You look in your diary, and smile inwardly - the hard work has started to pay off and you're getting more regular clients. Yes!
But then you get an email - 'I need to cancel tomorrows appointment because...'
And your 2pm client hasn't turned up and isn't answering the phone.
And you check to see if you're still on that online directory because you haven't had any referrals in a while...
So what do you do in a quiet spell?
Being self employed is great.
You can work your own hours, never miss your kids sports day, work with clients the way you want to…
But being self employed is also hard.
Those times the phone stops ringing, when you’ve re-scheduled your own life to accommodate a client and they don’t turn up, or you advise your client to go to the GP, and the GP puts them on the waiting list for NHS counselling despite you having an established therapeutic relationship.
But you know, that’s life, and that’s business.
It doesn’t matter what business you’re in - accountant, web designer, window cleaner - there will always be clients that let us down, or despite doing all you could, things don't happen the way you thought.
And what makes it worse is the crappy stuff tends to come in clusters.
Like the time 5 people over the course of 2 weeks ended therapy with me. Only one was a DNA. Great that people were feeling better and moving on, but equally...
So how can you handle these times?
Here are 7 things to do in a quiet spell:
1. Don’t take it personally.
It’s not about you, this happens to all therapists and everyone in business. If you make it personal, you’ll struggle in private practice.
Separate yourself from your business and look at what's happening objectively.
Your business is not you, you are not your business.
2. Take some time out to lick your wounds.
Write in your journal, vent to a trusted friend and do what we tell our clients - feel the feelings.
3. Remember this is temporary.
This won't last forever, keep the faith
4. Do some marketing.
Take the newly available time to do something to build your business.
Write a blog, schedule social media, get out there with leaflets, plan a free or paid workshop to get known. Do some planning, or give your website the once over and update it where nescessary.
5. Catch up on admin
I have to admit, I'm not good at keeping on top of admin tasks and if I'm busy it's the first thing to suffer. So spend some time on your admin and get up to date.
6. Have a clear out
7. Take a break.
Turn this unexpected break into a positive and do something nice: visit a friend, get some jobs done you keep meaning to and bask in the feeling of achievement. I bet you've got some books you didn't get around to reading..?
Remember, no matter how busy you get, always make sure you're constantly and consistently marketing your private practice, so when you do get a quiet time, you'll appreciate the opportunity to take a break!
We live in an amazing time, such a lot is being done to reduce the stigma around mental health issues making counselling more accessible than ever before.
There has been no better time to be a counsellor, so keep the blips in perspective and carry on regardless!
Because there are people out there that need you.