Growing a Group Practice with Interns with Valarie Harris | GP 132

On this therapist podcast, Valarie Harris talks about growing a group practice with interns.

Have you considered working with interns? Can hiring and training interns be the key to growing your practice? Why should you offer a teaching component?

In this podcast episode, LaToya Smith speaks about hiring and training interns in your group practice with Valarie Harris.

Podcast Sponsor: Heard

An image of the Practice of the Practice podcast sponsor, Heard, is captured. Heard offers affordable bookkeeping services, personalized financial reporting, and tax assistance.

As a therapist, the last thing you probably want to think about is doing your own bookkeeping and taxes. Heard is here to help with that. Heard is the financial back-office built specifically for therapists in private practice. They combine smart software with real humans to handle bookkeeping, taxes, and payroll.

Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned clinician or are in the first year of your practice, Heard will identify areas for growth and streamline best financial practices for your business.

When you sign up with Heard, you’ll be matched with an accountant who will help you track your income and expenses, file taxes online, and maximize tax savings. You’ll also receive financial insights such as profit and loss statements and personalized monthly reports. You can say goodbye to poring over spreadsheets and guessing your tax deductions or quarterly payments. Focus on your clients, and Heard will take care of the rest.

Pricing begins at $149 per month for solo practices and can easily be tailored to fit your business’ financial needs. Sign up for a free, 15-min consult call today at

Meet Valarie Harris

A photo of Valarie Harris is captured. She owns a growing group practice called Trauma & Therapy Center of TN., PLLC,. Valarie is featured on Grow a Group Practice, a therapist podcast.Valarie owns a growing group practice called Trauma & Therapy Center of TN., PLLC, located in Clarksville, TN. She started her group practice in 2019 and just purchased her second commercial property (only 13 months after the first) to expand services. Valarie also provides consulting services on growing a group practice using interns and working with complex trauma cases, such as Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Visit Trauma & Therapy Center and connect with them on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

In This Podcast

  • How to find interns
  • Bringing them on board
  • Offer a teaching component

How to find interns

  • Connect with a local university.
  • Send emails to their counseling department and see if you can schedule a phone call or meeting.

Once you get on their site list it’s pretty easy because they just hand those out to students when it’s time for students to start looking for their site. (Valarie Harris)

  • Put something up on your website saying that you accept interns and student interns.

Develop the groundwork first by building relationships with local universities as that will be one of the best ways to connect with new student interns.

Bringing them on board

Before you hire a few interns into your solo or group practice, check with your client base. Would they be willing to have observation within sessions?

It would be good for you all to sit together and look at how open your clients [are] to observation. (Valarie Harris)

  • To interview your interns, look at the things you need them to already have.

Do they have some level of clinical experience? Volunteer experience? Have they been around people who have been hurting in some capacity?

  • Set down the non-negotiables and discuss how many hours they are available to work in your practice.

You want to have those non-negotiable things down first, or else you’re going to get into a situation where you bring all these people on and then [they’re] going to be changing their schedules a lot [which] creates a lot of stress. (Valarie Harris)

  • Know what you need and expect from them and make sure to communicate that, and have them respond. You need to talk to each other to find the best situation for everyone involved, from you to the interns to the clients.

Offer a teaching component

Once Valarie’s interns have been hired, they receive a guide on expectations, resource links for continual learning, and different teaching options.

We fully expect them to watch those things between whenever we tell them [they’re hired] to when they start because that will get their mind working in the direction of the type of therapy we do. (Valarie Harris)

Set the expectation from the beginning that the intern’s practicum is not about getting clients, and rather about observing the therapists at different times so that the interns can think about the style of therapy they connect with and want to emulate.

Almost always, interns will stay. They are a great way to grow your group practice.

Useful links mentioned in this episode:

Check out these additional resources:

Meet LaToya Smith

An image of LaToya Smith is captured. She is a consultant with Practice of the Practice and the owner of LCS Counseling. LaToya is featured on the Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.

LaToya is a consultant with Practice of the Practice and the owner of LCS Counseling and Consulting Agency in Fortworth Texas. She firmly believes that people don’t have to remain stuck in their pain or the place they became wounded. In addition to this, LaToya encourages her clients to be active in their treatment and work towards their desired outcome.

