Family Relationships

Celebrating 10 Years Of Private Practice Success

tenth birthday cake

From solo practitioner to thriving clinic owner. Celebrating the milestones of 10 years of private practice.

Today marks the 10 years since of the founding of my private practice Wasatch Family Therapy, LLC. I started out as a solo practitioner with big dreams of creating an exceptional therapy clinic that not only provides excellent clinical services, but also provides therapists the opportunity to create their "dream practice" in a nurturing work environment that supports personal growth and strong family relationships.

As I take a step back and reflect on this ten year journey, many tender emotions surface. I am grateful for willing clients who have allowed me to walk with them during life crises and transitions. I am touched by the generosity of the professional relationships that I've cultivated during this period of time. I am amazed at the personal and professional growth that I've experienced. I've learned invaluable lessons about leadership, boundaries, and business. I've developed skills in marketing, supervising, web design, social media, mentoring, public relations, human resources, interior decorating, negotiating contracts, consulting...

This Wednesday we're putting on our party hats and hosting a celebration: a professional networking luncheon in our new office suite for all of our current and former staff, colleagues, referral sources, families, and friends. As a thank you to our colleagues and friends we'll be tweeting and posting photos and links to great websites and resources as a thank you to our attendees. Feel free to follow the fun here on our Twitter and Facebook page.

10 Year Milestones For Wasatch Family Therapy

  • 10,000 families served
  • 4000 + social media updates
  • 300 local and national media interviews
  • Grown from 1 to 14 therapists
  • 13 interns trained or supervised
  • 1 to 2 clinic locations
  • 9 babies born to our staff members
  • 5 office spaces outgrown
  • 0 to 2 office and support staff
  • Transitioned from managed care to a private pay practice

Whether you've been in private practice for years or months, I encourage you to take a step back this week and reflect on your journey. What milestones have you achieved so far? What are you grateful for? How have you grown personally and professionally through your private practice journey? And where do you want to go next?

Throughout the month of October I'll be posting more about lessons learned during my 10 years in private practice, mistakes and missteps, brave decisions, and more in the hopes that you can learn from my successes and failures and build your dream practice.

What are the most lessons have you learned in your days/weeks/years in private practice?


Creative Commons License normanack via Compfight

Adventures In Private Practice: Parenting Expert Dr. John Duffy

When it comes to parenting and family relationships, particularly during the tween and teen years, Clinical Psychologist Dr. John Duffy has become the go-to expert. Not only does he have a thriving private practice in the Chicago area, he also published a book last year called The Available Parent: Radical Optimism for Raising Teens and Tweens (2011), and blogs regularly for The Huffington Post on relationship topics.

Learn more about how Dr. Duffy parenting niche found him, how he manages the stress of being "the boss" and how he's built a thriving private practice.

Why did you decide to open a private practice?

From the day I began grad school, I knew I wanted a private practice. To be honest, it started much earlier as I idealized characters played by Bob Newhart and Judd Nelson. Later, I realized it was the model I could thrive in. I had spent many years in a VERY corporate environment working for other people, and I knew I wanted to work for myself.

Clients that therapists find to be the most "difficult" are sometimes the ones who can teach them the most. What have you learned from your toughest clients?

I’ve learned patience, empathy, and compassion form my toughest clients. I’ve also learned that, once you familiarize yourself with another person’s back-story, it becomes very difficult to demonize them, and much easier to relate to them. I frequently tap this skill in my private life as well.

What's your biggest pet peeve about private practice?

I miss the camaraderie and dynamics of a group. I have a number of friends in group practice, and I find the idea of a staff meeting to hold some appeal on occasion.

How did you discover or develop your practice "niche"?

My niche actually discovered me. As I began my practice, I became friendly with a number of social workers at area high schools. Teens, tweens and parents became my demographic, and I’m so grateful to discover that I have a great deal of passion for working with families. I’ve been lucky enough to have a waiting list for the past several years.

What resource (book, website, person) helped you the most when setting up your private private?

I learned most from colleagues already in practice, willing to share their stories and struggles. I’m very lucky to have had their help early on.

What has surprised you most about being in private practice?

I’m most surprised by the opportunity that private practice presents. Not only do I see about 40 clinical clients a week, but I do a great deal of public speaking, mostly to parents, I published my first book this year, I’ve done TV, radio, print and other media, and blog on the Huffington Post. None of this would have been possible is I did not have the experience of my practice to rely on.

Has your private practice helped you grow professionally? How so?

Along with the above, I’ve learned more about how to live life from my clients than almost anyone else in my life. I’ll never forget the young man who decided to write the “better story” every day of his life. I think about that mantra most every day.

Has it helped you grow personally, too? How so?

I live that advice, and being in practice also keeps me far more aware of the ways in which I choose to live my life, and when my choices are maladaptive. Hopefully, I have pretty good advice for myself on how to implement change!

Being a therapist can be emotionally exhausting. What do you do to care for your own emotional and psychological health?

