Articles

Tax return time – can I claim for my parking fine?

To answer such questions as can I claim for parking fines (no, you can’t) and how best to allow for working from home, I’m going live again, in FaceBook  on Tuesday 20th October at 12:30 for about an hour.

I’ll answer all your questions on allowable business expenses for your self-assessment accounts.

You can find the Facebook event here

A reminder that the deadline for submitting a paper self-assessment tax return in the UK is 31st October.

If you make your return online you have until 31st January 2021.

For the tax year that ended 5th april 2020.

If you’ve got a question you’d like me to answer pop it into the event comments on Facebook, you can find the Facebook event here

Autumn Equinox & Therapists

Since training as a therapist I’ve found being aware of the earth’s movement particularly grounding for me.

This year, for me, more than any other, I have found noticing the progression of the seasons to be so very soothing in light of so much out of my control.

I use the natural world’s markers – solstices and equinox – to mark my therapy practice phases too.

At each one I review my business – what’s gone well and what I could do differently. Which helps me keep focussed on my practice vision.

I have a little review-fest every 3 months – I set myself up in the garden, or wherever I can have peace, and I reflect on my journey over the last months and let my mind wander through the next ones.

 

I am often humbled by the ideas and answers that come to me during these spaces – this year I have found the time to be richly rewarding, rejuvenating and nourishing. 

So that I am clear on what I need to be doing – simply and confidently – to achieve success.

 

We can be so busy doing private practice we can lose sight of the power a different perspective brings – this Autumn Equinox I invite you to grab the pdf Template and refresh your therapy business!

 

If you’d like my free template, then pop your details here:

(you need to tick both boxes to be able to receive the download email)

Are you ready to start in Private Practice – 4

  Ok, I’m qualified – how do I know I’m ready for Private Practice?

Element 4 Business Mindset

 The guidance given by training bodies is often vague – for example, it may say with sufficient experience you can also begin working as independent practitioners in private practice.

What is sufficient experience – and how do we get it.

Over the years I’ve worked with many therapists who are starting up in private practice. And I’ve identified 4 elements to ‘sufficient experience’ and perhaps they weren’t the obvious ones.

I believe that if you have the 4 elements in place, you can start ethically and safely in private practice.

Business Mindset

What’s the biggest barrier to our success in business . . . . . . . . . us! Well, perhaps.

I started talking about why now is a good time to start in therapy private practice and, once qualified, what else we need to be ready – the 4 elements. I covered Personal Therapy requirements – I think at least 100 hours, and I talked about the importance of having a Therapy Team as our back-up – Supervision (one to one), Coaching or Mentoring and business admin support – for example accountant.

Now I want to talk about Business, and why I think – for Therapists – getting and keeping a ‘Money Mindset’ is a big barrier to our success in Private Practice.

The ones that were successful had one thing in common – their clear understanding of their service, and the value of that service to their customers, and their firmness in their belief that they were worth that value.

Simply – they knew what they wanted to do or sell, and they knew what to charge and were comfortable and confident.

After qualifying I knew Counselling was a proven way to help people, potentially, all people. And I wanted to help everyone – sound familiar?

By being so vague in the beginning, I wasn’t focussed and it’s impossible to market vagueness. Attracting clients was a nightmare.

I took some of my own advice, or at least, a colleague gave it to me, and I paused and stepped back.

I needed to get a business mindset, or money mindset to be more specific. I couldn’t (and still can’t) help everybody and I needed to decide what worked for me. What would my business look like.

Which is about having an absolutely, written in stone, Purpose for my business, more commercial than clinical and wide ranging.

Being in business on our own is hard work, overlay that with the emotional load of therapy work and it becomes doubly so if not more.

Being clear about my business purpose is the only way I keep going during the challenges. I see that as a form of external accountability – similar to how the therapeutic process works.

The next step was to create my vision, in words and images. We know the power of as-if with clients and it’s the same for us as business owners.

And the third step is about pathways. What route do we need to take, what do we need to do to build solid foundations in the right shape for us and our business, and it might not look like we thought it would.

I know mine doesn’t, being open to free thinking can lead to opportunities we may not have considered.

Front and centre as we build our business we need to consider Money. How much do we need?

We can have a complicated relationship with money which we may have uncovered in our therapy.

We can project that on to clients as well as receiving their own projections.

By considering our money matters first, we get used to them and are more comfortable and around money.

