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Hey, everyone, you are listening to the All Things Private Practice Podcast. I'm your host, Patrick Casale, here in Asheville, North Carolina, joined today by my friend Michael Dietrich-Chastain. He's also in Asheville, North Carolina, LCMHC, Owner of Arc Integrated and the Author of Changes, a Leadership Coach, Speaker, Author extraordinaire. So Michael, thank you so much for making the time and coming on here today.
MICHAEL DIETRICH-CHASTAIN: Yeah, Patrick, it's great to be here with you, man. Thanks for having me.
PATRICK CASALE: Absolutely. And I want to kind of talk to the audience today about what you're doing, what leadership coaching is, and the mission that you have. I know it's about helping people work smarter, having more time in their schedules, more in line with what they want to be doing with their career paths. You're an author. I want to talk about that too and your Changes book.
So, let us know, like, leadership coaching, how did you fall into that from being an LCMHC or a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor, for those of you out there who are LPCs and how you're kind of in the position that you're at today, running an organization for leadership coaches and consultants as well?t, you know, hindsight versus:
So, I did all the coursework and undergrad in the internships that were applicable to that direction. And then, out of school got a job as an account manager for a company where we were helping to manage the organizations where our clients, we were helping to give them employees when they needed them. And so, it was my job to kind of manage, you know, getting their employees in the right seat when they needed them, and then, also, to manage the dynamic between the employees and the leaders. And a lot of that was about talking to the leaders around how do you communicate more effectively? How do you manage conflict? You know, how do you have difficult conversations, oddly enough, all the work that we do today at Arc Integrated, but you know, it wasn't called leadership coaching then.
But in answering your question about how did I, you know, get into this work? The work that I'm doing today, oddly enough, through a series of events was the work that I intended to do when I was an undergrad. And so, after that first job of, you know, I would call more business or corporate, you know, it kind of triggered me to take a deeper dive into, you know, the who’s and what’s of what we do as humans. So, I went back and got a Master's in Counseling instead of IO, and then, we lived in the mental health world for a long time doing private practice, doing community mental health, work in the hospital system, the jail system, manage teams of therapists.
And anyway, still had this itch and curiosity around leaders and around systems of business, and around teams, and cultures. So, I made a pivot back to the business world through the door or the segue of EAP industry, the Employee Assistance Program industry, which I'm happy to talk a bit about. I think for a lot of therapists that's a… or at least is from what I can tell like an unknown industry which has a lot of opportunity in it, I think, for therapists.n practice, let's see back in:
PATRICK CASALE: That's really interesting, though, for you to already have known, “Hey, I want to go into industrial organizational psychology.” Which to me at that time, I don't even know what the hell that means for a lot of reasons. And to know that at an early age, what was kind of the driving force or like what was the passion behind, “This is really what I want to be doing?”
MICHAEL DIETRICH-CHASTAIN: Well, you know, part of it certainly driven by like, you know, mentors that I had at the time and just exposure to what are the different potential fields that exist within the helping professions. So, I knew that I wanted to go into something related to psychology. And I thought, “Well, that sounds interesting going into businesses and looking at, you know, what are the communication practices, how do you create a healthy culture, how do teams communicate and navigate with, you know, conflict with one another, you know, analyzing efficiencies of businesses, this is what an IO site person might do.”
But I mean, to be honest, my understanding of the industry was minute then and you know, as any person right out of college, it's like, you know, we're kind of barely figuring it out as we go. So yeah, I wasn't quite sure, but yeah part of the motivation was definitely wanting to work with people, and then, seeing the financial opportunity as well related to that industry. And then, after being in the corporate world I think my desire to want to help people and understand, you know, human development at a greater scale was more of the motivator. And so, that's what triggered me to go into counseling.
PATRICK CASALE: That's pretty cool to see that tied together and how the skills can be transferable too. And it sounds like a lot of relationship building and really understanding the whys behind why people do what they do and human behavior. So, when you're starting out, you're starting a practice, you're going through grad school, you're doing the EAP work, do you ever foresee this is where this career can take me? Like, this is where I can end up? Or does it just feel like a grind at that time of like, “I just don't want to work in community mental health anymore?”
