Cynthia [00:00:01] For me, emotionally and physically, I needed something different. I would go to work and I think that’s where sometimes that security you have to question a little bit because just because it’s secure, it doesn’t mean that I’m happy going there, right? Or I feel good physically, emotionally going there. And so it wasn’t necessarily about the money, but more about I need to take care of my health. I need to feel good about the things that I’m doing.
Linzy [00:00:28] Welcome to the Money Skills for Therapist podcast, where we answer this question How can therapists and health practitioners go from money shame and confusion, to feeling calm and confident about their finances and get money really working for them in both their private practice and their lives? I’m your host, Linzy Bonham, therapist turned money coach and creator of the course Money Skills for Therapists. Hello and welcome back to the podcast. Today on the podcast we have a lovely guest who I will get to in a minute. But before I do, I wanted to share a review for the podcast on Apple Podcasts. You know, I’m always asking you folks to share your reviews on Apple Podcasts. So I wanted to share one from user voluptuous coconut, which is a great screen name. They say, I’ve really enjoyed this podcast. The guests are super knowledgeable and Linzy has a lovely way of having conversations that are incredibly validating and supportive. I always look forward to a new episode because I know it’s going to be helpful, insightful, and even therapeutic. Such a wonderful little gem of a podcast. Thank you so much, voluptuous coconut, for your review. I really appreciate it. So today’s guest on the Many Skills for their Therapist podcast is Cynthia Agyeman-Anane. Cynthia is a therapist, but the way that Cynthia and I actually met is through a non-therapist presence that she has on Instagram, which is @talk_allaboutit. So it’s a channel that she has where she does not wear her therapist hat and just invites folks to have conversations about health and mental health and parenting. And I had a conversation with her a couple of months ago about money and just really enjoyed it. So I wanted to bring her on to the podcast to share her with all of you. Today, Cynthia and I talk about the different meanings that money can have. We talk about the relationship between security and freedom. We talk about the bind that folks can find themselves in when they are working for an institution like a hospital or working for someone else, and the kind of handcuffs of security and thinking about other ways that we can also think about security that might be more aligned with what’s actually best for us. And a theme throughout that you’re going to hear a lot is intention really thinking about how to bring intention into your practice and into your relationship with money to make it better, to actually make your private practice better than what you could get working for someone else in a more institutional setting. Here’s my conversation with Cynthia. So, Cynthia, welcome to the podcast.
Cynthia [00:03:11] Thank you so much for having me.
Linzy [00:03:13] Yeah, I’m so glad to have you. So we connected on Instagram, which I feel like is a sentence I’m saying more and more often these days.
Cynthia [00:03:22] We definitely did, yes.
Linzy [00:03:24] Can you tell folks who are listening about like what you do?
Cynthia [00:03:28] Sure. So, hi, everybody. My name is Cynthia Agyeman-Anane and I’m a licensed therapist in the state of Maryland and D.C. And I have a private practice called Conversations Create Change, where we see individuals, families, couples, we deal with all sorts of issues from anxiety all the way to trauma. A lot of my individual work has to do with couples, so I’m a Gottman level three trained therapist. My passion project right now is definitely couples and working with couples. We met through my IG @talk_allaboutit where I get to kind of have a little bit of a creative space for myself away from work. So yeah. That’s where you can find me.
Linzy [00:04:14] Yes. Talk all about it. Yeah. And you host conversations there with a variety of-
Cynthia [00:04:19] I do host conversations there.
Linzy [00:04:21] Yeah.
Cynthia [00:04:22] Yeah. You know anything from you know, with you I talk to about money and private practice, but I also talk to other individuals around health care. Anything related to healing. I try to talk all about it because I honestly do believe, like, my business name is Conversations Create Change. I like to talk all about it. So anything, anything and everything. I feel like as long as we’re talking we’re healing and we’re learning something new.
