Thursday, June 19, 2014

Are we there yet? Part 1

With the upcoming Mind Your Own Business Conference Challenge: Clients Unlimited, private practice has been ON THE BRAIN. 

I'm collecting tips and picking brilliant people's brains (want to interview geniuses? Host a conference) and all I want to talk about is making your counseling dreams come true. There's nothing like talking to these private practice leaders to make it feel like the future you've always wanted is right within your grasp. 

But some of you aren't AT your future yet. You're still thinking about it someday down the line, after you get your license, or after you've worked in an agency for a while. Some of you want to consider it part-time, some of you want to know what you can do RIGHT NOW as an intern to get started.

If that sounds like you, what you need to determine today is what needs to happen either BEFORE you're in private practice or in order to know you're ready for private practice.

In the spirit of my conference preparation, I'm pulling from some of the best minds in the business together to tell you how you can make sure you are more prepared before you step into your own amazing private practice someday. 

But what if I don't know if I want to go into private practice or not? What if I want to work at an agency?
If that's true, don't stop reading. These practices are necessary steps for your success as a professional counselor, no matter where you work! 

Research your market.  Tamara Suttle walks you through market research for therapists on her blog post, "Do You Know What Your Colleagues Are Up To? Market Research in 9 Simple Steps." This is not to foster competition, because you know I believe that we don't have to compete with others to be successful. You have something to offer that no one else does, and researching your market helps you highlight your unique gifts and offerings. 

Have an idea of what you want to DO in your practice. In "10 Signs You Are Ready To Go Into Private Practice" Amy Flaherty says that you need to start with having a business plan before you try to open your doors. I agree. (And I didn't do that, by the way...and wished I had.) If you don't know what you want, how will you know when you get it?

Have a solid self-care plan in place BEFORE you start.
Working for yourself is HARD. That plus a business that is about giving to others on a daily basis is a recipe for DISASTER without a self-care plan. In "10 Self-Care Strategies for Private Practice Shrinks," Julie Hanks gives you ten practical ways to do just that. 

Create SYSTEMS to prevent yourself from working too hard on the wrong thing or doing the same thing over and over again. Oh my goodness this was so hard for me to learn! I tend to be a big thinker but an in-the-moment doer...and that doesn't work long-term. You'll end up stressed and avoiding things you don't like to do, which, contrary to expectation, won't make those things go away. Tracey Lawton solves that problem in her article, "5 Systems For Success Tips."

Be okay with failure. Failure happens, so there's not much point in taking it personally. Besides, it's all in how you define it. In, "Have You Failed Lately? 7 Reasons You Should Try To Fail..." Miranda Palmer gives you seven excellent reasons failure is not something to avoid.

These are just some of the important things to have in place for your private practice before you start! 

Again, if you are thinking about going into another line of counseling work, don't think these don't apply to you. Every professional counselor needs to have a goal for their career (like Amy says) and practice good self-care (like Julie told you!) These are important pieces of preparation for life as a professional mental health therapist. 

Watch this spot next week for more steps to professional success in "Are we there yet? Part 2."

What is your dream for professional success? Comment below!