MICHAEL DIETRICH-CHASTAIN: Yeah, man. That's a great question. Yeah, I certainly remember the grind of community mental health. And I knew after a number of years that I wanted out, and I knew that I wanted to do something, you know, back in business, but I wasn't really sure how to get there.
And so through, you know, a lot of networking and conversations, and, you know, research, I thought, “Well, the EAP industry is an interesting bridge.” Because the job that I had at that time was, I was a clinical resource. So, I was doing like remote counseling sessions for employees at organizations that were our clients. And then, I was also managing organizational accounts.
So, for instance, one of our accounts was… they were a company that wanted to institute an internal EAP system, meaning they'd have therapists on-site at their company, so I helped develop that and manage it. And a lot of it was traveling the country to speak to those organizations at like mental health fairs around things like communication, or, you know, mental health in the workplace, or stress reduction, you know, a lot of the topics that we talk to leaders about now.
And so, that consulting and speaking opportunity that I had really kind of nudged me toward, “Gosh, I'd love to do this for myself, and, you know, do this full time.” And so, yeah, it was a great bridge. I can't say enough about the industry and how much opportunity there is there.
PATRICK CASALE: That's so fascinating to me. And it sounds like something that was completely unexpected, but really exciting for you.
MICHAEL DIETRICH-CHASTAIN: Yeah.
PATRICK CASALE: When you were traveling around at that time freshly out of grad school, or maybe not freshly, but a couple of years removed and working in EAP, did that ever feel intimidating, like, going from place to place talking to these leaders, like, implementing these strategies and talking about like, topics that we know very well, but I think we can also feel like that imposter syndrome come up when we're out of our comfort zone?
MICHAEL DIETRICH-CHASTAIN: 100%, I'll tell you a story that was just so intensely horrifying at the time. It turned out to be a great lesson, which was, I was set to go speak for one of our clients and there was a miscommunication. What they said and what we got was that, “You're going to go speak at one of our locations, and there's going to be about 30 people there.” And I had spoken in front of that many people before, no big deal.
And they're like, “You know, here's the address, you're going to go here, and it's in this little conference room.” So, I show up and I get checked in at the front desk. It's a big company. So, it's a big space. And I said, “You know, I'm here for the event. You know, where do I go?” And she says, “Oh, you know, go round the corner to the left.”
So, I make the turn, and I walk in, and it's not a conference room, it's an auditorium. And there's 400 people in the auditorium. It was a full day of speakers, so the people that were going right before me, they were doing like a skit, and it was funny, and they had all these props, and they were great. And I was set to go on stage in like five minutes. And I was going to be up there for like 90 minutes. And what I had prepped was for a group of 30. So, you can imagine, like, I walked into this room and I'm just like, my whole body breaks out in a sweat, and you know, my stomach's churning, and I'm thinking, “Oh my God, how am I going to do this? There's no way.”
And so, I get up there and I immediately kind of tell the people, like, not quite what happened, but I said, I said, “Gosh, you know, what I had prepared for it was for a much smaller group and we were going to do some activities, but I'm just going to tweak what I had planned and we're going to make it work.” So, I was kind of indirectly revealing to them I'm so nervous and I don't know how this is going to work, we're going to figure it out together.
So, I grabbed the mic and instead of just being on the stage they were all in tables everywhere. So, I ended up walking through the whole auditorium, like, talking to tables, and then, I'd have them break out into groups at their table and do little activities. And it ended up being really, really a positive experience at the end of it. And I felt this like excitement and interesting curiosity at the end of it told me, “Oh, my gosh, I could do this for a living. Like, this is really fun and exciting.”
And so, it was this horrifying experience that ended up being, you know, a great lesson and of kind of springboard into what was next.
PATRICK CASALE: That's incredible that you were able to adapt on the fly with this realization that like, “Oh, shit, I am about to speak to 400 people and I'm not prepared.” But still able to kind of like at least ground yourself a little bit in order to process that and incorporate some… so, it sounds like an epiphany moment too where you're like, “Oh, this could be a thing that I can actually do for organizations throughout the world.”
