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

I started on Monday 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. Tuesday was Personal Therapy requirements – I think at least 100 hours, and yesterday 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.

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

Element 4 – Money Mindset

I was working as a Business Advisor whilst completing my Counselling Studies, helping dozens of local business.

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 clear, 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? What is our budget – what do we need to live and more, enjoy life.

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.

I’ll be going live this afternoon at 3:00pm to talk some more about the particular challenges for therapists and you can get a pdf of my checklist by popping your details here:

There’s no i in team

There’s no i in team . . . .

On Monday I asked if now is a good time to start in private practice, and suggested that the vague guidance of ‘sufficient experience’ could be firmed up by considering 4 elements.

Yesterday I talked about Element 1, our personal therapy. And I suggested that to be ready for private practice, 100 hours of personal therapy is a good foundation.

Today I’m going to talk about elements 2 and 3 – bonus time – I want to get all 4 covered so that Friday will be about therapists currently in Private Practice and who are wondering what to do.

And there’s no i in team was a very annoying observation made by a colleague a long, long time ago which popped into my head this morning.

My apologies if it annoys you too.

Element 2 is 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.

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

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.

Talking of support,

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?

To get hold of the checklist, pop your details here:

And I’ll talk some more about support in the Live at 3:00pm


Therapy, therapy, therapy

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

Yesterday I talked about how, if you’re a qualified counsellor or psychotherapist, now could be the right time to start in private practice.
And I shared that anxiety and lack of confidence are universal barriers to starting in private practice. And that’s not entertaining self-sabotage or imposter syndrome . . . . .
The guidance given by training bodies is often vague – for example, it may day – 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 realised that there are 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.

A quick diversion about qualifications.

🤔 As I said yesterday, counselling and psychotherapy in the UK is an unprotected title and so anyone can call themselves a counsellor, set up a website and Facebook page and see clients.

Providing they don’t claim a qualification they haven’t got, or a membership they don’t have – what they do is perfectly legal . . .

Unless you are an Art psychotherapist, Art therapist, Dramatherapist or Music therapist – which are HCPC* protected titles.

                                                                                    *Health & Care Professions Council
I think we can consider private practice once we have a relevant qualification of at least 400 level 4 (Diploma) training hours and at least 100 client hours.
OK, let’s get back to the 4 elements:
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.
An ancient way of assessing competence was the Guilds, Goldsmith for example, where we would start as an apprentice, via journeyman, through craftsperson and master or mistress craftsperson. And this progression was based on time served. Seven years as an apprentice and so on.
This is still relevant, as practicing a skill is what helps us become more proficient. Get the techniques into our subconscious.
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.
Experiencing a variety of therapy modes and methods is great learning too. During our training we may be restricted to therapetic model, or need to stay with one therapist. As soon as possible, I do invite colleagues to have other therapeutic experiences.
Before now, how many of us experienced online therapy? I did skills practice and some client work as part of my online training. I was the ‘client’ for colleagues on the course. Then in March my therapy was moved online – what a wake-up call and amazingly useful, if uncomfortable, experience.
Therapy taken before our training would count for my 100 hours, and I think we need to continue personal therapy for at least the first year of our Independent practice. After that, as we need, for our self-care and client-care.
Once we’ve become a more mature therapist, I don’t think we need to be in permanent therapy. Which might be a controversial view . . .
I discuss with my Supervisor when I think therapy could be helpful and my Supervisor will gently suggest to me, if I’ve got a blind spot.
Which all contribute to making a safe, independent counsellor.

Why now is the right time to start a therapy business

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.

Monday 18th May 2020 is the start of Mental Health Awareness week, when the topic of mental wellbeing will be top of the media agenda.

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? Over the next four days I’m going to share my thoughts on the 4 elements to consider when deciding if you’re ready for Private Practice.

And colleagues in Private Practice currently, who have seen their business decimated might well be reading this with incredulity, having lost clients and income over the last few weeks. On Friday I’ll share my tips on how to review and rejuvenate your existing Therapy Business

Check in tomorrow for the first element.