Banner ID: A red couch on the beach with the ocean behind it. To one side there is a photo of Melvin Varghese and the text overlay reads

How to Navigate Shifts in the Mental Health Field and Your Career Path: An interview with Dr. Melvin Varghese

Curt and Katie interview Dr. Melvin Varghese about how he’s navigated his career path. We look at a life changing event that helped him to get perspective on what is most important to him. We also explore practicalities of prioritizing personal life as an entrepreneur.


Click here to scroll to the podcast transcript.

An Interview with Dr. Melvin Varghese, Founder of Selling the Couch

Photo ID: Dr. Melvin VargheseMelvin Varghese, PhD is a licensed psychologist in Philadelphia, PA. In 2015, Dr. Varghese founded Selling The Couch, a podcast to help therapists move from clinical to online income.
On the podcast, he interviews successful practitioners about how they’ve built their practices, social media/marketing experts, and shares lessons as he uses our clinical skills to create an online business powered by podcasting + online courses. The podcast is one of the top Career podcasts in Apple Podcasts, has been downloaded over 1.7 million times, and is heard in over 125 countries.

In this podcast episode, we talk about how to prioritize your personal life while having a successful career

We invited our friend Melvin Varghese back to the podcast to talk about how he is navigating shifts in the profession and his life.

 What do therapists get wrong when creating their career?

“Get going, then get good, then get smart” – Dr. Melvin Varghese, PhD

  • Doing too much and not doing things deeply enough
  • Shifting too quickly when things get hard
  • Failing to look at season of life issues when planning your business
  • Having trouble defining success based on what is resonant to oneself

How can therapists prioritize themselves and sustain a therapy career?

“I think the one advice I would just say is…pace yourself, you know. All of it looks different for everybody. It’s always good to have people that you look up to and role models and all those things, but at the end of the day, the story is your own and the pace is your own.” – Dr. Melvin Varghese, PhD

  • Pace yourself based on your own life story, not a mentor’s or the “shoulds” from the profession
  • Be willing to “fail forward”
  • Pushing back against “curated authenticity” and look at how to be real, with boundaries
  • Aligning career with morals and values
  • Focus on “decades over days”
  • Sustainable content creation

What are Melvin’s predictions about the future of the profession?

  • Authenticity and real conversations will succeed where AI posting will not
  • Finding content platforms where effort compounds over time
  • Discovery platforms leading to relationship-deepening platforms
  • Navigating a lot of tech and insurance companies
  • People have less discretionary money, so diversifying your income is valuable


Resources for Modern Therapists mentioned in this Podcast Episode:

We’ve pulled together resources mentioned in this episode and put together some handy-dandy links. Please note that some of the links below may be affiliate links, so if you purchase after clicking below, we may get a little bit of cash in our pockets. We thank you in advance!

Melvin’s websites:

Melvin’s LinkedIn:

Articles by Wil Reynolds of Seer Interactive:

Quote about “When I was a young man…”

“When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.

I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town, and as an older man, I tried to change my family.

Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.”

― Unknown Monk


Relevant Episodes of MTSG Podcast:

Beyond Selling the Couch, An Interview with Melvin Varghese, PhD

Making Sense of Insurance Billing and Client Referral Services for Therapists


Who we are:

Picture of Curt Widhalm, LMFT, co-host of the Modern Therapist's Survival Guide podcast; a nice young man with a glorious beard.Curt Widhalm, LMFT

Curt Widhalm is in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is the cofounder of the Therapy Reimagined conference, an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University and CSUN, a former Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, former CFO of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making “dad jokes” and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more at:

Picture of Katie Vernoy, LMFT, co-host of the Modern Therapist's Survival Guide podcastKatie Vernoy, LMFT

Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant supporting leaders, visionaries, executives, and helping professionals to create sustainable careers. Katie, with Curt, has developed workshops and a conference, Therapy Reimagined, to support therapists navigating through the modern challenges of this profession. Katie is also a former President of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt’s youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more at:

A Quick Note:

Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.

Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.

