Creating Support for Our Practices
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.
When we are employed, support is provided from the organisation. External supports include the building the company operates from and the desk or office we work in. Someone provides the space, and someone sees that it is cleaned and furnished. We may take support from the people, the staff and management of all grades. Knowing the people we will meet each day, what their roles and responsibilities are, and what the place looks and feels like helps to create a known environment in which we can feel safe. We may take support from the product or service the company sells, or the brand or title it goes by. These provides a sense of belonging and identity. In a similar way, we may take support from the processes that are in place within the organisation, the terms under which we are employed, the salary we are paid, and the hand book that sets out the way in which issues are dealt with.
Our job description may also support us, we know who we are at work, because we know our role in the organisation and see where that fits into the structure of the organisation as a whole. The history of the organisation and its mission or values, all serve to provide an infrastructure that holds us in our place, and tells us where we stand in relation to others around us. We may also take support from the laws and regulations within which the company operates. These provide a sense of holding, a security, that failing a catastrophic failure, our jobs (and hence our salaries) will still exist tomorrow.
Much of this is taken for granted. We don’t see the support that the organisation provides, we might even experience it as restricting or limiting, and find ourselves rebelling against its rules. We may feel resentful of the way in which the affairs of the organisation are managed, or struggle to create and sustain workable relationships with colleagues or managers. Even these challenges provide a form of holding for us in a work situation.
Creating Support When We’re Self-Employed
In stark contrast, then, when we move out into the self-employed world, many of these supports are not there to hold us, and we may feel the loss of them. So, when setting out to create our self-employed therapy practice, it is really important to look at what our needs for support are, and how these can be met.
As we look at the supports that were available in a work situation we can see how some of these might be re-created when we’re self-employed. For example, finding a place to work that gives us a sense of familiarity and belonging, creating a structure or processes for the everyday tasks to make them easier, making time to connect with other therapists for companionship and support, creating an identity for our practice, through its name, values or logos. Creating a stream of income that provides us with some financial security is also important.
Using Our Internal Resources Wisely
Our own internal resources become particularly important when we are self-employed, and we will need to use our mind, our heart and our will in a conscious way to support what we are trying to achieve. What do I mean by that?
Well, we can use our imaginations to support or undermine us. Imagining that clients are available and would benefit from working with us, supports us when it’s time to market our practices. Imagining that there are no clients available or that they won’t be able to pay, undermines us. We are unlikely to take the necessary action if we don’t believe there will be a good outcome.
We can also use our heart to support or to undermine us. We can offer support to our clients with an open and generous heart, but be mean towards ourselves, being critical and judgemental or ignoring our own needs. When we allow ourselves to listen to what our heart wants for US and for our practice, we can balance our needs with those of our clients, and be more compassionate to ourselves when thigs go wrong.
We can use our will to support or undermine us. We can decide to take a particular action, even though it challenges us, or we can use our will to refuse to take an action that could benefit us. We can also use our will to hold on to beliefs about ourselves or others that no longer serve us. Since starting my practice, I have had to continually challenge myself to let go of the belief that clients will not want to stay with me, even though I have plenty of evidence to the contrary, some part of me really wants to hold on to this old limiting belief.
If you are struggling to get the support you need to start, develop or sustain your therapy practice, maybe I can help? I provide a range of services to suit all situations. You’ll find the details here. Or contact me here for a free 20 minute consultation.