Therapist with a Garden Hoe or a Netflix Show?

Brown image with title in white font and photo of a garden hoe

After over 7 years of working with therapists in private practice around fee setting strategies, I’ve observed that there are two types of private practice therapists: Therapists with a Garden Hoe & Therapists with a Netflix Show.

It’s vital that you understand which type of therapist you are because it has a massive impact on your ability to build and sustain a thriving private practice and, more importantly, your ability to sustain a meaningful life.

Why? Because each type of therapist must go about setting up their practice in a very different way and if you don’t know which type you are, you risk burnout, insecurity, and defeat.

However, if you understand your professional ambitions, you’ll be able to approach your work with a sense of value, accomplishment and confidence.

Let’s take a closer look at each style.

Therapists with a Garden Hoe

You  can easily imagine spending the next 20 years sitting in your office, across from a beloved client, doing deep therapeutic work.

You may find joy in participating in rigorous case consultation or attending a professional conference abroad every so often. You love the intimacy and ease of 1:1 work.

You want nothing more than to have a consistent weekly schedule of 4 committed clients a day, with plenty of time to sip tea, write notes, and take long meandering walks between sessions. Finally, you cap off the day by spending the rest of the afternoon  in your garden.

Season 1 Garden GIF by Nanalan'

 

Therapists with a Netflix Show

You, too, love doing clinical work. You are no less passionate about the deep connections you have with your clients than TwaGH, but you are itching to do something more.

You simply cannot help yourself. You are constantly searching for where to go next professionally. While one part of you can imagine a lifetime of clinical work, another part of you is bursting with desire to make a bigger impact, reach more people, have a bigger platform, become a (cue chorus) Thought Leader.

If Netflix called you tomorrow and pitched an ethical therapist show idea, with book deals and Oprah interviews, you’d be nervous (who wouldn’t?), but you’d literally be yelling, “WHERE DO I SIGN UP AND CAN YOU COME OVER TODAY AT 2:15?” before the producer even made an offer.

Phone No GIF by Party Down South

When you first read about the two types of therapists, what did you notice?

Therapists often  instantly and viscerally identify with one of these types. You may have immediately found yourself drawn to or repelled by one of the styles.

Here’s the deal, neither of these types are better than the other. There is not one that is more valuable or interesting than the other. It is simply what exists. And, where you fall has vast implications for how you set up and run your practice.

Here’s how.

Finding clients as a Therapist with a Garden Hoe

You do not want to spend your days learning how to market, dancing on Tik Tok, learning the ins and outs of SEO and Copywriting.

You don’t want to set up 47 coffee dates to network with therapist strangers. You don’t want to create presentations and sell yourself in corporate offices.

You simply want to show up, do meaningful work a few hours each day and then go walk in the forest, learn how to perfect sourdough bread or travel to Italy with your friends.

Happy Hour Drinking GIF by FilmStruck

Which means, you need to outsource your marketing. Many of you outsource your marketing by getting on insurance panels, which has led to overwhelm, stress and an inability to actually live fully in your life.

You may have also outsourced your marketing by being part of a group practice. This is actually a great move for Therapists with a Garden Hoe, if you can earn enough to feel secure and you are granted enough autonomy to set your own hours and work in the way you want to work.

You understand that to truly live your Garden Hoe life, you need to be earning premium fees, you need a steady flow of referrals and you need spaciousness, ease and joy.

This often means you do want to work in your own practice, but you will need to invest in hiring an expert to do the marketing for you. This does not mean signing up for a course to teach you how to make an Instagram reel. It means actually working closely with someone who will do all the things, so you can sit back and do what you do best.

It will be expensive, but it will pay off.

Now, you do love deep, long term professional relationships where you consult about your work with like-minded clinicians that you respect. This is likely, over time, how your caseload will build. So, if you have time and can play the very long game, without urgency or stress, you will slowly get one or two calls a month and eventually have enough word of mouth referrals to support your Garden Hoe endeavors.

Fanm Djanm GIF

This is also a better fit for you if you tend to do long term clinical work (we’re talking 2-20 years with each client) because then you won’t have to be constantly finding new referrals given the stability and resilience of your caseload.