MICHAEL DIETRICH-CHASTAIN: Yeah, yeah, 100%. I mean, you know, I didn't know anything like what it would look like or how does one get into this world of speaking and working with groups. The how, I had no clue about, but I knew that the what was energizing.
PATRICK CASALE: Doesn't that happen so often for us where the what becomes more clear, and then, we have to build it around the what and figure out the how? I think that a lot of us prevent ourselves from doing things like that, because we can't figure out the how before the what. And I always think about imperfect action of like, all right, this is the goal now I have to figure out how to make it work. So, how do you start to break into that, then you're like, “I don't know anything about this, I have some relationships built, I have this vision.” Then how do we put the pieces in place for what you're doing now? How does that come together?
MICHAEL DIETRICH-CHASTAIN: Yeah, well, I can tell you that the way I did it, I wouldn't recommend to people, I could recommend a different way to do it. You know, the way I did it, I think generally, certainly at the time I was willing to take way greater risks. I mean, even gosh, I mean, this is only like, six, seven years ago, I think the amount of risk I was willing to take down was probably more than even right now, but I just went for it. You know, I said, I'm just going to start. At the time it was like I was doing private practice, and then, executive coaching, and training, and that was too much. And so, I let go of the private practice part, and then, just shifted to leadership development and organizational consulting. And that was a really smart move to get more specific.
But in hindsight, you know, what I probably should have done was or to expedite things, you know, quicker, maybe to have less failure would have been to get greater mentorship. And, you know, there's a book actually that just came out not too long ago that I really like which is called Who Not How, by Ben Hardy, and it's a great concept, pretty simple. Just the idea that, you know, we don't have to necessarily know how to do things if we know how to create really good relationships and connect with those that do. And that could mean hiring someone, it could mean delegating, it could mean mentorship.
But anyway, I think, you know, in hindsight, if I had to do it over I think I would have gotten greater mentors to, you know, help me figure out like what to do. And certainly, I had at the time and have now mentors. I think I would have leaned into that even further.
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, that's great advice for anyone listening out there to really surround yourself with people who know how to do these things and can support you through things that you don't know, because they've already done them. What do you think prevents people from doing that? Do you think it's just resources? Or the, “I don't know what I don't know.” Type of thing?
MICHAEL DIETRICH-CHASTAIN: Yeah, I think it's both. You know, I think when I reflect on my own experience, you know, during those first couple of years, it was certainly, “I don't know what I don't know.” And it was also like some not quite clear on what I wanted, you know, and maybe some resistance to letting go of being a therapist. Not that you need to, to do this work. I mean, certainly, there are plenty of people that do coaching and therapy, and that's great. But I think for me it made more sense and I did find a lot better result wearing less hats. So, I think was a combination of things, not really knowing what I want and maybe some resistance to letting go. And again, finding the right resource, doing the research, you know, which I think is connected to knowing what we want, right? Because we have to really know, like, the direction we want to go in order to line up who's the person that's also gone down this path. So, those are two connected pieces.
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, well said, I think that's really fantastic insight and advice, too. And I see this so often now, so many therapists leaving community mental health, starting a practice, wanting to go into other realms, but really struggling to wear all of these different hats all the time. So, switching from therapist hat to coach hat, to course creator hat, and just not having enough capacity. Was there fear thereof relinquishing the private practice piece and kind of openly stating, like, “I don't know if I'm really going to be working as a mental health therapist anymore?”
MICHAEL DIETRICH-CHASTAIN: Yeah,100%? Man. I think there was definitely some element of, you know, imposter syndrome, for sure. Like, am I ready to take this leap? So, you know, going forward, and then, combined with the fact am I ready to let go of this identity, which was really important to me, and you know, I really am passionate about therapy and loved the work that I did, and the clients I got to connect with over the years is the therapists and so there was, you know, some loss of that identity or resistance to letting it go. So yeah, I guess a few influential factors.
PATRICK CASALE: Totally, I've been struggling with similar things with transitioning out of being a therapist in private practice, and more into a coach and consultant. And I think that identity piece is one that gets overlooked of like, I identify this way, I went to grad school for this thing, almost like this abandonment feeling or shamefulness of, am I letting a profession go? Or am I shifting away from something I worked so hard for?
But I almost look at it as helping the profession in a different way. And for you, with the organizational and leadership coaching, I think that you're influencing and impacting people at a different level, where it's like this can trickle down for staff to be treated better, to be treated with respect, to implement policies and procedures that really help us run smoothly, so that feels like a functional workplace.
MICHAEL DIETRICH-CHASTAIN: Yeah 100%, yeah, 100%. And I'm so grateful for the work, and the time, and education in the mental health space, because it absolutely informs what I do with leaders, and teams, and cultures, and how to understand, like, what does psychological safety look like? And what does good communication and healthy communication look like? And how do we resolve conflict in a way that's healthy? Like, these are all things that we talk about and learn about in the context of the therapy world that absolutely apply. So, I think that's not only an element I'm grateful for and make application to, but I also think for folks in our position that want to make a leap into another profession, it gives an absolute differentiator for them, right? Because they have this background that's somewhat unique.
And that's part of the reason why I still hold my license, because you know, it forces me to continue with the continuing ed and to keep things current, which, you know, I appreciate because I'm a lifelong learner. You know, I want to continue to learn about, you know, what's up and coming in the area of mental health, and then, I can take those learnings and apply them to, you know, the leaders and teams that we work with. So, yeah, it's good.
PATRICK CASALE: I love that. Lifelong learning is important, and also, another point that you just stated I want to highlight, I think a lot of therapists don't recognize what else they can do with the skill sets that they have. I think there's a lot of tunnel vision, because we don't have a lot of business training overall as a profession, to have a better understanding of how do I take these skill sets that I have and implement them somewhere else? Especially, for those therapists who are feeling may be burnt out, overworked, or just want a different path. I mean, do you see that a lot? Or do you feel like that's something that you run into at all, where it's like, what else can I do with a master's in clinical mental health counseling?
MICHAEL DIETRICH-CHASTAIN: Yeah, 100%, 100%. I've absolutely seen that and I still do. And I think, you know, the good news is that there's so much. I mean, you know, the world of understanding, you know, human development and human dynamics is applicable to all sorts of things, you know, from business development to sales, to training, to teaching, to, you know, coaching. So, it absolutely has application.
I can say too that, you know, one of the ways I dealt with that for myself, the imposter syndrome, is that I began to lean into continuing ed around the world of coaching, and training, and development.
So, as an example, I got certified in a number of assessment tools that we'll use to evaluate you know, team effectiveness, or leadership effectiveness, or communication effectiveness. And, you know, I joined the local International Coach Federation chapter in our area and I was involved with that for a number of years and, you know, read voraciously, and listened to podcasts, and gotten mentors, and, you know, you know, went to conferences. Like, did everything I could to understand what are the commonalities and differences between the therapy world, and the world of executive coaching and training and development, because it is. I mean, it's a giant industry with all sorts of nuances, just like any industry. And so, anyway, just to say, I think that's an opportunity for anybody that wants to take their mental health experience and pivot it into whatever industry that they want to go to, is to study that industry, you know, as much as you can, and just, you know, involve yourself into it as deep as possible.
PATRICK CASALE: That's such great advice and that's like taking it from idea and conceptualization phase to really mastery and continued learning. So, it creates that reputability, right? Of like, I actually know what I'm talking about while like simultaneously having the humility of I don't know everything, but I am competent and I really understand this world, these processes. Like, I am an expert in this.
And I think a lot of therapists can struggle with that of saying like, “I'm the expert in a certain role.” And that's where a lot of imposter syndrome comes in, where it's like, “I don't know anything, I am not competent.” I see that all the time with therapists who are fantastic clinicians who are like, “Why would a client ever hire me in private practice? Like, what do I have to offer?” And yet they're doing their continuing ed and their ongoing development as a professional as well. So, just applying it to a very different role and profession it sounds like.
