What does it take to manage a practice with over 30 clinicians? Can black-and-white thinking lead someone to God? How does God’s grace empower you to be a better clinician?
In this podcast episode, Whitney Owens speaks about Opening Doors to a 30+ Clinician Practice with Fred Jacoby.
Meet Fred Jacoby
Fred is the Founder & Director of Foundations Christian Counseling Services, a Christ-centered counseling center based in the Poconos, PA.
He is the author of “The Black & White Thinking Christian.” He also serves as the Pastor of Counseling at Cornerstone Community Church (Kresgeville, PA). He is a husband of 25 years and a father to two sons.
Visit the Foundations Christian Counseling website.
FREEBIE: Listeners receive a free copy of Dealing with Disappointment.
In This Podcast
- Managing a 30+ clinician practice
- “Black and white thinking”
- Fred’s advice to Christian counselors
Managing a 30+ clinician practice
Fred’s practice has about 18 locations across North-East Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, and New Jersey as well as providing online services.
The practice is undergoing “growing pains” and their structures are constantly underdoing evaluation to find the best systems to suit the needs of the clinicians and clients.
We’re looking at the overseeing of counselors so we’re actually in the process of looking at that now and probably changing how we do things … a little bit more one-to-one because we don’t want counselors to be off on their own or by themselves. (Fred Jacoby)
“Black and white thinking”
I focus on black-and-white thinkers and black-and-white thinking in turns of being created in God’s image and God’s goal for us is to become more like Christ, so what might be the path for black-and-white thinkers to become more like Christ? (Fred Jacoby)
Black-and-white thinking can be evident in people’s lives when they show symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Fred’s book explores what these people can do to recover from their symptoms and become more like Christ on their journey in therapy to recovery.
Fred’s advice to Christian counselors
The impact and power of God’s grace are working within you as a counselor and within your client’s life. Allow God’s grace to give you the power to move forward to be a better counselor.
Books mentioned in this episode:
Useful links mentioned in this episode:
- Visit the Foundations Christian Counseling website
- Connect with Foundations Christian Counseling on Facebook and subscribe to their Youtube channel
- Listeners receive a free copy of Dealing with Disappointment
- Email Whitney: [email protected]
Check out these additional resources:
- Jeff Guenther’s Inclusive Online Directory, TherapyDen | FP 106
- Faith in Practice Conference | FP Bonus Episode
- Next Level Practice
- Killin It Camp October 2021
- Join the Faith in Practice Mastermind
- Practice of the Practice Podcast Network
- Group Practice Boss
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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Welcome to the Faith in Practice podcast. I’m your host Whitney Owens recording live from Savannah, Georgia. I’m a licensed professional counselor, group practice owner, and private practice consultant. Each week through personal story or amazing interviews, I will help you learn how to start, grow and scale your practice from a faith-based perspective. I will show you how to have an awesome faith-based practice without being cheesy or fake. You too can have a successful practice, make lots of money, and be true to yourself.
Hello, and thanks for listening to the Faith in Practice podcast. So glad that you are here today. If you haven’t already joined the Faith in Practice Facebook group, I would love for you to jump on Facebook and be a part of it. In that group practice owners talk about what it’s like to grow, start scale, close, open, all the different things that come with a faith-based practice. So would love for you to get involved in that community if you aren’t already. I jump in there and give them the latest information, I do Facebook Lives, I’m answering questions. I’m a very active part of that community.
The other thing I love about that Facebook community is it gives me an opportunity to meet some other really cool people. So when I posted in there a few weeks ago about what do you want to promote, I had Fred Jacoby jump on there and promote his book about black and white thinking with a Christian perspective. I was like, wow, that is so cool. I love the concept of bringing CBT and Christianity together and here is a book that he published and I thought to myself, wow, he’d be a really cool person to have on the podcast to talk about this book and maybe talk about what it’s like to publish a book.
So I reached out to him with a Facebook message and just said, “Hey, you think you’d be interested in coming on the podcast?” He said, sure and we started emailing a little bit about topics and stuff. I told him, I was thinking about him talking about his book and he said, “Well, just so you know, I also have a practice that I manage in multiple states with the clinicians in a Christian perspective, yada, yada, yada.” I was like, “Whoa,, we definitely need to talk about that.” Because a lot of us have practices, but not very many of us have multi-location, multistate. He’s been doing this work for 19 plus years. I was like, “Wow, not only that, but I have a lot to learn from you.” So we had an interview together and we got to know one another. So I hope to continue to connect with him in the future.
