5 Ways Your Practice Can Give Back

Uriah: Thanks so much for listening to this podcast! So glad you’re here. Today, Tracel and I are talking about the five ways your practice can give back. Hi Tracel, how are you?

Tracel: I’m doing well. I’m excited to talk about this subject today!

Uriah: Yeah, good. I think, for you and I both, giving back and volunteering and community service are somewhat of a value. Isn’t that true?

Tracel: I would say so. And I think as most people, if they’ve ever done any volunteer work, know that you probably get more back…it benefits you, I think, more. You know, there’s more happiness in giving. And when you do that, I think it benefits you. I guess it’s a win-win, right? You win and whoever you’re volunteering for wins as well.

Uriah: For sure. I think it took me a long time to figure that out in my life and I’m still figuring it out! But I’ll tell you what prompted this topic today, actually – and you know this already – but earlier this month, my daughter and I joined a team of about 19 people; we went down to Mexico, about five hours south of San Diego, so Baja California, and we worked together to build a house in four day – which is kind of crazy – for for a woman who is a single mom with five kids. And she had sort of gotten out of an abusive relationship and a bad situation. Tons of poverty down there and those kind of things. And so we were able to do a bunch of great things, which culminated in building this house for this family and then dedicating it to her. It was honestly probably one of the most challenging and most rewarding experiences I’ve had. And it got my wheels turning, right? And one cool thing was that I was down there with my daughter and there was several people, there were about six or seven parents on the trip with a teenager, so it was kind of this neat dynamic, right? So hopefully modeling for them and teaching them and all that kind of good stuff.

Tracel: Right. A great thing, because you can talk and talk and talk about it, but when you’re a teenager and have a chance to experience it firsthand, then it doesn’t matter what you say – they’re going to have that experience to take with them and hopefully, like you said, model and be able to do that for the rest of their life.

Uriah: So true. One of the things that got my wheels turning was…I mean, obviously, any time you’re in a situation where you see serious needs, if you’re a good human on any level – and most everybody who listens to this podcast is because you’re probably a therapist, right? – it just kind of moves you. But I was thinking, gosh, you know, Productive Therapist has been successful and my counseling practice has been successful, but, I don’t know, some sort of light went on and I thought, you know what? I want to make more money so that I can do more good things. And that was pretty cool. That was kind of a sort of a novel idea for me, you know, just to try to expand what I’m doing. So it got me thinking about various ways that I have already given back and then some ways that are new that I want to sort of explore and just kind of talk through with you and share with the folks listening.

Tracel: I think it’s a great idea.

Uriah: Yeah. So I came up with five. And these are not the only five in existence, so just use these as inspiration or sort of a launching point for whatever you might want to do. And I’ll list them and then we’ll kind of go into a little bit of detail. So the first one is Creating An Offering/Free Resources; Second one is Pro Bono and/or Sliding Scale Therapy; then number three, we’ve got Charitable Giving – personally or through the business; and then number four is Volunteering; and five is Office Drives. So I know you’ve done some volunteering too; what have you enjoyed doing?

Tracel:  So I think any time when you are sacrificing time that you could spend doing other things and you have a chance to give of that time and energy to someone else, I think that’s really important. So a large part of the volunteering that I do is helping teach other people about the Bible, and that takes up quite a bit of my time. But there, over the years, have been times where I’ve volunteered for other thing, like I worked for a nonprofit at one point, so there was a lot of volunteer work that was done there. And I just find that any time I have the opportunity or make the opportunity to do it – probably is a better word – I never regret that time that I used to volunteer.

Uriah:   That’s awesome. I love it. Hopefully somewhere in this episode today, I can fit in a story and tell you about how I slept outside to raise money for the homeless!

Tracel:  OK, I want to hear that story now!

Uriah:   For sure. So the first one is Free Resources. And this is probably the thing that I’ve done the most. And in the history of my practice, I’ve pretty much always had an email newsletter and I’ve done things like…well, I blogged for about ten years, which is a long time, but I would create all kinds of free resources for specifically parents of teenagers. I wrote ebooks, online trainings and courses, and I always felt good about that because my fees were always relatively high for a private pay practice, but I felt like giving of my time to create these resources and then sharing them with as many people as possible was sort of my version of community service and my version of giving back, even if I couldn’t provide therapy to everyone, so I think that’s something that any therapist can do, whether you’re solo or group doesn’t even matter.

Tracel:  Right. Such a great way to just be a resource in your community as well, for sure.

