Sh*t You Wish You Learned in Grad School with Jennifer Agee, LCPC

Episode 34: Is a Non-Profit Counseling Practice Right for You? featuring Emily Sterk

December 07, 2022 Jennifer Agee, LCPC Season 1 Episode 34
Sh*t You Wish You Learned in Grad School with Jennifer Agee, LCPC
Episode 34: Is a Non-Profit Counseling Practice Right for You? featuring Emily Sterk
Show Notes Transcript

Emily Sterk, LCMFT and I discuss the differences of non-profit counseling practices vs for-profit private practices. Emily is the founder of Healing Towards Wellness, a non-profit counseling practice in the Greater Kansas City area. There are a lot of ways to meet the mental health needs of our communities and Emily shares her knowledge and experience in connecting the communities needs by reimagining what it means to create accessible care in our communities. 

After moving back to KC in 2018, Emily saw a a major crisis surrounding suicide rates and connected that to lack of available and affordable mental healths services, from there Healing Towards Wellness was created.  Since its start in 2019, HTW has supported over 50 teachers with six months of free therapy, the average cost of session is $50 and continues to stand by the belief that supporting local and being heavily involved in the community lowers mental health crisis.


Jennifer Agee: Hello. Hello. And welcome to Sh*t You Wish You Learned in Grad School. I am your host, Jennifer Agee, licensed clinical professional counselor. And with me today is Emily Sterk. Emily is a licensed clinical marriage and family therapist, and she is also the founder of Healing Towards Wellness, which we're gonna talk about today. So welcome, Emily. 

Emily Sterk: Hi. How are you doing? 

Jennifer Agee: I'm good. Today's a warm day, but it's a cloudy day, but no complaints. 

Emily Sterk: Yeah, it's a little confusing outside with the weather. 

Jennifer Agee: For sure. So, tell me, what's something that you wish you learned or understood more about in grad school? 

Emily Sterk: I mean, I think that's such a loaded question. I mean, the first thing that comes to mind is learning where students really can go following grad school. In my program, it was pretty heavily leaned towards private practice, but there's so many other things you can do. You can go on to get your doctorate, you can go to an agency, you can go to a non-profit. Um, I mean, you can use your masters in counseling or therapy for a million other things. So, I wish they would have taught us that private practice is not the only like end game for you. There's tons of other things that you can look at. So, I think like on the business side of being a therapist, just giving us permission to understand there are more options. And I think on like the clinical like theory side, um... I don't know. I think I would've liked more history of the theories. Like, we got the basics. Um, but I also know that there were so many theories, like, in between that were either newer or things like that, that I would've known. Like, I never had a feminist theory class. I never had an IFS class. Um, granted I graduated 10 years ago, but, you know, those would've been nice rather than just like the basics, like structural narrative, stuff like that. So, it's kinda two answers. 

Jennifer Agee: Yeah. Agreed. And I think definitely there's something to be said for, um, you do learn theory, but then I think where a lot of schools lack is, how do we put that into practice? 

Emily Sterk: Mm-hmm. 

Jennifer Agee: I wanna talk about your business because you have a very different business model, um, then most people who have a private practice. So, tell us a little bit about Healing Towards Wellness. 

Emily Sterk: Yeah, so like you mentioned, Healing Towards Wellness is a nonprofit. We are not that different than a for-profit private practice. We basically just have a different, like, government number or whatever. So where for-profit private practice have to pay taxes a few times a year, um, and their sole income is based off of clients, we are tax exempt and we're able to get grants, donations. So, one of the reasons I wanted to go the nonprofit route is I didn't have to be fully dependent on clients, and we can get finances from various sources. Um, so yeah, so I did. I came to Kansas City, after living in Boston for a few years, wanting something different for the community. We have amazing private practices, amazing clinicians, um, but there were things missing. Um, people with certain incomes or people not having, um, the average cost of therapy monthly. They just didn't have an option, and if they did, they would maybe have to go see an intern. Although we love interns, sometimes interns aren't great for every client, or it would be high turnover, like at agencies and things like that. So, I wanted to bring a different type of nonprofit or a different type of agency to Kansas City because frankly it doesn't exist. Um, and so that's why I started it. And, um, I see just the same amount of clients that anyone else would see. We have a deep sliding scale where we don't exceed $75 per session. And, um, I do tend to work in maybe higher crisis compared to other people. Um, but yeah, our business model is just different that it allows for various revenue sources. That's really the biggest difference between non-profit and for-profit. 