She has also launched Strong Witness which is a platform designed to connect, transform, and heal communities through the power of storytelling.

Visit LaToya’s website. Connect with her on FacebookInstagramStrong Witness Instagram, and Twitter.

Apply to work with LaToya.

Email her at

Thanks For Listening!

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Podcast Transcription

[JOE SANOK] I think it’s time that we speak about you and your goals for a minute. Hear me out for a while now. We’ve been speaking about how to market your practice, how to grow your practice, and how to be a better boss and encourage a company culture but isn’t it time to start making it happen? I’m serious. I’m challenging you to just do it. Take that leap of faith, put yourself out there and level up in your practice. Think about it. You’re probably entering that phase where you start to set yourself up for 2023. You’re thinking about what your goals are going to be, what you’re not going to do, and what you hope to achieve. Regardless of where you are within your private practice journey, I’m challenging you to make these last few months count to dig deep, to make next year the one for big changes within your business and more importantly within yourself. If you’ve been looking for a sign to either start your own private practice, grow from solo to group, or become a next level group practice boss, this is it. You’re certainly not alone, because Practice of the Practice is doing something we’ve never done before. We’re so convinced that now is the time for you to grow, that we’re dedicating all our resources to help you do it. We’re all in, every single one of us and we’re inviting you to go all in and level up. From September 12th to September 15th, we’ll be running Level Up Week to help you decide what will work best for you in your private practice journey. There will be webinars, Q&As with experts, and a chance for you to meet your accountability partners, facilitators, and community. If you’re ready to make a change and level up register at and follow our Facebook and Instagram pages at Practice of the Practice for live updates and event details. Lastly, before I jump back into this episode, I just want to say that I really hope to see you there, even if it’s just online. Remember that leveling up week isn’t about us. It’s not about me or about Practice of the Practice. It’s all about you and growing your practice, whether it be your first solo practice or growing you from group practice boss to reaching a national audience. Make September, 2022, the month that you start your journey and level up. [LATOYA SMITH] The Grow A Group Practice Podcast is part of the Practice of the Practice Network, a network of podcast seeking to help you market and grow your business and yourself. To hear other podcasts like the Practice of the Practice podcast, go to You are listening to the Grow A Group Practice podcast, a podcast focused on helping people start, grow, and scale a group practice. Each week you’ll hear topics that are relevant to group practice owners. I’m LaToya Smith, a practice owner, and I love hearing about people’s stories and real life experiences. So let’s get started. All right, so today, woo, listen up everybody. I have been waiting to speak to this individual since last year. I heard her do a presentation at Killin’It Camp Fall 2021, and she talked about bringing on interns, graduate students into her practice. I remember reading the title of the presentation and being like, I’ve never heard of that before. Then when I heard the presentation, I was like, this is amazing. Ever since she presented, I have found myself talking about her presentation. You know how you hear something really good and you want everybody to know about it and you include in every conversation, you find a way to sneak it in? Even doing consulting this spring, this summer, the mastermind groups, the individuals I have been talking about her presentation and what she does and I’ve even found myself making that shift within my own practice of bringing on more graduate students and interns. I had to catch up with her. I told her we were chatting a little bit before we got started. It’s like chasing down a celebrity and I feel like this, today’s the big day that I get to have this conversation. So Valerie, welcome to the Grow A Group Practice podcast. [VALARIE HARRIS] Thank you so much. The big day that I almost messed up by not having the microphone, but I got it. [LATOYA] It’s okay. I mean, I would’ve cried, but we don’t have to worry about that now because you’re here. It didn’t happen. So tell us a little bit about, I know you’re in Tennessee but tell us a little about, a little bit about you and the name of your practice, how long you’ve been in practice, your group practice, all that. [VALARIE] Sure. So I started my practice in 2014 in August actually, so we’re coming up on an anniversary, which is exciting. I initially started wanting to make a group practice but not knowing anything about that. So I structured it and at the beginning it was Harris Associates Professional Counseling Services. Don’t ever do that. Sounds like a law firm. Rebranded, changed everything and it’s now Trauma and Therapy Center of Tennessee. We currently have, I lose count, somewhere between 12 and 15 therapists but it started with me and then an intern and another intern and a lot more interns and now we have a really big staff. As the name implies, we focus on primarily trauma and utilize a lot of different modalities in treating trauma. We’re just north of Nashville in