Tag: personal growth

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?

Perhaps this example will make it easier to understand.

My favourite local coffee shop is PS Coffee Roasters. It is run by two brothers who are passionate about coffee. Recently, as I sipped my coffee and snacked on their guilt free flapjacks (no wheat, no dairy, no processed sugar, and still good to eat!!) I noticed a blackboard on the wall which set out their philosophy about their work.

What do you stand for? What values support your practice? How do you express these?

I took a photo, and asked one of the brothers if it was okay for me to use it in a blog post. He came and sat beside me for 10 minutes as I drank my coffee and explained his business to me. Meanwhile, my husband was cringing with embarrassment beside me!

Simon (the coffee shop owner), told me that he and his brother are coffee roasters (the clue is in the name!!) He showed me the map on the wall which showed where they sourced their coffee, described how they roasted the fresh coffee in a very particular way, then ground it to the appropriate coarseness or fineness for each of a dozen different types of coffee makers (many of which are available in the shop). He explained to me the subtleties of the different coffees for different tastes, and so on… Everything he said, and every bullet point on his blackboard speaks to who “PS Coffee Roasters” is. The heading says it all, “What makes us PS Coffee Roasters?”

Simon is absolutely clear about the business he is in. He knows it inside out. It is not the same business as Costa or Starbucks, although perhaps it might initially appear to be so. Although all three organisations sell cups of coffee, each has its own distinct identity, that separates it from the others. This helps potential customers to differentiate between what’s on offer, and to choose a supplier that’s right for them.

When I’m buying a cup of coffee, it’s a brief encounter, lasting just a few moments, although I can repeat it many times over if I wish. On the other hand, when choosing a therapist, when I’m thinking of investing my time and money in the relationship, and trusting someone with the most personal aspects of my life, it is so much more important for me to be able to ensure that’s it’s a good fit for me.

I put “Knowing Your Practice” as the second pillar, because from your knowing of who you are as a self-employed

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therapist flows how you present yourself through your promotion, how you manage and look after yourself and your practice in the work, and how you value what you offer your clients. It is the ground from which you make so many choices about how you want your practice to be in the world.

For example, knowing who I am as a practitioner helps to give me ground in marketing my practice. I don’t need to divulge personal information to potential or actual clients unless I choose to, but I can allow my choices of marketing channels, colours, language, images and so on to speak about me in a way that conveys to them a sense of who they will be working with. I can choose to work with clients that are a good fit for me, because I know what works for me. I can be clear about my boundaries in the work, because I know where those boundaries are and how they support me in my work.

If you would like to explore this more in relation to your practice, please contact me here for your free 20 minute consultation or to make an appointment.

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Holding People Accountable

I have said in many previous posts that if a therapy practice is not growing into the place you would like it to be, if it is not progressing past the early sapling stage into a mature tree, then there may be some underlying issues about money, wealth or deserving going on under the surface.

One of the really tricky things about looking at money issues in relation to establishing and developing a therapy practice is that money can be a metaphor for other things, such as love, security or power. Because of that, money issues can turn up as something quite unconnected to money, and other issues can express themselves through money. We are all aware of how a client can be talking about one thing, but there is another issue deeper under the surface which is also being explored.

Copyright: Image by StockUnlimited
Copyright: Image by StockUnlimited

I grew up in a Catholic family and went to Catholic school. I heard a lot about forgiveness. There was a lot of pressure to resolve differences and restore the equilibrium. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against forgiveness, or the Catholic Church. However, people process experiences at different speeds, and sometimes an upset can be hurried towards resolution too soon. The danger in this is that the hurt goes underground. And unacknowledged hurt or wounding can fester in the shadow, until someone or something triggers it, and all the bile spews out.

When we have not received the apology or the recompense we feel is appropriate, some part of us is left feeling that we are owed. When this happens we can find subtle and well disguised ways of holding accountable those who we see are responsible for our hurt. In her book, The Language of Letting Go, Melody Beattie says, “Punitive damages are awarded in court, but not in recovery.” But the part of us that wants vengeance may not understand this.

If we are still holding on to an old wound, waiting to be compensated for the hurt we have felt, our bank balance may speak to the truth of that, even if the wounding had nothing whatsoever to do with money. “You owe me,” may be reflected in financial disappointments, investments that go sour, and unexpected costs or losses. In terms of our practices, we may experience clients not paying, or letting us down, being overly demanding or in some other way literally leaving us owed.

“You owe me,” can play out in small dishonesties, such as not fulfilling our responsibilities to an employer, or understating our income for taxes. It can be disguised, for example, by excessive generosity which leaves other people in our debt, or being excessively pedantic in money matters and counting each cent. If we have been selfless in a relationship and feel resentful that our needs are unimportant in relation to others, we may be holding out for our payback. “You owe me,” may also be recognised in having to invest more work or energy than others for less return. Or specifically in the context of a therapy practice, feeling demanded of by clients.

