100 episodes

The Fearless Practice Podcast is for anyone who is either thinking of starting a private practice or who needs help with growing their practice in Canada. Julia Smith takes you on her journey from starting as a counsellor to totally killin’ it and growing her own practice in Halifax. After starting in 2016, she battled to find resources and help that related specifically to building a private practice in Canada. Today, she's sharing her tips as well as her not-to-be-repeated mistakes for fellow clinicians, therapists, social workers, and psychologists interested in starting and growing their own practice in Canada.

Fearless Practice Julia Smith

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 4 Ratings

The Fearless Practice Podcast is for anyone who is either thinking of starting a private practice or who needs help with growing their practice in Canada. Julia Smith takes you on her journey from starting as a counsellor to totally killin’ it and growing her own practice in Halifax. After starting in 2016, she battled to find resources and help that related specifically to building a private practice in Canada. Today, she's sharing her tips as well as her not-to-be-repeated mistakes for fellow clinicians, therapists, social workers, and psychologists interested in starting and growing their own practice in Canada.

    Redefining Work-Life Balance in a Canadian Private Practice | Ep 124

    Redefining Work-Life Balance in a Canadian Private Practice | Ep 124

    We always hear about “optimization”, and to the extent that many folks may be influenced to outsource everything possible so that they have more free time. 
    But imagine this; if you had all this extra free time, after the time to rest, exercise, and spend time with loved ones, what would you be doing? If you had more free time and the mental capacity for tasks that you enjoy, what would they be? 
    You don’t have to outsource all the parts of your private practice, maybe only the parts that you either need help with, or that you really don’t like doing. If you’re a great therapist, but you also love marketing or SEO (like me!) then there’s nothing wrong with structuring your tasks so that you still get to do these tasks that you enjoy doing in your practice.
    Work-life balance is just that, a balance that you have to test out to discover where it lies for you. This is what I’ve done, listen in to learn more!
    In this Episode:
    Some background on my experience so far
    The reality of my choices 
    Do things because you love doing them 
    Some background on my experience so far
    Sometimes therapists can only stay in the profession for a while because they can get severely burnt out, and I didn’t want that to happen to me. 
    When I started my Canadian private practice part-time, I was still working at university as a therapist. Even though I loved both jobs, I could tell that I was getting burnt out.
    So, once I fully transitioned into private practice, things started to slowly get better! And I started to finally achieve some more work-life balance. I share more about this on this podcast episode; a 50/50 work week. Additionally, I share how having more free time helped me to overcome some obstacles that cropped up during this time. 
    The reality of my choices
    At a time, this 50/50 work week split was great because it provided me with the chance to get to everything I needed to in my practice while allowing myself to rest on the off days. 
    However, with this additional extra time, I was getting a little bored.
    I started to ask myself what fills my soul, beyond doing the therapy work that I love. I could sense that there was something more that I wanted to do and contribute to with my time and energy; I just had to figure out what that was. 
    What I came to understand was that by outsourcing everything that I possibly could, there were types of work that I was no longer doing that I did enjoy doing. 
    Do things because you love doing them
    So, even though a business owner could technically outsource every single thing in their business to someone else - besides only what they can do - that’s not something that you have to do!
    You can still find the balance between hiring outside assistants and help, and still doing the tasks that you enjoy doing! 
    Remember that you don’t have to follow everyone else’s example. Take advice and learn from other people’s experience, but at the end of the day, you are the one who can build a system that is best-suited for your needs and desires. 
    Some questions for you to think about could include: 
    What do you enjoy doing? 
    How do you make time for it? 
    What can you outsource so that you have the time to do these things? 
    Connect with me:
    Instagram
    Website 
    Resources Mentioned and Useful Links: 
    Ep 123: Michelle Ham: Joining a Collective to Build a Successful Practice | EP 123
    Learn more about the tools and deals that I love and use for my Canadian private practice
    Article: How to Set Up a Canadian Private Practice Website  
    Sign up for my free e-course on How to Start an Online Canadian Private Practice
    Jane App (use code FEARLESS for one month free)
    Rate, review, and subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon, and TuneIn

