Category: Personal Development

Hidden Agendas

As we start a new year, and may be making some new year’s resolutions, it’s a good time to ask ourselves what do we want for our practices over the coming year.

It’s a straightforward question which can have a complicated answer because often we want many things, and some of the things we want conflict with each other.

Take the example of wanting more clients, or more income. I can answer the “What should I do to find more clients or earn more income?” question quite literally with a list of things to do, but I know from long experience there’s usually a better question.

When we know what we want, and we’re not getting it, quite simply there’s something else that we want that is getting in the way. Such as safety or security.

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We all know that we keep re-creating what we haven’t healed. If poverty or lack is familiar to us, we will keep creating it until we feel safe enough to create something different. If staying out of the limelight and keeping our heads below the parapet is familiar and comfortable for us, we will find a way to stay invisible until we feel safe enough to be seen. It’s not that we don’t know what to do, it’s that we have a hidden agenda. Sometimes the agenda is so well hidden we don’t even see it ourselves.

Recently I spoke to two groups of professionals about marketing their practices. The professions were very different, the issues were the same. Marketing can be over-simplified to a series of tasks, but it is not just a question of putting yourself out there. Of course, the action is important. But the action is not solely what will bring the clients to your door, or cause them to pass you by. There is always an inner component too.

I’m sure you know people who have struggled with their weight. I have done so in the past, and I know that there were times when I was eating the way I was supposed to be eating, and doing the appropriate exercise, but the weight would not budge.

It’s the same with marketing. Two people can appear to be marketing their practice in the same way, and one can get good results, the other not. The underlying reason for the differing results is the same for marketing and for weight loss, and just about anything else you like to think of. A hidden agenda will find a way to override the efficacy of any action you take.

What sort of hidden agenda might be getting in the way of you creating your practice?

Typically, our hidden agendas are driven by issues concerning safety or identity. So, I might unconsciously fear that

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if I get what I want for my practice, such as more income, this will change how I see myself, or how others see me. Earning more income might contravene some deeply held value, such as poverty is worthier than plenty. Or I may have invested in a view of myself as always struggling, or unsupported or undervalued, and a change in my circumstances might mean I have to change how I see myself.

I might encounter fears about who or what I might become. If I like to see myself as the caring empathic helper, I may fear that a greater focus on money will mean I no longer care about others. If I believe that entrepreneurs or business people are heartless or greedy, I may fear becoming like that.

And then there are the fears about what it might mean in my relationships if I become more successful in my practice. Someone I care about might feel threatened by a change in my circumstances, or I might fear that they will resent me. If it is important to me to preserve a relationship in its present form, or if I relate to certain people in a fixed way, the prospect of changing that may evoke anxiety.

And finally, there are the fears about what might happen if my practice were to take off. I might fear not being able to cope with the increased client load, or the increased income. I might fear that my freedom might be restricted, or that more might be expected of me.

Hidden agendas can be hard to spot, but we can find clues in how we feel and in how our practice performs. So, if you are struggling to earn enough, or you are feeling a lot of resistance to taking the actions you need to take to grow your practice, this is good information for you. You’ve probably found a clue that’s telling you there’s some other objective going on under the surface.

I’d be glad to help you with your hidden agendas. Contact me here for a free 20 minute consultation.



An Introduction to The Business of Therapy

The popular workshop “The Business of Therapy: Starting a Therapy Practice” which has been running for 5 years is


now available on line from If you don’t have time to attend in person, or the dates or venues don’t suit you, this may the course for you.

With a full written course, and covering 9 modules including videos and slides, with exercises to make the material relevant for you, you can get your CPD at home in your own time and at your own pace.

The course covers popular topics such as:

  • What it means to be self-employed, and how this differs from working for someone else.
  • The six areas you’ll need to address in order to create a sustainable and financially viable practice.
  • Finding a vision for your practice, and a plan to make that vision a reality
  • Marketing your practice in a way that works for you
  • How to set fees at a level that reflects your needs and your costs
  • And lots more

Cost €95


Written and presented by Jude Fay, practising counsellor and psychotherapist, and author of “This Business of Therapy: A Practical Guide to Starting Developing and Sustaining a Therapy Practice” (available from Amazon in paperback and on Kindle).

Check out the course now!

PS, if you have a workshop to promote to your fellow therapists, you can add it free of charge at



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.


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