Hello, and welcome to episode five of the inspiring psychologists podcast where we discuss the experience of breaking the mould of private practice. And today, Episode Five is about five things that you need to build a flourishing and innovative private practice. And I wanted to take this time, this point in the series where we were about a third of the way through the series. And we've had, we've spoken to some really inspiring guests so far. And yet, I know that one of the challenges that a lot of listeners have when it comes to breaking out of the box breaking the mould of how private practice has always been done. It's not so much that they don't have the ideas that they don't have the sense of what they want to be able to deliver to their clients. Actually, the problem is often that they have so many ideas, they don't know where to start, you know, how do you move from a practice that is so busy and so overwhelming, delivering one to one product, or one to one services. And moving to this other way of being in your practice this other way of practising, you know that it's actually quite a transformational process. And that can feel very overwhelming in itself. And when working itself is very demanding when we're dealing with, you know, working with unprecedented demand in our practices. And we want to pivot so that we can serve those needs more effectively, then it's really one of one of the biggest barriers to being able to make that shift is to try and reduce the amount of complexity to try and get a more simple framework for how we can start to take those steps. And so that's what this particular episode is about. This is me sharing with you some of my some of the ways in which I work with people who are on this journey as well. And also, this has come from my experience of also pivoting my practice of getting off the treadmill of delivering services in a particular way that was leading to an earning ceiling, you know, I remember for like three or four years in a row, maybe even longer, actually, when I reflect on it, I was probably stuck at around, you know, a turnover in the business of like 40,000 pounds a year. And that's great. But I was stuck there. And it wasn't a lot more than I could have been earning in a job. And I was doing all these other things of running the business. So it's like, okay, well, I'm on a treadmill here. I'm working a lot of hours to deliver this work. And I'm doing all this other stuff as well. In other words, you know, running the business, keeping things running, you've got all these costs of running the business, and I'm not earning a lot more than I could have done in a job. So why don't I just go back and get a job. And it was because I had all of these creative ideas about how else I could be doing things and all of this wonderful opportunity to create new create new ways of working with people that just felt so inspiring to me. And I was like, I can't do that I just can't go back. So when it comes to a flourishing, an innovative private practice, you know, why do I use those words? One of the elements that I think is that has to be central is your flourishing as a practitioner. Running our businesses, you know, as we saw in episode four, for example, the last episode that we had. Running our businesses is demanding. I think the kind of business that we run as psychologists and therapists is also particularly demanding because we deal a lot with people who are experiencing various amounts of trauma, transition, challenges, obstacles and because we work very closely with people, those experiences bring things up for ourselves as well. And that means it can be a kind of practice where we have a lot of emotional challenges. You know, that's why we have supervision, it's where we have ongoing CPD, it's why it's really important to look after our, our mental health, our well being. And so for me, what it means to flourish, has to be built right into the heart of our practices. So that's really important. For me, flourishing has particular meanings as well. So I have worked a lot with selling men's work on flourishing, probably, I mean, I remember that the book flourish was I think, published in about 2007 2008. And I think, since that work was kind of popularised, and in that book. And in fact, since let me think about it, going back even earlier to kind of 2004 2005 is when I really started to work with some of the research that was coming out of the early positive psychology movement. And so that, for me was really encapsulated in this in this area of flourishing. And for me, the model that just helps me to orientate the work that I do supporting psychologists and therapists is also this model of the Perma V model. So Perma V, stands for Positive relationships, positive emotions. Yeah, relationships, the meaning, achievement or accomplishment and vitality. So vitality got end of that. Yeah, in fact, I'm gonna go back through that as well, because my brain had a little bit of a fluff with it. So positive relationships, is the first key engagement is the second is the E is positive relationships, and is meaning a is achievement or accomplishment. And v is vitality. So it's all in there. But that is a framework for me was like, you know, it's just so helpful sometimes to have a list of things where we can orientate ourselves and remember the main tenets of what helps people to move forward. And, you know, we spoke a lot also in episode one about how important it is to recognise that there is also a personal growth path when it comes to creating a flourishing and innovative and transformative private practice, you know, impacts on us as practitioners as well. When it comes to innovation, I think, you know, we know that there is so much need for what we do, even before the pandemic. Countries were already struggling with, you know, overwhelming demand for psychological services, whether that was mental health services or whether it was demand for support with organisation development, you know, right across the spectrum of how we help people as psychologists, there was already a lot of demand before the pandemic, that just, you know, increased exponentially through the process of, of, you know, dealing with the pandemic, its impact on people its impact on families, its impact on schools, its impact on society, organisations, organization's so on and so forth. So, we're just dealing with unprecedented demand. And also our model of practising which has been heavily based around him, certainly in Western society, you know, it's been heavily based around this didactic way of working with people, you know, the one to one stuff, whether it's therapy, whether it's coaching, you know, that kind of gets positioned as the mainstay of how we operate. The other element is the other part of a very traditional practice is working as an associate.
