Tag: counselling practice

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.

Therapy school trains you to work with clients. When you are a self-employed therapist, being self-employed is the job. Working with clients is the channel through which you make your living. Therapy school doesn’t train you to earn a living, it teaches you the skills you need to work with the clients. The same goes for any occupation or profession. Whether it’s making the cakes, painting the pictures, representing a client in court, preparing a client’s accounts or any other skills or qualifications you have, the exercising of those skills on behalf of your client is not the same as earning a living from it. And there’s the rub, isn’t it? Because most therapists never trained with the idea of being self-employed as their future occupation. Getting past this realisation is important, and will influence how long it takes you to make your practice a financially viable proposition.

I’m not saying this to discourage you, quite the opposite. I’m saying it to bring some level of realistic expectation.

There are lots of other factors that affect how quickly IT will happen for you:

  • Whether you have any previous experience of being in business
  • How much time and energy you are willing to commit
  • How open you are to putting yourself out there
  • How fixed your ideas are about how it’s going to happen
  • Your need to earn a living
  • How much support you have, internally and externally

Let’s look at those in a bit more detail:

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Previous experience of being in business

If you have never worked for yourself before, you’re going to find it a bit of a culture shock to be self-employed. This is because there are lots of supports available to us in a work place environment that we don’t even see. Until they’re not there. For example, we may feel our employer’s approach to holidays or sick pay is stingy, and we may not see it as a support. However, in comparison to being self-employed it’s a gift. There are no paid holidays or paid sick leave when you’re self-employed. (See my article on this subject.)

How Much Time and Energy You Are Willing To Commit

If you work 35 hours a week for someone else to earn a salary, then you will have to work at least that hard and long (and probably longer) to earn it working for yourself. Think of it this way, you are actually doing many peoples’ jobs, not just your own. In addition to being the client service person, you are also the boss, the finance department, the cleaner, the marketing person and so on. Clearly, how much time and energy you are willing to commit will be strongly influenced by what else is going on in your life.

How Open You Are to Putting Yourself Out There

Clients come through people. If you have to talk to 10 people to get one client referral, you’ll have to talk to 100 people to get 10 referrals and so on. How many clients you need will directly inform how much marketing and promotion you will need to do.

How Fixed Your Ideas Are About How It Will Happen

If you are convinced that your clients will or should come via a certain route (for example, from doctors’ referrals) then you will filter out other opportunities that might result in work coming your way. If you restrict your promotion to online channels, you will miss the opportunity to build valuable personal relationships that could pay dividends.

Your Need To Earn A Living

This one can work either way. For some, the pressure of needing to earn a certain amount will inspire them and spur them on to great things. For others, the pressure will result in an unwillingness to take any risks. Assessing and taking appropriate risks is a core skill for self-employed practitioners. Conversely, if you have no need or little need of the money, you will find it hard to take goals seriously and engage fully with the business side of the work.

How Much Support You Have Internally and Externally

The most important internal support you need is embracing the idea that being self-employed is your job. Other forms of internal support such as encouraging yourself, being patient and understanding with yourself (especially in the early days), are also helpful and will probably take you further and faster than self-criticism and self-blame. External support such as sufficient finance and a network of helpful others will provide a ground from which you can grow into the role more easily. When you start in a new job, you probably have someone to guide you about the role and what’s expected of you. There’ll probably be goals and feedback to support you growing into the job. These supports also have to be created in a self-employed context or you may find yourself feeling isolated. (See my article on this subject.)

If I can help you with any aspect of setting up your practice, I’d love to hear from you. Contact me here for your free 20 minute consultation or to make an appointment.




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

Criticism Kills Off Our Desire

In a recent article about the creative process of setting up in practice, I wrote about how we can interrupt our desire by judging it. Criticism is toxic to creativity, whether it comes from others or from ourselves.

I have a big inner critic.

