If you're a therapist and you want a successful private practice, then your mindset is vital.
But what do I even mean by mindset? Why is it so important? And how can you go about improving yours?
In this episode, I explore why your mindset is vital if you want a successful practice. I also share some questions for reflection and some tips for how to work on developing yours.
So I guess the best place to start is... what even IS mindset?
What is mindset?
Let’s talk about Flossie.
Flossie came to counselling because she’s going through a painful break up.
Through exploration, it becomes apparent that although she would love a happy and fulfilled relationship, she’s in a pattern of falling for unavailable partners. Basically, she’s self sabotaging.
Through further exploration, you identify how issues from her past were causing these behaviours.
And through yet more exploration, together you start identifying what her needs are in a relationship, what boundaries might help her, some self-care activities and communication skills.
Without the counselling theres a chance she might have had a eureka moment and realised what changes might help her, but more likely she might have stumbled from one unsatisfactory relationship to another, blaming the partners or blaming herself for the awful experiences.
The counselling helped change Flossies mindset. She was able to understand herself and her needs better. She could identify red flags and protect herself from getting involved with people that ultimately weren't a good fit for her.
She started to believe that yes, she is worth being treated with respect.
You go, Flossie!
How would you describe Flossies experience of therapy?
Well, it’s not easy to describe simply, is it? But one way to describe it is that it’s helped her with her mindset.
She has explored thoughts, feelings, ideas and patterns of behaviour that she may have previously been totally unaware of. And by taking these from her subconscious to conscious, she can change her behaviour and protect herself going forward so they no longer hold her back.
I love therapy!
We might not usually refer to what we do with clients as ‘mindset’ work, but this is the definition according to the Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary:
Definition of mindset:
1: a mental attitude or inclination
2: a fixed state of mind
Isn't that exactly what you work with?
Counselling shines a light on whats happening in a persons life so they can understand their processes and ultimately protect themselves from self sabotaging behaviours.
Think about the Johari window, which is all about shining a light our blind spots, the parts of ourselves that we are unaware of. (If you're new to the Johari window, here's Wikipedia to give you a quick overview)
Self awareness really is so important isn't it?
So it could be said that therapy is about exploring and changing mindset.
The importance of mindset in private practice
What does mindset have to do with attracting more therapy clients?
Well, everything as it happens because you are a human. Human first, counsellor second remember?
Let’s talk about Kate.
Kate trained to be a therapist and adored the whole process. Now she is qualified, insured and has a place to see clients.
She knows there are millions of people struggling with their mental health and she understands that after the lockdown, more people than ever need help.
In her minds eye she imagined that once she became qualified clients would find her. A kind of ‘if you build it, they will come’ scenario, like in field of dreams.
But sadly, the reality of running a business isn’t like that. In order for Kate to attract clients, she has to learn how to market her practice. She has to learn how to let people know who she is and who she helps. And thats a whole new skill set to master.
So here’s a question you’ll know the answer to!
Q: What happens when we leave our comfort zone?
A: We get anxious
Yup, and all those insecurities flood out.
The fear of not being good enough
The fear you will fail and everyone will laugh at you
There might be a little voice in her head saying that you’ve just fluked getting here and now you’ll be uncovered as the fraud you are.
Or it might be a big, loud shouty voice. Ouch.
Now if you can identify with anything Kate is going through, please don’t worry because it’s totally normal. You are totally normal if you have fears and self sabotage, so taken a big deep breath and let that go.
In fact, just to put this into context, they say that only psychopaths and narcissists don't get imposter syndrome.
So that’s reassuring, right?!
And myself - I have struggled with all the mindset issues at different times, and my imposter syndrome is never far away. Not only that, I'm blessed with a critical father and so often his voice is in my head making me doubt myself.
I promise I know just how awful it is. It knocks your confidence and makes you want to hide away. It is confusing, exhausting and bewildering.
But as I say, unfortunately it’s normal. Everyone in business gets it to greater or lesser extent.
But this isn’t exclusive to people in business, is it?
- Imagine you're asked on a date with that sexy person you’ve had your eye on for ages
- Or you get that promotion you’ve been working towards
- Or you are chosen to to be in the football team.
That initial excitement can give way to fears that you aren't good enough, people will be disappointed with you, laugh at you, and that you’ll be humiliated. Again, ouch!
Working on imposter syndrome in your business will also help with imposter syndrome in your private life and help improve your self esteem and confidence.
Imposter syndrome is real and it can be horrific. It’s like starting a 20 mile hike only to realise your sock keeps slipping down inside your boot. It will make you miserable, slow you down, cause you pain and suck the fun out of the experience.
So of COURSE you want to protect yourself from this.
Welcome back, self-sabotage.
Outside of your conscious awareness, you put blocks in the way in order to avoid the negative consequences of leaving your comfort zone.