Finding Clients as a Therapist with a Netflix Show.

Let’s be real, you also don’t want to spend your days dancing on Tik Tok and learning SEO, but guess what – you’re gonna do it.

Why? Because you are enticed by a different type of game. Yes, you love clinical work, but you are also obsessed with professional growth as a form of creative expression.

You feel excited by the prospect of applied psychology as applied to yourself. And you see business growth as a canvas upon which you can measure the obstacles you face and the challenges you overcome.

Ne-Yo Art GIF by Nickelodeon

Given this, you’re constantly looking to learn new ways to increase your phone calls, curious about how this whole marketing thing actually works. You’re looking for ways to delegate the $20 tasks so you can focus on the $200 (and then $2000) tasks.

You’re like a dog with a bone, gnawing and gnawing to learn more about the business side of things and eager to bring in more money, because you see that as a sign that you have resolved unconscious patterns and stepped into a new level of awareness.

You want to experiment on yourself and then bring your insights to the world. The more lives you can touch, in big ways or small, the more energized you feel.

For you, taking on marketing activities is not the problem.

Your challenges will be:

1) identifying the order of operations so you’re not just “doing all the things,” but, instead taking strategic steps to get to the next level and;

2) developing the emotional equanimity to play the long game with ease, balance and freedom.

Regardless of which category you identify with, the best place to start is getting crystal clear on what your fee needs to be based on your style.

If you’re a Therapist with a Garden Hoe, then you may feel the most ease seeing 4 clients a day, three days a week, leaving you more than enough money to pursue your life outside of your practice, be that traveling a month every year, being debt-free, having a solid retirement savings… or all of the above.

If you’re a Therapist with a Netflix Show, you might want to set up your practice to see 10 clients over three days and bring in more than enough moolah so that you can easefully figure out how to leverage your time and money into your next big move (without sacrificing your family, emotionally wellbeing or bank account).

Start with our “Fun with Fees Calculator” to align with your Therapist Type, be that Hoe or Show.

And let us know in the chat – are you a Therapist with a Garden Hoe or a Therapist with a Netflix show?

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20 Comments

  1. Beth Klein

    Such a great blog article Tiffany! I would normally be saying garden hoe. But, if Netflix called, I would be like “When can I start?!” So, I need to think more about this…

    Reply
    • HeyTiffany

      HA! I think you might be a Therapist with a Netflix show, Beth. I think a TwaGH would be terrified and stressed out if Netflix called, trying to figure out how they can get out of it.

      Reply
  2. Heather

    Loved hearing this perspective and it really made me think- which one am I? At first the garden hoe description sounded repelling, but then something about the Netflix show didn’t totally sound right either.

    Then I realized it’s because I have Netflix show aspirations and garden hoe energy and feels like never the Twain shall meet 😒🤔 I think that’s a third type. Can you write about that and we’re supposed to do?

    Reply
    • HeyTiffany

      Hmmmm… We need to clarify things a bit here. What does TwaGH energy look like? I’ll email you and we’ll continue the discussion. 😉

      Reply
  3. Victoria Valdez

    I loved how this article was written. I’m a total Netflix show! But I’m like the Love, Death & Robots! There is a new story, new plot, and exciting twist in each episode! LOL, every time I hear the words “crystal clear plan”, I wince just a little because I know I need it but have trouble finding it! I’m working on it. Because the possibilities are endless and exciting, and the start-up is invigorating! And my mental mindset is not “if I can do it”. It’s “I will do it” and a matter of how I will do it, what I need to get there!

    Reply
    • HeyTiffany

      HA! Therapists with a Love, Death & Robots show. Doesn’t create the best acronym, but I kind of like it. TwaLDRS. 😀

      Reply
  4. Rachel Hulstein-Lowe

    This is really clever. Love it. I think you already know this but I’m definitely the Netflix therapist who worked like a Garden Hoe therapist for a decade and got very very frustrated. Until I met you. 🙂

    Reply
    • HeyTiffany

      It’s so interesting how much frustration and tension therapists experience when they are attempting to work in the style that they are NOT. I’m thrilled that therapists are able to identify where they are at and then experience RELIEF and permission to own it.

