If there’s one thing I know about practice-building, it’s that it has really hard moments. Usually it’s not the clinical aspects of the job or even the business side of things. Typically it’s our “stuff” that hops up in our faces as we trudge forward. It’s the worry when the phone doesn’t ring (help here). It’s the money stuff we’ve carried for years that makes us stick our heads in the sand and hope the financial side of our business is okay instead of knowing exactly what to expect month to month. It’s the comparison and the falling short, since we tend to compare ourselves to those that have what we want.

As I mentioned in this post, getting clear on your why can be a shot in the arm to bring you back to why you’re doing this in the first place. Simon Sinek’s TED Talk introduced me to this and it’s so worth your time to watch.

Right now, I’d love for you to open a blank document or grab a sheet of paper and write down why you’re a therapist or why you want to be a therapist. Be raw, be real. Don’t write it like a paper someone is going to read. Bullet point it, forget punctuation, make a ton of run on sentences, do what feels true right now.  Seriously, just take 3 minutes to jot it down.

This is a great way to reconnect to the gratitude that you get to do what you believe in. It’s the way I ground myself when I’m feeling beleaguered or overwhelmed or get into my version of “it’s too hard/I’m not good enough/there’s too much to do.”

This is personal stuff and likely reaches something tender in you. If you write something like “people are interesting and I like to understand them,” I want you to dig a little deeper.

Why am I a therapist?

I’m a therapist because I used to hate myself, my body, and my life. I was deep in an eating disorder with awful anxiety and crippling depression and I just thought that was what life was going to be about, until I got help. Once I realized what was available in life, I wanted everyone suffering to have a chance at it. We aren’t stuck and we can change and life can be this beautiful, wonderful thing, even when it’s hard.

(unedited, totally real, pretty vulnerable to share but if I can put it out here, you can write your own non-published-in-the-world version of your why)

Why do I help others build their practice?

I’ve seen people leave the profession who were amazing at what they did; people with real gifts and incredible skills because they were just so burned out and private practice seemed like this impossible thing so they never tried. I want people to know how doable private practice is. I want them to realize it’s well within their skill set and they just need to learn some things they’re totally capable of and take the risk.

I do this because in private practice, clinicians can be more effective, happier, have more of that beautiful life I want for people. They can actually model what we all want for our clients. In my opinion, private practice is the holy grail of clinical work.

(unedited, totally real)

You can keep this document you’ve written or not. I find it more effective to reconnect to my “Why” and rewrite that moment’s version of it rather than revisiting older versions. If I’d written this blog post a week ago it would have had the same gist but with different nuances.
I’d love to hear some of your “Why” in the comments if it doesn’t feel too vulnerable.


Allison Puryear is an LCSW with a nearly diagnosable obsession with business development. She has started practices in three different states and wants you to know that building a private practice is shockingly doable when you have a plan and support. After retiring her individual consultation services, she opened the Abundance Party, where you can get practice-building help for the cost of a copay. You can download a free private practice checklist to make sure you have your ducks in a row, get weekly private practice tips, listen to the podcast, hop into the free Facebook Group. Allison is all about helping you gain the confidence and tools you need to succeed.

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