Stay in Touch with Curt, Katie, and the whole Therapy Reimagined #TherapyMovement:


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Consultation services with Curt Widhalm or Katie Vernoy:

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Connect with the Modern Therapist Community:

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Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide Creative Credits:

Voice Over by DW McCann

Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano

Transcript for this episode of the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide podcast (Autogenerated):

Transcripts do not include advertisements just a reference to the advertising break (as such timing does not account for advertisements).

… 0:00
(Opening Advertisement)

Announcer 0:00
You’re listening to the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide where therapists live, breathe and practice as human beings. To support you as a whole person and a therapist, here are your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy.

Curt Widhalm 0:15
Welcome back modern therapists. This is the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide. I’m Curt Widhalm, with Katie Vernoy. And this is the podcast for therapists about being therapists and the things that go on in our field. It’s also a podcast about having terrible introductions to therapist’s podcasts. And this is an episode that we’re joined by one of our longtime friends, Dr. Melvin Varghese, and just kind of talking about being therapists, about kind of the transitions that end up happening in our careers; re-focusing, re-energizing, reimagining what we’re doing, and just welcome back to the show. Thank you very much for being here.

Dr. Melvin Varghese 0:58
Thank you so much for having me. I am like, flabbergasted at that intro. Like, I think I might need that on my podcast.

Curt Widhalm 1:06
Own who you are, is really a big theme that we have around here.

Dr. Melvin Varghese 1:12
That’s a, it’s a good, it’s a good life lesson.

Katie Vernoy 1:15
Well, Mel, it’s so good to have you back on the show. And good to see you. I love having you as one of my friends. But we’ll we’ll get you started with the question we asked all of our folks: Who are you and what are you putting out into the world?

Dr. Melvin Varghese 1:28
Yeah, I know, let me before we jump into that, Katie, thank you, Curt, really, incredibly grateful for our friendship. And I think it’s one of the things I most love about our field, you know, is these connections. And yeah, these are just meaningful connections. So, I’m a licensed psychologist, by training. I live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I never imagined living in the Northeast in my life, because I was born in India, and then grew up in Texas, outside of Dallas my whole life, and then spent a couple of years an internship and postdoc in Nashville, and progressively made my way up to the northeast, and I’ve been here since 2012. I’m also a podcaster, course creator, I’m the founder of Selling the Couch, and which is basically a podcast, a blog that helps therapists go from clinical to online income. So, how do we move our income and our impact beyond just the therapy rooms. And yeah, and I specifically focus on helping therapists get podcasts and online courses out into the world.

Curt Widhalm 2:32
Like us, you’re describing a lot of interests, a lot of just spreading information about the field, about being able to kind of take all of the different options of being a therapist, and like us, your career has kind of swung in some directions, a lot heavier than others. You’re swinging back into seeing clients a little bit more now. And so you’ve seen kind of a lot of different angles and aspects that go into the field here. And we start a lot of our podcasts with just kind of maybe help other people not make the same mistakes that we’ve been seeing or made ourselves. What do you see that therapists usually get wrong about the energy that they put out into whatever it is they’re doing their business ventures? Let’s let’s help some people out here.

Dr. Melvin Varghese 3:21
Yeah, that’s a great question, I would say, the thing that immediately came to mind is trying to do too many things at one time, right? I think like, the classic example that I’ve seen is social media channels, or practical thing, I’m going to start a podcast, I’m gonna get active on LinkedIn, I’m going to run a Facebook group, all of those kinds of things. And the reality is, I actually tried that the first year. This is what you should not do. But it was a formula for burnout. And it’s like, you can never go fully deep in any one of those because you’re just trying to like juggle all these balls, right? And so what I would say is, you know, I have this new mantra, which is: get going, then get good, then get smart. And I think usually, for most therapists getting going on a new venture, I think it takes one to three years. And then getting good probably is like year three to, you know, beyond. Then getting smart, I think really starts coming probably year four or year five, you know, where you’re thinking about systems actively thinking about those things. So, I think the related thing is, I think a lot of times I do feel like us as clinicians were like, maybe a little less susceptible, but I definitely do see us being susceptible, which is we want all of these things yesterday, and why is it not happening yesterday? So I’m now gonna, you know, stop doing insert whatever, right? Stop being active on LinkedIn or stop the podcast because I’m not getting the traction when I go try the next thing kind of thing.

