Meet Nikki Rubin, Psy.D
Nikki Rubin realized early on in her career that every mental health practice has two equally important sides: the clinical and the business side. Rubin naturally gravitated toward clinical work; however, what surprised her was just how much she embraced her entrepreneurial spirit as well.
“There’s a lot of problem-solving involved in clinical work,” says Rubin, who opened her private practice in New York in 2014 before moving to Los Angeles in 2018. “With business, it’s problem-solving in a different way. There’s also a creativity you can bring to it. For me, marketing creates a balance with my clinical work.”
As a psychologist specializing in mindfulness-based 3rd wave cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), balance, curiosity, and flexibility are all important themes in the clinical work Rubin provides. Surprisingly, these have also emerged as business themes that help her sustain and grow her practice.
Here are four mindfulness-based mantras by which she runs her business:
1. Set parameters
What hours will you work, and what types of patients will you see? What are your fees and your cancellation policy? How often will you pay yourself? When clinicians don’t take the time to think through the answers to these questions, they often end up feeling unhappy and burned out, says Rubin. “This is a business. That doesn’t diminish or minimize the care that we provide to our patients,” she adds.
2. Be flexible when necessary
This all comes down to scheduling. For example, some therapists say they’ll never see clients at 8am. However, Rubin recommends that they might need to occasionally open up the 8am time slot if they’re serious about growing their practice.
Flexibility also pertains to administrative tasks. “Mindfulness is about increasing your behavioral repertoire—being able to do things differently based on what the context dictates,” she says. For example, in the past, Rubin didn’t email patients because she didn’t want to be digitally connected 24/7 checking and responding to messages. She also feared that clients would use email for clinical conversations that are more appropriately addressed face-to-face.
However, as technology evolved to include secure messaging through the client portal, Rubin decided to give it a try. “I decided to try it because I felt I could maintain boundaries,” she says. “I don’t use my personal email. Once I terminate with someone, they don’t have access to secure messaging. I also get the convenience of not having to play phone tag, which has been really nice.”
3. Tolerate the ups and downs
“Being mindful is about being able to stay the course,” says Rubin. When the caseload is down, some therapists make the mistake of lowering their rates, working any day/time, or accepting patients who aren’t a good fit. “This inevitably leads to burnout,” she adds. “For me, it’s about planning for the dips and being able to ride them out without reacting impulsively and making decisions that don’t align with my values or mission for my business.”
Creating passive revenue streams helps Rubin compensate for times when she’s less busy. Here’s what she does:
- Teaches university courses, day-long workshops, and several online courses with SimplePractice Learning (Integrating Mindfulness into Clinical Practice, Using Dialectics Across Therapeutic Modalities, Behavioral Case Formulation, and ‘Pure O’ OCD Subtypes: How to Identify and Treat Them)
- Sublets office space to other therapists
- Provides supervision and consultation to licensed clinicians
“With passive income, once the initial work is done, you can collect income without additional effort,” she says.
“For me, it’s about planning for the dips and being able to ride them out without reacting impulsively and making decisions that don’t align with my values or mission for my business.”
4. Remain curious
This includes being curious about new technologies that can enhance practice management, efficiency, and client satisfaction as well as curious about building relationships with other providers who can provide referrals, professional support, or even friendship.
“I don’t think there’s a marketing tool that can replace real human connection. I really enjoy building relationships with other clinicians.”
Where does she meet new professional connections? She meets them through other colleagues, conferences, networking events, and even through patients. “I don’t think there’s a marketing tool that can replace real human connection. I really enjoy building relationships with other clinicians,” says Rubin.
At the end of the day, being a mindful entrepreneur has helped Rubin create and sustain a busy and balanced practice. “Some people are too rigidly attached to one way of doing things, so then they make choices based on how things should work as opposed to what actually works. Then they become really frustrated,” she says. “Mindfulness helps me shift things that aren’t working, and it helps me stay organized in moving forward.”