The Purpose Driven Therapist ft. Jamal Jones

You became a therapist for a purpose: to help people. But often the pressures of running and growing a business, combined with the necessarily business of life, can lead to exhaustion and burnout.
Join me, Uriah Guilford, as I chat with former Productive Therapist member, Jamal Jones, about practical ways you can become a purpose-driven therapist.
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In This Episode, You'll Learn:

  • How to grow your practice in a healthy way

Resources Mentioned In This Episode:

The Purpose Driven Therapist

䷉ Click for full episode transcript

Uriah
Hello, Jamal. Welcome to the podcast.

Jamal
Thank you, Uriah, for having me. It is so good to be here.

Uriah
Yes. We've known each other for a while, but this is the first time that we're really getting a chance to talk in-depth, and I'm excited about it.

Jamal
Yeah, I do follow you on social media. I'm a huge fan of the work that you do through the productive therapist, and I know that you're also a group practice owner, and I want to thank you for the leadership that you provide for all of us mental health entrepreneurs in this space.

Uriah
It's very valuable. I appreciate that. I appreciate that, yeah. I'm going to follow you, too. You've been up to some cool things, which I'm really looking forward to getting into today. I was checking out your website and watching some of your videos, and you just got a lot of good energy, which I appreciate. It's good.

Jamal
I'm very excited about life, very excited about being a licensed mental health care provider in private practice. For those who are listening, it is a great time. It is a great time to be a licensed mental health care professional in private practice.

Uriah
That's awesome. For the folks who don't know you have never heard of the amazing Jamal Jones. Tell us a little bit about your story and about the Purpose Driven Therapist and what you're working on.

Jamal
Yeah. To make a long story short, I I've been practicing in this field for about 14 years, going on 15 years. One thing that's been consistent in my journey is I have experienced burnout both as a W2 employee and in private practice. One of the lowest points in my life was 2019 when I was working downtown at the local county jail. We were understaffed. It's a high acuity setting. We were required to see to have 16 client contacts in the day.

Uriah
My goodness.

Jamal
I was a YES teammate. Even though I agreed to one job description, poor boundaries, too much of a people-pleasing attitude and saying yes too often. I had a nervous breakdown. Here I was, 38 years old. The bread went from my family, married four years, a three-year-old daughter, licensed marriage and infirmary therapist, now unemployed. That's intense. Talking about it brings up some strong emotions because I know that at that moment in time, I let my family down. But fortunately, I was able to launch my private practice, since I'm a part of Christian Council. To shorten a longer story, as you know, Araya, when we get on these When we partner with tech companies and we partner with insurance companies, unfortunately, we just don't get compensated at a very high rate. It was very hard to build a sustainable business long term without burning yourself out. In recent years, I got some coaching. That's one of the best things I've done, quite frankly, as a younger, multi-partner entrepreneur, is to have coaching because it does save time and energy. For me, what it did was it literally changed the trajectory of my life and practice. Once I began to work on my money mindset, my business mindset, I eventually left insurance panels and I joined a mastermind group in January of 2023. It was a 12-month commitment, one-year commitment, and paying a mortgage. I'm a huge advocate of investing in your business and working to get the monetary returns on investments and other returns on investments. But in this process, I adopt value-based pricing, and I shifted from trading dollars for hours, one to one, to now offering therapy packages. I got a few stories to share with you, Uriah, because it's so important that your audience hears this. It's so important that we get the word out to our industry because you and I both know there are people who are wanting to leave the industry because they're burnt out. They're not experiencing the fulfillment they thought they would when they got into private practice. Many people are leaving to go into the coaching space. But my question, you're right, is what about those licensed mental health care entrepreneurs who are really called to stay in this space? I want them to know that they can stay in this space and have a lucrative business. Here's a few examples. Last year, I had one individual client who is a long-term client, started out, met through a tech company, transitioned. He began investing $75, it then $175. Last year, he leveled up and he paid in full $8,000 toward his Individual Therapy Package.

Uriah
Okay.

Jamal
Another client I met last year, we had our complimentary consultation. This client is married. After the consultation, he said he wanted to talk to his wife. The Next morning, this client paid $6,000 upfront for his package. Just two more examples of two couples that I brought on who made a deposit after the consultation of $3,500. It then gave me permission to bill them in the following months. Their total investment was $7,500. My current offer for marriage counseling is $10,000. Those who on board right now can take advantage of a 20% discount, it'd be 8,000. My offer for individual therapy is $7,500 right now. Those who take advantage of a discount, it'd be 6,000. I share those numbers so that colleagues and peers can know that it's possible to be in mental health and work with clients who really want to invest in their mental health and wellness at a higher level than most of us ask. You do not have to go into coaching to do this. That's really interesting. You can do it right here where you're at.

Uriah
Let me ask you a question. Let's step back for a second. Folks listening to this podcast might never have heard of values-based or values-based value-based pricing. Can you tell us what that means, and then maybe make the distinction between what we're used to doing as therapists and what you're exploring and what's been working for you?

Jamal
Well, we are used to the one-to-one fee for service.

Uriah
Sure.

Jamal
Come meet with us for 45, 50 minutes, 60 minutes, and pay for that session. Usually, many of us are undercharging. That's the norm in our industry. Uriah, when you think about adolescents coming to your group practice, teenagers who are being bullied, exposed to domestic violence, overcoming trauma, parents separated, going through divorces, and having thoughts of suicide, not wanting to live anymore, when you think about all the safety concerns that you and your team address clinically, what value do you place on literally saving lives? What value do you place on helping parents feel more fulfilled and more effective in how they parent their children to make the next generation better? The work that you do, the work in your group practice, the work that we do, it is transformative. We are changing the world. We are changing the next generation. When you think about the value of somebody who not only goes to graduate high school, but gets a four-year degree, it then goes on for a master's, it then gets 3,000 plus plenty of supervised hours, takes two tests, continues the ongoing continuing education. What's special is many of us don't always capture our full life story. For me, for example, as an African-American male, growing up in an inner city, growing up in a faith-based environment, I have a totally different flavor that I bring to my clinical skillset because of my life story.

Uriah
Sure.

Jamal
Also as a former Division 1 athlete. When you think about your full life story and you add the knowledge, the training, education, what value do you place on that? That's value-based pricing. What value do you place on the transformation you're offering your clients? Because our clients are coming to us, they're hoping to be less depressed, less anxious, to have better relationship skills, communicate better, in many cases, save their jobs, save their marriages.

Uriah
Would you say... Do you think that a lot of mental health professionals undervalue what they bring to the table and the transformation that they're providing to their clients?

Jamal
Yeah, I'm here today to encourage our colleagues, our listeners, you're worth it. You're trained, you're qualified, you are fully capable of Just one quick story. I just finished going through a core skills of emotional focus therapy with a cohort I'm part of. I think it's important for us to distinguish when we're interacting amongst ourselves as colleagues, there's an element of accountability in terms of supervision and growing our clinical skills and learning to be more effective. Many of us are certified and DBT, CBT, EMDR. Many of our colleagues have several advanced certifications. That's great. But for the regular, ordinary ordinary person who's struggling with their mental health, who's seeking our services, it's a different conversation. They just want to know how we can help them, what our offer is, and what the investment is. But we got to make sure that we do the work to distinguish when we're interacting amongst one another to when we're operating as businessmen and businesswomen making an offer to the general public. Sure.

Uriah
I'm curious what your experience has been sharing these packages with potential clients. I know you shared some success stories there with people who were willing to level up and invest in themselves in that way. I'm curious, have you had any, maybe not negative experiences, but reactions that you didn't expect? Also, I'm wondering if you had reactions from other mental health providers when you tell them about what you're doing, positive or negative What has that been like?

Jamal
I've had all kinds of reactions. I can think of immediately, I had a consultation, someone called in. We were on the phone for maybe a minute because she got right to the pricing. I told her the pricing. Well, I don't want to pay that. And she hung up. Sure.

Uriah
I'm out.

Jamal
I remember last year, I met with a for a couple of money consultation for couples counseling. The price point at the time was $10,000. We began to try to find something that's more within our budget. The husband was actually on the way to the truck to go get his checkbook to write a deposit, to make a deposit. Then his wife, she muted me on Zoom, talked to her husband, and then they didn't go forward. That was where a lesson for me in terms of what mistakes did I make during that consultation where I didn't gain enough trust from both partners and didn't communicate clearly enough so that they both felt comfortable moving forward. That was an example of me just lacking some skills in terms of, I know this could be a nasty word for some, but closing a deal and making the sell. I'm not comfortable talking to all of my colleagues in the industry about my price points because I know that in our industry, there's a lot of fear and scarcity mindset. Definitely. I've learned to operate from a place of growth and abundance. What I'm at now, Uriah, is I just try to be my authentic self. When it comes up, I do believe in being fully transparent. If you go to my website, you'll see the pricing there. If you go inside my intake document, it's right there. When I get phone calls, I disclose it. I'm fully transparent. I'm not trying to hide anything from anybody. But I see it's very similar to what we all go through, especially if you're private pay. We're all prospecting. We're all trying to find those dream clients who are the best fit. Being the best fit, part of that does include their access to resources to invest.

