Live Consulting with Ellen Gigliotti: How Do I Move Away From My Counseling Practice? | PoP 534

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Are you thinking of making a transition from your practice? Why are the first few months into the transition the most important? How can you avoid repeating the same ideas in your new business venture?

In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok does a live consulting call with Ellen Gigliotti about how to move away from her counseling practice and onto the next big thing.

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Meet Ellen Gigliotti

Ellen J.W. Gigliotti, LMFT, is the clinical director of Sanctuary Christian Counseling in Shippensburg, PA, with more than 15 years of experience. She has an undergraduate degree in psychology, earned her MA in marriage and family therapy from Evangelical Theological Seminary, and has done postgraduate work in Gottman Method Couples Therapy, EFT, and sexual addiction.

She is a member and clinical supervisor for the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, and the American Board of Christian Sex Therapists, and is awaiting certification from the ABCST and board certification in telemental health.

Visit her website, connect on Facebook, and Twitter.

In This Podcast


  • A lateral move
  • Pitfalls to avoid

A lateral move

In the case of your business, you can shift your work focus on a lateral move that can help to increase your income and to increase your time. Consider things like podcasts in order to expand your reach while producing passive income for you.

A podcast I think has the potential to really amplify your reach beyond the individual on-the-couch or working with people in a group practice. That’s where I think there’s potential to really grow something unique that is scalable. (Joe Sanok)

Over time, you may progress from one-to-one work, counseling with individuals, to one-to-many, working with groups, or running mastermind classes.

You can mentally start to exit your practice before making any real changes. Make small shifts to your schedule and start letting go of old to-dos to free up some space and time for yourself to make the transition easier.

Challenge yourself: what are the boundaries you want to have around your relationship, family time, and time spent working? You do not need to keep the same schedule you have always kept.

Pitfalls to avoid

Once you have let go of your practice or the business that you were working on, try to avoid creating something similar to it just because it is familiar to you.

Move away from that field and try something completely different. In some states, you may sign a contract with the new buyers that you will not create something that is in competition with what they are buying from you. This is in some way a good thing: it pushes you to move in a new direction.

Books mentioned in this episode

Useful Links:

Meet Joe Sanok

private practice consultant

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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Podcast Transcription

