Entrepreneurial Counselor

Why Are There No Mental Health Issues in Costa Rica??

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  Here’s a picture I took while visiting Costa Rica.

Here’s a picture I took while visiting Costa Rica.

I’ve traveled to multiple beach towns in South America and the Caribbean.  As a therapist, one thought continues to stand out:

There are no mental health services in these places.

Why?  It’s a question I ponder a lot!  In America, we seem to be stressed by work, life, family, friends, and all other obligations.  We take pills to feel better, and mask the problems through modern medicine.  Psychotropic medications such as anti-depressants and anti-anxiety pills are considered an easy solution to life’s stresses.  Unfortunately, all it seems to do is create a dependence on medication to feel better.  When you go to Costa Rica, it’s simply “Pura Vida”!  You don’t see stressed out people (even though they have far less “things” then the typical American).  You don’t hear people complaining about the boss, or what someone said on Facebook, or about anything.  It’s simple, calm, and people appear to feel content.

Why do we force such stress on ourselves and then escape to islands to only feel good for a week?  Sadly, some people don’t even take a week of vacation because they have “too much to do”, or “can’t afford it”, of fear being fired. If you don't believe me, check out this article to see how many people don't even take all their paid vacation each year!

Do you live to work, or work to live?  When I talk with people from other cultures, I find that life isn’t centered around THINGS and WORK.  They’re not concerned about driving a fancy car, having a big house, or “keeping up with the Jones”.  They are at peace with being free from the constraints of THINGS.  A good wave on their surfboard.  A slow walk on the beach.  A moonlight dinner while eating fresh ceviche.  These are the experiences (rather than things) that hold value. 

Why is there no need for mental healh services in Costa Rica?  Because there is no self-induced stress. 

How do we reduce this self-induced stress? 

For starters, take a good, long look in the mirror.  What do you see?  If it’s a tired face that is stressed due to bills and debt, it might be time for a change.  If it’s a person concerned with how people will perceive the car they drive, how they’re dressed, and house they own, it might be time for a change.  If it’s a person that feels overworked and undervalued, it might be time for a change. 

The first step to reducing stress is to be honest about your current lifestyle.  The most precious commodity we have is TIME.  To make best use of our limited time here, try an exercise that might help keep you focused: 

I call it a Vision Map, but you can call it whatever you want.  It’s simple: cut and paste pictures that depict the ultimate lifestyle onto a blank sheet of paper.  Take that collage and tape it to your mirror so you see it daily.  The goal is to think and visualize the life you want, and focus on obtaining that lifestyle in an effort to live a healthier lifestyle (rather than continuing to build stress).  You might be tempted to put a bunch of “things” on the collage (like a fancy car, big house, etc.), but that is not the goal.  Yes, we all have our certain things we want, and you can absolutely put those into your vision map.  In addition, think about the lifestyle you want, not the things you want. 

Give it a try.  If you do, and would like to share yours, send me a picture of your vision map and I will post it to the blog.

Counselor Salary Reality Check- Round #2


A while back I posted some available job opportunities to show the lack of value many people place on counselors.  Today, I went to Travis County's website (Austin, TX) to look at current job opportunities and below are two of the openings I found:

Notice this is a "Senior" level position!!


What stands out to you about these two job openings?  For me, it's the reality that a Senior level counselor (with a Master's degree and at least 2-4 years of experience) is offered the same compensation as an individual with a high school diploma and a electrician's license.  On top of that, the counselor position is inside a county jail!!  This post isn't meant to disrespect the electrician profession, it's about helping counselors recognize their value and expect more.  

Counselors spend 4-5 years earning a Bachelor's degree, then another 2-3 years earning a Master's degree, and THEN ANOTHER 2-3 years interning before even starting a career as a fully licensed counselor.  When it's all said and done, a counselor has spent as much time in school as some medical professionals (and accrued a ton of debt along the way).  

It's our job as professional counselors to demand and expect fair compensation for the important work we do.  Why settle for a salary that doesn't reflect your value.  How can you create your own business and help your clients while earning a living that equals your true worth?

Virtual LPC Podcast #18 featuring Mari A. Lee, LMFT, CSAT-S

Mari A. Lee, LMFT, CSAT-S is recognized for her clinical work with male and female sex addicts, love and pornography addicts, as well as her ground breaking work with spouses and partners of sex addicts.  She is the founder of Growth Counseling Services, a private practice recovery center located in Glendora, California.

