business of mental health

Lessons learned about the business of mental health have come over time. I’ve been a business owner since 1994. My businesses prior to 2007 were fruitful and full of learning. But the past 17 years of being a mental health business owner have been particularly ripe with lessons I’d love to share with you. I recently was interviewed about my years in the business of mental health on the Mastering Counseling Podcast and it was an opportunity for me to really reflect and share what I have learned.

Shaping the Future of Counseling and Therapist Support with Lynn Louise of Wonders Counseling. Ep.57


It’s been a year of really evaluating which efforts are yielding juice and which ones I can toss into the wind, lightening my load.

How did my lessons learned about the business of mental health come about?

Short answer? Lots of zig-zagging, pivoting and learning as I went!

I opened my own private practice and contracted with other therapists in 2007. Over the years there have been many lessons learned about the business of mental health!

By 2011 the group practice had grown by leaps and bounds to include a full scale yoga studio and I found myself longing to be able to move away from the management of a group practice and return to focusing on my own clients and classes.

It was time to PIVOT! I sold my counseling center and closed my yoga studio. I needed to shift directions and focus on the work that energized me and let go of what was draining me.  With a team of 20 therapists and yoga teachers, I was spending too much time and energy managing and there just wasn’t enough juice to show for all that work.

I opened a solo practice and then after two years of time to reflect further on where I wanted to yield more juice, I decided to open an online-based business with CE training and case consultation services. I started running self-care retreats for therapists and launched two large Facebook communities. Next came publications and all kinds of other opportunities I hadn’t planned for but was thrilled to take on.

Since 2014 my business has expanded and evolved. The pandemic pushed me to to level-up even further with creating my online mental health school and recently I launched The Mindfulness-based Therapy Training Institute® that includes branches for Mindfulness-based Play Therapy® training, Mindfulness-based Therapy™ for Couples, Teens, and Young Adults, Adults in Midlife, and Adults Late in Life.

The journey of being a business owner can be a journey of a lot of unexpected twists and turns. Over the years there are some valuable lessons for keeping my head in the game while allowing my heart to lead and I’d like to share them here.

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My lessons learned about the business of mental health:

  1. Ditch the rose colored glasses. It’s actually healthy to just see the world around you as it is instead of the way you wish it would be. I learned not to jump at every opportunity and to know that not everyone and everything is going to be a great fit for me and my career path. It’s okay to dream, of course! But I learned to practice radical acceptance and work with what is rather than wasting my energy wishing.
  2. Self care comes first. Yes, sure I’d like to save the world (😂). But I have to ensure I am taking care of myself before I can take care of others. Schedule lunch breaks. Go on retreat. Turn off your phone and computer. Get out in nature.
  3. I treat myself as I treat my own clients.  Along with the concept of self-care I have learned to schedule time for me and my needs on my calendar and attend to those needs with the same energy I give to my clients.
  4. Don’t believe everything you hear/read. There are many companies out there targeting the big-hearted, honest mental health professionals with products and programs that are not what they promise to be. Take your time. Do your research. Lessons learned about the business of mental health do not need to be expensive and filled with regret.
  5. Trust your gut. Intuition is something we all have. We need to practice listening for that whispering intuitive voice inside and trust it. It will never mislead.
  6. Extend kindness in everything you do and say. Even when someone is doing you wrong and you have to set boundaries and address issues, you can do so with kindness and wish for the highest good to come for all involved. It’s the right thing to do.
  7. Step away from the screens. Online work can be like a black hole. Nothing like a pandemic relegating us all to online everything to prove this point. I have found it to be a potential time suck. Set a timer and promise yourself you’ll stop working and go for a walk or do some yoga or call a friend and actually have a voice-to-voice conversation.
  8. Save yourself from drowning in the sea of emails. I love email. It’s the greatest thing to come along in terms of communication in business. But the other side to that coin is that email can be overwhelming, distracting and addictive. Unsubscribe from all those newsletters you never read and only check email 2 times each day. One brilliant business strategy coach I worked with advised me to draft my outgoing emails in Word and then paste into email so that I wouldn’t be distracted by all the influx in my inbox.
  9. Learn a form of meditation that works for YOU and dedicate time to practice daily. In the hustle and bustle of developing my new online business and opening my new center, I drifted away from my meditation practice of 30 years. And boy, did I miss it. I have learned how incredibly important coming to the cushion and observing this practice is every day.
  10. Take time to cherish family and friends.  The rush and push to meet deadlines, crank out content and connect with clients can all too easily interfere with ability to have a personal life.  I’ve learned to be sure I am scheduling time with my kids, husband and other loved ones and when I’m with them, in person or on the phone, I am sure to be fully present and attentive.
  11. Savor the journey.  It’s all too easy to get caught up in the rush to get on to the next project that we can lose sight of the delicious juice we’ve produced so far. Take time to slow down and enjoy the fruit of all your labor. This is one of the most precious lessons learned about the business of mental health
  12. Connect with trusted colleagues on the regular. Know who your people are and make an effort to stay connected. Send a heart-felt check in text. Schedule a phone call or a Zoom meeting. Brainstorm ideas with one another.
  13. Schedule lunch breaks. Did I say that already? I’ll say it again if so. It’s so important to take breaks from the busyness of business.
  14. Learn for the sake of learning. Not every course you take has to be for CEs. Learning enrichment is extremely valuable in ways you might not realize right now but WOW does it pay off down the road.
  15. Read some fiction. We in the field of mental health don’t take enough time to allow ourselves to just enjoy a nice fiction book.
  16. Do what you love and allow yourself to shift and pivot as your passions may change. This is a huge one. I’ll be shifting away from providing clinical services and am getting a second masters degree in teaching elementary school because my HEART has led me to be in the classroom with little children for a couple years or more. How about that for change? Allow change to happen. Follow your heart.

I’m still providing professional consultation to therapists who may need some guidance with their professional endeavors or just need to staff a tough case. You can sign up for a private consultation with me RIGHT HERE.