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You Don’t Have to Go It Alone!

As I was putting the finishing touches to my new book “This Business of Therapy: A Practical Guide to Starting, Developing and Sustaining a Therapy Practice” I became aware of the challenge that it can be for many therapists embracing self-employment for the first time. Not that I wasn’t already aware of it, I was, but I guess it came home to me in a different way.

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Do you remember how excited you were when you first decided to train as a therapist? Do you remember that feeling of really wanting to help people in this special way? Perhaps you were thinking of people who had shared some of your own difficult experiences, or whose stories touched you, and you longed to offer them some support so that they wouldn’t have to suffer as long or as hard as you? Read more

Creating a Therapy Practice

In order to create something, whether it’s a home, a relationship, a work of art or a therapy practice, there is a process of creation. This process brings us through a number of steps from original conception to realisation. There are many ways to describe these steps, and I’m sure you’ll have your own version. I put them like this:
Inspiration: We are inspired to start something, for example, a therapy practice. Fresh from the training process, we are full of enthusiasm for our newly acquired skills, and eager to bring them to the aid of those in need. What better way to do this than through our own practice, where we can shape what and how we offer our services in a way that suits us.
1267750Visualisation: We begin to imagine what our own practice might look like. We have seen how others have done it, and we know what we like and don’t like. We begin to imagine the location we’d like, the clients we’d like, and how our life will be when all our visions turn to reality. Read more

Plan For A Better Year

When we first set out to establish our practices, there are so many things we have to think about and so many decisions we have to make. It can be a bit overwhelming. However, time invested in really thinking through some of the issues involved provides great holding and support for us in the early stages of our practice, and sets the stage for the future.

A key exercise to do at the start is to create a business plan for the practice. And it doesn’t apply only to new practices starting out. Even well established practices can benefit from taking a step back to look at some of these issues. 1879041

This may sound over the top, and I can hear the groans as I imagine people reading my words. A business plan just doesn’t sound like it belongs in a therapy practice does it? However, time and again, I have seen how looking at these issues can make what comes after so much easier. When faced with a decision, we can simply ask ourselves whether our proposed course of action is in alignment with our business plan. Read more

Earning a Living From Therapy Practice

A recent article in the Irish Times said that an average family spent between €45, 000 and €50, 000 between running their home and car, food, property and water tax, education and childcare. This figure does not include Photo no (23)income tax, PRSI or USC, nor does it include provision for retirement. If we estimate that those taxes might reasonably amount to €15,000, a therapist who is the main breadwinner of a typical family of two adults and two children, would need to earn at least €60,000 after all expenses in order to support their family.

To put this in context, €60,000 equates to 1,000 hours at €60 per hour, or 20 hours every week for 50 weeks. This takes no account of any of the costs of practising (such as rent, insurance, supervision, professional memberships, or CPD), takes no account of holidays or sickness, and takes no account of cancellations or discounts. It also takes account of face to face client hours only, and ignores the time needed to generate those 1,000 client hours, or to do any of the other tasks of running a small professional practice.
It’s a big ask. Read more

What If The Boss Won’t Pay?

At a recent workshop at the IAHIP offices, a group of newly and nearly qualified therapists brainstormed their associations with the word “Business.” After the course, I was reflecting further on our discussion and, in particular, on the question of cancellation fees (always a good topic for an animated discussion among therapists). I was thinking about the differences between a therapy scenario and a workplace one.

Imagine the scene. You go for an interview and are accepted for a job. A contract is discussed and agreed, including details about hours and pay. However, when payday comes around, your boss refuses to pay you on the basis agreed. Would you accept that? Probably not.

1673557You’d be pretty miffed, I imagine. You might point to the contract of employment and say, “But we had an agreement.” You would probably be slow to commit yourself fully to continue working for that employer. I can’t imagine an employee feeling empathy for the employer, and pointing to the difficult circumstances they were experiencing as a reason not to expect their day’s pay. Read more

This Business of Therapy Book in Paperback and Kindle

This book is now available to buy in either paperback or Kindle from Amazon.co.uk You don’t need to own a kindle device to read the book, just download the free kindle app for tablet, pc or smart phone. Paperback price €12.99, Kindle €8.99

This Business of Therapy: A Practical Guide to Starting, Developing and Sustaining a Therapy Practice
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Creating Support for Our Practices

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I have often written about the need to provide ourselves with sufficient support to start or develop a therapy practice.

When I worked in the accountancy profession many years ago, I had two trainees in my team at one stage. They were as different as chalk and cheese as the saying goes, and there was no love lost between them. One of them failed his end of term exams, and the other passed. The one who failed really found it hard to accept that his rival had passed, but he used this experience to support him in passing the repeats. He told me he kept a photo of his rival over his study area at home, and every time he felt like giving up, or was struggling to focus on his studies, he told himself, “If he can do it, so can I.” He channeled his jealousy into action that supported him in moving toward his goal.

Support comes in many forms, and sometimes it is heavily disguised. Support can be either internal or external, and often too we can be unaware of support until it is no longer there. Read more

Earning More Money

Most therapists charge their clients on an hourly or sessional basis. They sit with their clients for an hour or 50 minutes, and the client pays a fee based on the time. This is a fairly typical arrangement in professions generally, although, it is slowly changing.Photo no (41)

One of the drawbacks of this approach from a financial point of view, is that there is an inherent limitation to what you can earn, as there are only so many hours in each week. Further, as a therapist, given the nature of the work we do and the impact it can have on us, there are only so many hours that can be spent sitting with clients. Read more

Dirty Nappies and Sticky Toffees

When I was growing up, a cousin, about four or five years younger than me, asked his mother (in the hearing of several of us older kids) to chew his toffee for him because it was too hard.

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He never lived it down.

At the time, I dismissed him as immature and childish. In recent times, I have begun to relate more to where he was at! I have begun to recognise that there’s a part of all of us that doesn’t want to do the dirty work, put out the bins, or have the difficult conversations. Read more

Internal Locus of Evaluation

In his famous book, On Becoming a Person, Carl Rogers talks about the “Locus of Evaluation” (or the perceived source of values) from two perspectives, that of the client, and that of the therapist. He supports a view that the therapist’s task is to think and empathise with the client within the client’s own frame of reference, respecting the client’s own valuing process. [1] This, he says, facilitates the client’s ability to develop their own internal locus of evaluation. This Rogers says is perhaps the most fundamental condition of creativity.[2]

Developing an internal locus of evaluation is an important goal in the psychotherapeutic process, enabling the client to live their life more creatively, as an agent of their own desire for themselves. Read more