Last week we talked about what to expect in your first year of practice. I left you hanging. Sorry about that! While I think it’s great to spend some time acknowledging that you aren’t a weirdo and that what you’re feeling is normal, sometimes it helps to have an answer to “Ok, so this is typical, now what?” Below are some suggestions for you that have helped me and those I’ve worked with along the way.
What To Do About Those First Year Experiences
Rest in what’s true. Even if you’re a total sham, you do have a degree and a license. Even if you’re full of shit, you have helped a number of people with the demons that plagued them. Even if you’re skating by, you have invested time and energy into trainings and supervision and can speak to the efficacy of your clinical experience in a way the lay person couldn’t.
Give yourself a little credit. Check in with supportive people. Don’t give in to the drama of “I’m not good enough.”
Boom & Bust
Save money during the booms. It’ll make the bust periods less stressful. Use some of your free time during the bust to work your marketing plan and some of your free time to do pleasurable, restorative things. Practice what you preach.
Optimism and Pessimism
Remind yourself at both extremes that the other is coming. If you’re like me, amidst the optimistic times it’s hard to put energy towards what feels negative, but it helps the pessimistic times feel less shocking. When pessimistic, sure, throw yourself a pity party. No shame in that; I throw a doozy. But don’t invest too much time and energy there. You’ve got optimism around the corner afterall.
What you need to remember is that the data you’re getting from comparing yourself doesn’t actually tell you anything. It’s like having an increase in the sale of sweater vests the same year as an increase in the cost of cell towers. I know it feels the same since you’re both in private practice, but there are too many variables to make the comparison worth it.
Getting Stuck in Scarcity Mode
Expect it. It’s a part of this whole thing. My business is called Abundance Practice-Building and I’d be a liar if I said I was connected to abundance all the time. Scarcity grabs a hold of me sometimes, too. The goal isn’t to avoid scarcity all together; it’s getting out of it as quickly as you can. Feel the fear and keep marching forward.
Lessons Learned the Hard Way
Ugh. Why is business so like life? Unfortunately, it’s the way it goes. I’m so sorry.
My advice for minimizing these experiences is to consult so you have as much comprehensive information going forward as humanly possible. Find someone you trust and ask them where they screwed up. My list is so long it’s almost embarrassing and I’m not ashamed to tell folks how to avoid some of the pits I’ve fallen into. Some people are ashamed though, so find your less guarded colleagues for this.
Some Therapists are Assholes
You have to be so careful who you spend your time with in the early stages. It’s like being a freshman in high school. You’re young, you’re impressionable, and a bad influence can really impact what you do going forward. If someone is rude, negative, discouraging, miserly, or otherwise less than welcoming, go elsewhere. There are lovely, kind, generous therapists around you, you just need to find them. And if you find one, s/he probably knows more. If you happen to live in some hellish place full of jerks, spend more time in the online communities that support you.
Some of Us Are Great Fakers
Just assume that everyone has some level of struggle ‘cause it’s true. Maybe their practice is indeed full, but they’re overwhelmed. Maybe their reputation is intimidatingly stellar, but I promise they struggle with Imposter Syndrome sometimes about something. Let’s all just step back and remember that we don’t really know people’s lives unless they let us in on the complete picture.
Play. Sleep. Self-care it up. Stop putting so much damn pressure on yourself. Get the good CEU’s. Get into therapy. Take a vacation (yes, even now as you’re building. Shit doesn’t have to be BUILT for you to be allowed to take some time). Seek consultation with your peers. Accept the fact that you’re burned out. I see the denial all the time and it never works.
Share. Be generous with your colleagues. Breathe. Take long lunch breaks. Once you have confidence up and running, give some of that big hearted support to the people around you. Refer the people that aren’t your clients to the therapists that will love working with them. Relax into it. You’re right; you’re on your way to what you want.
Any other tips for managing these experiences? Let us know in the comments!
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.