[JOE SANOK]: Starting a private practice does not have to be that hard. It can seem that way. It can seem daunting at first. There’s so much to keep track of, so many different things, “Do I file an LLC or an S-corp? Do I just do a DBA? Do I start a bank account?” All these things that just seem like a foreign language and we don’t learn it in grad school. We don’t learn it unless we just pick it up here and there. That’s why I started Next Level Practice. Next Level Practice is the community for starting a private practice. So from that moment that you think, “Hey, I might want to start a private practice,” all the way till you’re at a hundred thousand dollars. That’s what is covered in Next Level Practice. You get access to over 30 e-courses, access to experts every single month, like Dr. Julie Schwartz, Gottman, who we’re having soon. .
New Speaker: We interview her and ask questions and get to know these experts in our field that maybe we’ve looked up to for years. And honestly, they’re just regular people that want to help you out too. So if you want access to a community of people, that’s going to give you the right information at the right time, I want you to sign up for this cohort. This cohort opens on February 15th and it’s only open for four days. These spots usually fill up so you’re going to want to make sure that you’re on that wait list over Again, you can sign up on the wait list over I look forward to seeing you in there.
[JOE]: This is the Practice of the Practice podcast with Joe Sanok session 534. Well, welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast. I am Joe, Sanok your host, and this series has been so awesome. We have been talking with Next Level Practice members, all about their questions during live consulting. We have covered tons of ground. We’ve talked about virtual assistants, we’ve talked about group practice, we’ve talked about public speaking. We’ve talked about just marketing your practice, all these really important things about getting to that next level. And today I am so excited to have Ellen Gigliotti, who is a clinical director of Sanctuary Christian Counseling in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. With more than 15 years of experience, she has an undergrad degree in psychology, earned her MA in marriage and family therapy from Evangelical Theological Seminary and has done postgraduate work in Gottman Method Couples Therapy. How are you doing today Ellen?
[ELLEN GIGLIOTTI…: I’m doing great, Joe. Thank you. How are you?
[JOE]: I am doing awesome. I have loved having you be a part of Next Level Practice and Group Practice Boss. I just feel like your experience and your group practice, I’m actually really happy you stuck with Next Level Practice for so long because you are so advanced with just what you’ve already done. I feel like you brought so much. I’m like, “What are we giving Ellen, because she’s just rocking it out so well?”
[ELLEN]: Thank you so much. It’s been amazing. It’s been great. Next Level Practice was great and I got a lot of questions and a lot of gaps filled in, but Group Practice Boss is the boss.
[ELLEN]: It has been —
[JOE]: Tell us a little bit about kind of your practice, kind of where you’re at, because some of the next level of practice people that I’ve been answering their questions, they’re kind of startup, they’re like a little bit smaller and I know that you’re a group practice boss. So tell us just so that people kind of understand where you’re at before you ask your question.
[ELLEN]: Absolutely glad to. We have, well, I’ve been in private practice for 15 years and it’s been amazing. And about five years ago, we started to expand that and now we have five clinicians and we do a complete private pay, no insurance practice in Shippensburg, which is a small town in central Pennsylvania, very rural. And we have people that do, we specialize, well, we say we help grieving individuals, distressed kids and teens and couples in conflict, find peace solutions and connection. And that’s exactly what we do. And we have clinicians that do all of those things and it’s been absolutely amazing. And I couldn’t have, I don’t believe I could have done it all without Next Level Practice and now Group Practice Boss.
[JOE]: Wow. That’s so awesome. And to have that many clinicians, especially in a small community, Traverse City, I think it’s around the same size, and to just, when you have a solid counseling practice, it just impacts the community in such a positive way.
[ELLEN]: That’s true. It really does. We try very hard to be a resource for the community and to do our due diligence in terms of helping the groups around. We have a few non-profits that are in our community that do amazing work and we try to come alongside them as well. We just really, we love being in this community. We almost all of us live here. And so that’s just kind of fun to be able to do therapy in a community that you live in and just to be able to give back.
[JOE]: Oh, that’s so awesome. Well, Ellen, what’s your question for today?
[ELLEN]: So, Joe, I know that you have successfully ended your time in private practice and moved on to amazing things. This is one of the amazing things, and I’m just about to do the same thing. And so I have a question related to that process. And my biggest question is how do you make the mental adjustments to walk away from your baby when you’ve been in private practice for so long?