Uriah
Yeah, I'm glad to hear you say that you put the pricing. I know people could debate either side of this, but I'm glad to hear that you put the pricing on your website. I imagine that helps to qualify people so that if they see the pricing and they know for sure they can't afford it, then maybe they don't reach out and spend the time talking to you. I don't love the experiences that I've had at various times where I sign up for something, I don't know how much it's going to cost, and then it's a sales conversation that maybe is a hard sell And then the price tag is very large. That sometimes can feel like a bad experience, right? And I know I understand both sides of that, but I love the confidence that you're bringing to these conversations and also to what you've put together because it sounds to me like you know the value that you bring, and you know that you can help people get from state A to state B, experience that transformation. So I think that's super important with pricing anything, You have to believe yourself that what you're providing is worth more than the price tag, I think. What would you say to that?

Jamal
I'll add to it that it also sets the tone for treatment. I am on one EAP where I get reimbursed that EMP for those clients. I do want to acknowledge there are some insurance-based clients, in my case, EAP clients, who do show up motivated for change. They want to engage in the process. They trust us as providers. It's important to acknowledge that those folks are there and we're grateful to serve them. It's important to note that when we take our hard-earned dollars and we pay for something, it's been said, the more we pay, the more we pay attention. When When these folks are investing $7,500, $6,000, and they're putting it on their credit card or their access financing, third-party financing, it influences their motivation. One key word is commitment. As a provider, I want to know that the person I'm working with is committed to something because sometimes with the traditional model, it's so easy to get ghosted. But with the package model, it also addresses the lay cancelation to no-shows. Even if life does happen in a lay cancel or no-show, because you capture so much up front, it doesn't hurt as much on the business side. It does bring down your stress and anxiety as a business owner.

Uriah
It's more financial stability for you in your practice, and then also, most likely, more commitment and motivation that the client is showing up with. Yeah, I can see that. With the changes that you've made all the way from burnout in 2019 to private practice, group practice, and then also the coaching that you're doing, how is your life different now than it was at that low point in 2019?

Jamal
I feel more congruent. I feel like I can be Jamal Jones. I have the freedom to be myself. I have the more control of my time and my schedule. I can have a smaller caseload. For example, when I was working as a W2 employee, I really struggled when it was two documented. If you ask me to see eight clients in a day and document them all within 24 hours, can I make it happen? I've done it before. Can I consistently sustain that over an extended period of time? It was very humbling for me when I got fired because if I'm to a crossroads of, Jamal, do you belong in this field? If you belong in this field, can you do it working for somebody else with these high productivity requirements? I had to humbly say no. That's hard as a competitor, as a former athlete. Like, Look, no more competing. You lose. I lose. So maybe I could win in a private practice.

Uriah
Yeah.

Jamal
Within a private practice, I was losing. So I do feel more confident. I feel like I'm winning. I now have a foundation, a structure. It's still a work in progress, but in terms of the hope of having a sustainable career and providing the highest level of care to my clients, but also being present as a husband and a father and a community leader, I feel more congruent.

Uriah
Yeah. I think you might have used this word, too, but congruent and aligned. It seems like your skills and abilities, you found a way to maximize those and help other people the most that you can while making a good living and also being present for your family and for your life. That's very cool. That is probably what the purpose-driven therapist is about, but I'll ask you the question. In your mind, what is a purpose-driven therapist? What does that look like?

Jamal
A purpose-driven therapist is a therapist who wants to be intentional about how you design your life, how you design your business. If you're a therapist in private practice, and you, in my case, I am still a solopreneur because I came to realize that I don't have to wait I start a group practice to be profitable or to make money. Instead, I can optimize my income as a solopreneur, and when I'm ready, transition into a group practice. What I've done, Uriah, is I now have a seven-figure infrastructure. I haven't hit seven figures yet, but you do the math. If I got an offer right now for a marriage counseling at $10,000, and I'm I'm offering a 20% discount, bring down to $8,000, if I get eight of those clients this year, that's $8,000. That's wrong. That's $64,000.

Uriah
Okay. Yeah, the math is good.

Jamal
Yeah, but that's eight clients. Just for the audience to hear, last year in 2023, I have eight clients who are responsible for more than $40,000 of income.

Uriah
Okay.