Uriah:   So that’s One. At some point I had this realization that those are all free work hours! But, you know, I felt good doing it. And it obviously helped with all kinds of other things, people being aware of my practice and my work. But at the end of the day, I was also perfectly fine with it – and I’m still perfectly fine with – people taking advantage of those free resources and then never paying me a dollar! That is completely okay, including you listening to this podcast, although we do have many ways you can pay us a dollar! So that’s the first one there. And I think that just feels good, right? It feels good to share your experience, your knowledge, expertise, and that’s what you’re doing on a regular basis, helping others with what you know and what you have. That’s ultimately all we can do, right? Give of what we have – time, talent and treasure. Going back to Sunday school there! The next one is one that most therapists are familiar with, it’s kind of something that we hold as part of our ethics, I guess you could say, is Pro Bono Therapy and/or a Sliding Scale, giving back to those who don’t have any resources at all or have only a small amount of resources. And I’ve always enjoyed doing that. Like I said, my fees have never been super low. And at some point I actually eliminated the words ‘sliding scale’ from my practice; I decided not to do that. And I can share more about that later. But I have had many times over the years where I was talking to somebody on the phone and realized that I would be a good therapist for them and I would love to help them and because I had so many other clients that I was seeing that were paying me well, I can say to them, either ‘I’ll see you free’ or ‘Pay me whatever you can afford.’

Tracel:  Right.

Uriah:   And it always felt good to be able to do that. You can only do so much of that! But to be able to offer that is is really nice.

Tracel:  And even if you can only do that for one or two people, those are one or two people that wouldn’t probably have been able to find service somewhere else. So, you know, yeah, you can’t do it for everybody. But the fact that you could do it at all is really good.

Uriah:   Definitely. And I tell my therapists in my group practice too, I give them some sort of agency with this, that they can they can make that choice. It does, of course, affect their pay. But if they want to do that and it feels right and it feels good, then I want them to be able to to do that. And then also a sliding scale can be helpful. Some practices just like to have a certain number of openings for sliding scale folks, whether that’s 20, 30, 40 or 50 dollars, whatever that might be.

Tracel:  Right.

Uriah:   And that can be a nice thing to do as long as you – like we said just a minute ago – keep it to a reasonable amount. Maybe, I don’t know, 10% of your practice, something like that would probably make sense. And I’ve always realized that the more, the better paid I am and the more my needs are satisfied, then I’m more able to be present for my clients and for my employees, etc.

Tracel:  Right, right.

Uriah:   Yeah. You’ve got to take care of yourself in order to give back.

Tracel:  That’s true.

Uriah:   So that’s pro bono and sliding scale therapy. Number three is Charitable Giving, whether personally or through the business. And it’s something that I’ve done for a long, long time and definitely think is an important part of my spiritual practice and other things, because I think the more you don’t hold on tightly to your resources, the more can come to you, right?

Tracel:  You’re absolutely right.

Uriah:   Something about that is true. And then what I was thinking about recently from this trip to Mexico was how can I bring charitable giving into both of my businesses, Productive Therapist and Guilford Family Counseling and whether that’s…most likely donation matching of some sort. And actually, Gusto – who has not yet sponsored this podcast, but they will soon hopefully! – has this feature called…I think they call it ‘donation matching’ or something like that. I’m going to turn it on soon and just test it out. So I think the way it works is either the business chooses or there’s a certain number of authorized charitable organizations that employees can choose from. And say you wanted to give some to an organization that you believe is doing good work, right? Then Productive Therapist would match that to a certain percentage or dollar amount. I kind of like that idea. And again, it’s totally optional, but it would be bringing that value to our culture as a business.

Tracel:  And that’s such a good idea because sometimes people would like to donate, but they don’t know to whom or how or anything like that. So to have something set up and say, you know, here are some great options for you, I think that’s a really nice feature that Gusto has.

Uriah:   Yeah, I’m excited about that. They’re always coming out with good stuff. So that’s Charitable Giving. And I think it’s a good idea. If you’re listening to this and you’re not giving to help others that are less fortunate than yourself, definitely consider that. You know, whether that’s homeless or domestic violence or world hunger or so many things. So many people in the world need our help and we’re so fortunate so we can definitely do more.

Tracel:  Right.

Uriah:   The next one is Volunteering, which we kind of started out talking about. And this is something else, something that, kind of along with Charitable Giving, is something I want to figure out, a way to integrate into both my businesses. A little bit harder with Productive Therapist because we’re all virtual.

Tracel:  Right.

Uriah:   Actually, not even sure how that would work.

Tracel:  We’ll have to figure that out.