And there is this kind of professional services model where in our practices we grow by bringing other practitioners into our practice to deliver services instead of us. So, you know, then then we'll be taking a referral fee for that, and so on. I did that as an occupational psychologist, when I was associate partner of a practice, I was, you know, we were putting pieces of work together for corporates that also had that kind of model. So that is also very, very common. But it's also not enough, it isn't a model that has enough innovation built into the heart of it. Because it's about being able to deliver services very efficiently, in order to maximise your profit margin in the business. And also, it's often still based on some kind of one to one service. And so, again, even when you expand through associates, at some point, you have this conundrum of how are we going to diversify our products and services? How are we going to scale up beyond this one to one, and we've even seen recently, the, you know, companies like better health, etc, which were these, you know, the these kind of scaled up versions of associate models where they were bringing people in, and what they were trying to do was like, Really, let's put it kindly optimise the offer to therapists delivering services, and then some of the diversification was essentially commoditizing the data and offering, you know, data insights as a second value stream, and then you know, that model has started to demonstrate its limitations and even break down. So, for me, when I think about psychology services at scale, it's not about finding ways to scale up one to one. It's about finding ways to support groups, individual individuals, yes, groups, families, society communities. You know, the individual scaled is not just multiples of one, the individual scaled is groups of different sizes, you know, organisations, etc. So we have to think about how we reorientate our services and products, if we're going to innovate, if we're going to scale up, if we're going to have more impact, then, actually, we need to diversify the way in which we are supporting people, diversify our products and services so that we are, you know, addressing all those different levels of human functioning and human flourishing, not just individual times, whatever. And I think there's another element of, you know, the flourishing model. And when I think about topics, like, vitality, and accomplishment and sense of accomplishment and meaning, actually, for me, what that starts to tap into, and where I see a lot of almost like, your longing and yearning with private practitioners is that they're, you know, longing to bring their creativity into, into their products and services. So there's a real, really big link between being able to support practitioners to be more creative and being able to actually have more impact because we've innovated around the products and services that we're delivering. So as I said earlier, you know, where, why don't why don't people just get stuck in? What's the problem that we're really talking about here? I think one of the clearest elements are said, people aren't really stuck for ideas. They're not really stuck for creativity. But what I noticed is that it feels impossible to stop. And I went through that myself, and I remember having to really make a decision at a point In. And I think just because some of the associate work that I was delivering was just becoming too painful for me to deliver, I was I was just not enjoying it anymore. And I just thought I can't do this. So for me, there was this point at which I had to make a bit of a leap and just say, I'm not going to do that. And actually, I'm going to start investing my time in in this other thing. And but, you know, trying to figure out where to start is probably the number one question that I get asked. People bought coffee chats with me, and I asked them, you know, what is the thing that is really challenging you right now? And a lot of people say that. And I think that underlying that is also for some people a lot of trepidation about what does this mean for me? You know, if I, if I apply an ifs lens to it, there are certain kinds of protective parts and manager parts that we have that are that know, if we go in this direction, if we do this thing differently, it's going to have some implications for us. And are we really going to be able to cope with that? You know, am I going to be overwhelmed? And that shows up as well, because actually, one of the key challenges people will talk about is not so much the fear of failure, not so much that it might not work. But if this takes off, what is that going to mean? For me, that's a real challenge for people. And in fact, if I remember rightly, one of the things that Becky quick said in episode three was, you know, when she was looking at the work that she was doing with menopause psychologist, and she knew it was about to hit the big time. And she was like, I'm not sure. I'm not sure I'm in the right place right now, to be able to deal with that. And so I'm going to have, I'm going to pivot again. So that so that this stays within my parameters for what it means to flourish right now. And, you know, that's, that's tremendous. Having that insight, and that sense of empowerment is really where I love to hear that people have got their, you know, if you're, you're able to scale up your private practice, that's fabulous. But are you also able to do you feel confident to scale it down when you need to, or to pivot it differently when you need to, for me, that's real empowerment in private practice, that we can make those kinds of empowered decisions for what works for us as well. So there is a transformation process involved. Stepping into power, stepping into our light, you know, the good old Marianne Williamson, Marianne Williamson, quote about our greatest fear is our power as opposed to, you know, our darkness. I think that's very, I think that's very true. But in order to make this feel, and be more manageable, there's a metaphor that I use about what it takes to build a flourishing an innovative private practice. And there's a certain flow to it that I've seen happen time and time again. So there are five elements in this metaphor. And the first three go in a certain order. The second two are kind of background constants. But the first three need to go in a particular order. And I call this my building a bus metaphor. So if you've watched any of my webinars in the past, you may have come across me talking about this or if you've had a coffee chat with me, you may have heard me talk about this. Now, I often think to myself, well, you know, you could have done better than thinking about a bus because the bus is not very sexy, is it? You know what, why are you building Lumbini practice? But, you know, first of all, I reckon buses can also be really sexy. So you can you can have, you know, a really sexy bus for your practice.
