After finishing counselling training, several people on my course immediately signed up to the next level advanced training. I decided to take a year out to get some experience before getting more qualifications. For me, counselling (or at least my version of it) was about 2 people sitting in a room together talking, and I wanted to get some experience doing that.
So I started before I was ready, and opened my private practice before I'd worked it all out.
Theories have their place in life. For example, when learning to drive you take your theory test to prove you have an understanding of the highway code to keep yourself and other road users safe. And you can read books about how to play the piano, about what the musical symbols mean, how to sit etc.
But it’s not the same as actually experiencing it.
To learn how to drive a car, you have to get behind the wheel eventually. To learn how to play the piano, you’re going to have to tickle those ivories.
It’s exactly the same as marketing your private practice. You can read about how to do it, you can plan how to do it and you can reflect on how you’ll do it, but until you take action, nothing moves forward. That's why you should start before you're ready
Experience is the thing we learn from most, and part of that learning comes from getting things wrong. Learning from our mistakes are some of the most valuable lessons you’ll have.
The problem is, learning from mistakes can be painful, like the toddler that learns the hard way that the coffee table has sharp corners. But it's not just physical pain, emotional pain like ridicule, embarrassment, discomfort, criticism and humiliation hurt - a lot.
We are pre-programmed to avoid pain, which is problematic because the fear we have around making mistakes can prevent is from moving forward in both our lives and our business.
Well if it has, you are certainly not alone. I know many, many counsellors that are letting fears stop them from achieving the successful practice they would love. Fears around marketing their practice, being visible, having nothing valuable to say, about not being good enough and getting nasty comments from trolls. If your fears prevent you from marketing your practice, then potential clients simply won’t know you’re there and available to help. And that’s not fair on them.
I love the classic book ‘Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway’, by Susan Jeffers
Although I think the title can sound a little harsh for people struggling with anxiety, I live by these words and don’t let my fears stop me from moving forward in my life and business.
For example, when I received a phone call asking me to talk at a BACP conference, I was terrified - I’d never done anything like that before! But I knew it was an amazing opportunity and one I would regret if I allowed my fears to stop me. So I felt my fear - and did it anyway. I got some help, worked out what to do and went for it.
Was it perfect? Absolutely not! It was a long way from being perfect BUT I had now experienced what giving a talk involved, I had learned so much and could use that experience to make future talks better.
Being scared isn’t a valid reason for not getting out there and marketing your practice. Being scared is just the starting point. It’s normal and natural, and we all feel it. But if you let fear stop you from moving forward, you'll never grow and develop.
It helps to really understanding why you are doing this. Why do you want to be a counsellor? Is it:
Because when you're clear on your why, it’s far easier to find the courage to do what you need to to be successful.
I’m willing to bet that you have overcome many difficulties in your life just to get where you are today. Far bigger issues than whether you can write a blog or what to post on social media.
So how about you give yourself some credit? You are an intelligent, capable person, you can work it out - and if you need some help, the Grow Your Private Practice club is there to guide you.
What would happen if you did get a nasty comment on social media?
Well, it really sucks, I get it, but also you can totally handle it! There is information around that will help you manage it. Even I have a blog to help called '10 Ways to handle negative comments on your facebook page'.
People are struggling with their lives. If the thought of a nasty comment on social media stops you from letting them know you're there to help them, then you are letting those people down. Not just that, you are letting fear win and that will prevent you from achieving whatever success means for you, whether that a full time practice or a few clients to fit around other commitments.
Action creates progress and growth. When it comes to growing your private practice you have to stop thinking about it, planning it, researching and preparing for it. It’s time to just crack on and do it. Start before you’re ready, get stuck in and trust that you can handle any problems that arise.
And those moments it don’t go the way you expected? Chalk it up to experience and use it as all-important learning.
So you could wait until this time next year to get started while you research, plan and learn, or you can start before you're ready, now, today and in a years time have a huge amount of valuable experience and a practice that’s growing.
If you’re being held back by fear, it’s time to take action. You’ll gain experience and become more confident, which leads to more clients and more success.
It’s time to take a leap of faith, start before you're ready - you can totally do this!
Jane lives in beautiful Lincoln with her 2 boys and rescue dog. When she's not talking about herself in the third person, she's usually found with her feet up and eating Maltesers. Sometimes she even shares them with friends.