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Four Words the Helping Profession Needs

So, I challenge myself. Can I boil down what the Helping Profession needs to transition from a twentieth-century "healthcare" mindset to being an entrepreneurial force that reaches far more people? Big task.

Hubris? Why do I think that I can come up with four words to help redirect our profession? Well, to be blunt, somebody needs to do it.  Beyond that, I do have 26 years as a professional. I know the literature and taught graduate students how to expand their scope of practice. I have expanded my practice "Beyond the Couch" into contracting with organizations and business both for mental health services and business consulting on leadership and employee issues. Because I have been fortunate enough to know others who have escaped the "box" of traditional practice.

So, with that long preamble, here goes . . .

What are the four words that our profession needs to hear to get beyond the old medical-model and have a more dynamic and profound impact on others?  Here they are:

Broaden. "Expand the base" is a phrase we hear during the political season. We understand that these politicians need to reach out to more than just their core "base" to get elected. Professionals who want to thrive need to expand their thinking.They need to ask, "How do I broaden the market I can serve?" There is no reason no to--unless you believe that we dressing all the human needs that should be addressed already. Don't focus your practice on competing with the practice down the street. Find a new market. Expand beyond the "market sector" of healthcare and into the area of human needs.

Embrace. Accept that what you do is a business function. Understanding marketing, creating a business plan, accounting . . . isn't it just more paperwork? Isn't that what helping professionals hate already?  I am not saying that you shift your focus to being a business expert just that you take the reality of your business seriously. I have an accountant. I meet regularly with a social marketing expert. I talk to consultants in the field to develop my strategic plan. I don't do it all myself. But no one else will do it for me either. I need to "lean into" the business. I need to be the leader and plan for growth.

Act. Be audacious enough to dream . . . then act on it. "The first sale is always to yourself," consulting guru Alan Weiss writes. Courage. It seems strange for me to tell my fellow professionals they need courage. After all these are the people that brazenly face the pain, chaos, and conflict on the human condition daily. They are courageous in so many ways. But when it comes to believing in their own abilities I often find fear. out-weighs courage. This leads to . . .

Source. Our profession is resource-shy. What I mean by that is that unlike many industries we seem incapable, or unwilling, to use sources and invest money in developing ourselves and our business. Maybe its working in an industry that does not pay well. (You would not believe the offers that get thrown at my home-schooled, non-college, IT professional son.) Maybe its a lack of belief in our own value. But most professionals I know only attend the CEU trainings they have to in order to meet licensure requirements or that help them stay current in their particular cope of practice (Autism, ADHD, etc.)  Few develop a strategic plan for their career and develop new skill sets or pay for training to expand into new areas of practice.

Broaden. Embrace. Act. Source. Do these things and we will expand the playing field, grow as a profession, and enrich ourselves and others to lead richer, fuller, and healthier lives.


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Contracts with Medical Practices

A reader asked me to specifically address contracts with medical practices.  So this is for you Trey!

Below is a post I wrote a couple of years ago at the request of a reader.  Since that time, I have had the opportunity to a) further develop my consulting model (see the model), and b) contract directly with a group of physicians and their staff.  The post still holds up as is but I wanted to add links to the fully developed model to help readers who find this older post.  All the best! Bryan

Original post:

A caveat. Most of my direct contact with medical practices has not been contracts that I have set up myself.  Rather, they have been set up by therapists I trained to do consulting or colleagues in practices I joined.  My contracts have been more in the spheres of education, non-profits, family-based business, churches, and manufacturing.  But, since my reader asked, here's what I know . . .

Contracts with medical services that I personally am aware of include . . . 

A contract to do counseling with a program to help young mother's learn to breastfeed and take care of their babies. (The therapist first became aware of the need through a client then approached the program.)

A contract with a gynecologist to do brief counseling for women and couple's who were having issues with pregnancy or the emotional impact of expecting. (This was born out of the therapist going to the gynecologist for her own pregnancy and noticing how many women were crying before or after the appointments.)

A chiropractor who was moving to a wholistic model including message and counseling.

A Urology clinic that was looking to provide support services to their clientele and support to their staff and professionals.

A cancer program who wanted to provide counseling to those newly diagnosed.

Other contracts that I have been a part of include . . .

A short-term EAP service (including trainings) for a manufacturing company.

A retainer contract for supervision of therapy.

An EAP service for a local church. 

A contract for in-school counseling (5 schools) for identified at-risk students.

A project to integrate the mental health services of four non-profit agencies.

Here's the bottom line.  If you can . . . 1) find a need and . . . if the organization is 2) aware of (or can be made aware of) the need . . . and they are 3) willing to spend money to address the need. You can, assuming you have the requisite knowledge and skills, propose a contract to meet that need.

For me that means a process I describe as:

1. An exploratory meeting

2. An agreement to conduct preliminary assessment

3. A proposal for an intervention

4. The intervention

5. The follow-up

It's not rocket-science.  However, it helps to have a clear plan, know the risks and pitfalls, be clear how to price your work so it's worth your time and be willing to advocate to be involved at a level that will really allow you to help them accomplish their goals.

Hope that helps Trey!  If you have questions feel free to contact me at



"Five for Five" or "Old Dog Rebellion!"

Here is some of what I'm working on . . . soooooo slowly!

Okay, I'm an old dog.  I remember the 60's . . . although barely. Now I'm part of the group disparaged by that oft-repeated adage, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." Fortunately, I come from stock that didn't listen to such dour predictions. Both my mother and my father were still engaged and working into their 80's. So, to carry on that tradition . . . I thought it would be fun to share "5 new things I've learned in the past 5 years" and to hear what others have learned in the past few years as well.

In the past five years I have learned . . . 

1. to read music (and improve my fingerstyle guitar playing)

2. to drive on the left side of the road (thank you New Zealand!)

3. the proper way to make face-frames for cabinets

4. to use apps, like Trello, to deliver consulting services

5. what Kombucha is and how to spell it

There's my list. Obviously not all of these things happened in one-year's time so things like "reading music" could still be on my list next year but I'm hoping to add five new items for 2017.

Come on, the rest of you "old dogs," what did you learn in the past five years?

Available eBooks:

Private Practice through Contracting: Decreasing dependence on insurance.

Engaging Your Team: A framework for managing difficult people.

Family Legacy: Protecting family in family business.