But buses also take people places right? So this is a collective endeavour. This is this is a bus that is going to take your clients and take you to wherever they need to get to. And they can it can take them there in style, right? Doesn't have to be kind of a Um, you know, a budget bus. And if budget bus is what you're looking for awesome, I'm just saying the scope. So first part of building your bus in this metaphor is to build the chassis, that's the body of the bus. And the chassis when it comes to your products and services, is, you know, that's the thing that you're that is holding and containing your clients. So, you know, the first thing that we need to think about is how we build a function in our practice, and how we build scope and space within our practice, so that we can build the chassis of the bus, so that we can build and rebuild and maintain and do all those things with respect to our products and services. And that might be your one to offer one to one offer. If you're a therapist, you might be thinking of moving into coaching. But it's also your group offers. It's your programmes. It's your courses, it's your workshops, it's maybe your retainer offer. So in fact that I have a webinar, and I'll link to it in the show notes where I talked about the array of products and services that you might think about developing, you know, to support your clients. But I think there's a couple of things about this, you know, a chassis of a bus has a certain design to it, so that it serves the function, and it gets people there as efficiently as possible. And what I think that looks like with it with respect to products and services, is, first of all, that there is a certain alignment to your products and services, that they support one another, that they make sense to people. And that over time, they become a repeatable blueprint. You know, when I've designed products and services in the past. So you know, about 1015 years ago, I designed a lot of products and services around the topic of corporate mentoring systems. And you know, that we created something called a successful mentoring blueprint. And within that system, there were also lots of different ways that we could use that different ways we could deliver it different, different versions. So remember, for very senior leaders, there were kind of small and intensive offers that we had for them. For graduate level in organisations, we had an enormous series of events where we had 200 people in a day come in, you know, learn about corporate mentoring with us. So there was a certain alignment, that meant that the innovation was kind of done once. And then there were different ways in which we could deliver that. And that meant that it was more of an optimised system of products and services. I think there's another element in that alignment, which is when you're supporting particular people in their challenges. And I think we alluded to this in maybe in the first episode of this podcast, there's also different stages of change that people go through. And, and, you know, when we look at a lot of products and services, they often are associated with what's called the action stage of change. But actually, there's three stages of change that happened before that pre contemplation, contemplation and preparation. And there's two stages of change that happen afterwards. One of them is maintenance. One of them is so called relapse, this was a health behaviour model. But if we think about, you know, human behaviour change, we know that change sometimes happens in stages and plateaus and people may come back and want to top up. So when it comes to alignment of products and services when you're building this chassis, I also ask people to think about, you know, what support do their clients need at those different stages of change? Because actually, if we can support them in those stages, we can probably also, first of all, they and innovate in a more aligned way with people's needs. And also when we don't address those different needs at different stages of change, we're pretty much leaving money on the table, right? So, we can actually make our practices more sustainable and more profitable by making sure that we're just supporting people across a broad range of their needs, if that makes sense, the second stage of building your bus is the wheels. And I am deliberately putting these in order first one is thinking about postponed services. Second stage is putting the wheels on. And the wheels in this respect are your systems. Now, your systems in your practice may be technological systems, or they may be people systems, team members. And not just associates but other people in your team, you may need an online business manager, you may need a VA, you may No not you may you definitely need an accountant, you'll likely need someone you know who I call it, the IT person. I think I'm kind of old school like that, you know. But you may need especially when you're innovating support around intellectual property law, making sure that what you're developing is protected. That's not an irrelevant thing as well. So on the on the technological side, you know, we're thinking about all the different technological systems that we can bring into practice, that support us in delivering those services. But the key thing to remember about whether it's human systems, or whether it's technological systems, systems are there to expand your capacity. So if you want to get out of a time for money model, then your systems are really key to that, pick systems, the thing that bring you scalability bring you growth, without overwhelm, you know, and really addressing