So to tell you a little bit more about Fred Jacoby, he is the founder and director of Foundations Christian Counseling Services, and it’s a Christ center counseling agency located in the the Poconos, Pennsylvania. He is the author of “The Black & White Thinking Christian” and he’s the pastor of counseling at Cornerstone Community Church in Pennsylvania. He’s a husband of 25 years and he has two, well twins, so those would be two, sons that are 20 years old. I loved this interview and hearing kind of his story of humble beginnings into what this practice become and it really spoke to me about the importance of practice owners that we listen and pay attention because God is opening doors all around us and if we get fixated on what we’re wanting or doing, we’re really going to miss out. So I’m looking forward to sharing this episode with you today. This is episode 107 on opening doors to a 30-plus clinician practice.
Today on the Faith in Practice podcast I have Fred Jacoby. How you doing today, Fred?
I’m doing great. Thank you. And yourself?
I’m doing well. Yes, so glad to connect with you. We were talking a little bit before we got on air because Fred and I actually met through the Faith in Practice Facebook group, which is just a free group that you can be a part of with other faith-based practice owners to chat about what it’s like to run a business from a faith-based perspective. So I love that Facebook is this way that we can connect with people. So I’m really glad to have you on the show.
Oh, thank you so much for having me. It’s great to be here.
Yes. Well, first of all you have such a great story of growth and I have lots of questions I’m going to ask you along the way, but let’s start with you sharing a little bit about how you started your business and you can kind of share the growth along the way and I’ll throw some questions in as we go.
Sure. That sounds great. Well I’m the founder and director of Foundations Christian Counseling Services here in northeast Pennsylvania. That’s our main office here. We also have some offices in New York and in Vermont and soon New Jersey. So that’s kind of where we went at least in the past 19 years. But where we started I would say it’s probably around the time that nearing graduation I guess of seminary. I wanted to, I didn’t know what to do quite frankly, with this counseling degree. So I started to ask some area pastors is there any Christian counseling centers in the area in the Poconos? And those pastors that I asked said, no. There used to be, but they moved and they’re no longer here.
So I pretty much took that as an open door saying, all right, Lord, I guess this is what we’re doing here; opening up a practice. The first real decision that had to make was, was I going to open up a for-profit or nonprofit? So I just really thought about that and prayed about that a little bit and decided to open up a nonprofit. I did that for a few reasons. One was because I wanted to raise funds to help low income families in need of help. So I wanted to be able to do that. I also wanted to work together really well with pastors and churches, and I thought being a nonprofit might be able to help with that. I’m not sure if that has or not throughout the 19 years.
And also more morbidly speaking, if something happened to me I’d want a board of directors to bring someone else on board to lead because I wanted this project to be something that continues past my expiration time. Should we say so a little more bit there. I started off in the best possible place that you could start off a new counseling which is essentially in the nursery of a church with bright yellow walls, a diaper, genie smell. That was just wonderful but throughout , probably after about a year or two of being there another office space became available. A Christian business owner nearby gave us a space there for like $200 a month and just really couldn’t go wrong with that. Fixed it up and we’re actually still in the same place as of today.
Wow. I love those humble beginnings.
Yes. I would say that that would be the case. We were part-time, I was part-time at that time and my wife was, actually just gave birth to twin boys at the same time. We knew we couldn’t afford the place that we lived in so we, we also moved. I worked part-time for starting up Foundations. I did some therapeutic staff support at one point, probably just prior to becoming a behavior specialist as well. I did some family-based work also, and once the foundation started to do a little bit better and started getting a little bit more business I started to obviously get a little bit more hours and then I stopped the other job. And then my church actually asked me to come on board because they were in the search for an associate pastor for part-time. So I actually took the position there as well. So I was part-time associate pastor while also directing Foundations at the same time. So that was a lot of fun, but by that time it wasn’t just me. It was, we actually had a several offices, locations and hired a few different staff members at that time.
Oh, great. And tell me again, when was that?
We started up in 2002 and we hired it was probably about maybe two years later that I hired my first, actually two other staff members. Because at that point I had several different locations and just drove in different days to different locations. I wanted to hire a female counselor too because oh, it’s just what I needed to do.
Boy, in those early days you wore so many hats. I mean, think about pastor, counselor, father of young children, husband, it’s a lot to hold onto there.
Yes, receptionist, cleaning person, billing person, you name it. I pretty much had all the hats on and obviously that got to be a little bit much for me throughout the time.
