Nicole Lobo: Turning Lemons Into Lemonade in Private Practice | Ep 102

If you had a tough experience as a counselling intern, you might feel inspired to create a space where future interns could have a different experience. It’s sometimes a healing response to turn the lemons of the past into the lemonade of the present, and that’s exactly what Nicole did. 

From her practicum, Nicole had a very challenging experience as a counselling intern in a private practice, and vowed to do things differently once she was able to open her own practice. Today, she makes changes that she knows helps those that were once in her shoes. 

In this podcast episode, Nicole and I discuss her entry into private practice, how she created success, and how she gives back to the community and to upcoming therapists.

As you know I’m all about seeing you succeed in your Canadian private practice, so in the spirit of keeping things real, check out my Tools and Deals page where you can get free access to my online private practice checklist, as well as discount codes and subscriptions specials on EMRs, website builders, and online practice essentials. Visit to claim your discount codes and to get more info!


Nicole is a Registered Psychotherapist of 5 years, Clinical Supervisor and founder of Be Well Therapy Studio; a boutique private practice operating in Ontario. Nicole’s goal is to make coming to therapy something to look forward to, rather than dread. As a therapist, she values authenticity, transparency, and a person-centred approach to care that aims to neutralize the stigma of accessing mental health care. She also supports budding therapists who share her passions by supporting business goals of running a practice, something never taught in her education through private practice coaching and clinical supervision.

Learn more about Nicole on her website, LinkedIn and Instagram profiles.

In This Episode

  • Nicole’s journey into psychotherapy 
  • Learning from past experiences going forward 
  • Nicole’s success of getting busy in her practice 
  • Discounted therapy with interns 
  • Offering monthly texting subscriptions
  • Nicole’s advice to listeners

Nicole’s journey into psychotherapy 

In college, Nicole already had a passion for psychology. 

‘I really enjoyed it and liked to understand how the brain ticks and how people think the way that they think. So, I was always interested in that first and foremost. So, as I was at school while I was learning all these concepts, it was really nice to actually talk to the profs who were practicing therapists or practicing psychologists in the community and just getting a feel for their experiences.’ – Nicole Lobo 

Nicole made sure to keep a finger on the pulse of what therapy would be like to stay in contact and conversation with her professors. In her fourth year, she took part in an experiential learning course that was offered by her college. 

In this class, the students would be out in the community and partake in experiential learning throughout the whole year. It was a research-based course with a project idea to formulate and experiment with to gather data. 

‘I was a part of women’s support groups which met a couple of times a week and we just observed the benefit of a support group in the community among young moms and women who really needed that support. And so I got to watch how the facilitators who were therapists and social workers created this bond amongst all the women and it was so inspiring to watch all these people come together … It inspired me to want to do that myself.’ – Nicole Lobo 

So, once Nicole completed her degree she applied to do her masters degree to pursue this type of work, and the rest is history!

Learning from past experiences going forward 

During her masters, Nicole completed her counselling practicum in a private practice setting to gain experience in the field. However, the private practice offered free therapy which was great for making it accessible to the community, but she was exposed to communities of people that had a desperate need for mental health which she felt underprepared to provide for. 

Even though the experience on the whole taught her a lot, she knew that if she were to open a practice one day that she would do things differently for her employees or interns. 

‘Through that experience, I learned about, you know; “What would I value in terms of eventually being a supervisor myself or eventually running a practice myself?” How would I structure things so that it wasn’t so chaotic in nature … [That it would] feel like a comfortable, welcoming, warm environment and not somewhere that you had to go to.’ – Nicole Lobo 

After Nicole’s counselling practicum was completed and while she was working full-time at a local hospital, she opened her own small private practice part-time.

Nicole’s success of getting busy in her practice 

One of the things that Nicole did was to prioritize slow organic growth. She started her practice as a side-job about two and half years before the pandemic started while working full-time in a hospital, so these pre-COVID years helped her to have an idea of the busy seasons in private practice versus slow seasons. 

Therefore, Nicole had a rough idea of what it would be like once she fully stepped into it, and could make adjustments prior.  

‘It really helped to give me some time to work out kinks and niche down and find my rhythm and my practice style without me feeling like I had to accept all these clients, all of the time, regardless of [whether they] fit.’ – Nicole Lobo 

So Nicole recommends to other practice owners to take some pressure off of yourself in the beginning by starting your practice as a part-time job so that you can get a feel of where you need to make adjustments before diving in more fully. 

Discounted therapy with interns 

Due to Nicole’s difficult entry into private practice when she was a new student and completing her practicum, it was important to her to create a space where she could rectify that issue for others. 

She offers this in her practice so that she knows she is providing new therapists with the guidance and support that she didn’t have when she started.  Nicole only takes one student at a time to give them high-quality supervision. 

‘It’s mainly because I want to make sure that I’m available as much as I can [be] on top of my current caseload to be able to support this person, and I want to make sure that there doesn’t become this competition to gain hours which I found to be a big problem.’ – Nicole Lobo 

Nicole’s interns offer therapy at around $50 per session, or $100 for a 75 minute session. The income that the interns bring pays off their operating costs within Nicole’s practice.

Offering monthly texting subscriptions 

Nicole works hard to creatively meet the needs of the client, depending on where they are at.  

‘It started off with me doing 30-minute check in calls with clients instead of a full-on 50 minute session which can sometimes be hard for either us as busy therapists to fit in on a last minute basis or even for clients to fit in whose schedules are all over the place. So, it started with that idea a little while ago.’ – Nicole Lobo 

This service developed into Nicole’s idea for offering her clients a monthly text subscription which allows a client a way to connect with their therapists between sessions. 

‘It didn’t require us to set the specific date and time aside to do that chat time, so it was a little more flexible and accessible to them.’ – Nicole Lobo  

In terms of licensing and regulation, Nicole is part of the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario, and she made sure to read through their standards of practice and technological access standards to make sure that she was on the right side of the regulatory framework. She also spoke with a private practice advisor if it was an ethical idea to develop. 

It’s offered to client’s not as a long-term service but more a solution-based approach that can be implemented as necessary. 

Nicole’s advice to listeners

Take it slow. Follow your interests, and gently get out of your comfort zone! Take learning risks and expose yourself to new areas of work so when you really invest your time and energy into an area of work you know that it’s what you want to do.

Connect With Me

Resources Mentioned and Useful Links:

Ep 101: Olivia Grigg: How to Host a Wellness Retreat | EP 101

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Sign up for my free e-course on How to Start an Online Canadian Private Practice

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Learn more about Nicole on her website, LinkedIn and Instagram profiles. 

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About Julia

Julia Smith, MEd, RCT, CCC is a registered Counselling Therapist who owns a group private practice in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She is also the owner of Fearless Practice Consulting and hosts the Fearless Practice podcast. Through the Fearless Practice podcast, she provides invaluable insights and practical advice on starting and growing a successful Canadian private practice. Julia’s wealth of knowledge also extends beyond the podcast, as she provides personalized one-on-one consulting to therapists who are feeling burnt out and overwhelmed with their solo or group private practices. With Julia’s expertise, therapists can confidently navigate the complexities of owning a private practice and find work life – balance. 

Julia also has written articles for the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy association. You can learn more at