      Reply
  5. Emily Williams

    I am a therapist with a garden hoe at heart. I’ve hustled and hustled to get that Netflix show my whole life, but the reality is that my neurophysiology needs peaceful gardens. There’s wisdom in this knowing. I like to cheer on the stars, book writers, intensive creators, and thought leaders. I adore being in their company and learning from them. I like being in the room where it happens because I’m inspired. But at the end of the day, I need calm, peace, and that sunroom. “I want to sit under my own vine and fig tree. . . a moment alone in the shade, at home in this nation we’ve made.” –George Washington, “One Last Time” (Lin-Manuel Miranda’s HAMILTON, because it’s the best!)

    Thank you for helping me see, Tiffany. You are a blessing!

    Reply
    • HeyTiffany

      Oh my gosh, Emily! You went full Hamilton on me. 🥹

      Reply
  6. Bessie

    Garden hoe therapist with Netflix show bills here. 👩🏻‍🌾 💸

    Reply
    • HeyTiffany

      Ooph! Interesting! This really makes me think of LEVERAGE. How can we get you MORE than enough money to hire out the marketing fully, so you can sit back and hoe that garden, while having a never ending referral stream? It comes back to premium fees. There’s no other way. MAN! You’ve got me thinking.🤔

      Reply
  7. Karen Chenier

    Fun and entertaining article addressing therapist types with suggestions. Thank you.

    Reply
    • HeyTiffany

      I’m glad you liked it!

      Reply
  8. Christen N Mullane PhD

    Hahaha Heeey Tiffany,

    The reason I am laughing is because that Therapist with a Netflix show … it hits the mark so spot on for me … and seeing that is still a delightful surprise. The thing is, I really thought I was a therapist with a garden hoe, for a long time. I really tried to be that therapist. I love the long meandering walks – in theory.

    What actually happens is that instead of taking them … I end up looking up articles about my niche, so that I can write the next blog post or put them in my newsletter or add stuff to my book. I end up playing around with new tech to see if it will work for me, or reaching out to random therapists to network and get them on my email list. It turns out … the process of figuring out marketing has lit this fire in me that just won’t quit. I love it.

    I do not have it all figured out yet, but here’s to LIMB for helping me to recognize myself – and to a bright future of figuring out the balance!

    Reply
    • HeyTiffany

      I think it’s true – for some Therapists with a Netflix Show – that they get burnt out and all they want to do is garden. But then, like you, once they set themselves up to garden all day, they find themselves doing exactly what you say here – delving back into solving a business obstacle.

      And then there truly are Therapists with a Garden Hoe. Once their time is totally freed up, they actually…just…relax. For YEARS. Maybe I’ll get there one day. But not TODAY.

      Reply
  9. Alli

    Gosh Tiffany – how do you keep reading my mind ALL THE TIME!?!? 100% Netflix show!! Although I don’t want a show – I want to heal the world. ❤️ if a show gets us there, then YES.

    Reply
    • HeyTiffany

      I can see it now! Alli doing in real time trauma intensives to demonstrate the power of the work. Which, of course, leads her to establish her certification program because everyone is clamoring to get in and work with her. Although, I suppose IRL trauma intensives could pose a logistical issue in terms of confidentiality. 🤔

      Reply
      • Katy

        Holy mackerel Tiffany, I’m a garden hoe whose been trying to want to be a Netflix show for literal years…. So many things I’ve been doing have felt so grating and thought I was “supposed to level up” but it’s never felt aligned the way sitting with a client 1:1 does. I’ve done tons of personal work to figure out what fear or other barriers were holding me back from wanting the Netflix show but I’m going to give myself permission to be a garden hoe for a bit and see how it feels.

        Reply
        • HeyTiffany

          YES!!

          I love this, Katy. I’m so glad this article was helpful. Sit. Relax. Marinate in the joy that is living presently and chilling out. Permission fully granted. 😀

          Reply

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About the Author

Hey, I’m Tiffany McLain, LMFT, and I teach you how to charge good money for the good work you do.  I’m the founder of Lean In. MAKE BANK. Academy, a group program that empowers therapists and social workers like you to reimagine your relationship with money, offering the tools and community support to not just earn more but to fundamentally change your life and the lives of those you serve.

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