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In today’s economic climate—with a stubbornly high unemployment rate, the potential for another recession, and the unpredictable swings of the health-insurance industry—uncertainty is the common lot of small business owners, including therapists in private practice. We can’t individually or even collectively do much to control the future, economic or otherwise. But, as Neurolinguistic Programming founder John Grinder once said, the most flexible participant in a system will have the most influence or choice in that system. During a negotiation, for example, the person with greater flexibility—who can see and understand the point of view of the other side and adopt multiple strategies for resolving disagreements—is likelier to bring both sides to a win-win resolution than the person who stubbornly refuses to budge from one rigidly held position. A small business owner has the advantage over huge corporations in being more capable of flexibility; a private practitioner can quickly change course, adapt to a new market, stop an unprofitable program, start up a needed program, or take on new ways of relating to clients. If you want to dance with the new economy and not get stepped on, you’ve got to be light on your feet, ready to turn—if not on a dime, then at least on a quarter—and master some moves you never imagined yourself performing.

Lynn Grodzki, LCSW, MCC (Master Certified Coach), is a therapist in private practice and a business coach for therapists and other helping professionals. Her latest book is Crisis-Proof Your Practice: How to Survive and Thrive in an Uncertain Economy. Contact: website:

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