Curt Widhalm 5:02
Is that something that you see with even like experienced clinicians? Because part of me is hearing this as like, that sounds like, you know, kind of trying to jump into the field and maybe dealing with some imposter syndrome or trying to get credibility, it might just be kind of also explained just developmentally of like trying to do things. But I’m also maybe seeking just permission of like now that Katie and I are past this, we’re totally immune from this kind of stuff. Right?

Dr. Melvin Varghese 5:29
Teach, teach me your ways. Yeah, you’re absolutely right. Like the I don’t think it what is that one phrase? Like, the more I know, the less I know, or whatever, like that version of that is. And, and I feel like that’s so true. I mean, even like, at a practical level, like, what this was, I don’t know how less than a year ago when Threads came out, right? And I was like, should I be on Threads? And I was like, No, do not go on Threads. You are already like, you’re doing enough, right? And, but I still feel it. In fact, even this morning, I was like, I’ve got just a shade under 5000 followers on Twitter, should I be getting back on Twitter? You know, it’s like it is it’s really, you know, the thing I’ve come to realize is, I feel like as clinicians, especially, you know, to get a grad level degree, we have a tremendous amount of resilience to be able to do these things. And it’s not that we can’t do them. I think the challenge will be like, the bigger question is, do we want to do them? And does it actually make sense for the the pace and the season of life we’re in? You know, and that’s a question I’ve been asking a lot of, not that I can’t grow on Twitter, but I also have a toddler home, you know. We’re entering a season where we’re caregiving for are going to be caregiving for aging parents, right? And all that stuff outside of business takes time, you know, and so how do you, I don’t know, like, see all of it in a more holistic light, versus just, you know, I’m gonna be focused on this one business venture. It’s hard, though. I don’t have it definitely don’t have it figured out.

Katie Vernoy 7:16
There’s so many shoulds that come in into play. And I’m thinking about both of the things that you’re talking about. There’s like the getting started with a business venture, I should be doing all these things I should be already making, making it like, there’s those things where those shoulds come into play. But but when you started talking about season of life, I’ve got a different season of life that I’m kind of in, but I feel like there’s still shoulds of I should be successful in this way. Or I should define success in a different way. And I remember because I was in your mastermind for a while and I remember talking about like, I had to be close to Melvin because otherwise I would keep going into this should of a success definition that wasn’t mine. And so maybe, maybe you can share that wisdom Melvin about like, how you got to the place of defining success in a way that was very unique to you that honors all of those different areas. You know, this season of life, the different things that are that are the realities of of what’s going on, for you as an individual.

