5 Strategies for Having a Stress Free Practice
“Work would be great if it weren’t for the clients” was something I heard regularly in my former occupation as an accountant. It was said tongue in cheek, but really spoke to a truth about the ambivalence that many feel about their work, and not just in accountancy. We’d like it to be easy and stress free, where often it’s anything but!
Often it’s not the clients that make the practice of therapy or counselling so difficult, but the other challenges that may keep us awake at night, such as financial struggles, administrative challenges, relationship issues and so on.
There are ways to make running your practice a bit easier on you, and here are 5 strategies that I find useful:
1. Have a plan, any plan!
“That depends a good deal on
where you want to get to…”
(Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll)
Perhaps it’s the number of times we’ve encountered disappointment, or maybe the negative impact of finding ourselves accountable, or even the fear that we will choose badly, that makes it so hard for many to make a plan. Unfortunately, if you don’t have a plan, you will probably find yourself part of someone else’s plan (which may be fine, or it may not!) Get into the habit of consciously choosing what you want and moving in that direction, even in small things. If you find yourself going along with others a lot of the time, ask yourself what you’d like instead. Then make a plan for moving one step closer to it. Where your practice is concerned, decide what you’d like to be different, and then work out a plan for getting there.
2. Good information helps good decisions
Whether you’re talking about buying something or deciding to work with someone, or indeed trying to make any decision, having good information is essential. Before committing yourself to anything, find out all you need to make the decision an easy one. If you don’t know what you want, or what you can have, then do some research. When I decided to change supervisor a couple of years ago, I gave myself permission to shop around. I went and met with three people, all of whom could have done the job, before finally choosing a fourth. I held off making the decision until I’d met them all, and listened carefully to the little voice inside, which said “Good, but not quite what you’re looking for…”
3. Use systems and organisation
There’s a reason why we have habits, and it’s because they serve us. Some habits are better than others, good ones support us, bad ones undermine us. Good habits save us the time and energy of re-inventing the same thing over and over again. Think about a journey you take regularly, and imagine what it would be like to have to think out a route each time you took that journey. Find a system that works for you, and make a habit of the little tasks that can become a problem if not attended to. For example, you could use a diary or your phone to remind you of appointments, a notebook for your expenses, a bookkeeping package for your accounts. You could use a template for your client notes and a filing system for your correspondence. If you find yourself writing the same note or letter regularly, save it as an example and start there rather than from scratch.
4. Find good support
Whatever you’re trying to do, everyone needs support. Where would you like to have more support in your practice? Are there tasks you just hate doing that you could give to someone else? Could you join a peer group to ease your isolation? Could you use some help with getting more clients? You could support yourself by allowing others to support you! Many people fail to recognise the support they need most, their own support. In what ways do you undermine yourself, by criticising your actions or decisions? By second guessing yourself? By taking on other people’s judgements? Make a habit of supporting yourself by asking “How could I be kinder to myself in this?” or “What would help me to feel better about myself just now?”
It can be an isolated profession, especially for those who work from home, or on their own. I am surprised by how often practitioners tell me that the only therapist they ever talk to is their supervisor! Make a point of making contacts, and make a point of making the time and effort to keep in touch. You’ll be surprised how rewarding the experience can be. One colleague shares a struggle she’s having with a client, and you learn something from her experience. Someone else tells you about a great workshop they are going to attend that would be perfect for you. Another colleague can’t see a particular client, and passes them to you instead. Fostering relationships helps create a network that can support network that can support you in ways you can’t imagine.
If you need help to find strategies that would make your practice easier, I’d love to help you. Leave your comment or question below, or contact me here for your free 20 minute consultation.