    • 13 min
    Michelle Ham: Joining a Collective to Build a Successful Practice | Ep 123

    Michelle Ham: Joining a Collective to Build a Successful Practice | Ep 123

    Many therapists may feel daunted by the idea of returning to school to get their masters or a PhD, especially after they have settled into their adult lives. However, it truly is never too late! 
    If you have a desire to take your Canadian private practice to the next level, or you feel frustrated working on someone else’s schedule, and you desire more professional autonomy, taking a step forward with additional training may be very helpful to you. 
    In this podcast episode, I chat with Michelle who did just that. 
    MEET MICHELLE
    Michelle Ham, C.C.C., is a compassionate and dedicated psychotherapist based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. With a Bachelor's Degree in Family Social Sciences and a Master's in Counselling Psychology, Michelle brings over a decade of experience in social work to her practice. She is committed to creating a safe and inclusive space. Michelle's therapeutic approach is rooted in a holistic, integrative, and person-centered framework, allowing her clients to collaboratively navigate their pathway to change. Through evidence-based modalities such as Internal Family Systems, somatic-based work, narrative therapy, EMDR, and mindfulness, Michelle provides personalized therapy sessions that empower her clients to find healing, understanding, and growth.
    Learn more about Michelle on her website, Instagram account, and Psychology Today profile
    In this episode: 
    Michelle’s journey into psychotherapy 
    Michelle’s steps into private practice 
    The lessons learned thus far
    Marketing a private practice 
    Michelle’s advice for new therapists or practice owners 
    Michelle’s journey into psychotherapy 
    Michelle graduated with an undergraduate degree in family social sciences in 2008. She then started working in the social work world, holding various different positions.
    Following this desire to have more autonomy over her time, Michelle returned to school in 2021. She took her masters in counselling psychology online so that she could manage her course work, while continuing with her job, and being a mom. 
    Michelle’s steps into private practice 
    Once Michelle graduated, she opened up a sole-proprietorship for her own private practice, and she rents office space in a local collective. The office space is shared with other therapists, and Michelle is able to reap the benefits of an extensive referral network through her collective’s director, as well as enjoying the professional company of others while scheduling and working her own hours. 
    The lessons learned thus far 
    Even though there has been so much change and trial and error moments, as Michelle explains, she also says that she enjoys having the chance to set her own hours, set her own schedule, and to see the clients that she wants to. 
    Marketing a private practice 
    Even though Michelle’s only been in private practice for a few years, her caseload is already filling up. She credits this partially to the well-connectedness of the collective, which networks with the local community. 
    Additionally, when Michelle was still a student, she was intentional about working on her social media platform to slowly and organically begin growing an online presence. 
    Michelle’s advice for new therapists or practice owners 
    Michelle encourages listeners to explore what is most suitable for them in terms of whether they want to do a sole-proprietorship or to take another approach. You can tailor the way your business works to your preferences - that’s important to do!
    Whether you want to open an in-person Canadian private practice or offer therapy services online, make sure that it is what you want to do, feel qualified in doing, and that you have a strong support network around you. 
    Connect with me:
    Instagram
    Website 
    Resources mentioned and useful links:
    Ep 122: Embracing the Dynamic Nature of Niching | EP 122
    Learn more about the tools and deals that I love and use for my Canadian private practice
    Sign up

