Productivity

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome ft. Patrick Casale

 March 9, 2022

By  Uriah Guilford, MFT

minute read

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Self doubt and imposter syndrome are increasingly common. Even therapists and practice owners are not immune.

Why is self-doubt so common?

How can you overcome imposter syndrome so you can grow your confidence and your practice?

Join me in this fascinating conversation with Patrick Casale, of Resilient Mind Counseling, as we explore self-doubt in the mental health community and how you can move past it in your business.

Click to listen now!

In This Episode, You'll Learn:

  • How can you use fear as a gas pedal, not a brake?
  • What are the benefits of personal honesty in overcoming self-doubt?
  • What is the kryptonite to imposter syndrome?

Resources Mentioned In This Episode:

All Things Practice
All Things Practice podcast
Resilient Mind Counseling

⬇️ Click for full episode transcript ⬇️

Uriah
Welcome back to the Productive Therapist Podcast! So glad that you're listening. Today I have the great privilege to talk to Patrick Casale. He's a licensed mental health and addiction therapist in Asheville, North, North Carolina. He owns a group practice called Resilient Mind Counseling and a private practice, coaching and consulting business called All Things Private Practice, where he helps mental health therapists overcome their fear and empowers them to create the business of their dreams. He offers one on one and group coaching programs. Patrick is also the host of the All Things Private Practice podcast, and he loves playing soccer, traveling, spending time with his wife, Ariel, and their two dogs, Hudson and Hazel. Enjoy my conversation with Patrick. Patrick, welcome to the show!

Patrick
Uriah. Thank you for having me on the show. Yes.

Uriah
So cool to talk to you. It was actually really cool to meet you in person in Asheville, North Carolina, or as they say, Asheville, North Carolina, last year. That was so much fun.

Patrick
That was fun being able to just share amazing food and meet each other and your mastermind group, too. That was such a cool experience to just connect. I think that's the most natural way to really connect with people in general is over food and just hanging out 100%. Yeah.

Uriah
And I still think about those shishito peppers at that restaurant. Oh, my goodness.

Patrick
I'll have to go back and just send you pictures of those out of making you jealous and then wanting you to come back to Asheville in general.

Uriah
I would definitely come back because I didn't get to see enough of the downtown area. It's a cool spot. I like it a lot, for sure.

Patrick
It's funky, it's weird. It's artsy. Nobody that's listening to this move there. We don't have any more houses for sale. Please don't come.

Uriah
Don't jack up the prices anymore! So we're just going to have a conversation today about a couple of different things. But honestly, whatever we feel like chatting about and what would be potentially useful to the Productive Therapist listeners. Between you and I, we've got a lot of knowledge and experience, so we'll come up with something interesting, right?

Patrick
Absolutely.

Uriah
But I was kind of curious just to ask you about what it was like for you when you became a therapist and started a private practice. What was the most challenging thing for you during that part of your journey?

Patrick
It's a great question, something I talk about a lot. Self doubt and imposter syndrome. Majorly, what we don't know. We don't know, situation where you're working in an agency and you're told this is the only way to do things. People who go out on private practice don't make it. It's too risky. And you really talk yourself out of taking the leap for quite some time. And I think we really hold ourselves back. The imposter syndrome was there all the time. It was like, why would anyone call me? And why would anyone hire me? And why would anyone pay me? And all of those narratives that come up, especially when you're leaving something that's secure and consistent.

Uriah
Yes, that's huge. I have a question for you, and I don't know the answer to this, but for people who have this path to licensure and private practice, that's like studying psychology from when they were age five. Right. Do they have less imposter syndrome? Because I had an undergraduate degree totally other than psychology. So I started studying psychology, literally in my master's program. And so I always thought, like, I really don't know what I'm talking about. I don't have an undergrad background, blah, blah, blah. I don't know. What do you think about that?

