All Things Private Practice Podcast for Therapists

Episode 142: Redefine Workplace Culture: Prioritizing Belonging and Community [featuring Mona Nour]

Show Notes

There are many ways to create a business and community that doesn’t just survive but thrives, starting with prioritizing people over profit.

In this episode, Patrick Casale and Dr. Mona Nour discuss the art of creating a sustainable and fulfilling business that aligns with your values while fostering a true sense of belonging.

3 Key Takeaways:

  1. Align Your Business with Your Values: Entrepreneurs, especially in the mental health field, must consider the cost of not aligning business practices with their core values. It's about creating a fulfilling and supportive environment over merely chasing profits.
  2. Prioritize Belonging and Community: Through transparent communication, individual preferences, and community events, you can build a culture where everyone feels seen, embraced, and celebrated.
  3. Promote Cultural Competency: It’s crucial to address the gaps in cultural responsiveness in the therapy field. Focus on operationalizing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.

Dr. Nour’s conversation about her practice, which focuses on the experience of belonging and its profound impact on mental health, is both insightful and inspiring. Her approach to creating a clinician-centered practice with a flexible work environment and a focus on education is a model worth emulating.

More about Mona:

Dr. Mona Nour is a professor, speaker, author, and owner of Nour Counseling, a group private practice specializing in supporting clinicians and clients who identify with historically marginalized and minoritized communities. She is an identity and belonging researcher and created the Belonging Integration model.  She is the host of the Belonging Reimagined Podcast.

  • Website: drmonanour.com
  • Instagram: @dr.mona.nour
  • TikTok: @dr.mona.nour

 


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A Thanks to Our Sponsors: The Receptionist for iPad & Freed!

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I would also like to thank The Receptionist for iPad for sponsoring this episode.

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Transcript

PATRICK CASALE: Hey, everyone. You are listening to another episode of the All Things Private Practice podcast. I'm your host, Patrick Casale. I'm joined today by Dr. Mona Nour. She is a professor, a speaker, an author, and the owner of Nour Counseling, a group private practice specializing in supporting clinicians and clients who identify with historically marginalized and minoritized communities.

She is an identity and belonging researcher, the creator of the Belonging Integration model, and the host of the Belonging Reimagined podcast.

I met you in person in Norway a few weeks ago. And it's really a pleasure to have you on here. I listened to you speak about the Belonging model that you're kind of creating, and cultivating. And your story is, obviously, a really empowering one. And I think there's some overlap with your story and why your group practice was created the way that it was created.

And if I remember correctly, Nour Counseling has been around for less than three years. But you have almost 50 clinicians at this point in time.

MONA NOUR: Yeah. So, thank you so much for having me today. It was so great to meet you in person after following you for the last couple of years. And, you know, supporting one another here and there. And mostly you're supporting me in terms of being a new private practice owner.

Yeah, we actually just had our second anniversary. So, just two years that we've been in private practice. I left a group practice before. And I am so blessed that we have clinicians that come to us. We actually don't recruit. And we are at 40, a group of 40 right now. So, that is kind of mind-blowing to me that that's happened, yeah.

PATRICK CASALE: It's a hell of an accomplishment. And I think it goes to kind of circle back to what we're going to talk about a little bit today is some of your journey, some of your story, why you've created the Belonging model. But more importantly, why you created and cultivated the group practice culture that you're creating out in Raleigh, Durham, North Carolina. Because ultimately, I think there's a lot of overlap here. And I would love for you to just kind of share, like, talk to us a little bit about what belonging is. And talk to us a little bit about why creating this model was so important, not just for you, but for other clinicians, for other clients, for other people in the communities.

MONA NOUR: Well, thank you. Yeah, it hasn't quite settled in yet because sometimes, you know, as private practice owners we can get lost in the rat race.

So, you know, really, the story starts back from where I was born and from whom I was born. My parents immigrated from Egypt with $50 in their pockets. My mom landed in JFK airport with my dad. And she said it was the first time that she felt like home. I joked that I did not feel like home anytime I'm in JFK Airport. It feels kind of wild in there for me.

