Category: Personal Development

New Video: Do You Remember…?

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

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

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

John’s Story

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

Dilemmas, Obstacles and Opportunities

Business Dilemmas Peculiar to Therapists

Being a therapist is different from having other jobs. Issues arise in therapy work that would be ignored in other occupations. There can be a belief in therapy circles that these dilemmas can restrict us in seeing a therapy practice as a business. Earning a living is often seen as much less important than the client work and sometimes there can be a negative attitude that suggests that being paid for our services diminishes their worth.

However, for some time now, the profession has been inching towards, well, greater professionalism. There are strict standards of training, the professional bodies have their rules and requirements, state regulation is getting nearer, and still, the perception persists that somehow doing it for free is virtuous while charging a fee is not.

In these articles, I don’t give much space to the clinical side of our work. Lots of more learned and wiser therapists than me do that very well. However, neither do I pretend that the clinical aspects of the work do not impact on the business side, of course they do. And it can be a challenge, to meet the dilemmas peculiar to our work as an opportunity to grow and enhance the lives of ourselves and our clients, rather than seeing them as restrictions and limitations. Read more

Poverty Consciousness

I was in my twenties when I first heard the expression “Poverty Consciousness” and I immediately related to it in myself. I understood it then as expressing a presumption that there is a finite amount of resources to go around and so everything I get takes from someone else. It expresses a bias in perception towards “what there is not” or “what is lacking” and away from “what there is.”

Poverty consciousness leads us to hold tight to what we have, in fear that there will be no more. It can lead people to stay in jobs or relationships that no longer serve them, or to collect things that have no meaning or value for them because they fear that nothing will fill the space left by the absence of those things. And it leads to a focus on external reasons for staying stuck, such as, “There’s no point marketing my practice because there aren’t any clients who have money to pay for therapy.”

And for many people, this perspective of the world is their reality. Read more

Supporting Our Growth

We all need support to help us grow. A plant needs sunlight, water and food. A child needs a safe home, food, love, encouragement, stimulation and space to explore. A therapy practice also needs support, and by extension, since we are the product or service we provide, we too need support in order to grow in the work, and to grow our practice.

What does support look like in this context?

We all need to have our basic needs met. These include physical needs for safety, warmth, closeness, and touch; 1696049emotional needs of encouragement, compassion, companionship, intimacy; psychological needs of interest and stimulation; and of course, financial needs of enough money to pay for what we need and want to buy.

Often when first meeting a client, we will ask them about their support network, in terms of the people around them who are supportive and caring. However, we know this is only part of the story. Learning what supports the client helps us to become more attuned to them in the work, and can help to smooth the path they are taking. Read more

It’s The Eurovision…Again!

It’s the Eurovision song contest, again. I’m old enough to remember when it was a huge event, the highlight of television viewing. We would be allowed to stay up late to see it, and there was excitement for weeks in advance about the Irish entry and its potential. The scoring was particularly exciting, and “Nul Points” was as common as “LOL.”

Changing channels.Of course, these days it’s not the big thing that it was. When we only had one TV channel, watching the Eurovision was a no-brainer. Now, between thousands of satellite TV channels, YouTube, and Netflix, something like the Eurovision Song Contest no longer has the star quality it once had.And this is the way of our world today. So many choices. I’ve often written about the choices available to our clients, and how we have to help them to find us in among all the dazzling range of healing options that are out there. There is another way, though, in which the overwhelming array of choices makes life difficult for a self-employed therapist. Read more