Some years ago, I worked with a coach who gave me a task, to ask people who knew me what they thought of me. When I read their feedback, at some level, I didn’t believe what was being said. I read it through distorted lenses, emphasising the negatives and diminishing the positives.

I reread the feedback recently, and was touched and humbled by the regard in which my friends and family hold me. I’m still reading it through those distorted lenses, but now I can allow in more of the truth of the positives, as well as seeing the negatives in a less exaggerated way.

Snapshot_20170318We all see ourselves in a distorted way. We look at ourselves as if looking in one of those silly mirrors you used to get at fairgrounds when I was growing up, where our heads look enormous, we look twice as tall, or we look shorter and rounder.  Or one of those apps that allow us to make silly pictures. We have these distortions in how we see others, and the world we live in too. Read more

Money Shows Up Our Trust Issues!

Nothing brings up trust issues as quickly or as obviously as money! (Except perhaps sex?)
I have had several clients who pay me at the start of the session rather than risk forgetting to pay at the end. I’ve asked about it and the answer is always the same, they don’t trust themselves to remember. They fear the possible shame they might incur if they had to be reminded by me, and make the judgement that it is better avoided. And I feel for them.
Wallet and some money on a wooden tableI remember my own huge shame when, driving home after therapy one evening, I remembered I had forgotten to pay my therapist. I pulled over to the side of the road and called her. I was sick with guilt, embarrassment and shame, and was ready to drive back (almost 20 miles) to correct the problem there and then, if she hadn’t insisted on leaving it until the following session. Looking back now, I can remember the intensity of those feelings, though they seem curiously out of proportion to the mistake. The underlying fear for me was that the relationship could not hold such a huge issue, and that my mistake could have been the end of the relationship. My fear was on a catastrophic scale. My thoughts ran riot with questions about my motivation for not paying. What was I saying in that? Was some part of me angry with my therapist and refusing to pay? What was going on for me that I had forgotten? How could I have done that? How could I be so stupid? It went on and on.

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Therapy Rooms To Let

anneleighcandp_logo_squareAt AnneLeigh Counselling & Psychotherapy our focus is on emotional well-being for clients and therapists. We aim to provide a warm and safe space in which clients can explore what troubles them, and receive support in exploring and moving towards changes that are right for them. Healthy relationships are at the heart of our philosophy, in which we seek to honour both the robustness and fragility of all those who come through our doors, be they therapist, client, parent or any other person.

To add to our expertise we would like to have a child psychotherapist available to clients. If you are an accredited and experienced child therapist and would be interested in working out of our practice in Naas on Mondays, Fridays or at weekends, we would like to talk to you.

We are also interested in receiving enquiries from experienced and accredited therapists who work with adults.

We recognise that not all those who need counselling and psychotherapy support will be able to afford our services, and would like to have some facility for offering a low-cost alternative. We welcome newly and nearly qualified therapists who may be seeking to work towards accreditation and would like to take on some private clients.

Please contact Jude, Jennifer or Evelyn at (085) 105 0337 for further details

New Video: Do You Remember…?

You Don’t Have to Go It Alone!

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.

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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

Creating a Therapy Practice

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.
1267750Visualisation: 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

Plan For A Better Year

When we first set out to establish our practices, there are so many things we have to think about and so many decisions we have to make. It can be a bit overwhelming. However, time invested in really thinking through some of the issues involved provides great holding and support for us in the early stages of our practice, and sets the stage for the future.

A key exercise to do at the start is to create a business plan for the practice. And it doesn’t apply only to new practices starting out. Even well established practices can benefit from taking a step back to look at some of these issues. 1879041

This may sound over the top, and I can hear the groans as I imagine people reading my words. A business plan just doesn’t sound like it belongs in a therapy practice does it? However, time and again, I have seen how looking at these issues can make what comes after so much easier. When faced with a decision, we can simply ask ourselves whether our proposed course of action is in alignment with our business plan. Read more

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