The Problem With Therapists

 September 29, 2021

By  Uriah Guilford, MFT

minute read

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Uriah    Thanks so much for joining me on the podcast today. I’m super excited to have a conversation with my good friend Ernesto Segismundo from Welcome to the podcast!

Ernesto  I am so excited to talk to you. It’s always been a journey between you and I, huh?

Uriah    I know, it’s true! Our paths keep crossing – here and there and everywhere.

Ernesto  Absolutely.

Uriah    So where in the world are you today?

Ernesto  That’s always been the question that I get even with family and friends right now. I’m in beautiful Denver, Colorado. I had to pause a little bit because I was asked that question this morning by one of the people that I’m coaching, and I actually said, Chicago, but no, I’m not in Chicago! I am in Denver! Beautiful Denver were actually exploded in brand.

Uriah    That’s right. That is so cool. And you’re filming promotional videos for therapist, right?

Ernesto  I am so cool.

Uriah    We’ll talk about that a little bit. By the way, I’m gonna create a map and put in my wall and put pins in it so I can play the game, Where in the world is Ernesto? And if you ever are wondering where you are. Just let me know. I’ll shoot you a pin!

Ernesto  Awesome. I literally woke up this morning discombobulated because I was so tired of getting off the plane and got here pretty late, and I was like, Where the hell am I?!

Uriah    That’s hilarious. Well, I’ll tell you what, today we’re going to talk a little bit about the problem with therapist, and I promise this won’t be like an anti-therapist rant; actually, it’s the opposite. So here’s my premise, and I want to see what you’re think about this: therapists have amazing ideas about how to change the world, but they get stuck and overwhelmed and end up not reaching their big goals. Do you see this happening?

Ernesto  Oh, my gosh. I love this topic that you’re presenting, and I will talk from my personal experience as a retired therapist and a former therapist.

Uriah    Definitely. That’s cool. So first I want to talk about the inspiring ideas and plans that therapists have, and I know you have some insight into this because of your coaching clients and because of the folks you get to meet when you’re traveling all over the United States and you hear about their projects as you’re filming these videos; what are some of the cool ones that you’ve heard about in the last couple of months or even further back than that?

Ernesto  Oh, my gosh. I’ve heard people doing retreats; I’ve heard them taking their ideas outside of the four walls or the courses they create and putting it in live-streaming or even retreats or conferences. I’m seeing them put it into fruition. But the problem is as many of them come into certain blocks. And I think we’re going to be talking about some of those.

Uriah    I have a couple of examples that some of these folks, you know. So I’m thinking about our friend Shane Berkel, who kind of blew up on TikTok with couples and relationship advice, right? That’s pretty unique – I wouldn’t have predicted that five years ago. So that’s cool. I also have a friend named Marty here in California, and he bought some property, and he is building a retreat center for first responders. I think that’s such an amazing idea. And then somebody that you and I met last week in Los Angeles is Holly Daniels, former actress-turned-therapist, who is now wanting to create a course to help directors and writers with psychological sort of frameworks, right? So cool.

Ernesto  Yeah. It’s amazing how we come across these individuals – so gifted. And then when we have conversations with them, things come up, right? Things come up that really are the blocks, are the resistance and so many things that we have to address from an unconscious and psychological perspective. It’s powerful.

Uriah    It’s true. There’s no shortage of ideas. If you talked to just about any therapist, obviously, they love their clinical work and they want to continue seeing clients, but they realize that their talents and their education, their training and their passions can go beyond the walls of the therapy office, right? So it’s not like one is better than the other; both are good. And I think a lot of therapists want to sort of expand in these kind of new ways, which is cool. But there are things that get in the way, right? There’s all kinds of things. The first one that comes to my mind from my conversations with folks is simply busyness and burnout. Because if you’re a “successful therapist” and you build your practice to where you want it to be, you might be seeing 20, 25, 30 clients a week, and that’s pretty taxing. And you probably don’t have a whole lot of time to work on extra projects on the side, right?