[JOE]: Wow, that’s such a good question. Oh my gosh. And I love that I don’t hear these questions ahead of time. I know that we asked them, you know, when people applied, but I didn’t look at those. I had Jessica go through and so I I’m surprised by every question. I had no idea what you’re going to ask. So I want to ask you a couple of follow-up questions before I answer your question. So tell me a little bit about this shift you’re looking at and like what you think that might look like. What’s known and what’s unknown?
New Speaker: Absolutely. That’s actually a really good question. So I am moving off being a counseling therapist at sanctuary as of next January, not this January and I will be replacing myself as a therapist, of course, for my clients. I’ll probably keep some of my clients for a while and I’ll be moving into a new practice that I’m starting and it’s just in a, we’re still in the developmental phase, but maybe by the time this airs we’ll actually be up and I’m going to be doing, Two to Talk therapy for therapists. So my clientele will just be therapists and possibly other people in helping professions. In concurrent with that, my husband and I are starting a podcast. We have your podcast school as well, and also doing a podcast, which is going to be called Two for Marriage. We’ve been married 42 years and we think we know something about it and so we’re going to be doing that as well. And we do already have a travel blog called Two to Go.
[JOE]: Oh, cool.
[ELLEN]: So those are the things that I know are going to happen. What exactly the order of that will be, I don’t know. That’s pretty much kind of the plan.
[JOE]: So when I’m thinking, and that’s super helpful. Thanks Ellen. So, when I think about kind of new movements, I always try to have them be if they’re a lateral move, meaning that I’m going, you know, in your case, it sounds like going from kind of owning the practice to then a different type of practice, that sounds more like a lateral move. I would want that lateral move to do a few things. I would want that to increase your income or increase your free time. Because if, unless there’s something about kind of the current practice that you just don’t like, or the structure, or maybe there’s a partnership or something like that, usually, you know, if you just kind of move from one to the other, so maybe you decide that you’re no longer going to work with kids because you don’t want to see anybody after 3:00 PM. So you have a better schedule then because you’re seeing people during the daytime.
New Speaker: Lateral moves, usually you want to have help you in one of those kinds of domains. Now, the podcast, I think, has the potential to really amplify your reach beyond just individual kind of on the couch or working with people in a group practice. And so that’s where I think that there’s potential to really grow something unique that is scalable because over time, typically what we want to do is you go from one-on-one counseling or one-on-one work to one to many, and that could be a group practice that could be having other people to then like one to masses. And so a podcast, I mean, whether it’s 10 people or 10,000 people, it’s the same amount of work for you to do that one hour podcast or that half hour podcast.
New Speaker: So I’d say your question’s around the mental adjustment, which I will get to, but I wanted to make sure that we kind of talked about those different ways of thinking about what you’re going to put your time into. So, for me, it’s a little different than you. I was stepping back more and more from the actual clinical work. I had found that just personally, I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I used to. And I had a couple of clients that I knew needed me to help them until I was ready to be done, that they weren’t going to transition to someone else in the practice. And so for probably a year and a half before I sold the practice, I was only seeing two, maybe three clients a week. And I really was noticing my energy when it was time for those clients.
New Speaker: I felt like I was doing good clinical work, but I didn’t look forward to going into those counseling sessions. I felt like I’d much rather do a podcast or I’d much rather come up with some new thing for Next Level Practice. And so I noticed that inside myself and so I viewed it as a chapter that had to end at some point. I wasn’t really sure when, because I, at that point, didn’t have the sale of the practice all confirmed, but I noticed that energy. So I knew it was going to come to an end in some form. And so I think preparing for that over the next year for yourself, that’s part of it. I would even move towards how do you kind of mentally start to exit before next January because you want to be able to have the freedom that comes with that transition.
New Speaker: Also I would say that just naturally, I never really kind of identified with being a counselor as part of my personality. That doesn’t mean that I wasn’t a good counselor. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy doing counseling, but I wasn’t the person that at a party was like, “I’m a therapist and you all need to know that.” It just wasn’t something that was a huge part of my identity, being a deep thinker, exploring interesting things, being curious, being someone that travels. Those were all things that were more front and center for me personally, whether or not I was going to stay in the practice. And so I think it was easy to let go of that image over time. because I recognized that there were other things that I was much more interested in like podcasting.