Jennifer Agee: So, you've been running the non-profit for a little while now. What are some of the– I mean, I can see a definite advantage in terms of being able to gain different types of revenue and also having low lower cost scales. Can you accept insurance as a non-profit?

Emily Sterk: Yeah, you can. Um, I haven't looked, um, into that. It's not as much that we can accept insurance as a nonprofit. It's what I can do as an LCMFT and what insurances I can offer. I would really love to be on Medicaid. Um, Medicaid matches our mission. It matches the group of clientele we meet. They don't accept LCMFTs. The other reason we've chosen, at this time, for me to not go on insurance panels is our cost is not that different than a copay. Most people's copays range 20, 30, maybe a little higher if you see a psychiatrist. Our average cost of therapy is 50, so we're a little above that. And then we don't have to do all the annoying paperwork. We don't have to give a diagnosis if it's not absolutely needed. So, there is some wiggle room yet affordability by not being on insurance panels. But I would love to be on Medicaid. They just don't accept LCMFTs. 

Jennifer Agee: I didn't know that. I learned something new today. Huh? 

Emily Sterk: Yeah. 

Jennifer Agee: Huh. What a rip off. That's too bad. 

Emily Sterk: Right. Yeah, it's unfortunate. 

Jennifer Agee: Mm-hmm. Um, so in the non-for-profit versus for-profit model, what are some of the other differences that you see? Because some of the people that are listening to this are in grad school right now and are looking at what are my options? Like you alluded to in the beginning of the podcast. And what are some of the differences that you see between the two in terms of what people should think about after grad school? Like, should people be looking at non-profits, or is that not something you can feed your family on? Like, so let's talk about the reality of things that people might be asking themselves but might be too polite to actually ask.

Emily Sterk: Yeah, I think you should look anywhere and everywhere, honestly. Like, don't sell yourself short just because people gear you towards private practice, or that's what they teach you in school, or that's what you see everybody doing. Um, so that would be my first encouragement is look anywhere and everywhere, um, and maybe think outside of the box. I absolutely look at nonprofits. Um, again, I don't think our pay is all that different than for-profits, especially when you're starting out. You tend to have to be an independent contractor. You have some percentage, 60-40, that you have to pay the person who runs the building or whatever. Um, usually when you go to an agency or a nonprofit, the goal is to have you on salary so you can avoid the independent contractor. It really just depends on what your value is. Some people believe heavily in independent contractors and find them to be very helpful. I'm not a huge fan. Again, I am a believer in bringing someone on salary to have that livable wage at some point to do benefits — we can't do that right now — um, but yeah, that's, those would be the questions I would ask is, like you said, can you live working at a nonprofit as, or an agency? In, in my opinion, yes. I think more than just money or salary, though, that's very important is do you wanna be by yourself all the time? You know, part of being a nonprofit, I am able to have interns, but I also have a board of directors, and the community runs the nonprofit. So, for-profits can exist because you're a government entity, you charge whatever, you have the funds be able to keep lights on, and things like that. Nonprofits only exist if the community believes you need to exist. If the community doesn't believe we need to exist, we would not exist. That, it's, that's like non-profit 101. So, when you have a board of directors, they're here mentoring you and leading you and making those big decisions that as a therapist, I don't know anything about. I don't care about like budgets, social media. I don't care about any of those things. So, I have a board of directors that can say, "Hey, let's help you. Let's put this together as a team and make it happen." So, even though I have full autonomy and, um, I don't know, confidence in my role as a therapist, there are things I don't know much about, which again, they don't teach you in grad school, like budgets, business plans, all of those things. So, a board of directors, you go find those people who specialize in it, who wanna help, who believe in your mission, and then they join your board, and they essentially do it for you for free. 

