Episode 100: Private Practice Lessons From The Private Practice Pro [featuring Kelley Stevens]
Impostor Syndrome, Small Business Startup Fears, And All Things Private Practice.
This episode touches on all of these things and more.
During this episode of All Things Private Practice, Kelley Stevens, LMFT of "The Private Practice Pro" and I reflect back on our Private Practice Startup Journeys.
- How to choose your niche and attract your ideal clients
- Our own impostor syndrome stories and struggles, and how we worked through them
- How to show up in the content creation space, and how to monetize your therapy skills
- The things that grad school didn't teach us about owning our own businesses
- Techniques and strategies on how to get started, get out of your own way, and embrace the entrepreneurial journey
If you are thinking of starting a private practice or want to grow the one you have, this episode is packed full of valuable information, entrepreneurial life lessons, and inspiration to get you going.
More about Kelley:
Kelley Stevens LMFT is a private practice consultant. She teaches therapists how to launch, build, and expand private practices. You can learn more about her online courses at www.theprivatepracticepro.com.
A Thanks to Our Sponsors: The Receptionist for iPad & Thrizer!
I would also like to thank The Receptionist for iPad for sponsoring this episode.
As you prepare for the new year as a private practice owner, one area of your business where you might be able to level up your client experience is from the moment that they enter your office and check in with you. For many private practices, the client check-in process can be a bit awkward and confusing.
Clients often enter into an empty waiting room. And chances are you're wrapping up a session with someone else, so there's no way of knowing when they arrive. With a visitor management system like The Receptionist for iPad, you can provide clients with a discreet and secure way to check in for their appointment while instantly being notified of their arrival.
What's more, The Receptionist offers an iPad list check-in option where clients can scan a QR code to check in, which negates the need for you to buy an iPad and stand. Go to thereceptionist.com/privatepractice and sign up for a free 14-day trial. When you do, you'll get your first month free. And don't forget to ask about our iPad list check-in option.
Thrizer is a payment processing platform that gets you more cash-pay clients. Thrizer links with your client’s health insurance and verifies how much their insurance covers for therapy - so when they pay for your sessions, they are only charged what they actually owe. Thrizer covers the rest of your fee and waits for reimbursement for them.
PATRICK CASALE: Hey everyone, you're listening to another episode of the All Things Private Practice Podcast. I'm your host, Patrick Casale. I'm joined today by Kelley Stevens. She's an LMFT in California. And most of you probably know her on Instagram as the Private Practice Pro.
And we're going to talk a lot about impostor syndrome, self-doubt, perfectionism. I know, lots of conversations around that recently. And I want to highlight this perspective from someone who has created a really large following on social media because I think we don't always see the behind the scenes with mental health entrepreneurs and what goes into it. And even with successful ventures and audiences, the impostor syndrome still exists.
So, thank you so much for coming on, Kelley. I know we've been trying to make this happen for a while.
KELLEY STEVENS: Yeah, of course, I'm so happy to be here. I'm a huge fan of yours. And I always say, like, I feel like I know you because I watch all of your content.
PATRICK CASALE: [INDISCERNIBLE 00:01:45] dynamic now to like, there's so many people who listen to people like ourselves and we've never met them. And it's interesting when people think they know you, but you've never actually met them.
KELLEY STEVENS: I know. I definitely have had that phenomenon. So, I'm a big fan of yours. And thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to kind of get into all this.
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah. So, you have a successful practice, you have a successful side… Well, I don't want to use the word side hustle because that would be minimizing what you've created. You've created some really cool stuff. I mean, you have a large following and it's taken a lot of work, a lot of energy, and I'm sure there's been self-doubt, insecurity, and impostor syndrome along the way.
So, tell us a little bit about your story, and just how you've kind of gotten to this place where you just launched a podcast, congrats on that as well and…
KELLEY STEVENS: Yeah, you're going to be a guest on mine soon. So, I'm excited about that, too.
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, I'm looking forward to it.
KELLEY STEVENS: Yeah, you know, obviously, I feel like just like anyone else, self-doubt plays a huge part in everything. And especially, as I've kind of launched into the online marketing world, so different than just being a solo therapist in my office for a bunch of years. So, it's definitely caused me to, I think, we were talking about this off camera, but just like, being on camera even, and having to show up, and trying to figure out how to show up as yourself while still, you know, teaching people things, selling products, all of that, and feeling authentic, and also not being afraid, it's a challenge, you know?
PATRICK CASALE: It's hard. And I think there's… you know, I, myself am not a huge fan of making a ton of like, social media videos. My written content, I always really enjoy, and I feel really creative with. So, I have to balance that of like, I have to make videos, and I feel so uncomfortable doing it. And how do I do that, and include a hook, and a call to action, and not feel like I feel like, I don't know, like fake or robotic?
So, it's a challenge, especially, as you start to develop an audience. I've noticed like the impostor syndrome kicks in the bigger the audience gets because-
KELLEY STEVENS: Oh, yeah.
PATRICK CASALE: …it's just leaving you more open for feedback and criticism too.