Clarksville, Tennessee. So it’s right in between Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and Nashville, so we have a really diverse population. [LATOYA] Okay, are you licensed in Kentucky too? [VALARIE] No, I am not, but we’re going to be moving that way. Tennessee and Kentucky do have reciprocity, so it’s pretty easy to get license there. [LATOYA] Good, good. You’re right, I almost laugh too, when you named the original practice, you said law firm and I got to learn. I think we all, hey, you grow a group practice, you go live and learn. So it’s a beautiful thing, the journey. But yes, so like I said, I heard that presentation at Killin’It Camp. How’d you even decide to say, hey, I’m going to start with, did you start with interns completely, did you start with licensed people and it didn’t work, what was the thought process that going? [VALARIE] Okay, so the thought process was I was working entirely too much, seeing 35 to 40 people a week, easy. Still had a lot of referrals coming in, a lot of active-duty military veterans. I had just encountered tons of different trauma training, realizing I went into practice thinking, oh, I treat trauma. Yes, I know about that. Then you get combat trauma in front of you or military sexual trauma in front of you and you realize, oh no,. no, no, no, no, I don’t treat trauma after all this cognitive behavioral therapy stuff’s not taken me very far. So I had just invested in getting a lot of different trauma training and was really seeing that work out well but the referrals kept coming. So I knew that I was sort of in a corner and there wasn’t a lot that I could do other than just burn myself out, which was already, I knew five years if I kept doing the same thing, I was going to be completely burn out at that rate. So it only made sense to scale in some capacity. If I’m being truly honest, the thought of managing people felt a little, I did not feel confident about that. Parenting was hard, if you know what I mean. Being an adult was hard for me at times, parenting myself and so I thought, I really think you should like, really be good in leadership to do this. I don’t know that I could do this. So I utilized an intern as a trial run, basically. I was just like, they need something, I need something, I’m passionate about teaching. So I knew I could at least do that part of it. I knew I could teach the art of doing therapy and I could pour into someone. I did not know if I could translate that into actually leading someone and managing employees. So I did that as a trial run and it worked. I also thought it would be really important, I knew I did not want to get people who were already licensed and had been in the field a long time because I knew enough about where I wanted to go in my vision to know that if they’ve been out there a long time and there’s a conflict in that, it’s not going to go anywhere. So I wanted people who were really passionate and full of zeal and wanting to learn. So intern students were the perfect population for that. I thought, okay, if I just get an intern, I’m going to have them a really long time. So surely if the connection is there, then that’s a good person to hire. So I thought, this can’t fail and they’re making money for the business, so it’s not increasing the overhead. So I was like, this can’t fail. I mean, in reality there’s lots of ways it could fail, but— [LATOYA] No, I like your thought process. I love when you said, even starting off your thought, hey, it’s a win-win. They need me, I need them. So what a great place to start at? Again, like hindsight, I’m like, that’s a great idea. So for people listening, so we’re talking interns, we’re talking people who, so you’re hiring people who have graduated from either counseling, social work, family therapy program, and are accruing their hours for licensure. You’re not hiring graduate students then, people still in school? [VALARIE] Correct, correct. Yes, they do their internship with me and then they know they’re not guaranteed a job, but it’s really a chance for us both to see if it’s the place they want to be long term. Like is this where they want to call home as they grow and develop and do they fit what we’re looking for? I think the other part of it was, I remembered coming out of grad school and making $14 an hour at a really big treatment center in Nashville, which I won’t say their name because I don’t want to put them down. It was just sort of the times, but it was a for-profit or no, they’re non-for-profit, I think but I just remember that sinking feeling of, oh my gosh, I have these student loans to pay for and I’m only making $14 an hour and I have a master’s degree. It just somehow didn’t feel fair or right. Not that I thought I should be making loads of money. It was just really stressful. So the other idea behind me bringing in students was I thought if I stage this right from the get go, I can pay them better and really pour into them and they can feel that worth coming out right out of school whereas a lot of times I feel as though we tend to diminish the worth in value of those people until they have a license. There’s a lot of places that are like, until you have a license, you’re really not of used to us. You could go to a hospital or go here, but you really can’t be in a practice because you don’t have a license. To me, I thought people don’t know the difference. They don’t, they don’t know what all the letters behind our name mean. They just know if they have a good connection with someone and if someone is attuned to them and so I thought, okay, if we can change the way we