Jennifer Agee: Yeah, I, for, for listeners here, I actually ran nonprofits for 15 years, so I'm very familiar with the use of the board and having strategic people join the board who are really good at different things. And it is a great way if you have a larger vision to be able to fulfill that vision, because we are not good at everything, obviously, right? We have to outsource some of that, and that's true whether you're for-profit or non-for-profit. I mean, you can't be good at everything. But one of the things, Emily, that I've seen that you've done well is you do engage the community really beautifully. Like, the local businesses around and, and things like that. You engage them really well. How do you feel about your role as, as partially doing fundraising? Like, that, that becomes a big part of, of an executive director's job. 

Emily Sterk: Yeah, so the fundraising has been an interesting space because people have different ideas about what fundraising looks like, and I think, as a therapist, and again, I think this goes back to your other question, is, if you wanna be just solo and by yourself and independently working beside other people or having a team that you work with, a lot of people who graduate grad school are not ready to be independent and on their own. They need a community. They need a team. And so, when it comes to things like fundraising, um, I've always been pretty good at fundraising. Um, I also have a belief, fundraising doesn't matter if you don't have a relationship with them, which a lot of people would say fundraising is fundraising. You just need their money. And I'm like, yeah, that's not how that works. 

Jennifer Agee: Mm-hmm. 

Emily Sterk: So, like, as a ther-, right, so as a therapist, I think I come with a unique perspective compared to just a business-driven executive director is I have all of that mental health background. And I'm like, yeah, people aren't gonna give you their money if they don't like you, they don't believe in you, things like that. So, balancing between the lead and only therapist, the founder, the executive director, is a lot for sure. I don't wanna dismiss that, but it also just breaks my job up, you know? Instead of seeing people all day long, five days a week, you know, I can go have lunch, and I can meet these business owners, and I can say, hey, this is our mission. Um, we had a fundraiser not too long ago with a putt putt place, a new place called Craft Putt. And I think he was a little disappointed at the number that he raised, and I was like, you just provided 10 sessions for a client. Like, that's a big deal. And so, but like people wouldn't know that. They would see, oh, that's a really small number. And so, I think as the fundraising part is, I can, excuse me, I can maybe personalize it a little bit better. I can be, like, nope, there's meaning no matter what the number is. Um, rather than, oh shoot, we didn't meet our goal, or, oh, that's a small number, and things like that. But the fundraising is an added bonus to the relationships I build with the business owners.

Jennifer Agee: Absolutely. I, so one of the things that I learned very quickly — 'cause my first job outta grad school was actually the executive director of a nonprofit. I have no idea how he got that job. It was like, I applied thinking, ha ha, I'll never get it, and I got it, and I was like, whoa, what do I do now that I'm here? But anyway — um, one of the things I found out really quickly was the fact that I was a therapist really benefited me in fundraising because we already understand that nothing really comes that's wonderful outside of context of relationship. 

Emily Sterk: Mm-hmm. 

Jennifer Agee: And so, we're natural relationship builders. We, we believe in the reciprocity of relationships and build, building those organically. And I found fundraising did not feel as much of a chore because I was getting to know a bunch of really amazing people in the community I otherwise would've never had the opportunity probably to meet or the intentionality to meet and spend time with. And I think we all have a sense of wanting to be connected to something that's greater than ourself, right? Some people get that through church, some people get that, um, in addition to their phil-, philanthropic work or outreach. And I think when you give people a vision that they can really latch onto, you've created then a larger community even if money doesn't come out of it; word of mouth comes out of it. Like, there's a ripple effect of building relationships. 

Emily Sterk: Yeah, absolutely. And again, money obviously is important. I, I just talked about that in an article not too long ago, is obviously money keeps us open and running and seeing clients and things like that. But in my opinion, and I think people in the professional nonprofit world might disagree, to me none of the money matters if I don't have a relationship with you. So, like, I appreciate your $5, $10. I even appreciate your multi-thousand-dollars grant. But I hope in that there is a relationship built from that because the money's nice and we will always be thankful and appreciative, but I wanna be able to have a relationship with you to say, "Hey, it's not just that they saw value in our mission, it's that I know them and they know me, and they trust what we're doing with the community." I think trust is the big word is again, if you're not trusted, just like a therapist, if a client doesn't trust you, they're not gonna be open with you. It's the same thing with a nonprofit. If they don't trust that you're navigating the money well and ethically, they're not gonna give you their money, and then therefore you're not going to exist.