New Speaker: And then I’d say the last thing was just making sure that I really set some clear boundaries around my new schedule., because I think that, especially when there’s something new, your first few months of this kind of transition are going to really define what you’re going to do. And so when I left the community college I started by taking every Wednesday off and then I switched to taking Mondays off and then I added Fridays off. And so it was let’s experiment with why do I have to have a schedule that’s 40 hours a week? And so I would challenge you to say, what are the boundaries that you want to enjoy your marriage, to enjoy your family, to enjoy your friends, to enjoy hobbies? You don’t necessarily have to keep that same schedule you’ve always kept.
[ELLEN]: That makes a lot of sense. That makes a lot of sense. I know that this is a lateral move. I don’t intend to actually walk away from sanctuary, but the reality is that I’m a woman of a certain age and I want to drop my hours, increase my fee, which I will be doing, and I think that you’re right, that all of those, that I need to start that process earlier, rather than later. I wonder if you would, what pitfalls you saw or that you would advise me to avoid as I do this, as I kind of move into things that are scalable and maybe the Two to Talk not being so scalable, but just being something that I’m passionate about.
[JOE]: So, tell me why you’re starting a new practice rather than just raising your fees and seeing different people within Sanctuary?
[ELLEN]: Good question. I’m not a hundred percent —
[JOE]: Because it just seems like a lot of work for raising your fees, changing your hours. Like unless like situations when that would make sense as if you had a partner that didn’t want that to happen and they had 50% say, or if there was some sort of major branding thing. To me, every time I raised my rates, because I would raise my rates to what it was worth for me to see someone. And so Traverse City, the average private pay clinician was probably $90 a session. At the end of my time, I was $250 a session. But that wasn’t based on what I thought the market could bear. It was that I didn’t really want to do counseling. And so if someone wanted to see me for an hour or 45 minutes, like it had to mentally compete with something as fun as doing a podcast. And so at that time it was okay, 250 bucks an hour. And then my consulting at that time, I think was $900 an hour or something like that. And so it was a little bit of a gift to the community, but they’re still paying a chunk of change. And so is there like some sort of outstanding reason why it needs to be a separate entity versus keeping it within Sanctuary?
[ELLEN]: I think I was thinking that eventually I would sell Sanctuary and that I would preserve Two to Talk as my therapy venue that I could do whatever I wish to do with it. That’s I think where I was going with that.
[JOE]: Yeah, usually in a sale, like I signed a non-compete clause within the sale that I wouldn’t practice within the Traverse City area for three or four years. I don’t remember what it was. I have no intention of going back to counseling. It may have even been five years because they’re like, “Okay, we’re buying this thing that you built. We don’t want you to build something else to compete with what we’re buying.” And so even if you have two separate entities that would be in the negotiations anyway. So I’d say if you get to that point where you’re ready to sell Sanctuary and they’re like, “We’re only going to buy this if you won’t be building anything else,” then you can negotiate that at that time. I’m not a huge fan of doing too much for potential kind of things later down the road. Like, “Well, what if someone won’t buy it because I don’t have a separate thing?” It’s like, well, right now, do you want to own two different businesses that are doing the same thing? I mean, at this phase in life, do you want to start from scratch and a new website just because you might sell it someday? I mean, to me, I don’t see that being worth it unless there’s a really good reason.
[ELLEN]: That’s really a fair point. And to be honest with you, I didn’t even consider that before. I was just thinking it was cleaner and maybe it was a better thing to do that way.
[JOE]: Well, the thing is if you’re planning to sell, the thing that you would want to do is make sure that you can itemize out your income from the rest of the practice’s incomes. And so like when I sold my practice they did the overall price of it outside of my income, because if I’m not going to be there, if I’m not going to be, you don’t want that to be a part of that income. And so the cleaner that you can have those books, I mean, you probably want to be able to look at each clinician and say, “So-and-so brought in this much last year, so-and-so brought in this much, this costs this much.” And you want that anyway. Also by you raising your prices and seeing fewer people, that’s going to help everyone else raise their prices too.