And, essentially, what happened is my father is a urologist. And I was born in Philadelphia. And when I was about a year old, they were driving down Interstate 95 which is along Interstate, down the East Coast. And they had been looking to move into warmer weather. Having come from Egypt and living in the Northeast was a bit of a shock for them.

And so, my parents had been looking through these urology journals to see, you know, where people were recruiting or you know what areas they could move to. And my mom recognized this little town that was in that journal. When they were driving down Interstate 95 they saw the name of this town. And so, she said, "Oh, I think that was a place that's looking for a urologist."

And they literally took the exit, found the nearest hospital, and sure enough, they were still needing a urologist. To this day, he is maybe one of two urologists in the whole county. There had never been anyone in the whole history of that county that could help people with urological needs. And so, people had to drive out of town.

So, that was back in 1975. I'm 50 years old now. And he still works there at 81 years old. So, from that though, you know, I look the way that I do. I have big curly hair, I have brown skin, I have big green eyes that confuse people with the color of my skin. And I just didn't look like the people there. And I didn't feel like I really connected deeply with most of the people there. And it was a real struggle for me. I got called the N-word. I got asked "what are you?" all the time? And I really didn't know who my people were until I was in theater. And when I was in theater, I made several observations.

First of all, it was a great place for me in terms of being able to make connections. I was able to express myself in a way that I never had before, which is ironic because I'm playing another character, but felt most like myself. So, that was one of the first observations I made.

The second one was that I was able to make interpersonal connections. And I really made deep friendships there. And we would run lines one-on-one backstage, people would come to my house. I felt like I had people.

And then, the third one was that there was a sense of community in terms of all of us would either rise together or fall together, you know, in terms of making a production.

And then, the fourth was that we all felt that we were doing something bigger than us. I joked that we were in this little high school theater, but felt like we were making an impact somehow or another. There was something that we were collectively a part of that, you know, impacted an audience. And, you know, carry on the legacy of a playwright, for example.

And so, those were the four areas of deep connection that I felt. You know, I felt connected to an audience that I didn't even know. I felt connected to the community or the cast. I felt connected to one-on-one cast members. And I felt really connected to myself and being able to use my own voice in delivering a character story.

So, from that, over the years, I ended up in a number of different jobs, like many of us do. And I eventually, ended up in the mental health field. And I was researching by cultural identity integration, which is, essentially, how do I integrate this Egyptian side of myself and this American side of myself into a hyphenated sense of self?

And one of the things that I found out is that the sense of belonging is one of the predictors of having higher levels of identity integration, and the more identity integration we have. And that's a barrier to or a protective factor, rather, to mental health concerns or different mental health expressions like anxiety, depression, PTSD.

And so, having a more integrated sense of self is, essentially, having, you know, improved mental health. But the big key to it is having a sense of belonging.

And anywhere that I looked at different ways that belonging was defined seemed to me very limited. It seemed to be almost always based in community, which to me was only one aspect, and also, feeling a sense of acceptance, which to me seemed very flat.

And when I looked back at my research, and also, clinically, at my clients, I recognized that belonging has multiple layers to it that go beyond being accepted, and it shows up in the same four spaces of our lives that I experienced in the theater.

So, I define belonging as the experience of feeling seen, of feeling embraced, and of feeling celebrated across four different areas, the self, interpersonally, which is a one-on-one relationship, in community, and universally, which is, in some level, some kind of macro system. For us in the theater that was the audience. But it can be, do I feel like I belong in this world? Do I feel seen, embraced, celebrated in community? Do I feel seen, embraced, celebrated in my one-on-one relationships? Do I feel seen, embraced, and celebrated by myself? So, that is the long and short of it, in terms of belonging.

And then, what happened is, is I took that model and realized that I was not feeling seen, embraced, and celebrated across those four areas in the workplace. And in fact, there were many barriers to belonging in the workplace, and especially, to be honest with you, in the mental health field.

And I was working at either in university settings or in private practice settings where I was either tokenized because of my identities, or I was made to feel like I was either too big or not enough. And many of us with marginalized identities really can relate to that.

And so, I eventually ended up starting my own group practice and created a system within the practice that really speaks to all the three layers of belonging. But also, the breadth of it in terms of self, interpersonal community, and universal.