MICHAEL DIETRICH-CHASTAIN: Yeah, you know the other thing that comes to mind as I'm thinking about it, and it's fun to reflect on, the other thing I did, Patrick, that I think is a big opportunity is I looked for chances to do subcontract ritual work within that industry. So, through networking and through building relationships met, you know, some folks that had a large training and development company, and they needed facilitators and trainers. And so, even though I wasn't building my brand and working for them, I was absolutely building experience and learning about the industry and making some good money on the way and learning about what is a corporation that has hundreds of thousands of employees in it, like, what are the dynamics involved in that? So, it was great exposure.
And I think that regardless of the direction that someone might go from mental health, finding subcontracts role work is a way to kind of build a bridge between not quite being on our own completely and yet getting some of the benefits of independence.
PATRICK CASALE: I love that. Sounds like you are a lifelong learner and you study, like you said voraciously and I really appreciate that. I think you probably can't reach the level of success that you have without doing that stuff and really putting it into place. Really incredible, to be honest with you just listening to you talk about this, because I'm like, do I have that drive to do all of these things? But I'm pretty impressed by that.
I want to shift gears real quick because you have a book that you wrote. And I think that's a dream for a lot of therapists out there in the community of like, how do I become an author? So, tell us about Changes, both the book, the cards, everything that you've got going on right now?
MICHAEL DIETRICH-CHASTAIN: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Thanks. So, a couple years ago I released this book called Changes. It's got a really obnoxious, long subtitle, which is The Busy Professionals Guide to Reducing Stress, Accomplishing Goals and Mastering Adaptability.
PATRICK CASALE: Would you go back and change that if you had to or not really?
MICHAEL DIETRICH-CHASTAIN: I would. I mean, I think that subtitle is on point for what it's about. I mean, I do think it's an awesome resource for those three things, goal accomplishment, stress reduction, and being adaptable to challenging circumstances. I do think it's good for that. And one of the things that I would change about it is, I would create it for more of a targeted market.
And let me explain how I came about it, because I think, ideally, the way that I wrote this book is probably better for someone that is much more well-established, because it's a generalized theory. And, you know, everybody you talk to that's in the space of content creation, or authoring, or whatever, will say, “If you're just getting started…” It'll be some version of this, “If you're just getting started or if you have a smaller audience, you want to write something that's very targeted, for a very small, unique audience. And then, as you grow, if you have a big audience, you can write more of a generalized book.”s would have been in probably:
So, I began to ask this question of, of all the clients that I've seen over the years, from the leaders to the teams, to the folks dealing with mental health issues, from severe and persistent mental health disorder to, you know, run of the mill, transition, depression, anxiety, addiction, like, what are the commonalities of these things? Because we're all asking the same question, essentially, which is, how do I create change in my life?
And I thought, “Well, what if there's a way to think about not how do I fix the thing, but what's a system that I could apply to all things? You know, a system of how do I create change no matter what that change is? How do I respond to change no matter what that is?”
And so, I began to kind of journal and write about this. And I eventually got to this spreadsheet with these seven pillars that I believe are the major influencers of how we create change, and they’re pillars, meaning like big aspects of our lived experience, and in my research, and continued kind of questioning this method, I still believe it to be true that there are these seven pillars that impact our ability.
And so, the title Changes, ironically, is an acronym for the seven pillars. But I found that out after I'd figured out what the pillars were, and then, I asked the question, “Well, what if there's an acronym for this?” And, oddly enough, that's where Changes came from. And, yeah, so I tee that all up to say, again, that it's a general way to think about change that could be applied to a wide variety of audiences. And I love it and I believe in it. And if I had to do it over, I might change it to be more specific audience.
The card deck that goes with it was an accompanying product that a good friend of mine, is big into the product world and he said, “Man, you've got this method, it's so great, you got to have a card deck for it, because it's so perfect for that.” And so, he was a great support in helping me develop it.
And anyway, so the card deck is seven questions per pillar. So, 49 questions total, seven pillars, and it can be used as a solo reflective activity, it can be used in one-on-one conversations. So, we hear from therapists all the time that use it in their sessions or coaches that use it. And then, it can be used in groups. So, think of like a team retreat or I've even used it at conferences that I'll speak out where there's hundreds of people in the room, and I'll use multiple decks, and it's a way to create connectivity, deep relationship and interesting conversation very quickly. And so, yeah, that's a little bit about the book and the card deck.
