When we go through school, our internships, and agency work, we start to get an idea of who we do great work with and what clients bring out the best of our clinical skills and flourish because of it. A great fit for you is also a great fit for your client, and great fits lead to healing which, come on, is awesome.
I would say that out of the hundreds or thousand people I’ve talked to about niche, 85% of the time our ideal client is a version of ourselves. My ideal client for therapy resembles the 19-year-old version of myself with a few tweaks. My ideal client for practice-building resembles the 31-year-old version of myself with a few tweaks.
I work easier with people who over-function and work too hard b/c I get it. I have a whole course in the Abundance Party called “Private Practice/Life Balance,” for instance, but I don’t have one called “How to Make Yourself Do What You Need To.” I’ve probably struggled with motivation three times in my life and while I constantly work with clients in therapy and practice-building that struggle with motivation, it doesn’t come as easily to me as it does to help a workaholic learn to set down their computer and squirm in the absence of achievement. I can do both well at this point but it took a lot of practice to get there for the needs-motivation crowd.
Does that mean I don’t want to work with them and won’t do good work with people struggling to feel motivated about building their practice? Nope. Does it mean I do really, really good work with people I understand on a complex level? Yup.
Knowing where your ideal client is coming from is also a huge boon for you in the marketing department (oh yeah, it’s marketing time!) You have a good idea of the language, pain points, and emotional world this client experiences.
It’s not weird or wrong to recognize that your ideal client has similar struggles. Many therapists got into this profession because of their own struggles. As long as you’ve done whatever work you need to in your own healing and your own training to provide competent care and you’re keeping an eye on counter-transference, it can be a huge asset to get your client’s struggles so deeply.