Growing Your Group Practice with Interns with Valarie Harris | POP 896

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Do you want to develop your business into a teaching practice? What is the incredible value that interns can bring to your private practice? How can you navigate working with interns with clients?

In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok shares another Level Up Week webinar where Valerie Harris discusses growing a group practice with interns.

Podcast Sponsor: Alma

A photo of podcast sponsor, Alma is captured. Alma is an insurance company for therapists. Alma sponsors the Practice of the Practice podcast.

Going in-network with insurance can be tough. Filing all of the right paperwork is time-consuming and tedious, and even after you’re done, it can take months to get credentialed and start seeing clients.

That’s why Alma makes it easy and financially rewarding to accept insurance. When you join their insurance program, you can get credentialed within 45 days, and access enhanced reimbursement rates with major payers. They also handle all of the paperwork, from eligibility checks to claims submissions, and guarantee payment within two weeks of each appointment.

Once you’ve joined Alma’s insurance program, you can see clients in your state of licensure regardless of where you’re working from.

Learn more about building a thriving private practice with Alma 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 interns bring value to private practice
  • How to manage the fee split
  • Ways that you can jumpstart your teaching practice

How interns bring value to private practice

Young graduates are often fresh and ready to apply the knowledge that they have just earned from their university years, and so much applies to private practice!

Valerie mentions that she has hired interns that have skills in design, advertising, bilingualism, EMT, and other relevant experience that have all been valuable to her business.

All of those things come in handy quite a bit when you are treating clients and concerning policies and procedures.

Valerie Harris

How to manage the fee split

First, check with the school. Some allow for paid internships and others don’t, so you need to check first before you hire that intern.

Valerie offers her interns a stipend which comes from the percentage of how many clients they see.

It will be a percentage of the revenue that they bring in but I will tell you this, since I began offering that, those who have been the best fit for my practice have never once asked what the pay is.

Valerie Harris

Interns bring an average of $8k to $15k annually. They begin with their practicum and then move into internships one and two.

I saw a 360% increase in my practice just in the first year when I brought interns on, and I can’t make that up. The highest month of revenue prior to any interns was $22k, [and] the highest month after starting with interns … our highest month of revenue was $110k.

Valerie Harris

Ways that you can jumpstart your teaching practice

1 – Prime your clients and your practice: your language and intentions matter. So, rather than saying things like, “We have an intern that needs to sit and observe”, you can explain to your clients that you have a teaching practice.

[Look] at your copy on your website. Do you structure the model of your business that way? Do you talk about that … [and your] model of care [as a] model of collaboration.

Valerie Harris

Of course, there is a balance between how working with interns benefits the model but not the client.

You have to use your discretion about what a certain client needs in terms of treatment to assign them to an intern or to someone that’s already licensed and perhaps has more hands-on experience.

2 – Finding a source for interns:

  • Reach out to a local university and sit at a Career Fair
  • Join local Facebook groups and ask other practice owners
  • Once you hire one intern it will be easier to find and hire more

3 – Find the right fit:

Finding the right fit comes down to screening questions before the actual interview. Have an interview process in place, [and] I recommend having two people interview, so you be the final interviewer and have someone else [from your practice] interview first.

Valerie Harris

4 – The intern developmental model: this is Valerie’s model to help onboard, train, and retain interns and get them ready to be confident employees that are plugged into the culture and the private practice, running on the same level as your other clinicians.

You need to have:

  • Observation from the beginning to help co-regulate the experience for the student and the client
  • About two weeks into observation, allow the student to do some notes about the session and share them with the observing therapist that sits in with them.

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Meet Joe Sanok

A photo of Joe Sanok is displayed. Joe, private practice consultant, offers helpful advice for group practice owners to grow their private practice. His therapist podcast, Practice of the Practice, offers this advice.

Joe 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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