Linzy [00:04:49] Yes. And we’re going to do it now in this space talking about money. We’re planning to have a conversation and just digging into money because I think money is so. Well, I don’t think – I know – money is so personal. Right. And what drives us and the meaning of it, it varies so much from person. So let’s dig into what money has meant for you and its role in your private practice. So that’s my first question for you, which is very kind of open. But like for you, Cynthia, what does money mean to you?
Cynthia [00:05:17] You know, that’s a really good question, Linzy, because for me, money means a few things. The first one that comes to mind is security, right? To some degree, because even going into private practice, part of the reason that I was a little bit hesitant at first is because I was working full time for a great company, great salary, great benefits. And out of all the the workings that we look for, right, when we’re going into our careers. And so going into private practice, there was a lot of unknowns around will I be secure in terms of when clients don’t show up? What if you get cancellations? What if, you know, people don’t show up in general? If you don’t see your client, you don’t get paid, right. So that’s the mindset going into it. So there was a lot of hesitation initially because again, for me, money is really a security and that’s one of the first things. The second one, for me, money’s freedom, right? Because it allows you to also have access to things that you normally wouldn’t have access to. And so for going into private practice, one of the things that money has allowed me in terms of freedom is the freedom to do what I want to do, right? So I know I’m not necessarily beholden to anybody if my own company is my own stuff with my own time. So it definitely allows me the opportunity to have a lot of freedoms around certain things that- even doing this, right, like I’m able to come talk with you right after this, I have a client, right? Yeah. Yes. I’m able to kind of schedule my schedule the way that I want to. And so that sense of freedom definitely, I think is something that money can buy for you, but it can give you the opportunities to create.
Linzy [00:07:04] That’s a good distinction because I think sometimes that we do think that money automatically means a certain thing, like a certain amount of money equals happiness, or a certain amount of money equals financial security. So yeah, can you dig into that distinction a little bit?
Cynthia [00:07:18] Yeah. So I think there’s a- it’s about how your intentions with it, right, because I used to have this family member, she passed away, she was like 99 years old, so she lived a really good life and she would always have this phrase that she would use. If you have $1,000,000 and you spend 1,000,001, you’re broke. Right? That phrase has always stuck with me because you’re going to have as much access as you want to money, but if you’re not using it wisely or you’re not being intentional with it, it definitely can create some stressors for you, right? Sure. Oh, I think, you know, it’s up to you to determine how you move with money or how you use money to benefit the lifestyle that you want to live or the choices that you want to make for business, personal life, and so forth and so on. Yeah.
Linzy [00:08:09] Well, and that’s an interesting too, like thinking about money and security, because security is one of my words too, that I often think of, like what is money to me, Like it’s security. But as you say, it’s very much about how you use money that actually creates security. And it makes me think about like when you were talking about moving out of, you know, what can be considered like a golden handcuffs space where you have a job that has all the benefits and it has the pension and it has the guaranteed salary, and like it can feel like that’s very safe. But something that occurs to me is like even in that situation, if you’re not using your money strategically to create like other buffers for yourself, like emergency funds and investments, retirement savings, even that could go away because that’s not actually yours. Like the job isn’t yours. It doesn’t belong to you. Somebody can take it from you because it’s not actually something that you’ve created. You don’t own it.
Cynthia [00:08:58] Mm hmm. And I you know, that’s so interesting because I feel like there’s sometimes, like a false sense of security, right, when we work for certain companies. So if we’re not careful that security, like you said, can handcuff us. Right. And kind of make us stuck and not unwilling to kind of move and be creative and challenge ourselves outside of our comfort zones. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Linzy [00:09:22] Something else that sticks out to me is I think about your two words is they are two words that are almost like two different ends of a spectrum in a way they could be thought about. But I can also see how they layer. So I’m curious for you, like, why do you think, like, security and freedom are your two things or how those things relate for you?
Cynthia [00:09:38] You know, I am learning more and more about myself, that I’m a more of a free spirit. And I, I don’t know, I guess, you know, after a while you start owning where you are and you just start, you know, becoming very comfortable and say, this is who I am. And so for me, the free spirit part comes in in terms of going into private practice. The thought was I would have more time and more, you know, access to with the family and other things that I wanted to do. And so I think it definitely it just security felt grounding in a way, right? Because I am a free spirit. I feel like, yes, I can have freedom and security grounds me in some way. Yeah, right. So I feel like those bookends of the other. But it works together, you know what I mean?
Linzy [00:10:28] Yeah, Well, and like, okay, so here’s the imagery I have for it, because this is something that, as I said it, I was like, wait a second. No, no, I have a metaphor literally about this. So when I talk about it the way that I see some therapists talk about it when they are in that position, right, Like they are in that secure hospital job and they’re like, If I just stay for 15 more years, I get my pension payout. You’re like, Oh my gosh, that’s a long time to be committed, right? So it’s like for those folks, I think that they see like the security that they have in that job is right and the freedom of private practice is not safe because what makes it free is also the fact that it’s like less reliable, less predictable. Right. Like it’s not guaranteed. But the way that I’ve come to experience these things and I think it aligns with what you’re saying too, is like I see it more as like a tree where it’s like the security that we can create for ourselves is the roots.
Cynthia [00:11:12] Is the foundation, right?
Linzy [00:11:13] It gives us foundation. It’s foundation, right? And so it gives us stability and we can build that like our own tree. Can have that security, like the tree that we build with our spouse and our- that we have for our family. And from having strong roots and security, you can reach and expand, right? Like the bigger the roots, the bigger the branches. Right. And so but you need that secure foundation. And what we see sometimes is the folks like take big financial risks or big business risks and they don’t build in security. Then there’s the opportunity of bankruptcy and loss. And like all the things that we fear, right? Like losing everything when you don’t have the roots, then reaching really far doesn’t mean that you can topple. But I see this, like, beautiful kind of interaction, almost like a mirroring between those two things.
Cynthia [00:11:59] I love that.
Linzy [00:12:00] That makes both of them. Yeah, they’re the same thing. Yeah, that resonates.
Cynthia [00:12:04] It does. And I love that. It’s such a beautiful imagery. Right. But yeah, and again, if the foundation is not firm and strong, right, you can branch out as much as you want to. And I feel like that’s- and going into private practice has definitely allowed me in a lot of ways to be intentional. Right? And not always. I don’t always get it right, but definitely being how far I want to reach and how, you know, how much freedom I want to kind of give myself. Right. There’s a beauty in that too.
Linzy [00:12:37] Yeah. So I’m curious then, like thinking about your step into private practice. I’m hearing you were in this kind of like, traditional secure job and you stepped into private practice. What was the role of money in you deciding to take that step?
Cynthia [00:12:49] You know. I don’t know if money was necessarily a factor in terms of like what I make more or what I make less. Right. It was more, again, going back to that sense of freedom in a sense for me emotionally and physically, I needed something different, right? I would go to work. And I think that’s where sometimes, that security, you have to question a little bit, right? Because just because it’s secure, it doesn’t mean that I’m happy going there. Right. Or I feel good physically, emotionally going there. And so it wasn’t necessarily about the money, but more about I need to take care of my health and I need to feel good about the thing that I’m doing. And it also allows me, again, back to the freedom of being able to spend time with family and, you know, do our routines and our schedules the way we wanted to do it. So, yeah, money was in I mean, obviously it was a factor. Yes. Yes. I want to be able to have some sense of, you know, security and financial means coming in. But I think for me, it was really just reflecting on what I needed physically and emotionally. Right. And then realizing that, oh, I can do it through private practice. Mm hmm.
Linzy [00:14:00] And what have you found financially has happened for you since you made that step into private practice, I guess. How long ago did you start your practice?