Additionally, Mari is a popular national conference speaker, workshop teacher, and is the co-author of the best selling book, “Facing Heartbreak: Steps to Recovery for Partners of Sex Addicts”, as well as the author of, “The Creative Clinician: Exercises and Activities for Clients and Group Therapy”, and “From Fairy Tales to Facelifts: Learning to Love the Image in the Mirror.”

As a coach and consultant, Mari is passionate about supporting other clinicians who are building their private practice dreams and believes that every therapist can make a great living doing the work they love. Her webinar, “How to Create Successful Multiple Income Streams for the Busy Clinician” has received rave reviews, and her on line products for therapists (Consent Forms, Clinical Group Forms, Exercises for Therapy) have supported therapists around the world and come with fantastic testimonials.

For further information on coaching and consulting, please visit: www.thecounselorscoach.com, or mari@thecounselorscoach.com

If you are interested in having Mari speak at an event, you may contact her at (818) 521-4370.

For further information on sex addiction therapy support in Southern California, please visit: www.growthcounselingservices.com, or mari@growthcounselingservices.com.

Click here to listen to the episode on iTunes

Mari is the real deal.  A therapist, mentor, entrepreneur.  She does it all!  I was extremely humbled when talking to her.  I hope you enjoy the episode as much as I do!  Below are some of the resources we talk about in the episode:

Wellness: prayer/meditation, nature hikes, pets, dance.  (Speaking of pets, here is Willie, my awesome 9 year old dog)

Book: "Daring Greatly" by Brene Brown- I'm actually reading this book for the second time right now.  It's a "must read" for therapists.

Internet Resources: hiring a virtual assistant; Canva; Asana

For more information about Mari, go to:
growthcounselingservices.com; thecounselorscoach.com

Or email her at mari@thecounselorscoach.com    

Click here to listen to the episode in your browser

Virtual LPC Podcast #12 featuring Dr. Maelisa Hall

Dr. Maelisa Hall specializes in teaching therapists how to connect with their paperwork so it’s more simple and more meaningful. The result? Rock solid documentation every therapist can be proud of! Check out her free online Private Practice Paperwork Crash Course (https://qaprep.leadpages.net/paperwork-crash-course/) and get tips on improving your documentation today.


Who knew talking about paperwork and therapy documentation could be so much fun!

What a wonderful interview with Maelisa!  She is the owner of QAprep, a site dedicated to helping therapists bring meaning and value back to the paperwork part of our work.  If you're like me, paperwork gets pushed back until it NEEDS to be done.  Maelisa reminded me why it's important to value the note taking (and other paperwork) experience.  We no longer have to look at paperwork as a necessary evil.  Let's make it a crucial part of the therapy process. 

Also in the interview we talk about the overwhelming feeling of lots of ideas, and how to channel that into focused energy.  We also talk about the need for a professional support system, and having people to bounce ideas off of.

Below are some resources highlighted by Maelisa in her interview:

Wellness Exercise: utilizing a mastermind group

Book: "Get Rich Lucky Bitch" by Denise Duffield Thomas

Internet Resource: Mailchimp

If you want to learn more, Maelisa is currently working on a brand new project called "Meaningful Documentation".  For more information, go HERE.

Maelisa can be reached by going to her website: QAprep.com, or you can find her on Facebook HERE.

You can also hear the podcast directly from your browser by clicking: Virtual LPC Podcast Episode #12 featuring Dr. Maelisa Hall.

If you get a chance, please leave a positive review on iTunes (if you like what we are doing).

Lawsuit Against LMFT's


I came across this article on an ACA discussion board.  This article strikes me as very concerning.  Though it's dated from 2014, you can check out the Texas LMFT website for updated information.  It's still in the courts and could have some major implications for all counselors.

Basically, the Texas Medical Association (TMA) filed a lawsuit against LMFT's, opposing LMFT's ability to clinically diagnose patients using the DSM.  Crazy right!

If this were to happen, private practice counselors would have to make some major changes.  Without the ability to diagnose, they would not be able to practice independently.  Though this is currently between LMFT's and TMA, you can see the writing on the wall.  If this goes in favor of TMA, I would assume LPC's and Social Worker's are next.  Maybe even Licensed Psychologists.

In some ways, I think this is exactly the thing we need to come together as mental health providers instead of arguing over petty turf wars that have kept us divided.  This is our opportunity to come together for the greater good of our profession.

I feel 100% confident that a licensed mental health professional is equally (and even more) capable of appropriately diagnosing mental health disorders than the average MD.  Just speaking for myself, the typical MD conversation lasts about 5 minutes.  How are they able to determine someone's state of mind in such a brief time period?  Therapists, on the other hand, spend at least an hour specifically focusing on the client before coming to a diagnosis.  Second, mental health professionals focus all their education and skill on diagnosing and treating mental illness.  How much time and training does the average MD spend on diagnosing and treating mental health disorders? 