Dr. Melvin Varghese 8:16
First of all, you guys are putting me on some kind of pedestal. I do not want the pedestal. I very much like Katie, like to be honest, I’m still like navigating and figuring this out. Just on a personal level, I think I was not expecting to go here with this one, guys. But we’ll go here. You know, our daughter was born in 2018. And even before that, we went through a season of infertility. And when we found out we were pregnant, and we were like, you know, as with, you know, most parents, like over overjoyed. And every screening, every test was like perfectly normal. And then I was getting ready to go to Podcast Movement. And it was 32 and a half weeks. But early in Podcast Movement happened to be in Philadelphia that year. And it was like five in the morning, brushing my teeth. And then hear my wife scream, and then come out the door. And there’s like, you know, water on the floor. And I’m like, What in the world happen? And so, I mean, the next thing we know we’re jetting to the ER, and they basically said, we have to stay, they’re gonna try to keep the baby in from 32 and a half weeks to 36 weeks. We lasted until that Thursday, so four days, and basically forgot what the exact term was. But let’s enter like I think the wall was collapsing in on the baby. So to answer your question, Katie, there was a moment and think it was around 3:15 In the morning, where just like our prior. They had the doctors had come in and said we have to do emergency C section. And they basically told took my wife down to the operating room. And they said, this is like pre pandemic grade. So they were like, You can’t come in because like, the risk is too high. And so I’m like, literally in this hallway. And I can hear doctors, I can hear everything on the other side, but I don’t know what’s going on. I hear them say, like the baby’s out. But I don’t hear the baby crying. This is I think this must have only been for 60 to 90 seconds. But it felt so long, and come to find out the medication they have given to my wife to put her under somehow, it was not enough. And so they had to give more. And so I didn’t realize this, but those beds can actually like invert, to like, make the medication go in faster. And somehow our baby had ingested some of that. And so I don’t know, like, there was a moment where I didn’t know if I would lose my partner and my child. And I think when you go through a moment like that, it really makes you wonder, like, what is enough? And what is the purpose and meaning of it all, because you’re right, like left to my own kind of devices. I mean, child of immigrants, first generation, my parents literally said, you know, we are bringing you and your brother to the US because we want to give you better education opportunities. So my natural bent is to try to super achieve and try to do all of that. But this is the process, I can joke about it. But like, it is a lot of unlearning. And I don’t think I have it all figured out. Because it means like, I let go of some opportunities. Or I say like, you know, I’m not gonna take this traditional, like, W-2 employment opportunity, because, you know, being home, just certain time matters, or whatever it is, you know. So.

… 12:05
(Advertisement Break)

Curt Widhalm 12:07
I think there’s a theme that we’re all talking about here, it’s that we’ll put the source of the this quote in the show notes, I don’t remember it off the top of my head. But the quote that’s standing out to me is when I was young, I set out to change the world. And when I realized that I couldn’t change the world, I tried to change my town. And when I couldn’t change my town, I tried to change my family. And it wasn’t until I was much older that I realized that I could only change myself. And I feel like a lot of the conversations that Katie and I have had behind the scenes and getting ready for this episode and hearing you talk, because we’ve all done a lot of stuff. And we’ll probably continue doing it. But we have all set out to try and make therapy a better space make it more approachable for a lot of people. It’s really just about growing ourselves and about being able to define things for what is important and what is successful for us. And I know that I don’t always stay in like, Okay, this is just about me and growth kinds of things. But in your process, you’re talking about how your personal and your professional growth is very intertwined. There’s parts of you that shows up more publicly than others about this. And in giving people the permission to do that; What are your What are you finding? I mean, we hope that not everybody has to have such a life altering event to be able to stay in this. What is your advice for people?

Dr. Melvin Varghese 13:48
Yeah, I mean, I think so sharing something like I just shared, right, I would not have, there was no way I would have shared the kind of like in 2015, right. I don’t think I was I don’t think I’d done the inner work. I don’t think I was like, confident in my own self. Right. So I think the one advice I would just say is, like pace yourself, you know, all of it looks different for everybody. It’s always good to have people that you look up to and role models and all those things, but at the end of the day, the story is your own and the pace is your own. And I think the sooner you can intentionally embrace that, I think the better it is. But that that takes work, you know, and I still go back and forth. You know, sometimes, you know, like, oh, did I like overshare or but I tried to really do come from a place of like, how do I connect as a human and I also think you’re right like Curt like we I think is you, I mean I feel like we’re all kind of similar, right? Like so In terms of like, I got licensed in 2012. And I feel like just the way things evolve in the ways that I have grown as a person, I think I’m willing to share more because I, there’s a part of me, I feel like man, you know, I wish somebody had shared these kinds of things with me, you know, in a real way versus like, always presenting it like, it was always put together. You know.