PATRICK CASALE: So cool, and it sounds like it's so applicable to all sorts of different connected processes. And what I keep hearing as the theme is connection. Like, making these connections for you has been crucial in not only your personal but your professional development. So, surrounding yourself with good people, surrounding yourself with experts in the field, wanting to learn from them, being curious. And all I keep coming back to is like, those are basic skill sets of being a mental health therapist, and again, the recognition that those skill sets are so transferable to other professions and other kinds of ventures. But if we don't have the end goal or the overarching, like, clarity of this is what I want to do, it's really hard to see the forest for the trees so to speak.
MICHAEL DIETRICH-CHASTAIN: Yeah, man. Yeah, I totally agree. I’m such a big believer that there's so much opportunity for the mental health professionals out there, you know, should they want to leave not to say that they shouldn't want to leave, because the mental health work, and private practice, and community mental health is so important for our world right now. Maybe even the most important it's ever been. But for those that do want to leave there's a lot of opportunity out there.
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, well said, and you know, everyone that listens to this don't make a big mass exodus out of community mental health or private practice. We do need you in the midst of a pandemic and everything else. But I agree, I think that it's time to start thinking about what else can be done.
So, if someone wanted to hire you for coaching, or consulting, or any of the other people that you employ, I mean, what is that going to offer them in terms of development?
MICHAEL DIETRICH-CHASTAIN: Yeah, so typically we work with organizations that have, you know, I would say 50 employees or more. So, they're typically bigger, you know, big-ish organizations. Although, you know, that's not 100% true. We do have some clients that have, you know, a few employees, you know, dozen employees or so.s called Project Aristotle in:
And so, that's what I'm most passionate about is helping organizations and teams create the psychologically safe and dynamic cultures where people are engaged, they show up ready to go and excited about being there. And it results in creativity, innovation, and a workplace that, you know, people are excited about being there every day, which you know, it's the hope for all of us, right? We spend so much of our time at work. Shouldn't the work that we do be invigorating and happy and exciting and interesting? And I think we could all agree on that.
PATRICK CASALE: I love that mission statement and those values of really wanting to help ensure that people feel not only safe but supported, invigorated, fulfilled, content. Like, we go through the world, right? Like so many people that just don't enjoy what they do and they're just like grinding it out day after day. And I think a lot of it comes back to workplace culture. And if we were treated differently or treated with respect and, you know, feeled, uh feeled, felt appreciated or felt like we weren't being taken for granted, it would create longevity in careers as well. And also, the ability to show up and really do good work. I really do love that.
And I can tell how passionate you are, because as you start speaking about it your face lights up, and you get really excited. So, that's really awesome that you have found this for yourself. Michael, real quick before we close, tell the audience where they can find more about Arc Integrated and how to contact you if they do need these services or want to learn more.
MICHAEL DIETRICH-CHASTAIN: Yeah, yeah, I'll tell you what, I'll give a little gift to the audience, which is, we've got this this bundle called Our Changes Playbook and it comes with a free audiobook, comes with some activities you can do, the card deck, a workbook, and some other goodies. So, if they go to arcintegrated.com, A-R-Cintegrated.com/free, you'll see all the things that you can get. And of course, that's our website, too. So, if people want to take a deeper dive there's places to reach out there as well.
PATRICK CASALE: Very, very cool. And just for everyone listening, I will have those links in the description of this podcast episode so that you can find more about Michael and his company, the free bundle, and any other services that they offer.
Michael, I just want to thank you for being on here and making the time. I know you're a busy man, and I really appreciate the connection here in Asheville, North Carolina.
MICHAEL DIETRICH-CHASTAIN: Yeah, it’s such a pleasure to hang with you a little bit. I'm looking forward to seeing you in person soon.
PATRICK CASALE: I know, I'm looking forward to that too. It's crazy how small of a city this is and how often you can and cannot run into people when you're busy. But everyone thank you so much for listening to another All Things Private Practice Podcast episode. You can find more at allthingspractice.com or the All Things Private Practice Facebook group and we will see you next week.