Yes. So if you can, I work with a lot of people that are in the process of starting group practices and was just curious, what was that like when you hired your first two or three people?
That was a relief. It was a relief that it didn’t have to be all me. It was good because I didn’t want to travel as much either. I mean the other office wasn’t too far away. It was like half an hour away, but just to stay in one office was great. So that obviously gave me a little bit more time to work on other things. It was a great feeling just because that those individuals could counsel people that I could not because there’s just different specialties and things of that nature too. And I just knew that helping more people is pretty much what I wanted to do, is where the desire is, but I know I can’t help everybody. So what a relief that was to do that?
Yes, when you start hiring, you can have greater impact. And I love that you kind of had different offices in different areas to be able to reach more people. So what happened after that?
Well, one of the ways that we operate is we operate with church partnerships as well. So what we do is we have offices pretty much in churches. So we started developing more relationships with pastors. We started having more offices within churches. In our partnerships too, it’s not just having offices in those churches, but a number of churches want to help their individuals. So we did not take insurance. So what we do it as we develop partnerships with the churches, they support us financially, and then we reduce the rates for their members or regular attendees. That seems to work pretty well. It brought it a lot closer to a co-pay that insurances would cover. The congregants knew that their church really loved them and cared for them and helped to support them financially.
We of course, would have to have any kind of release forums and such to be able to talk with pastors or work together with pastors or anything. Some people were cool with that. Other people were not, and that’s ok, because we were just there for the people. We also started some speaking engagements as well. So we started doing some seminars and things of that nature and just throughout the time, we just ended up with just a few more offices and a few more counselors. Then I had one, this one man, his name is Jeremy and he just graduated from Clark Summit University. He has a passion to start up new counseling centers and he just wanted to interview me to how do I start one up?
I just said, “Why don’t you work for me?” Because we’ve been looking to go into a certain region, Scranton Wilbury area in Pennsylvania. He said, yes and next thing he just started to plant new offices. We started a great relationship with Clarkson University. We took over their counseling center and they wanted it us to do that because we’re like-minded. So now we help interns out and help train interns at the school as well. It’s just amazing to see the things that God has been doing. And then even from those relationships, it just took off a little bit more. A church in New York wanted to start a Christ center counseling center there, and we developed a really good relationship with them and that’s led to a few different offices up there and it’s just amazing really what God has been doing and from the humble, especially considering while I’m a little bit of a visionary there, I did not envision any of this happening. I think that’s just God’s way of keeping me humble of saying, “Fred, this is my work, not yours.” And I completely and okay with that and I agree with that as well.
I love hearing your story, so thank you for sharing that with us. And as I kind of hear it, I hear the Lord just opening door after door for you, not even that you were knocking on it, and just a lot of favor and blessing. And hey, there’s a need. I know that you can meet that need. I love that.
Yes, and doing some great things. And considering myself, I’ve got a lot of weaknesses. You can ask probably my staff of all the weaknesses that I have. I am not an all encompassing organizational guy who was just all set and like, let’s go, let’s get him. Just recently there was Hurricane Fred. I guess that Hurricane Fred became disorganized and I saw the headline on that said, ‘Disorganized Fred.’ I looked at it and I laughed. I showed my wife and she laughed, “How did they know?” I am not the most organized person either but yet again, God still uses me. If he wants to create a good work and make a good work through you, He will absolutely do that. All you got to do is say yes.
Hmm. It’s so true. And a lot of times we try to force things to happen or we think we know the plan. I think now I’m getting a Bible verse, Proverbs, man makes his plan, but the Lord directs his steps, something like that. And yes, so as owners, when we pay attention, God shows us where to go. But a lot of times, I know even for myself, I can be so fixated on what I think I need, especially like the most recent is hiring. Well, I just need to hire somebody, but I need to slow down, wait on the Lord, listen, and He’ll show me who to hire instead of just forcing it. So I can hear that a lot in your story, just you’ve been patient and waiting and being open to that.
Yes, I can’t say that I’ve done everything perfectly. There’s no doubt about that. There’s been some individuals that I’ve hired that, they’re not terrible people at all, it just wasn’t the best fit either. So sometimes there’s just a need and then a person comes along and they pass the similar values and counseling style. But for whatever reason, personality or such just wasn’t the best fit. And it hadn’t really harmed of the organization terribly, but it is something that I’m cognizant of on a regular basis, especially when it comes to hiring.
