Tag: profitable practice

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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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.

Soccer Players
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

Taking Ourselves Seriously

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’ll have heard me referring to the Six Pillars of a Successful Therapy Practice.[1]

pantheonThe first pillar of a successful therapy practice, “Owning Our Practice”, is all about seeing ourselves as a business owner as well as someone who helps other people. It means embracing the idea that we are not just there to help our clients, but that our practices are also providing us with a living (hopefully :)) 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

Earning a Living From Therapy Practice

A recent article in the Irish Times said that an average family spent between €45, 000 and €50, 000 between running their home and car, food, property and water tax, education and childcare. This figure does not include Photo no (23)income tax, PRSI or USC, nor does it include provision for retirement. If we estimate that those taxes might reasonably amount to €15,000, a therapist who is the main breadwinner of a typical family of two adults and two children, would need to earn at least €60,000 after all expenses in order to support their family.

To put this in context, €60,000 equates to 1,000 hours at €60 per hour, or 20 hours every week for 50 weeks. This takes no account of any of the costs of practising (such as rent, insurance, supervision, professional memberships, or CPD), takes no account of holidays or sickness, and takes no account of cancellations or discounts. It also takes account of face to face client hours only, and ignores the time needed to generate those 1,000 client hours, or to do any of the other tasks of running a small professional practice.
It’s a big ask. 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

Earning More Money

Most therapists charge their clients on an hourly or sessional basis. They sit with their clients for an hour or 50 minutes, and the client pays a fee based on the time. This is a fairly typical arrangement in professions generally, although, it is slowly changing.Photo no (41)

One of the drawbacks of this approach from a financial point of view, is that there is an inherent limitation to what you can earn, as there are only so many hours in each week. Further, as a therapist, given the nature of the work we do and the impact it can have on us, there are only so many hours that can be spent sitting with clients. 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.

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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

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

Clients Come Through People

Where does the income in your practice come from? Well, obviously from the fees you receive from clients or organisations who pay on the clients’ behalf. But that’s only part of the story.

We none of us exist in isolation. There is a constant process from birth to death of interacting with our environment. Basic physical functions that meet our bodies’ needs such as breathing, eating, and sleeping all involve interacting with our environment.

In the same way we receive and pay out money in a constantly moving cycle. We may dislike money, but that is the medium that our society has chosen to make the exchange of goods and services easier. Money is a convenient way for us to give what we have in order to receive what we want. We are paid for giving our services, and we use that money to buy goods and services from others. Read more