Finances 101 in Private Practice
Lindsay Bryan Podvin on Everything You Need to Know about Finances in Your Practice.
Podcast with Danielle Swimm and Lindsay Bryan-Podvin
Lindsay Bryan-Podvin (she/her) is a biracial financial therapist, podcast host, speaker, and author of the book “The Financial Anxiety Solution.” In her coaching practice, she helps therapists in social justice or of marginalized identities grow their profitable practices from the inside out; so they can stop feeling icky about money, and start setting and sticking to sustainable rates that allow them to grow their businesses in alignment with their values. She lives with her partner and their dog on the occupied land of the Fox, Peoria, Potawatomi, and Anishinabewaki peoples also known as Michigan, and loves curling up on the couch with stove-popped popcorn and catching up on all her favorite Bravo reality shows.
I recently sat down with Lindsay of Mind Money Balance to talk about everything finances in the mental health field. We speak about where our money stories come from, how to re-frame the guilt while coming off insurance, and how to make sure your practice is recession-proof.
Baggage From the Industry and Money Mindset Programming:
We often hear a few things while in the education system for becoming a therapist. That you do not go into this field to make money. You aren’t a “real” social worker if you go into private practice. And you will be expected to be an essential worker without the guarantee of being compensated appropriately.
On top of this, we also have messages coming at us from our upbringing, society, and even different messaging depending on gender.
Lindsay and I want you to explore:
What does American culture say about money?
Is the money story you are telling yourself actually yours or someone else’s?
Where is this belief coming from?
Have you been told as a therapist you aren’t allowed to care about the money?
Has anyone else projected their money story onto you?
Money Mindset + Gender
We genderize almost everything- including money. Girls are taught about saving money (coupons, etc). Men are taught entrepreneurial ideas like how to actionize/capitalize on monetary opportunities and how to ask for raises.
Women get caught up in the money mindset of save save save and not the other side of the coin- how can I raise my earnings?
Have you ever agonized over spending 10$ on an app that will help you streamline (and get your time back)? Are you focused so much on being responsible in saving and not where you can increase a fee or diversify?
Women in practice often harm themselves by saving $40/month instead of trying to strategize and allow themselves to earn more. We’ve been so conditioned to think “being good with money” means saving and not necessarily asking for more.
Triggers and Guilt
Professors, therapists, and non-therapists alike can project their money story onto you. Making you feel guilty for things like raising your rate or going off insurance. Thoughts like “does this mean people won’t be able to afford me?” enter here. Front and center.
At this point, Lindsay encourages you to ask yourself: Is what I’m doing actually a bad thing? Or have I been conditioned to believe I can’t help people and make money at the same time?
Most therapists are not in this career with the intention of exploiting their clients. We are in it to help communities. We are in it because that is our strength.
Unpack where the guilt is coming from in order to move through it.
Lindsay offers a simple reframe for moving through the guilt you may feel in a season of financial decisions. Money is an accessibility issue but it’s not the only one.
Think of ways you are actually increasing accessibility
If you have a telehealth option- think of all the people you are now able to serve. People with neurodivergent and transportation challenges. People in rural areas who have fewer options. Not spending the time and money on commuting for care is a huge accessibility gain.
When you niche down to help a certain community vs being a generalist you allow that community to feel like their certain challenge is going and be understood. They feel more comfortable reaching out to you.
“We can give back to our communities in ways that don’t involve harming ourselves financially in the process.” -Lindsay Bryan-Podvin
Financial Considerations Before Spreading Yourself too Thin
Lindsay wants you to really consider these questions before deciding how to give back:
- Are you currently financially able to give of your time/labor for free? If not- you cannot do pro-bono work, volunteer, or give to organizations right now. Sorry. This can lead you to feel behind or burnt out. Put on your own oxygen mask first.
- Acknowledge that you are already giving back to the community simply by what you do. You are helping community members step into the healthiest versions of themselves. This causes a ripple effect in the community. Acknowledging this.
Therapists try to compensate for the guilt in various ways. But you have to wait until it makes financial sense to reduce your fee or give back in financial ways.
Bottom line, we cannot grieve in tandem if we are seeing clients beyond our limits or feeling consistently worried about finances.
Ways you Can Give Back Without Reducing Fees
What are some ways you may be giving free information and time already? If you have social media platforms and create content: you’re doing it. You are giving your expertise and knowledge in your blogs, your newsletters, and potentially podcasts too.
Other ways to give back without reducing fees as a whole:
-Running groups where the cost per person is lower but you are still getting paid for your time and knowledge
-Giving any amount you can to organizations you believe in
-Hosting educational talks on your niche in the community
-Introduce sliding scale sessions once you are able to financially make this happen.
Recession Thoughts and Fears:
We’ve all seen the news and have probably been asking ourselves tough questions about a potential recession. Should I even continue to open my private practice? What will happen if people can’t afford me? Should I reduce my rate? Should I scream in a panic?
Lindsay reminds us the economy is much like the weather. We have no control over it but we can dress appropriately for it. Recessions happen. Things will go up and down historically.
The biggest suggestion we have is bulking up your emergency fund.
What does an emergency fund look like?
Emergency Savings Fund:
- Business emergency fund– an amount of money that is easily accessible to be used in the case of an emergency.
Monthly expenses x 3 to cover 2-3 months of expenses
- Personal emergency fund. The same things apply.
See what feels best for you depending on your situation. So many things will factor in here like your living arrangement, family size, partner’s job, etc. During times like this, you may want to consider bulking this savings to 4-5 months worth of expenses.
Dial down spending on things that are not totally necessary. Hit pause on marketing that costs money and focus on free avenues. Don’t adjust your fees unless it feels right.
Continue to invest in your retirement. When the economy recovers your savings will go up.
In short-buff up your savings and don’t panic!
Challenge your money stories. Ask yourself if you have actually caused harm by wanting financial freedom in your life. Know you are providing your community with an amazing service.
And getting paid for that does not have to be blanketed in guilt.
Check out Lindsay’s free resources below to learn more about Mind Money Balance: