I’ve been doing some workshops recently, and have been asked a couple of great questions:
What happens to my clients and my files when I die?
This is something you need to think about. Obviously, we’d all like to think that we will have some warning of the end of our practising life, and most of us will. However, it’s a good idea to think about the unthinkable, and something put in place, which, like insurance, you hope you’ll never need. Read more
Identity is an issue that is often present in therapy work. The quest to “know our true selves,” or to “be myself,” is a common theme in the therapy room. As therapists, we model being ourselves through our authenticity or congruence, and in this way allow clients the freedom to do likewise.
Identity is equally important when we are considering our practices. In the second pillar of a successful therapy practice, what I call “Knowing Your Practice,” I talk about creating an identity for your practice. I’m not necessarily talking about the branding or the issues you might work with, although these may be part of it. Knowing your practice is more subtle than that. It’s the essence of who you are and what you stand for in the work. It’s the qualities of you that you bring to the service of your clients. It’s an inner knowing of what is right for you and what is not, an ethical framework perhaps? Read more
How long does it take to establish a therapy practice?
This a regular question asked at workshops and in meetings with therapists. The answer varies hugely and depends on many factors.
The short answer is, you can do the basics in a few weeks. However, if you are starting from scratch and aiming for a practice that will replace the salary you are currently earning in a full or part time position, the answer is likely to be closer to years than weeks or months. It’s possible to get there quicker, but most people don’t. Think of it this way, you didn’t become a therapist overnight, and you won’t become self-employed overnight either. Read more
To practice our therapy skills, there must be someone who has a problem, or a question, or a wondering that we can help. We need clients to practice with.
There are basically two ways in which to find clients:
Someone hires us to see clients that they have available, or
We find them ourselves.
I am aware from talking with practitioners, that marketing is something they find really difficult. And I find it curious that we want to do the work, but don’t want to do the work of finding the work. (There is a simple solution to this by the way – choose option 1, and let someone else find the clients for you!)
Shying away from marketing we demonise one side of a pair, the work is good, but the finding of it, or the looking for it, or the asking for it is bad. Read more
I wrote recently about taking ourselves seriously as business owners when we have a self-employed therapy practice. In that article, I wrote about investing our time, money and energy in our practice, if we are taking ourselves seriously. The question then arises, “Well, how much time, money and energy do I need to invest?”
It’s a question that has no right answer, and maybe there’s a better question.
I find myself thinking about sports. There are many levels at which we can engage in sports. I’m not a great sporty fan, so I don’t invest much of myself in it, either at a participant or watcher level. But most of my family are keen, and their interest level reflects their engagement. So, some are interested in watching but not participating. They watch the tennis or the rugby on TV, they attend important matches, they talk about the important news stories of their chosen sport, the goals, the misses, the changes of manager, the “What ifs,” of the relative league positioning and so on. Read more
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.
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
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.
• Visualisation: 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
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.
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
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.  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.
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
I have written on many occasions on the link between our beliefs and values about money and wealth and the direct impact they have on our ability to create a financially viable therapy practice.
Recently, I have been working with a client who has been exploring his struggle to earn a decent living in his small metalworking business, and to create financial security in his life. His name is John, and I have his permission to tell some of his story here to illustrate in concrete terms how beliefs that we have carried since childhood shape our way of being with money. These beliefs are often swallowed whole without subjecting them to any scrutiny. Read more