Center Institute

Because being a great therapist isn't enough to build an awesome practice.
Because being a great therapist
isn't enough to build an awesome practice.
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What’s your Why?

When I start talking to therapists about why they want a private practice, they most often go into the reasons why they are a therapist. They talk about helping people, feeling constrained by the bureaucracy of agency work, wanting to do the best clinical work they can, about feeling a sense of wanting to give back… But I have to tell you, I don’t think that’s enough. Running a business takes a bit of work and at some point you are going to be tired and you are going to be grumpy and you’ve got to know which way to steer and you’ve got to know if you should keep going or not.

You might not want to hear this, but you’ve got to get a little selfish here. The work we do is incredibly challenging. It asks us to check ourselves constantly, manage our own reactions so we can be there fully for the client, give and be present even when we are having our own bad day. That takes a lot. And honestly, I don’t think it is worth doing unless you are really clear about why you are doing it. And in your darkest moments, the reason can be partially about other people, but I think you’ve got to have a personal why too.

It’s got to go beyond I can’t stand agency work anymore. It has to go beyond I want to help people. It has to get personal. Is it because your kids are growing up too fast and you CANNOT stand the thought of working 40+ hours per week and missing it all. Is it because you are driven to be able to make enough money that you don’t have to worry about buying organic or not. Is it because you WILL NOT be poor and struggling anymore? Is it because the stress of your work is killing your marriage and you’ve got to find a different way?

Maybe you think I am being too cynical here or too superficial and self-centered. But what I have found is that if we are all honest, the work itself gets hard sometimes. Clients can be “challenging” at times. And yes, if any of us were not driven by the helping piece, we’d probably be stock brokers. But you’ve got to know your own personal piece too. If it was just about the clients, you could work for someone else. But it is not just about the clients. So let’s talk about that. Post your personal mission below. Let’s open up this piece and take away the martyrdom of our profession and the shame of our “selfish” reasons for doing this work and own and support each other’s personal missions.

P.S. Other than motivation, there is another REALLY important piece in building a business that this informs. For that piece, you’ll have to wait until next time.

5 Responses

  1. Steve Ruff says:

    One motivation that I have is what you’ve stated – to be able to work less hours, have more time w/ my wife and 4 kids, to not get burned out seeing 25-30 clients a week, but still make more income so that we can thrive.

  2. I started this private practice because I saw the amount of money that I was bringing in within a small practice over the course of a year. Surprisingly, my cut was horrible to the amount that I actually collected from insurance and clients. So, I am in this so that I can be financially secure and enjoy life rather than worry about retirement.

  3. dot herdman says:

    To be able to work less, commute fewer miles and have time to be home with my husband who is experiencing big health problems.
    To earn and keep my own earnings and continue helping clients. And as you wrote- being able to buy organic without wondering if I can get through the month financially if I do!

  4. Carol Brill says:

    Hey, I’ve retired once! I’m not willing to work myself to a frazzle. Plus, I do plenty of charity work in our community. My counseling practice can be anything I want it to be. Right now, I’m developing a 6-month program of college readiness, college study skills, and emotional health for teens and young adults. I limit my work week to MY schedule, don’t worry about insurance, and get paid (on contract) whether my clients show or not. It’s the best of both worlds! I truly care about my clients (kids) and work hard for them. Guess you could say I teach them to fish, rather than throw them a fish! That’s empowerment – I’m proud of that!!!

  5. Tisa Hester says:

    I recently ( with in the last 30 days) went into private practice for many of the reasons that have been mentioned already.I wanted to be able to work at pace that afforded me time for my family, the all important self care and to be able to live comfortably and take time to truly live this life that I have been given Hey if I’m going to make someone a lot of money it might as well be me- lol