Katie Vernoy 15:25
It’s interesting, because I think about, you know, even a few years ago, a lot of the ways that we even that Curt and I were teaching people to market themselves was this kind of curated authenticity, and sharing just the right amount and having the story be almost like a triumphant story. And listening to you talk about the birth of your daughter, and how that impacted you so deeply. It’s raw, it’s, it’s just like, this was a moment of revelation, it wasn’t like, and then I decided this, and this is my tidy little package, right? Like, it seems like as a society, we’re not putting up with that stuff anymore. Like that kind of false authenticity. And so I’m just curious for you we’re talking about like things are shifting and how you’re shifting. The curated authenticity, to me is something that felt really good because it was one step away from that really put together a blank slate therapist or health, health and wellness professional. But it just isn’t sitting anymore. And I know that there’s, you know, so many people, influencers doing all this stuff on TikTok, or on Instagram, or Facebook or whatever. And it seems like, as I’ve watched you, there’s been a shift and how you’re showing up and how you’re publicly kind of building this new era for yourself in public. Like your, your, your sharing, I read yesterday, I think it was yesterday about you know, like, I’m starting my practice. What do you guys think about this? You know, like, it’s something where you’re, you’re always just real. And I think that there’s a difference between that and that kind of cultured, curated authenticity. Where do you see this stuff going? Because you, you stay ahead, you do all these things? And how are you navigating that as you’re moving into a different stage of your career?

Dr. Melvin Varghese 17:30
Yeah, I call it failing forward. Because I don’t think any of us have a full clue on, you know, how to navigate on any of this. I mean, there’s so many things happening, both globally and in our field, right. I mean, AI is just the tip of the iceberg, right? I mean, who would have thought I mean, I got licensed in 2012 of like, AI. Somebody had mentioned AI, I would think like, I don’t know, like Terminator robots or something. Right? Not, you know, ChatGPT, that’s able to spit out all this stuff, right? And my thought is, with AI, especially information and content is easier than ever to produce, right. But I think what is going to get lost, or the people that have leaned into authenticity, I think, have an advantage, even though it doesn’t feel like right now, there is an advantage. I mean, even just sharing, like a personal sort of, just from a user perspective, you know, I’ve been getting quite active on LinkedIn in the last like, 14, 15 months. And in I’ve seen like, posts where I can tell like, they’re almost like, AI engineered post, right. Like they’ve got a very scheduled one of posts five, six times a week, kind of the, here’s the story, here’s this and I’m not sure if like, as a again, as a user, I find myself like clicking off of that. And I’m like, Okay, here’s, you know, 20a pieces of life advice that I knew at 31 that I didn’t know, a 20. But like, you know, I’m just kind of wondering if other people are having that experience. And so what I’ve been trying to do is actually dial back on content creation, but, but when I’m trying to create do it more from like, a place of being helpful, leading with heart, you know, the leading with heart is hard, because this is a piece I don’t know. I mean, having a young daughter, I mean very thoughtful or heavy, very thoughtful about like, we don’t I don’t share pictures of her any of that on social, right. Like there’s like a very safety element I’m like, aware of, but I don’t know. I mean, hopefully you know, when she’s 18 and she’s like coming in, I can’t believe you posted that YouTube video seven years ago, you know? So, I don’t know if that fully answers and I mean, I think it’s a lot of just trying to like walk gracefully through it but realizing you’re probably gonna stumble a little bit and but I do think like this general thing of, I don’t think more content is going to be the differentiator, I actually think it’s probably less content well, with more art.

Curt Widhalm 20:27
I know, I’ve experienced kind of a similar thing that, you know, in building out our podcast and just connecting with a lot of other professionals in the fields. And scrolling through Facebook or Instagram just felt layered, LinkedIn especially just felt like one Chicken Soup for the Soul story after another, where it was just like, here is one incredibly moving graphic after another, that all just kind of blended together and made it very inauthentic like that just kind of made it very difficult to continue regularly showing up in in that space. There’s a value that you’re speaking to here a personal value of what works best for you that you’re really leaning into.

Dr. Melvin Varghese 21:16
Yeah, I have a mantra, which is decades over days. And so that’s sort of the way that I think about, like building on anything. And part of decades over days is, I mean, even with my podcast, right? The first, when we first released in 2015, folks kept saying, like, you gotta release every week, because that’s how these download numbers are gonna go up. And I didn’t know anything, and they did go up. But then nobody told me about the cost of that, like trying to release an episode. Like, most weeks, I mean, it’s, it’s a formula for burnout, or just, it’s hard to find that creative spark to show up every week after week. Right. And so

Katie Vernoy 21:56
We know nothing about that. We’re still doing weekly. It’s crazy.

