In this episode, Amber Benziger joins the show to speak about creating a membership program for our clients. Amber created The Anxiety Lab, a monthly membership program full of courses, workbooks, speakers, and educational content to help people manage their anxiety. First, we dive into talking about racism in a therapy setting, Amber speaks about her switch to telehealth, and then Amber reveals the inspiration behind The Anxiety Lab. Plus, Amber explains why we need to stop doubting ourselves; we can execute our great ideas and help even more people outside of the therapy room.
Meet Amber Benziger
Hey, I’m Amber, a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Clinical Trauma Professional in the state of New Jersey. I am a therapist, an advocate, a feeler, and a flawed human. My goals are to create an environment for women to come, explore and process their feelings; and heal from their troubles while growing in self-compassion and self-worth.
I’m no stranger to anxiety and perfectionism and through my own journey of self-exploration, I fell in love with the therapeutic process. When I’m not in my therapy chair I’m a busy mom of two, a runner, a french bulldog enthusiast, and an avocado toast connoisseur. I curse too much, I find solace at the beach, and I love spray painting stuff.
Speaking About Racism In Therapy
As a Black therapist, Amber thinks it is imperative for her to discuss racism and advocate for equality because of her unique perspective. A larger majority of Amber’s practice is women of color. Lately, Amber has seen a lot of racial trauma and a lot of anxiety around the election. Racism isn’t something new. However, it does have a spotlight on it. So, Amber is talking about much more in her practice than she ever has before. It is critical to hold space for racial issues still, primarily because they haven’t gone away, and people still have those concerns and worry. Racism isn’t a trend, it’s something that has always been there, and it seems like something that will always be around.
Switching To Telehealth
Before the pandemic, Amber had one or two clients online, but her practice was basically in the office. So, during the pandemic, Amber had to make that switch to telehealth, like many practitioners. She was worried about how that transition would go, and luckily, her clients were fantastic. Plus, Amber has just seen her practice grow incredibly in the past few months with the pandemic. She even has a waiting list and has turned people away. However, it’s a struggle for Amber because she wants to help people who are having a hard time. Sometimes, it can be heartbreaking to turn a client away. That’s why Amber created her membership service, The Anxiety Lab.
The Anxiety Lab is a monthly membership program full of courses, workbooks, speakers, and educational content to help manage your anxiety. The program is accompanied by a private online Facebook community where you can interact with Amber and your peers. Amber created it because it was something that she felt like she needed during the pandemic. During Covid, living under the same roof with kids and spouses can be really stressful, and Amber became really anxious herself. Then, Amber started getting a bunch of calls and a bunch of people reaching out to her through social media platforms about working with her. That made Amber feel even more overwhelmed and stressed out. So, she had the idea of creating The Anxiety Lab.
Creating A Membership Program
Amber is not a technology person. So that was the part that overwhelmed her. As practitioners, we’re always questioning if we know how to do all this next-level stuff. So, Amber did a lot of research, and she decided to use the platform Kajabi. It is great for membership services because it allows Amber to put the courses on there, and it allows for the community aspect. That way, Amber doesn’t have to use a different tool, and she can do everything on Kajabi. It will even let you send out email marketing; it’s like a one-stop-shop for everything you need to create a membership program.
Marketing Your Membership Program
Amber will market a lot through her social media platforms, specifically Instagram. Amber will make connections on Instagram with other therapists and private practice owners. Plus, she jumps on Instagram Live with people who have a larger following. In addition, Amber dabbles with Facebook Ads; it’s something that she still needs to learn more about. Overall, Amber utilizes a lot of word of mouth to get people to The Anxiety Lab. Plus, her therapist friends have been a lot of help when it comes to spreading the word.
Gordon: Well, hello everyone. And welcome again to the practice of therapy podcast, and so happy for you to get to know today. Hamper Benziger and Amber. Welcome to the podcast.
Amber: Thank you so much for having me. I'm so happy to be here
Gordon: today with you. Yes, I, I, and I was excited to, to find out about you and find out a little bit about what you're doing.
Um, you're based in New Jersey. Is that, is that correct?
Amber: That is correct. Yes. And Terry Hill right outside of
Gordon: Philadelphia though. Okay. Awesome. Awesome. So, um, As I start with everyone. Why don't you tell folks a little bit about your private practice journey and how you've landed, where you've landed?
So, I mean, I've been doing therapy for the past 10 years. Um, about two years ago, I was a director of a substance abuse treatment center. Um, and as much as I loved doing that, I felt compelled to kind of go out on my own. It's always been, um, The goal for me. And there was a change in structure there and change in management.