KELLEY STEVENS: Oh, my gosh, at this point, I get a negative comment, post, reel, message, whatever, at least once a day, often more than that, a4nd people can be mean. I mean, it's not… You know, it's one thing when somebody gets into a kind of spirited debate on my page, the whole nother thing when someone says something like, “You look like X, Y, or Z.” You know, or something just totally off base. And sometimes that's easier to deal with because you're just like, “Oh, I hope they're having an okay day.” You know?
But yeah, the bigger your audience grows, certainly, I've had to kind of, like, stop paying attention to it in a way because if I really like, try to quantify the size, I'm at about like, 45,000 or something. And if I think about how many people that actually is, I start to get like a little bit nervous or very nervous. And so, I feel like my, like, big trick with talking to people online is just when I create content, I try to really visualize therapists who are just starting out in private practice, who are terrified, who, maybe they have kids, maybe they have rent to pay, you know, have some student loans, and they really want some hope and guidance on how to launch a business.
And I try to like, visualize that person, and then talk to them because if I visualize my whole audience size, and the Internet, and Instagram, and trolls and all of that, I get too scared to do it, you know? And then, yeah.
PATRICK CASALE: That's a great point and that's a great strategy for those of you listening because for those of you who want to get into the social media space, and content creation space, you do have to kind of break it down like that because you're creating for a reason, right? And you and I have both created our own businesses.
I don't know about you, but when I left my community mental health job, I was that person. Like, I was fearful, and anxious, and I didn't know what I was doing, and I was using, like, whatever lists I found on whatever Facebook groups at the time, and I was looking through the list of like, okay, get an NPI, what the fuck is that? Okay, get a [INDISCERNIBLE 00:05:18], what is that? Business bank account… Everything becomes so overwhelming when you don't know what you don't know.
KELLEY STEVENS: Right.
PATRICK CASALE: And that's why I think what you're doing and other folks in the space are like, giving really tangible, accessible, like, bite-sized chunks of information that you can go and implement today. And it alleviates so much stress when you can just check it off the list.
KELLEY STEVENS: Oh, my gosh, I think about this all the time, like, with my courses and different products. Like, I am really visual. I like a nice graphic, you know? And I like a roadmap or whatever. And I want to be able to check it off. And that was the most frustrating thing, not only about building my private practice, but also about building an online business. In both of business ventures that I've been in, I've always wanted someone just to hand me a list, and I'm great at working the list. The hardest freaking part is figuring out the list, you know?
And so, I think that that's where a lot of the impostor syndrome comes in because I think that a lot of times there's some gatekeeping that happens too, you know? Where you are asking someone like, “How do I open a private practice? Or how do I build an Instagram following?”
And people will be like, “Oh, it's so hard, I can't even explain it.” You know? And you're like, “No, no, no, like, I actually need you to explain it. Like, give me some steps, you know? Or at least give me the first couple of steps.” And that's hard too, you know.
PATRICK CASALE: It's hard to put yourself out there, and ask for guidance and support, and be met with resistance, or just the complete unwillingness to offer a tip or two. And I don't mean like, well, I want to be strategic in how I say this because now I'm thinking of like how many people DM me on Facebook a day asking how to do things and how often I'm like, “Oh, my God, leave me alone.”
But like, I think that when you're saying there's a lot of gatekeeping in this, right? Like, in our profession, there is this still some fearfulness, like possessiveness of like, “Don't encroach on my space because like, those are my clients, or if you're here too, less clients to contact me.” Right? Like, I don't want to go down the abundance versus scarcity mentality mindset. But like, I do think that a lot of mental health professionals really struggle with that because we didn't, for the most part, have business training. We don't have a good understanding of the marketing, and the networking, and the content creation, all of the things that we didn't get taught in grad school, and then it becomes a very scary, anxiety provoking process.
KELLEY STEVENS: Yeah, I mean, when I think about when I built my first private practice, I didn't have you. Do you know what I mean? Like, I didn't have someone who was out there, whether it's you, or me, or some of the other great creators in the space. Like, I didn't have that. And most of us didn’t who've been established in practice for a while.
And so, when I say there's gatekeeping, I mean, more like if you're sitting face to face with somebody, and you're good friends, and you say, you know, what do I do? Sometimes people are hesitant to share because they've had to work so hard to get that information, and they don't want to, you know, whatever.
But I have the same problem with you where people send me DMs and like, I don't have time, but that's different. You know, I think about a lot of times, like, we put out, you put out, I put out so much free content and I get a lot of people who will be like, “Where was your post on this thing?” You know, and I'm like, “I'm not going to scroll back in my feed like 200 posts. Like, you can do that, you know?” That's totally different than like sitting across from somebody at a cup of coffee, you know?
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, no, you're spot on. And I think you see that a lot with like, things like, “Oh, can anyone share a progress note template? Can anyone share this?” And then it's like, “No, I've worked really hard on that, so you're going to have to go do your own.” I don't care. Like, I have it all in my file section in my Facebook group. Like, just take it because like, why prevent someone from moving into the space when you know that’s just going to allow for them to help more people in their community, we're going to have better quality mental health candidates out there, we're going to have less burnout if we can all support each other and work through that together as well.