Ernesto  Yeah. Absolutely. You know, Uriah, this past weekend, I wrote an email and it was dedicated to and inspired by Productive Therapist, the company that you’ve created, and one of the I talked about there is I worked in community mental health for over eight, nine years, and the word ‘productivity’ was ingrained in my brain. But the thing is, the way that we look at productivity is different, and it needs to be defined as Value and Time. And the way that I look at this is that one of the problems I’m coming across with many of the conversations that I have with the coaches and wanting to have their ideas put into practice, into fruition, is the value of productivity. And I struggled with this because I was doing so many things that my productivity actually was decreasing. And the way that I view productivity now is Time versus Value. So let me give it a, for example: the last time you have in creating your actual product or service or any of the things that you want to put into fruition, the less time that you have creating those, the value decreases. Right? And so one of the problems of the therapists that I’m coming across is they have so much on their plate, but they don’t have time to create that which they want to, which is the service, the products, all of those things. And what happens is the value decreases. And from my perspective, when I retired as a clinician, I put so much focus now on my group practice and my retreats, my conferences, and the value has increased all the more because I’ve been able to focus on that. And you and I are on this journey of leadership, and the more that we become leaders in our companies, the more we have to do less. Now I’m going to repeat that: the more we have to do less, which is working in the business. We have to work on the business. Right? The problem that I’m coming across now with many of the folks that I’m talking about –  extremely gifted – but the one that is across the board is, Oh, my gosh, I don’t have time, right? I don’t have time to create this. And therefore they put out products that are not at the highest potential. And the value decreases from that perspective.

Uriah    So because of those things, they’re not able to really create the time and space to give their full effort to this endeavor or this passion project, and then it doesn’t come out as good as they wanted to. That makes sense.

Ernesto  Absolutely. And the thing is,  I learned this when I…Maui, for instance, the conference in the Foundations of Connections Summit in Maui…I retired last October, and I had months to really focus on the value of Maui, and I went full force. What came out of that was connection and intimacy from all of the colleagues that we had on the island, beautiful island of Maui. Right? And now the social proofing of all of my conferences are solidified because of that. So if I were to see clients, if I were seeing five, six, seven clients, my emotional bandwidth at the end of the day would decrease. And therefore, I really, truly believe that the value of these conferences decreases as well, too. Because you can’t have that emotional bandwidth.

Uriah    Right. I think I’m going to have to do an episode soon on the power of saying no, because that’s one of the first tips of productivity that I always talk about is elimination: in order to do this thing you have to say no to something else, right. You have a limit on your energy and your time. Really? So. Yeah. Busyness and burn out getting in the way. Distraction is another huge one, I know, because we have tons of ideas and want to build new websites and start new businesses every Thursday!

Ernesto  Yeah. Uriah, on that concept as well, too, in my email, I kind of talk a little bit about this, and it was a shout-out to basically what you’re doing in your business. Now, in my world of busyness, I think what’s happening is we use busyness to put our heads under the sand, right?

Uriah    True.

Ernesto  There is something there where we deliberately make ourselves busy so that we don’t have to face something that we must face in our business. We put more things, we read books, we become certified in something else. But there is a problem that we are trying to avoid. And I had this conversation not only in those emails, but also in my coaching practice, where I have to ask the question, Why do you want to create this course when we have another course that you want to take care of or want to grow your group practice, why do you want to put this in? The conversation goes into avoidance. Busyness equals avoidance of something, right? That’s something that I have to be mindful of. And I think that’s part of the problem of many therapists is that busyness has become now the silver bullet, you know, trying to avoid something which we have to look at.

Uriah    Right.

Ernesto  And that has been my ammo for so long. So I had this conversation, I was like, what the freak?!

Uriah    You know, we’re not going to go deep into this, but we could. But I think one of the things that we avoid – myself included, in the past, and still, sometimes now – is what happens if we reach our full potential? That can be scary. That sort of upper limit, if you will. And so you’ve got the dreams and the goals and the ideas. But like, you’re terrified to actually accomplish it and do it really well, because then…you know what I mean? That ties into all these psychological things that are kind of deep.