Sometimes the money doesn’t add up to how we visualised our practice and life. Don’t be daunted or disheartened, reach out for business support as there are other ways of getting the income we need. Colleagues are amazingly inventive in creating a blended income stream, keeping themselves safe and supported so they don’t burnout.

It’s a myth as healers that we shouldn’t charge – we should give our talent as part of universal energy exchange . . . .  I think the energy balance is formalised through the exchange of money.

We can develop an ethical and compassionate Money Mindset as we build our Business Foundations and we can do this right now.

Are you Ready to start in Private Practice – 3

Ok, I’m qualified – how do I know I’m ready for Private Practice?

Who’s in your therapy team?

 The guidance given by training bodies is often vague – for example, it may say with sufficient experience you can also begin working as independent practitioners in private practice.

What is sufficient experience – and how do we get it.

Over the years I’ve worked with many therapists who are starting up in private practice. And I’ve identified 4 elements to ‘sufficient experience’ and perhaps they weren’t the obvious ones.

I believe that if you have the 4 elements in place, you can start ethically and safely in private practice.

Element 3 – who’s in your therapy team?

As counsellors in Private Practice we will work alone in the therapy room – and in our PP, who else do we have alongside?

Friends, family, professional support. . . . . . . . .

We seem to expect ourselves to just be able to do private practice– if we’ve had a similar business – great. And the rest of us seem to think we should know how to do it . . . .

I see myself in this – I had so many blindspots with my business and yet I was a business advisor.

I think it’s important to have as a mentor someone further along the road than me. I always have a coach or mentor.

From my realisation when starting my business that some Business Start-Up training might be useful (it was brilliant) and hooking up with my mentor. Through specialist support – Selling with Heart or FaceBook Ads – I have people in my team. Some more or less permanent, others for specific tasks. Liz, the Listening Accountant, is one of the permanent ones.

Once we are clinically ready, have completed our training, then it’s about learning/being in business.

To be in business we need to invest a balance of time and effort and money. We can invest in others to help us – or spend time learning ourselves.

When I began, I had time (ish) and no money, and I found the information and support I needed – eventually. I was often exhausted and confused and frustrated.

If you’re ready to start your private practice who is in your team?

Are you ready to start in Private Practice – 2

Ok, I’m qualified – how do I know I’m ready for Private Practice?

Supervision, supervision, supervision!!!

The guidance given by training bodies is often vague – for example, it may say with sufficient experience you can also begin working as independent practitioners in private practice.

What is sufficient experience – and how do we get it.

Over the years I’ve worked with many therapists who are starting up in private practice. And I’ve identified 4 elements to ‘sufficient experience’ and perhaps they weren’t the obvious ones.

I believe that if you have the 4 elements in place, you can start ethically and safely in private practice.

Element 2 – Supervision, supervision, supervision!!!

I can never have enough supervision, group peer and one to one. I so wish I had more time and more money, and I would have perpetual Supervision – which I wouldn’t because too much is as potential a problem as too little.

When I trained as a Counsellor it was from a background of work in big business and I’d had experience of good – and not so good – managers. And their behaviour completely influenced how I thrived in my job.

Moving into counselling, I assumed – I know, I know – never assume – that Supervision was the same as management.

And I was blown away by my experience of Supervision – being gently challenged and supported and encouraged – well, just an awesome process.

I quickly saw here was a space where Unconditional Positive Regard was modelled in buckets (if you can have buckets of UPR) which informed the safety and effectiveness of my client work, and my growth as a counsellor.

Supervision is a cost and it’s one that we need to invest in when we start in Private Practice.

I think at the beginning of our career, we need one to one supervision at a higher ratio, I do see colleagues who choose peer supervision only and I worry about this.

I wonder if a peer supervision option is driven by cost, it’s very expensive to train and I wonder if colleagues have peer supervision to save money, and I think it’s a false saving – colleagues can invest in themselves with good one to one supervision and I use invest deliberately.

It could be we need to change or get another Supervisor when we start in Private Practice – I think it is important that our Supervisor is experienced in PP as there are tensions between the business of therapy and therapeutic work that can be lessened with support from experienced Supervisor.

The key thing that keeps us and our clients safe is Supervision – it needs to be robust, independent and frequent.

Are you ready to start in Private Practice – 1

Ok, I’m qualified – how do I know I’m ready for Private Practice?