And I felt like, you know, this is the time. So I took the leap kind of with, um, little, little preparation. Um, so kind of just jumped to feed into it. Um, but I started my private practice, vitality behavioral health about two years ago now. Um, and I love it. I wouldn't change it
Gordon: for anything. Awesome. That's awesome.
Yeah, it's a, it sounds like you're a typical kind of a therapist in that I think are a lot of it. Start out in agency work and really, really figure out that we really want to be more independent and be able to do what bringing, um, Being in practice for ourselves converging in terms of autonomy and all that sort of thing.
So, yeah, that's cool.
Amber: It was, yeah, it was his time to kind of go out on my own and really dive deep into, you know, my interest in nine passions, um, and helping people that. That I wanted to not just kind of box myself in, so,
Gordon: right, right. Yeah. And that's so important. So speaking of that, tell folks a little bit about kind of, um, your niche and, and your passions.
I mean, the kind of things that you're working with and the kind of clients that you you work with.
Amber: Sure. So I would say the majority of my practice is females. I enjoy working with women. Um, Especially, you know, in that twenties, thirties, forties range. Um, and I primarily see, uh, clients with anxiety disorders as well as trauma.
So that's really what I enjoy, I enjoy working with and primarily what my practice is made up of.
Gordon: Yeah. And I know as we were chatting about before, um, before we started recording is just kind of, um, How this year, well, as we're recording this, this might come out after the first of the year, but in 2020, let me clarify that in 2020, it's been a tough year for, for.
For all of us, really in many, many different fronts, you know, with, uh, the COVID pandemic with, um, uh, just dealing with racism and really giving voice to that and, um, the political climate and all of those things have just been just a really anxiety producing. Kind of thing. What are you seeing in your practice and what kind of themes are you seeing come up for people around all those things?
Amber: Absolutely. So, you know, as a black therapist, I think it's really important for me to, to discuss those things and advocate those things. Cause I have that unique perspective. Um, and I would say a large majority of my practice is also, um, No women of color. So that's something that we've been seeing. I've been seeing a lot of racial trauma, a lot of anxiety around the election, around things that are going on.
I mean, as we both know racism, isn't something new. Um, but I feel like it has definitely had a spotlight on it and then elevated. So it's definitely something that I feel like I'm talking about much more in my practice, um, than I have before. It's not something it's, it's something that definitely came up before, but I feel like comes up.
More frequently now.
Gordon: Right, right. Yeah. And, uh, are you finding that you, um, I think with all the press that we've had over the last year, going back to George Floyd's death and murder and, and all of that, do you feel like we're getting to a place where we're kind of giving people more permission to talk about these sites?
Amber: do. I, I feel like, you know, there was. There was a time where it, it wasn't as open to discuss and now it is, but I feel like then it kind of fell off a little bit. So you kind of saw there was this, um, uproar of everybody wanting to talk about it and now people, again, wanting to sweep it under the rug.
So I think it's important to still hold space for that as, as those issues haven't gone away and people still have those concerns and worry. So I think it's something that we need to be mindful that it's not a trend it's, it's something that we need to continue to work towards.
Gordon: Uh, and I couldn't agree more, I think, um, you know, there's, you know, unfortunately I think a lot of times our, um, kind of our conversations follow whatever is in the news and, and the fact that we just get news so instantaneously, so yeah.
So, well, yeah, well I'm glad, um, Thankful to you for doing the work that you're doing. And because I think now more than ever, um, w we need, we need great people to be working in this field. Um, I think too, fortunately, I think we're starting to kind of, uh, Get rid of some of the STEM stigma around mental health issues and that people are saying that, okay.
Um, a lot of us struggle with just anxiety and stress and all that, that, that brings, uh, yeah. So, so with, with you or a cap, kind of, what is your approach? I think a lot of people might be interested in that.
Amber: So I come from a cognitive behavioral therapy framework. Um, so I use a lot of those skills, but I think it needs to adapt it to, um, each client.
So I really, you know, humanistic approach, um, But yeah, I would say that I use a lot of CBT
Gordon: skills. Right, right. And I know one of the things we had talked about is that you're, you're a solo practitioner and, um, I would guess that your practice is pretty full.
Amber: Yeah. Um, So that was a bit of a scare. I feel like at the beginning of the pandemic, you know, what was going to happen?
I had like one or two clients online, but basically my practice was in office. So that switch, um, you know, I, I like many practitioners. I was worried about how that transition would go and my clients were fantastic. Um, With that, that changeover. And then I've just seen my practice grow incredibly in the past few months with the pandemic where I had to, you know, have a waiting list and turned people away.