that key concern that people have, which is if I grow too quickly, it's gonna get overwhelming. And that's not an irrelevant. You know, it's not like an unfounded fear, that's a real thing. So, systems expand capacity. And apart from serving more people, and apart from being more profitable in your practice, what that also helps you to do is to have space for the iteration of your product development. So this is how you start to create a function, a little area within your practice, where you're able to do product design and development and validation, starting to get a little bit of space in the system to enable that. The third part of this metaphor, the third part of this process, and it's important that it goes in this direction, is to put the engine in the bus, and the engine is your marketing. It can be so tempting when you want to scale up your practice to just start with marketing. If you don't have any leverage products, at that point, if you don't have any products that don't need you to be there actively to deliver them. And you start to rev the engine of your bus. And at the moment, you know, there may not be many wheels on it or there may be very small wheels on it. Then few things happen. One, a lot of heat is created without much movement. And what that means is your level of overwhelm can increase.
And also the amount of fuel you burn. In other words, money and time and energy is enormous in comparison with the return that you're getting on that. I've seen people burning through cash in their practice, like there's no tomorrow because they're focusing on marketing spend before they've really optimise their product market fit. And also before they've optimised The systems in their practice. Now, what I would say is that those three things, nevertheless, are also a little bit of an iterative circle. But I just want to call to mind, this idea that if you're just getting started, going straight to marketing can be problematic. You're often better to focus on developing, validating, and testing, and building an early cohort of people who are really enthusiastic for your mission and how you're helping people, then you are to go straight to a big chunk of ad spend, or a big chunk of marketing spend. And also, building a product, doing a bunch of marketing, and then trying to build a system to sustain the level of interest in it is a recipe for really grey hair, I may have done this before, may have my own, I may have my own experience of that, hence the grey hair. So as I said, you know, think about it in those orders. Think about those three discrete activities. It's not the, it doesn't have to be kind of perfectly sequential. But there will be an emphasis on the products and services, think about your systems. And before you think about your marketing, and then just think about playing that, that system as an iterative process as you grow and develop and hone and align your practice. So that becomes, you know, that that efficient, effective, beautiful experience, you know, and the bus that's going to take you and all your clients somewhere beautiful. The two other elements in this metaphor, that are constants, so they're always there. And they are always relevant. And they always require some attention. And there's two of them. One is you the driver of the bus. So you have your you have your needs, you have your challenges, and you are really central to where this bus is going to be going. You're making decisions. You have a relationship with the people who are also travelling this bus because they are clients. And, you know, as we said in episode one, and as I think everyone has alluded to, in these, in these podcasts so far, the path of private practice is personally transformative. People go into private practice for a mass of different reasons. But when we're faced with those challenges, first of all, we start to realise in private practice that that we are both the challenge and the key. We know anyway, so we kind of have a sense of this as psychologists and therapists, right, because we know that CPD in our ability to skill ourselves as psychologists and therapists is really important. And but the thing that I really learned, especially as I went through my internal family systems, therapy training, is that, you know, we come with all of the different parts of ourselves. And the experience of being on this path of developing our private practice and of working with our clients is going to be confronting to different parts of ourselves. Also, what we realise as well is that there is a kind of intimacy in between our story as practitioners and elements of our client's story that are really meaningful to us, you know, really remembering that M is part of that model of flourishing. So if we can find a pathway that is really meaningful and really purposeful, and therefore it's very engaging and it's very stimulating, it's very rewarding. It's really a path to flourishing. Then often, the challenges that come along with walking that path are things that when we overcome them are also healing to us. I've talked a lot about that in in Episode One. And then I think my clients and my podcast guests have kind of spoken about that too in the other episodes. The fifth element of this model is the environment. So you may have seen from some of the some of the, you know, blog posts on my website, some of my kind of social media posts, that this idea of regenerative private practices really important to me. You know, when I think about how do we create private practices that are life giving systems, that they are going to be restorative to you as a practitioner, that they're