Jennifer Agee: And they shouldn't, if you're not navigating that well and being, um, honorable with what you said you were going to do with those funds. They shouldn't, but I, I, that's absolutely right. Over time, those relationships get built, and they can see that what you said you were going to do, you did. 

Emily Sterk: Mm-hmm. 

Jennifer Agee: What you said that you would do with that money, you followed through with, and that builds trust in the community. So, in the future, you know, people are more likely to come back. Have you, do most of your clients understand that you're a nonprofit organization, or is that something that, you know, is, is maybe not on the front of your page? 

Emily Sterk: Yeah, no, they definitely, definitely know. I mean, our website is more non-profit driven than me being a therapist driven. Like, you can definitely go to a therapist website and go to our website and see the difference. But no, my clients — and I love my clients; they're so funny — I, they almost wanna take care of me, 'cause again, they care. They're so thankful for the lower costs that they're like, well, being a nonprofit, I know that you probably don't make that much. And I was like, but I'm choosing to do this, and it's fine, and I appreciate it. So, no, they're fully aware of it being a nonprofit, the mission, why we exist. Um, and it's, it's awesome. It's really cool. 

Jennifer Agee: Mm-hmm. So, what are some of the other things you do for the community? Because I know you have, you do special things for teachers and stuff, so tell me a little bit about what all you're doing.

Emily Sterk: Yeah. Again, I think that's another really cool difference between for-profit and non-profit is, like, we've been talking about non-profit, not that for-profit private practices aren't community based, but compared to a non-profit, it's like totally different. So yeah, like you mentioned, we have the pro bono, um, program for teachers. We're currently at capacity, but starting in December, we'll have a few spots available where we provide up to six months free therapy for teachers, and then at the end of those six months, they're more than welcome to join and start paying, or they don't have to; they can just, like, bounce and that's totally fine. Um, we also started, um, a trans, non-binary, gender fluid, like, teen support group, um, which just ended a few weeks ago. And these kids decided that they wanna start meeting monthly as just, like, socializing and skills and things like that. So, we definitely wanna get more groups off the ground, but they're just a pain in the butt. And then, um, we also do a lot of, like you mentioned, fundraisers with local, um, businesses. So, we had one — oh my gosh, was it September — where, yes, we got money from that fundraiser, but people went to that store and also bought things at that local business. Because if we shop locally, if we stay local — I know everyone lives through Amazon — but if we stay local, that, in fact, lowers suicide rates, mental health crisis. So, yes, we appreciate the fundraising and the money. We really need you supporting local because that's what gets people in therapy, because they feel like they have enough money to go afford it. Um, I want– Like, other things we do for the community, again, awareness, um, having people understand therapy can be affordable and accessible, um, and things like that. But those are probably the main things we do right now. 

Jennifer Agee: Do you find any pushback within the therapeutic community from other therapists about the fact that you run a non-profit?

Emily Sterk: Thousand percent. All the time. 

Jennifer Agee: Really? Okay. Tell me about that. 

Emily Sterk: Yeah. Um, it's gotten a little better I think now that we're going into our fourth year and people aren't viewing me as competition. In the beginning, I was definitely viewed as, you're gonna run our costs down, people are gonna start learning that therapy doesn't have to be as expensive as it is. The big argument I get, and it just makes my blood boil, is "because of the time I put in, because of the lack of pay I get" — Those are quotation marks for listeners — um, uh, "I'm lowering my value." I am fully aware of my value. I don't need other people validating my value. I, I, I know my value. I'm all set. So, like, in the beginning, I would get things like, oh, well you do you, or, oh, you, you do what you need to do for your mission. Just these backhanded, like, you can do that. I'm, I'm gonna stick to my $200 a session. Again, that's for them. If that's what they need to do for their value, for their clients, for their business, all for it. Something else needs to exist for other people. And so, in the beginning, it was a harsh reality that the therapeutic community was not on board. They didn't like it. It almost insulted what they were taught in grad school because I was specifically taught your value is in what you charge. Um, so you need to charge the 150, 175, 200. You need to charge all of those, because if you don't, people will think you're a bad therapist. I've been at capacity for three years. My value's fine. 