Um, which for me is something that I struggle with, um, because I want to help people and you see a lot of people, uh, struggling now and reaching out for help. And I think it's, it's so difficult, you know, to, to get to that place, to reach out for help, and then have it be. Have it be, um, hard to find somebody that's heartbreaking to me, that's one of the reasons why I created my membership service because of that.
Gordon: Yeah. Yeah. So, uh, w when you were telling me about that before we recorded, I just, uh, uh, that that's exciting to me. So tell us about that and how you created it and what it is, and all those kinds of fun things. Sure.
Amber: Yeah. I'm so excited about it. Um, so it's called the anxiety lab and it is a monthly membership service for people to come and learn skills, to manage and cope with their anxiety.
Uh, I created it because it was something that I felt like I needed, uh, during the pandemic. Like most of us, I felt like the skills. That I had and the coping strategies that I would go to, they weren't assessable anymore. Um, and you know, we're working from home, you know, me and my husband, and then our two kids are doing school from home.
We were just all under the same roof and it was really stressful and I became really anxious myself. Um, and then I started getting a bunch of calls and a bunch of people reaching out to me through my social media platforms about working with me, or like, what can I do? And feeling very overwhelmed, um, you know, very stressed out.
So I, you know, I had the idea of creating the lab. Uh, so like I said, it's a monthly membership service where you can, you can buy in, um, and every month I'll release new content on a different topic under the umbrella of anxiety. So anywhere from relationship, anxiety, to issues with them, Duries um, to perfectionism and you'll get online courses with that.
You'll get a workbook that goes with the courses. Um, I'll do a, some Q and A's. There is, um, A community type platform where you guys can talk to each other. You can talk to me, I'll bring in an expert in the field to do a live workshop every month. So just a lot of great content and, um, surrounding anxiety where it can be.
Something that you can utilize in addition to going into traditional therapy, or maybe you want to, you know, help yourself help skills. This, this is that platform for
Gordon: you. Wow. Wow. I love that. Well, I'm curious. What, um, what tools did you use to kind of set all that up? Um, as far as the backend stuff,
So like I have not, I'm not a technology person. So I think that was the part that overwhelmed me. Like, can I do this? You know, I think as practitioners, we're always questioning like, you know, I know how we know how to do therapy, but do we know how to do all this next level stuff? Um, so I did a lot of research and I decided to use the platform Kajabi.
Um, because it's great for membership services. It allows me to put the courses on there. It allows me to. Have the community part. So I don't have to use something like Facebook or something like that. I can do everything right on the platform. Um, you know, it allows me to send out the emails to the email marketing.
So it's, it's an all in one stop shop. So I felt like that was the best for, for what I was doing.
Gordon: Right. Right. Well, that's brilliant. I think it's um, it's um, one of the things about it just from a kind of a business, um, Standpoint you've, you've reached that kind of, that, um, almost like glass ceiling with your, with your therapy practice and that there's only so many clients, you can say always how many days a week that you can and hours that you can devote to kind of the one-on-one thing.
And that is really, um, an important piece of being able to go from one-to-one to one-to-many, um, in. And being able to figure out the tools and ways of doing that kind. The traditional route is to start a group practice where you, you know, you bring on other people to, um, to be in the practice with you.
But, um, I love this idea of doing, uh, in fact, it's. I've not yet done anything like this in my practice, but I've had it in the back of my mind of doing something similar just around, you know, like anger management classes, parenting classes, those kinds of things, because there's so much, so many ways you can do that just in the online space.
Amber: Yeah. Um, exactly. I wanted to figure out a way to expand and reach more people because that was really what it was about. Like how can I help more people, but not bogged down myself, you know, as therapists, we can't work all day every day. Um, my family and things like that. So how can I reach more people?
And my first thought, like you said, was group practice, but with the pandemic, what would that look like? I wasn't really sure how to bring somebody on in this. In this climate and not saying that it's not, um, feasible, but I felt like this would be a way to, to reach more people. And at a cost effective rate, I feel like that's also something that was really important to me as well.
Yeah. Um, how can, how can this be accessible to people that need it?
Gordon: Right. Right. How are you getting the word out about this? Is it mainly just through your current, current caseload or are there otherwise that you're. You're marketing this and getting the word out about it.
Amber: Sure. So I market a lot through my social media platforms, specifically Instagram, I feel like it's the one that I utilize the most.
