Dr. Angela Johnson is Chasing the Mind Series 1 of 5 Five Fierce Females | PoP 278

Five fierce females

Are you thinking about starting a private practice, but are doubting whether or not you can do it? Are you worried about how to get referrals? Do you not know what steps to take?

In this episode, Joe Sanok speaks with Dr. Angela Johnson about her journey of starting a private practice.

Podcast Sponsor


After your practice gets going and you’re getting your ideal client, it’s hard to know exactly what to do next. That’s why I started the Next Level Mastermind community. It’s where we get six people, who are achieving practice owners, together twice a month. As well, you get access throughout the month when you get stuck and you get to come to Slow Down School. It’s a way for you to be surrounded with people who are at that six-figure mark or higher, so that you can really have the support you need. To apply for the Next Level Mastermind, please go over to www.practiceofthepractice.com/apply.

Meet Angela Johnson

Dr. Angela Johnson has been practicing in the mental health field for over 15 years. She was licensed as a clinical psychologist in 2007. Dr. Johnson has had a varied career in forensic and clinical psychology, providing forensic assessments, diagnostic evaluations, cognitive and personality testing, as well as conducting individual and group treatment in clinical and correctional settings.

Dr. Johnson has provided diagnostic and risk assessments to the court in various capacities and has evaluated hundreds of offenders.  She is available to conduct forensic evaluations for both criminal and civil matters, and can provide expert testimony on issues of competence to stand trial and criminal responsibility, mental health commitment, mandated substance abuse treatment, sexual dangerousness, sex offender classification, and aid in determination of sentencing.

In addition to forensic assessment, Dr. Johnson provides psychotherapy for general mental health disorders, substance abuse disorders, sexual disorders, and personality disorders. She has experience working with individuals, couples, and she has extensive training in family systems.

Dr. Johnson has been a guest lecturer and professor at Roger Williams University. She is available to provide workshops in areas relevant to both clinical and forensic psychology. Dr. Johnson is currently writing a book; she co-hosts a podcast at Chasingthemind.com.

Angela Johnson’s Story

Angela has been a forensic psychologist for the last 10 years, mainly doing evaluations for the court. Yet, she wanted to transition into a practice that involved more clinical work. Angela is also interested in mentoring others.

In This Podcast


In this episode, the first of five episodes in the fierce females podcast series, Dr. Angela Johnson speaks about her journey into private practice. How she gained the confidence to take the leap and overcome imposter syndrome as well as the other challenges associated with starting a practice.

Motivation For the Tough Times

The following helped Angela gain the confidence to start her own private practice:

  • Relationship with others
  • Positive reputation

Steps to Starting a Private Practice

Angela took the following steps when setting up her private practice:

  • Location
  • Start practicing

“Meeting with people face-to-face helps a lot to gain referrals.”

Useful Links:

Meet Joe Sanok

private practice consultantJoe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.






Thanks For Listening!

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Podcast Transcription

File: PoP_278 Dr. Angela Johnson is Chasing the Mind Series 1 of 5 Five Fierce Females
Duration: 00:24:00:02

[START 00:00:00.02]

Joe Sanok: After your practice gets going and you are getting your ideal client, it’s hard to know exactly what to do next. That’s why I started the next level Mastermind community. It’s where we get six people that are high achieving practice owners together twice a month as well you get access to me throughout the month when you get stuck and to get to come to Slow Down School. It’s a way for you to be surrounded with people that are at that six figure mark or higher, so that you can really have the support you need. To apply for the Next Level Mastermind, please go over to www.practiceofthepractice.com/apply.


Joe Sanok: This is the Practice of the Practice Podcast with Joe Sanok, session #278.

[MUSIC] [INTRODUCTION] Joe Sanok: I am Joe Sanok your host here in the radio center two building in beautiful downtown Traverse City. I am so excited. We launched Next Level Practice just a few weeks ago to a small cohort of 50 and it’s amazing what we have done. We have been doing multiple webinars on starting a practice. We have pared people up into small groups. We have figured out kinks that we have in the systems and it’s amazing to hear people saying that this is the community they wanted. They feel so supportive. They don’t have to search around and wonder if they’re doing things right. We have a bunch of people that have already started getting new clients that have had their first client or have amped up their practice already. So it’s super exciting. So if you are brand new and you are interested in joining that next cohort, we are going to be launching that March 12th at 10 a.m. Last time we saw 35 of those spots in the first seven minutes and due to some technical things we didn’t sell out faster than that because I had screwed up the technology. But that will not happen on March 12th. We learned a lot from that first launch. So head on over to www.practiceofthepractice.com/invite if you want to be a part of that or at least just learn about if it’s a good fit for you. Well, this month, we are having a really fun series. It’s called Five Fierce Females, and we are having them all through February. In fact, these five females… frankly I’m flabbergasted that these five fierce females came on my show. They are fighters and so many faces of practice and I just can’t say enough about them. Let’s hear a couple of clips from these five fierce females that we are going to hear from in February.


“Taking that lead to, ‘Okay, now I’m going to not do that. I am going to put myself out there and hope I get these referrals, hope I make the connections that I need to make to get those opportunities to do this work.'”

“Self-care is a great idea, but it’s really not a perfect term, because we need to take care of each other.”

“Well, what do I do? I am only, like, 9 weeks in and I already have a wait list, and I don’t necessarily want to take on more days. I have two small children and so I had worked it a lot. I have started [00:03:14.26] that those [00:03:17.00] software product. And I also had a health background. I was pre-med as an undergraduate at Stanford, and I had done both in the US and abroad [00:03:26.05] health volunteer work.”

“We get so, like, ignited by all these different ideas. But I strongly encourage everyone listening, like, pick one. Pick one idea for the rest of Q4 and just have everything funneled to it.”

So without any further ado, I give you the first of Five Fierce Females in February, Dr. Angela Johnson.

[MUSIC] [AN INTRODUCTION TO THIS PODCAST EPISODE] Joe Sanok: Well, today on the practice of the practice podcast, we have Dr. Angela Johnson who is a mental health practitioner, who has been practicing for over 15 years. She graduated with her doctorate in clinical and forensic psychology from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology and has been licensed since 2007. She is currently writing the book, “A Date in the Dark Triad: How to Avoid Danger in Romance and Life.” She hosts a weekly podcast calling chasing the mind which explores the art and science of psychology and brings listeners into informed, yet informal conversations. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband Kevin and her sons Graham and Daniel, and she is also the mother of Tubarkley, a 104 pound labradoodle and has six chickens. Welcome to the Practice of the Practice Podcast.

Dr. Angela Johnson: Thank you so much. I am so glad to be here.

Joe Sanok: So first question. Do you name you chickens?

Dr. Angela Johnson: We did name them actually since we have six. And at the time we just had Graham. We each named two. And so Graham named his Joker and Lola.

Joe Sanok: [LAUGH] Now, are these egg chickens or are they soon to be meat chickens or just pets.

Dr. Angela Johnson: No, no. Eggs, eggs.

Joe Sanok: Egg? Okay. Well, that makes it easier if you name them to know that they are just egg chickens [LAUGH].

Dr. Angela Johnson: Right, right.

Joe Sanok: How long you have been into chickens.

Dr. Angela Johnson: I have wanted chickens forever. I don’t know, at least 10 years I wanted to have backyard chickens. I did think it’s fabulous. It’s great for kids. They understand a little bit about where we get out food and it’s about caring and nurturing for animals. And I just love fresh eggs.

Joe Sanok: Yeah, yeah. I know we have some friends that have chickens and their eggs are always just… even though we try to buy like organic eggs, they’re just, like the ones our friends bring over, just so much better.

Dr. Angela Johnson: Yeah, by the time the eggs get to the store, they have been hatched or they have been from the chicken for a couple of weeks. So they’re just not as fresh.

[MOTIVATION TO START OWN PRIVATE PRACTICE] Joe Sanok: Yeah, yeah. Awesome. Well, tell me little bit about your practice. I know you are part of the world changers challenge. We kind of connected through that. Tell me about your practice and how you got into psychology?

Dr. Angela Johnson: Well, I’ve been forensic psychologist primarily for the last about 10 years, doing evaluations for the court in some capacity. So my role has been primarily as an expert, doing evaluations. I go into court and testify in really high-stake trials around civil commitment and sometimes criminal matters. And I have kind of wanted to transition into doing a practice that incorporates more clinical work as well as some testing and assessment. And that’s sort of been the transition that I been making over this last about 6 months. [00:06:49.27] also would like to grow a practice where I have colleagues and people that I’m mentoring and providing opportunities for people to learn about how to do forensic evaluation and practice. So that’s kind of the shift I’m making in my career to more of a leadership or a mentoring role.