KELLEY STEVENS: Yeah, I mean, there's such a huge, huge need for mental health services. I know, like, for example, where I live, my husband is a psychiatrist, his waiting list, it’s so long. I mean, it's like it's impossible to get in with somebody, you know? And I think like, that's a huge part of it is like, you know, we have to be afraid not to compete with each other. And you know, so many of the best, most successful private practice therapists that I know are also the ones that support other people's businesses, you know?
PATRICK CASALE: Well, you have to think about it right? Like, one, I want to say, we have psychiatric providers at our group practice, and oh my god, the waitlist, and the-
KELLEY STEVENS: It’s nuts.
PATRICK CASALE: …supply and demand of psychiatric providers, it's wild, it's unfortunate. But you're right. I mean, those who are willing to build their businesses relationally, I think, are going to do a lot better off in the long run because it comes back around, I believe that 100%.
So, I haven't done one on one coaching since I had first surgery in October, and I don't think I will go back to it. And just being able to refer out for a one-on-one coaching constantly instead of being, “No, these are my clients. Like, they're coming to me.”
But if we can all be successful, and we can build each other up, and have reciprocal win-win relationships, it feels so much more fulfilling to me in the long run. And that means that everyone is winning simultaneously.
KELLEY STEVENS: 100%. And often I find that it means that we actually get better fitting clients that come back to us when we refer out, you know? And that's, like, the most interesting part. When we hoard clients, and we, you know, take on clients who are not a good fit because we're taking on every phone call, we end up with practices that might not really be in our niche, but then, you know, when we're able to say, like, you know what? This person would be way better, and let me connect you with them. It's like, you expand your circle, and you get referrals back, typically, that are better fit for you anyway, you know.
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, and I think that a lot of clinicians are fearful to refer out at first. I know that we are completely diverging from the topic, which is my brain-
KELLEY STEVENS: We all knew that was going to happen, right?
PATRICK CASALE: It was inevitable. And when you, like, if you can refer your clients out right? To the best fit possible for them because it's not a good fit for you, or it's not a good fit for them, or vice versa, whatever, you don't know when that client is going to be in the community and say, “Kelley gave me a referral, even though she couldn't work with me for whatever reason.” And I think that word of mouth, and that willingness to always try to find the right landing spot for someone goes so far, in terms of what we can do, in terms of practice growth because like, I think newer therapists, especially, and I was this way, at first, like, are very anxious about taking every client that calls you. Like, I need to make money, obviously, and if I don't take this client, nobody's ever going to call me again, which is [INDISCERNIBLE 00:12:28] bullshit.
KELLEY STEVENS: Right.
PATRICK CASALE: And I think you start to take on people that are just not good fits, for whatever reason. And then, ultimately, you get resentful with yourself, you get burnt out, and I think there's a lot of anxiety upon initial consult call or message about referring out. And I want to like, if we were to turn it around from the other perspective, the client does not care, they just want to find the person who is going to work with them. So, it’s way less about you, and your experience about referring someone out, and much more about the client’s experience of just finding the right provider.
KELLEY STEVENS: Right, right. Yeah, and I think you're right, that you become a community resource. So, a client calls you and you know, they're looking for a good fit, you really help them find that good fit, and then maybe when they're looking for a therapist for their teenager, and you see teenagers, they end up, you know, I'm always shocked by how many calls back I end up getting a few months or even a few years later. That’s wild.
PATRICK CASALE: Oh, yeah. I've had clients, you know, I haven't seen a clinical client, actually, in almost a year and a half. But I remember having clients call me and say, “I've had your business card in my wallet for three years.” No one knows when someone’s going to be ready to pick up the phone.
KELLEY STEVENS: 100%, you never know. I mean, it's always surprising when, you know, people come back around, or you know, I've had teens where like, maybe I saw them twice as a teenager, and they were, you know, like, “I'm never coming back.” And then, you know, five years later I end up seeing them and they're in college. And they're like, “I remember that, like, you were totally okay with me not wanting to come, and here I am five years later.” So, I think you're totally right.
PATRICK CASALE: Maybe you could just have that one conversation that, you know, is impactful, and you're remembered down the road, and that's where I think impostor syndrome for newer clinician shows up, though, is in client interaction, too. Like, if we're willing to understand how to niche and how to really understand who we are passionate about working with, but who we also don't enjoy working with. I think they're equally as important. And I think that then you have these clinical interactions where you're just missing the mark. Like, you're just missing each other, and the client ghosts you, or no shows, or cancels, or stops coming. And your initial thought is like, “I'm the worst fucking therapist on planet Earth. I clearly cannot make it as a business owner, so I may as well pack it up.”
KELLEY STEVENS: Right. Yeah, I mean, 100%. Like, for instance, I don't work with couples. Like, I'm very clear on the fact that couples are not my area of expertise. I really believe that a couple’s therapist who's not well trained can do more harm than good. You know, and I think it's a really important specialty to get a lot of extra training in.
