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How to build a therapy business

Vicky Abad
April 24, 2018

Music Beat Founder and Managing Director Dr Vicky Abad completed a university speaking tour in the United States during April 2018, presenting a series of workshops and seminars for her book, The Economics of Therapy, co-edited with Daniel Thomas, Managing Director of UK art therapies provider Chroma, and chapter author Dr Becky Zarate of Lesley University.

The academic, therapeutic and student communities I visited in the United States have really embraced the concept of our book.

So I thought I might share with you here what motivated me to write the book in the first place. Or at least a snap shot of this.

From little boppers big kids grow: Boppin’ Babies marks 10 years

As you know my business began as a small venture, one group in fact, meant to meet the needs of my own little person. It grew as Miss MB grew and also as word got out. There was not really anything on the market at the time that wasn’t heavily music education in its focus.

This approach has seen Music Beat Australia grow to the business it is today, from one mothers’ music group that I started with friends when Miss MB was just four months old.

We rebranded the business in 2017 from Boppin’ Babies to Music Beat Australia to acknowledge that there is so much more to what we do now than just babies.

As the business grew I struggled with what I perceived as clashes between my therapy world and the business world I had to now navigate. I didn’t want my business to lose its heart or soul as we expanded.

I began to talk quite a bit to my colleague in England, Dan Thomas, who was also growing his business with a completely different model.

But what we found interesting was that both our businesses were successfully growing and we were both drawing on core clinical skills that we had successfully transferred into the business world.

Resilience Attunement Improvisation Listening Empathy

This became the basis of our model RAILE (Resilience, Attunement, Improvisation, Listening and Empathy). As music therapists we had spent many years honing our clinical skills.

We found these skills of made us very good at bearing the brunt of financial restraint, being attuned to what the client needed, really hearing how we could provide a service that matched the needs of a provider, empathise not only with the clinical needs but also the financial concerns of the provider.

This was all happening in the aftermath of the GFC when funded positions were becoming rare and people were more often going out on their own.

We felt that we could really support our colleagues by drawing their attention to the great strengths they already possessed and how they could apply these not only clinically but also in business. And that in a nut shell is what inspired the book.

Building a Win-Win Business Model for Therapy

Other shared observations also inspired the book. These included both therapists finding it difficult to ask for payment and people thinking music was a universally accessible tool which did not require payment.

Yet everybody needs to be paid for their work in order to live.

Music is for everyone, and as you know at Music Beat, we provide a range of freely accessible as well as user pay programs.

The fact that music is for everyone should not mean that the music therapists don’t get paid. So we set out to establish a model that could help creative arts therapists run successful businesses that were also profitable, and ethical.

Businesses that met not only client need, but also the need of the funding body, the need of the community and the need of the business owner to make a living.

It remains my passion to share my authentic and heart felt business with all of you, and to help other therapists realise they too can provide an ethical and state of the art business in ways that care for clients, commissioners and cash flow.

All of Dr Vicky’s presentations in the United States were offered free of charge for all attendees and she was not paid to speak.

The Economics of Therapy is available from Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

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