Jennifer Agee: Yeah. 

Emily Sterk: Like, so, um, it, and, but I think it's gotten better now that one, I don't engage a ton with the mental health community. I'm very engaged in the non-profit and small business world. Um, I'm no longer viewed as a threat like I was in the beginning of, oh, she's just gonna nab all of our clients. And I was like, no, we have completely demogra-, different demographics. We meet completely different people. Like, therapy needs to exist on all spectrums. Like, this isn't a competition. I know you and I have, kind of, talked about that. So it's gotten better, but I do, when I share this, people are like, oh, interesting. Like, that's so unique. And it's like it, affordable therapy shouldn't be unique. Like, I'm sorry. You know, like... 

Jennifer Agee: Right. Well, and I, I think that's a very, it's a small mindset in that it's not viewing the fact that we serve an entire community. And within any community, there are going to be a diversity of needs and a diversity of ways to meet those needs. And if we're all honoring the way that we want to meet those needs with our skill sets and our giftings, what is wrong with that? I mean, I'm telling you though, therapists, I'm sorry for the new ones listening. Therapists can be your biggest supporters, and they can also, you know, the scarcity mindset drives that fear, and I think that that fear of not enough or not enough financially or whatever drives, drives this competition kind of thing that gets very weird between us all sometimes.

Emily Sterk: Yeah. And I know you've mentioned scarcity. Excuse me. And for me, I, I agree that there's the scarcity complex. I also believe that, as therapists, we're human, and I think it's also people think you have your masters, look at how much your student loans are, look at the money you spent in your master's degree, like, look at what you've poured in it. You should be compensated for that. And it's like, but to what degree then? Because again, every therapist is allowed to do whatever they wanna do that's right for them, but, for me, I am heavily uncomfortable with charging 150, $200 to someone who just tried to attempt suicide yesterday. Like, I just really struggle with that. And again, that's just a value I hold that other people are like, yes, they were struggling yesterday, but they're utilizing me as a resource now, so I'm gonna charge my fee. That I, I think it is people, even therapists, we're human like everybody else, needs something that validates their value, that shows them I'm, I know I'm worth this cost. No one's denying that we're worth a million gazillion dollars. No one's denying that. But you have to meet the community needs. If you're not meeting the community needs, then why are you here? That's kind of my question. So yeah, that's been an interesting, like you said, that we can be your biggest supporters, but therapists can also be just like any other business, any other profession, um, from a place of fear of, "Ooh, if you do this and it's so opposite than everybody else, what does that say about me? What's that reflection back on me? And I don't like that feel. I don't like that you're putting me in that space."

Jennifer Agee: Uh, yes, same. Same. I completely agree with that. One of the things that I'll tell, 'cause you know I do, like, the business coaching side for therapists, one of the things I tell people, because I hear the statement a lot, charge what you're worth. I was told to charge what I'm worth. Your worth is inherent. You are invaluable. There is no amount of money that could be charged for your worth. Now, if we wanna talk about what is fair compensation for your hour, we can talk about that, but we need to change our language around that, because your worth is inherent, and it is priceless. So, um, take, take that in your pocket. Alright. Stop saying that if you're saying it, 'cause you're, you're worth more than any dollar amount could ever be put on paper.

Emily Sterk: Yeah. And I, I do, I just, I hate that phrase. I hate the "charge what you're worth" because then we should be cha-, we should be paying teachers more, we should be paying nurses. Like, you're right, like, our worth and our value is so beyond, like, a money number. And it's also, I find my worth in value, my clients come back. They come back every week. They send me text messages like, "Hey, I had a really tough situation last week and I handled it without calling you." And I, you know, and to me, like, that's value. Like that's value, that's worth. I see the healing, I see the progress in my clients, and, like you mentioned, I understand we have lights that need to be on, and we need to feed our families, and we do live in a very, a pretty affluent area. I get all of that. But when you say charge your worth, I'm over here like then I almost question, do you value yourself? Cause why do we have to prove it through what we charge? 

Jennifer Agee: That is such a therapist way to respond to that question. 

Emily Sterk: Yeah.

Jennifer Agee: Yeah. I mean, the therapist sneaks out of you sometimes. We just can't help it. 

Emily Sterk: Right. 

Jennifer Agee: Can't help it. Um, but yeah, so I, I mean, I really love that shift, and I, I love the community mindset that goes along with the, with non-profit work. Um, and I'm, I'm glad that you exist in our community, and I hope that there are lots of other communities that maybe will hear this and someone might be prompted to think maybe something like that might need to exist in mine, you know? Uh, because again, our communities are huge, and they're diverse, and there's a lot of different types of needs that go around. And I don't know, I hope someone feels a little inspired today.

Emily Sterk: Yeah, it's unfortunate that agencies have a bad rap, for good reason. Agencies historically have treated their staff so poorly. Low income, overworking them, the expectations are just ridiculous, and things like that. And so, I get it. I've worked in agencies that, holy cow, I could only be there for a certain amount of time. I know agencies here. I've heard stories from other therapists that they've just been burned, and they don't trust it and they don't feel safe. So, of course, I'm gonna go to private practice where I have full control. And so, part of being a nonprofit is we want to be an agency. We want to be the agency that doesn't burn the clinicians out, that pays you as best we can, but frankly is not that different than for profit. Um, that you have a team, that you're not being asked to meet 30 plus people a week to barely get a paycheck every two weeks. So, I, I totally hear people's like, "Oh, nonprofit agency, yikes, like, my experience was really bad." So, so was mine. So was everybody else's. But hopefully, we can change that mindset, like you said, that when people graduate and they look at all of their options, they can say, "Oh, yikes, I heard about that agency over there. I don't like that. So, I'm just gonna go to private practice." And then we continue to have high-cost therapy that don't meet the needs of the community. So, to me, that's a, a long-term goal that I hope people realize we are changing that stigma and that stereotype, and we're gonna do our best to be different.

Jennifer Agee: Mm-hmm. You and I, um, so for the listeners out here, Emily and I know each other in real life. Um, we, we're from the same town. We were a part of, you know, a book club that was mostly just having a cocktail on a Friday, but any, anyway, I digress. So, we were talking one time about how to bring our community more together and, um, really talking about does the therapy community in our area actually like each other? Number one. Because it's a, a very mixed, uh, bag that you get around here. But, uh, one of the things you said really stuck with me, which was, so if we have this, and let's say we choose a nonprofit we're going to support, you know, based on what most of us would agree would be a shared core value of something, um, what if the entrance was one hourly session rate? Whatever you charge, you pay that. And if you feel uncomfortable with that, that is something that you need to check in with yourself about. 

Emily Sterk: Mm-hmm. 

Jennifer Agee: And I thought that was a very good point 'cause I did think about it 'cause I do have a higher rate, and I'm at peace with it, but I would pay it. Like, it would be fine. I'd pay it and, you know, get on with it. No problem. But I, I definitely know some people I've had conversations with behind closed doors that would probably not pay that one-hour fee. And so then that goes into that internal checking of, am I being congruent with my whole self?