The guidance given by training bodies is often vague – for example, it may say with sufficient experience you can also begin working as independent practitioners in private practice.

What is sufficient experience – and how do we get it.

Over the years I’ve worked with many therapists who are starting up in private practice. And I’ve identified 4 elements to ‘sufficient experience’ and perhaps they weren’t the obvious ones.

I believe that if you have the 4 elements in place, you can start ethically and safely in private practice.

The first element – personal therapy

I learned as much about being a counsellor through my own therapy as through my taught and client hours. OK, perhaps that’s a slight exaggeration – you get my meaning.

I think that we are ready for Private Practice when we’ve had at least 100 hours of personal therapy.

When we’re training, I’m not always sure we get the most benefit from our therapy. We are so busy, fitting in classes with placement, supervision oh probably another job and family.

It does feel sometimes like an add-on, a tick box to be got through,

Many of us came into counselling because we had experienced therapy.

I see students who have had personal therapy before their training, and as a tutor I do think it shows – in their self-awareness for example.

I think that as well as our client placements, every personal therapy session we have is a practise too. Whether in our consciousness or not, we are watching/absorbing our therapist and learning – what works well and what we could do differently.

It is also an important space for us to realise and explore our ‘blind spots’. Minimising our ‘blind-spots’ is the way we focus on our clients’ agenda and not ours. It is also where we can identify and bias in our experience or techniques.

Which all contribute to making us safe when working in private practice

Why now is a good time to start in Private Practice

Why now is a good time to start a Counselling Private Practice

Between reading ‘We’re on the edge of a tsunami of mental illness’ on BBC news

and from the Nursing Standard  ‘Covid 19 is “not a mental health crisis” healthcare experts warn’

it can be hard to get any sense of what the reality is.

There is reported increase in anxiety, depression, grief and compulsive behaviours. Which can be examples of mental wellness according to the RCN – normal responses to abnormal events.

The RCN goes on to write that by labelling it a mental health crisis, we might be looking for answers in the wrong place, including medication or professional help, when what’s needed is understanding that these could be signs of our enhanced connection with our situation.

I think the RCN is partly correct – it’s important not to medicalise the healthy body and mind response to frightening situations. However I do believe that professional help, in the form of Counselling and Psychotherapy, is part of the toolkit to help people heal.

When the time is right, and at the right pace for each person.

I believe we are entering a time of unprecedented need for Counselling and Psychotherapy services.

These media stories got me thinking about how we can best deal with this challenge. And, being a Counsellor and being passionate about the effectiveness of counselling, surely one part of the solution is more counselling capacity.

Which means that for qualified therapists, now is a good time to start in Private practice . . .  however – therapists need to be ‘ready’.

Starting in Private Practice now, without being ready, could load more anxiety and frustration on to an already tricky time.

How to know if you’re ready? Here are my thoughts on the 4 things to consider when deciding if you’re ready for Private Practice.

  • Sufficient personal therapy
  • Suitable Supervision
  • Business Support
  • Money Mindset

I’m not the sort of person to work in Private Practice . . . . .

Is something I hear (or overhear) often in my conversations with students and colleagues.

Working in private practice isn’t for everyone – absolutely, however I was really curious to hear ‘I’m not the sort of person to work in Private Practice’. I wanted to know more.

Because lots of these people did want to work in Private Practice, it often turned out to be their absolute dream from almost the beginning of their training, and in some cases, before that.

Experiencing the incredible transformation possible through therapy made them passionate about offering the same experience to others in distress.

Working as a Therapist became their complete focus.

“I’ll be able to get a job” – sadly not – there are very few paid posts, and don’t get me started on the culture of volunteering in our profession.

“Ok, lots of people work in Private Practice – I’ll do that – it can’t be that hard”.

And this is when the self-talk imps raise their voices “I’m not the sort of person to work in Private Practice”.

Because:

  • No-one I know works for themselves
  • I need a guaranteed income
  • I might fail my family
  • No-one will come and see me
  • I’m not an expert
  • I have anxiety and depression
  • I don’t know how to get clients
  • I might get loads of clients and won’t know how to handle it
  • I don’t know how to start
  • I might fail
  • I’m frightened
  • Because other people tell me so . . . . . . . . . . . . .

STOP – RIGHT – NOW

Those are good points to be aware of.

Except “because other people tell me so” – ignore it please.

If you want to work in Private Practice I believe you can!

