denomination that I don’t know about, there’s not rules about, well, if you’re a pastor, if you leave, you can’t have relationships with people outside of that. Now in the political world, we have those rules, but they don’t. I would use that to your advantage.
[JASON] Oh, okay.
[WHITNEY] These people already like know and trust you. They’re going to want to come to you because they already know you. Like a lot of the kids in our youth group, and a lot of people in my church reach out me because they want to come see me and I have to say no, because I’m currently there. But let me tell you, if I leave Savannah and they’re reaching out to me, I’m totally going to see them because I’m not at their church anymore.
[JASON] Yes. Okay. That makes sense. The other question that just came to my mind is, so my practice, I’ve moved my practice intentionally about, I want to say about 20 to 30 minutes away from where I live. So I’m wondering about making a connection at a former church knowing that it’s not going to be near my practice. Of course, I’m currently offering online counseling, so that’s not a big deal right now. What about in the future? Should that be a connection and even then, so how do I make a connection or maybe expand my connection past the churches where I have worked before?
[WHITNEY] Okay. You gave me a couple of questions there. We’ll break them down. Okay, Jason, if you had a pastor, let’s say you were in crisis and you went to your pastor and said, “I need a therapist,” and he said, “I know one that’s really good, but it’s going to be about a 20 minute drive,” who would you think about that?
[JASON] Yes, I probably wouldn’t think twice about that.
[WHITNEY] You wouldn’t think twice about it. That’s right, because you’re good. So people are going to want to go to a good therapist that they trust and I think they value that a lot more than the drop. And I’m going to guess you being in a suburb of Portland people drive everywhere anyway.
[JASON] Yes. Yes, it happens.
[WHITNEY] So I would still trust the relationship over the distance of the driving. So I would definitely still reach out to a church if you have a, I call them warm connection, so a really good relationship with someone at that church. I would still reach out to that one over a cold call because that’s going to be a lot harder. Now, I also agree with you. There’s something to be said for a church that’s close. In fact, here at this intersection where I have my office and podcast, I literally have a church right outside the window, like Bagnall right there. And that was the first place that we really started marketing and they send clients over here. There’s a guy that actually rent space with me and he used to attend that church. So he gets most of the clients from there, but sometimes they send us some and it’s across the street. Like you can’t get better than that. So do think there’s also something to be said for just walking into a church, if it’s in your neighborhood, where your offices and introducing yourself and saying, “Hey, this might sound a little weird, but I’m in the neighborhood. I would love to hear more about what you do and your church.” And then they’ll want to hear more about what you do as a therapist.
[JASON] Yes, that sounds great. Sorry, I was typing, I was taking notes.
[WHITNEY] You’re taking notes. Love it. Hey, that’s how you grow your practice, is you make the most of your time. That’s right.
[JASON] Yes. Great. So then as I was thinking about some of this too, and having different conversations with you, of course, in I am part of the current mastermind that you’re leading right now, too, which has been great, but as from our previous conversation in one of those masterminds, I started thinking about doing some live or some trainings for pastors or youth pastors, or even pastor’s wives. And one of the questions that I had as I’ve been mulling through that and mulling over it is where do you start in terms of creating a list to invite pastors or youth pastors? How do you create a list to just send out information or send out invites on this? How did you develop that kind of warm connection in order to do that kind of a training? Do I focus on one church? Do I focus on multiple churches at once? How do I do that?
[WHITNEY] I think it’s all in building connections right. Every single person that you talk to that works at a church, get their email address and add them to an email list. And there’s plenty of things out there for email. In fact, this is what we’re talking about in our next mastermind meeting, how to create an email list. So you’ll be able to do that after our next meeting, but like a AWeber is what I use, but MailChimp is out there, MailerLite, like, there’s plenty of platforms and you can tag churches on there. So when you add an email for a church, and then anytime you want to send out a mailing to people associated with church, you can. So capture those email addresses, email addresses are like gold and it will grow over time.
