We received the following question via our Ask Allison submission form: I have worked for agencies my entire life so this whole process is daunting to me. Any words of wisdom to help me not be nervous would be greatly appreciated.

Look, if you weren’t nervous, I’d be concerned. Not because it’s competitive and you won’t succeed, but because it’s a huge life change. It’s the kind of nervous before you go off to college freshman year. You’re counting on yourself in a new and different way than you’ve ever had to before. 

Some measure of nervousness, fear, anxiety, etc. is going to come with the territory, and you get to use all your skills and all the things you talk to your clients about to tolerate it. I say that because I always want to be honest with you. Not to discourage you.

Back in my late teens & early 20s when I was in intensive therapy, I took on the mantra, “feel the fear and do it anyway.” I’ve said it to myself probably a million times since then. Here’s what I want you to consider… 

This is not the NBA. It’s not winning an Oscar. There aren’t thousands of people jockeying for your private practice spot. 

In truth, so many of us in private practice are drowning. We’re full and the phone keeps ringing and most of the other therapists we know and trust are full, too.

People are seeking therapy at an unprecedented rate. Most communities can’t keep up. 

I’m not saying you’ll fill up immediately. You have to do some work to be referred to and for clients to choose you. Right now, you’re completely unknown. But doing some marketing is MUCH easier than helping someone through complex trauma or helping someone manage grief or holding space for someone’s rage. Marketing will push your buttons but it’s simple. Not easy, simple. If people can’t find you, they can’t work with you. So have and work a marketing plan. 

Those early early steps we have to complete, like getting a business license or an EIN, those are also simple. And honestly easy. They’re just really boring. And if you have form anxiety like me, you can come up with a thousand reasons to put them off.

The regret I hear over and over and over from my students is, “I wish I’d done this sooner.” I strongly suspect that you’ll feel the same way. So I’ll say a maybe premature, “welcome to the Private Practice Club.” We’ve all had to face that nervousness, self doubt, fear of failure…You’re in great company, and you’re on the right path. 

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