It was such an honor to tell my story on Annie's podcast. Since then, I've been met with an outpouring of support and connected with disillusioned therapists and budding sex educators from all over the country. Each conversation was powerful and I got to hold space for my colleagues much like I hold space for clients. I listened to tearful stories of being overworked in community agencies. I encouraged people not to trust our enemies and to find better supports as they take the leap of faith into private practice. If you're a therapist or educator reading this, then I"m going to distill the top 5 points I've been giving out for the past two weeks into something digestible.
1. Don't Throw in the towel
This is one of the biggest pieces of advice given to me just before leaving agency work for my own business. I was told be at least three therapists that private practice is hard work. It takes at least 2 years to feel established. Sometimes there are exceptions to the rule and you'll meet a clinician who was full in 4 months, or an educator who is started in a high salary contract gig doing amazing policy work or grassroot organizing. Even then, you may not see all the hardwork that went on behind the scenes. For myself, I was able to live at home and had other safety nets while I burned through saving and put all my time into incorporating my business. I quickly climbed to 10 clients within 5 months and I'm nearly full practice because I had more time and money to lay the groundwork ahead of time. In Annie's podcast I talk about how some people may not be as privileged. Some of us may not be able to quit part time work while we build a following, so it may take more time than that to feel ready enough to take the plunge into full time private practice. That's okay! All roads lead to Rome.
2. You are in the right place at the right time
If your practice is not doing well, it can be very easy to internalize the reasons. Just like in cognitive behavioral therapy, try not to let your thoughts dictate your reality. The evidence shows that you came to this work because you were called to help people. Consider that maybe the condition under which you work is the problem and not you, yourself.
3. Money is energy
Somewhere along the way, we as helping professionals learned that money is the root of all evil. That it's not right for me to "profit" off of someone else's pain. That altruism will feed us and pay our bills. We found other therapists who aren't serious about best business practices and setting reasonable fees and created insulated think tanks where we keep each other stuck and broke. If you want to get real about why your business is not being successful, then you may need to unpack some unhelpful notions about money that you learned over the years. Tiffany McLain, another Bay Area therapist, presented theses three questions during a workshop I attended as part of her 21 Day challenge:
4. You've already arrived
Those of us who struggle with imposter syndrome tend to believe that the goal post is always moving. We think that we need to have just one more degree, certification, or publication to be legitimate. The truth is that we have a wealth of knowledge at all stages of our development. We have a curation of experience that are unique to our life.
For me, it took my mentor sitting me down while and explaining that I was already better prepared than most of my peers. I thought that I needed to finish my certification to present at a national conference. I did not realize that my skillset was already well sought after and well informed. Speak from what you know and start your work with what you got!
5. My Community is Not My Competition
As in the podcast, I am living by this notion of abundance. When we are in a scarcity model, we treat one another as crabs in a bucket. We think that we believe sentiments like San Francisco is over saturated with therapists. We think why should anyone come to my workshop when there are already three or four people doing a version of it? When we practice the 3 to 1 rule we start to see that the positive energy we put into the universe comes back to us ten fold-- send three referrals and get one in return. Also, I love promoting the work of people I admire. I cannot do it all.
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Sexpert & psychotherapist, Quandra Chaffers, presents Sass-y comments on love, health, and relationships--Comments too tangential or racy for the therapy room.