Behinds the Scenes of Private Practice

IMG_2945Looking back on these past 6 weeks, there are so many new things I have learned from Susan and about myself. I have had the opportunity to work on a book PR project, utilizing twitter, writing blogs, attending Susan’s nutrition talks, and motivational interviewing workshops. In these 6 weeks I have had the opportunity to be apart of the “behind the scenes” of what it takes to run a private practice – which I soon realized is not easy by any stretch.

Book PR Project

From working on PR for Susan’s book, A Healthy Bakers Dozen, a gluten-free healthy cookie book, I have learned an ample amount of what it takes to market a book. I discovered there are several steps to take when launching a book including accumulating book reviews.

Having more reviews on Amazon can move a book up on a page search, thus resulting in more sales. Through the process of trying to market this book and request reviews, I became knowledgeable regarding Amazon’s specific guidelines and the challenges they present. Even though my intention was originally to get 50 book reviews, at this time I have a grand total of 6.

Although dealing with Amazon was beyond frustrating, I found a new perspective and life lesson through it all. I’m choosing to look at it as though I have 6 more reviews rather than the 50 I wanted.

Some things take time, and patience and determination is essential in any task you embark on.

From this project I have had 40 people try Susan’s cookies. Even though it didn’t produce 40 book reviews that many more people have been exposed to A Healthy Baker’s Dozen and can share this information with others.


As I continued to write blogs, it became easier to articulate my thoughts and tie those in with research and good nutrition sense. I have picked up from Susan how she spaces out each paragraph to make the post easy to read and follow. Now whenever I write or type anything I subconsciously space out my writing. I have also learned that when you write an introduction or story to a blog, it is important to tie up the story at the end.

Twitter and MailChimp

I also had the chance to learn about Social Oomph for Susan’s three twitter feeds. Social Oomph is a website that allows you to post social media in advance so you don’t have to tweet every single day in real-time. With so many aspects of running a private practice, I have realized the effectiveness of this social media management tool, which can save time valuable time in one’s day. We also worked on a Wellness letter, which provided Susan’s clients with current blogs and recipes for the holiday season.

Motivational Interviewing

A highlight of my internship was finding out about motivational interviewing (MI) through the trainings I attended.

Motivational interviewing is a language to help resolve ambivalence with behavior change. What is remarkable about this language is that any profession can benefit from it. It is a language that gives you the tools to evoke change from within a client for what works for their individual lifestyle.

My “aha” moment was during an advanced MI training that I attended the first week I started interning. We did an activity in pairs where I was the counselor and my partner (who was both a doctor and dietitian) was the client. She was ambivalent about taking more Spanish classes to help communicate with her Spanish-speaking families.

On the one hand she wanted to learn more Spanish but on the other hand she didn’t want to invest the time. By just listening and using MI reflections of what was important to her, she solved her own problem. She came up with the solution of learning Spanish with her daughter, a win-win for advancing her language skills while spending quality time with her family.

The moment I saw her face light up after our conversation, it affirmed my commitment of learning MI. A light switch also went off in my head, and I knew this was the language I would be using in my future career as a dietitian.

If you are genuinely 100% present with your client, and just listen, this is the simple part of MI. You don’t need to have an agenda, try to “fix” someone’s problem but rather have presence and curiosity for what makes them successful. This way of being takes the pressure off the clinician.

The best gift you can give to someone is just to listen to him or her as if you had nothing else to do at that moment. Although I am becoming a Registered Dietitian, I realize that knowledge means nothing without the MI spirit of listening, collaboration and partnership.

What I have learned from Susan is having a private practice is more than just counseling clients. The “behind the scenes” of writing blog posts weekly, managing multiple social media accounts, hosting nutrition talks, teaching motivational interviewing workshops while writing new books is A LOT of work and can be more than challenging.

The most important takeaway from my experience is something she exemplifies daily. If you can walk into your office every day and genuinely love what you do then the hard work is ultimately worth the passion and the dream to help others, help themselves.

This blog was co-written by RD intern Elizabeth Wluka and Susan Dopart