Emily Sterk: Mm-hmm. Yeah. I, I fully believe in that method of just kind of checking yourself, because for me, I know I can't afford 150, $200 a session, and I'm in the field. And so, I'm kind of a big believer, um, of if I'm not willing to do it, I'm not gonna expect other people to do it. That's just kind of where I land. And yeah, I know that there are people that, again, we say charge your worth, value. Like, money equals value, all of those things. But if you are not willing to do it yourself, why are we expecting our clients to do it who are in a much more vulnerable space? Again, I think that's a very, very real, I don't know, reality check, I guess, um, that I think people would be really uncomfortable or it would create a fight within their partnerships or whatever. I don't know. But again, I think that is something everyone needs to think about, especially graduates when they come to their pay scale of being like, would I be willing to do this? Would I be able to afford this? Would I expect a friend of mine who I'm saying, "hey, go seek therapy," to expect them to go make that charge. I, I saw, um, someone's, kind of, pay scale the other day, and my jaw dropped to the floor. I, it reminded me of a lawyer's fee. Like lawyer’s fee. Yeah. I was like, I cannot — again, I don't want to dismiss their value, what they believe is right for them; if they're at peace, that is fantastic — but I'm over here like, okay, that was just insane. I just, I couldn't believe it. Like the numbers were so high. So, um, for even like a 15-minute phone call, the number was incredibly high. So, anyway, I could talk about that forever. So... 

Jennifer Agee: Yeah, it's– I, I think it's very interesting, which is why I do not use the language of charging what you're worth. I talk about what is that hour of time need to be valued at in order for you to meet your personal financial goals, your, you know, all of those things. So, taking the emotional side outta it, if I look at the business side, which is more of the side that I usually look at, um, is I look at it in that, that equation, and that to me makes a lot more sense. I see this show up a lot with people charging the no-show rate. I think that's where your secret truth comes out. Whereas if you find that you're really hesitating and charging these no-show rates, is it that I am charging an hourly rate that's high enough that I don't actually feel comfortable charging it if I haven't provided service for that hour? Like, so do we need to reassess some of those things. And I could go on and on about that, but, um, I think the no-show rate is one of those places that, um, we have to check ourselves as well. 

Emily Sterk: Yeah. The one thing that I struggle with is, and this has, in the 10 years that I've been a therapist, this has happened four times where I have had to cancel on a client like day of or an hour before there was just like a massive emergency or something like that. Now, if my client did that to me, I would be charging them a day of cancellation fee. But if I do it to them, do I give them their next session free? Like, what do I do with that? I'm still kind of grappling with that. I think I have an idea of, 'cause again, I think in 10 years it's happened four times, um, and typically they're super understanding, I have been like, "your next session's on me because I had to cancel, I had to..." you know, and things like that. And I know a lot of people would disagree with that, but again, why are we charging them? But if something happens for us, I mean, should we be giving them money? I mean they took this hour away. Should we be giving them money? Like, I don't know. So that's something I still kind of struggle with of, because again, we are also human, we have emergencies, things like that. Um, what do you do in those situations? So that's something I have been, 'cause I had it just happen a few weeks ago where I had to cancel my earliest session in a day, and I did. I was just like, next week, it just free session on me. Stuff like that, because nothing else felt comfortable. 

Jennifer Agee: Yeah, I give everyone one free "life happens," um, per calendar year. And then, um, that has kind of helped balance, balance things out for me because we, we're human, they're human, and things sometimes do just happen. But Emily, I really enjoyed our conversation today, and thank you very much for being on the show. How can people connect with you? 

Emily Sterk: Yeah. Well, thank you so much for having me and giving a platform to talk about this. I know you and I are pretty passionate about this topic. 

Jennifer Agee: Mm-hmm. 

Emily Sterk: Um, people can find us through our website, They can also find us on Instagram, Facebook, same name, Healing Towards Wellness. Um, we are on LinkedIn if you want more of the business side of stuff. It's not as fun as Instagram. Um, but yeah, followers getting to know us as a culture and like personality, instagram is the place to go to really learn, like, who we are and what we're about. Um, and then if anyone has any questions, like graduate students who are about to graduate, they're just curious questions, they can email me, um, or honestly, they can text me. My number's on the website and things like that. Um, I am more than welcome to be available to grad students and just hopefully be a support for them, because like you and I both know, graduating and then just having this insane space of what to do, hopefully, they have a few people they can reach out. 

Jennifer Agee: A hundred percent. That, thank you so much again. If you'd like to connect more with me or the podcast,, on all the social media platforms, including the TikTok. Um, we do still have a couple of spaces available in Portugal if you're looking to do a retreat that is marketing-focused. Um, so if that's of interest to you, you can go to the website and find out more information, but get out there and live your best dang life. Have a great day.