Yes. So could you tell me a little bit more about just where you’re at now, like how many offices are there, how many clinicians you have and how do you manage all that? I would love to hear some more about how you manage that.
Yes, well, we have 18 locations throughout northeast Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, and soon to be New Jersey. We’ve got, and online, we do have counseling online as well. We have about 30 staff members with the majority about 28 being counselors. Several are licensed, but most of them are all masters level counselors. How we manage all of that, well, I could say that we’re experiencing growing paints when it comes to that. We’re actually looking at all of our systems and how we look at just kind of all the, not just the human resources, but the overseeing of counselors. So we’re going to actually, we’re actually in the process of looking at that now, and we’re going to probably be changing how we do thing.
How we’re going to be doing that is just a little bit more way more one to one and such, because we don’t want counselors to be off on their own or by themselves. Everyone needs to be just really accountable to each other. But what we’ve been doing is obviously we’ve got like monthly staff meetings. We have group supervision and we offer three of those per month. So a lot of our counselors are taking a lot of time in that. Most of our counselors are all part-time though. I think we only have like one or two that are, no three or four, I guess that are doing this more full-time. The rest are either stay-at-home moms or they might be pastors themselves who have counseling degrees or they have other jobs that they’re working at as a primary source of income. The rest are pretty much part-time.
So tell me more about how you spend your time.
Well, what I’ve learned to do is, well, in the past I’ve pretty much taken on in every role. I’ve hired staff to be able to take care of a lot of roles, so a lot of the financials. Actually just this year, we hired a secretary because I’ve been doing most of the secretary in addition to roles throughout all of this time. So we just hired someone to do that, which is, oh, that’s been wonderful. I actually, I have Mondays and Wednesdays and Tuesday mornings. Those are my counseling times. So throughout the day, I’ll see maybe up to four clients per day with Tuesdays maybe one or two, and the rest of the time, I pretty much have as administrative days. On those days I pretty much just might do some research.
I’m also, I still have a few other hats. I’m also the web designer. We also do fundraising banquets because we raise funds to help low income families in need. We’re actually in that season now where I’m spending a lot of time getting ready for that. We’ve also done some seminars and we recently did a virtual summit for pastors in dealing just with stress. So just doing a lot of event management and just kind of looking at how to do all that. Obviously, supervision, we want to take care of our staff doing what we can to do that as well. That doesn’t encompass all my time, but the majority of it is bound up in those things.
And obviously we’re talking on video, but everyone else can’t see you, but as you’re talking, I just see the smile on your face. Like, you genuinely love the work you do.
I really do. I really do. Now I couldn’t counsel five clients per day. I know many others even do more than that. I just can’t do that. So when I can use my creative juices to maybe some web design or some go on Canva and do some other designs on there for the website or Facebook page or whatever, I really enjoy doing that because I need to use those creative juices in other ways. But I really do I enjoy writing as well, although I’ve slowed down my blogs. But I’ve also enjoyed that. But I pretty much use time at home to do that as opposed to time here at the office.
Well, I can empathize with you because the longer I’m in this field, I feel like I can see less and less clients. And you’re seeing the same amount I am and I have a practice of, well, I think there’s seven of us now. Sometimes it, I can’t remember, but yes, I probably only see six to eight a week. Six is like a good week for me where I can still have my sanity and think straight. Yes, so you mentioned the writing. Tell us about your writing.
Well, I’ve previously written a book called “The Black & White Thinking Christian.” That was my first dive, I guess, into the writing realm beyond blogs, of course. That book is essentially about black and white thinkers and all are nothing, right or wrong. The reason I wrote that book is that there was actually a certain audience, I don’t know if that’s the right word, but audience of clients who I just had a difficult time reaching. I would be saying all this great stuff, of course, I’m going to say it’s great stuff, but it’s relational stuff and it’s stuff that they didn’t quite get because I was coming about it in a different way.
Then I ended up with a son who was more of a black and white thinker also, and I was having a hard time talking with him and getting through, and he just wasn’t understanding. So I started thinking about that a little bit more and so, well, black and white thinkers are created in the image of God and being in the image of God then reflects God. And God is actually quite black and white when it comes to things. Now He’s also fully relational too. So in the book, I just talk about black and white thinkers versus in relational thinkers. But I focus on black and white thinkers and black and white thinking in terms of being created in God’s image and God’s goal for us is to become more like Christ. What might be the path for black and white thinkers to become more like Christ?