look at this, then I think that it can change the whole field. [LATOYA] So do you, so immediately once a therapist graduates from school, then they can come work for you? So you’re not getting them on the internship while they’re still in school. You prefer once they graduate? [VALARIE] Oh, no, I get them internship too. [LATOYA] Okay, got it. [VALARIE] That’s like their long job interview, so to speak. [LATOYA] Got you. So let’s just even back up some and let’s just talk about, hey, somebody’s like to listen to this podcast, but, hmm, I want to try this out, how do you recommend even connecting with and finding people who are still in the schools or developing that relationship with local schools or how’s that work? [VALARIE] Sure. I would say if you’ve got a local university close by to even just put some emails out there, figure out who’s over their counseling department, see if you can schedule a phone call or a meeting with them. They’re almost always looking for sites and they’re happy to provide them. Once you get on their site list, it’s pretty easy because they just hand those out to students when it’s time for students to start looking for their site and they’ll start calling around, going to people’s websites, emailing. You could also put something on your webpage. We didn’t have to do that, but that wouldn’t be a bad idea to say, “Hey, we’re looking for interns, or we take student interns.” But definitely connecting with the universities first and foremost, that’s probably going to get you the most traction. [LATOYA] So the groundwork first, developing that partnership, that relationship, because you’re right, once you’re a site, you’re a site and good to go and then people are going to call you. I imagine out Val, you’re getting these phone calls, calls coming in from these students, but you’re not taking all the students. So what is the process to even say, “Hey, I’ll take you for internship while you’re in school” and then walk us through the process of that was great, the criteria of saying, now I’m going to bring you on board as you’re working towards your license. So what’s the process even while they’re in school? What’s the interview process to take the right student? [VALARIE] Sure. So the beginning, I will say I took a lot of people. I once had five interns at one time by myself. So it was just me and my big caseload and five interns. I think one thing when looking at numbers of how many can you take, one thing to really consider is the population that you already work with. If you’re a single provider or even if you’re in a practice with two or three other providers, it would be good for you all to sit together and look at how open are your clients to observation. Because we have a lot of people who are veterans, they’re used to the VA and they’re used to being seen by lots of different people. So one of the things that I noticed was I didn’t have trouble with people getting their hours through observation because I had a lot of really willing people on my caseload already. I would say consider that when you consider how many you want to take. Then as far as interview process, look at it, sort of, if you don’t have any employees then you’re going to be doing it from the ground up but if you do have employees, it’s similar in certain ways because you want to look at what are the things that I need for them to have. Are there any, for us, since we work with trauma, we really prefer that they have some level of clinical experience somewhere. That could be case management, it could be volunteer experience, just something where they’ve been around the public and they’ve been around people who are hurting and suffering in some capacity. That’s generally helpful. Scheduling is important. You want to know what hours they are going to be available. For instance, if you work with a lot of teenagers and you know they’re going to be in the afternoons, you want to have those really non-negotiable things down first or else you’re going to get in a situation where you bring all these people on and then you’re going to be having them changing their schedules a lot and it’s going to create a lot of stress. So know what you need, know what your clients need, know what they’re open to. You can even ask them on intake if they’re open to observation. You could also structure it that way if you structure your place as a teaching. We’re doing that more and more where we’re structuring ourselves as a teaching center so that clients who seek our services come with an expectation that we are more team oriented. That’s one way to go about it. But as far as deciding, we have them send their resume and a cover letter and then we have a set of questions that we send to them and ask them to respond to those or just short answer questions. We want to know why they’re looking to be at our center. We don’t want to be a placeholder. We want to be someone, we want the interns who have looked at what we do and said I want to do that, versus I just need a site. So trying to weed out some of those things. If they’re really not invested, they won’t send those answered questions back. That’s something to slow that process and make sure that you’re getting the ones who are most interested in being with your site. Then I have our onboarding coordinator do that first interview and I’ve got a structured interview feedback form that I have her use. Then based on that I’ll determine if they get a second interview and if they get a second interview then I’ll let them know within 24 hours if they have made it onto internship. [LATOYA] This is great. About how many, like each semester, how many interns or people do you have applying for these positions? [VALARIE] I would say this past one for August, we’ve probably had six to eight people apply because we still have some people sending in some last-minute applications and currently, we’re slated to take three or four. We’ve just started this semester offering a small stipend. We’re doing that as a way of making it more competitive basically. [HEARD] As a therapist, the last thing you probably want to think about is doing your own bookkeeping and taxes. Heard is here to help with that. Heard is the financial back office built specifically for therapists in private practice. They combine smart software with real humans to handle bookkeeping, taxes and payroll. Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned clinician or in the first year of your practice, Heard will identify areas for growth and streamline best financial practices for your business. When you sign up with Heard, you’ll be matched with an accountant who will help you track your income and expenses, file taxes online and maximize tax savings. You’ll also receive financial insights such as profit and loss statements and personalized monthly reports. You can say goodbye to pouring over spreadsheets and guessing your tax deductions or quarterly payments. Focus on your clients and Heard will take care of the rest. Prices begin at just $149 per month for solo practices and can easily be tailored to fit your businesses financial needs. Sign up for free for a 15-minute consult today at [LATOYA SMITH] Okay, I was going to ask you that, do you pay the people in school or do you pay the people, you pay the ones who are graduates but you definitely, so now you offer stipend to the ones that are in school? [VALARIE] Yes. But you will want to check with the school. Certain schools, I don’t think they will allow that. I’ve not ran into that yet, but I’m pretty, I think I heard that like Vanderbilt University in Nashville, they may not allow that. So it’s always a good idea to check with the school. As long as it’s not payment and it’s a stipend as a thank you, usually it’s fine. We didn’t tell them how much. We just told them we have, we always tell them we have a rigorous interview process because of the work we do and we’re going to be offering a small stipend and we want to make sure that we have the right people in place. [LATOYA] I love this and I think, I don’t know if I ever called myself old school in a sentence, so this is probably the first time now I’m doing it for everybody to hear, but I love the idea of resume and cover letter because now people will just send the resume to you but it’s a weeded-out process. If you can’t send those two, you can’t answer these questions then hey, what I’m about to invest in you, that’s not going to be a good investment for me. [VALARIE] Absolutely. Absolutely. If you don’t put something in the way to slow that down, you’re going to end up with a lot of frustration. I will guarantee anyone if they just take anybody that’s looking for a site, they’re not going to be happy. It’s like employment. You want to get a really good fit. [LATOYA] We don’t want this high turnover because there’s a whole lot to start over. [VALARIE] Oh yes. [LATOYA] So if the amount of students that you bring on that are currently in school, how many actually make it to the next step or do want to carry on with you wants to graduate and they’re getting their hours? [VALARIE] I would say so far, we have only had, everyone I have on staff was an intern except for maybe two or three. A lot of them were interns. I’ve only had three who didn’t make the cut. One of them just didn’t even make it through internship at all. Another one, she was really smart. She lived outside of Nashville, so about 45 minutes away from us and wanted to intern all the way out here with us. Then she’s an LMFT or will be an LMFT. So as soon as she was done, LMFTs in Tennessee, they can start a practice right away. She went and started a practice where she lives, but it was perfect because it’s 45 minutes away so it’s not competition to us. Like I thought she was pretty strategic and smart. She got what she needed from us and then we launched her back out. Then one other person did not stay and it was better that way. Just wasn’t a good fit. But everyone else we’ve been able to keep them. [LATOYA] So we’re talking about years’ worth of people that you’ve been able because of your process. That’s why I love, too, in the presentation because like you said, the interview process is so structured and you say rigorous that when you bring somebody on they’re a good fit and you want to keep them a long way. Tell us more about that teaching component you have because I see my practice shifting the same way. I just wanted to be that space. What is that like and then what’s the feedback that you get from the interns that come on board from what they get from this teaching component because that makes a difference between a practice is to, hey, throwing your clients, see the clients leave. Tell us more about that component that you offer to the interns. [VALARIE] Sure. When they first get selected and they’re told that they will be an intern, we send them out a, it’s like a two- or three-page guide on just what our expectations will be for them when they come on board. We also send out a list of podcasts and YouTube links and different things that they can be watching. We fully expect them to watch those things between whenever we tell them and when they start because that will get their mind