Tag: Time Management

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

New Year Slump? Time to Get Your Affairs in Order!

Many practitioners find their work slow at the beginning of the year. Clients are feeling the pinch from spending too much at Christmas and are full of good intentions to implement resolutions that will change their lives for good. If you are finding that you have time on your hands, maybe it’s a good time to get done all those little tasks that we keep putting to the end of the “to-do” list.years-text Read more

Living (and working?) Intentionally

Some time ago, I attended the funeral of a former work colleague. Throughout the ceremony and afterward, talking to others, one message was repeated, by just about everyone, that her death was premature and unfair. She was forty, and left behind a husband, two children, sisters, work colleagues and friends, by whom she will be sorely missed.faded flower

It wasn’t the first time I’ve been to the funeral of someone younger than me, and it always leaves me with a nagging question, if I knew I were to die soon, would I be living my life any differently? Read more

Managing Your Therapy Practice

Here we are looking at the fifth section of the Therapy Practice Business Assessment as the basis for making some changes to your therapy or counselling practice in 2016. You can read the blog posts in which I made suggestions in the previous areas by clicking on these links:

Knowing Your Practice

Growing Your Practice5 pillars Cloud 2

Minding Your Practice

Valuing Your Practice

Today we’re going to look at the fifth pillar of a successful practice, Managing Your Practice.

Keep reading for some great ideas

Six Pillars of a Successful Therapy Practice

So you have a therapy or counselling practice, and you’d like it to be more successful? Or you’re thinking of starting a practice and not really sure where to start?

Since most people who set out to do something do so with an attitude of wanting it to go well, I am assuming that you want your practice to be successful. In this article, I’ll introduce you to the six pillars that support a successful, thriving practice.

But first, what would tell you that your practice is successful? (Check out my blog post on this subject here.) The point is, you need to have some idea of what success means for you, in order to have some chance of achieving it. If you haven’t done this before, it may take some time to get a bit clearer, but doing so will reward you greatly.

Six Pillars of a Successful Practice

pantheonWhatever your vision of a successful counselling or therapy practice, there are six essential pillars that you need to consider. These are:

Owning Your Practice, Knowing Your Practice: Growing Your Practice: Valuing Your Practice: Managing Your Practice and Minding Your Practice.

Don’t Stop Reading…You’ve only just Begun

Technology Overwhelm?

Technology Overwhelm?Lost and Confused Signpost

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.

Personal Power

I often hear therapists talking about self esteem, and how a lack of self worth can hinder them in taking action to grow their practice. An important ingredient of self-esteem is personal power.

Many people react negatively to the word POWERFUL assuming it means threatening or domineering. As many have experienced being on the receiving end of others’ misuse of power, this can prevent us from fully embracing power in an Imageappropriate way. Power is not the same as oppression, which involves using power OVER someone else, to coerce, intimidate or manipulate them against their will.

Personal power used appropriately comes from finding and being yourself, which we all know is not as easy as it sounds. Society, school, and family often convince us that who we really are is less important than who they think we should be.

Practising Spontaneity

One way of practising personal power is to be spontaneous. Taking a risk to say something without censoring, reaching out to someone in affection, following through on a hunch or suspicion, or having fun, all help to ground us more firmly in who we are without the layers of “What others might think.” Practice allowing your spontaneous self to have a voice. You might be surprised!

When you get to know yourself and how you feel, you can be more confident and flexible because your frame of reference is yourself. You decide what you want or feel, and then act accordingly, rather than waiting for someone else to make the first move and then reacting.

Consider the principle of action rather than reaction. Instead of waiting for the inevitable to happen, pre-empt it, and make a proposal rather than hanging back. What are you waiting for?

Shifting our Focus

Sometimes our motivation for action gets stuck in what’s going on for the other person and we tell ourselves:

They’re too young

They’re too weak

They’re too sick

They’re incapable in some way

And maybe they are, but how we see ourselves in the situation can block our access to resources that might help us, for example, when we think that our clients cannot live their lives without our help. We are the ones who create the trap, not the others in our lives.

