Brian Cooper: My Next Level Practice Journey

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Image showing Brian Cooper from Next Level Practice's success stories series for Practice of the Practice Level Up Week March 2023.

We took some time to speak with Brian Cooper from North Collective Counseling, one of our Next Level Practice members who joined last year September. With just a few weeks to go before the next Level Up Week, here’s some more information on what you can expect from NLP and how it helped Brian start his own private practice.

How Did Your Private Practice Journey Start?

I’m very new to the counseling field. I got my degree and I jumped right into private practice. So I had some health incidents that kind of put me into this existential kind of “what are you gonna do with your life?”, you know “what do you want your life to be when it’s all said and done?” I was working in marketing and doing some stuff in sales and I had this thought process that I didn’t want to die a salesperson.

I didn’t want to die doing marketing. So I went after this degree, and once it got to the point that I was ready to practice, I didn’t want another boss. I didn’t want to work for someone else. I wanted to build something of my own.

It was very interesting, I had always been following Next Level Practice and Practice of the Practice and Joe for probably three years while I was in graduate school, and I knew I eventually wanted my own practice. So I just started listening to the podcast and always thought those were really helpful and interesting. 

I saw that they were going to start another cohort of NLP, and at this point I wasn’t sure if I was going to join. I wasn’t sure if I was going to start my own practice or not, and Joe did an information call where you could join and ask questions. Looking at it I don’t think I really thought it was going to be with Joe, I thought it was going to maybe be one of the other representatives or kind of like a pitch or something like that.

It was me and one of the other members of Next Level Practice who’s still with me right now, Gina and Joe. We got an hour with Joe to just ask him about Next Level Practice and ask him about his advice on some of the things I was looking to start in my own practice. He gave me great advice on starting that out, and that was the catalyst. 

Joe told me a lot about his story of starting his own practice, and it really gave me the impetus to be like, “hey, you know what, I might as well try it!” 

The running joke in my family is: if I’m not ambitious like I’m gonna at least try. I might not, you know, knock everything out of the park, but I didn’t want to get stuck in a situation where I was going to be working for a group. And honestly where it got comfortable so that I wouldn’t want to step out and start my own thing. 

That’s why I joined Next Level Practice a couple months before I launched my practice in January of 22, and the rest is history.

How Has Next Level Practice Helped You Start Your Own Private Practice?

I’ve been really active with Next Level Practice and received some really good information. The practice has really grown. On average, when I first started out, I took some clients in from my internship and some other clients that I just signed up for my first month or two, and I was probably averaging around three or four clients a week. Right now, I probably have around 15 clients a week, and it’s just been really good now.

The caveat of this is: I kept my main job. I still do digital marketing from nine to five and then I do counseling from 7 to 9 in the morning and then I meet my other clients from five to ten in the evening. It works for what it is now. It actually takes the impetus off of responsibility in terms of money we’re providing for my family. But it also gives me a taste of what I want to build and what I want it to look like. It’s gone much better than I think I thought it would. Next Level Practice is a big part of that right now!

What Is Next On the Cards for Your Private Practice?

Last year I really ramped up right around probably July / August. That’s where things really took off. So joining Next Level Practice, getting great information, and building things up, networking and things of that sort really started to pay off around July August. From then I was pretty full. I was probably averaging around 10 to 12 clients, and by the end of the year I was up to around 15 or so.

With that being said, this year it’s very interesting for me to see what January through June look like. What things will go well? January has been really good for me – it’s been my best month I’ve had since starting the practice. So when I think about what this year looks like for me is to a point almost the proof of concept. Can I really sustain this for a full year with a good circulation of clients? Not only working with current clients, but maybe some new clients coming in, and interest? 

So the real question isn’t necessarily as much, what this year will be about. It is what is this time in 2024 going to look like? It’s time to start asking some tough questions:

  • What can this be like? 
  • How can this really build into something that’s full-time? 

I would love at some point if I can even bring on a couple of other clinicians and make a small group. The ultimate goal is to build that client load up to a point where I feel like it’s sustainable for my family to support them, and to continue to grow the business. 

Why Should Someone Join Next Level Practice?

Next Level Practice has great resources to go through the numbers and base your practice on a sustainable model. I know how many clients I would need to match what I make in my main job and feel like we can still live comfortably, without much of a change to my family life. I can then build upon that by opening up the nine to five of the day for more clients.

The funny and great part of Next Level Practice is that it takes away excuses. It takes away any reason that you can’t move forward with anything. 

In terms of building your business, it really brings on ownership and accountability. If there’s a question, there’s pretty much an unlimited resource base. Whether it be on Circle or asking a small group member or my accountability partner, or reaching out to Joe or Dana – there’s no reason not to have an answer for what you’re looking for. 

What Was the Best Part of Next Level Practice For You?

It was having access to the immense amount of material on Circle or Teachable – everything from marketing to blogging to SEO to websites to business cards, to onboarding new clients and creating a process and a system for that. That was so helpful for me starting out not having come from the group side of things into this. This really helped me create my own way of doing it. 

This is a lonely kind of industry you are in – especially if you’re a sole proprietor of a practice. It’s only you and you have your clients, and maybe like a supervisor, but besides that I mean this is it. So having the Next Level Practice Community going through the same things that you are and having an accountability partner was really beneficial! 

My accountability partner was a year ahead of me on his private practice journey and we’ve just become really good friends – we’ve even met up in person. That kind of community is really just invaluable. It really makes a big difference to join things like “What’s Working” calls and to see where other people are figuring out – because that’s actually going to help you. 

I think everybody finds their own way of using Next Level Practice and the resources. For some, it’s the SEO side. For me, it’s the blogging information for me and more networking. It gave me the kind of kick in the pants that I needed to get out there and connect with people, because that’s how you can grow your business. It’s also the impetus, because you know you’re going to come back to small group in two weeks and they’re gonna ask you if you hit your goal. That’s a very good incentive to get out there and do something, and do what you need to do to move yourself forward.

I love the “What’s Working” calls, I love the “Ask The Expert” calls because you’re getting to see people who’ve done it, and you get a sense of their journey and what it was like. I appreciate the way Joe has been very open with his journey, and the things that he’s gone through, and I think that’s one of those things that’s just really valuable.

The fact that when you see someone who’s done it, who’s gone through it, or who is going through it with you, you’re hearing how they’re doing and where they’re learning, and where they’re expanding their business. It really pushes you to grow and do better.

My small group members encouraged me to join Gottman referral network. But to do the government referral network you had to do Gottman training. I never really thought I should take that leap. Yet they encouraged me to that leap – and that leap has really paid off. It’s been really helpful for building my caseload, so I don’t know if that would have happened if I wasn’t in Next Level Practice.

Meet Brian Cooper

Find out more about Brian’s journey and share your own thoughts or questions with him during Level Up Week. For more information on this live webinar as well as the full Level Up Week programme click the image below.

An image of the podcast sponsor, Level Up Week is captured. Level Up Week sponsors the Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.

About Brian Cooper

Image of Brian Cooper from Next Level Practice at Practice of the Practice | An interview talking about his journey with NLP and starting his own private practice

Brian Cooper is a nationally certified limited licensed professional counselor (NCC | LLPC) in downtown Rochester, Michigan. He is EMDR trained and IFS informed and has a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Oakland University and a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Wayne State University. Brian’s work with his clients pulls from his experience in both the corporate world and the counseling field. He focuses most importantly on providing a safe and confidential environment for the collective work done in therapy revolving around the client’s story and experiences which have brought them to where they are now. Follow Brian’s private practice, North Collective Counseling on Facebook and Instagram.