How do you move through discouragement? What should you remember when things aren’t going your way? How can you remain focused on the positive when you’re feeling so down?
In this podcast episode, Whitney Owens speaks about 3 ways to move forward through discouragement in private practice.
In This Podcast
- 3 things you can do to move forward when feeling discouraged
Ways to move forward
It’s not easy owning your own practice, it’s going to be exciting but you will also feel discouragement at times. The Bible makes it pretty clear that things aren’t always going to go our way. Just because things aren’t going your way it doesn’t mean that God doesn’t want this for you. We often question if we’re doing the right thing and question if God is with you on these things. Here are three ways to move forward through discouragement.
1. Remember the past
It’s good to know how you got to where you are today. Remember all the things that have happened that have got you to this point. Spend time reflecting on that, especially in prayer and in journalling. The 12 stones story reminds us to put out our own stones to remember what has happened.
2. Focus on the positive
We tell this to our clients all the time but sometimes we don’t necessarily do this with ourselves. We don’t want to focus on the negative. Keep all the good things close to your heart and remember the positive that is going on, especially when you’re doubting yourself. We take everything personally when people don’t schedule with us or if an employee leaves. Focus on the clients that have come to you and the employees that you do have and love what you do. Sometimes we need others or a community in our lives to help us with this and uplift us. Refocus on the good parts and let go of the bad stuff.
3. Letting the future drive what you do
Remember where you are going and not what bad things are behind you. Sit down and write what you want for the future and the good work you want to do in the future. The negative happenings can also bring us new goals and ways to move forward. Use it as a turning point of where you want to go.
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Meet Whitney Owens
Whitney is a licensed professional counselor and owns a growing group practice in Savannah, Georgia. Along with a wealth of experience managing a practice, she also has an extensive history working in a variety of clinical and religious settings, allowing her to specialize in consulting for faith-based practices and those wanting to connect with religious organizations.
Knowing the pains and difficulties surrounding building a private practice, she started this podcast to help clinicians start, grow, and scale a faith-based practice. She has learned how to start and grow a successful practice that adheres to her own faith and values. And as a private practice consultant, she has helped many clinicians do the same.
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Welcome to the Faith and Practice podcast. I’m your host, Whitney Owens, recording from Savannah, Georgia. The purpose of this podcast is to help clinicians learn how to start, grow and scale a private practice with a faith-based perspective. Wanted to tell you about some exciting things going on through Practice of the Practice. Alison Pidgeon, who’s also a Practice of the Practice consultant and I are going to be joining forces for the first time offering a special mastermind group. The purpose of the mastermind group is to help you learn how to grow a private practice from solo to a group practice. And we’re going to come together to do this and it’s great that you’re going to get two consultants within one mastermind group. The group is going to last for six months and it’s going to include a course on how to grow a group practice, oh, sorry losing my words there.
And it’s also going to, so you’re going to walk through this course and learn about group practice, but then you’re also going to talk about how you want to do it in your perspective and then get tips from us as you move forward and go through the course and as you start hiring clinicians. It is so challenging to hire clinicians to your practice, figuring out how you want to do that in a way that is with your vision and values, in a way that also helps you make money. And you don’t want to make mistakes along the way. So, to have two consultants to walk you through that process will be really helpful. So that group is going to be starting on March 31st. It’s going to, like I said, run for six months and we’re going to have about 10 to 12 people depending on who applies.
Now with anyone who applies, we go through a process of a brief consulting call to make sure that it’s the best return on your investment because we want to know that it’s really going to help you for where you are in your practice. So, if you’ve been interested in a mastermind, unsure about it, maybe, please give me an email, email@example.com and let’s set up a phone call and let’s talk about if this group would be a good fit for you. I think it’s going to be amazing for both of us, Alison and I, to do this together, and I think it would be really beneficial for the group members. So, I really hope you’ll consider doing that.
So, today’s episode is how to battle discouragement in private practice. And I’m going to go through three steps to battle discouragement. Not only honestly, not only in private practice, but in your life in general. But I have found in private practice, being a solo business owner can be so discouraging at times when things don’t go the way we think they’re going to go. And I remember when I was first starting out, really getting clients was such a big deal. And when I would have a conversation with someone and I would lose a client or they go see someone else, I would be so discouraged about who I am and what I’m doing. I took it personally and that was difficult. And as I’ve grown my group, sometimes I feel that way about clients.
