Reimagining Therapy Reimagined
Curt and Katie chat about their decision to step back from the Therapy Reimagined Conference and what they will be focusing their energy on moving forward. We explore how we came to this decision and the importance of examining what is working in your business practice. We also talk about how other Modern Therapists can get involved in the Therapy Reimagined movement.
It’s time to reimagine therapy and what it means to be a therapist. To support you as a whole person and a therapist, your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy talk about how to approach the role of therapist in the modern age.
In this episode we talk about:
- Taking a step back and looking at what the mission for Therapy Reimagined is.
- Why we decided to take a step back from the Therapy Reimagined Conference.
- What we will be focusing our energy on in place of the conference.
- How and what you can begin advocating for to help improve the field.
- Factors that get in the way of advocacy.
- Ways to get involved with Therapy Reimagined.
Our Generous Sponsors:
Turning Point is a financial planning firm that’s focused exclusively on serving mental health professionals. They’ll help you navigate all the important elements of your personal finances, like budgeting, investing, selecting retirement plans, managing student loan debt and evaluating big purchases, like your first home.
And because they specialize in serving therapists in private practice, they’ll help you navigate the finances of your practice, as well. They’ll help you navigate bookkeeping, analyze the financial implications of changes like hiring clinicians or diversifying your income sources. They’ll even help you consider strategies like the S-Corp tax election.
Visit turningpointHQ.com to learn more and enter the promo code Modern Therapist for 30% off their Quick Start Coaching package.
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Who we are:
Curt Widhalm is in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is the cofounder of the Therapy Reimagined conference, former CFO of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University, a former Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, 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: http://www.curtwidhalm.com
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. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt’s youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more at: http://www.katievernoy.com
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:
Voice Over by DW McCann https://www.facebook.com/McCannDW/
Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano http://www.crystalmangano.com/
Full Transcript (autogenerated):
Curt Widhalm 00:00
This episode of Modern Therapist Survival Guide is brought to you by Turning Point
Katie Vernoy 00:00
Turning Point financial life planning helps therapists confidently navigate every aspect of their financial life from practice financials and personal budgeting to investing Tax Management and student loans. Visit TurningPointhq.com. To learn more and enter the promo code Modern Therapist for 30% off their quickstart coaching package.
Curt Widhalm 00:24
Listen at the end of the episode for more information.
You’re listening to the Modern Therapist 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 00:43
Welcome back monitor therapists. This is the Modern Therapist Survival Guide. I’m Curt Widhalm, with Katie Vernoy. And this is the podcast that is all things therapists, things that we do things we look at our profession about the struggles that we face coming into this fields, and about this time of year is when we’re always coming out of our therapy reimagined conference. And some years we’ve recorded a live podcast at the conference. But this is the time of year when we reflect on what our mission is, and how we’re going about that evaluating if we’re being effective or not. And one of the things that we announced at this year’s therapy reimagined conference is that we’re not doing a therapy reimagined conference in 2022, that we have decided that our conference is going to go and live on a farm upstate, where it can have plenty of room to roam around and play with other conferences. But we are looking at, and part of the decision to not who is is the tremendous amount of time that it takes for our very small team to put together an event that is a snapshot in time of a lot of work that we do, it’s hundreds, if not 1000s, of man hours to put on an event that Katie and I feel that some of that time can be actually better done to further admission in some other ways. And taking a step back as far as 2022 goes, does allow for us to refocus on our mission.
Katie Vernoy 02:31
Yes, and I think some of it came into stark relief, because we were putting on a conference two years in a row during a pandemic, with planning the conference numerous times, interacting around, you know, the COVID and the other stuff, but also zoom fatigue, and it just kind of the general malaise that I think has set in on all of us. And so, to me, I found that when we were getting ready for this year’s conference, there was a lot I was really excited about. But there was a lot where I felt like, if I had more time I could do x if I had more time right now that wasn’t dedicated to this conference, I could really do more for the mission that we’ve set for ourselves. And so and I know Kurt, you were feeling the same way. So I use is cuz I don’t want to speak for you. But um, the things that I really see, being really important for us is looking at reevaluating how we’re using our resources, time, team money, all of those things, because there’s a lot that’s happening in the field of mental health right now. I’m sure we’ll do another workforce podcast around people leaving the field. And there’s also a lot of initiatives that are starting to come forward that may help therapists but certainly are designed to try to make therapy more accessible. And so there’s just a lot where I think we need boots on the ground, to be able to make sure that our profession is actually going in the right direction that we’re using this time to make a difference versus being so stuck in the grind of whether it’s our practices or a big annual conference or whatever. When Kurt and I were talking, I thought it was important that we actually for folks who haven’t been with us that long, we’ve got a lot of new listeners lately, to really let people know what our mission is. We have a website that is dedicated to the podcast and to the therapy reimagined mission and so I’m I’ll read kind of the main four tenants that we put up on this website, but we’ll also link to it in the show notes. The four things that we’re really looking at is create sustainable careers supporting sound business practices, the incorporation of technology and adequate pay for all therapists. The second one is improved education to reflect modern practices support, support high quality clinical work, trained therapists to care for themselves and address the diversity in our communities. Increased representation across the field, in supporting inclusion on our stages in our classrooms and in our offices. And, you know, kind of the one of the moment improve access to mental health care without requiring sacrifice, financial instability and burnout from therapists. So there’s a lot there. It’s a very broad mission. It’s more just like, how do we make our profession better? But I think there’s a lot that we could be doing here and, and so to me, I think for this episode, we kind of turn to what are we looking at? How do we do this? How do we help our fellow Modern Therapists to make our profession better?
