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  • Writer's picturePiper Harris

Bridging Therapy and Business Through Gratitude

Empathy, compassion, and connection are the cornerstone of the healing journey. As therapists, we embark on this path not just to witness transformation but to nurture it and cradle it within our professional embrace. It is a vocation that demands an understanding of the human psyche and an appreciation for the nuanced dance between patient care and business acumen. I have come to deeply appreciate this beautiful balance in my 13 years as an entrepreneur and now therapist.

Over these years, I’ve observed many practices, each uniquely tailored to the therapist’s individual style and approach. However, amidst these variations, a concerning trend has surfaced—one that tugs at the essence of our collective mission in mental health. The simple yet profound expression of gratitude, especially when receiving referrals from fellow therapists, seems increasingly overlooked. It’s a small gesture, perhaps, but its impact is immeasurable.

Interestingly enough, individuals I refer to and partner with OUTSIDE of the mental health space understand the need to say "thank you." Why is that?

Why Gratitude Matters

In therapy, where treatment and ease revolve around developing trust and relationship-building, gratitude transcends politeness. It serves as a bridge, connecting us to our fellow practitioners and reinforcing our community's very fabric. A ‘thank you’ goes beyond acknowledging a colleague's effort—it fosters a culture of mutual respect, appreciation, and continual growth. This isn’t just beneficial personally; it strengthens the professional network supporting the individuals we seek to aid.

The Business Mindset

In this context, having a business mindset isn’t solely about ensuring the financial success of our practice. Rather, it’s about recognizing that every element of our professional behavior—including how we interact with colleagues—shapes the foundation of our business. Our business mindset reflects our values, respect for the profession, and dedication to maintaining a healthy, sustainable practice. Perhaps more importantly, it models the behaviors we often discuss in therapy: acknowledgment, recognition, and the importance of building positive, supportive relationships.

Integrating Gratitude into Practice

Integrating gratitude into our practice doesn’t require grand gestures. It starts with small yet meaningful acts:

  • Acknowledge Every Referral: A simple message or a brief note of thanks can convey your appreciation.

  • Maintain Open Lines of Communication: Showing that their referral was valued and well-placed, open lines of communication ensure a continued referral source.

  • Reciprocate: Where possible, consider referring clients in a way that serves the client's best interests and supports your colleagues.

  • Outside a phone call/text: Take time for a handwritten note or when you have a stellar referral partner, show up with lunch, flowers, or any number of items as a thanks.

  • Celebrate Successes Together: Share and celebrate the milestones and successes, both big and small. This reinforces the sense of community and shared purpose. This is how you build a network of worthy partners who rally behind you, even if you're not in the room.

Building on the importance of incorporating gratitude and a business mindset, let's integrate additional tips:

Expanding Your Business Vision

Therapists should begin by creating a compelling and clear business vision if working toward private practice. Understanding your 'why' will guide you through the tumult of entrepreneurial challenges. It acts as a compass, directing you toward decisions that align with your long-term objectives rather than short-sighted gains. For myself, I've created a vision statement, a mission statement, and 10 core principles of who I am, how I work in practice, and with whom I partner. Having been in business for 13 years, my vision and mission have grown and changed, just as I have.

Cultivating an Entrepreneurial Spirit

Embarking on a therapy business without formal business training might feel daunting. And, let's be honest, this was never part of your counselor training. However, embracing the entrepreneurial mindset has transformative power. Begin to think beyond the therapy room; consider finding a mentor, marketing strategies, networking opportunities, and growth mechanisms that will ensure a steady flow of clients to your doorstep.

Keeping the Big Picture in Focus

Getting lost in minutiae is easy when you're deep in business operations. Always elevate your perspective: How do the tasks serve the larger goal? It is critical to regularly step back to assess whether each project or task is moving you toward your vision. Develop a calendar that allows you to stay on task as a therapist, entrepreneur, and human who requires rest. Organization is key, as is tenacity when you feel you haven't secured your footing and fear you may never see your dreams come to fruition.

Focus on your daily efforts, not the end results.

Establishing Essential Business Systems

Streamlining your approach by establishing four core systems can significantly demystify the process of starting your business:

Define your core offer and delivery method

Identify your niche and ideal client profile (Being a generalist will burn you out!)

Clarify your unique messaging and communication (Why you, what makes you different?)

Implement a marketing and visibility strategy (You may not know how, but just as you studied for your counseling skills, the same can be said for marketing.)

Focusing on these systems allows you to concentrate on what truly matters and reduce the inevitable stress and overextension a new business can bring. But you will feel this regardless- these systems keep you going.

Leveraging Support and Outsourcing

A business journey can be overwhelming. Recognize the power of delegation—outsource tasks, particularly those outside your zone of genius, to free up your time for what you do best. Consider the cost of your time and balance it with potential investments in virtual assistance or specialized services. Over the years, I've hired an attorney to ensure my LLCs were top-notch, used platforms that allowed for program development without breaking the bank, bookkeeping to keep me on track, marketing pros, social media management, and more.

The Transformative Power of Therapy & Business

As we continue to navigate the intricacies of therapy and business, don't forget the transformative power we hold in our hands. It's not just in the methodologies we employ or the knowledge we share but in the simple, humane gestures of appreciation and acknowledgment. Fostering a culture of gratitude within our professional community, for in supporting each other, we elevate the very essence of the care we provide to those who seek our help.

Nurturing this balance between empathy and entrepreneurial spirit allows us to grow as professionals and thrive as a united force for healing. In doing so, we offer a reassuring, warm embrace to our clients and each other.

At the heart of it all, we are caretakers—not just of the individuals who seek our help, but of the profession itself. In each ‘thank you,’ in every gesture of gratitude, remember the value of connection, the strength of acknowledgment, and the endless possibilities that arise when we support one another with kindness, respect, and understanding.


Are you struggling to build out your business? Is it daunting to consider the necessary steps? Ask me how I can help.

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