PATRICK CASALE: I love that. So powerful. And what you're talking about feels really big. And I imagine circling back to, like, the theater times, there's a place where you're able to kind of unmask, and just be yourself in some ways too, where maybe not societally or culturally, especially, you know, you and I both live in the southeast, where that may always be an option safely. And I think that's really wonderful to, like, hear that there are those outlets in those communities, and that kind of led to that sense of like, "Oh, there could be more here. Like, I could tap into this more often than I think I can."

Because you mentioned, "Do I even belong in this world?" I think that's so many people who feel like they are different than othered misfits in a way different. You know, they just don't fit in. They feel like they never fully landed or arrived. And it's like there's this constant existential processing of, like, where are my people? What is wrong with me? Why can't I figure out this life thing? Like, this gets so complicated and so heavy. And it's just so sad.

And I think what you're talking about, you know, especially, when you're like, "Well, this is what really leads to mental health symptoms." Well, this makes a lot more sense than just being like, well, you know, this is just genetic or this is just, you know, if we're looking at it from that bio-psychosocial model, like, there's so much more to it than just like, yeah, the world is stressful. We're all going to experience it differently. But the belonging piece is the really powerful piece that's really missed most often.

MONA NOUR: Yeah, it really is. And we often think that we are at the mercy of society or a group of people, or, you know, our neighbors, or an organization, or our colleagues at work, that we're at the mercy of them to feel a sense of belonging. And in a sense, we are. And also, we can create our own belonging, which can sound counterintuitive until we actually identify the places where we do have power, and where we do have agency, and use that.

So, for me, do I really love the administrative aspects of starting a private practice? Of course, not. Like, I don't know a single person who absolutely, like, who really loves all of that, like, insurance paneling and all the nonsense that comes up with it.

And also, I was willing to pay the price for that, to create not just community, but also, build relationships with people that are meaningful to me. And also, to feel like we're doing something that's bigger than us because what we've created is a clinician-centered practice. And that, to me, is the universal part of it. It feels like we're doing something that's bigger than us, than any individual one of us because I personally have never heard of a clinician-centered practice.

And so, I encourage people to get really creative with the way that they conceptualize connection and say, you know what? I can do this. I can go on a meet up. Or I can create a meet-up, for example. Or, you know, wherever it is that you can create community, and tap into any one of those four spaces. And we don't have to do all the things and all the layers. But start with somewhere.

And for me, I identified where I felt the biggest gap in belonging. And that big gap for me was in community. I wanted to be able… and that showed up honestly, Patrick, with peer consultation.

So, most of my client load was bicultural because that's what my research was in. So, about 80 to 90% of my clients on any given week were bicultural, and many of whom are also queer-identifying, and also, neurodivergent. And our particular practice or the practice I worked at, at that time, specialized in trauma, but not racial trauma, and not queer trauma, or not workplace trauma. It was just like a traumatic event happened to you in your childhood, and we could do EMDR, for example.

It wasn't like right here, right now, or even like a collection of lived experiences that I've had, you know, that have created, you know, a response from my brain. And so, for me, it was just like it sounds so reductionistic and so limited in terms of how they worked with trauma. And I'm not picking on anyone, in particular. I see this in so many places.

And so, I thought, we need to be doing something that supports our clinicians because I'm getting all these people who have had a collection of trauma, and I'm going through parallel processing of my own stuff, and I'm going to peer consultation, and nobody understands what I'm talking about. I cannot trust these brilliant clinicians with the clinical implications of working with my particular client. Like, they don't know what to say. I would say something, and they would just get quiet.

Furthermore, I find myself constantly educating my peers in these spaces. This was at the time, and I thought I want to talk to someone who can add to my cases, and help me expand my understanding of my own clients. I need people who work with clients like I work with. And that's really what the impetus was to starting the practice because I wasn't feeling belonging in community at peer consultation. I mean that is like twist my mind around because I was feeling more interpersonal belonging in my clinical sessions with clients than I was in community with my peers.

So, that was an interesting observation, and that expanded my understanding of my own model. And so, now, when I started the practice I said, I want to hit on all four types of belonging. And we have practices and policies in place, and really not policies, but just ways of showing up that had those different spaces.

