Consultations with Karen

Karen Conlon, LCSW

It All Started With Burnout

Hi, I’m Karen Conlon, a New York Licensed Clinical Social Worker turned solo practitioner to group practice owner within a year of starting out in private practice. If you are willing to listen, I would love to tell you my story and how I’ve made that happen.

In January 2019, I decided to try my luck out with doing private practice just one day per week. That one day per week filled up very rapidly and I very quickly realized that I needed to add another day in order to keep up, and another, and then another.

At the time, I was at in a very unique job role with great benefits, genius minds all around me and wonderful colleagues. I thought to myself “Why would you leave this? Why would you leave a pretty secure position at one of the most reputable hospitals in NYC and beyond, to take a chance on something where it will all be on you?”. And despite those fears (and many others mixed emotions), I decided that I needed to take the plunge or regret not knowing.

I had been working a full-time position on overdrive for a long time and if I think about it now, I was already feeling the effects of burnout for approximately six months prior to January 2019.

I was getting home really late due to an awful daily commute, our department was thriving but also going through the normal growing pains that come with growth. I felt that I no longer had the support that I needed at work due to these same growing pains and my family-work life was completely unbalanced.  My emotional and physical health was showing the signs of burnout: frequent headaches, low immune system, low level depression and loads of guilt about not being present mentally or emotionally for my family.

I knew that I needed to do something different and without this really being “the plan”, I decided to allow myself to dream about going into private practice…

“Clients and patients looking for mental health providers today are informed, insightful, motivated and more media-savvy than ever. We can help them, so why not let them know that we are here?”

Proof vs. Fluff

Here’s the deal: “Dreaming” about having a private practice, for someone like me, meant that I actually started to look into what it meant to be an entrepreneur.

During that time, I needed a project, something inspiring and creative, but that’s all this was supposed to be- a dream and a little project to help me cope with the burnout. I started reaching out to private practice owners and ask for any help that they might offer me in figuring out what they did to start and grow their business. It was just interesting and something new to focus on.

At some point, something in me changed. I was scared, I was fearful, I was hesitant, but what I was NOT was doubtful that this was actually going to happen! The abundance mind-set had taken control of the wheel and there was no stopping that train.

I gathered nuggets of information here and there, putting things together like pieces of a puzzle.  I learned about websites and content writing, and something called “SEO”. So much cool stuff out there to learn! Before I knew it, I was more and more into my “little project” and decided that maybe I would be okay with doing one day of private practice.

As it turned out, everybody is super busy and even though therapists were usually willing to help, they are also very busy trying to manage their practices and their lives, with not much extra room for helping a newbie. I had to roll up my sleeves and learn from the ground up- here we go!

Before there was therapy… there was the business world. 

I decided to pursue my passion to help people in the way that I do so today after having lived a lifetime of experience in the corporate world of sales and sales-related training.

I often find that having had the experience of doing consultative sales and lucky enough to have had amazing mentors in both the business and clinical worlds have helped me to become a better grounded clinician and practice owner.  My fellow therapists are often shy about marketing these amazing talents that they have, as traditionally, taking up space in this way has been frowned upon. I’ve never quite understood this, since in my opinion a) aren’t we constantly helping our clients learn to take up space in their own lives and b) people need great clinicians more than ever before, so why should we not make it easier for them to find us?

Fast forward to today, I can tell you that I’ve made mistakes business-wise, clinically and financially.  I’ve also learned from those mistakes and continue to remain humble in knowing that I don’t know it all. On-going consultation for me from the people who I consider to be role models is non-negotiable. What’s your non-negotiable going to be? Let’s find out together!

I am often asked to provide some insight stemming from my experience as a private practice owner, and while I wish that I could mentor peers and colleagues every day, time gets in the way. If you are interested in picking my brain or setting up a time to speak, please fill out the form below. I would love to chat with you and see how I can help you get to that next level.

Hey Karen! I’d like to learn more about the following areas: