The 3 Stages of a Therapy Practice

In any business whether it’s a global manufacturer, a corner sweet shop, or a professional practice, the business passes through a number of distinct phases. These are not dissimilar to the growth of a seed to a mature tree, or a person from a baby, to a child and adolescent, into an adult.IMG_1671

These stages are connected by periods of growth and development. In order to move from one stage to the next, certain tasks need to be completed. Some challenges need to be met and overcome. Some lessons need to be learned. And during this process the young human or practice has needs that must be met in order that the growth is healthy and useful.

A child needs a committed parent, who is attuned to their needs, and is desirous of the child’s achieving their own potential in order to thrive. Without a parent to provide appropriate shelter and nourishment, love, encouragement and holding, the child cannot thrive.

The absence of having their needs met can have devastating effects on the growth and development of a child, which may hinder their ability to function well in the world as an adult. So too, the absence of careful tending and nurturing can mean a practice will never progress through the stages of development to thrive and reach its full potential.

These stages of development can be identified in a number of ways.

babyAt the baby or seedling stage,

  • the practice has all the potential there, largely in vision rather than realised
  • it is fragile and vulnerable and needs a lot of attention and support in order to survive
  • financially, it is characterised by the phrase “less than enough,” in that income is sparse and unreliable, and money paid out exceeds money coming in
  • it’s identity is still vague and uncertain

At the adolescent or sapling stage,

  • its identity has begun to emerge, perhaps evidenced by a reputation growing
  • vision is slowly being realised, though much is still conceptual
  • it is less fragile and vulnerable, but still needs considerable support
  • financially it is characterised by the phrase “just about enough,” in that income is sufficient to meet basic expenses, but there is little surplus

A healthy, well supported practice will survive the early stages, and move over a number of years (approximately 3-5 years) from seedling to young tree, and later mature tree. In financial terms a healthy mature practice will be able to meet day to day expenses easily and predictably, will be able to invest in activities that support continued growth (such as a planned marketing campaign) and will create sufficient surplus income to have some available to put aside for the future. Such a practice will have the capacity to weather the ups and downs of the economy.

However, some practices stay stuck at one of the earlier stages. This failure to move beyond the initial stages of struggle will be seen most clearly in the financial situation. If the practice gets stuck at the “not enough” stage, unexpected costs may occur, wiping out any small reserves that have been built up. The practice will not be able to meet its financial obligations such as debt repayments. There may be long term, chronic debt (especially inappropriate or unauthorised credit card or other short term debt), excessive borrowing (from relatives, friends or banks), or a habit of being rescued financially. A down turn in the economy may wipe out such a practice.

A practice stuck at the “just enough” stage will be limping from day to day or month to month, wondering if the income will Photo no (41)meet the expenses or debt repayment, and afraid to commit to significant expenses in case the money won’t be there. There will be nothing available to put away for the future, through retirement funding, savings or investments. A practice stuck at this stage will suffer severely if there is a sudden down turn in the economy.

There are things you can do that may help you to move from one stage to the next. Broadly, these are:

  • Recognise where you are
  • Learn about your finances and how to manage money
  • Set clear goals (including financial goals) for where you want to be
  • Devise an action plan to take you there
  • Rinse and repeat

I will write more about this in a later article. However, probably the greatest factor determining whether a practice will advance from one stage to the next is not the actions you take, but rather your internal environment, namely your feelings, values and beliefs around creating a sustainable business. The financial status of your practice may be a barometer of whether you have unresolved issues around money or self-worth.

Money does not bring happiness, but it goes a long way to helping us to feel secure, and certainly gives us options. The lack of money, or living in debt or fear of it, can add hugely to the stress levels we feel.

If you’d like to read more about how old paradigms or issues might affect not just your self-worth, but also your net worth, you might like to read my articles:

Truth or Myth? Common Beliefs about Money and Wealth Part 1

Truth or Myth? Common Beliefs about Money and Wealth Part 2

Kibera (A short stretch of my personal journey to resolve conflicts and confusion around money)

If I can help you with any aspect of starting or developing your practice, please contact me here. Not sure? I offer a free 20 minute consultation.

1 Comment

  • Moving to the “Just Enough” Stage in your Practice | This Business of Therapy

    […] a previous post I introduced the concept of the three phases of a therapy practice, Not Enough, Just About Enough, […]

  • Comments for this post are closed.

    Write a Comment