going to be restorative to our clients? So many of us are psychologists and therapists, we don't we're not interested in making our clients dependent on us. We don't need to make her clients dependent on us, because there's so much need out there, you know, so being able to support other people's ability to live a flourishing life is where we're at, we're never gonna go out of business doing that, right. So why would we do it another way. The alternative to that is akin to what we saw with some of those, you know, recent mental health tech companies, which is extractive models, a lot of us have experienced extractive business models in our jobs. You know, before we went into private practice, whether it's, you know, working all the hours, God sends, whether it's endless drives for efficiency, whether it's endless drives, you know, for agility, and all of these other things, which have been about just a treating people and treating organisations as machines that can run constantly. And that we can optimise so that they run on less and less and less fuel so that we maximise profit margins. And if there's a level of attrition along the way, well, we'll just swap one component out and get a new component in. That's been a lot of the mindset that we've experienced. So, you know, shifting that, in our private practices within our power is within our remit. Why would we? Why would we create a private practice that sucks the life out of us, or sucks the life out of our clients was just not what we're about, right? So I think the environment that you create for yourself in your private practice, and the environment that you gather around yourself, I mean, we talked about that in the last episode in episode four, where we said, you know, hey, how, how revolutionary, let's create an organisation that puts mental health at the start. Let's build an organisation that is actually that promotes human flourishing. And by the way, it then promotes innovation and all these other things, you know, promotes people to be the best that they can be to expand their capacity for living. I think that immediately has an impact on the environment that we're creating for others, or that we're supporting, you know, that the environment that we're resourcing out there, and, you know, we resourcing just systems, you know, systems of justice, are we redressing some of the damage that has been done, a lot of us doing that a lot of us are essentially a lot of what we do, which is trained to undo and overcome damage. And a lot of my clients go into private practice, because they're like, I'm just fed up of this revolving door. I need we need to go upstream and do things differently.
And I think the other thing that, you know, helps us to think about the environment because there is a world of need out there. It comes down to this topic, which in traditional marketing and business terms gets called niching. But the way that I like to think about it with my clients is what stories are you serving, and how But how and why do you care about those stories? So I think it really trips us up as psychologists and therapists, when we get asked, what demographic do you serve? What? You know, can you build a client avatar, it's one of my pet hates, build a client avatar, I want to understand your client stories. And they may come in all different shapes and sizes. And maybe we need to flex our products and services, according to that. But what do you know, what stories are you serving? And why do you care about that? And what's your connection with it? And what's that kind of closeness with it? So there we are, those are the five elements of what it takes to build in my experience of flourishing and innovative private practice, the building the bus, that creating the products and services, we're putting the wheels on in the form of systems. And we're putting the marketing engine in and thinking about, you know, how we opt optimise the build, so that we're not doing things in an order that causing it causes us to create, create a lot of overwhelm, and to waste a lot of resources. And then we're thinking about you as the driver, and looking after, and helping you to figure out what is the path that you're driving on with this with this bus? What's the road you're going down? What's the terrain? What's the territory? And what's the transformation for you as the driver? And then thinking about really? What kind of environment are you travelling to and within a WE ARE WE travelling in such a way in our private practices that we're actually restoring and rebuilding the environment around us by for ourselves and for the people that we work with. So I hope that helps you to feel as though this is actually a pathway, this is actually a way of approaching, approaching flourishing and innovation in private practice. That is actually we can break it down. We can manage it. We can track how we're travelling through it, we can figure out where we have strengths and where we have weaknesses that might need some support. So thank you for listening. If you've any questions, I'd love to hear them. Feel free to visit my website. And you can book a coffee chat with me if you want to talk about how to flourish and how to innovate in your private practice. There'll be various resources that can drop in the show notes for you that I hope will be helpful. And I look forward to seeing you next week in our episode six. And which is going to be around the transition managing the transition between therapy and coaching, which I know is a topic that a lot of people are concerned about. So thanks for listening, and I look forward to seeing you next time. Bye