working in the direction of the type of therapy we do. So it’s things on attunement, a lot of compassionate inquiry like trauma based stuff some basic neuroscience things because we want their mind working in that way. Then once they start with us, they’re generally in their practicum, which is about eight weeks long. It’s funny, a lot of them are chomping at the bit because they go to class and some of their classmates have have clients already and they’re like, “Well I don’t have a client yet.” So we’ve learned to let them know you will not get a client until you’re in your internship. You can pick a client that you’ve observed and use them to record the sessions because usually they need to record a mock session or you can actually do a mock session with a staff member. But just setting that expectation from the beginning that your practicum is not about getting a client. Your practicum is about observing all of the therapists that we have in our practice at different times so that you can really start thinking about what style do you connect with? What personalities do you connect with because we’re wanting to offset some of what I know is going to be that imposter syndrome that’s going to start creeping up on them when they start seeing all the ways people are doing things. So really just using that practicum time to talk about that imposter syndrome, okay, you saw this therapist do this, what did you like about that? Well, what would it look like if you did it in your personality? [LATOYA] That’s interesting. So when students, when they come in, they’re in grad school, they have practicum, then they have internship, so that’s semester of practicum, at your practice, they don’t have their own clients. You can observe everybody here any time of day you want to, and you can use that for your observation. Now these are your face-to-face hours, but you will not have your own? [VALARIE] Correct. [LATOYA] That’s huge. That’s a process too, for people that want to just want to get going [VALARIE] Because they want to jump right in and they don’t realize then we try to tell them, people with trauma will sniff out people who are inauthentic in a hot minute. So when we’ve not done it that way, we find they have retention issues right off the bat and the cost of bringing clients in is too great to risk that. Plus that’s your brand. You really want to make sure that they are solid on their feet. I have just found that they’re just not in practicum. Very few are. So we like to do the trial by fire, but with an anchor, so the therapist in the room, in these observation sessions, that’s your anchor. When you’re in those observation sessions just like a Socratic method, we’ll throw you in and ask you what you think. Or a lot of times our clients are so comfortable now, they’ll turn it on them and ask them, what do you think I should do? We can get an idea of how comfortable they are in the room. If they’re cracking their knuckles and they’re picking up their nails, they’re anxious and they’re not ready yet. So it’s important for us to see them working with a client and see how well they can attune and by the second or third week of practicum, the observation sessions they sit in on, they’re doing the notes for those. [LATOYA] Awesome. [VALARIE] That’s a benefit to the therapist. They send them to the therapist within 24 hours, but they can also ask to see the therapist’s final note so the therapist can choose to either use that note or take parts of it and add to it. Then they can ask to see it. So their practicum is really just learning how to be in the room with clients, learning how to manage the energy around that and learning how to start getting attuned and documenting and summarizing what happens in session. When you have them submit a clinical note and then the therapist has their clinical note, you can see very clearly if they’re on the same page or not. [LATOYA] So who is, so do you go back and read all the notes or? [VALARIE] The therapist, well, I have a site supervisor, but when they’re observing and submitting notes, they’re not actually documenting in the chart. They’re submitting them by email. Then the therapist is responsible for taking parts of it if they want to use it and if they don’t, they can discard it. Then when it comes time to do an evaluation, the site supervisor will go to the different therapist and get, we have a feedback form. [LATOYA] Is your site supervisor fully licensed or? [VALARIE] Yes. [LATOYA] So how many fully licensed people do you have? [VALARIE] Now I have 1, 2, 3, 4, I have two more who have submitted everything and they’re just waiting for the board to approve it. They’ve submitted it months and months ago. Tennessee is really behind. I don’t know how other states are doing, but it’s bad. So we’ll be six. [LATOYA] Okay, so when the practicing students are observing, they’re observing the fully licensed people, not the interns? [VALARIE] No, not the interns. We do have some who are temp-licensed, they can observe them as well. If we have any trouble with them getting observation sessions, then they can sometimes observe some of our master’s level counselors. Because they’ve still been, we’re particular. But again, if they’re on our staff, we trust them by this point. It doesn’t make it scary for me to throw an intern in a room with somebody who graduated last year because we’ve already done so much work with that person as an intern before that we know they can conduct themselves in the room. [LATOYA] Oh, this is awesome. This is good stuff. Then how long, so the teaching process with the practicum