And if I tried to open an entire practice right now with couples, I would fail because it's not the client that is going to work best with me. And you know, they're not going to go out into the community and say, “Oh, my gosh, Kelley helped me so much, and let me refer you to my friend.” And all of this stuff, you know? And I agree with you, I think it's almost more important to know who you don't work well with, than who you do.
And yeah, I mean, it all leads into the impostor syndrome of like doubting ourselves and doubting that there are going to be clients that are a good fit, you know?
PATRICK CASALE: It's interesting, once you start to realize, though, that once you have a good understanding of the types of clients you enjoy working with, and like, it's much more about diagnosis, and much more about like, characteristics, pain points, and traits, and lived experiences, and then starting to say, like, ooh, that session flew by, I didn't even look at the clock, and it's already 15 minutes in, first is the one where you're like watching out of your peripheral, and you're like, “Oh, my God, I can't do this.”
And I think for a lot of newer clinicians, especially, there's a lot of shamefulness that comes up around niching and figuring out who your ideal client is, too. And it's almost as if, like, I know we are almost conditioned to take everyone who calls us from grad school and community mental health jobs, but it really is doing a disservice to the client and to the provider. And it does lead to a lot of self-doubt, insecurity, and impostor syndrome because you're constantly questioning your competency as a provider when you can't build rapport or it's just not there.
KELLEY STEVENS: Oh, 100%. You know, I think that that, and I think you're right that like in community mental health settings, especially, oftentimes, we do have to see whoever is assigned to us. And so, we get used to that. Like, “Well, I can try to make this work.” And I think that's the benefit of private practice is you don't have to try to make it work, you know?
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, absolutely. I think that's a major benefit. And being able to have autonomy, like just the freedom to make your own choices. And that could be about anything, it could be about the chair in your office, it could be about the hours you work, the temperature of the room, like the clients you see, everything feels so much more aligned when you really have a good understanding of that, in general.
KELLEY STEVENS: Yeah, it's so much more personal to you, you know? And I mean, that's the best. The autonomy and the freedom is my absolute favorite part. And I also think, the freedom to choose the direction of your career, you know? I mean, if I just look at your career, or my career, and whether it's you hosting retreats, or building courses, or, you know, in private practice you have this ability to shift as your life shifts, which I think is really nice too, you know?
PATRICK CASALE: When did you start your practice and all that just in brief?
KELLEY STEVENS: My private practice or well, Private Practice Pro?
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, your private practice.
KELLEY STEVENS: So, I started working in a group, oh, gosh in 2013, and then I left that group in 2015 to start my own office.
PATRICK CASALE: When you were leaving in 2015, what's going through your head at that time? What kind of narratives?
KELLEY STEVENS: Oh, my God. You know, it's funny because so I had kind of an interesting role in the group I worked in for a long time, where I have always historically worked with teens who often want to come in the afternoon, right? And so, in the morning, I did the marketing for the group. And so, I was the marketing director for their intensive outpatient program, and partial hospitalization program, which essentially, involves taking other therapists to breakfast and lunch every day. Like, that's basically what I did every day. And then I would see my clients in the evening.
So, I walked into private practice with a spreadsheet of, you know, two or 300 other therapists who I personally knew from five years of working in marketing for another group. And I mean, you would think like, I had a roster people that knew me, you know? But I was still so afraid. And I had just purchased a condo like a month before, which probably was really stupid timing on my part, to be honest with you, and my mortgage was more, not more than I could afford, but it was a big nut to crack at that point. And I was just like, I just got to make it to month two in paying my mortgage. You know, like, I feel like I was so scared.
And I had a lot of resources, and I was still so… I mean, resources, meaning contacts, you know? I feel like the advice I give is not always the advice that I took. So, you know, I didn't like save up a huge nest egg. I bought a condo, and like, was mortgage, you know, driven. So, it wasn't like I had this big six-month plan before I did it. But I knew I was ready to work for myself. I was just like, I can't keep doing this. And so, made the jump, but I was so scared.
What about you? Were you scared?
PATRICK CASALE: Oh, yeah, I mean, I was unbelievably afraid. And just like you, a lot of my advice now is from mistakes that I've made. And I probably don't know if I always would recommend doing things the way I did that, but I was in community mental health for a couple of years as a program supervisor and hated middle management because you just could never fight enough for your staff who are doing the work, and you could never please the administration, and I just could not stand it.
And when I left, I had like 15 clients at night that I was leaving my agency job, and then going to see, and I was exhausted. But I always remember feeling like super rejuvenated there because it was my space. And then I quit. I put a 90-day notice. And I thought that was what they deserved. And they replaced me in two days. And I, basically, had to like twiddle my thumbs in my office for 60 days before I was just like, “All right, I'm leaving this place.” And…
KELLEY STEVENS: You know what's so funny? Is I did the exact same thing. I gave three months-notice and I was like, “Why did I do?” It was a horrible idea to give three months-notice. But at the time you feel so loyal.
