We had the good fortune of connecting with Kelly Miller and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kelly, is there something you can share with us that those outside of the industry might not be aware of?
There are so many different credentials that you can have to be a therapist! I can’t speak for all fields that lead to being in a private practice but, as a graduate of Social Work, I didn’t learn anything about actually running a business. Not a single class.

Because of this lack of business education I was basically forced to learn the in’s and outs of business, marketing, accounting, and general management all on my own. I eventually ended up taking a couple of business courses post-graduation that were game changers, but this is a definite education gap that needs to be filled. One day I hope to offer a course or mentorship program for other therapists starting their own business or private practice so they can avoid some of the mistakes I made and glean from the lessons I have learned.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
When I decided to move away from my position as a school-based mental health therapist and jump into private practice I had no idea my life would look like what it does now! I had no idea I would eventually run my own private practice while also consulting with other therapists, being an adjunct professor teaching the Fundamentals of Play Therapy to graduate students, and hosting yoga classes for other colleagues in the therapy field.

As a school-based mental health therapist I absolutely loved being with the kids, but continued to feel like I didn’t have enough time with them before sending them back to class. I also struggled to connect with the parents and so often left my days there feeling like I wanted to do more and work with these kids and families in a deeper, closer way. It was this realization that led me to jumping into private practice with my esteemed colleague and friend, Erin Bennetts!

Our mission for the practice was to connect with children and families in a way that left lasting change for their entire lives. I was scared that I would have to eat macaroni and cheese everyday but I believed the risk was worth it! So I started small. I set aside about $500 a month for 6 months so that I could have enough money to put down a deposit on a place to rent. I decided to move to a part-time position within the school so that I could build one client at a time and honestly, it was harder than I had anticipated to build a clientele base. I soon took a business class and started offering free, day training courses in local schools to start to build trusting relationships where families were already interacting within the community. I networked with as many other therapists as I could and continued to offer those free trainings and, eventually, it paid off! Three years later we realized we had more referrals coming in than we could serve. I never have liked the feeling of putting families in need on a waitlist, so we started adding therapists until we realized we had a full private practice going!

At the end of 2019, Erin and I started to feel like we were having different visions for the practice and where we wanted to go with it, so we decided to split into two: Erin Bennetts LLC and Play Therapy Connection. I ended up establishing Play Therapy Connection at the beginning of 2020 and then… well I think you can guess what hit.

I think we were all unsure about what would happen to the practice at the beginning of the pandemic but, because we are an exempt and necessary mental health provider, we took all of the necessary precautions and continued to support families and work with them during one of the most tumultuous times in recent history. Families were really struggling during the pandemic and most families either continued in person or switched temporarily to online services until they felt comfortable to come back into the office. We also launched a series of short parent-coaching online videos on our YouTube channel to support parents with common questions like homeschooling during the pandemic and supporting children with anxiety about the unknown.

Going through a world-crisis such as the pandemic helped my colleagues and I realize how important self-care and self-work actually is to our clients’ success. Families are still recovering from some of the anxiety, events and stressors that occurred during the pandemic and I believe we continue to be successful because we know that families can lean on us for support because are doing the work ourselves. It is this idea that also led me to start a virtual therapist support group; I knew my colleagues and I were all struggling to support ourselves and our clients during the pandemic and I wanted to fill the gap and offer that support.

I think, ultimately, it is this idea that makes the therapy business model so unique: instead of selling a product, we are selling self-realization, reflection, regulation, resilience and balance; all things we have to make sure we, ourselves, also have on our own so we can model this to the families we work with.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
For sure a trip out to Red Rocks would be on the list! That place is absolutely beautiful. I would also have to put Angelo’s Taverna and Carboy Winery on the list and then maybe some wandering around Downtown Littleton. So many fun shops and restaurants!

If I had my way I would also host a cocoa meditation ceremony at my house. I have a friend who studied the Myan calendar in Guatemala and has the most delicious cocoa. The meditations she leads are always incredible! If we still had time I would do a bike ride along the high line canal, visit one my favorite instructors for a class at Core Power Yoga, and then relax at dinner at either Cherry Creek Sushi Co. or Sierra. I love my city!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have had so many great teachers and mentors that have supported me along the way! I do have to say that Lisa Dion, the founder of Synergetic Play Therapy, has hands down been one of the most impactful people in my life. Lisa has taught me, and continues to teach me, about myself and how to build a business that reflects my authentic self and values. Lisa’s friendship and mentorship has been so valuable. Thank you Lisa, you are a legend!

I would also like to give a shout out to Erin Bennetts who dove into private practice with me when I was scared to take the dive on my own. Erin you are amazing! Erin’s friendship has been so valuable and I will always cherish all of the experiences we shared together while making the transition to private practice. What a whirlwind!

Website: playtherapyconnection.com

Instagram: instagram.com/playtherapyconnection/

Facebook: facebook.com/playtherapyconnection

Youtube: youtube.com/channel/UCuQqKX1SX52IpGSzeONUeXw

Other: Virtual Therapist Support Group: playtherapyconnection.com/services/therapist-support-group/

Image Credits
Headshot by Jes Kimak Photography

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