Then I also think that you can just email people cold email. Now you can’t really add them to your email list because people have to opt into an email list. That’s technically how you’re supposed to do it. You’re not supposed to just cold add emails. So I really only add emails of people have a relationship with, but if it’s someone I don’t like, you could totally create a beautiful canvas image and send it to local churches. Just get their emails off online. Now, how many of these people are actually going to take you up on the offer that they don’t know you? I don’t know. Probably not very many, but even if you could get a couple of people, I’ll say you send it out to a hundred and you get three or four that respond and say, “This is great. I’ve been looking for something like this.” Then you’ve got success.
Now, what is also even an additional bonus, if you wanted to really work hard at this is create a video, introducing yourself who you are and why you’re passionate about helping pastors or helping pastors wives, or helping churches, and maybe talk about the topic you’re going to do and see if that really helps you get more people invested in it. But I really would start with those, those relationships, like whatever that denomination was that you were a part of or connections that you already have, really trying to meet with those churches first and really just listen to them. So you’re saying, I want to hear your pain. So when you meet with them, it’s not, “Hey, this is Wellspace and here’s what I do.” It’s, pastor whoever, pastor John, let’s get a biblical name here. Okay, “Pastor John, tell me more about your church. What are some of the struggles that you have with mental health? What are the things that come into your office that you don’t have time to care for?
And they’re going to give you a long list. Most of them say couples, divorce. So you can say to them, “What can I offer to help? How can I help you? What is the magical thing that could happen, where you didn’t have to deal with this anymore?” And then be creative and offer him something. He’s going to say, “Well I just wish that they knew how to communicate.” And then you could say, “Hey, how about, would it help you, if I offered to teach a course here, pro bono, to teach couples how to communicate like a four-part series,” and see how he responds to that.
[JASON] Okay. Yes, so you would do like a four-part series over just like a one-time deal or does it depend?
[WHITNEY] I think if he’s open to it, it doesn’t hurt to do it. I mean, if they’ll pay you that’s even better. But I think that anytime I offer something first time around, I usually offer it for free because I think of it as a way for them to see that I’m an expert in what I’m doing. But you could just offer a one time seminar to do something like, so, like the church I was talking about earlier, where I got to know the member care coordinator, we created like a contract together with, she paid us a certain amount a month and we went in and did a six to eight session, like marital class during the Sunday school hour for their church.
So she referred couples to come and then myself and another therapist taught that class because that’s what they needed. They needed someone to help couples. So it’s more about creating something that meets the need of pastors instead of we can sit here all day and come up with ideas, but until you hear what pastors actually need in your community, it’s hard to know what to really offer them.
[JASON] Right. Okay, so then would you suggest that I go with ideas and hands? It sounds like you would suggest just listening first rather than going with some ideas. Because in my mind, as a pastor, if you’re really busy, it’s almost like, well, as a pastor, you’re almost like, “Well, tell me what it is that you can do or what it is that you bring to the table.” It’s not just like, “Here’s what I need.”
[WHITNEY] I think you do both. You know, what you don’t want to come in with is a list of five ideas and them say, “Well, that’s not an issue here.” You could say, “Here’s some of the common,” and how I say it to people is, “Here’s some of the common relationships that I have with churches or some of the things I’ve done in the past with churches, or here’s some ideas I have. What you think would be helpful for you?” I do suggest if you can take them to lunch or get them coffee even better. Because then you’re treating them to something that they might enjoy and getting them out of their office might be helpful, because that’s probably where they meet with their parishioners and when they’re tired.
[JASON] Do you have any tricks on how to get them out to grab coffee with you?
[WHITNEY] Yes. Well, I tend to do it with people that I know. So I first started with my pastor and I said, “Hey, I would love to kind of talk to you about counseling and hear more about what your needs are. Can I take you to lunch?” And he said, yes. That’s an easy one because who’s going to say no to someone who attends his church, whose husband works on staff? Like no way. So we went to this wonderful Irish bar down the street where I love to get a salmon sandwich and we talked about counseling and talked about what his needs were. And then we started teaching these classes. We haven’t been doing them anymore because of COVID, but prior to COVID, my group practice would come and teach a class to couples in the evenings on Saturdays. It was actually a date night. I talked about it on the podcast before, but yes.
So that ended up happening. And then yes, so I really just try to use a relationship to lead to a relationship if that makes sense. So like another time I think I’ve probably shared this with you, but I had a friend whose son was good friends with another OBGYN son and my friend’s just telling me about it. She was like, “Oh yes, he got a new friend. His mom’s an OBGYN in town.” And I was like, “What? Can you give me her phone number?” Because I knew that would be a good relationship for me. So I don’t really know this lady, but at least I know someone who knows this lady and that led to us texting and then we got on the call and I talked to her for about 15 minutes about how stressed out she was and she said, “Can I please send people to you?” And I’m like, “Yes, you can.” And then I ended up making some brochures for her office, for women to know the difference between postpartum depression and major depressive disorder and like baby blues, that kind of stuff. So adding value as well as relationship. So you probably have friends who volunteer at churches, right?
[WHITNEY] Elders or whatever. Ask them, “Hey, could you connect me with your pastor?” I know that feels probably uncomfortable. Does that feel uncomfortable or scary to you to say that?
[JASON] No. Well, I guess there’s a part of that’s kind of like just, you don’t want to feel like you’re using your friends, but at the same time, I don’t think my friends would have a problem doing it.
[WHITNEY] Tell me like, for example, gosh, this is only the first thing that just came to mind. So I’m going to go with it. So like I have a girlfriend who just started a wine business. Well, who’s the first person I’m going to buy wine from? My girlfriend. Why would I go to the store and get it when I could support her and show her that I care? Now her wine is a little expensive, so I can’t find very much of it, but this is a way that I support her. And for her to come to me and say, “Hey, will you buy this?” it brought me joy to connect and to get to know her, and now I can connect other people to her. So I’m sure she felt very uncomfortable saying, “Hey, I have this business.” But ultimately I love that I just supported her. So I think your friends are going to do the same thing. You probably support them in what they’re doing. It’s like when we get into mental health, we think it’s some other world, but they want to support you and they want to help you.
[JASON] Yes. Actually, that’s great because even as you were saying that, in my mind, I started coming up with different people that I could do that and that I could reach out to and ask them to connect me. So, yes, that’s great. That’s a really good reminder. Awesome. Thanks for that.
[WHITNEY] Good. Well, I hope you have some ideas there. And even like your kids, if they have friends or if their friends go to Christian schools, wherever you can make a connection, just be unashamed. That’s the only way you’re going to grow your business. Now, I think you might’ve asked me earlier, how many times do I draw? I’m getting all biblical here, but there is the parable of the sower. And one of my teachers in school, we had like an integrative program, so we’d learned some Bible classes and he was a pastor. He talked about that passage and how it’s like a fourth of them don’t do well at all and some of them do okay, and some of them flourish. And just, I think that’s also a way that we can think about business. Like you know what? It could be 25%. It could be whatever. I’m just going to care less about what you have to say. And that’s really sad. That’s sad. That’s the church, but that’s the truth. So stop knocking on their doors. Your time is way too precious to be wasted on people who aren’t interested in help. So travel to them twice, send an email, maybe a phone call. I’ve heard pastors, I can’t remember who told me this recently, but they said phone calls are better than emails.
It might’ve been my husband. I don’t remember who said that to me, but somebody said that to me, and that was a pastor. And I was like, “Okay.” So do a phone call, call the assistant at the church and say, “Hey, my office is down the street. I just wanted to introduce myself. Is there anything that I can do to help your church?” Or how’s it been during COVID like small talk, be friendly and then what do y’all do as far as referrals? Just a few weeks ago I met a girl and she said, “Oh yes, I’m an assistant at a church in town.” I was like, “Oh, you’re an assistant? So the first thing I say is, “What do you do about referrals?” What do you do when someone calls and needs a counselor?” She said, “Oh my gosh, Whitney, I’m so glad you said that because I just had a conversation with the staff about that two months ago and we don’t know who to refer to.”
Then that sat. In our minds we think there’s so many therapists out there, surely they know who to refer to. My town’s the same way. She didn’t know what to do. She was looking for a faith-based therapist. So now I’m going over there. My assistant followed up and we set up a meeting and I think it’s in two weeks, I’m going to go over there and talk to them about what we have to offer.
[JASON] Okay. Yes. That makes, that makes sense. Phone calls better than emails, copied better than phone calls.
[WHITNEY] Most people aren’t going to say no to a sandwich.