Patrick
I guess that could play a role. I think there's so many reasons for it to rear its head. And I talk about that a lot in a lot of different ways, but that certainly plays a role. Right. Like, I don't have as much training as somebody else who's doing this. And I hear that a lot from therapists now that are saying I do have that training, but I don't have, for example, EMDR training. So everyone wants EMDR. Why would they hire me if I don't offer it or something similar in nature? And I think that we get really caught up in that paralyzing perfection and security mode when we're trying to grow and step outside of our comfort zones, and that's when we start to really have that self doubt. I have a lot of conversations with a lot of BIPOC therapists, too, and their experiences are quite different than that, where it's like, well, this is just generational racism and trauma where we're told we don't belong. So I think it shows up differently for everyone. But nevertheless, it's quite impactful and pretty painful when it does show up.

Uriah
Yeah. One interesting thing about the mental health field is that it seems to me like it's challenging to obtain mastery, and there's so many directions to go. I often thought I kind of wish that I had chosen to just be like a DBT therapist 100%. Maybe that would be easy. And I could say, I know this realm holistically, but of course, like a lot of us, I didn't end up doing that. I ended up just being more integrative. Right. I don't know if that makes any sense at all, but I guess that was a challenge for me. And the one thing that I found tough was the lack of career guidance. Right? Yes. Literally, the way I started a private practice is my supervisor, towards the end of my hours was like, hey, have you ever thought about this? Zero actual guidance, but just floated the question. I was like, you know, no, I have no idea what I'm going to do. Yeah.

Patrick
It's pretty common, right? To feel like people go through their high school programs not even talking about it or being told that it's something that's not attainable right out of school or you need to earn your stripes at your agency job. It's just unfortunate. And I think we're seeing a new age of psychotherapy where people are wanting to work for themselves and wanting to have that freedom and kind of pushing the envelope, so to speak. I remember my last day at my agency job. My supervisor took me out for lunch for an exit interview. And I just remember her saying, you'll be back in 30 days. Nobody makes it on their own. And I was just like, really? I just left that interaction so resentful and angry. And I used it as fuel at first, but it's just unfortunate that that's a narrative that a lot of people come across as well.

Uriah
Sure. I remember something that motivated me. I was working at an agency. It was actually a group practice, like a residential care facility for teenagers, and lots of good things about that place. I learned so much. But I remember talking to the executive director about a raise because I was getting paid $2,200 a week. I'm sorry. A month. A month for guess how many hours? 45 hours.

Patrick
I was going to guess 60!

Uriah
Right? Yeah. And you know, she said to me, she said, I wish we could pay you what you're worth. And I was like, oh, that stings. So you're saying I'm worth a lot more, but you can't pay me. How do I get to that? It took me a long time, honestly. But I was like, I don't like that equation.

Patrick
It doesn't feel good to think about it. You're like, okay, it's good work. I enjoy it. I know it's helping, and I really am being underpaid, and that just doesn't sit right with me.

Uriah
Yeah. And then when I started my private practice, I came across a book that I immediately gravitated to called Be a Wealthy Therapist. And I was like, okay, that's more along the lines of what I want. And it wasn't just about money. It was about all things being wealthy in all contexts. Right. I thought that was fantastic. So many challenges, and yet we work through it and we do what we do to help the world and our communities. And some of us have more challenges than others. But it's pretty amazing what you and I have accomplished and the people that we consult with, too, have accomplished, right?

Patrick
Absolutely. It gives people hope. I think that things can be different, that you have so many skills that are applicable in so many arenas that can be helpful even if it's not in one on one therapy. It can be so useful in all sorts of business venture and entrepreneurial ship. And I think we lose sight of that sometimes where we don't really recognize how useful what we do can be implemented into other areas because all of our work is relational. It's all about relationship building and connecting, and that is necessary everywhere.

Uriah
That's such a good point. Yeah. I'm no longer seeing clients. I'm on extended sabbatical, but I'm using all of my therapist's skills in managing my teams and growing two businesses. And I for sure would not be as good at that as I am if I had not been a therapist for 20 years. Right? Yeah. I love that point. So I'm curious. I don't know the answer to this question. How did you decide to start a group practice and how long ago was that?