Jamal
Real quickly, if we go $40,000 on the EAP I currently get 140. If we go $40,000 divided by 140, that's 285 sessions.

Uriah
Right.

Jamal
My probably The pay rate for individual right now is 250. We go $40,000 divided by 250, that's 160 sessions.

Uriah
Significantly less, right.

Jamal
That's the power of this package model, and that's what protects me from burnout and compassion fatigue and was going to help me build a sustained a profitable business in the long term.

Uriah
Let me ask you this question, Jamal. If someone's listening to this and they're thinking, Wow, this sounds amazing. I wonder if I can do this. How would somebody be able to know if creating counseling packages is ideal for them or maybe not ideal for them and the folks that they serve? How could they distinguish if this is something worth pursuing for them?

Jamal
It's a very personal decision. One of the beautiful things about being in private practice is every therapist, I would encourage to really look at the type of life you want. Oftentimes, we call it, what do you want to do with your life? What do you want to do with your practice? What types of things you want to have? And what person do you want to become in that process? The do have be. So it's really personal. This works for me. It may not work for someone else, while others may actually love it. So you want to be true to who you are, but a lot of it has to do with your business and your money mindset. If you're operating with a belief that there's not enough resources in the world or there's not enough people who want your services, or if you don't believe in yourself, if you don't believe in your offer, then that's some mindset work. There's the money mindset work that needs to be done to have a healthy relationship with money, but also for therapists to really put on your CEO hat. As a therapist in private practice, you are the CEO of your company. If you can build the courage to actually examine your numbers, that alone can be very motivating. That alone is the game changer because many of us just avoid looking at numbers because it could be terrifying. Know your numbers, do your money mindset work, and then decide how you want to structure your offers. Sure.

Uriah
Okay. Yeah, that's helpful. Can you think of anyone who's serving a particular population or a particular presenting problem that this would not be ideal for? Is there anybody that you would talk to, like coaching a therapist and say, Actually, I don't think this is right for you. Let's say they have good money mindset and they know their numbers, but this model is just not a good fit for them and their clients. Maybe the answer is no, but I'm curious.

Jamal
If they have a problem with commitment themselves, if they're afraid to commit, depending on... My current package is 18 sessions, so I'm comfortable committing to 18 sessions. Somebody else might not want to make that commitment upfront. If you're afraid of how clients will show up, because when people invest, they do show up differently. They're just motivated, and they want to learn, and they want to grow. Depending on how you handle your caseload, it's really a personal decision that's unique to each person.

Uriah
I feel like I've heard therapists talk about this idea in some Facebook groups, which is obviously not always the best place to hang out. But I feel like some people have brought up, and I can't remember if it's legal or ethical, some people have issues with, You can't do this as a therapist because of X, Y, Z. Honestly, I can't remember what their reasoning was, and I don't even know if it's valid. But have you heard that? And can you speak to that?

Jamal
Great question, Uriah.

Uriah
Okay, nice.

Jamal
On Black Friday, I was meeting in person with one of my coaches that I had never met in person. I love her. It was her and one of her colleagues, and this issue came up. They basically said, Jamal, before you go public with these packages, you might want to check with the BBS to make sure it's... That following Monday, I called the California Board of Behavioral Scientists, and my question was something like, Hi, can you advise me on how you guys regulate how therapists in part practice structure their fees or set their fees? The lady was taken aback. She was very professional, but I could tell she was being professional, but like, well, it's a free market. Some therapists tend to charge more, some charge less, but it's basically a free market.

Uriah
Interesting.

Jamal
Now, keeping in mind that we all know that we have our informed consents and our legal obligations to turn our intake process. Considering that we have all our consents in place and our intake is appropriate and we're being transparent about how we set our fees. Most therapists are ethical, law-abiding, rule-following type people.

Uriah
More than a lot, some folks, yeah.

Jamal
Considering all those things, once you cover those bases with your own personal values and your own personal ethics, and you're in alignment with our profession, your dream clients will pay whatever you charge. I'll end with this. They're not paying you. They're investing in themselves. Part of the money mindset work is to take ourselves out of the equation as a service provider. We're providing a service to them, but we're giving them an opportunity to invest in themselves. If you decide that you want them to invest $500 for a one-on-one session, then they have a decision to make. But at least give them the opportunity. Don't rob people the opportunity to invest in themselves.