Allowing Ourselves to Receive

Allowing others to do something for you, allowing yourself to receive, saying yes for yourself, are all ways we can practice our personal power appropriately in our practice. That doesn’t mean that you have to always make the first move, but if you know what you like or dislike, what suits and doesn’t suit, where your limits and boundaries are, and allow yourself occasionally to stand up for what you like, it goes a long way towards building your self-esteem. A good example of this is in fee setting. Decide your lower limit before you engage in discussion about it with a client.

Taking Responsibility

Owning your power appropriately also includes taking responsibility for yourself, your actions and your feelings. This is not the same as taking the blame. It means looking at your life and the people around you and acknowledging your part in the way it is

This works in two ways:

If your life is not to your liking: Make choices

Instead of blaming others, look at ways of possible and reasonable change.

Change your circumstances or your attitude

The second thing you can do is to acknowledge responsibility for the good things in your life

Your achievements

Your efforts

Your abilities

Notice and be grateful for what goes well, and for the how much more that works well, than what doesn’t

Being powerful means choosing to be who you are, not who you think you should be, nor who your mother or society thinks you should be, or the person you need to be to get approval. That can be a tall order, but a little change here and there, can make a huge difference.


Where Do I Start?

Being the one who  runs the practice, as well as the one who provides the service, means that sometimes there’s just too much to do in the available time. I’m sure you’ve had the experience, I know I have; the to-do list that just keeps growing no matter how fast or efficiently you clear the items, sometimes it just can’t be done.

There are many time management systems out there, thousands of books, computer packages and apps to help you “manage your time.” They all have in common a process of prioritising – you decide what’s most important, or urgent, and organise your tasks and your time accordingly.

They all work – once you decide what your priorities are. But for some people that’s the difficult piece, that’s the stumbling block, what do I prioritise?

Speaking with a friend this week she identified this problem, the things she should do for her practice, were not the things that were attracting her. Those things that were attracting her were family related and learning something new, both of which are important to her, but neither of which were going to progress her practice.

I’d love to be able to solve the problem for her, to magically slow down time, so that everything she has on her list gets done. But I can’t. I can tell her what I think she should do, but then that would be my priority wouldn’t it, not hers? Because here’s the thing, my friend, and only my friend controls what goes on the list. She and only she decides what to do, what order to do them in, and also what not to do. And while I can help her to be more efficient, I can suggest processes and strategies, I can’t actually decide for her what her priorities should be.

I struggled with this for a long time myself, and some days I still do. The first breakthrough came for me when I realised I never get to the end of the list. There are always more items, more tasks, more ideas to be added to it. And even if I get someone else to do some of it for me, there will still be more on my list than I can possibly clear.

I have to make a choice, and keep making choices, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day about what I want, about what I’m making important for me, right now. I can decide not to choose, or I can sit here looking at my list waiting for the right choice to emerge, or I can just start somewhere. Which leads me to the second breakthrough.

That came when I realised that the point of my life is not to get things done. The doing is merely the road I’m choosing to walk down in order to have the experience. The experience, what I learn, and who I become in the process, they’re the point. So what I do, or say or think, only has the importance or meaning that I give it. I get to choose that too!

My father told me when I was a teenager, “If you want to live your life, you have to get out of bed in the morning.” I’ve long forgotten the context of his advice, but the principle still applies. So I get out of bed. And photo  (43)then I look at the list. I choose, and go from there.

Choosing is painful at times. It raises all sorts of fears about getting it wrong.  What if I make the wrong choice and regret it?  What if I make the wrong choice and someone else disagrees with me? What about the loss of the things I don’t choose, or the things I never make enough of a priority to do? And so on, I’m sure you could add a few of your own!

Not choosing is also a choice, and a valid one. And it brings up exactly the same fears and feelings. And maybe the most important thing for me to do today is to do nothing, or to do something that isn’t on my list at all, but makes me feel good, like meeting a friend, or playing with a pet, or just sitting on the sofa in my pyjamas. Maybe the most important thing for me today is staying in bed (Sorry, Dad!)

If you struggle to know where to start when it comes to any aspect of growing or running your practice, I’d love to help. Contact me here with your query, or to avail of your free 20 minute consultation.