I work out regularly. I consult with a few close colleagues. I stop for a while to strum my guitar. And I laugh with my family, every day.

How do you cope with the inevitable stressors involved with being your own boss?

I remind myself of the freedom my practice affords me. I make my own schedule. I work hard Monday through Thursday, protecting Fridays for writing and other activities. I limit the amount of paperwork I do, as best I can. I stay organized as well. My iPhone is my virtual office.

What personal strengths have helped you succeed in private practice?

I’m an empathic, patient guy. I’m a pretty good listener, and my attitude is typically quite positive. I also feel that I have the patience to draw answers from my clients, instead of throwing out my solutions to their problems which, in the end, may not be useful at all. I truly do find that the less I think I know for sure, the more effective a therapist I am.

It's great to connect with and to be inspired by other therapists in private practice!

To find out more about Dr. John Duffy's clinical practice and book visit



Therapist Roll Call: Join The Private Practice Twitter List

I recently blogged about ways to use Twitter to build your private practice, and encouraged you to tweet your elevator speech/basic practice message in 140 characters or less. Those posts got me wondering, "How many therapists in private practice are actively using Twitter?" So, I'm taking a roll call to help you use Twitter to connect with other like-minded therapists around the world to share ideas, resources, and referrals. Only licensed mental health therapists will be listed.

Here's what I'd like you to do...

Post a comment below and include:

  1. twitter handle & link
  2. your city and state
  3. specialty area

As the comments come in I'll post comments and paste your info in the body of this post below.

Therapists on Twitter

@julie_hanks Salt Lake City, UT: women's emotional health, EFT couples, family therapy, private practice consulting, media

@soultenders1 Arcadia, CA: marriage/couples, domestic violence, anger management, parenting

@soulhealr Studio City, CA: trauma, abuse, grief, loss, anxiety, stress, yoga therapy, teens and adults

@drtrentevans Baltimore, MD: anxiety, depression, anger management, bariatric surgery, cognitive/mindfulness

@metrocounsellor Perth Western Australia, Mount Lawley and Duncraig: Family,couples, teenagers, children and relationship counselling

@Grevgatan24 Stockholm, Sweden:, 6 psychotherapists, PDT, CBT, Affective Shortterm, individual/couples, systemic, crises/trauma

@juliejeske Portland, OR: relationships, intimacy and sexuality

@DrMarsha Washington DC: neuropsychology, and mindfulness

@LisaKiftTherapy Larkspur, Marin County, CA: Individual (family of origin, emotional health) and Couples (communication, infidelity, premarital education)

@JoelCarnazzo CBT, Motivational Interviewing, Family Systems Therapies, depressive disorders, anxiety and panic, & substance abuse

@SentierTherapy Couples & Family therapy, teens/adolescents, parent consultations, sexual abuse/assault

@Mindful4Health Milton, Ontario: depression, anxiety, stress, major life changes, chronic illness, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy

@jeffbrandler Mountain Lakes, NJ: addiction, couples, anxiety, mood disorders

@daryljo Trinidad & Tobago, West Indies: EAPs, Adults, Teens, Couples Counselling

@aposterioris Manhattan, NY: helping children and adults, as a disabled person I can also help those w/ disabilities

@emmakviglucci NYC: Self and Relationship Expert pre-marital, codependence and being stuck, infidelity

@DrRanjanPatel Burlingame, CA: Couples counseling, depression/anxiety, chronic illness/pain, grief/loss, mindfulness training

@DrTanyaHilber San Diego, CA: life balance, middle-aged women, children/teens with ADHD or Autism/Asperger’s spectrum

@pnetworker Psychotherapy Networker: Learning, Connection, Community for Psychotherapists Year-Round

@brucenystrom evaluation/therapy clinical, forensic, disability, ADHD, medical compliance, law enforcement, critical incident stress management

@marianneclyde Warrenton, VA: relationship issues, anxiety/depression, eating disorders, stress, trauma, Holistic approach

@geoffsteurer St. George, UT: pornography and sexual addiction recovery, affairs, marriage counseling, men's issues

@rhetter Plano, TX: Marriage and Family, latent adolescent/emerging adulthood, adolescent boys, spiritual issues

@drkkolmes San Francisco, CA: Anxiety, depression, relationships, sexual problems, working with LGBTQ, poly, kink

@TherapyWithJen Salt Lake City, UT:  Marriage and Family, anxiety, depression, parenting, communication skills, trust, LDS-based therapy

@cesargamez Phoenix, AZ: Eating disorders, Marriage/Family, Teens/Adults, Group Therapy

@johnleemsw Chattanooga, TN: individual & family therapist, children and adolescents, emotional intelligence

@josephab100 Mechanicsburg, PA: Online Relationship advice; online life and business coach.