    • 30 min
    Embracing the Dynamic Nature of Niching | Ep 122

    Embracing the Dynamic Nature of Niching | Ep 122

    As the saying goes; “the only constant thing is change”, and it’s true for Canadian private practices too. Sometimes you will set up a system that works well, but after months or years the practice has changed, and so the systems need to be updated. 
    Or, the offering that you used to love doing with your clients is no longer something that used to light your spark - because you’ve most likely changed as a person and a therapist along the way - so you decide to change it up. 
    The point is that niching can be a great way to build your business, but it can also be necessary to change your niche over time. It’s something that I have experienced as well, so listen in on this episode if you’re searching for some guidance!
    In this Episode:
    Why niching is important 
    How to niche 
    My experience with niching
    Why niching is important 
    If you want a further, more in-depth episode into niching in Canadian private practice, I recommend that you listen to my previous episode on this topic! However, for a short recap, niching is important because it: 
    Helps you to stand out from the crowd 
    Helps you to focus on the issues that you are passionate about serving 
    How to niche 
    Some of the factors that you can keep in mind when you are figuring out your niche may include: 
    The size of the population of this niche 
    What you like working with clients through
    What you are qualified to do 
    My experience with niching 
    Private Practice
    With my website: I actually had a little mis-step with niching in my own private practice this past year! When I was redoing my website, I hired a website developer to give it a full make-over, as well as a copy editor. Overall, I realized that I had become way too excited about all the possibilities with the new website and adding services. I hadn’t niched down enough, which  made it overwhelming for a potential client to browse through.
    In the end, I reduced the specialty pages on the menu so that they only relate to our main private practice focuses.
    Fearless Practice
    With my consulting: over five years ago I started my private practice consultation because I couldn’t find any in Canada. 
    So, I started Fearless Practice to help other Canadian counsellors get the help that they needed with their private practices. Over the years, I created the workbook about how to start an online Canadian private practice, as well as scripts to send clients, private practice paperwork, an e-course, and more!
    ‘But as I continued to create these things, my consulting became irrelevant, because it’s all in the workbook! As well as with the podcast … There have been so many episodes where I have interviewed other Canadian counsellors … There’s just so much information that I have now on my website for Canadian counsellors, where you don’t have to pay extra to have a one-on-one with me.’ - Julia Smith 
    Additionally, I nowadays direct people to take courses from LinkedIn and Google since they offer insightful and helpful courses for therapists to take. So, my consulting days have changed, and I niched down - again! I now focus specifically on helping Canadian private practice owners recover from burnout by helping them to restructure their practice so that it suits their needs and desires. 
    Connect with me:
    Instagram
    Website 
    Resources Mentioned and Useful Links: 
    Ep 121: Mila Arsenijevic: Balancing Growth in a Canadian Private Practice | EP 121
    Learn more about the tools and deals that I love and use for my Canadian private practice
    Article: How to Set Up a Canadian Private Practice Website  
    Sign up for my free e-course on How to Start an Online Canadian Private Practice
    Listen to my previous episode on niching, why it is important, and how to do it!
    Jane App (use code FEARLESS for one month free)
    Rate, review, and subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon, and TuneIn

    • 13 min
    Mila Arsenijevic: Balancing Growth in a Canadian Private Practice | Ep 121

    Mila Arsenijevic: Balancing Growth in a Canadian Private Practice | Ep 121

    Do you feel pressured to always be scaling and growing your Canadian private practice? In modern business, the idea is usually to push growth - but that’s not always the case! Sometimes not growing can also help private practice. 
    Every now and then you need to intentionally stop growing and instead focus on the foundations of your private practice, so that any future growth down the line actually holds and sticks because growth for growth’s sake is not necessarily everyone’s preference. 
    In this podcast episode, Mila and I discuss how she launched her practice and how sometimes not aiming for growth is the best way to success!
    MEET MILA
    Meet Mila, the driving force behind Toronto Therapy Practice. With over a decade of experience specializing in perinatal mental health at esteemed institutions such as Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Mila is a compassionate and dedicated therapist committed to fostering trust and connection with her clients. Her journey in the mental health field began as a social worker, evolving into her role as the founder of Toronto Therapy Practice. 
    Learn more about Mila on her Psychology Today profile and her Canadian practice website.  
    In this episode: 
    How Mila became a social worker 
    Getting into private practice 
    Mila’s advice on scaling via hiring 
    Dreams and aspirations for a growing practice 
    How Mila became a social worker
    Since Mila had experience traveling internationally, she decided to study International Relations in Canada. She didn’t enjoy it as much as she thought she would, but Mila did take psychology as a minor and ended up loving it enough to focus on social work in her masters. 
    In her second year of placement in the masters program, Mila was at Sunnybrook hospital providing counselling. The job that she worked there went well enough that once she completed her studies, she decided to get a more permanent position and started her work experience. 
    However, she was offered a position in England which she ended up taking, and went to London to live and work. Mila was in England for some time before returning to Canada. 
    Getting into private practice 
    While Mila was working at the hospital, she was doing outpatient counselling. 
    She experienced some limitations in terms of how she was able to provide therapy within the hospital system. Mila noticed long wait lists, loads of people seeking access and care, and within the specific hospital rules, she thought that she could offer these necessary services in another way. 
    Mila’s advice on scaling via hiring
    One associate hired was a friend of Mila’s, one was through word of mouth, and the other two were through Indeed. 
    With a flexible schedule system that all her associates have, Mila is able to connect clients and clinicians on schedules that suit both of their needs. Additionally, Mila’s practice and her associates have a hybrid model of offering in-person and online therapy. 
    Dreams and aspirations for a growing practice 
    Even though Mila has a lot of dreams for her private practice, she wants to make sure that she firmly establishes it now. 
    With appropriate scheduling, processes, and systems in place, Mila wants to give her private practice the best shot at success as she can, and that means taking the time and making the effort to lay strong yet flexible foundations for it - and her - to depend on. 
    There are also so many ways to get to the same place, so explore to find out what works well for you!
    Connect with me:
    Instagram
    Website 
    Resources mentioned and useful links:
    Ep 120: 5 Ways to Tackle Isolation with an Online Private Practice | EP 120
    Learn more about the tools and deals that I love and use for my Canadian private practice
    Sign up for my free e-course on How to Start an Online Canadian Private Practice
    Jane App (use code FEARLESS for one month free)
    Learn more about Mila on her Psychology Today profile and her Canadian practice webs

