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
Tag: technology overwhelm
The team of therapists I work with in Naas recently moved to new premises at the Osprey Business Centre. It’s an exciting move for us. As with any transition, there’s a period of letting go of the old and finding my feet in the new. I have decided to leave behind some of the bits and pieces that had been in my room for years. I am grateful to them for the familiarity and comfort they brought in my old workplace, but they don’t feel like they belong in my new one. I have some new chairs, some new pictures and a new plant. Read more
“Work would be great if it weren’t for the clients” was something I heard regularly in my former occupation as an accountant. It was said tongue in cheek, but really spoke to a truth about the ambivalence that many feel about their work, and not just in accountancy. We’d like it to be easy and stress free, where often it’s anything but!
Often it’s not the clients that make the practice of therapy or counselling so difficult, but the other challenges that may keep us awake at night, such as financial struggles, administrative challenges, relationship issues and so on.
There are ways to make running your practice a bit easier on you, and here are 5 strategies that I find useful:
There is a serious danger in this work that the practitioner’s needs become eclipsed by the needs of her clients. This is particularly so in the early years, when a therapist may not have enough clients and takes on everything that comes their way for fear that there will never be any more.It can also be a problem for those who are well established when they encounter particular clients.
However, there also some easy ways to look after yourself so that you have what you want to give:
- Look after your own needs, and balance them with the needs of those you seek to help. You cannot give what you don’t have, or what you don’t allow others to give you. You can’t help everyone, and you are not the only support your clients will have. There’s a reason they ask on airplanes that you put on your own air-mask before attending to the needs of others!
Read more about self care
Some people don’t believe there’s any such thing as procrastination. Some believe it has a life of its own waiting to ambush everything you ever wanted to do. Whatever your beliefs, there are days when you know there are things that could help you to build your practice, or help it to run more smoothly, but you just couldn’t be bothered. You revert instead to your activity of choice. In my case, that might be checking my email or facebook, it might be doing household chores, or watching reruns of old TV shows.
My belief about procrastination is that at its heart it’s an inner conflict between the part of me that wants to, and the part that doesn’t. Now, if I have something I want to do in my practice, for example, bring the bookkeeping up to date, or get out there and generate more work, whether I do it today or not is neither here nor there, but if I don’t do it for a year then it turns into a serious issue.
The inner conflict can leave me paralysed, because the voice that says, “You really should do that,” is fighting it out with the voice that says, “I don’t want to, I’m not going to and you can’t make me.”
Over the years, I’ve found some strategies that help me to overcome this impasse.
- Make a choice: I want to, and I also don’t want to, so I choose one and go with that. If I choose not to, then I don’t beat myself up for making that choice. I simply say, “I’m choosing not to do it today.” If there are consequences, I accept the consequences. Choosing not to do the bookkeeping today means it’ll still be there in the morning. I can live with that. If I choose to do it, I put a time limit on it, and give myself a reward for doing it, perhaps praise or a treat. In other words, I support the choice I make.
- Go Public And Make Yourself Accountable: Tell someone, or preferably several someones, what you’re going to do. This is a great one for issues where you’re likely to row back on decisions. Some years ago, I was trying to cut back on my drinking at social occasions. I find when I’m nervous I drink too much, and then I have both an emotional and physical hangover the next day. So going to a function I knew I was going to feel nervous at, I promised my husband I’d pay him €50 if I had any alcohol. It worked a treat. I wasn’t going to give him either the money or the chance to laugh if I didn’t do it!
- Create Structure: This might be working during particular hours, or in a particular place, creating targets and goals, or working as part of a group. All of these can help to keep us focussed on getting it done when we don’t want to. Think about how that works for your clients. Knowing they are going to be coming to see you means they are less likely to push their problem to the back of their mind and ignore it.
- Create Momentum or Habit: Make the task as normal as washing your teeth or putting out the bins. If you want to change your behaviour, commit to doing it every day for 30 days. By that time, it will have gained a momentum that will carry you easily over the resistance. When I first started to write, I wrote for 20 minutes every morning before I did anything else. Sometimes, I couldn’t think of anything to write, so I sat and wrote, “I have nothing to say” over and over until another thought came.
- Do The Worst First: I learned very early in my professional career that there’s nothing to sap my energy like the thoughts of a horrible task hanging over my head. I learned that if I really have to do it, and genuinely have no choice, then I do the worst thing on my to-do list first. That way it’s all easier afterwards.
- Really Get To Know The “I Don’t Want To” Part Of You: I said earlier that my belief is that procrastination is an inner conflict between “I want to” and “I don’t want to.” In general, there are three broad categories of “I don’t want to.” These are fears, rebellion and timing. Timing and rebellion may also be hiding fears as well. The following questions may help:
- What is the worst that could happen if I do this?
- Who would I please or displease if I do this?
- What might I need to become, or what might need to happen, in order to do this?
