Tag: Build a therapy practice

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.

 

 

Integrating Therapy and Business: Making Our Practice Our Own

In my last article I spoke of how the journey to create a therapy practice can also be a journey towards personal integration. In this article, I look at this journey from the perspective of the second pillar of a successful therapy practice, Knowing Your Practice.

In the second pillar, we build on our decision to create a practice by beginning to explore what our own practice might be like. For psychotherapists at least, we have all been in therapy and have worked in other practices during placement, we therefore have some exposure to what other practices look like. This may be a starting point for our own practice, as we reflect on what we like or dislike of other people’s choices.

One of the challenges of the second pillar is to make choices of our own. Choices about the type of practice we’d like to have, the clients we’d like to work with, the issues we’d like to learn more about, where we’d like to work, what we want to call our practice and so on.

Making choices is easier for some than for others. The sheer number of choices that must be made in the early days of starting a practice can be overwhelming, and it’s important to support ourselves in this process. Not making a choice is also a choice, but, as I have written about in another post, it doesn’t always serve us to allow things to go by default. Choices bring us face to face with the fear of having to decide in favour of one option, while discarding others. This can evoke anxiety about committing to a course of action the outcome of which is uncertain.

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Another issue that commonly arises at the second pillar is our relationship with identity and vision. While choosing this logo style or this colour for a website, or other marketing strategy is not a life-threatening choice, it can evoke experiences from our past where we have been judged or criticised for our preferences especially if these did not conform to the preferences of significant people in our lives. Being different, or choosing differently from others may not have been a safe experience for some. It can be challenging for some to choose what we like, without muddying our choice by imagining how it will be received by others.

Equally, we may have invested a lot in being different from something or someone in our lives. If being “not them” or “not that” has become a rule for us, we may lose the benefit or the gift that that trait or person might have to offer us. If, for example, we overly identify with our kind, empathic selves so as to avoid being aggressive, we may lose the benefit of stepping into a more empowered place, where we can take care of our own needs.

It’s particularly difficult to make a choice, when our choice impacts on others around us. For example, if you have a family, choosing to prioritise your practice may present quite a challenge if it means saying “No” to a family member or loved one. However, in order to create a practice, we will at times face that challenge.

At the second pillar, we also meet our relationship with goals and planning, and with our intentions. When we are employed by someone else, we take on their goals, their plans and their intentions. We may not like them, but at least we know what they are. Self-employed as a therapist, we must make our own goals, our own plans for achieving those goals, and our own intentions for ourselves and our practices. Not only are we responsible for deciding what those goals should be, and how we are going to achieve them, we also must commit to making them happen. If we have experienced push back from others in our life when we have tried to make plans of our own, we may be slow even to identify what we’d like to have or to be.

 

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This relationship with goals also touches on our relationship with desire. Do we allow our own desires space and expression? Or have we shut down our desires because of past disappointments? If our desire involves earning more money, either for its own sake or for the choices, power or freedom more money might give us, how do we marry that desire with our work? If we meet a client who is in need, but can’t pay, are we willing to prioritise what we want, or do we defer to the client’s need?

A related area of choice at the second pillar is around our values and beliefs, and how we would like these to be expressed through our practice. If we meet a client who has a very different value to our own, how do we manage that? Are we willing to express our value in a way that makes it clear to prospective clients what our value is? Or if we decide not to express that explicitly, how do we manage the conflict that may arise within us?

So, at the second pillar of a successful practice, where our practice begins to take the shape we want it to take, we encounter our willingness to have a shape of our own. This is the foundation work for how we will present ourselves and our practice when we come to promote and market it at the third pillar. As I have previously said, it’s a process, and won’t happen overnight. But it is a potentially life changing process that invites us to step into an expanded version of ourselves.

If I can help you with any aspect of starting or running your practice, please contact me here.

Promoting Your Practice? 4 Important Questions

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

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now available on line from TherapyAcademy.ie. 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 TherapyAcademy.ie.

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The Merits of Working for Nothing

Working for free is fine, and a valid marketing strategy, as long as we feel it’s our choice. However, it can breed expectation, so don’t take yourself for granted, or you’ll find others will too.

The marketing environment has changed hugely over the past few decades. Providing information, samples and services for free is now a major marketing strategy in many fields of business. I believe it was Helena Rubenstein in the 60s who first capitalised on the concept of the free sample, giving away a small sample of cosmetics to loyal customers, to introduce them to a new or different product. The practice is still used to great effect within that industry. The purpose of the free sample is to allow the customer a risk-free way of experiencing what is for sale, by allowing them to experience the merits of the product directly. It is seen as a valid expense of the business, a marketing cost. With the advent of the digital age with informational, music and movie products, free sampling has become the norm rather than the exception. The environment has changed. A lot is given for free.

Read more

Knowing Your Practice: Who Am I In My Work?

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

Are We There Yet? (How Long Does it Take?)

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.

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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

Marketing Dilemmas

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:

  1. Someone hires us to see clients that they have available, or
  2. 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

What Sort of Practice Do You Want To Create?

What Is Your Intention For Your Practice?

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.

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Soccer Players

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

What Do You Want For and From Your Practice?

What is your desire for your practice, for your clients, and for yourself? It’s an interesting question, and I wonder how much time you have given to it.

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How much detail can you create about your desire before you interrupt yourself with something. It might be, “I never get what I want,” or, “It will be too difficult,” or, “I have to settle for what I can get.” Or it might be any one of a myriad of other obstacles that we put in the way of expressing what our desire is. Read more