    • 26 min
    5 Ways to Tackle Isolation With an Online Private Practice | Ep 120

    5 Ways to Tackle Isolation With an Online Private Practice | Ep 120

    Do you sometimes feel lonely working as a therapist? Do you have an online practice, and sometimes wish you could chat with a colleague between sessions to let off some steam or to get an ethical second opinion? How do you deal with isolation as an online therapist? 
    Working as a therapist can be an isolating experience in and of itself, since you can’t talk about the details of your work with friends or family. If you work from home like me, then I’m sure that you know that the isolation can be two-fold!
    In this episode, I share with you some tips that I have figured out to help myself - and you - enjoy your work as a therapist while still making time for life beyond it. If you are stuck trying to choose between how to handle the challenge, I invite you to listen in! 
    In this Episode:
    Be intentional 
    Get out of your apartment 
    Create peer-to-peer consultations 
    Meet with your assistants
    Make time for a weekly activity 
    Be intentional 
    Between your work days and work weeks, it can be so tempting to just unwind alone at home, without having to exert yourself further by going outdoors and trying something new after a potentially challenging or long day. 
    However, don’t isolate yourself further just because you may be nervous about going outdoors. Find hobbies that you enjoy that get you outside of your home - and that are separate from therapy - so that you can unwind and relax in the company of like-minded people while doing something that you enjoy. 
    Get out of your apartment 
    Sure, you can enjoy hosting friends at your home. However, if you also work from home and then you socialize at home, there is very little variation in your routine, and you may begin to feel a bit suffocated!  
    This is even more important if you live alone at home, because staying connected with your friends and with your personal life beyond just working from home is important. 
    Create peer-to-peer consultations 
    If you have associates in your Canadian private practice, make sure to schedule a monthly peer-to-peer meeting so that you can consult together to stay connected and on the same page about the practice, and as well as about what’s happening in your lives. 
    Connect with your team to talk about client cases or maybe have some fun! Having and maintaining relationships with other therapists can help to ease that isolation since they know what it feels like to work in the profession. 
    Meet with your assistants
    If you have a virtual assistant, schedule a 30-minute meeting weekly with them. 
    This is not only important to discuss business issues, but also to stay connected to your staff so that you don’t pass one another by like ships in the night. 
    Make time for a weekly activity
    Something that I do which I love is going to the gym in the afternoon. It’s a lovely way to get out of the apartment, exercise, and to be around other people! 
    No matter which one you choose, there will be challenges, so you just need to figure out which challenge is the one that you feel most comfortable to work with so that you can make the most of your obligations while enjoying yourself. 
    Connect with me:
    Instagram
    Website 
    Resources Mentioned and Useful Links: 
    Ep 119: What I Learned from Going to the CCPA Conference | FP 119
    Learn more about the tools and deals that I love and use for my Canadian private practice
    Article: How to Set Up a Canadian Private Practice Website  
    Sign up for my free e-course on How to Start an Online Canadian Private Practice
    Jane App (use code FEARLESS for one month free)
    Rate, review, and subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon, and TuneIn

