Seven Figure Practice Series: Creating Clarity in your Business to find the best-fit clinicians with Valerie Harris | POP 940

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Have you experienced a growth plateau in your group practice? Why should you have clarity in your mission, vision, and values to find your most well-aligned employees? Have you struggled to part ways with employees who weren’t well-suited to the practice?

In this Seven Figure Practice Series podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks about creating clarity in your business to find the best-fit clinicians with Valarie Harris.

Podcast Sponsor: Heard

An image of the Practice of the Practice podcast sponsor, Heard, is captured. Heard offers affordable bookkeeping services, personalized financial reporting, and tax assistance.

Please don’t DIY your accounting! It’s like relying on a self-help book instead of getting much-needed therapy. There’s a reason accountants go through tons of schooling and grueling exams like we do. You shouldn’t be expected to know the things that they studied for years. They’re experts and can make the whole quarterly tax situation smooth, and honestly, with some planning, pretty painless.

You don’t want to be surprised by taxes or have the IRS breathing down your neck. And therapists ask me all the time where to find an accountant.

‌Heard is my go-to referral for therapists needing bookkeeping, tax preparation, payroll, and all the financial back office stuff. They even help therapists set up a bank account, form a business entity, and open a retirement plan.

They work exclusively with therapists and cost way less than the accountant I worked with for years.

The deadline to sign up for 2023 tax services with Heard is December 31, 2023! You can schedule a free consultation at and get your first month for free with promo code JOE at checkout.

Meet Valarie Harris

A photo of Valarie Harris is captured. She owns a growing group practice called Trauma & Therapy Center of TN., PLLC,. Valarie is featured on Grow a Group Practice, a therapist podcast.

Valarie owns a growing group practice called Trauma & Therapy Center of TN., PLLC, located in Clarksville, TN. She started her group practice in 2019 and just purchased her second commercial property (only 13 months after the first) to expand services. Valarie also provides consulting services on growing a group practice using interns and working with complex trauma cases, such as Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Visit Trauma & Therapy Center and connect with them on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

In This Podcast

  • The first steps from solo to group

  • Moving through the plateau

  • Putting leadership in place

  • Making CEO decisions as a therapist

  • Valerie’s advice to private practitioners

The first steps from solo to group

Valarie, like many other solo practitioners, in the beginning, saw so many clients.

Her schedule was booked full and she was building up a waiting list however, because she saw this huge need, she felt that she could open up a bigger business to serve it since she was only one person.

One person can do a lot of work, but when it’s all on your shoulders, you can easily burn out or come crashing down if something small goes wrong. Having a support system in that sense is a buffer for you and for your business, and ultimately your clients too.

I have so many clients and they just keep coming, and I feel like that was the natural pivot point for me to bring in an intern was because I started to feel limited in the impact that I was having in private practice because, although I was seeing a lot of clients, I was realizing [that] there was a lot of trauma and they were staying a lot longer than expected … [Working solo] was limiting the large-scale impact. (Valarie Harris)

However, having so many clients was a way that allowed Valarie to grow quickly since she could easily fill up the schedules of the interns that she began to hire.

Moving through the plateau

I definitely feel like when we hit a million it slows way down after that … I think part of that though is because of our intentionality around stabilziing … It probably did get a little big stagnant between the six and to ten clinician mark, and I hear that’s pretty common. (Valarie Harris)

It is very common for group practices to experience a plateau in their growth at some point. It may start strong and then begin to slow down, but it’s normal, and it may or may not even matter – depending on what your goals are.

From the one to five clinician mark, it grows fast, since your already established systems could handle the additional therapists. However, from six to ten and higher, the systems need to be upgraded and changed if you want to keep growing beyond that.

I think the stagnation that we experienced was … because I think our clinicians were struggling with capacity because I had created a system where it was like, “Well, I just figured it out as I went, so I’m just going to give them lots of resources to do what I do and let them figure out what works for them” … What I failed to realize is that there’s a reason they’re not running the practice, and it’s probably because they don’t want to figure it out. (Valarie Harris)

Because you are the boss, you need to structure the systems and lay them out for your team to use.

Putting leadership in place

Leadership is vital once your practice grows beyond a certain level.

You cannot expect yourself to manage a business alone with more than five clinicians, since you end up creating a bottleneck where you cause the blockage since all this work is solely dependent on you.

Give your business the freedom and space to grow by instilling capable and dependable people into leadership positions, so that they can help you to track things like:

  • How many clients a clinician is seeing per week according to their agreements
  • If they are being paid accordingly
  • Investments into clinicians

If you don’t track things, it’s real easy when you’re not measuring those things, those things start to not matter. And so, just by merely tracking those, we now have almost everybody on board … Or they have left our company, and that’s one of those hard truths. (Valarie Harris)

You need to get clear on where you are going with the business and what the vision, mission, and values are because the employees who are not aligned with that vision will often self-select and remove themselves from the position.

Even though it is tough, it then makes space for people who want to be there and want to do the work.

Making CEO decisions as a therapist

Of course, there’s a big chance that you became a therapist because you are empathetic and have a big heart.

So, it can feel very difficult having to make business decisions within your therapy practice, especially when you need to have tough conversations with employees that you care for but are no longer a good fit for the practice.

I realized that by trying and working so hard to keep certain people who really were not aligned with our practice or were no longer aligned, it was really going to be causing pain to those who were. (Valarie Harris)

If you are constantly focusing on the small handful who are not fitting in well, those who are doing their job are at the risk of being neglected.

No matter how well and equally you treat everyone, not everyone is going to stay, because their inherent values may be different from yours, which means that they need to be putting their effort somewhere else.

We did have one that was with us from the beginning that self-selected out, and it did feel painful because it was weird to imagine going forward without this person as part of the team. But at the same time, it actually felt good knowing that we had created so much clarity that this person felt safe enough to come forward and say, “This doesn’t align anymore”. And that’s the goal. (Valarie Harris)

Valerie’s advice to private practitioners

If you are considering working for a group practice, know that it is not the same as a private practice. Your values and vision may look different from the place where you go to work, so get clinical experience and a consultant before you enter into private practice.

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    Meet Joe Sanok

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

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

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