Curt Widhalm 05:50
And but we have a number of projects that we’re working on that we’ll be announcing it has they come up, because one of the things that we have learned is get things kind of figured out before we
Katie Vernoy 06:05
very true, very true, we get so excited, and then we get to many projects. So yes, we will, we will wait to announce the ones till we’re really ready.
Curt Widhalm 06:14
The podcast isn’t going to change. And in fact, it’s probably might allow us to become a lot better and a lot more focused and being able to bring messages that especially leading up to conference time, some of our podcasts, we have to record out quite a bit of head of time. So that way you can put on a conference. But
Katie Vernoy 06:36
yeah, we that little logistical thing of Hey, for the next two months, most of our focus will be the conference, that we have freedom to not do that this year.
Curt Widhalm 06:44
We’re we’re not going anywhere. As far as the podcast goes, we’re going to be adding out some other things, we started a little online place for some continuing education, if that is something that we’ll probably continue on with our conference that will allow us to bring some content to you and some new and other ways. Yes. And that takes off a couple of some of these mission points as far as providing still a good place for improving education for therapists and being able to bring what I think a lot of other conferences have shied away from, which is content about running business practices better.
Katie Vernoy 07:27
But also topics that push the envelope. It’s interesting, because for me, I feel like we’ve been so immersed in our conference segment, which is misfits, outliers pushing against the status quo, like that just feels so endemic that I’m like, Oh, well, everybody has topics like this. And I think that’s not actually true. Right. So continuing to bring new perspective to the clinical work to how people show up in the room, so that that’s still going to be happening. And I like to think about that as like a learning community where we find different new and different ways to learn together through the podcast through this learning platform that we built out for the conference. I think that’s all going to be really fun, regardless of exactly what it looks like, which we still don’t know. So we’re not going to promise.
Curt Widhalm 08:11
One of the things that I’m really looking forward to re establishing in our work is piece of the advocacy of really getting boots on the ground. And Katie mentioned that we’re working on another workforce issue. We’ll we’ll get into some of these details here in a little bit. But I’m seeing across the country, a lot more bills going through legislators about dealing with mental health workforce shortages. And knowing that we can’t rely solely on the professional organizations to be able to voice what it is that we actually need as workers that beyond getting like an extra Subway sandwich, you know, in an appreciation lunch once a month, that there are really structural problems with the way that our field is funded, and working with legislators outside of legislative season, when they’re busy focusing on hundreds of bills. Yes, this is where some of the free time that we have not in planning a next year’s conference right now is we’re going to come up with some bullet points for you to actually start talking with your legislative representatives about in order to deal with this. You know, I can’t wait to record this next episode. But it is going to be something where there is a call to action that’s necessary because just as a little preview, some states are looking at having the National Guard come in to staff, residential facilities. Yeah, that’s not good. So these are the kinds of things that allow for our focus to take some time into actually start making some impact to leave this as a better profession for those going forward.
Katie Vernoy 10:05
I think advocacy and activism can feel daunting. And I think it can also feel exhausting to be an activist or an advocate for your own profession. It’s like, Hey, I gave it the office, so to speak. And I think for Kurt, and for me, I think this is clearly a huge passion of ours, we’ve been involved at the state level with our professional association with our board. And I think it’s something where we can do some of the legwork, and I’m sure there’s others like us out there that maybe can do the legwork in other states. And we could potentially put together a repository of information so people could activate on a local level on a national level on an international level and recognize we’ve got listeners from all over the place. And so I think it’s, it’s something where sharing information and doing the part that you can, maybe it’s not always sufficient, but it’s certainly good enough.
Curt Widhalm 11:06
And this comes across not just in legislative bills, right? Sure. One of the episodes that not one of the episodes, the absolute most popular episode that we’ve done, is about not selling out to companies like betterhelp. Yes. And some of the advocacy and stuff that we need to do is going beyond just complaining about companies Yes. And being able to turn that energy into something productive, based on the download numbers on this episode. This is something that really resonates with our community, we crafted our therapy, reimagined conference, talk around surviving and thriving in your own practices in a world where these apps are coming out. There’s more steps that we can do. And it’s well beyond the reaches of licensing boards, it’s well beyond the reaches, which professional organizations are even starting to focus on. Yeah, that really does take more than the two of us clicking on every betterhelp ad that we see trying to take them down $1 at a time and advertising money.