PATRICK CASALE: I love that. And I think when you're saying, like, you're describing your experiences in peer consultation, and you're like, "This is shocking to me." I'm honestly not shocked by it, even as someone who has very different privileges in so many ways, like I'm not shocked by it. Maybe it's about how much time I spend around therapists all over the place.

But it's amazing to me that, like, in this field, cultural competency often stops at that one class that you took in grad school, and then it's like, yeah, check the box. Like, I'm culturally competent as a therapist. And it's like, no, you're certainly not. And you're certainly not if you look like me. For the most part, I mean, you have to do the work. And it's ongoing, and it's lifelong, and you still probably are not going to ever really get it.

So, what you're offering, right? You're saying, I'm going to take this thing that's missing, I'm going to build around it because that's what I need as an entrepreneur, that's what I want more of. And that is what entrepreneurs do, right? Like, we see this gap, and we see this need, and we fill that void. We're like, "This is what I need more of."

And that's why, like, I've created the events and retreats I've created because I'm like, I want this type of community with these types of people. And the same thing, like, so you're offering this space where people can be themselves, where they can get that sense of belonging across these four domains, where they can feel really comfortable, safe, heard, understood, affirmed, advocated for, and so much more.

And it, obviously, goes to show when you say we just hired our 40th employee in two years. And if you polled across the Facebook groups right now people would be like, "Nobody wants to work. Nobody wants to come work for a group practice."

And I would call on that because I think we just went through like 120 resumes over the last two weeks. And I'm like, "I'm waving the white flag. Like, I can't do this anymore. I'm sorry, I can't read one more of these."

But we don't advertise, either. So, it is about culture that you create because then your staff are going to tell other people, like, "Hey, this is a great place to work. They really treat us well. Like, we're supported, we're prioritized, our needs are met."

That is so much different than the capitalistic structure of like we're going to work people into the ground until they can't work anymore, and then they're going to quit, and then we're going to hire new ones. And rinse and repeat. And that is something I can't buy into.

MONA NOUR: No, no, absolutely not. And that is the thing is that if someone's like, you know, I got to fall back a few clients. I can't see, you know, 20 clients, which is considered full-time. You know, like, I'm not going to pull your health insurance. You know, you do what you need to do. You need to see 12 clients for a while, fine. You need to stay at 18, fine. Like, 20 is just like a loose marker. We don't have, like, this rigidity around certain things unless it's, you know, things that we have to do to protect us from colonized society. Like, you know, we got to get notes done, if you have a high risk, you know, client, you got to do the note that day, to protect you and the client. And, you know, a number of other things.

But in terms of, like, having these really hard lines about things, no, you know? You show up five minutes late, seven minutes late to a meeting, okay. I am making the assumption that there's a good reason. I'm not going to ask you about it, I'm not going to talk to you about it. It's very, very egalitarian.

And, yeah, no one's ever quit. I mean, I think that's the thing. We have people who come in and say, "I thought I wanted to start a private practice and I don't." I'm like, "Well, if you ever want to, let me know because we will help you get set up. We'll make sure that you get paneled. Like, work with our team. We'll get you the PLC. We'll do all that stuff. You know, we'll work with you to do it. I'll pay for you to do all that, you know?"

We have that level of transparency. And I don't feel like I own them. And in fact, what we've done is, from the get-go, I never liked hierarchical structures. They always felt just strange, to be quite honest with you, and completely out of alignment with my values.

And so, our business structure consists of concentric circles. And I decided from day one what was most important, meaning what we were going to have centered as our values and our practice.

And when something is centered as your value, that means that every single thing that you do revolves around that. It means that every decision, every conversation you have, you are going back to what those values are, and those are at the center, and you're making sure that you're pulling from that, or you're supporting those values or expressing them some way.

And so, the two core values that I had was that we operationalize diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. That if someone asked me, "How are you demonstrating those things?" That I could very quickly, just like that answer, answer those questions, and that it should be extensive.

The other thing was that I wanted us to center education. I am, at my core, a teacher. That is who I am. I think the best teachers are also really great students in terms of having a spirit of learning. And so, I said, anybody that comes in the practice has to have two things, spirit of sharing and a spirit of learning. You have those things and those characteristics, rather, inherently make you a culturally responsive and a culturally-centered clinician, inherently. Because in order to have a spirit of sharing and a spirit of learning, there's a certain level of humility that comes with that.