Patrick
Like most things in my career, it was kind of spur of the moment. I think I'm going to do this and I don't know how it was. Last January, I actually started my group practice, Resilient Mind Counseling. I had been in private practice for three and a half years, and covet happens. And I'm just bombarded and I've been helping clinicians build their practices for years for like, sandwiches and coffees and whatever else.

Uriah
Right.

Patrick
I'm just thinking I'm like I could incorporate my coaching and practice building and create a group practice that pays therapist well, teaches them how to build their businesses in case they want to leave instead of the opposite mentality. And I hired my first therapist last January, colleague and a friend of mine, and it was kind of an experiment. And he was full in a month. And then I thought, I guess I could do this again. And I just hired my 12th therapist a couple of weeks ago, and she's got ten clients already. And we've hired a psychiatric provider. And the goal is really not only to help them financially, just work out of their agencies, have more freedom, flexibility, all the things we love about being small business owners, but being paid well and also not feeling taken for granted or underappreciated, and also just having a wider reach in Western North Carolina to be able to support people who are really struggling.

Uriah
That's amazing. So what levers did you pull to get from zero to twelve in twelve months? Literally one therapist per month. Seriously, how did you do that?

Patrick
I don't know. I question it every time I hire someone, because what happens is growth can sometimes be problematic. People think that more money, more problems is real. The more growth you have, the more responsibility with onboarding and just getting people up to speed. And I care very much about their outcomes and their success. So what I've been doing is like, okay, hire these two clinicians, teach them how to do these things. All of a sudden they're full. Now I should probably hire more clinicians because we just keep getting calls. And I do very often ask myself, when is the stopping point, though?

Uriah
How much is the deal? Yeah, sure.

Patrick
And that's a hard question to answer. I think a lot of entrepreneurs struggle with that and to turn it off.

Uriah
Yeah, I struggle with that in many ways because the opportunities for growth are everywhere and not infinite. But there's a lot of opportunities hard for me to say no. I'm just thinking about productive therapist's to very ambitious, successful therapists that need help, need our help. And like, I want to keep growing so that I can say yes, but that's not necessarily in alignment with my personal goals all the time. So, yeah, that is a challenge. I'm really impressed with that. There's group practice owners across the country who have had massive challenges in finding and keeping good people. And you're obviously doing something really well. So Congratulations, man.

Patrick
Thank you.

Uriah
That is stellar. Just out of curiosity, are you private pay insurance combination?

Patrick
It's a combo of the two. So we do take Blue Cross and we do take United, but ultimately, I think it's a 50 50 split with private pay versus insurance.

Uriah
Okay.

Patrick
Creating accessibility, but also really helping therapists really target who they really want to be working with with their ideal niches and clientele. So just really teaching them to be authentic and really embracing that because I think the era of being robotic and blank slates and not disclosing anything about yourself or having emotions is done. And I like that we're moving into more of a personal era where we understand we're selling relational work and we are human beings. And I think that's been really helpful, too.

Uriah
So this is a random question, but how would you feel if you found your therapist on TikTok?

Patrick
My own personal therapist?! It depends on what you're doing. Yeah.

Uriah
But if you're on TikTok one day and you're like...

Patrick
I mean, it's bound to happen, right? I have never watched a Tik Tok video in my life.

Uriah
I didn't mean to assume that you have.

Patrick
I do think if I saw my therapist on there, it would depend on the content. And I know there's a big debate on that right now in terms of social media marketing. And if you're a therapist on there talking about a topic that you know a lot about and you're just speaking about it, what difference is that between doing that or doing a webinar, doing a Zoom call?

Uriah
Sure.

Patrick
I think we are so quick to throw up the ethical police word and especially in this profession. So I think it just depends. Is that an okay answer?