Finally, if TMA wins the battle in court, what then?  Are doctors going to treat patients for mental health disorders?  I doubt it.  They will still have to refer the patient to a licensed counselor.  This process would clog the system up even more than it already is, and create more barriers to receiving mental health treatment.  We all know that many people go untreated already.  Why would we create a system that makes it even more difficult for a person to receive the help they need.

On the flip side, if TMA wins, this will give us the opportunity to reinvent the profession outside of managed care.  Just think: no more insurance billing, no more medical paperwork, no more waiting for insurance companies to reimburse.  We can go 100% self pay- do away with the labels attached to diagnosing, and offer our clients the help they want, and receive payment without dealing with insurance.  Just a thought...

What are your thoughts about this?

4 Keys to Losing the Fear of Being FIRED

I've noticed a common theme among people in many of the environments I've worked in the past.  These environments include schools, agencies, and in different private counseling practices.  What's the theme: FEAR of losing their job.  It amazes me each time I hear someone talk in desperation about their need to keep their job like they are trapped in misery. 

This fear creates extremely negative work environments, causing fear-based thinking and behavior such as blaming others and playing the victim.  Backstabbing and avoiding accountability become the norm.  Shifting blame and avoiding the boss are daily occurrences.  Fear takes over and causes people to act in very destructive ways.  I've always found this to be odd behavior, and it saddened me to watch people use fear to act in malicious, self-destructive ways.  It's sad because the fear of losing a job directly leads to the behavior that causes the person to lose the job.  Depressing irony, right?

It doesn't have to be this way.  We don't have to live in fear while at work.  We don't have to spend time worrying about being replaced.  Instead, through some simple techniques, you can become the "standout" employee that's an ASSET to your company.  No one fires their asset.  They fire the liability.  How do you become an asset?  Here are some recommendations based on John Acuff's book: Do Over

1. Show up on time

2.  Add value- make yourself indispensable to your office.

3. Maintain a positive attitude

4. Build relationships- when your boss, coworkers, and patrons LIKE you; it creates job security. 

By choosing to be a vital resource to your work community, you solidify your job.  Even more so, you are developing and maintaining the skills that will make you a valuable asset.  These skills transition to any job, and by working from an ASSET mindset (rather than fear mindset), you are creating new opportunities to grow in your field and excel. 

One final thought: if you feel that the environment is so negative that you can't do anything to change it, you can always quit.  Life is too short to be miserable, and if you believe in yourself, there's always another job.  Remaining stuck in a job you hate will guarantee continued fear and frustration.  Trust in yourself, and take the steps to find the work you enjoy.

Work-Life Balance Myth

I read about this from a number of resources recently, and it resonated with me.  I know I've talked about the "work-life balance" when doing trainings on wellness, and now I wish I could take back those words.

The more I've learned, the more I believe the work-life balance motto to be a myth.  It sounds great in theory: maintaining an even balance of work and life so we don't burn out, and have plenty of time to spend away from work.  My truth I've learned is this isn't possible anymore.  Due to technology and current cultural norms, we are no longer living a work-life balance.  In fact, it's all just simply they way we choose to live our life.  

By theory of work-life balance, work tends to be "bad", and life tends to be "good".  We are supposed to balance the bad and the good.  First, there's no way to create this balance.  Second, why must we determine our work to be "bad", or something that must be balanced with the rest of our life?

For many of us, especially entrepreneur-minded people, the brain never stops thinking about ideas and work related stuff.  Rather than "balance", my new goal is to integrate it into my life instead of separating the two.  This doesn't mean that I'm always in "work" mind, but instead I accept that work will be a part of my daily life and routines.  In fact, my ultimate goal is to do work that I enjoy so that work is a positive part of my life.  

I think the best example of the work-life balance myth is taking vacations.  We work like crazy for 50 weeks of the year to balance it with 2 weeks of ESCAPE FROM REALITY.  First off, that doesn't seem like a balanced proposition anyway.  Second, my goal is to avoid being on a teeter-tot swing that goes up and down based on whether I'm at work or home.  I've lived that lifestyle and it's not fun...

So, what's the solution to this myth?  I don't think there needs to be a solution.  Life is just Life.  We work.  We play. We love.  We fight.  We live.  No need to create "balance".  My goal is to simply find ways to do more of what I love, and less of the things that don't allow me to be fulfilled and happy.