PATRICK CASALE: Exactly. Like, the loyalty kicks in and my narrative was like, I'm a program supervisor, they are going to need me to be here to help like transition and the staff is going to need support. They did not care. It was [INDISCERNIBLE 00:22:00] and it was like, “Well, all right, what do I do now.”
But, you know, I think there is this impostor syndrome that comes up when we're putting notice in because it's like, you're leaving security, you're leaving, “Safety.” Although, you know, we could debate that. And ultimately, you can convince yourself like, no one I've ever talked to, in any capacity, who started their own practice has any regrets, for the most part.
They would say, I” wish I would have done it sooner.” And I think we convince ourselves like, okay, in a year, in a month, when I have more training, when I do more hours, once I finally reach stage five burnout at the agency job, then I can leave. Like, and we just hold ourselves back and we create these narratives that are not rational.
And, you know, when I left, I was feeling really confident, and then 15 of those clients I had, 10 of them moved out of state, or went back to college, or left town, and I now was left with five clients. And I was like, “Shit.” Like, “What did I just do to myself?”
But I have absolutely no regrets. And I do remember, like, going through and having negative clinical interaction where it just wasn't a good fit [INDISCERNIBLE 00:23:10] supervision and saying, “I'm the worst therapist in the world. Like, clearly, I don't know what I'm doing.”
And major impostor syndrome moment for me, it was early on. I had no cancellation policy in place. And I had three back to back to back no shows one night, and I was just sitting in my office, out of money, and just like, this is my fault, I don't have a policy to enforce, I didn't feel confident or comfortable talking about the policy. I clearly do not know how to be a business owner and this is not going to work. And now I have to figure out how do I go back to the agency? Do I go back to bartending? And I was like, “Okay, calm down, just create a policy and have all of your clients sign it and go over and get comfortable talking about it.”
And that was pivotal for me because it was like, I think so many of us get caught up in those moments where it's almost like a chain reaction emotionally, and you can really make impulsive decisions that can be quite impactful if you follow through with what's happening for you.
KELLEY STEVENS: Oh, yeah. I mean, if you follow that feeling, and you just decided, “Okay, I'm done.” Would be a really different outcome than being like, “Okay, what's the next right step? Create the policy.
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, create the policy, go over the policy, like, talk about the policy so you feel more comfortable, and then everything falls into place. And you know, it's just wild because that was, I don't know, five years ago now. And I don't know about you, but for me, and for most people I interview coming out of grad school my goal was community mental health, that's the end point, then it was private practice, that was the finish line.
And like you mentioned, this career allows you to evolve, and adapt, and change, and your interests change and there are so many pathways that you can follow with these skill sets that are so applicable to our profession.
KELLEY STEVENS: Oh, yeah, I mean, I had no idea thought that I would be doing what I'm doing now when I graduated. I mean, I loved working with adults with severe and persistent mental illness in hospital based settings. I was like, I never thought that I would be creating Instagram content, online courses, workbooks, teaching therapists, you know, working at graduate level classes. Like, I just had, I mean, it was like, nothing else, you know? But I think that's the nice thing is, as your career evolves, as your life evolves, I have a family now, you know? I had to like, I loved working clinically, one-on-one for a lot of years, but trading my time for my money meant also trading my time with my son for money, you know? And so, as my life has evolved, I've had to also evolve my career, as well.
PATRICK CASALE: That's beautifully said. And I think for those of you listening, if you're on the starting point, you know, for some of you private practice ownership might be the finish line. And that's totally okay. And some of you might go on to create podcasts, and courses, and coaching programs, and retreats, and teaching, and speaking engagements, the sky's the limit. I mean, and I think, impostor syndrome, and self-doubt, often keep us from trying or creating or taking those risks because it's a lot easier to say that idea is better suited for somebody else than it is for me. And…
KELLEY STEVENS: Oh, 100%. And that doesn't end, you know? I think about just, I faced a ton of impostor syndrome the first time I opened my private practice. I had to move that practice twice because of my husband's job, which moving a practice pre-pandemic, before telehealth was a whole thing, and then then launching this new… with Private Practice Pro, I had a whole other realm of impostor syndrome. You know, I got pretty comfy running a private practice. After a while you know what your cancellation policy is, and you know what to say to the parent of the teenager, generally, you know? I mean, not that you get jaded, but you've worked with a ton of clients, and then to launch into a new business being online, I didn't know all these little things that you relearn.
But for me, like, I liked that part. I like that newness. I like that trying to figure out the system. And I like missed feeling a little uncomfortable, if that makes sense, you know?
PATRICK CASALE: Makes perfect sense. I think that discomfort can be such a catalyst for pushing yourself too. But it's a good reminder, you know? Like, when you started your agency job, or your grad school program, to those of you listening, probably, like, you probably thought “I'm over my head.”
KELLEY STEVENS: Oh, yeah, I was so nervous. Like, [CROSSTALK 00:29:42]-
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, I never thought I was going to last [INDISCERNIBLE 00:29:43].
KELLEY STEVENS: So nervous.