Ernesto  That’s right. And you sabotage that, which would possibly actually increase your success.

Uriah    Right.

Ernesto  That’s right.

Uriah    Right. Wow. That’s good stuff. So right now I’m going to take a quick pause for our favorite sponsor, Simple Practice.

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Uriah    All right, we’re back. So we talked about some of the inspiring ideas and goals that therapists have, and then a little bit about what gets in the way. And then the last thing I want to talk about before we wrap up is sort of what’s at stake: what happens if therapists don’t accomplish their big goals and dreams, what’s going to happen for them and for their community?

Ernesto  You know, I talked about this in one of my speaking engagements in Maui. And one of the things I said that if you do not show up, if you do not put your goals and dreams into fruition, the mental health community and the communities that you’re serving are screwed. What that means is that we, as a community, rely on the gifts, talents and creativity and innovation that you put out there. And if you do not show up in a valuable way, that you’re just putting out things that are just diluted in nature, we are screwed as a world because we are really relying on you to show up. So that is the ultimate consequence for not being productive with not putting value out there. All of this avoidance and not showing up and all of those things is really not helpful for the communities that you serve and therefore the mental health profession as well. And we as a mental health community, we are notorious for preaching self-care, but not actively practicing self-care. Those of you who follow me on social media, I hardly post about work; I post about food, I post about my travels, the fun things that I’m doing, theme parks. But I post those things, and I actively post those things, not to shield people from understanding that it’s hard to run three different businesses – I have my share of sleepless nights and stress, but that’s not what I want to portray out there, right? Once in a while, I communicate that. But I think one of the things that we have to really do is take care of ourselves, and we’re notorious for preaching, but not acting it.

Uriah    You said that really well. And I like what you said about how the world needs us to show up and sort of chase our dreams; you didn’t say ‘chase our dreams’, but that’s kind of my way of saying it. And if we don’t, then we miss out and we don’t reach our potential. And then that comes along with its own sort of self esteem impact and then also our communities, they might not know it, but they don’t get the benefits of the thing that we were planning on creating. So it’s like a double loss, right?

Ernesto  And the testimony for that is that you and I were with some of our colleagues this past weekend, right? And I got the full benefit of you guys being present for me. So the more inspired you guys were talking about, it, the more inspired I was, so imagine if we do that on a global scale, being present, putting value out there, being fully present with everything that you’re doing, people will pick up on that. But I just had the privilege of having these dynamic coaches on one table. So I was like, Okay, I’m going to do this, I think I’m gonna do a podcast, but I’m going to do all these things. But the main thing is the energy was there, right?

Uriah    Good stuff. I love that. Yeah. So we’re going to wrap up, but I have some ideas, of course, and some solutions for some of these problems. And one of my missions really is to help prevent burnout with therapists. And that’s why Productive Therapist exists, to really help therapists learn how to delegate and outsource so they can get some of these things done. And I actually created a new program called Focus Club, which is all about accountability and creating time and space for a therapist to really work on those things, implement the ideas, get it done, and then feel amazing. So if you want to take a peek of that, go check out And Ernesto, how can people find more about you?

Ernesto  Thank you so much. Well, I’m on social media a lot, and I don’t have friends and families on that social media, so you can find me, first of all, on Facebook and also through And a lot of things are going to be connected in my new branding for, which is, one, I will have Uriah’s Productive Therapist link on there as well, too, with some of the offerings that he has on there, so you can look on the website and also have CAVAcademy, which is where I host retreats. That website will have all the list of retreats that are coming up and some secret ones that are coming up as well.

Uriah    I’m looking forward to Nashville next May – I’m excited about that.

Ernesto  And I notice, and you guys don’t see this, but Uriah has a guitar right behind him as we’re doing this on Zoom, and I don’t know if you know, but Uriah is a musician as well, too. So you may or may not see him on stage doing his rock and roll stuff.

Uriah    If I can, I will. Thanks so much, Ernesto! Have a good one.

Ernesto  All right. You too.


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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