7. Try EFT: If you’ve never tried EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique or Tapping), try it on procrastination, it works a treat. Using a variation of the Gestalt principle separate to integrate, EFT lets us sit into the voice of “I don’t want to” and really acknowledge and validate it. In that validation, something eases! If you’re new to EFT, you can find a short guide here, and try out Carol Look’s video about procrastination on YouTube here. (I also some EFT videos on YouTube about therapy practice related issues. You can find them here.)
In conflict, there’s an enemy and a friend. Both have something to teach us. Procrastination need not hold you back from having the practice you’d like, but if it’s a problem for you maybe I can help you. Contact me here for a free 20 minute consultation, or to make an appointment.
The technological age has brought many changes, and not all of them are positive. Relationships changing with the advent of mobile phones, social media and instant information. The old ways are dying out, I hear people say, we aren’t talking any more, we pay more attention to virtual friends than real ones. In other words, the threats are obvious.
And all this is true. These changes often challenge us in ways we wish we didn’t have to face.
However, technology can also be an opportunity. If you’re reading this, you have the skills to use this wonderful world of innovation to your advantage.
Apart from the obvious emails and websites, technology has so much to offer the willing practitioner, and many of the resources available online are either free or come at a very modest cost. But many people get frightened away and don’t know where to start. A really neat trick I learned many years ago, that applies to this (or indeed any other problem) is summed up in this riddle:
A: A bite at a time!
Take it slowly, one step at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Choose just one of the ideas below and allow yourself to play around a little with it. Here are some of the great ways that technology can help you with your practice:
Marketing Your Practice: There are lots of people online that will help you to solve just about any problem you might have. For example, on Fiverr.com, for $5 you can get someone to design a brochure, a flyer, a business card, write a blog post, or set up a basic website.
Online learning: There are plenty of opportunities for learning online, many of them free. There are podcasts, webinars, and demonstrations galore. Just Google the subject you’re interested in, and see what comes up. For example, I’m interested in EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique, or Tapping.) Each year, in Spring, there is a week-long summit of free presentations by well-known experienced EFT practitioners, sharing information and demonstrations of how to use EFT in many different ways.
Bookkeeping: You can use online accounting software to write up your books and records. This is available for a small monthly fee, and when the year-end comes around, you can use the records to prepare your financial statements or send the records to your accountant to do it for you.
Online banking: You can use online banking to pay bills and transfer money (all the major banks provide this facility). Regular payees (such as landlords, credit cards etc) can be set up and paid directly from your computer, without cheques or going to the bank.
Time management: There are dozens of systems for helping you to organise yourself, and save time. These include calendars, online to-do schedules, and reminders.
Concerned about the risks of going online? You’re right to be concerned. There are risks, and there are also solutions to those risks. One solution is not to engage with the technology at all, and that is indeed a valid choice. However, there are so many wonderful resources out there that could get you more clients, and save you time or money. It would be a pity not to give them a try! Another choice is to use technology the same way you would any other tool, with awareness. You don’t drive your car recklessly, and the same applies to going online. Be safe, and have fun!
If you’d like to know more about how you could use technology to enhance your practice, contact me here for a free 20 minute consultation.
Are you scared by how quickly the world is changing? Are you tyrannised by your email inbox? Daunted by the idea of online banking? Terrified of the idea of online counselling? Or are you addicted to non-stop information? You’re not alone!
The pace of change is staggering. Do you realise that it’s only twenty years since we started using the internet? That it’s only thirty years since personal computers were introduced? When I left school, many homes didn’t have a phone, let alone one for each member of the household, that they could watch TV on! News was something that came on at certain times of the day, now it’s a constant stream.
What’s the Solution? Well, technology is here to stay, and has a lot to offer the counsellor in private practice, so can you find a way of handling it that works well for you? Here are a few ideas:
Set Appropriate Boundaries
No-one needs to be available 24/7, no matter what the circumstances. Choose times in each day when you are not checking your email or voice messages, when it’s a technology free time. This might be first thing in the morning, meal times, when you’re relaxing, and not just when you’re seeing clients.
Separate The Wheat From The Chaff
Be discerning about what you read and what you listen to. The sky won’t fall in if you don’t turn on the radio when you get into your car, and listening to some soothing music will do more your stress and overwhelm than an update on the crisis in Syria. Catch up on the news once a day, or even once a week.
Weed Out What’s Not Important Or What Wastes Time
If you’re inbox is anything like mine, most of what comes in is neither important nor time sensitive. However, looking to see what’s in there and make that judgement takes time and energy. I solved this problem by having several email addresses. One of these is for stuff that is “nice-to-know” but which is of little importance. So I can happily go for days or weeks without checking it.
Switch it off
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions” as the old saying goes. I know, you fully intend not to check your messages, but just in case…switch it off. If you’re a social media fan, or even a horrified observer, or an information junkie of any sort, this one is for you!
Tomorrow, I’ll continue this theme, by looking at ways you can begin to engage more with what technology has to offer the counsellor or therapist in private practice.
In the meantime, if you are struggling with technology overwhelm, contact me for a free 20 minute consultation here.