Cynthia [00:14:09] So my practice, I guess, is like four years old now. Yeah. But before that, I was working for someone else who had their own private practice. I kind of. Kind of saw that a little bit. So it was a transition where I wasn’t like, I just quit my job and I was just kind of like, transitioned that in the way that made sense for me. But to be honest, I found out quickly that you can make as much money as you want or as little money as you want. Right. It’s definitely up to you and what your needs are, what your family budget and income and all of that ratio kind of stuff. So it’s been money-wise, it’s been a better decision for me going into private practice than when I wasn’t. There’s been some growing pains, I think, right? Realizing that you can overwork yourself in private practice if you’re not careful. Oh, yes. Yeah. So I feel like year three, right? Last year. I have to be very mindful about, hey, you need to find a balance, right? Hence kind of figuring out what is it that I want to do? How how do I want to help my clients the most, but also how can I take care of myself in the meantime? So I’ve had to scale back a little bit, but I’ve had to do that because it was, again, right, thinking about what’s best for me. I was kind of prioritizing my health and my physical and emotional health, I think has definitely been helpful for me.
Linzy [00:15:35] Yeah, And it makes you think about costs, right? Like, I think, as you say, like when you work for yourself, you were the factor. Like, if you say yes more, if you push more, if you market more, you will see more clients. If you modulate or if you don’t put yourself out there as much, you’re going to see less clients. Right. But if you do go to that point of seeing a lot of clients, you’re going to hit limits that are different types of limits, right? That are emotional limits and physical limits.
Cynthia [00:15:59] And you have to figure that out for yourself really quickly or you’re going to be like private practice because sucks, its not for me. And then that’s not the problem. The problem is that you’re not finding that balance or you’re not figuring out where your happy space is, right. Like, you definitely have to find that. I don’t know the term I’m looking for like your soft spot, right? You have to find that for yourself.
Linzy [00:16:21] Yeah, like you’re like, sweet spot. I like using the term sweet spot when I talk to folks, because what I find too, Cynthia, and I’m curious about your experience of this coming out of a place where working in, like, more of, like an institution, you know, or an agency setting and then maybe working in a group practice, too, where there might be minimums that you need to hit. What I noticed with lots of folks is when they go into solo practice and they really just are their own boss, they still treat themself the way that those institutions or other businesses treated them, right? So it’s like it’s almost like wherever you go, there you are. Except that now where you are, you’ve like internalized all these ideas of how much you have to work and like not really valuing your emotional well-being as much as it could be the money, or could just be thinking like, this is what a full day looks like. And so with that sweet spot conversation, like a conversation I had with folks a lot in Money Skills for Therapists is like, I see that come up where I’ll say like, okay, so let’s just think about in a week, like, what is your sweet spot of sessions? They’re like, Well, I can do 25. It’s like, That’s not what I asked you. Right? But we’re so conditioned to think about what is my max. Like I say, sweet spot people here. What is the maximum at which you’re not technically dying, but you will enjoy it for years. Right. That like, to the max. I’m curious about your own experiences with any of those kinds of, like, internalized pieces.
Cynthia [00:17:33] Well, I think I was lucky in the sense that transitioning into private practice, I was very mindful of what I wanted to do. And so those core beliefs or conditioned behaviors around the clientele and different things like that. I think I was very mindful not to get caught up in it. And I think obviously I did the first year because I was like, Well, I’m only one person, right? But they all are these clients and be providing them the service that I want to provide them. And so I had to again, scale back. But I think I was lucky in the sense that I had a community of other first-time private practice owners. Right. So I feel like we did a good job of supporting one another in terms of, Oh, you’re seeing how many clients. Right. And kind of talking around like self-care and balancing and, you know, family expectations and different things like that. So I think that was helpful for me and then for me as well. I think when you have a family, right, you also have to be thoughtful around those things, too. So I think that also forced me because again, the intention was I was supposed to find a balance right, between work and family. So I think that also forced me to be very mindful about, okay, I can see clients up to this time, but I had to transition because the kids have activities or, you know, they have to have dinner or bedtime or all of that stuff. And so I think there were a lot of different factors that helped me to not get caught up in those and institutionalized core beliefs around numbers and client base and all of that stuff. Yeah.