@njpsychotherapy & @debrafeinberg Maplewood, NJ: Relationships, anxiety, gay & lesbian issues, multicultural issues, Internet Marketing consultant for therapists

@JaniceMaddoxMFT Reno, Nevada: couples and family counseling, individuals w/ anxiety, depression and adoption related issues

@Betrayalcoach, marriage and relationship counseling, psychotherapy for intimacy, trust,conflict, and issues of infidelity

@luciacassar Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Teenagers, adults and elderly

@kamahiner Private Practice in Boise, ID: Individuals & Couples- Anxiety, Depression, Trauma, Sexual Issues/Addictions, Autism/Behavioral Consultations

@crutherfordphd psychological and neuropsychological assessement, test report writing software

@bbhabash Gaithersburg, MD: Individual & Family Therapy for children 3-12yrs, Child-Centered Play Therapy, Parents, Teens & Young Adults with various mental health disorders/life transitions

@pamdysonmalpc St. Louis, MO: Parent coaching, play therapy for children 3-12 years of age

@drkipmatthews Athens, GA: Sport and Performance Psychology, Consulting, Career & Life Planning, Mind-Body Health

@InfertilityMind @psych0synthesis Northern Beaches, Sydney, Australia: eating disorders and addiction, infertility and alternative parenting paths, anxiety and depression, life crisis and relationships

@KatMindenhall Lakewood, CO: CBT, SFBT – Parenting, depression, couple/family

@BCordermanMFT Brea, Orange County, CA: Empowering teen girls and women; pre-marital & couples counseling; family of origin work; co-dependency; trauma

@taoi_uk Merseyside, United Kingdom: A psychosexual and relationship therapist working with all kinds of sexual and relationship issues

@stlcounselor  Webster Groves, Mo: Marriage child and Family, couples counseling. expert child and teen counseling

@drjlgibson, Holland, Michigan psychologist specializing in adult psychotherapy for depression, anxiety, and relationship concerns.

@onlinecounselor London, UK: Accredited Psychological Therapist providing Online Counselling, Telephone Counselling & Face to Face Therapy.

@JasonEsswein I specialize in individual psychotherapy with men.

@fystherapy Kim McLaughlin, LMFT Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Roseville, CA: specializing in therapy and counseling for compulsive and binge eating disorders.

@DrReginaMendoza Licensed Psychologist in Miami, Florida. Psychological testing and individual therapy for children, adolescents, and adults.

@GregDorter Toronto, ON. Therapist specializing in helping people overcome depression, anxiety, stress & low self-esteem through CBT and mindfulness.

@DrCunninghamMFT  San Diego, CA, Family Systems expert specializing in couples and individuals challenged by relationship issues.

(I'll add your Twitter info here...)

Does Google Love Your Therapy Practice?

kylepacegoogledoorWhen is the last time you opened a phone book, looked in an actual encyclopedia, opened a dictionary, or navigated with an  paper map? The Internet has revolutionized where we go for information. The several hundred million Google searches every day include searches by potential clients looking for your expertise, your niche, and your services. Can they find you? Try Googling your name, or your therapy practice, or your specialty areas in your city. Where do you come up in the Google search? On the first page or on page number 25? If Google can't easily find you then neither can potential clients who are searching for you and your specific therapy services.

Take a look at these Internet facts:

  • 62% of Americans use the Internet to find health care information. (Pew Internet and Family Life Study, 2009)
  • 28-35% of Americans look online specifically for mental health information. (Pew Internet and Family Life Study, 2009)
  • Kids aged 8-18 spend 7.5 to 10 hours a day “plugged in.” (2009 Kaiser Family Foundation Study)

For the past 5 years I've been actively leaving my digital footprint on the Internet for a two reasons: 1) To provide useful information to help women and families improve their mental health and family relationships and 2) To make it extremely easy for my ideal clients to find me and come to my private practice.

Keeping up with technology is crucial to building your private practice in a digital age. If you want to educate on mental health topics, promote grass roots social causes, and reach new clients (especially youth) with accurate mental health information and details about your services it's time to work harder to get Google's attention.

Here are a few things you can do to get Google to love your therapy practice and send new clients your way:

1) Get a website (if you don't already have one). Even if it's a one pager, it's better than nothing.

2) Include important keywords throughout the text of your website. Imagine what words that your ideal clients will be searching for.

3) Add a blog to your current website and write on topics that interest your ideal clients. Google favors new information so blog weekly.

4) Get others to link to your website. If you do media interviews, write articles, or network with other professionals always ask them to provide a link to your website. Add links to your website on any of social media profiles.

Google is the #1 referral source to my private practice. I love Google. I just searched my name "Julie Hanks LCSW" and Google found 26,100 results in about 0.16 seconds, and a search for my clinic "Wasatch Family Therapy" yielded 17,200 results in 0.18 seconds.

Over the next several months I'll be blogging on ways you can increase your visibility on search engines, ethically and effectively use social media so you can make it easy for your ideal clients to find your private practice...stay tuned.

Creative Commons License photo credit: The Daring Librarian