Dr. Melvin Varghese 22:03
Yeah, I mean, I know, I know, we’ve had chats about this. And it’s, yeah, I don’t know. It’s, it’s hard, right? It’s not like, you know, I have like, something all figured out. And even sometimes, like, I noticed, like, again, with like, LinkedIn, or just started on YouTube, and I’m like, man, you know, I post a little more good. Get this, or, Oh, I remember when this person started on LinkedIn with me, they have like, five times the amount of followers that I do, what happened? But you know, and like, how should I be posting more all of that stuff, stuff comes up. And sometimes I do fall into it. But I think the general thing I’ve tried to just lean into is what does success look like for me? How do I manage like, most of us as clinicians are this way, I have a conflicted relationship with social media. Right? So how do we like? How do I use this as a tool where I can share a message, but how do I not let it become a part of my life? I mean, I can even share like a little personal story. When I first started on LinkedIn, this was probably about two months in, it’s like, so excited. And I was like, I’m gonna post on whatever, Monday, Wednesday, Friday. There was like, one time, literally, I had auto scheduled a post out. And I’m sitting in our, our daughter’s park like school parking lot on LinkedIn. And because I downloaded the LinkedIn app on my phone, waiting to engage with my folks. And I’m like, at like, 8:45am. In the morning, I’m like, What are you doing. Like, this is absurd. Like, you know, like this should not. Yeah, it’s not the way and I don’t know, I mean, it’s hard. It’s really hard. Because that stuff does I mean, there is signaling at the end of it, right? There is a certain signal you’re putting out. And we are all I think, gravitate towards success and looking for models, and you know, all that stuff. And yeah, there’s another great article to share with you guys. It’s written by Wil Reynolds, will is CEO of Seer Interactive here in Philly. And he has a two part and it’s all about what is enough. It’s a really interesting article about what if you have achieved all of the quote unquote, things you wanted to achieve, but it doesn’t leave you happy? And what does that mean? And so on a great article. It’s been a very grounding, you know how to reference off and on.

… 24:38
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Katie Vernoy 24:40
So, jokes aside, I know that you shifted to seasons for your podcast, and you’ve also gone off of different social media platforms or chosen not to go on social media platforms. And you’ve been very thoughtful about it. And so I would like a little bit more information kind of of your decision making process, even if it was chaotic, and just kind of like how that how you how you were making your decisions now of what you’re doing, when you’re doing it, and what are the trade offs that you’re paying attention to?

Dr. Melvin Varghese 25:14
Yeah, I think this is a really, really good question. Again, I’m like figuring this out. I think there’s a probably a couple of frameworks. So I’m 41 now, and I think a lot about at 51 I don’t want to be doing this kind of heavy lifting. And so one big thing I try to think about is, what are platforms where the effort that you put in compounds over time, even if I have to step away, so like, for example, podcasting, right? Our episodes get found weeks, months, years later, right? YouTube is another great example. Right, so, you know, owned by Google. Right? That stuff. So I leaned into those kinds of platforms, where I called them like, relationship deepening platforms. And ones that were the effort compounds later. I think the reality is, let’s just take podcasting, and YouTube, they take time to build an audience, right? It’s not like unless you’re like, have some established huge credibility. It’s not like you release one episode, and it’s like, you know, 1000 downloads or something.