Linzy [00:19:11] Yeah. Yes. Yes. Yeah. And I think, you know, coming back to a word you’ve used a few times, it sounds like you’re very intentional.
Cynthia [00:19:17] You have to be.
Linzy [00:19:18] Like, you know why you went into this. You kept that. You didn’t lose that as soon as you got into private practice, but you kept that like family in balance and your health as a center.
Cynthia [00:19:28] I want to say I- you know, I got caught up in it the first year because it was just exciting, right? Like the endorphins.
Linzy [00:19:34] Like, Yeah, yeah, there’s that.
Cynthia [00:19:36] All over the place. But I think, yeah, after the first year, it was like, okay, I cannot sustain this, right? I will burn out. I will- you start getting resentful, right? And that’s not a healthy place to be when you’re doing anything but especially private practice because you are like literally the one.
Linzy [00:19:57] Yeah, yeah. Yes. You’re supposed to be holding neutral emotional space for folks and resentment is not really conducive to that.
Cynthia [00:20:04] So yeah. So luckily for me, I have a group practice too. And so I think I also had to model that for, you know, some of my staff as well. And they actually did a really good job modeling for me because I had one clinician who only saw a certain amount of clients, you know, every- a certain amount of days just because that’s what she could sustain. And I admire that about her. It was like, oh, okay.
Linzy [00:20:30] Yes, yes.
Cynthia [00:20:32] I get to do that too. People around you definitely can be helpful with some of those.
Linzy [00:20:39] Yeah. Yeah. I’m hearing lots of like positive influences. Yeah. From peers and even from the folks working for you.
Cynthia [00:20:45] Yeah.
Linzy [00:20:46] In your private practice. I’m curious, like, what are some of the best money moves you’ve made since going into private practice?
Cynthia [00:20:53] Well, you know what? I guess it’s, it’s really initially, you know, we’ve had conversations around insurance versus self-pay versus, you know, some other things. And I think for me, one of the reasons I wanted to, you know, offer Conversations Create Change to people was really making it accessible. Right. And so I’ve really had to be careful not to, like, only go self-pay only. And so I think for me, the best money move, I guess, is like working through the insurance companies for me. Because it just allows me to have more access to clientele. And so that’s been very helpful for me. But I think the other thing that I’m learning as well is one of the things that personally for me that I want to kind of, you know, shift into is doing like more couple work or doing like workshops and different things like that for couples. Yeah, not only does it allow me then to have more access to clients in a short period of time, right, But it also allows me to kind of like do the work that I want to do effectively in a short period of time without like going months and months and months and months and session after session after session. I think that’s the transition that I want to get to, and I’m hoping that that’s my next money move. I go back to that word intentional, about servicing clients and then also limiting burnout and, you know, balancing family and work schedules and things like that. You know.
Linzy [00:22:26] What I hear in that that I really appreciate is like a both/and. Yeah, because I think often those things are seen as kind of opposites where it’s like you either do insurance and you just kind of take whatever the insurance companies give you and like this is, you know, your financial and potentially emotional suffering because they’re not always their work is like the cost of being accessible and it’s the cost of justice. Yeah, that’s kind of one end of the spectrum. And then the other end is like totally out of pocket or like only like one-to-many services where there’s like no individual access and it’s trying to maximize as much as possible. And what I hear here is a finding like a balance or a mix that suits.
Cynthia [00:23:04] Your insurer. I think so. The other. Another thing to that, if I can make this as a money move, is hiring the right people for certain things. Right. And I think for me, one of the things I learned very quickly with that billing and dealing with the insurance company was that I wanted to outsource. And so I tried for, you know, the first year or so. And again, it added to my burnout and added. So I feel like there was that and just like not liking this at all. And so it was definitely- bringing somebody on board to help with that definitely was a good money move, I think on my part.
Linzy [00:23:45] Yeah. And, you know, I think that that speaks to self-awareness, right? Like, I you know, in terms of the question of, like, what is the right first hire, I think one of the questions is like, what do you hate the most?