You can work in your Private Practice.

Built by you keeping your talent, resilience and skill in mind.

The advantage the self-talk imps don’t want you to realise is:

By coming from a belief of ‘People like me don’t work in Private Practice’ you can grab the right support for people like you.

People like you do work in successful private practices – I know that because I’m just like you.

Now’s the time to Mrs Hinch your therapy business

Do you feel you’ve been over Niagara Falls in a barrel over the last few weeks?
 
I like physical metaphors for life – I like the power of a river to rejuvenate when the conditions are right – when it comes to softer rock and can cut through to create a spectacular waterfall.
And, until the waterfall, the river might have been meandering slowly along – no real sense of direction of purpose. A vague awareness that, eventually, it will, probably, make the ocean.
 
Running a business can become like that – as therapists whilst each client is unique, there is a sense of a continuum of activity that repeats, day in and day out.
 
📅 Until March 2020.
 
When, to use the river metaphor, we hit a whole new world and tumbled down the waterfall.
 
I’ve used a picture of Niagara Falls – and I remember hearing about the characters who over the years have thrown themselves over the falls in a wooden barrel for a challenge.
 
Therapy business-wise, perhaps you feel that you’ve been over Niagara falls – bruised, battered, disorientated and tender in places?
 
You’ve popped up after the initial weeks of restriction not quite sure where you are going, anxious about your clients and income.
 
Yes? – I’ve felt this too. And when I felt this, I go back to one of the first things I learnt about business development. Review, or ReView – looking at things again.
 
Now is the time to revisit your business purpose – your Big Why – use the chaos, the unknown future to reconsider your business.
 
And whilst we’re in the midst of uncertain and unstable times, that can feel like just one more thing to make us anxious.
 
If we ask for support, this review of our business can be reaffirming and positive, and help us feel more under control for our future!
 
Trust me – it works – I’ve seen it happen hundreds of times.
 
I’ve created a checklist for you to use to review your business, and I’ll pop the details at the end of this post.
 
After checking in with your business purpose, the next step is to update (or create) your Vision – business, family, the whole of life.
 
Without a vision – and as I suggest, a Vision Board is just so powerful – we can flounder for direction, we can spend too much time making decisions – should I do this course, buy this software, because we are not clear on exactly how our business looks. With a business Vision, decision making is easy – does this fit my vision – yes/no. Simples.
 
If your business has changed beyond recognition, then your old Business Plans are no longer relevant – now’s the time to prepare your solid business foundations for your therapy practice.
 
Are there might be costs we can lose – premises or a particular advert for example. Is there a brand new income source and we just need to work out how to attract clients.
 
And doing this exercise with someone else – like therapy or supervision – helps us gain different perspectives.
 
We’ve all had a shock and for many our therapy practice looks very different. I want to help you have the private practice you want so that you can survive to help your clients thrive!
 
🙂 It’s kind of like Mrs Hinch’ing your therapy business.
(Thanks to Heatworld for the picture).
I’d not been aware of Mrs Hinch until the restrictions when I found myself looking at videos and posts of homemaking tips . . . I will admit I was a reluctant follower because she seems to be obssessed with Zoflora and it’s not my favourite disinfectant I can tell you.
 
What Mrs Hinch does is share simple, everyday things we have in our home, tools and tips to help us feel better about our homes. She has an energy and style that means you can’t help be drawn in.
 
I’m absolutely not Mrs Hinch, however her mantra of using what’s to hand to make things better – absolutely.
 
Knowing what your business needs to look like, knowing the right tools to get it there, and keep it there, easily and smoothly so that you have the work life balance you want.
 
That’s what Mrs Hinch’ing your therapy business means.
Take a step back and checkout for a while, let me help you find or create your vision.
Give your business a check-up, then look at what you could do differently.
 
Sometimes it feels like we’re chasing for clients – we need to attract our right clients and part of how we do that is starting with our clear vision.
 
Does it feel like you are up against a brick wall?
 
Right now, our businesses may look very different to last year – which may be temporary – or not.
By reviewing your business now, you can make any changes you need to, to give you the life you want.
 
Click here to get my free checklist to help you start reviewing and ReVisioning your Therapy Business and
 
I’ll be going live to talk some more about this at 3:00pm. No Mrs Hinch impressions and definitely no Zoflora*.
 
*👵 perfumed disinfectant my Gran used liberally . . . . .