New Speaker: Because it looks super weird if I’m charging 250 a session and everyone else has 115., it’s like, “Well, what’s wrong with them?” So all of my clinicians, when I gave myself a raise, I said, “I’m moving my intake up to 250. My sessions are 225 or 250. I’m going to encourage you guys to go from 150 to 185.” The entire than practice went up in regards to the amount that they were charging. And then we could bring in someone new that’s at the bottom level. So then we can say, “Yeah, we’ve got Joe at 250, we’ve got Steve and Nicole at 195 and then we’ve got our newest clinician that’s at 150.” It then actually helps everybody make more money because you’re at the top charging the most and seeing fewer people.
[ELLEN]: That does make sense. I know that when I raise my fee, it does help my clinicians get more people. So that does make a lot of sense. And they’re raising theirs as well. So I guess organically we’ve been doing that to some degree, but maybe not with forethought.
[JOE]: What I’m hearing is that probably killing the idea of starting a separate practice that is similar, and I would say actually do it within. And then, let’s talk a little bit about the podcast and leveling up there. so tell me what kind of angle you would have in regards to this couples’ podcasts. What’s the problem it solves, what are the kind of outcomes you hope listeners would get?
[ELLEN]: Well, I think that there’s a lot of people in our age range. So I’m 64. My husband is 68 and I think that we’re pretty funny and we do a lot of talking. One of the things that we talk about, there’s two things really that we talk about. We’re incredibly Intrepid world travelers, except for this year, of course, or last year 2020. And we also have the experience of having had my husband have a really serious physical ailment. He has a continuing medical condition that is unusual. Most people don’t have it and it has really impacted on the way that we react together. We originally a blog called For Better or For Pancreatitis. And we really enjoy talking on that subject.
New Speaker: So we were kind of looking at it as like you know, we’re boomers kind of, I’m a little bit on the edge of that, but my husband’s definitely one, kind of looking at this as a podcast that would attract boomers and maybe a little bit under boomers. So gen X or whatever that is, gen Z. I don’t even know, I keep losing track of the generations, but people may be just a little younger than us into how to make this work if you have a serious illness and/or you want to travel and you want to live a good life. That’s kind of our angle.
[JOE]: And I would view his illness, the travel as things that make you unique and to really challenge you to think of, well, what is the even broader umbrella that you can attract? I mean, 42 years together is a long time and you just don’t see that as much these days. And so even just to say, “We want to attract people that want to stay married, but we want to do it in an honest way of saying, “Hey, we’ve been through some stuff and here’s how we got through it and here are the life lessons.” I think that the travel side of it, that’s awesome. That’s going to give you great stories. That’s going to make it engaging and make it unique to you. But to me, they even, like just thinking about, “Well, what would I listen to?” And, you know, granted there’s other people that would listen for different reasons.
New Speaker: It would be, “Hey, I’m in the midst of raising a nine-year-old and a six-year-old and I just can’t wait for them to like go to bed every night and watch Netflix with my wife.” But then there’s probably a time when, as a couple, we should have a conversation or like play a game of chess or like go for a walk instead of just watch Netflix. And so like, what could we listen to in the car together, when the girls are on their iPads or something that would help us as a couple? I mean, you probably have a ton of wisdom of just little things that you’ve learned over 42 years that will help the average couple out too.
[ELLEN]: That’s great. I didn’t think about it that way, but yes, I’d like to expand the audience, globalize it a little bit. We did view that it might be helpful for people. We have gone through a lot. Everybody who’s been married 42 years has, and we did view it that it might be the kind of thing where we could do a little bit of audio mentoring, a little bit like what you’re doing right now only of course not the same way, just saying, “Hey, we’ve been there, we’ve had two children. We’ve had challenges with that. We have a disabled child,” a bunch of things that maybe we can give some wisdom to some other people that need it. That’s great.
[JOE]: And I think in Podcast Launch School, we have the whole email course structure that we walk through to think through what do couples that want to get to 42 or 50 years, what did they need to learn? I mean, that could be one angle to brainstorm together as a couple. What are those pain points that we can hit on through an email course, and then to start the podcast? Then I would say, I mean, what a valuable asset as guests on other people’s podcasts. I mean, there’s so many, like I think about the Front Row Dads podcast. So my friend, John Vroman has that, and a lot of people listen to it, to have a couple that’s been through it and has another podcast. Your unicorn’s based on being together that long, but then also in regards to having a podcast and your age demographic. There’s just not as many people that are listening to podcasts in that age demographic, but I mean, that’s growing because we see podcasts being easier to listen to in cars.