But honestly, I found a lot more of my discouragement when things happen within the team that aren’t the way that I want them to go or I think that God gives me a direction and then it doesn’t happen the way I thought it was going to. I found myself getting discouraged. So, I have to go back and rely on the three steps I talk about in this episode to help me move forward. And so, I think these steps will be helpful for you as you move forward in your private practice. So, let’s jump into the episode.
Hi, this is Whitney Owens. Welcome to the Faith and Practice podcast. So excited that each of you are joining me today. For those of you who are here for the first time, that’s so exciting and you’re going to love being with us, and then for those that are returning, it sounds like you’re enjoying it. So that’s great and I’m glad you’re finding it beneficial, helpful and looking forward to us moving forward together.
So today I want to talk about discouragement in private practice. If any of you’ve had a practice for very long, you know that it’s not easy. There are going to be some exciting times along the way and they are going to be some really discouraging times along the way. And that could be so many different things and I could go on and on about times of discouragement, even in my own practice but I want to focus today on three ways that you can move forward when discouragement comes your way. So even when we’re talking about being faith-based, the Bible makes it pretty clear many times over that we are going to experience rejection, that we’re going to be discouraged, that things are not always going to go our way. The whole concept of prosperity gospel is not accurate; that there are definitely times that we do have good moments and we feel blessed, but just because things aren’t going our way or maybe you have a slide in what’s happening in your practice doesn’t mean that you’re any more or any less blessed or that God’s hand is not any more, any less on you.
I think it’s easy for us when we have discouraging times or if we think something’s going to go a certain way and it doesn’t that we start to question if we’re doing it in the right thing, or is God really with me and what I’m doing? And it’s important that we remember that just because life circumstances changed, it doesn’t change who God is, that God is the same all the time. That you remember that when things are up and that you remember that when things are down. So, let’s talk about these three ways. You’re going to battle discouragement when you’re in your private practice. And I can talk a little bit about what that’s looked like for me.
So, the first thing that’s important is that we remember the past. When you are in your practice, it’s good to know how you got to where you are, that we remember all the things that have happened leading to this moment that we’re in. I really encourage you that as your practice is starting and growing, that you spend time reflecting on that, that you spend time in prayer and that more than that even that you’re writing about it. I think our journaling can be a form of prayer. It can be a form of faith as we step out into the things that we believe God’s telling us to do, the things that we feel led to do. So being able to journal about what’s happened is really great. In the Bible, especially in the old Testament, it talks about the 12 stones and that the Israelites, after they crossed over the Jordan, they were instructed to leave these 12 stones as a Memorial for what God had done. And when I think about that story, it reminds me of the importance of putting out our own stones. Like what are the stones in my life that would help me remember what has happened?
And so even in my private practice today, I have times that are very discouraging where I’m really feeling unsure about myself and then I go back to remembering, “Okay, what are the things that I know to be accurate about my practice and the things that I know to move me forward?” And I do think that God gives us these moments where we say, “Okay, I know for sure as sure as I can know that this is what I needed to be doing. And I did it. And so just because this other thing got in the way, doesn’t mean that it was any more, any less certain than I was supposed to do these things.” So, for example when I was considering private practice long, long time ago before I really was doing any kind of clinical work, I was in school and I was just thinking about, “Wow, I think I want to do private practice. I’m not really sure.”
So back when I was considering those things, I was on a walk one day and it was just the craziest. It just kind of all of a sudden, a name came to my mind, Water’s Edge Counseling. And I thought, “Huh, why is that name coming to mind? I don’t have a practice. I’m not necessarily about to open a practice. What is this about?” And as I’m walking, it’s just the sense, it’s not like I heard anything audible or that some message came down from heaven. I just had this sense that this was a name that I was going to be using one day in my career and I needed to just keep this name close to me and that that was going to be something that I would use one day. And so honestly, I kind of wrote that off as just me being silly and me just thinking out loud, you know, to myself as I’m walking and I just kept going about my life. And years later a dear friend of mine and I were having a conversation. So, I was explaining to her that I had just moved to Savannah, Georgia and wasn’t really sure what I was going to be doing here.
I had reached out to a lot of different practices trying to make connections. No one was hiring or they didn’t know who I was. They didn’t want to hire me. And then she says to me, “Whitney, remember that name you had years ago?” And I’m like, “What?” And it came back to me, “Oh yeah, Water’s Edge Counseling.” And she said, “You were in Savannah, you were on the water’s edge. And it was amazing.” Like I just got chills and I remembered that walk and I remembered this name and it just felt right. And so, as I move forward with my practice, I look back on that and I think that was so clear and evident to me that Water’s Edge Counseling was the name that I wanted to give my practice. And that just shows that it felt like God was with me and what I was doing.