And where is black and white thinking evident in their lives, like anxiety, depression and things of that nature? And what can they put on to be able to move forward, to become more like Christ? So that’s pretty much what that book is about. And I’ve just, I really enjoy doing that. It really was a part of a series of blogs that were my most read blogs. So that’s why I decided to put that into a book but it really actually was a first step into some other thinking that I’ve been doing, which is not just black and white thinking. It’s really a subset to what I’m calling more of moral operators or standard operators which again, more reflects God of the old Testament. Being very organized and process and procedures are so important and black and white thinking is just more of a subset of that. So I’ve been talking more about the moral operators versus relational operators that in marriage retreats and at pastor’s retreats. It’s really hit something there. So I’m working on that too as well. So that’s been that’s been a lot of fun.
That’s so great. It sounds like it’d be a really the black and white thinking book would be a really helpful resource for client. It’s mostly right.
Yes. I’ve gotten some good feedback and I feel bad almost like I don’t want to be a book pusher. I don’t want to be one of those say, “Hey, you really need to buy my book.” But they’ve come back to me and said how helpful it has been if they have that. So that’s been a great source of encouragement.
Yes, and I want to just speak to the idea here that you were talking about it all the time, and then you wrote some blogs on it and you’re like, oh, I’ll make a book out of this. And it’s a book that’s helping people and I think a lot of the think I don’t have anything to offer or what would I write a book about? And I’m always saying, well, what are you talking to your clients about? Just get a little legal pad and start writing out everything you say to clients, because that is good book material. And that’s exactly what you did.
Yes, yes. It started off with just the blogs and then it just kind of went from there and yes, it’s been a lot of fun.
Yes. Well, you also have a free download about dealing with disappointment. Can you tell us about that and how to get to that?
Sure. You can go onto our website foundchristcounsel.org. It’s free to download. That was probably the second set of series that I wrote on a blog that was read. It was about just dealing with disappointment, disappointment with God, disappointment with others and disappointment with yourself. And in that free download, it’s just, “Hey, how do we look at this through the lens of scripture and essentially how do we deal, how do we work through disappointment as well? So free download and feel free to just log on to foundchristcounsel.org and you can have that for your own pleasure.
So great. You know, we’re recording this here at the end of August when COVID is just a real mess right now and just kind of thinking through this whole black, you said black and white thinkers. I was here raising my hand because I’m such a black and white thinker. So COVID’s really been a challenge for me in the way that I think. And then just you talking about the disappointment thing, like everyone is disappointed right now. So that I feel timely with this interview and that you’re offering some things that I think clients and even clinicians really need right now. So I appreciate you bringing that to the table.
Yes, thanks so much. I can’t take too much credit. I’m just doing it but the Lord’s given a lot of insight into these things. The importance of grace, being able to work through, especially with disappointments and especially with disappointments in self has just been so, probably been the greatest theme, I guess, I’ll say for lack of better terms, but the greatest theme that’s been working in my life, the past 10 years when reading that passage, growing the grace and knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. I think its 1 Peter 3 and somewhere around that ballpark. And once that theme was, I took the challenge, put it that way into growing grace and honestly my counseling has all changed since that time. So in “The Black & White Thinking Christian,” you’ll see a lot of the theme of grace in there.
Very important. That’s what’ll be taken with me today. So I appreciate that. And just as you’re kind of talking about God just brings things to you, I mean, I feel very similar with the podcast. I love doing the podcast and I get to meet some great people and get the word out about things God’s doing in the Christian counseling world. So it’s my pleasure to kind of meet you and hang out with you and be able to share this with the audience today.
Yes. Well, thanks so much for having me and you’re doing a great work. I wish you were around 19 years ago in terms of this ministry. I know that it would’ve been a great blessing when starting up Foundations but I look forward to exploring some more.
hank you. Thank you. Well, I want to ask you the question I ask everyone here at the end of the show, what do you believe every Christian counselor needs to know?
Well, I think I’ll just piggyback on what I mentioned about grace; just the impact and the power of God’s grace working in us as counselors and working in our clients’ lives as well. And we look at the definition of grace, which is God’s unmerited favor. So many times that we look at our lives and we get down on ourselves or we see our clients get down on theirselves, but in God’s grace is that our worth and value is always found in Him. And the fact that He favors you, not because of anything you’ve done or any thing you haven’t done, but God’s grace empowers us to move forward to be better counselors and to be better clients. So grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and savior.
Thank you. I appreciate that. Well, it’s been such a pleasure to chat with you, and I hope that we continue to connect in the future.
That will be great. Thank you.
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