New Speaker: And so you’re going to stand out in a way that you know some couple has been married five, 10 or 20 years, is just not going to stand out. And so I think doing the podcast and getting out there onto as many mom podcasts or family podcasts, or marriage podcasts, or clinician podcasts, like there’s just, that would be a great way to get word out about your podcast as well.
[ELLEN]: That’s a really good point, too. That’s —
[JOE]: There was this lady, I went to New Media Summit where they brought in a bunch of podcasters and then guests pitched us to. It was sort of like The Voice, but they had two minutes to try to get onto our podcast and have us like, bring like light up and say, “I want you.” But there was this one lady who was, I want to say 85 or 90 years old and had a podcast. And in her retirement community, every Wednesday, she would pull out a mic and then just like answer questions and have conversations with other people in this retirement community. And she was hilarious and all these older women were like a part of this podcast. And I mean, it was just a world that most people, like you can’t get a glimpse into really.
New Speaker: And it made it beyond just a retirement community and the stigma of what you see on TV and it became this like actual podcasts that people were engaged in. And I feel like there’s going to be so many more podcasters across the whole spectrum, like even our daughters being podcasters now. There’s not a lot of kids podcasters, but to have a six- and a nine-year-old that can interview people and can have conversations, that’s a huge skill set for them. And there’s just not kids podcasters that much. In the same way, there’s not a lot of podcasters over the age of 50 and that’s huge for you to stand out in a really unique way.
[ELLEN]: That sounds like a great idea. We’ve been excited every time we’ve gone out and spoken and we’ve just enjoyed ourselves. Somebody suggested that we do a podcast and we were like, “It does sound like something we’d enjoy and it sounds like something we could do some good.” I appreciate your thoughts on that because I wasn’t thinking of it quite that thing global way. So that’s really helpful. Thank you.
[JOE]: I would, in regards to kind of practical things, absolutely. So in regards practical things, I would say to start gathering up just funny stories, weird stories, stories of crisis, like stories of how our brains light up and how we learn. And so the more that you can say, “Okay, today’s podcast is about fighting. A lot of people avoid fights in their marriage. Let’s start with this story of when we were in Mexico and our car broke down.” I mean, that’s going to be the gold of the podcast, these interesting stories that make good points. And I think that being good storytellers is really, it’s an art. So if you haven’t read the book, The Storyteller’s Secret by Carmine Gallo, I would read that book.
New Speaker: The book Talk Like Ted is based on the top 200 Ted talks and what they all have in common in regards to their storytelling and research. Those two books are amazing when it comes to public speaking and storytelling. And then the last book on this, great for public speaking and for being a good podcaster is Michael Port’s Steal the Show. So all that’s like the Holy Trinity of public speaking and storytelling books in my world. So I would read those books, get really good at storytelling, be yourselves and let me know when it goes live. And we’d love to have you guys on the show.
[ELLEN]: Thank you. We would love that. My husband, we have already been doing that Joe and my husband calls them Ellen stories which gives you an idea of how kind of his approach. And those are great resources. I will check them out. Thank you so very much. This has been extremely valuable for me.
[JOE]: Oh, good. Well, Ellen, thank you so much for being a part of Next Level Practice and Group Practice Boss. I’m so excited about just all that you’re doing. And if you, as a listener, hear yourself in Ellen’s world, if you own a small practice or you’re growing a group practice, or maybe you have a large group practice like Ellen and you want to get to that next level, Next Level Practice might be for you. You can go to, and we have our next cohort opening soon. But maybe it’s that you already own a group practice and you want to join Group Practice Boss. If you’re interested in that too, over at, you will see all sorts of resources for Group Practice Boss.
New Speaker: If you ever have any questions as to what to do next, in the bottom right corner of Practice of the Practice, you’ll see a Chat With Us. Jess, our director of details hangs out every day there, Monday through Friday, just waiting to answer your questions. She’s just ready to answer your question. So she is a real person that is sitting in Florida waiting to help direct you and your practice. So if you can’t find something, just head on over there and click on that. Thank you so much for letting Ellen and I into your ears and into your brain. Have an amazing day. Ellen, thank you so much for being on the show today.
[ELLEN]: Thank you, Joe. It was amazing. Thank you so very much
[JOE]: Special thanks to the band Silence is Sexy for your intro music. We really like it. And this podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard 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 other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.