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|Our Businesses, Our Selves - Page 4|
Helping these therapists unravel the myths and mystery of business and implement practical, concrete strategies, while they learn the laws of cause and effect, empowers them. They feel less anxious as they see that can take steps to create their own business destiny. Writing business plans and setting goals; determining how much they want to earn and how to set and raise their fees; deciding what their policies are (about cancellations, for example) and what factors determine client retention; knowing how to effectively market, network, and generate referrals--all this information can help them understand how a therapy business works. Such steps normalize business operation, make it less confusing, and help them become savvier entrepreneurs.
Finally, in the early stages of a business's growth, there's the red stage--what Beck and Cowan call the egocentric phase--when a strong sense of individualism and selfhood comes to the fore. With survival secure, clinicians begin to have some practical sense of what they need to do to keep their businesses afloat and start concentrating more on staking out their own professional identity in the world. At this stage, a proprietor knows she's developed something substantial, worth protecting and preserving, and begins to look around at all the potential rivals she has--how many others in her area also specialize in addictions, or adolescence, or couples' counseling? How's the clinician going to stand out from the throng?
Therapists often have a hard time with competition. While it seems perfectly normal for a car salesman to be competitive, it feels perverse to therapists, who aren't happy to find themselves thinking envious thoughts about colleagues and obsessing about how they can get ahead of the pack. It sounds so narcissistic and unbecoming in a mature, selfless healer!
In contrast, because clinicians often don't understand the normal mind-Â set of an entrepreneur or how to accept themselves as competitive beings, they may overreact to theÂ presence of perceived rivals. OneÂ therapist I saw had identified a colleague in her area--with similar credentials, professional history, and specialty--as someone she needed to match and keep up with, step for step, as if her own career somehowÂ depended upon how her colleague did. She found herself trying to second-guess the colleague--angling to present at workshops where she thought the other therapist wouldÂ also present, for example. What helped her negotiate this particular stage was refocusing on her own personal vision for her professional life, reconnecting with what it was about the work that she loved, what sheÂ wanted for her own career. Getting back in touch with her original vocational foundations helped her stay on course with the goals that wereÂ Â Â important for her professional development and act to determine her own identity as a therapist, rather than react with one eye always on somebody else's progress.