Katie Vernoy 12:24
Oh, dear. There we go. Again, I think the thing that I’m hearing you say current and I think this is what’s what’s really important is that yes, there are things that need to happen at a legislative level at a policy level. And then there’s kind of how we spend our dollars, so to speak, or how we spend our energy. And so one of the things that I’m really looking at, and I’ve been talking to some fellow modern therapists, and I’m going to be doing some more research. And I know Kurt, you’re you’re involved in this as well is really looking at how do we make a decision on where we work, who we work with, where we spend our money, because those things are actually hugely impactful on on what flies, better help and other organizations, conglomerates, you know, whatever, would not survive if we didn’t work there. And so I think it’s something where being able to get more information to everyone so that we can make those decisions, I think is something that’s important to us. But we also are just two people, with a few people helping us out. And so we can’t look everywhere at once. And so as always, we’re always saying like, hey, if there’s something that we need to be looking at, if there’s something you’re looking at that you want to talk with us about on the podcast, please send us a message podcast at therapy, reimagined, calm, but I think it’s something where sharing information so that we’re making more informed decisions is something that we can do much better when we have more time. And I think if you’re listening and taking action based on that information, it has a ripple effect that I think is really impactful for our profession.
Curt Widhalm 14:07
And one of the things we hear at the conference from our attendees year after year, especially people who are attending the first time as Where were you earlier in my career.
Katie Vernoy 14:19
And that will say we’ve been here.
Curt Widhalm 14:22
And you know, the more the longer that we do the stuff that we do, that is becoming part of my answers. And that not having other people entering in our profession feeling the same way. And this is the call to action of being able to help us being able to take some of the steps that we do. And being able to do that in your own community is your own professional organizations, your own licensing boards, your own even therapists, culture and community around you does make it to where It’s not the same complaints over and over. Part of what Katie and I thought, when we were originally launching the podcast back in 2017, was, if we just start talking about some of the issues that we hear in the same conversations over and over again, and we record them, then maybe this can serve as a resource for people to not have to ask the same questions over and over again. And it’s worked a little bit, it helps to be able to post an old podcast up and say, here’s our take on this from when we talked about this before. And in some areas, it has really served to shift some of the conversations that some of this deals with, like our work on developing a statement about paying pre licensees that, really being able to see our profession, in some respects, be able to stand up and be like, we have master’s degrees or doctorate degrees, we should get paid for the work that we do. And part of this is how much I recognize that, for a profession like ours, where the median age is a lot higher than it is in a lot of other professions, we hold on to a lot of old ways. And a lot of the things that is frustrating that we have had the same conversations over and over again, is that the more vocal modern therapists are, the more that we can start to sway what the attitudes about our profession really are. I’m sensing that we are getting this tipping point. And the reason that I know this is the more that I hear from more established seasoned therapists about how we’re making it harder for people to get hired at low rates. Yeah, that people are asking for things like, oh, living wage, rather than working for free. But I know that this tide is changing. A lot of this is beyond what we do. But sure, it’s giving the permission to be able to make this a sustainable career. And that is very much part of our mission. And we see this in a number of ways. But hopefully, it’s those people who are listening to us those people who are coming to our conference for the first time, we’re able to take away some of those other complaints from future therapists to be able to say, there was a time when you guys didn’t get paid.
Katie Vernoy 17:38
Yeah, that would be cool. Yeah, I don’t know what to expect as far as what’s reasonable, or not even reasonable. Maybe that’s not the right word. But what, what’s realistic to expect as far as the amount of changes we can make, and I know we’ve talked about how to approach change at different times, whether it’s working within the system, or burning it all down and starting fresh, or whatever it is. And I think, to me have been one of those therapists that has been around for quite some time, it’s just blows my mind that I’ve been a therapist for 20 years. And it’s something where I’ve burned it down, I’ve quit things and a half. And I’ve also worked within the system. And I don’t know that either of those things can work without the other completely. I think there needs to be people working in both, both arenas making these differences. And I’m not sure how much can be done it within within the remainder of my career, I’ve got you know, I’ve been a therapist for 20 years, I’ll probably be a therapist for another 20 years. So I’m right smack dab in the middle. I don’t know what’s reasonable to expect. And maybe this is just me feeling reflective and a little bit sentimental after the conference is finished. But I’m excited about the work we can do. And I also am trying to stay more cautiously optimistic about what’s actually possible.