 

Copyright: Image by StockUnlimited
Copyright: Image by StockUnlimited

Another way to understand this is that we unconsciously equate money with love. A healthy bank balance symbolises that we are loved (by our paying clients). However, when we have unacknowledged wounding, it does not allow us to be loved, because our ongoing struggle is evidence of how much we have been hurt. To be financially healthy when we have unresolved hurts and wounds could be to minimise or even trivialise our past experiences. This can act as an unconscious bar to creating a practice that is financially viable.

Does any of this resonate with you? Remember, your unconscious is always looking out for your best interests, even if it doesn’t appear so! My wish is that you be kind and compassionate with yourself in exploring these ideas. And if I can help with any of that, I’d love to hear from you. Contact me here.

I Don’t Want To Be Like That…

For some time when I first started practice, I was plagued by calls from an online advertising agency who wanted my business. Their approach was pushy and aggressive, persistent and intrusive. They always managed to call when I had just started to eat, or relax with a book. It drove me mad. I felt like I was being assaulted in my own home.

stop handMy upbringing asked of me that I always be polite, and respectful of what other people had to say. I can find it difficult to say “No” directly. So I was polite to these callers, and declined their services as best I could. The calls kept coming. Eventually, I found a way to manage it by asking for my number to be removed from their call list. Read more

Being Seen

“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” Jerry Seinfeld

This quote from Jerry Seinfeld beautifully captures the ambivalence that many therapists feel about anything to do with promoting their practice. I don’t know how many of you would prefer to be dead than speak about your businesses, but it is no understatement to say that it evokes anxiety and fear in the hearts of many. It can leave people feeling exposed and vulnerable. So, inevitably, we avoid it, or we find reasons not to do it, or become really busy with other things so growing our business gets pushed to the end of the queue. Read more

The Hidden Value of Action

There are two main schools of thought when it comes to how to do things: that we should get ourselves into alignment with what we want before we take action (or in other words, wait until we feel ready) or that we should take the action anyway. Personally, I move backwards and forwards between these two approaches. Read more

Could Your Practice Use a Little Discipline?

I have been writing a book about starting a practice, and as I have been honing the framework of what I want to say, the word discipline keeps coming to mind. Discipline is a loaded word for me. It conjures images of rigid formations and punishment for infringements of rules. It reminds me of harsh school teachers and the worst of organised religion.

And yet the word persists in my mind.5 pillars Cloud 2

I am learning Spanish. I don’t have a particular gift for languages, but I like the sound of the language and I love learning. I also like to travel abroad, and some familiarity with other languages is always a benefit. So despite my minimal innate gift for the Spanish language, I persist. I try to do about 15 minutes every day. I’d like to say I do it faithfully every single day, but I do miss the odd one. However, the consistency of my application is paying off. In other words, the discipline is working. My memory for the words and phrases is improving, and my tongue and ears are slowly winding themselves around the foreign sounds. I still have a long way to go before I am ready to be let loose on the unsuspecting Spanish population, but even I can see that I’m better than I was a year ago. Read more

Facebook: a good servant or a bad master?

To Facebook or Not to Facebook?
I was at a family function recently at which an argument was raging about Facebook. The pro-camp was strongly in favour, citing the benefits of keeping in touch with family and friends, and being able to share photos and cute and inspirational sayings. The anti-camp were pushing hard, pointing to undesirable posts, such as videos of ISIS going viral and youngsters being exposed to unsuitable material before they were mature enough to handle it.

fireI found myself wondering if the same arguments raged in the aftermath of the discovery of fire. The pro-camp would be extolling the advantages of heating and cooking, the anti-camp talking about the dangers of burning yourself or your cave! Or perhaps when the wheel was invented there were heated debates on the virtues of being able to move your things about more easily against the demons of motorway accidents and runaway trains. Read more

Using EFT to Support Your Therapy Practice

I have been a fan of EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique or Tapping) for about five years now, and use it every day to support me in my practice. I liked it so much that I trained to become a practitioner, and received my AAMET Level 2 Certificate approximately 18 months ago.

In its basic form, EFT is a simple technique to learn, involving tapping with your fingers on acupuncture meridian points on the head and upper body, while speaking about the topic at hand. It is used for a wide variety of issues, from pain relief, to stress relief to PTSD and more. If you’re new to EFT, you can read more about it here.

I have been thinking recently how I might expand my work with therapists through This Business of Therapy. Read more

Does the Word Networking Fill you with Terror?

Go on, how do you really feel about networking?

For me, I can’t imagine anything worse than a room full of people I don’t know. I even find it canapes hard to be part of a room full of people I do know, let alone strike up a conversation with strangers. Does this sound familiar?

So, do I have to change into an extrovert overnight in order to market my practice?

Of course not. Neither does networking mean you have to strike up a sales conversation with those you meet. It is simply making contacts, and keeping in contact. You get to choose who you want to talk to, and what you want to say. Read more

What Do Therapy and Criminal Law Have in Common?

It’s hard to imagine two professions that are less alike than psychotherapy and criminal law. Or so you’d think! After all, criminal law deals with laws and rules, with evidence, argument and ultimately, with winning or losing. Not concepts that you learn in therapy training!

scales of justiceI had the pleasure recently of meeting a group of criminal lawyers. Listening to their stories about their practices and the struggles they are dealing with, I found myself thinking how much the two professions have in common. Read more