[JASON] Right. I wouldn’t. I certainly wouldn’t. Yes. Okay, so then I would call the assistant and then you would even suggest try after a couple of phone calls or reaching out a couple of times, if I don’t hear back kind of move on?
[WHITNEY] Move on. Yep. And then if you do get in good with the church, use that as leverage to go to another church in the same denomination. So like, I’ll say, “I work with the such-and-such Methodist church down the street and I was wondering about making a connection with you guys as well.” That’ll help you. And then we haven’t talked about this, but if your current clients attend a church that you don’t have a relationship with yet, and they talk about their church in therapy, if they’re comfortable signing a release, you can just say, “I’m not getting this release to make a big fuss and if you’re okay, if your pastor,” they usually will say, “Well, my pastor already knows I come here or they already know I’m in counseling.” “Do you mind if I reach out to him and just introduce myself, because I’m always looking to make connections in the community and help people out?”
Most clients are going to say that’s totally fine. And you’re really not going to, you don’t even have to mention their names when you reach out if you don’t want to. You can just reach out and say, I’ve been working with this person. Now if knowing the pastor is actually going to help, like I had a client that, she had some issues and was very active in her church and the mental health problems were coming up in church. So I needed the pastor to tell me what he was seeing. So we signed the release, I got on the phone with them, I helped coach him on how to handle her, and then after that guess who he was referring to? Me, because we had a relationship built and I used my client to build that relationship in a way. I mean, we don’t want to be sleazy about it underneath thing, but ultimately we’re helping the client. We’re helping the community, getting to know a pastor, that kind of a thing.
[JASON] Yes. Would you, I’m really curious about this, so would you go ahead and let your client know that you’re reaching out to their church or to their pastor?
[JASON] So you would and just say like, “Hey I’m going to reach out to your pastor, going to see if there’s something that I can offer there at your church.”
[WHITNEY] Mmh. They can choose not to go if you’re worried about the dual relationship part. I wouldn’t do that in the first session. I wouldn’t be like, “Oh my gosh, you go to that church? I’ve been wanting to get in with them.” You know, after a few sessions, you build a relationship. Most clients want your business to do well. They want to see you succeed.
[JASON] Yes. So you’re telling me that I need to slow down, take my time. No, don’t try to rush into building up clientele or anything like that.
[WHITNEY] Yes. I am telling you to hustle. And you know what, like I know you’re being sarcastic, when you end up at this phase, when you were sharing your story, I was thinking, what was I doing one year in and I actually would be very interested to go back and look at how many clients I have one year in. And I’m going to guess I was about where you’re at if that encourages you at all. I would say, I didn’t really get to a wait list. I was about three years in, but I really worked these relationships, these schools, OBGYN, places like that. And now that I have a group practice, the reputation has gotten out and I have people call that I don’t even know and referring to us. And that’s crazy to me. But this time in your practice, you are setting that groundwork for moving forward. And I know it’s difficult and intimidating and you’re tired and one more rejection is just annoying. But if you get one person to say yes to make your relationship, and you reached out 10 times, you helped one person. And that’s worth it.
[JASON] Yes, yes. Yes, that’s good. That’s good to remember. It’s mainly, it feels very much like I’m just wanting to use my time well in ways that are going to be most productive, because for me in my practice, I mean, I started in the middle of a pandemic. So the connections piece has been really hard to come by and building those connections. So it’s where do I use my time or how do I use my time best that’s going to help people really find the help that they’re looking for? So when it comes to those, making those connections and everything, even that question of how many times should I follow up or how long should I try to make those connections for, that’s always a question.
[WHITNEY] Yes, and I like rules. Rules help me. So I would say reach out two or three times. If you don’t get a response, let them go. If you start a relationship, let’s say you go to coffee or whatever, and then you don’t hear anything for a little while, it’s three to six months, I would reach out. And reach out, could be drop a gift off, shoot an email. How you do it, a text message, doesn’t have to be complicated. It could just be thinking about you. How’s the church going? Hope you’re doing well.
[JASON] Yes. Is there a way that you keep track of like how much time has passed between first connection, second connection?