PATRICK CASALE: And then you figure it out, and it feels pretty easy. And then your agency job is like clockwork, and then your private practice, you get the marketing down, you get your flow down, you get your rhythm down for how you're going to take sick time. Like, then maybe you decide you want a new challenge, or you want to try something different. And again, that feeling comes up.
But I think each little decision and action where you're moving towards taking a risk allows you to strengthen the foundation and your ability to be resilient in the entrepreneurial journey because it's a bumpy road at times.
KELLEY STEVENS: Oh, yeah, 100… I mean, it is a bumpy road. I even think both my parents were entrepreneurs growing up in totally different fields. And my dad is just now this year retiring. He's 78. And I was asking him about retirement. And he said to me, he was like, “I'm ready to retire, not because I want to stop working but because I want to stop assuming some risk. You know, like, I'm 78, I have product I…” He sells products, and he's like, “I have some product liability insurance and I don't want some big claim right before retirement, you know?” And I thought it was so interesting. Like, he's had a very successful career. And yet, at the very end, there's still risk, you know? There's still that, like, I don't know if it's going to work out.
And I think that's so much like, the journey of an entrepreneur is like, you just get better at tolerating the risk, you know? Like, I don't see it in like, he's golfing, like, he seems really relaxed. Like, he doesn't seem very stressed, you know? But then when I actually asked him about it, he is, but he's gotten really good at tolerating it whereas I make an, you know, investment in an online course, or I pay for a new camera, or something. And I'm like, “Oh, my God, did I like spend too much money? I don't know.” You know? So, hopefully, I get better at it too, you know?
PATRICK CASALE: It sounds like you are. I mean, I think if you move from working for someone else to working for yourself, that's a ton of risk in itself. And each time you make that next decision, it's more risk. But like you said about your dad, and about yourself, about whoever's doing the thing, like, I like to think about impostor syndrome as like, it used to paralyze and prevent me from, and make me debilitated into the inability to make decisions and to never even try. And now what I've realized is that it still exists. Like, when I launch a retreat isn't going to sell out? Are people going to come? Is it going to be valuable? What if the experience sucks? Like, all of those thoughts going through my head?
Same thing, when I was doing coaching programs, I'd be sitting in front of 20 therapists ready to start like a six-month program and I’m like, “Why are they here?” I don't know what [INDISCERNIBLE 00:32:29].
But impostor syndrome no longer steers the car for me. It like rides along in the passenger seat next to me but it's not preventing me from making decisions. It's not preventing me from moving forward. It's not preventing me from pursuing my goals or creating things that I want to do. So, I do think that the more you talk about it, the more you put it out to the world, the less power and control that it has over you.
KELLEY STEVENS: Oh, yeah. I mean, if I'm giving a presentation, or, you know, speaking at an event, I always start with, “I'm so excited to be here and I'm so nervous.” You know, like, I'll just tell on myself. I think there's no… And I usually am, you know, I mean, no matter what. Like, whether I'm posting a reel, and it's, you know, sometimes people will say to me, like, “How do you have so much confidence to put so much video content out on the internet?” And I'll say, “Well, I don't.” Like, I am no different. You know, like, I still look at it and I'm like, “Should I film it again?” I don't know. Does my hair look funny? You know? But then you just choose to do it anyway. You know?
PATRICK CASALE: Yep. Absolutely. I agree, 100%. I've kind of adopted and endorsed the doubt yourself, do it anyway motto. And I believe in that wholeheartedly. And I think like, you know, it's crazy sitting here now because I had this major surgery in October, and I came out of it, like, lost my voice, one of my vocal cords was paralyzed, all this stuff. And I was just like, am I ever going to be able to create anything ever again? And that was a really dark period for a month or two. And then I'm just like, damn, I just created and launched an international entrepreneurial summit, rented an entire medieval Italian village, and it has sold out in three days. And like, that's not something I ever thought I was going to say in my life.
KELLEY STEVENS: Yeah. Well, and you know, as you were telling that story I was just thinking, like, God, if I lost my voice right now that would be such a scary pivot, but as you were saying, and I was like, Okay, well, there's like, you could do this, and you could write the book, and you could, you know, and I’m like, you’ll be fine. Like, you would pivot, it would suck, but you would pivot, you know? I mean, I'm really glad that didn't happen, obviously.
PATRICK CASALE: I think the adapt and pivot is a part of the entrepreneurial journey, though. And you are going to meet resistance, and barrier, and struggle, and you're going to pivot and figure it out.
KELLEY STEVENS: Definitely.
PATRICK CASALE: I hope everyone that's listening, you know, can really take that in because I know when you question yourself, you want to give up. I know when you question yourself, you're going to start to feel a bit incompetent or insecure. We all do it regardless of our, “Success.” Or following, or anything, it exists because we're human and the more humaneness you can show, the more authenticity you can exhibit, and the more realness you can be because I do the same thing, Kelley, like when I'm talking to my grad school, about autistic ADHD experience, but I’m already nervous. I’m like, but I'm just talking about my life [INDISCERNIBLE 00:35:48].