Curt Widhalm 19:11
And I’m looking at it as fast not doing conference. That way we can focus on is more sustained effort, you know, avoiding the Tony Robbins effect, you know, where people go to the, you know, great motivational speakers, and they walk out and they’re like, I’m gonna change everything about my life.
Katie Vernoy 19:33
Everything is gonna be amazing now because I was at a three day conference.
Curt Widhalm 19:38
And people have done research on people who attend Tony Robbins events. It’s why it’s named after him. Yeah. That effect wears off after about 72 hours.
Katie Vernoy 19:49
Oh, geez. The length of that of the conference maybe is the length of time that you remain, you keep that sustain that that effort and so
Curt Widhalm 19:59
what We want is for us to be able to not just focus on creating kind of this groundswell of energy that everyone returns back to their normal lives, but is able to kind of throughout the year, hold some consistent pressure on the community around them, you know, they
Katie Vernoy 20:20
can’t escape us, they will always have us all the time, and we will constantly be working.
Curt Widhalm 20:26
Well, I mean, it’s, it’s the things like, you know, you’re talking about having left agencies in a house before. And yes, but it’s also taking a hard look at ourselves and the culture that we bring, because I look at some of the Facebook groups where somebody, you know, announces that they’re leaving a group, because they’re not satisfied with the way that the community support is. And looking at the atrocious way that the Facebook communities respond in those situations, tells me that there’s a lot of therapists that are just fine, being part of that toxicity.
Katie Vernoy 21:09
And the status quo. Yeah, and I think there are times when the people leaving and a half are actually part of the toxic culture, too. So we’re not commenting on specific people who have left in a half. But I think it’s it’s something where the response, I guess, regardless of whether someone leaving is part of the toxicity, or whether the environment is toxic, or both, the response is to sustain the status
Curt Widhalm 21:36
quo, the same status quo that everyone complains about.
Katie Vernoy 21:40
Yes. So I think consistent effort, it building a consistent culture of learning and growing and challenging the status quo and working to combat complacency. I think I like that idea. I also am just acknowledging that people may need to opt out at times, because it is a lot of work to sustain this type of effort to keep pushing forward. Especially if there are other things that people are interested in advocating for and activating for. So we recognize that but we’re gonna maintain consistency are gonna be there. Week after week, with the podcast month after month, with whatever else we’re doing, we’re going to be pushing forward these concepts to make all of our careers better.
Curt Widhalm 22:28
And a final note from me on this is, this is also permission for you that we believe in the things that we talked about on this podcast, we do them in our practices, and part of what you’re witnessing is reevaluating what’s working for your business and what’s not. And Katie, and I came to the conclusion that conferences, not helping us in the way that we want to spread our mission. It’s something where it’s okay to take a step back. And really what we’re giving ourselves permission on, is we come out of therapy, reimagined, 2021, Hayes is you don’t have to have everything figured out at every step along the way. Part of redeveloping your business plan is looking at what’s working and what’s not, we’re in that phase of, we know what’s not working for us, and gonna be sitting down and clarifying and continuing to bring you great content.
Katie Vernoy 23:30
And a final note from me, because I think part of our assessment and evaluation is that it’s the two of us and a few other people that have been doing a lot of this work. And we’ve had opportunities and I hope, have taken advantage of opportunities to collaborate with a number of people, with our speakers with our sponsors and partners. We’ve collaborated with a lot of people. But the word that kept resonating for me as I was thinking about how we move forward is co creation. And so my call to action is stay involved. But let us know if you actually want to take a step forward with us and help us with creating content or researching something or spotlighting an area of our profession that needs a closer look. You know, definitely reach out to us but Kurt and I have each have our own experiences and perspectives and and we need to broaden that in the work that we do. And so if you want to be part of this co creation of the next steps, please reach out and let us know.
Curt Widhalm 24:39
Until next time, I’m Kurt, Katie Vernoy.
Katie Vernoy 24:43
Thanks again to our sponsor turning point,
Curt Widhalm 24:46
we wanted to tell you a little bit more about our sponsor turning points. Turning Points is a financial planning firm that’s focused exclusively on serving mental health professionals to help you navigate all the important elements of your personal finances like budgeting investing Selecting retirement plans, managing student loan debts and evaluating big purchases, like your first home, and because they specialize in serving therapists and private practice, so help you navigate the finances of your practice as well. They’ll help you navigate bookkeeping, analyze the financial implications of changes, like hiring clinicians or diversifying your income sources will even help you consider strategies like S corp tax election,
Katie Vernoy 25:24
And for listeners of MTSG you’ll receive 30% off the price of their quickstart coaching intensive just enter promo code modern therapist when signing up. And don’t forget to visit TurningPointhq.com to download your free finance quickstart guide for therapists. Thank you
for listening to the modern therapist Survival Guide. Learn more about who we are and what we do at MTSGpodcast.com. You can also join us on Facebook and Twitter. And please don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss any of our episodes.