Virtual LPC Podcast- Episode #3 with Roy Huggins

Roy Huggins, LPC, NCC

Roy Huggins, LPC, NCC, is a counselor in private practice who also directs Person-Centered Tech. Roy worked as a professional Web developer for 7 years before changing paths, and makes it his mission to grow clinicians’ understanding of the Internet and other electronic communications mediums for the future of our practices and our professions.

Roy also acts as Technology Chair for the Oregon Counseling Association, is an adjunct instructor at the Portland State University Counseling program where he teaches Ethics, and is a member of the Zur Institute advisory board. He routinely consults with mental health colleagues on ethical and practical issues surrounding tech in clinical practice.

And the best contact information is:



Click here to listen to the episode on iTunes.

As always, if you enjoy the episode, please share it with someone you think would enjoy the content.  Also, please leave positive feedback on iTunes.

Roy has a very interesting background in web development before making a major pivot into the field of counseling.  Through his knowledge and expertise in technology, he has a unique insight into counseling.  He is quickly becoming the "go to" guy for HIPAA compliance and making ethical decisions related to technology.  Throughout this episode, Roy offers many takeaways, and it's definitely an episode to listen to, especially if you are utilizing technology in your practice.

Another cool fact about Roy: he spent some time living in Japan as a teacher.  I'm always fascinated by people who are willing to take the plunge and engage in new cultures and experiences.

You can also click the link below to listen to the episode:

Virtual LPC Podcast- Episode #3 with Roy Huggins


Virtual LPC- Episode #2 with Joe Sanok

Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC

Joe Sanok helps counseling and consulting clients achieve ambitious results. He is the owner of Mental Wellness Counseling and PracticeofthePractice.com. He's making six-figures per year working 10-15 hours per week on his counseling and consulting projects. Joe's newest venture, BecomeaConsultantToday.com is a daily podcast with interviews with top consultants like Pat Flynn, John Lee Dumas, Chris Ducker, and Julie Hanks, this is launching in mid-2015. Joe's podcast, The Practice of the Practice Podcast launched in 2013 and is one of the longest running consistent private practice podcasts on iTunes.He loves teaching counselors how to increase influence and income, the stuff we didn't learn in grad school. 

Click here to listen to the podcast on iTunes.

If you like the show, please join the podcast and give positive feedback on iTunes.

Joe's a great guy, and doing some amazing things.  What is he up to?  I'm glad you asked...

Joe is making the full time leap into his private practice and consulting business.  He started his private practice in 2009, Mental Wellness Counseling, and has now grown to employing four other therapists!  He also operates a very popular podcast for counselors called The Practice of the Practice.  On top of everything else, he's involved in developing the Most Awesome Conference for counselors.  After clicking on these links, you will quickly see he is doing some really cool work.

In the episode, Joe talks very honestly about his motivation for creating his businesses, and I was truly inspired to hear his story.  Joe is a cancer survivor, and his story is a reminder of the things you can accomplish once you set your mind to achieving a goal.  

Also in the show, Joe talks about finding a Virtual Assistant.  For more information, check out the podcast he did on this topic: Practice of the Practice Episode #54

Here are some resources Joe uses and recommends:

Wellness Practice: aqua therapy 3-4 days per week.

Book: How the World Sees You: Discover Your Highest Value Through the Science of Fascination by Sally Hogshead 

Internet Resource: Trello- a free project management software.

To learn more about Joe and his work, click on the links highlighted throughout this post, or you can email him at joe@practiceofthepractice.com.

You can also listen to the podcast by clicking here:

Virtual LPC Podcast- Episode #2 with Joe Sanok


Virtual LPC- Episode #1- Kelly Higdon

In Episode #1, we meet Kelly Higdon of Zynny Me.  If you never been to her site, go there right now!  It's amazing, and offers A TON of FREE material.

Kelly was gracious enough to be my initial guest on the show, and I am truly honored to have met her.  In the show, you will hear about how she is living up to her goal of leaving the world a little better than she found it.  

Kelly runs a private counseling practice, co-owns Zynny Me, and is putting together the Most Awesome Conference ever!  She also offers a bootcamp for counselors.  She talks about some of the obstacles faced while pursuing her career and counseling, and how she has not just overcome, but crushed it!

During the show, she offers some amazing resources as well:

Book to read: Dr. Irvin Yalom's "Creature of a Day"

Internet Resource: Sumo Me

Plus, much more... Download it on iTunes, or listen by clicking below:

Virtual LPC Podcast- Episode #1 with Kelly Higdon