Joe Sanok: Yeah, I love interviewing people when they are in kind of various stages of practice because lots of times we will hear from people that have already kind of like have their ideal practice going and are in the midst of it. What was challenging for you as you made that shift?

Dr. Angela Johnson: Well, most of the work I had done up until this point as independent contractors. So I am a 1099 for someone, but I am giving consistent referrals and consistent work and taking that leap to “Okay, now I am going to not do that. I am going to put myself out there and hope I get these referrals, hope I make the connections that I need to make to get those opportunities to do this work.” That was kind of scary, and then also try to branch into these other areas that I really didn’t know anything about. I didn’t know how to get on insurance panels. I didn’t know how challenging all of that paperwork is and things like that. So that’s been hard because you spend a lot of time doing that and in your head you’re going, “Wait a minute. If I was just doing an evaluation, I would be like making money.” So it’s been hard to find that balance of kind of growing in a new direction, but also sustaining what I have already established.

Joe Sanok: Yeah, like what was helpful to as you felt that kind of scariness or uncertainty? What helped to get through that?

Dr. Angela Johnson: I have really good relationships with many of the attorneys that I have worked with over the years. As someone who was doing contracted work, I have… basically my primary evaluation has been to do [00:08:48.14] evaluations for sex offenders. And so depending on what my opinion is I either work for the prosecuting attorney or the defense attorney. And just over the years I just developed these great relationships with defense attorneys who really wanted me to go out on my own and primarily the defense experts. So I think having that encouragement and support and having worked [00:09:12.25] years to have developed a reputation that was positive and feeling like I had some credibility to then take that step I think really helped me.

[STEPS TO STARTING A PRIVATE PRACTICE] Joe Sanok: Yeah. What were some of the just nuts and bolts of setting up a practice that helped you get through that phase of startup?

Dr. Angela Johnson: Well, I think the first thing which is thinking about where I wanted to have my practice located. So, I live in a community south of Boston and there is this city center that is undergoing huge revitalization. They are putting in a new park and fountains. And there is all these business and development. And so I really wanted to be in the center of that, even though it’s really inconvenient right now because they are doing all these work. But I’m like walking distance to public transportation. I am about two blocks from a court house, which as a forensic psychologist is kind of important.

Joe Sanok: Right, right.

Dr. Angela Johnson: Probation is down the street for me. So I really wanted to be somewhere, kind of in the middle of it all and be really accessible. So that was kind of the first thing I have focused on and it is okay. So I found the great office right where I wanted it to be and then once I kind of had this space, I felt like there was more opportunity to kind of open up what I wanted to do. So I have done some veteran evaluations. I have been working with DCS, I have working with defense attorneys, and now I have this place where I can meet with people and go these things.

Joe Sanok: Now I know a question I get frequently is how to get referrals. It sounds like you already had quite the network when you launched your practice. But what recommendations would you have for people that are in more of that startup phase in regards to developing in those relationships?

Dr. Angela Johnson: I think going and meeting people is helpful. I just had a meeting this last week. There is a practice down the street and they’re a sex therapy group. So they primarily work with couples and people who are dealing with sexual issues in their relationships. But they provide training to individuals who want to become sex therapists, and part of that is learning about some of the things that I do. So working with people who have compulsive sexual behavior or who have [00:11:35.21] like interest. So just having that meeting and being like, hey, here this is what you do, but this is what I am going to be doing. So opening the doorway for referrals to kind of both directions is one way I think to try and get some business.

Joe Sanok: Yeah. When you were first getting going, was it hard to kind of get in the door to talk to those attorneys?

Dr. Angela Johnson: I don’t think so. I think that actually, especially what I do in forensic work, it’s such a niche kind of thing that they are always looking for people. You know, they want to work with people. They want to find people to work with and they don’t always know who to go to. So you bridging, you know, making the overture can really be helpful and I [00:12:22.07] always carry my cards with me out everywhere. I mean I’ll pass them out at, like, dinner. If I run into someone, I think here if you need someone call. It’s like, I do that. I am also really active on social media with the podcast, with colleagues, other clinicians that I went to school with who are in different positions. I have friends of mine who I went to school with who work in the department of mental health, who work in the departments of developmental disabilities and the department of social services. So, you know, letting them all know I am available. I am here if you need evaluations.