So, just naming it and just putting it out there. It really does help settle you down and allow you to just drop into your experience. And that's what I love about this is like, who the hell knows what I'm going to be doing in five years or what you're going to be doing in five years? But I believe wholeheartedly now that I will figure it out. And I think in the past that was not true.
KELLEY STEVENS: Yeah, I agree with that. So, what are you going to be doing in five years? Do you have a goal for you?
PATRICK CASALE: If I as to, like, sit on an actual job interview and they asked me what my five-year plan was, I don't know what the answer would be. You know, I think there's evolution here, you know, like from private practice, I own a group practice now, and we have the podcast, and just released a second podcast, and this retreat business, and the coaching business. I don't know. I definitely want to write a book, that's been on the back burner for a long time. I want to start doing corporate wellness retreats for leadership retreats. So, I'm really trying to figure, you know, start to branch into that direction as well. What about you?
KELLEY STEVENS: I have the same problem you do, I asked of you, and then I immediately thought like, “Oh, shit, now he's going to ask it back.”
PATRICK CASALE: Are you still hiring? And I always hated that question.
KELLEY STEVENS: I know, me too. I mostly was asking you because I think I was like, “Oh, I wonder what his answer is.” Because, you know, I think in this space of kind of private practice coaching, consulting work, there's actually not that many of us out there. So, I don't feel like I have someone who's like, “Oh, they're 20 years ahead of me, here's how they're doing it. I'll just copy that.” You know? Which is a huge blessing in disguise, but also terrifying because I'm like, “Well, what am I going to do?” You know?
And so, I don't really have an answer, but I guess I would say my main answer is I've been trying to think more strategically about social media and how I use my social media. So, right now I'm very Instagram heavy, you know? I'd say 70 or 80% of people who find me come through Instagram. And you know, this is off topic, but like in the era of everything happening, whether it's with Twitter, or TikTok banning potential, or whatever, it's, you know, being reliant on any one platform is scary. So, I guess my, like, longer term goal is diversification in my business, and making sure that I'm creating systems that are really sustainable for me.
And also, I'm pregnant. So, just continuing to make sure that as a mom I'm not trading my time in for my income. And that's like, been my biggest theme. So, I don't have an answer. Like-
PATRICK CASALE: That's honestly a better answer than mine.
KELLEY STEVENS: I don't know why because I feel a little obtuse, right? Like, but I try to put it through those lenses of like, what are we doing to make sure that I'm creating my own ecosystem, not just like an Instagram ecosystem.
PATRICK CASALE: No, I mean, that makes a lot of sense. And for those of you listening, I do think, try not to put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak because you don't know when social media, what social media platforms are going to be popular in five years compared to now, and what that looks like. And that's another beautiful example, though, of the evolution of an entrepreneur, and the ability to pivot, and adapt. But it also sounds like Kelley from however many years ago compared to now you said, “Am I ever going to get over the impostor syndrome like my dad has?” It sounds like that answer says yes because that answer says like, I'm going to figure it out.
KELLEY STEVENS: Yeah, I mean, and especially, in social media world, my team and I were joking yesterday, like, should we just like go back to Myspace, you know? Like, we knew how to do Myspace really well, or I've been trying out some of the new two platforms like Lemonade and Clapper, two new ones. And, you know, it's like, I feel like me and all these, like, 18 year olds. And sometimes I feel like, “What the hell am I doing here?” You know, but I do think there's like, you have to be humble as an entrepreneur, and be willing to look like do you have no idea what you're doing, you know?
PATRICK CASALE: Even when you do that and you admit that, that's like the most relatable stuff is being like, I don't think social media like, followings want to see a person that's like, perfectly put together, and like because it's not real. So, I always just try to move into that space of like, how can I stay as aligned to my values and in authenticity as possible? And I think it's been a blessing because it allows people to feel comfortable to be themselves and still haven't figured out how to like, message that and bottle that up because people are like, “How do you do what you do?” I'm like, “I don't know, this is just who I am.” I don’t know how to say that.
KELLEY STEVENS: I know. It's like, you want to tell people like, be yourself but it's hard. I mean, it's definitely… there are times… I mean, I've made mistakes, or I've said things on social media that like later, I'm like, “Oh, my God, why did I say it that way?” Or, you know, and sometimes if it's in podcast form or something, there's no going back, right? But yeah, I think it's all good. And I do think it's important to be just really honest and relatable.
And I've been listening to that podcast, Am I A Bad Therapist, and I was on it too. And it was funny because when I was a guest on it, you know, they basically have guests come on, and tell like a mistake they've made in therapy with a client, and like how they were, and like listening to it gives me anxiety, listening to my, being on it gave me anxiety, but I was like, but I want to hear it, I want to hear the mistakes that other therapists have made, you know? Like, I want to know because those are the things we can relate to, you know?
PATRICK CASALE: [INDISCERNIBLE 00:41:56] and I know about all the mistakes I’ve made, so is informed how I try to move through the mental health space. Fortunately, for me, and this would bring up a lot of impostor syndrome, I have never listened to a podcast episode in my entire life. And that includes a single one of my own, so…
KELLEY STEVENS: Wait, just wait, wait, wait, wait, go back, you've never listened to another podcast?