Uriah
Definitely no. It is the right answer. Meanwhile, I opened TikTok, and there it goes. Sorry, I didn't mean to do that. I was going to search for one of my friends that I haven't talked in a little while, Shane Burquel, and he's one of the people that I know. I'm talking about relationship advice on TikTok. And he, last time I checked, had blown up quite big on there.

Patrick
I was in Maine a couple of years ago in October with Ernesto and Shane. I got to see the magic behind the scenes with Shane's TikTok because setting it up in the living room and angling it and doing all these things. And I was like, watching and I'm like, I am so not in the League of these two human beings where my imposter syndrome was just like, dude, get the hell out of Maine. Like, this is not your space. And it's pretty cool to watch what he's created.

Uriah
Yeah. It's a special thing to be a TikTok therapy notes for me so much. To be honest, I'm too old for that. No kidding. Oh, my goodness. So in your consulting, here's another question for you. In the consulting that you do with therapist, what are some of the advice and guidance that you find yourself giving over and over again?

Patrick
That's a good question, because I just taught one of my little mini crash courses today. So it's in my mind, I think that one of the things we talk about so often is that you are allowed to turn people away, that you are allowed to specify who you really like to work with and who really energizes you. I definitely talk a lot about how you are allowed to charge any amount of money that you want and help people simultaneously. That if you can enforce the fees that you need to have to run your business and have the life that you want to have, you can open up pro Bono or low fee slots. I definitely talk a lot about those things. We talk a lot about imposter syndrome. I mean, that's a given. And then something I'm truly passionate about is just imperfect action, putting the idea out to the world, building the plane as you fly it, so to speak, using fear as a gas pedal and not a break, and also really stepping into authenticity, like the power of disclosure, the power of writing content that is really personable, that is just, like, speaks to the client experience and pain points.

Patrick
I can't stress that enough with how important that is.

Uriah
I like that. I like all those things. Oh, my gosh, I want to be in your group. It makes me think about I rewrote my personal bio for my therapist website years ago and actually paid a copywriter to help me write it. But obviously everything on there was genuinely me. And I decided just because it's who I am as a person and as a therapist, to use quite a bit of self disclosure. And so I was like, hey, when I was a teenager, I was struggling and I was using drugs and I was stealing and I was depressed, inspiring, out of control. And then I sort of told the story of troubled teen to sort of successful mental health professional. And then I said something to the effect of, like, I'm now the therapist that I wish I had when I was 16. Right.

Patrick
That is so powerful.

Uriah
I mean, it's 100% true. And I can't tell you how many people got in touch and said, you were just convinced I was the right therapist for them because I shared my real story. And they're like, you can probably talk to my son better than anybody I've found. So, yeah, there's really something to that.

Patrick
You are spot on. And that's exactly what I taught 50 therapists from all over the country today is that telling your story is powerful. It also allows to have a light at the end of the tunnel for people so people can see, wow, this person was struggling just like I am. And they were able to work through it, and now they are able to be okay or they're healthier in a healthier place. And the opposite of that. Right. Is like the therapy sites that feel like resume is almost like I'm proving my competence to you because I don't know if you're actually going to hire me. And it feels like a resume. I went to school here. I do these trainings. I will walk alongside you. I'm traumainformed. And I'm like, that doesn't grab me in that doesn't make me feel like you're going to get my existence or my struggle.

Uriah
Yeah, no, it's true. That is so true. So on the topic of imposter syndrome, what is the Kryptonite to impostor syndrome like, how do you take the power out of that? I know it's like a very complex thing, but what have you found?

Patrick
Yeah, it's such a good question. I wish I had the answer.

Uriah
Imperfect action.