So for Kate, this could be things like:
- Procrastination: Getting caught up in busy work that leaves her feeling exhausted but doesn't actually achieve anything
- Perfectionism: Spending so long dotting every 'i' and crossing every 't' until she feels exhausted but never actually achieving anything
- Comparisonitis: Getting obsessed with watching what other people are doing and comparing them to herself in a way that she can never measure up to
- Shiny Object Syndrome: Constantly starting new projects only to ditch them when the next new exciting more sexy thing comes up. So yes, you guessed it, she gets exhausted but never actually achieve anything
And as this is being done outside her conscious awareness she doesn’t understand why it's proving so hard to move her practice forward. She just blames herself.
And the really sad part is, it can lead to Kate feeling so disheartened that she gives up.
I’m here to tell her that she CAN do it.
YOU can do it.
BUT you have to prioritise working on your mindset
What if you don’t work on your mindset?
So what if you don’t work on your mindset issues?
Well, think back to Flossie and relationships. If she hadn't decided to get therapy, she would have stayed in the same relationship patterns and stumbled from one relationship to the next, blaming her partners, blaming herself.
And I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you don’t work on your mindset and your fears take over, you might just self sabotage your way out of business.
- Your fear of visibility means potential clients wont even know you are there.
- Your perfectionism means you never make your website live or post a blog
- Your procrastination and perfectionism means you are working all hours but not seeing any results
So you give up, and tell yourself that you knew this would happen.
And possibly your anxiety will get a tighter grip of you stopping you in other areas of your life.
….Ok, sorry, that got bleak really fast didn't it!
But I have seen so many extremely talented, passionate, highly qualified therapists give up when if they had focused on mindset it would have made a powerful difference and changed everything.
How I manage my Imposter Syndrome
As I said, I get imposter syndrome incredibly badly and never more so than when I wrote the Grow Your Private Practice book.
I remember one weekend it floored me and I was in bits, shattered by it. Here’s what I did:
- I tidied my house
- I lit candles
- I listened uplifting music and inspirational podcasts while I did it
- I journaled
- And (really importantly) I shared how I was feeling and was supported.
All this helped.
Now when it hits me (which is still far more often than I'd like!) I know what I need to do - stop, spruce up my living space, practice self care and talk to someone about how I’m feeling. And this works for me.
Of course we are all different and what works for me might not work for you, but some robust self care is always a good place to start.
Like Flossie with her relationship issues, there will always be more for her to learn about herself. It’s something to constantly be working on.
You won’t just get rid of your fears forever. Your fears will still lurk in your head ready to pounce when you’re at a low ebb, but you will know what you are working with.
And now you know what to watch out for within yourself so instead of going down an ‘I can't do this’ spiral, you can acknowledge that 'this is just my fears doing their thing again'.
And you can get some tools and techniques ready for when you feel it.
You don’t have to have totally eradicated your fears to have a successful practice - do it scared! Remember, action is the antidote to fear.
You can totally do this.
Questions for reflection
Journaling is a great tool to increase your self awareness and it’s totally free.
Firstly, come from a place of curiosity, so saying
‘That’s interesting, I said I was going to start blogging but I haven't published anything yet, I wonder why that is?’
Is far more beneficial that
‘ I still haven't published a blog post, I’m so useless’
So with this in mind, maybe consider what you might say to a clients in a similar position, and listen to episode 22 'It's time to take your own advice'.
Here are a few questions for reflection:
- What are you really afraid of?
- Where has this fear come from?
- How true is this belief?
- What can you do to help yourself?
- What can you do to protect yourself going forward?
Being a therapist doesn't mean you have to be a perfect, self actualised person so don’t put yourself under that pressure. You are just a mere human, flawed, complicated, probably a little bit broken too.
That doesn’t mean you can’t be successful.
But just like Flossie, a little exploration will leave you feeling more in control and able to protect yourself.
When you uncover and understand your fears then you can start taking steps to work on them.
Tips for managing your mindset
In the Grow Your Private Practice membership, we have over 26 workshops and guest expert workshops available to members, so if you are a member go check them out.
Or listen to podcasts about the issue you need extra help with - this is episode 112, and probably 30% of my podcasts are about mindset, so browse my previous episodes and see how they can help you.
Look for books or audio books on the subject and follow experts on social media and YouTube and learn all you can about it.
BUT remember that the most important thing to do is take action. Information without action is merely entertainment (as I talk about in episode 87 'How to turn inspiration into action'
Why is mindset vital for therapists?
So there we have it, why mindset is so important when running a private practice.
And it goes without saying that if you are ready to make a difference and move past these blocks, the Grow Your Private Practice membership is waiting and ready to support you.
So keep learning, keep growing - and most importantly - keep going!