And so, back to our core values, education, DEIB operationalizing them, not having that as an adjunctive thing off to the side, like, "Oh, we have a couple of clinicians of color." See, we're inclusive. Well, inclusivity is not diversity, first of all, at all.

And so, we center our students. So, we have the interns, we have practicum students, we have interns. They are the center circle. Around that is another circle, and those are the interns, and they mentor the practicum students. Around the interns are associate-level clinicians. They mentor the interns. Around that are the fully licensed clinicians. They mentor the associate-level clinicians. And around that, we have what we call the A-Team, which is our administrative team, that includes our education and collaborator, that includes our project director, it includes a host of folks, our office manager, our billing team, and their job is to support, and protect all the clinicians.

And then, I'm on the outside. And my outside ring consists of protecting the practice from the world around us. And that can show up in a number of different ways.

And so, that's how our business structure looks. So, it's very flat and circular, and also, interconnected. So, around each circle, like, within each circle, they all have work buddies that are assigned to them.

So, the seasoned clinicians, or the, you know, the fully licensed clinicians, they all have at least two work buddies. And so, everyone's name is on this, like, circular kind of map. And they love when new people come in, and they can see, like, how things change, or if an associate level person now becomes a fully licensed person, where they show up on the circle and who their mentors are.

So, basically, everyone is a mentor and everyone gets mentored. And even the practicum students, when someone new comes in, the practicum students, they actually help with the onboarding process of new clinicians, even fully licensed clinicians. So, they show them the EHR system, they show them the ropes.

And when you do that, everyone feels like they have value. When you have people supporting one another in that way, everyone feels like they have value, and they feel invested in the process. They feel invested in the practice. And they're not just like in a group over there of clinicians that are in this little bracket down here, you know?

PATRICK CASALE: Yeah.

MONA NOUR: We're all integrated in that way.

PATRICK CASALE: Much more cohesive, much more like a team. Like, we all have the same mission. We're all working towards the same thing together. And I think that means that there's more camaraderie, there's more support, there's more trust, there's more feelings of just, I guess I should say belonging, and just feeling connected. Like, how often do we work at jobs where we just feel so isolated, and alone, and siloed, and just like, so much more like, okay, head down, get your day done. That's it. Like, log off, do my hours. And that's that.

And I think that's what we hear a lot of in this field, and just in generals, too.

And I love going back to what you said about like, if someone's seven minutes late to a meeting, if they need to reduce their caseload, like, those are the things that a lot of practice owners are just simply not doing.

And when I talk to people about my mentality of like, prioritizing people over profit, a lot of group practice owners are like, "Huh, that feels really like, completely counterintuitive to running a business." I'm like, "Well, no." Like, if you can understand that by treating people well, and appreciating them, and showing up for them, and not creating these like massive hierarchical power dynamics and structures, and ensuring that people feel like they are a part of something, one, turnover is expensive. Like, hiring is expensive. Why would I opt for more turnover if I could reduce that by treating people better, by paying people more, by offering more benefit? Yeah, is it going to cost me more in the short term? Absolutely. Is it going to cost me more in the long term? Absolutely not.

So, like, the reality is, I really do believe that we can move towards these models where it just feels like we are flipping the traditional group practice infrastructure or employment structure on its head.

MONA NOUR: Yeah, absolutely. Re-conceptualizing what profit is is key because I make money, and I also make sure that we pay our clinicians so much better than they would normally get paid, so much better than they would normally get paid. And there's enough to go around. So, having that abundance mentality is really important.

Also, what else am I getting? Like, it's not just about money. There's so much that I'm gaining. Though I made great money at the other practice, the main reason I started a practice was so that I would have a sense of belonging, so that I could be as big as I wanted to be, and that the people that I was around recognized that there's enough space for all of us. And I get that.

And I also have friendships and connections that I know are lifelong, regardless of where our lives take us. I also have a community that I literally have nowhere else in my life. And I also feel like we're doing something important.