Uriah:   Yeah. Maybe there’s some sort of like national organization that we could all do something for. I don’t know. That’ll be a fun problem to solve. But like with my group practice here, I would love to get therapists involved with doing something. For example, a local organization that I actually served on the board of directors for for four years is called Social Advocates for Youth, and they have all kinds of opportunities. In fact, I’ve actually hired some of their clinicians from over there to here, but we could definitely do some things as a team to go out and help in the community through that nonprofit, which I think would be really would be fun and team building, right?

Tracel:  Right.

Uriah:   Now, my wheels are turning about how to do that virtually. I have to…let’s figure that out!

Tracel:  OK, sounds good. Put that on the list!

Uriah:   Yeah. So volunteering is awesome. And then the next one that I came up with is Office Drives, which I’ve actually thought about several times; had to look it up on a Google search today, but it makes sense. And the one that comes to mind is…well, again, specifically talking about that nonprofit I was mentioning, we could just put something in the waiting room and they every year have like a sock drive. So they collect socks and then they distribute them with other things to local homeless – homeless youth, actually. But you’ve got Toys For Tots, you got all kinds of things like canned food drive. And that’s…I think it’s kind of a nice thing to do because it’s optional. There’s no coercion, right? Hopefully no overdone expectations of giving or sacrificing.

Tracel:  Right.

Uriah:   But everybody can buy a pair of socks. So something like that could be easy to do and easy to implement. So those are some ideas. Yeah. Do you wanna hear about the one cold night?

Tracel:  Yeah! And then I’ll tell you one that I did.

Uriah:   Yes, please! OK, so a couple of years ago when I was actually on the board of directors for this organization…and one of their missions is to end youth homelessness, specifically in this area; nobody really realizes it, but there’s a lot of of young people that are usually a transitional age like 18 to 24 and even younger who don’t have a home. And so they have this event called One Cold Night. And this was the first year that it was in existence. And the idea was, you know, local…a lot of them were business owners, but anybody could be involved with this, would raise money and then sleep outside overnight all together at the same time and try to raise awareness and then obviously money for the organization. And it was pretty cool; it was very unique. Like nothing I’d ever done before. And of course, that night it happened to be pouring rain.

Tracel: Oh no!

Uriah:   Yeah. And so we were able to bring some, you know, some minimal supplies and they handed out some cardboard and some, I think trash bags and things like that.

Tracel:  Oh!

Uriah:   And I ended up sleeping underneath a table with two other people and on the concrete with a little bit of cardboard there, right? And I mean, it was not that bad. It was it was a little bit of a rough night, but it definitely brought home to me for sure what other people go through. Just like a slice of it, not even the whole experience. I think the next year after that, they made it even harder where they would, like, come and wake you up in the middle of night, a bunch of noise and-

Tracel:  Oh, my goodness!

Uriah:   -do all kinds of things like that. But that was kind of a neat experience. And it prompted me and motivated me to go out and tell people about this issue that they didn’t know about. So that was interesting.

Tracel:  Well, that’s a little hardcore! Mine now sounds glamorous when I tell you about it! So when I lived in California, one of the communities nearby, they were going to have a house razed and then rebuilt by Extreme Home Makeover.

Uriah:   Oooo!

Tracel:  And so I was working for the fire department at the time. And so I had the opportunity to go out there with a couple of other dispatchers. And it was really unique to see – well, obviously behind the scenes, which is interesting – but just the whole process and how quickly it can be done from, you know, foundation up in such a short period of time. And the family was obviously grateful. And just the whole experience was really, it was really cool to see, and to see all the people from all sorts of different areas of the community come together, whether it was people that were in construction or had the lumber or the cement or whatever, it was all to come together for this one purpose. So that was it interesting.

Uriah:   I love it!

Tracel:  Yeah.

Uriah:   So did that actually turn into an episode on TV?

Tracel:  Oh, yes. Yes it did.

Uriah:   Oh, it did? And did you watch it?

Tracel:  Of course I did!

Uriah:   Oh, that’s great. Of course, yeah, how could you not, right?

Tracel:  No, I’m not in it, but you know. But it was fun to see.

Uriah:   Yeah, I miss that show; I haven’t watched that show in a long time.

Tracel:  I don’t even know if it’s still on.

Uriah:   It might not be. Yeah. So those are just a few ideas for you to consider. And again, I suggest using your creativity and whatever the skills of your team are to find some fun ways to give back. I mean, your community will definitely benefit and so will your practice. And so, again, Free Resources, number one; number two, Pro Bono and Sliding Scale Therapy; number three, Charitable Giving; four, Volunteering; and five, Office Drives. So there you go. Thanks so much for listening! Have a great day, Tracel.

Tracel:  All right, bye!

Uriah:   Bye!

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