Um, so to that platform and then. Uh, through other practitioners that I've met on social media platforms have been great. I've jumped on some Instagram lives with, with other therapists that have, you know, larger followings. And I think that's been really helpful. Um, I've done a couple of Facebook ads and kind of dabbling in that area.
I'm not too familiar with it. So I feel like that's something new and something I want to learn about. Um, But a lot of just like word of mouth and, and utilizing social media and the following that I have on there. And the, and the, you know, the therapist, friends that I've
Gordon: met on there. Right, right. Well, it's a, it's, uh, like I said earlier, it's a brilliant idea in that.
Um, you're not only, um, creating, you know, providing your own professional expertise, um, to what you're doing, but you're, you've created a, you created a way for people to draw on support from each other, which is such a huge piece, I think. And just being able. For people to deal with anxiety and being able to, you know, work through things.
So that's, that's huge. Yeah. Yeah.
Amber: I think it's, you know, I think that's my favorite part about it is yes, there's the courses and there's, and there's the content. And I love that. I get to talk to people and meet more people than I'd usually work. I think that's one of my favorite things about being a therapist, um, you know, meeting people and, um, and hearing their story and.
And being, you know, part of that for them, but this is also a great place for them to have community, um, and be able to talk to each other and lean on each other and, and feel that validation of like, okay, I'm going through this, you're going through this too. And I think that's kind of like the bread and butter of the anxiety lab about having that as a community to lean on and feel like you have that support, you know, When you can't maybe, you know, see your therapist or something like that, the in between.
So just having somebody to, to lean on.
Gordon: Right, right. Yeah. So, yeah. So Kira curious, how did the idea come to you?
Amber: So, um, I thought about doing a course for a while. Um, And then I was working with a, uh, a business coach online in like a, in a group. I'm looking at a mastermind group and we were talking about doing courses and that's really, that's where I started to, to really focus my.
My ideas on like, okay, I'm just going to create a course. But I felt like after that one course, then what happens? Do I just keep creating another course? Like how does that look? Um, and then I was online looking at looking at things and, uh, a membership service came up by another therapist that she does.
Um, Elizabeth urgel. She does love lessons, which is about relationships and it's great. Um, And I was like, you know, I feel like this could be adapted to anxiety, too. What I, to what I want to talk about to what I want to work on. Um, so I kind of mapped it out and drew it out, like what it was looked like.
And I reached out to her to bounce some ideas off and I was like, this is it. Like, this is, this is what I want to do. Yeah.
Gordon: Yeah, that's a, that's brilliant. I just love that. Um, and it's always exciting to me for, uh, to see therapists or people in our field really kind of think outside the box in terms of thinking about, you know, reaching, reaching more people and being able to do all of that.
Um, Yeah. So it, so you you've been part of a mastermind group, um, that, uh, no, this is a bit of a tangent, but what is that process been like for you?
Amber: So that has ended now, but, um, no, it was really great it's it was great to meet therapists that were kind of in the same spot as me. Cause you know, two years into private practice, that's still very new.
Um, so kind of where did I want to go with this and what are the avenues? I think. And I'm sure kinds of people talked about this before. You know, when we go to school, they kind of put us in a box of like, okay, you do therapy, but like private practice can be hard and you don't really learn all those business skills.
So I feel like the validation of that was amazing. And then we kind of talked about how we can elevate to the next level. Like, what's next? This doesn't have to be it. Like, like you said, we don't have to just like hit the ceiling and stay, unless that's what we want to do. There are different ways to grow.
And I think that was the really cool part about that. Just like bouncing ideas off of each other and talking about like what those dreams and those goals are and how to make them come off the paper and come alive. Um, So that was, it was really nice to see like-minded people, um, have those same
Right, right, right. Well, I think with, uh, with the anxiety lab, um, one of the things that is great about it again, without outside the box kind of thinking is, is that there are a lot of people out there that wouldn't necessarily come to therapy. Uh, but they would do something like that would feel more.
More like that would be of more help to them then actually going to therapy. Um, although I think therapies, everybody should go to therapy personally, but, uh, but, uh, yeah, so, but you got that out component. Oh,
Amber: absolutely. And I feel like that's what I say a lot. Um, you know, I think everybody should go to therapy, uh, and I make sure that the disclaimer is this is not therapy because I think that's really important to say that this is more of a, self-help a more of a coaching style program.
Um, that could be. Used in conjunction with therapy, um, or to kind of get your feet wet with self-help before entering therapy or, you know, so I definitely want to make sure that that's something that is explained and understood by all the members, um, in the program. Um, so I think it's really important that, you know, if this is something that you do decide.