Joe Sanok: What you think gets in the way of people saying, I am available. Because I think there’s a lot of mindset when I hear from folks saying, I am nervous today. They are not going to want to refer to me or there is all this kind of internal self-talk. It sounds like you felt pretty confident that you’re offering something quality and that wasn’t an issue for you or maybe you had to work through that. Tell me little bit about that kind of internal dialogue that people [00:13:22.10] have around rejection when they reach out to people they could refer to them.

Dr. Angela Johnson: I think you have to know what you have to offer and that’s true of all of us. We have to know what our skill set is. But I also think sometimes we undermine what we actually do know. You know that imposter syndrome, like who am I, to say that I am an expert in that, isn’t it. And honestly I think you kind of have to beat that voice into submission at some level because if you’ve been doing your research and you are up on a literature and you’re putting yourself out there, then you know you have to trust that your skills are sufficient for what you are asking to do. I got an evaluation recently that are… they are not what I have been doing for the last 10 years, but all the things that I have been doing, I apply all of those same skills to whatever the new assignment is. So I am doing a piece in immigration. Well, I don’t know anything about immigration law. I have been dealing with a completely different set of the laws. But I consulted with the attorney. And I went through all the good clinical practice and forensic practice that you do with any client. And by doing that then you are able to give the person that you are working with, and not just what they are asking for, but you’re bringing all these wealth of information from everything else you have ever done.

Joe Sanok: So it’s really looking at what your skills already are and how you can apply those in a new situation.

Dr. Angela Johnson: Exactly, exactly.

[ADVICES FROM DR. ANGELA JOHNSON] Joe Sanok: So for people that are growing a practice, what advice do you have for them, kind of, as you are learning that in the midst of growing the practice?

Dr. Angela Johnson: Well, I think one thing and I think I have gotten this from you and listening to your podcast is really trying to focus your attention on the things that you do well and that you love to do. I think that for me, one of the things that I have done that I probably need to change a little bit is maybe saying yes to too much or trying to get too many pans cooking at once. Because there is a fear of like I don’t have all of these different things going, what if I can’t make the rent, what if I can’t pay the people that are working or me? So for me there has been an impetus to like, okay, I’ll do this, I’ll do that, I’ll do this over here, I will say yes to that. And sometimes, that means to like real exhausting and burnout, and you don’t know what you are doing. [LAUGH]

Joe Sanok: Right. Right. [00:16:00.11] the one thing and it talks about how you can go twelve different directions one inch or you can go one direction a foot. And that whole idea of finding that one thing, that’s going to make everything else easier I think is something that I personally have to keep going back to and saying like, what’s my one thing this year. And so two years ago, it was if I get more consulting clients at a rate that’s two to three times by counseling practice rate, that’s going to make it easier to take other jumps. And then this past year, it was all about going from one-on-one consulting to one-to-many. So it was launching a Mastermind group which then allows me to make a higher hourly, but then also I am serving more people. And so then in 2018, it’s well, how do I really create something that’s a game changer for the field for people starting a practice. That is the all inclusive how to start a practice community, and there’s more there I am going to be revealing in the podcast about that, but to focus in on what’s that thing that will totally disrupt and change your life and putting as much of your best energy into that. And then everything else gets your leftovers. For me, that’s been such a mindset shift that’s helped me scale so much quicker.

Dr. Angela Johnson: Yeah, and I think it’s hard to because on one hand the things that you develop expertise and because you’ve been doing a long time, especially in forensic work, I think, can lead a little bit to burn out because you know these are hard cheeses. These are not… and people who are doing counseling with people with real significant mental health issues or trauma. And I think they can relate that some of the work is really hard, and so you want to diversify a little bit, in part because you want to be able to sustain doing the hard work. But you can’t go too far because then you don’t have the energy that you need to do what you’ve committed to.

Joe Sanok: Yeah, and I think that’s a really good point because even if kind of your main bread and butter something you love if it’s not something that you can scale or maximize, you definitely want to find those things that also would give you a different kind of energy. And so yeah, like your work, if you did 60 hours a week of that, yeah you make more money, but you die. Like that would not be sustainable. And so looking at what are those things that give you life outside of maybe some of that assessment work is really important. For you, what are some of those things like how have you diversified things, so that you can sustain and not burn out?