Patrick
Imperfect action is crucial. Putting your idea out there, regardless of whether it's perfected, whether it feels like it's going to be well received, it's just putting it out there because there's going to be a vulnerability to that, and that's okay. I've talked a lot about giving yourself permission to fail and make mistakes, because when things are new or out of our comfort zone, we're going to make mistakes. That's the reality of the human experience. And failure is okay because it's a way to learn. But another thing that I've realized is playfulness is really important with imposter syndrome, like a funny voice or giving it a funny name or even identifying in some way. Like, I don't know if you watch Harry Potter, but someone described it to me as, like, Horcruxes or not Horcruxes. Sorry. Bogarts and Harry Potter, which are their biggest fears that people take advantage of. And when they were able to make those playful, it no longer had power over them. And I think we so often need to do that in life and how much control we can take back from something that is so preventative? Because how many people do we know that have these great ideas that just cannot put them out to the world because they're just so fearful and anxious and insecure about how they're going to be received and if they're going to be successful, that's powerful.

Uriah
I love it. Somehow I've been able to tackle a good chunk of my imposter syndrome. Fortunately, I feel grateful for that. And yeah, not taking yourself too seriously, too. I think I always had this perception that all of my clients, specifically the parents of these teenagers. Right. We're looking to me to know all the answers to all the questions. And first, I don't know where I got it in my head that I needed to have all the answers to all the questions. Wait a minute. That's not realistic at all. And so that was helpful for me to go like, yeah, I know a lot, and I'm here as a guide, but I don't know everything and I never will. Absolutely. Yeah. So that's helpful. Cool. I love this conversation.

Patrick
Yeah. This is great.

Uriah
Here's one of my final questions for you. All right. And this is something I'm asking everybody that I talked to on the podcast this year, some version of this question. And this is the question, just tell me your first answer, whatever comes to you. I mean, you can filter it if you want. So the question is, what do wildly successful therapists share in common risk taking?

Patrick
I think that the ability to leap and know that it's really scary to do, but you're still willing to do it anyway. And I think that can feel really powerful. And that doesn't mean growing adventures and success as an entrepreneur is not a scary process. It's definitely a roller coaster. But being willing to embrace that and not allowing that to prevent you from pursuing your goals or your passions, that's so good.

Uriah
Yeah. Everything you do in your professional career as a therapist or whatever kind of mental health professional you are involves some risk. Right. Especially launching out on your own and saying, I'm now a private practice professional, right. Yeah. And every stage of growth, too. I'll tell you what, my business has been the best life coach I could ever have hoped for. It's constantly challenged me and invited me to step out of my comfort zone and to do things like this. A couple of years ago I would not have had the courage to have a podcast interview. People pretend that I'm somebody that knows something but now I'm like, hey, this is fun. I'm doing this.

Patrick
That's so true. So again, that's like making it playful and also a good example of imperfect action of just like doing it and then enjoying it and you're like, okay, this is fun. It's not as scary as I thought it was going to be and I just know I've prevented myself from doing so many things with that mentality and even just launching my podcast. I was like I've been thinking about this for two years. I'm just doing it and we'll see what happens and if it's not successful it's not successful. But at least you tried, right?

Uriah
Ready? Fire. Aim. That's so cool. So where can people go to find out more about you and all the awesome resources you have?

Patrick
You can go to AllThingsPractice.com, which is where I have one on one practice coaching my four-month coaching programs, my private practice retreats and the podcast - All Things Private Practice. I also have the All Things Private Practice Facebook group.

Uriah
That's fantastic. I'm really glad that you're doing everything that you're doing. I'm super impressed by you and also I feel like even though there are a lot of voices in a lot of consultants and a lot of voices I feel like you have definitely unique and needed things to say. So thank you so much for just being yourself. I appreciate it.

Patrick
I appreciate that. That means a lot.

Uriah
Yeah, it was fun talking to you. I hope to see you again pretty soon.

Patrick
Yeah. Thanks. I think I'm going to see you on my podcast in a couple week so...

Uriah
It's on the calendar! Absolutely looking forward to it.

Patrick
All right.

Uriah
Have a good one. Bye!

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Uriah Guilford, MFT


Uriah is a group practice owner and the creator of Productive Therapist. He is a technology nerd, a minimalist travel packer, a rock drummer and business development enthusiast.

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