PATRICK CASALE: No, never ever.
KELLEY STEVENS: You don't listen to like any other podcast?
PATRICK CASALE: Mm-mm (negates).
KELLEY STEVENS: Really?
PATRICK CASALE: Really.
KELLEY STEVENS: You're not like on the Serial train, or like, you got to listen to Serial, at least that’s a-
PATRICK CASALE: My wife is listening to that all the time. And I assume that she's just trying to figure out ways to like bury my body somewhere and get away with it. But, yeah I’ve never listened either.
KELLEY STEVENS: Serial is like an oldie. And you don't listen to your own episodes?
PATRICK CASALE: No, I don’t want to hear my voice at all.
KELLEY STEVENS: Who edits them.
PATRICK CASALE: My virtual assistant Kelsey. Thank you so much, Kelsey. Appreciate you.
KELLEY STEVENS: Oh my God, Kelsey, you're amazing. My team makes me go and listen to it. I hate doing it. But I do go listen to it.
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, I mean, it’s probably not a bad practice. Yeah, I have admitted that to some friends. But I don't think I've ever publicly admitted that. But yeah, it's one of those things. You know, like, once it's done for me, it's done. And I'm just like, it is going to be what it's going to be. And it's amazing that the response and following to this podcast has been so huge because I'm like, I don't have anything to compare it to because I don't know what the hell a podcast is supposed to sound like.
KELLEY STEVENS: I think that's a good thing, though. I love Glennon Doyle Melton, she's a writer. And she talks about when she first started her blog, she gave herself a certain amount of time to write in the morning. And then at the end of that time, she had to click Post. And I think about that with creating content of like, if I don't hit Post shortly within creating it, I mean, I've got videos in my drafts for months, like unless I just go ahead and do it. And, you know, if you're not going to do it, who is? So, just to it, you know what I mean? That's amazing, glad you don’t.
PATRICK CASALE: [INDISCERNIBLE 00:43:58] and I think I believe in imperfect action and building the plane as you fly it. So, if I can channel that momentum and hit Post, I know the opposite is exactly what you're saying where I'm like, I don't know if I want to put this out there. And so far, so good. And, you know, just, it's worked out. But I don't recommend that process for all of you that are listening. If you want to start a podcast, maybe you want to listen to yourself talk.
KELLEY STEVENS: Not a good idea to listen to it [CROSSTALK 00:42:27]-
PATRICK CASALE: …something else, I don't know.
KELLEY STEVENS: I purposely before launching my private practice podcast didn't listen to a single other private practice podcast for that reason because I was like, if I do, I'm going to hear how amazing they are and I'm not going to do it. So, yeah.
PATRICK CASALE: I think that is just another example of impostor syndrome is the comparison trap. And we can't get into that today but I think-
KELLEY STEVENS: [INDISCERNIBLE 00:44:52] more hours, I think.
PATRICK CASALE: This has been great. I mean, this has been a lot of fun. And I'm excited to be coming on yours next week. But comparison trap is real, right? Like, social media… I'm not getting as many likes, follows, subscribes, shares as someone else, their content looks so spectacular, like their videos are so great, or whatever. And that can prevent you from actually launching your own thing. And I've said this openly before, Allison Puryear is a friend of mine, but she lives in Asheville, where I live. I did not launch All Things Private Practice for years because I was like, “But Allison lives here. Why would anyone hire me if she exists here?”
KELLEY STEVENS: And she's got amazing social media content.
PATRICK CASALE: Oh, yeah. And we are very different personalities. Like, I am not [CROSSTALK 00:45:37]-
KELLEY STEVENS: Yeah, of course, of course, yeah.
PATRICK CASALE: [CROSSTALK 00:45:39] any of that stuff. So, she and I have joked about that. But yeah, it's just like, we keep ourselves small for that reason. So, all of you listening to this. I hope this was really helpful. And Kelley, this was fun. This is probably the longest podcast I've done in a long time.
KELLEY STEVENS: Well, we're going to talk next week about retreats on my podcast, so I'm excited.
PATRICK CASALE: Cool, well tell the audience where they can find you so that they can follow you on Instagram and whatever else you've got coming out.
KELLEY STEVENS: So, it's easy. Basically, you can follow me everywhere on @ThePrivatePracticePro. So, as I said, my goal is diversification, right? So, I'm on all the… you can follow me on Lemonade. And it's all the same handle @ThePrivatePracticePro. Website is the same, podcast is the same. And, yeah, I'm excited. Thank you so much for having me.
PATRICK CASALE: You're very welcome. And to everyone listening to the All Things Private Practice Podcast, new episodes are out every single week on all major platforms and YouTube. Like, download, subscribe, and share. Doubt yourself, do it anyway. See you next week.
FREE PRIVATE PRACTICE GUIDE
Join the weekly newsletter for private practice tips, podcast updates, special offers, & your free private practice startup guide!
We will not spam you or share your information. You can unsubscribe at any time.