As a practitioner, whether it's a course or a membership program that, you know, you're really clear about that, disclaimer, that this not being therapy, you know, for the client and also to cover yourself.
Gordon: Right, right. Yeah. Well, it's, um, I just love what you're doing hamburger and, um, you know, you, you said that you've been in private practice, um, for about two years now.
What are the, what have been kind of the. The, I guess the, the exciting parts of that. And also maybe the places where you've really had to work harder, struggle with things.
Amber: Sure. Um, the exciting part is like, you know, you get to do it the way you want to do it. Um, I think that was, that was such a cool part for me.
Like not even realizing like, this is my practice, how do I want to go that, what hours do I want to work? Um, who do I want to see? T, what do I want this to be about? That was scary. But then once I realized that, like, no, that's amazing. Like this is, this is you. Um, I think that was the most exciting. I think that the most challenging part for me was, you know, switching back and forth between that therapist hat and that business person hat, um, like the logistical wise.
And realizing like at the same time, yes, this is you. So like, you know, making sure that, you know, finances and those types of things are in order and what are you going to do about systems and, and setting things in place. Um, so really getting that all streamlined for myself. So it wasn't so chaotic. I think that was once I realized, okay, let me put them things in place.
And like, you do know how to do this. Um, I think it became less intimidating, more exciting.
Gordon: Right, right. Yeah. Well, that's, uh, that's encouraging to hear because those are, um, those are the things that I, I kind of hear from everyone in that, um, you know, you do get to make your practice your own and make it whatever size you want it to be and make it look however you want it to look.
There's always, we have kind of a joke within my family. My mom. Is notorious for giving just silly gifts or just kind of useless gifts. Um, um, and that's how my mind, just because as we're recording this, we're in the middle of the holiday season. Um, and we will get w we would use like, get something from her and look at it kind of like, what is this, you know, kind of thing.
And her response would be always be well it's yours to do with, as you wish. And so with your. And with your practice. I think that's, I think that's an important thing to remember, and that there's any number of ways to go about doing this and do what fits for you. Uh, that is the most important, important piece.
And probably as you're learning too, is that it will always change the way you're doing it now is different. Yeah.
Amber: Yeah, it's just the end to be open to that change and to kind of not fight it. I feel like that's kind of what I've learned through this whole process of the practice and the membership service.
Like it's really based on, you know, your needs, but then who you're, who you're trying to serve. So that's, that's always going to be changing. Um, so just kind of be open to it. Hmm.
Gordon: Well, that's great. Um, well, Amber, I want to be respectful of your time. Um, any parting thoughts that you have for people that might be listening and maybe some things you'd want to leave them with.
Amber: Sure. I think that the biggest thing that I learned this year is that, um, Ideas don't have to just be ideas, like go for it. Why can't it be you? Um, I think I, I struggled with that at first. Like, can I, can I create this? Um, but I can, and I think a lot of people have a lot of great ideas, um, that they're holding onto.
And I think, you know, take the opportunity and take the chance because it's needed, you know, I think. If you, if you think it's, it's great. It's probably great. So don't hang on to it for too long.
Gordon: [00:23:42] I love that. I love those. I love that advice and, um, Yeah, that's great. Well, tell folks a little bit more about how they can get in touch with you and where they can find the anger, anxiety, lab, and all of those things.
Amber: Sure. So, um, you can get in touch with me, uh, through my social media. My Instagram is at Amber verse anxiety, so it's, um, Amber underscore verse underscoring anxiety. And then you can find out more about the anxiety lab at, um, the anxiety lab.com. So again, that's the easiest place to
Gordon: get in touch with me.
Awesome. And we'll have links in the show notes and show summary for people to get to that quickly. So, or Amber, thanks again for joining me for the podcast. This has been great. And I'm glad that people have gotten to know you and all the great stuff that you do.
Amber: Yes, we're. Thank you so much for having me.
I really enjoyed myself also.
Gordon: Well, hello everyone. And welcome again to the practice of therapy podcast, and so happy for you to get to know today. Hamper Benziger and Amber. Welcome to the podcast.
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Gordon is the person behind The Practice of Therapy Podcast & Blog. He is also President and Founder of Kingsport Counseling Associates, PLLC. He is a therapist, consultant, business mentor, trainer, and writer. PLEASE Subscribe to The Practice of Therapy Podcast wherever you listen to it. Follow us on Twitter @therapistlearn, and Pinterest, “Like” us on Facebook.