[WHITNEY] Yes. And I have a spreadsheet in Google and then you can put tabs on the bottom, like psychiatrist, PCP, church. And then I just have out like the person’s name, the name of their organization, the address, phone number, last contact, and have a date. Oh, wait, before I put last contact, it says number of referrals. So I’ve tracked how many referrals a year and I can update it every year I just kind of start over. It’s just to give me an idea and then the date of last contact and what the contact was. So it might say on March 2nd, she sent an email about X, Y, and Z. I know it’s complicated, but it helps me know what’s going on. And then as far as how often, like wanting to know how to spend your time when I was in your place of practice, I just told myself once a week. If I can make one connection a week, then I’ve done really well. So that might be, I attend a marketing event or something like that.
[JASON] Once a week, if you can make a connection once a week, but if I were to go ahead and start making these phone calls how many phone calls would you suggest making in a week? Or how many emails would you suggest sending in a week?
[WHITNEY] I would put it on your schedule. Maybe I’m going to spend 30 minutes or an hour coming up with like a game plan of who I’m going to reach out to and their contact information and everything. And I don’t know, I would probably do like two or three phone calls a week just to set up a meeting and kind of go from there. But hopefully you’re going to use your relationships that you already have. It sounds like you’re already thinking about them and I would even pray about it. “Lord, show me people I need to connect with. You know the people that need therapy and I need clients.”
[JASON] Yes. Even just saying like two to three phone calls a week, that sounds very doable. It doesn’t sound like that much.
[WHITNEY] Oh, great. When we meet in the mastermind next week, I’ll make sure that you’ve made two to three phone calls.
[JASON] Oh, I just set myself up there, didn’t I?
[WHITNEY] Well, Jason, why don’t you talk for a few minutes about what is a mastermind group and how has it been helpful to you in your practice?
[JASON] Yes. So the mastermind group specifically with you, Whitney has been great for me. So when we first started, I was at four to six clients a week, and now I’m at 14 to 16. I don’t remember when we started, I think it was February of 2021. It’s been great to have that growth and I’ve gotten some great ideas. The instructions or advice that you have come with for the group, that we just start with and you kind of lead us through, has been great, the conversations that we have around that. And then the hot seats where I specifically bring an issue or a concern, and everybody gets to speak into that and ask questions and give me different ways to think about it has been phenomenal. And I’ve gotten great things with that, even just for me, starting out to think about how to set up or think about my practice financially so that my practice can thrive and I can pay myself which has been great to have that structure.
And then the accountability partners that I’ve gotten from the mastermind is phenomenal. And I got a good one, a really good one. So that, all of it all the way around, it’s just been such a great tool for me to have confidence in what I’m doing, to be able to ask questions, avoid some other mistakes that maybe I could have made and get support so that I’m not in it on my own, even though I’m running a practice on my own.
[WHITNEY] Yes. Thank you. Yes, and I love having you in the group. One of my favorite parts is the relationships that we build with accountability partners. It’s so cool. When I start interviewing people for the mastermind group, it just like becomes blatantly apparent who to match with who and then you and your partner were a great fit for where you are at practice. I hear that a lot from different people on the mastermind, where they go, “Oh my gosh, you could have picked a better person.” I’m like, “I’m not picking. God’s bringing people.” Well, Jason, I’m going to end this interview the same way I end all the interviews. What do you believe every Christian counselor needs to know?
[JASON] So I feel like a big one is just one that I keep trying to tell myself, and that is that you are enough, just you, as you are, who you are, what you’re doing is enough and it’s enough to help other people, it’s enough to be okay with yourself. And I feel like as I, and as others, as we kind of own that truth, that we are enough, we will be more help for other people, more courageous to reach out and to try new things and more satisfied with who we are and just with where we’re at.
[WHITNEY] That’s good. I’ll be taking that with me today. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to come on the Faith in Practice podcast.
[WHITNEY] Thanks so much for having me. It’s been a blast and I really appreciate it Whitney.
[WHITNEY] Thank you for listening to the Faith in Practice podcast. If you love this podcast, please rate and review on iTunes or your favorite podcast player. If you liked this episode and want to know more, check out the Practice of the Practice website. Also there, you can learn more about me, options for working together, such as individual and in group consulting, or just shoot me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Would love to hear from you.
This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, Practice of the Practice, or the guests are providing legal, mental health, or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one.