Cynthia [00:23:56] Yeah.
Linzy [00:23:57] And you can’t outsource everything. There’s certain things that like where you do have to show up and like be your own brand and like, you can’t have people network on your behalf or things like that. But like, I know for me, for instance, like website stuff and tech stuff.
Cynthia [00:24:10] Yeah.
Linzy [00:24:11] Right. And so like that was one of the first hires that I made, right, is like outsourcing my website like paid a chunk of change for somebody to both write my website because – we were chatting before this call – I don’t really love writing. It doesn’t come naturally to me. I can be good at it when I’m in the flow, but I’m rarely in the flow and websites. Right. So those were like some of the first big investments I made in my practice and didn’t build it myself because I knew for me the pain of it, like the emotional pain and frustration literally wasn’t worth it when I could turn around and see clients and do the work that I loved instead and turn that into, you know, a paycheck for a consultant. So, yeah, being aware of your own personality, I think goes a long way.
Cynthia [00:24:51] And it makes the private practice a lot more enjoyable, right? If you’re not careful, you can get caught up in like it’s so difficult and, and yeah, not everybody wants to deal with insurance companies. I get it right. But there are people who that’s our jobs. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, and so. Yeah, yeah. Have that limit you know from working with.
Linzy [00:25:11] Totally. I think it’s remembering that there’s people out there who like have totally different brains than you. They like things that you don’t like and things that you might find totally overwhelming or defeating they think is a delicious challenge to dig into. Yeah. So, like, get those folks on your team.
Cynthia [00:25:27] Exactly.
Linzy [00:25:28] Yeah, absolutely. Well, Cynthia, thank you so much for joining me today. For folks who are listening, if they want to get further into your world, can you tell them more about where they can find you and follow her?
Cynthia [00:25:39] Again, my private practice is called Conversations Create Change, and that’s the same name on the website. Conversations Create Change dot com. You can also find me if you’re interested in couples work or couples workshops and different things like that. On Create Change with Cynthia dot com. It’s all one word Create Change with Cynthia dot com, and that’s where you can find information on the Gottman level. Gottman method therapy, as well as some of the workshops that I provide on there. And yeah, if you want to do just have a consultation or whatever about couples work. Hit me up on there. And then if you want to kind of see my fun side, @talk_allaboutit. And that’s the IG.
Linzy [00:26:30] And we’ll put that in the footnotes, too, so folks can just click the link from the footnotes to go follow Cynthia for these conversations. And I do really so appreciate that you have your like serious brand, your like therapy brand. You’re like, this is where I have letters over here and this is where I just talk about stuff that’s important and interesting. And again, so I think that’s a great.
Cynthia [00:26:48] That’s self awareness, learning I need to take care of myself. And this is one of the ways that I do that. Yeah.
Linzy [00:26:55] Beautiful. Thank you so much for joining me today, Cynthia.
Cynthia [00:26:57] Thank you for having me.
Linzy [00:27:12] In this conversation with Cynthia. I really love her emphasis on it’s about what you do with money. Right. And it’s something that I’ve been thinking about more and more these days is the fact that money is a tool. Money doesn’t actually do anything on its own. Money literally just sits there unless you do something with it. And so it’s really about your intention with money and the actions that you take with it, the way that you actually manage your money and direct your money and turn your money into other things, that is actually what money brings into your life. And any given dollar amount is not going to give you any specific experience of money because it’s really how you manage that money, relate to that money, handle that money that gives you the actual experience of money, that gives money meaning. So I loved her emphasis on that today, really thought-provoking and just loved talking with Cynthia. She has a really lovely presence. So definitely check out her Instagram channel to get more of her in your world. If you want to follow me on Instagram, you can do that @moneynutsandbolts. And if you want to be like a voluptuous coconut at the beginning and leave me a review on Apple Podcasts, I would really appreciate that. It’s a really helpful way for folks to find this podcast. Thanks for listening today.