Starting a private practice as a new counsellor or therapist can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it can also come with its fair share of challenges.
I hear a lot of new counsellors and therapists talk about anxiety, apprehension and trepidation when it comes to starting in private practice.
So if any of that sounds familiar, and as a new counsellor or therapist starting out seems impossible, here is my open letter to you...
Starting your own private practice can feel hugely exciting. After all, you've probably been working up to this point for many years. All that training, learning, reading and soul searching has led to this point.
And now here you are, ready to take action.
But somehow the excitement has transformed and now you feel overwhelmed, intimidated and apprehensive. That tingle of excitement has morphed into more of a 'did I accidentally sit on a bed of stinging nettles' sensation.
Now, starting out seems impossible.
This isn't what you ordered!
Look, I get it - I’ve been through it. I was in private practice for 14 years, and Ive been there.
And to be honest, I have not only lived through those feelings, I've revisit some of them many times over, because they keep popping up to bite me on the bum from time to time. Annoyingly.
As a new counsellor about to start in business, you might feel some fear:
Fear of the unknown: 'I've never worked for myself before, this is a whole new way of working - with new responsibilities. How will I cope?'
Fear of not being good enough: 'I'll get found out as the fraud I am' (Classic imposter syndrome.)
Fear of failure: 'OMG, can I even do this, and if it all goes wrong - I’ll be publicly humiliated'
Fear of not attracting clients: 'Why would they come to me when there are so many others better qualified, more experienced' etc
Fear of disappointing clients: 'What if I just can’t help them?'
Fear of being overwhelmed: 'How can I possibly learn so many new things?'
Fear of being successful: 'This will be too much, too stressful. Will people have unreal expectations. There will be too much responsibility. Can I cope?'
Fear of getting it wrong: 'What if I mess up and someone complains. What if I make someone feel worse?'
Fear of not being taken seriously: 'I’m new and inexperienced, why would anyone listen to me?'
Fear of being disappointed: 'What if I've worked so hard for years, but now I can't make this work for me. I just don't have what it takes.'
Fear of being criticised: 'What if people tell me I'm doing everything wrong? My supervisor, people on social media, my peers...'
OMG, just typing that out gave me palpitations! Yuck, that was horrendous!
Sorry about that
But sometimes going toe to toe with your fears and allowing yourself to become fully aware of them is necessary. After all, if you don’t know what you're worried about, then you're more susceptible to self sabotage. And self sabotage will stop you in your tracks.
That said, it's important to remember that you are not alone in feeling this way. Many others have gone through this process and have come out the other side stronger and more successful.
To address these fears, I'd like to offer you an open letter of encouragement.
Dear New Counsellor/Therapist...
Starting a business is a big step and it's natural to feel overwhelmed. However, it's important to work on not letting these fears hold you back. You've put in the time, effort, and money to become a trained counsellor. You are passionate about helping people and making a difference in their lives.
As a first step, it's crucial to acknowledge that your fears are valid.
So, what if you could work through these fears?
What if you discovered that you ARE good enough?
Imagine that you ARE successful, and you go on to serve your clients well and change lives for the better?
And what if this is what you’re meant for and it becomes the best thing you ever did? I wonder how that would feel?
What if it turns out to be the making of you?
And what if you can earn a living by doing the very thing that you are so passionate about? That's living the dream right there, right?
And just for a moment, imagine what it would be like to go on to help hundreds of people?
What if through the work you do you save lives?
And finally, what if you CAN change this dream into a reality?
These are powerful questions to ask yourself.
You have a choice.
Yes, you can let fear control you and prevent you from doing the thing you love. Or you can trust in your own abilities and take the necessary steps to start your private practice.
Because here's the truth: The reality is that you CAN do this. You have the skills, knowledge, and passion to make a difference in people's lives.
Starting a private practice may seem impossible, but let's face it, starting anything new feels that way.
Starting in private practice is an exciting opportunity for growth and success.
It's a chance to take control of your career and to make a difference in the world.
So please please don't let fear hold you back from reaching your full potential. Learn to embrace the challenges that lie ahead because that’s how you learn. And trust that you have what it takes to succeed. I believe in you
You are a long way from being alone in feeling apprehensive about starting your own private practice. But with determination, action and a willingness to face your fears head-on, you can achieve your goals and make a positive impact in the world.
So take that first step, believe in yourself, and know that you are capable of great things.
I do hope this has inspired you because you stand on the threshold to a different future, and you can shape it into however you want it.
Enjoy the process.
And if you're looking for some help and support to grow your practice, consider joining the Grow Your Private Practice membership community.
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