and then once that person goes to internship in grad school is still teaching. So how many hours of supervision do you do a week just to make sure you still like the one hour a week or? [VALARIE] So the interns get an hour a week with the site supervisor and then once every month they’re meeting individually with me also. Then they also have group supervision once a month with a site supervisor and sometimes I come in and do that supervision as well. So they’re required to have like four hours a month. They’re getting on average about six. [LATOYA] Why are you intentional meeting with them one hour a month? [VALARIE] I think it’s because one, my site supervisor, he’s licensed but he’s not done a lot of supervision before. So he’s getting trained in supervision and if he and I are observing the same thing, then that helps me know where he’s at in his growth process. So if I don’t ever observe them or if I don’t ever meet with them and do any of that intentional supervision, then I won’t know him well enough to catch and pick up on things and I want to make sure he and I are tracking on what we’re both seeing. So then that tells me eventually I don’t have to meet with them and I can trust that he’s going to see what I would see. It’s still like another level of teaching [LATOYA] You’re definitely a teacher. This is awesome. Then the graduate level, the ones who are working towards their license now, once they’re with you, they’re employees, W2 employees? [VALARIE] Yes. [LATOYA] And you’re raising them up to, is it to like stay with you? Is there an option, hey, I’ll help you build a group practice or your own practice when you’re ready or you’re raising them up to say, hey, then you can go? What do you find once they become fully licensed? Do they want to stay? Are they ready to leave? [VALARIE] They stay. They stay and I tell them this, I have a couple who’ve said, “Well one day if I have my own practice,” and I’m like, here’s my question, I already have the infrastructure. What is it that you would do at your own practice that you’re not doing here? I had one of them say, she was like, “Well I think I would like to have a garden and do some therapeutic try to incorporate that in therapy.” I said, “Perfect, let’s get you a garden. Do you want a little outside greenhouse? What do we need to do?” So I really, I’ve got another one who wants to do sailboat therapy. Like I’m not trying to get on a boat, but he wants to do family therapy that way and I’m like, “Well it was your idea. So when you get to that place, this will be something that’s contracts and will be separate because I’ll do the marketing piece for that and drive people to it, but that’s going to always be your thing,” because I don’t want to take that from him. We can do it under our LLC, but it’s still his thing so he’s going to get the majority of of revenue from that because again, not my idea, but at the same time, that’s a seasonal thing, so he still, it’s not like he could do it full time. So there are certain things where it would maybe branch off into something contract-based, just between two different companies but most of the time I tell them, what is the legacy that you want to leave on trauma and therapy center? What is that, this is, you’re building this with me. This is not just my thing, it’s our thing. All of us. So if there’s something we’re not doing that’s important to you, I want to know because I want to help you do that and I want to help you do it here. There’s no reason to go reinvent the wheel. We already have the infrastructure, it’s a lot of work, so if there’s something that you want to bring that we’re not doing, then just bring it to me and chances are we can probably figure it out and do it. So then it minimizes the need to go do your own practice. [LATOYA] I like this. So they want to stay because they feel like there’s some buy-in very from the beginning all the way? I was going to ask you that too, what about the finances? Do you feel like this takes for people who are thinking, man, I can make more money off fully licensed people? [VALARIE] Oh no. [LATOYA] Okay, talk about that a little bit because I know that’s a question folks are asking, I’m asking. [VALARIE] We’re not insurance based, so aside from working with the VA we are private pay and the reason I like that is a lot of times there’s this notion of, well, I’m not going to be able to meet all the needs of the people in our community if we don’t take insurance. I highly disagree with that. I believe that by being private pay we are able to help more people by having interns that is offering a reduced rate that is always built in to the work that we do. So these people are getting to do, a lot of my interns have been trained in EMDR, brain spotting, even as interns because they make that investment in themselves while they can get that discount at a student rate. So oftentimes our intern rate is really comparable to what somebody’s copay would be anyway. At the end of the day, because I don’t have to pay the administration, we don’t have receptionists, we don’t have somebody having to check benefits and do all these things, it leaves more money to pay people better and to invest more in their training. So we offer brain spotting, trauma informed hypnosis, neurofeedback, safe EMDR, safe and sound protocol. We offer things that are not offered anywhere else in our community and we’re able to do that because we’re very strategic with how we shift things and how we structure things. We have counseling packages in place so people can buy a package and have a reduced rate per session