Katie Vernoy 26:27

Dr. Melvin Varghese 26:28
So, you usually need one of these other platforms. I call them like discovery platforms. So these are basically platforms where people are hanging out that you can use to drive people from that discovery platform to the relationship platform. So practically, what this means is, I use LinkedIn as sort of a discovery platform. And then I, you know, lean pretty heavy into podcasting. And now we’re starting on YouTube. And so those are the relationship deepening platforms. But ultimately, I’m trying actually, to move the folks that resonate the most with my message on an email list, because I’ve learned this the hard way. You know, we have a Facebook group that I started concurrently, in 2015. I invited like, 40 of my colleagues from, you know, various trainings, and grad school and all this stuff. And I’ve seen and I remember those early days, like when meta Facebook was, like, really emphasizing Facebook groups, right? So pretty much any post you made in there, you would see it. And I’ve gotten the other side of it where, you know, now it’s like, seems like it’s very de emphasized. Right, and the reach has really lessened. So, you know, either I think the Facebook group is around 9700 members, but the last week, we’ve had this weird thing, but typically, I would be very surprised if like, of the 9700, we’re getting like five to 10% reach that’s like, good, you know. So I’m like, I don’t know that I want to play that game when I’m 51 or 61. So I don’t know that fully answers it. But I’m basically what I’ve come to realize is I can probably handle max three social media platforms at one time. But again, that’s been built up over time, right. So I did eight years of podcasting. And then we added LinkedIn in the last couple of years. And then now we’re doing YouTube. But YouTube just seemed as sort of makes sense, just because it’s just turning the video on, you know, and then getting it edited. So, yeah, and then also, I felt like, I mean, YouTube is going so big on podcasts. Right. And that’s, I think it’s an interesting, it’s an interesting play, you know, so.

Curt Widhalm 28:54
Where you’re at in your career, where we’re at, where we have a lot of, you know, this decades starting to be built up, we even have a fair amount of privilege in being able to plan out, you know, from 41 to 51. For those of our audience who are earlier in their career, who might feel more of the urgency to have to respond to things, what’s your advice to them?

Dr. Melvin Varghese 29:21
Urgency to respond like got on social?

Curt Widhalm 29:23
Urgency to build urgency to need to get some of the payoff sooner or to be able to whether it moved from an agency into their own practice or to establish themselves to put themselves onto the path of Melvin, or a Curt, or a Katie.

Dr. Melvin Varghese 29:43
Yeah. I mean, I feel like I know that the investment into mental health in Silicon Valley. I think that’s like a something I think a lot of therapists are thinking about, right. I do feel like there are tools now available now, if you’re a clinician getting started out, and that wants to kind of go into solo practice, I don’t think that was available. I mean, I remember when I was in the group practice, like the option was basically either do private pay, or try to get credentialed with each of these panels. And it just seemed like a very long and almost like nightmare situation where if you made one mistake, you were gonna get rejected. Or, you know, I mean, I mean, there’s a bunch of these companies, I’m sure what you guys have talked about them, you know, Alma, Headway. I think those are like the the two big ones, right? If you do want to go down that route, where, yeah, where you don’t want to start a practice. But you know, you don’t want to get fully through that insurance credentialing. But I also know, like each of these companies, I mean, there’s stuff you got to be really judicious and navigate about too, and just broadly, right, and I think if you just do any sort of whatever company and just do on Reddit, like you’ll find some, you know, conversations, I think that just, to me, it’s like just, I fault no one for whatever decision because at the end of the day, like people will have to provide a livelihood and figure out stuff. And everyone’s got unique nuances to think about. But I think it’s also wise to try to gather as much information so you can make an informed decisions.

Katie Vernoy 31:22
You’ve moved into a new stage of your own career where you’re going to start seeing clients again. And that’s a big decision. How’d you get there?

Dr. Melvin Varghese 31:34
That was a big decision. Yeah, I, you know, I created a longer video on this like, a couple of weeks ago, still pretty new and fresh in my mind. It’s obviously been something I’ve been thinking about. So you know, I went full time with STC during the pandemic. And I realized a couple of things. One, I missed the work. I genuinely miss the the therapy work. I think the second thing is a feel like there’s some wisdom in having a clinical arm now with so much money getting thrown in into AI and into Silicon Valley. Our colleagues trust us, you know, and at the end of the day, I feel like it’s getting harder and harder for me to like, distinguish between like, is this a company that I want, like to back or be connected with, without having a clinical arm? So that’s like the third one. And then I think that the third reason is, I just think there’s, we’re in a different time post pandemic. You know, during the early days of the pandemic, there was a lot of panic. And then in the years after, I think there was a influx of financial resources that folks had. There was stimulus checks or whatever it was right or not traveling as much. And so they just had more discretionary income. I wanted like to diversify a little bit. Again, my, I think, for me personally, like, from an energy perspective, 75-80% of the energy will still stay with Selling the Couch. But I think it’s not quite clear. But I do have a gut feeling that all of it will kind of line up like the me doing the clinical work will help you make better content for STC; me, doing STC will help me to do better clinical work.