    • 8 min
    What I Learned From Going to the CCPA Conference | Ep 119

    What I Learned From Going to the CCPA Conference | Ep 119

    Have you ever been to a counselling conference? Are you considering going to one this year for the first time, or are you a regular attendee? 
    Whether you are more introverted or an extrovert, conferences offer spaces for both! Not just quiet workshops or long tables filled with fascinating people, but also where you can learn and develop your skills as a professional while enjoying time spent with other interesting therapists. 
    I got out of my comfort zone a bit and went to a CCPA conference last year, and it was great! Going forward, I know what I’m looking for now, and how to find other great therapists. If you’re interested in finding out how, listen in!
    In this Episode:
    What is the CCPA?
    Conferences can be a lot of fun!
    Choosing conferences going forward 
    What is the CCPA?
    ‘If you don’t know, CCPA stands for Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association, and usually the conference that they have each year is in the springtime, but last year in 2023 they had it in October in Toronto.’ - Julia Smith 
    Usually, going to a conference for me is nerve wracking on a couple of levels! I was going alone to this conference, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy it or not. However, I was able to select the speakers that I was interested in, but it can be a hit-and-miss! 
    However, going to conferences also contributes to your CEC credits that all members of the CCPA need to get each year. So, keeping all this in mind, I pushed myself to go!
    Conferences can be a lot of fun!
    ‘With the CCPA conferences, you’re expected to network. It is encouraged to talk to other counsellors. You don’t look silly going up to people and starting conversations … Once I got into the swing of things, it was really fun to have conversations with counsellors from all over Canada!’ - Julia Smith 
    If you felt like you were getting a little over socialized, you could go see some of the workshops and talks that were happening around at any given time. 
    I really liked that there were options to be silent and listen, or to put yourself out there and socialize! Even during lunches, it felt comfortable to sit down at a table with people that I didn’t know and to strike up a conversation, since this is encouraged by the CCPA conference guidelines. Everyone’s in the same boat!
    Choosing conferences going forward 
    Despite the great time I had, I know that I want to be intentional about choosing the future conferences I’ll go to. Specifically, I want to be mindful about going to conferences which will give certain information that I want to learn about. 
    The CCPA conference is great for learning about many different things in the counselling world, from research to different types of therapy techniques to private practice information. Although, I know what I love! And so I would love to go to a conference on narrative therapy for therapists, because that is what I want to learn more about. 
    ‘So for you, as you’re considering your budget for this year, I’d highly recommend budgeting some money for going to a conference, and honestly I’d really just start with the CCPA conference! The workshops are so diverse, everybody is a Canadian counsellor, and you get CECs for going!’ - Julia Smith 
    Connect with me:
    Instagram
    Website 
    Resources Mentioned and Useful Links: 
    Ep 118: Brittany Wells-Pantaleo: Growing a Group Practice Virtually and Ethically | EP 118 
    Learn more about the tools and deals that I love and use for my Canadian private practice
    Article: How to Set Up a Canadian Private Practice Website  
    Sign up for my free e-course on How to Start an Online Canadian Private Practice
    Jane App (use code FEARLESS for one month free)
    Rate, review, and subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon, and TuneIn

    • 11 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
4 Ratings

4 Ratings

Maegan CM ,

Wonderful resource for Canadian therapists!

Julia has her finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the Canadian psychotherapy industry! Her interviews are are full of helpful resources, and her style is down-to-earth and personable. I definitely recommend giving Fearless Practice a listen if you’re a Canadian therapist! Thanks for being Fearless, Julia!

Alison SC ,

Normalizes the ups and downs of starting out

Thanks for a look into your journey, Julia!

not fearlesss ,

So personable!

Julia, congratulations on being fearless and succeeding! Your approach is so personable and relatable! I will definitely tune in again!

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