If you’re unmotivated in private practice, I’m not going to tell you to get over it. When you’re unmotivated there’s probably a reason. That reason may need to be addressed or it may need to be set aside or it may need to breathe a little. Let’s check in to see what’s going on and what to do about it.
- You’re burned out. Totally the #1 reason I hear from the practice-builders I work with. Many are working a job while building their private practice. They’re also doing their best to be a good partner &/or parent &/or pet owner. They may also have some intense personal stuff going on.
Your prescription: Self care it up. Really, go on a self-care binge or better yet, build consistent self-care into your life. I know all the excuses and so do you; don’t fall for them. You don’t let your clients convince you that self-care is unimportant so don’t scrimp on what you KNOW clinically, ethically, emotionally, physically, deeply that you need to do.
- You’re feeling hopeless. I see this particularly amongst the folks who took the leap out of a job and into private practice. The phone isn’t ringing as often as they’d like, they no longer have a paycheck, the fear of failure is starting to feel like a legitimate concern.
Your prescription: Persevere. Make sure your self-care is on point, talk to your private practice mentors to make sure you aren’t missing something big, then keep going. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t need to “hustle.” As you know, I’m morally opposed to hustling. Take some of your gaps of time, get off Facebook, and write some blog posts. Invite another clinician to coffee or lunch, get outside and take a hike with your dog. It doesn’t have to all be work, in fact I’d advise that you spend a good deal of your newfound down time outside of your house or your office. Those places can affirm your anxiety and hopelessness. Get out into the world some.
- You don’t know WHERE to start so you just don’t start. There’s SO MUCH to do! The podcast you just listened to contradicts the blog post you read yesterday and the book you read last week didn’t even mention that subject! Seriously, which is more important: word of mouth or SEO?! You wonder if you should do ANYTHING since you feel like you have so much to learn.
Your prescription: Look at my practice-building checklist for some step-by-step direction. Still feeling lost? It may be time hire a practice-building consultant to help you get going. Having someone tailor the steps to your specific needs can help shake the malaise off you. It can also uncover some blocks that are getting in the way of your success. You can check out my packages (heh, heh) if you want to work with me when groups start back up in May.
- You just don’t feel committed. You wonder if it will be any better in private practice than it has been in agencies. You wonder if therapy is really what you’re supposed to be doing. You wonder if people actually do get better and change their lives.
Your prescription: Look at your “Why.” What attracted you to therapy in the first place? Of all the careers and all the paths to take, you probably chose this one because you saw the powerful transformation it makes in people’s lives. Or you find people really interesting; they’re still interesting, you’re probably just tired. If your why isn’t compelling anymore, take a break. If after a vacation and/or some very intentional self care + slowing down you think the profession isn’t for you, explore what may be. We can change our minds! I can say wholeheartedly that working for yourself is REALLY different than working for an agency. It has some stressors sure, but if you’re setting up the practice you want, it’s a totally different experience.
What else comes up for you? Let me know in the comments and we’ll troubleshoot!
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.