and then they get the benefit of working with multiple therapists. It’s sort of like a treatment team. They sign releases for them. So you may see this therapist for your individual trauma work and do some EMDR, but you may come over here once a week and see this one for neurofeedback sessions. [LATOYA] Okay, that was good. I’m glad you answered that part because that was going to be another question, like the modalities, like how do you, so they have observed, they have seen it and some, these you can teach a little bit to them and they could fully practice, these things like EMDR. I do brain spotting, but they can fully practice EMDR without being full. [VALARIE] Yes, because they still under my license and I have another licensee who’s actually certified, she’s licensed in the state to be a supervisor as well, clinical supervisor. She does supervision with my postmaster’s people along with me. The reason I have another person is because I’m also their employer so I feel like that duality and relationship between being the employer and their clinical supervisor. So she is that third wheel. That way she is also approved through the state to do clinical supervision and they meet with her as well. So there’s just a lot of checks and balances in place at all times. But because it’s self-pay, the licensing thing is not an issue. [LATOYA] Okay, I love this. [VALARIE] It’s just making sure that the site is correct. So I will say that that’s important. You want to know for your state what is an appropriate clinical site. For the state of Tennessee, they can practice under my license or under one of my other supervisors’ license but at the state of Tennessee, you have to have someone licensed on the grounds at least 20 hours a week whose job is actually to be oversight or be available for clinical supervision. There are some caveats that you really have to know for your state. [LATOYA] Always [VALARIE] I couldn’t, yes, I couldn’t just throw a bunch of unlicensed people in here from like six to 10 at night and have no one nearby, no one on call, no one, them just doing whatever. [LATOYA] So like you said, always important to check the rules and regulations for your license in your state. So don’t assume anything, always check with your board, the state. Valerie, this is awesome and I think you lay out a great framework from building relationship, which is also just a marketing plan with the local universities a part of it. I love just the idea everybody and anybody can come. Now we’re doing this interview process, rigorous and asking for some things up front and really weeding people out that way. Not that we want them to scatter, we just want to make sure we get the right people, walking through that teach component and then building people up to feel like, like that buy-in, you’re a part of the team. You’re just not here to, you’re not passing through. We want you to stay and own some pieces and we’re going to teach you and make sure like you are the best therapist you could possibly be. [VALARIE] I would say ask them from the get go, even as an intern, like long-term, do you think you’d like to do clinical supervision? Do you think you’d want to run groups, do intensives, consulting? Sometimes they’re like, “I don’t even know, I’m just learning to be a counselor.” I’m like, okay, “Well you can get back to me later. Just know that we’re going to funnel off different businesses here. So if you get tired of your butt being in the chair with clients, you don’t ever have to feel stuck. Just tell me what you want to do and I’ll make it happen. I will give you the way. I will create the infrastructure and help you get there.” [LATOYA] Awesome. Valerie, how can people get in touch with you, maybe they want to do some consulting about how to put this together or just have more questions about your process? [VALARIE] Sure. They can go to our website, it’s and get lots of information there. My email’s probably not on there, but if you say that you want to ask for an appointment, it’ll allow you to email and choose me that way. We also have a Facebook page, Trauma Therapy TN and same with Instagram, but email is probably the best and the easiest way to get me and you already know that, you already need my email. Sometimes I can’t get people once they email me because my email gets blocked so then I just call and DM everybody until I can get through and be like, “Hey, let this person know I’m trying to email them.” [LATOYA] Awesome. Well, Valerie, thank you so much for being a guest on the podcast. I really appreciate it. [VALARIE] Anytime. Thank you. [LATOYA] So thank you so much. Make sure you all get in touch with her. I love what she said in the beginning, it’s a win-win situation. you bring people on board for you, they win, they get their hours and you win by pouring back into another therapist and hopefully they’ll stay with the practice. So thank you so much Valerie and everybody else continue to tune in, make sure you like, share, rate the podcast. All right. Talk to you soon. [LATOYA] Thank you once again to Heard for sponsoring this episode. When you sign up with Heard, you work directly with financial specialists to track your income and expenses, file taxes online and grow your business. Plans begin at $149 per month. Sign up now at If you love this podcast, please be sure to rate and review. This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regards to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or any other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.

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