So, that is part of my profit. I mean, that's part of what I'm getting. It's not just about the money. And research even shows that people don't stay in jobs just for the money. And so, why would we apply that to our own mentalities as entrepreneurs? Because it's really not sustainable for us either as entrepreneurs. There's a cost to it. So, it's not just about the profit is, what is the cost of being an asshole?

PATRICK CASALE: Absolutely. But, you know some of this, a large portion of this, words right now are hard, a large portion is so many of us in the mental health field have virtually no business experience, or knowledge, or expertise, right?

MONA NOUR: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

PATRICK CASALE: So, if we're always, like, this is what bothers me a lot about having a large Facebook group full of therapists. Like, someone will be like, "How do you set your rates?" And then nine people will be like, "This is how you set your rates."

And I'm like, "If everyone is going to this default mechanism of how to run my business, and you're asking other people who also don't know how to run their businesses, you're going to just, like, continuously reinforce this perpetual cycle of like, we don't know how to run businesses." Like, there has more to it than just being like, "Go on Psych Today and check out what everyone else is charging."

Like, no, that's not business advice. That's not how you run a business. So, like having to learn some hard lessons is sometimes a part of, like, owning a business being an entrepreneur. But it all comes back to what you said, centering around your values. And if you center your business around your values, then I think that creates much more cohesion. And it also creates much more sustainability. And it also creates much more enjoyment and satisfaction.

Opposed to saying, like you said, it's not just about the profit. It's about, is this creating enjoyment, fulfillment, satisfaction, connection, cohesion, like greater purpose, all the things? Because I always wonder why people work for me. And some of them have worked there for the entirety of the three years that we've been open. We have very little turnover. Those who leave are going to start their own practices. And like you, I do it with welcome, like, open arms because I'm like, "How can I coach people all over the world on this and then tell my clinicians, like, 'No, but not you.'"

So, I want to model that. And then, I wonder, like, why are you still sticking around going on year four? It's again, good. Circling back to what you said, that there is more to it than just hourly or salaried pay. It's like there's so much more to it when you can invest in terms of making a place feel different, or special, or unique, or really cultivated and curated for people who identify with multiple marginalized identities or any intersectionality.

Like, our practice, specifically, is specializing in the neurodivergent and queer communities, most of our clinicians identify in, if not both, at least one of those pockets. So, lots of people who just feel like, "I don't have places to belong, I don't feel like I have places to be myself, I don't feel like I have places to be, like, I don't want to do our one-on-one check in via video call. Can we do text messaging?" And I'm like, "Yeah, absolutely."

So, really ensuring that we're meeting people where they're at, neurotype and neurologically, in terms of communication styles, ways to retain information, ways to express themselves. I think all of this stuff is so important and so often overlooked.

MONA NOUR: Yeah, and I love what you've said in the past about, Patrick, how it starts from, you know, the first communication you have with an applicant, and it starts with the interview, and how you've said that it, you know, and that is part of being culturally responsive and culturally centered as well in terms of asking them, giving people agency about how they want to communicate with you. Do you want to you want me to send you the questions first? Do you want to communicate by phone? Do you want to meet, you know, with the video on or off? So, I love that you do that.

And we have a similar mindset around that. Whenever we are meeting with people, I first start out the meeting by saying, "Hey, we're going to do things a little flipped from what you might be used to. And I'm going to share for a few minutes a little bit about who we are and how we are. And then you can decide whether or not you want to share about yourself. I want to give you agency in that because I don't want you to, you know, share as much and disclose, you know, all these things that I might ask you, and then, you find out that, you know, we're not for you."

And they love that. People have loved that right away. They're like, "Oh." So, then they can kind of relax, and sit back, and not have that vigilance, and have that kind of anxious kind of state. And then, you know, I decide, "Hey, you want to share whatever you want about yourself." I don't just like fire off a bunch of questions at them. You know, that's inhumane. That's not how we normally connect with people. How does that create true connection?

And so, the belonging invitation starts from the beginning, right from the get-go, from the first email, or the first you know, DM that I might get as someone reaching out. And from there we talk. There's one question that I ask them.

The only question that I ask is, how do you sit with difference? And I ask every single person that question. I might ask a few other things that are just more like get to know you, but not like, prove yourself. And I let them know this isn't a meeting about you're proving your worth to me. We are all worthy individuals. You are worth being in this world. You are important in this world. Or you wouldn't be here, you know, based on my worldview.

