Being your own boss and running your private practice involves a significant commitment, knowledge base, and skillset. However, your mindset is the single-most-important contributing factor to your success … or your struggles!
Do you have the mindset it takes to be a successful entrepreneur?
Over the years, I have been surprised to realize that most of us who start out in private practice, don’t realize that they are wearing two hats.
On the one hand, you are a therapist, counsellor, or mental health practitioner … or whatever title your clients have come to know you as. Yet, on the other hand, you are a business owner. These two hats not only come with two completely different skill sets, but they inherently place you into a dual relationship with your clients. This is not necessarily a problem, but understanding the difference between the two and how to navigate that dual relationship skillfully, is critical to your success!
Unfortunately, most mental health practitioners only receive training in one hat… your skills as a practitioner, counsellor or therapist. Undoubtedly, you’ve learned how to be an empathic and competent practitioner, you’ve learned about ethics and boundaries, and you have training in whatever approach you use to help your clients reach their goals.
When it comes to business skills (those skills required to successfully be your own boss), you most likely did not receive any specific training during your counsellor education.
Unless you have a background in business from another career, no one has explicitly taught you the administrative aspects that go along with being an entrepreneur and running your own business. You may have little to no training in creating and implementing policies & procedures, record keeping and administration, time management and scheduling, managing finances, filing taxes, and marketing and advertising. All components that are critical to your success!
To further complicate things, when you are in private practice, you will be required to manage both roles with your clients. Most of the time, you will have your practitioners’ hat on, engaging in counselling or therapy with your clients. Yet, some of the time, you will need to have your business owners’ hat on to navigate scheduling, payment and other administrative aspects.
The piece I see new (and even experienced) therapists struggle with most, is trying to navigate the business aspect of their relationship with their clients, with their practitioners’ hat on. Maintaining a good therapeutic alliance with our clients is essential, yet that can be tricky when policies around scheduling, payment, etc. aren’t clear or aren’t being upheld (either by you or by your client).
Here is where the ever-so-critical mindset piece comes into play.
The key is to adopt a viewpoint whereby you have implemented clear policies and procedures for your business, and when it comes time to engage with your clients and uphold said policies and procedures, you position yourself such that you view your business as an entity that is separate from you as the practitioner.
Imagine you are employed by an organization. Part of your role as a therapist would be to uphold the policies and procedures of the organization you work for. You might have an easier time thinking about upholding policies for an organization you work for, rather than for yourself.
So, the key is in adopting a mindset where there is no difference between working for someone else and working for yourself.
Just because you are the owner of the business in addition to being someone’s therapist, doesn’t mean that you can’t enforce the policies and procedures your business operates by. When we don’t realize that we have two roles and that our role as a business owner is just as important as our role as a practitioner, we set ourselves up for failure. This might include having poor boundaries, opening ourselves up to being taken advantage of, and feeling resentful or burned out.
Adopting a clear mindset around the dual roles you play, and how to skillfully navigate between the two with your clients is the biggest key to your success!
If you need support in your private practice, feel free to reach out and book a free 20-minute Business Mentorship Consultation to see how I can support you!