Katie Vernoy 33:27
How are you thinking about setting up your practice this kind of second time around or designing your niche or that kind of stuff? Because this is adding a business where they’re really, you know, you were doing it, you’ve only really been doing one business at a time typically. Right?

Dr. Melvin Varghese 33:40
That I think is honestly, the biggest source of anxiety that I have, because I do know, I know you guys understand this. I know many of folks listening understand this, to be able to do this. It’s an incredible privilege. Right. And I do feel like we are like gatekeepers for our profession. And it’s a wonderful privilege. And yet at the same time, I’m like keenly aware of like, people are looking to us of like, how are they managing this? Right? And so, yeah, I mean, how am I managing it? I do have a little I do have a fair amount of anxiety. Even. I feel like it definitely lessened in the last week, but for about two weeks there I had really bad insomnia, worried about like, Okay, this has got to be two different LLCs, two different bank accounts, two different everything. Right. And I know I’m really good with singular focus. But I think I’ve also come to realize I think the this initial stage right about getting a LLC going through the state board, like doing Psypact, all this stuff like this is stuff I’m not going to have to do regularly, you know, but I think that’s part of it, too. It’s like the overwhelm of that. Am I thinking about it? Like, I feel again, I’ll probably you fell forward a lot of this stuff I know. I know, I’ll probably, you know, my, my goal is right now somewhere between like one to four clients, you know like to charge you know, higher rates and specifically the niches and all of that that stuff. The one thing I’ve picked up from a lot of these podcasts conversations is niches are something that constantly evolve. And I think sometimes when we’re first starting out, there’s this pressure to have it certain. And if we pick the quote, unquote, wrong thing, we’re like stuck in some sort of hole that we can never get out of kind of thing. I felt a lot of that in the last two weeks, like, okay, and even right, practically, right. I think one logical thing for me is like working with founders or on you know, like whether that’s and founders of color, venture backed founders, founder of dads kind of managing both, that’s like one logical area. The other logical area is I mean, I know, they’re don’t think there are a ton of Indian psychologists, you know, male, Indian male psychologists particularly right, so I have a real heart for second gen, like, Asian and Indian Americans. And so there’s stuff that I would love to, you know, specifically kind of work on, primarily with that population, but not necessarily. I know, like many of us are entering, like, caregiving for parents that have terminal illnesses. And grief and loss has been like an interesting one that I’ve really wanted to explore things related to that. I think there’s, like death of a parent, I think it’s a big one. The other big thing, and I alluded to it at the very beginning was we went through our own fertility journey. And I would love to think about and work with men navigating the fertility journey, because I remember going through this process, and I felt so it felt so it was so hard to figure out how to support my spouse when I myself didn’t know. And I felt so overwhelmed. And yet, looking back, like that ability to stay composed through that whole journey is such a critical piece of it, you know? And yet, what I’ve noticed is there aren’t a ton of those conversations happening. So.

Curt Widhalm 37:26
Where can people find out more about you and all of the wonderful projects that you’re putting out into the world?

Dr. Melvin Varghese 37:33
Of course, it’s over at And then my private practice site is at

Curt Widhalm 37:41
And we will include links to those in our show notes over at Join us in our Facebook group, the Modern Therapists Group and continue to listen to us weekly as Katie and I continue to somehow still keep finding some of the creativity and we appreciate all of your support. And until next time, I’m Curt Widhalm, with Katie Vernoy and Dr. Melvin Varghese.

… 38:07
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