And then, after we meet and if I feel like, "Oh, this is somebody that I think the other clinicians would really like to get to know." Not like, could be a good fit. I don't like that good fit. I don't like that mentality. It feels like they're assimilating to us, and it removes the concept that we would adapt to them in some way.

So, I ask them, you know, to go through and read the bios. Our bios are very transparent. We require that each person share in that second paragraph about themselves, about their upbringing, about how they came to the mental health field. And I say, go read through all the bios, and then just pick like, 3, 4, 5 people that you want to connect with.

And so, they have agency in who they meet with. They can meet with interns. They can meet with the A team. They can meet with anyone that they want to meet that's part of Nour Counseling. And then, everyone in the practice that they decide to meet with, if it's not a hell yes, then it's a, you know, not right now. And we provide feedback.

And if they say, if somebody says, "No, it has to be specific." Because we want to make sure that we don't have some kind of unconscious bias. And they have to say when I ask them about this or that, or when we're talking about this or that, you know, these are some concerns that came up. And so, it has to be unanimous.

And that lets the people that are at part of the practice have some kind of investment in that individual. And they've already spent some time getting to know that person. And they feel like their voice matters. And who comes into the practice. It's not just I randomly say. And that goes for interns, as well.

And then, also, if that person joins, they've already made, you know, four or five friends. And so, they've already started that interpersonal belonging aspect in itself. And then, we get together as a community because we're all telehealth. We get together about four times a year and have a big party at my house. And so, there's community there.

And then, additionally, we also have, because education is at the center, we are an approved continued education provider by the National Board of Certified Counselors. And so, every single week, we get together at the same time, Wednesday, at noon, and we do something called Education Collaboration or Ed Collabs. And we find out, we have an incredible admin person, or [INDISCERNIBLE 00:38:47] person who finds out what everybody wants to learn and then finds out who can teach what. And so, we teach one another within the practice every week. And so, we have community in that.

Every Wednesday at noon, we are all little squares on the screen, and we are teaching one another. Somebody is facilitating learning in an area because none of us are, you know, knowledgeable about all the things. And so, we get free CEs every week, in that way. And then, we also have community. And so, that's some of the ways that we focus on the Belonging model, but also, create belonging from the beginning for a person that's coming in.

PATRICK CASALE: Love it. I think it's so powerful and so unique. And what you're onto is really special. So, congrats.

MONA NOUR: Thank you so much.

PATRICK CASALE: It's really cool.

MONA NOUR: Thank you.

PATRICK CASALE: I know you're really getting going now with, like, some of these creations, too. So, I'm really excited to, like, circle back in a year, and see where this has taken you.

MONA NOUR: Yeah.

PATRICK CASALE: Because it's really awesome, Mona. So, I just want to thank you for coming on, and just sharing some of your story, and this wisdom, and really, really helpful. For everyone listening, I hope this was a really introspective type of conversation where you can really start to check in with like, "Hey, how can we shift some things, whether it's within our practice or group structure to really create something that feels equally as important, or unique, or special to you?" And Mona, congrats, seriously. So, thank you.

MONA NOUR: Thank you so much. I'm so honored to be here. And I really appreciate your support, Patrick. You really inspired me over the years. And so, thanks again for having me.

PATRICK CASALE: You're very welcome. And please tell everyone where they can find more of what you've got going on.

MONA NOUR: Yeah, so for our group private practice, you can go to nourcounseling.com. Nour is just my last name, nourcounseling.com. And then, for the podcast and some of the other things that I'm doing with belonging and speaking events, you can go to my own website, which is drmonanour.com.

PATRICK CASALE: Perfect. And you can check Mona's podcast out on all major platforms too. And I think you have a YouTube channel coming as well, so lots of cool stuff in store. And that will all be in the show notes so that you all have easy access to all of that information. Thank you so much for coming on.

MONA NOUR: Thanks so much, Patrick.

PATRICK CASALE: To everyone listening to the All Things Private Practice podcast, new episodes are up every single Saturday on all major platforms and YouTube. Like, download, subscribe, share. Doubt yourself and do it anyway. See you next week.

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