You’ve passed your exams, done your placement and had your personal therapy and now you’re a fully qualified therapist - YAY!
Congratulations! You should be very proud. Time to start in private practice - exciting times!
But wait! You’re not starting in practice yet?
‘No, I think I’m going to get a more qualified qualification so I can help people in a more qualified way. And it’ll attract more clients as they’ll see how super qualified I am.'
Okay, no. We need to talk…
This is something I hear All. The. Time. I’ve almost come to expect it now it happens so often, so let’s explore this phenomenon, as it’s a little more complex than first appears.
Why do we want more qualifications?
It can seem like a great thing, wanting to get more qualifications so you can give your clients the best service and of course, we all want to do that. But when we look a little closer, we can see this is all interlinked with fear.
I’m not good enough.
Good old Imposter Syndrome. You question your abilities, you lack confidence so you take another qualification, thinking it will leave you feeling more confident and capable. But sadly, it won't.
If you identify with this, there are many different ways you can manage your imposter syndrome - read 'How To Beat Imposter Syndrome (A Guide For Therapists)'.
The most pressing thing to learn and the think that will make the biggest impact on the success of your practice is managing your fears, not more qualifications.
You feel worried about putting yourself out there, so you delay getting started by getting another qualification. And that's all it is, a delaying tactic, you are already qualified and able to work with clients.
Procrastination is all about fear, and we all get it to a greater or lesser extent. At some point, you have to 'do the thing', and that may as well be now.
It will attract more clients.
It won’t. Clients don’t understand or, generally speaking, have any interest in our qualifications, they assume you are adequately qualified to be practising.
All they want to know is that you can help them deal with whatever their issues are.
The thing that will attract clients is an understanding of their needs, and how to market your practice in a way that will attract them, so any training at this time is better spent on learning some marketing skills.
If you need to learn how to market your practice in a way that's right for you, check out the Grow Your Private Practice club as it has everything you need.
There are many highly qualified therapists out there that can't attract clients.
The problem with taking more qualifications is:
There are always more courses.
With so many theory bases, so many modalities, so many subjects and all of them interesting and useful, you could literally be taking courses for the rest of your life. And...
You can never know everything.
It’s simply not possible. And not only that, you don’t have to! One of the most important things in all counselling modalities is the therapeutic relationship, and a squillion different courses won’t help with that.
There are people out there that need you right now, with your current qualities and qualifications.
Not all learning is done in a training environment.
Much of what we learn can only come from the experience of being with a client and we can only really understand the power of even basic counselling skills by doing them.
When we witness and understand how being fully listened to impacts people, how reflecting things back to them brings clarity, how silence enables them to go deeper we realised that powerful, life changing work can be done with the skills and knowledge you currently have.
Experience only comes from doing the work.
What to do instead
If you're wondering 'shall I get another qualification before starting in private practice?', consider this: If you wait until you're ready, you'll be waiting forever. There comes a point when you just have to do the thing!
It’s time to be brave and start seeing clients.
Being brave doesn’t mean you don’t have fear, it means you take action despite the fear.
I’m going to let you into a secret: We ALL have fear starting in business. And not just therapists, EVERYONE!
Doing something new is scary and takes us out of our comfort zone, But that's ok, it's good to do something that's challenging!
The only way to get experience is by doing the thing, which in our case is sitting with clients and practicing our skills.
Few of us have an unlimited amount of money, and non of us have an unlimited amount of energy, so taking private clients will bring in an income, which means you’ll have money to invest in:
There is nothing wrong with improving yourself as a therapist and wanting to continue learning. In fact, CPD is a requirement, you have to keep learning and keeping your skills fresh.
But if you are qualified and using this as a reason (excuse) to delay getting started in private practice, I invite you to reflect honestly on what’s happening for you.
Because it’s time to do the thing you trained for and actually help people.
There are people out there that need you right now, with your unique mix of qualities, experience, skills and training. Don’t hide from them.
Because this could be the best thing you ever did.