Dr. Angela Johnson: I think the podcast has been terrific. I mean I know there are people who monetize it and are able to use that as income stream. For me, it’s really just about having a creative outlet to talk about other subjects in psychology that I don’t necessarily get to interact with on a daily basis. So I get my brain moving in a new way, in a new direction, and it’s incredibly creative and interesting. And I get feedback from all sorts of other people in the podcasting community. I have made some great friends and had some great relationships come out of it. So that has been a godsend. And then other things are maybe doing what you do, but tweaking it a little bit. So I’ve been doing mostly male offenders for 10 years. And I started to do some female offenders. And just doing that – even though lot of the work is the same – but you are dealing with much different issues and you are thinking about things like risk factors and recommendations and trauma and all of these things in different ways. So even that is kind of like, wow, this is like new juice to like get all those blood vessels flowing, but it’s not that different than I was doing before .

Joe Sanok: Yeah, and i imagine that it’s easier to go after those things that kind of get different juices flowing when you know that you have the stable income of doing the forensic assessments.

Dr. Angela Johnson: Right. Yes, definitely.

Joe Sanok: Yeah. So I think there is such a good balance thereof, okay, I’m going to bring in the revenue, but then I also kind of decide projects that are things that I am going to go after and Gary Vaynerchuk actually talks about how having your meat and then having your veggies on the side and having those kind of like side hustle, but then at some point that side hustle may become your main hustle. But always kind of know right now where’s the money coming in and focusing on that and then giving some extra energy to these other things, but knowing that those could take off any time also.

Dr. Angela Johnson: Right.

Joe Sanok: Well, if every counselor in the world were listening right now, Angela, what would you want them to know?

Dr. Angela Johnson: Oh, my gosh. I think it’s people who work [00:20:38.14], we can be very good at thinking about other people and what they are experiencing, and maybe we will have to tune in to our own experience. So I guess my biggest piece if advice would be to always have that time of personal reflection because if we are not sustaining ourselves, if we are not feeding our own needs for rest and creativity and all of that, then we don’t really have that much to give. So for me, I think, I rely on like a meditation practice. I rely on times where I am not working at all, I turn my phone off. I mean I’m just with my family. So I think those things are so important because people go into this field for a reason. They want to help people. But they also need to know when to say no.

[CONCLUSION AND LINKS] Joe Sanok: Yeah, great advice. Well, Dr. Angela Johnson, thanks so much for being on the Practice of the Practice Podcast. If people want to connect with you or your podcast, what’s the best way for them to find it?

Dr. Angela Johnson: Sure. So our podcast is Chasing the Mind and we’re on https://chasingthemind.com. You can follow me on Twitter @ChasingtheMind. My professional website is www.fcp-services.com, and I am on Facebook. I have a Facebook group dedicated to the Chasing the Mind Podcast and talking about all things psychology.

Joe Sanok: Wonderful. Well, thanks so much for being on the Practice of the Practice Podcast.

Dr. Angela Johnson: Thank you so much for having me. It was a lot of fun.

[MUSIC] [SOMETHING ADDITIONAL] Joe Sanok: Well, thanks so much for listening to the Practice of the Practice Podcast. Last month, we almost hit a 100,000 downloads. So I would love it if you would reach out to friends or colleagues that you think would like the Practice of the Practice Podcast. What this helps us do is if we get more people thinking this way, for having better quality service, automating things, we are genuinely changing the field of counseling. We are experiencing massive growth in our [00:22:48.11] and in our email list and you are part of that. It’s not just about me. It’s not just about our team. It’s about this way of thinking of raising the bar and what we expect out of our businesses, out of our private practices. So, would you share this with someone? Would you let somebody know? Would you show them how on their iPhone. They have a podcast section already on it and all they have to do is search for Practice of the Practice. That would be awesome. I would love it if you would do that. Thanks so much for letting me into your ears and into your brain.

Next week, we have Anna Lindberg Cedar and she is going to be talking about her practice that has a trauma basis, and she is going to be going deep, deep, deep into that practice and how she has grown it. So thanks for joining me for our Five Fierce Females in February series. You rock! Keep up the good work.


This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It’s given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher or the guest are rendering any legal, accounting, clinical or other professional information. If you need a professional, go find one.

[MUSIC] [END OF PODCAST 00:23:58.22]

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