Uriah
I like that. That's good. Yeah, and I think this is something that we often have a challenge with. But whenever you're sharing your services, whether it's a single session for $150 or if it's a package deal for $7,500, it's important in the marketing and the messaging to get out of the way, like you just said, and speak to your ideal clients about the transformation that you can facilitate as the guide to get them where they want to go. Because nobody spends a high dollar amount on something unless it's They believe genuinely it's going to solve their problem, and this is the person or this is the service to get them there. I'm sure you talk to your clients about that. That's super important.

Jamal
You have a good point, Uriah, about the marketing piece. Because as therapists, we're trained to be private and confidential and to have a low profile, to be behind the scenes. When you're a private pay and when you're a premium provider, we do take on more of the responsibility of putting ourselves out there. As an entrepreneur, small business owner, you got to decide how much are you... How comfortable are you being visible, being seen, being heard? How much are you willing to invest in marketing? One of the reasons why I feel congruent is I know the The substantial investments that I've made in marketing and advertising and I make on a daily basis. Part of that congruence is if we aren't investing in our business ourselves, for whatever reason, Call yourself frugal. Call yourself careful with money. When you're in business, you still got to decide what's a good investment to make for the benefit of the business. But if we're not comfortable making those investments, in this case, our marketing, our business work, our money mindset work, whatever the case might be, then this might not be a good fit because it shows up when you're doing your consultations with your clients and when you're presenting your offer.

Uriah
That's a really good point. That's a really good point. I would think, and I would say to anybody who is considering charging or creating high-ticket offers of some sort, if you've never invested invested in something like that for yourself, it doesn't have to be counseling, it could be coaching, it could be something else. If you've never done that before, it's a really good idea to do that so you know what it's like to, like you said, invest in yourself and put a significant chunk of money on the line to learn something or to grow in some way before you offer that to others. I don't think it's a hundred % a necessity, but it is helpful. I'm pretty sure you know Tiffany McLean from Lean and Make Bank, yes? Yeah. I believe so. Yeah, yeah. Awesome. I remember talking to her. I met her, I think, back in 2017 or something like that. I think I was talking to her about my fee at some point. You know her, so you know that she challenges therapists to charge what they're worth or to charge what they need to charge. Her advice to me was, You should go find a therapist that charges $250 an hour. This was many years ago, right? That was a lot. I was like, What? I couldn't imagine charging that much myself. But the advice stuck. Interestingly enough, I never actually pulled the trigger on that, but I did go and research those therapists to get a sense of what it would feel like to be a therapist who charges a higher rate. Anyway, that's a longer story, but I thought that was good advice.

Jamal
To add to Actually, right before I forget, because it's fresh in my mind, it's important to validate our colleagues because many of us are investing. When you think about our colleagues who have multiple certifications, because we are not only paying with our resources, but we're paying with our time, our attention, and our energy, and our money. But I want to be crystal clear to our listeners that it is highly likely that you You've already made the investments. You've already put in the work. You already have the training. You are fully capable.

Uriah
Thousands of dollars we've invested in time. Yeah.

Jamal
Some people listening to this, You do not need to another certification. You do not need another coaching program. It's a very personal thing. I want our colleagues to know, Yuraya, that they do not have to leave this industry. They do not have to go and become a coach. If you're a licensed mental health care in private practice, you can design your company to be wildly successful and profitable and provide the highest possible standard of care for our communities.

Uriah
That's a great message. I think you summarize it wonderfully right there. Yeah, thanks for sharing this, Jamal. I appreciate it. I think I don't hear a lot of people talking about providing services with this mindset and this focus. I think it's super interesting. Yeah. Thank you for sharing this.

Jamal
You're welcome, Uriah. It's been a pleasure.

Uriah
I know that there's people listening who are like, I got to find out more about this. I'm curious. This is piquing their interest, right? Where can they go to find out more about you or connect with you?

Jamal
I am located in Fresno, California, doing business as a therapist at Central Valley Christian Council. Council is spelled C-O-U-N-S-E-L. You can go to my company website there. On that website, you'll see that you can subscribe to the company newsletter. If you search there, you'll also see some information about the purpose-driven therapist. Just so that we're clear to our audience, I do have my clinical practice, and I've established a separate LLC as a speaker and a growth coach for therapists and private practice. If you would like to have a growth coach in your life to help me with your business mindset, your money mindset, your marketing, and your sales, I will be honored to serve you. Anyone who comes through this podcast with Uri Guilford will receive a 10% discount on a 90-minute business growth coaching strategy session.

Uriah
Perfect. Thank you. We'll put those links in the show notes so people can get to that as quick as possible. That sounds good. Well, thank you for your time, Jamal. It was great to talk, and we'll see you on the next one.

Jamal
You're welcome, Uriah.

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