Also, when I was first starting out, I finally came up with this name and I’m like, “Okay, Water’s Edge Counseling. Now I’ve got to find office space. How am I going to make this happen in this town where I don’t know anyone?” So, fortunately, randomly, a friend of mine from graduate school sent me a message through Facebook and said, “Oh, I saw your posts that you’re in Savannah. You’ve got to connect with my friend Jimbo.” And so Jimbo and I connected over coffee and found that we had very similar views on counseling and on integration. And ironically, he was also looking for a place to make an office. And he said, “Let’s just do this. Let’s just do this together.” And I was like, “Okay.” So, when I look back on that, I see that this relationship was kind of a stone for me and saying that, “Okay, these things are working out for me.”.
And in fact, Jimbo helped me get my first several clients when starting private practice. And I feel like it would have had a really difficult time getting going if I hadn’t had him in my life. And so that’s another stone that I look back on and remember that God is with me and that God is building this practice. So, I think it’s important that when you’re building your practice, you write down those things, things that you feel like God is near to you on so you can remember those when times get a little more difficult.
So, the second thing that helps us when we’re feeling discouraged is focusing on the positive. We teach this with our clients all the time, right? That you don’t want to be focusing on the negative that’s going on and getting them to just relay a couple of positive things that are going on when they get so fixated on negative. But we don’t always practice that ourselves. And so, when something really bad happens in the practice, I’ll start to really think about that one thing. And it’s really hard for me to move forward from it. I think the most difficult thing for me has been working with the employees. I have several employees at my practice, but when an employee leaves, it’s very hard for me to move forward. I always second guess myself as an owner, as a boss, and then I only focus on the bad part that happened with that employee and the reasons why they left instead of focusing on the good parts.
So when we’re focusing on the good parts, I’m thinking about the employees that have worked with me a long time or the positive things they’ve said to me as a business owner and taking those things and remembering those, keeping them close to hearts that when the discouragement comes, not that we want to disregard the negative things that are said to us, we do want to listen and consider that they could be a possibility, but we also really want to remember the positive things that are going on. I think we do this a lot and we’re early on in our practice when we’re trying to get clients because we’re so anxious to get clients. And then when a client calls and we try to talk to them about our practice and try to encourage them to schedule and they don’t schedule, it’s like we take it totally personally. And I remember early on I would have that happen and all of a sudden think, “Oh my goodness, I’m not supposed to do private practice because this person didn’t schedule,” or, “I’ve had three negative intake calls.” You know, it would worry me.
And we get really wrapped up in it. But instead of focusing on that focus on, “Here’s the clients that have come to see me and here are the few that have gotten better and the good things have happened in their life.” So instead of focusing on all those discouraging stuffs, focus on the encouraging stuff. And sometimes we might need other people in our lives to help us with this. I also had found that early on when I got involved and doing my own, getting consulting for myself, developing that community of other business owners that we can kind of talk to each other about the discouraging parts. It was just a few weeks ago after one of my employees had quit and it was just an ugly situation.
I met with another practice owner at a conference and she and I were able to talk about all these discouraging things in our practice, but then we were able to focus on the good things too. We’re able to really uplift one another as we were feeling really down. And by the end of the conversation, even though we had talked about some yucky gross things, I felt so much better after talking to her. So, she helped me to refocus on the good parts and kind of let go of the negative parts. So, it’s really important that we have community to be able to talk about this in, because sometimes we get that negative mindset and we need someone to pull us out of that and get us back into that mindset.
All right. And so, the third thing that is going to keep you from being in discouragement mode is letting the future drive what you do. So, when you’re looking at your discouragement, you’re looking back at the past, you’re not moving forward, and you want to remember where you’re going. So, setting your gaze on what’s ahead of you instead of on what’s behind you. And that might mean that you write out your goals. When you’re feeling discouraged, sit down and write where you want your practice to be in six months knowing that you can get there and you think about the good work you want to do in the future instead of thinking about what’s going on.
Now let’s say like when I lost an employee, I tried to think about the positives that could come out of that, that, well, this is going to give my other employees a chance to see more clients because now there’s going to be more office space. Or this is going to give us a chance to rethink about the way we’re meeting client’s needs or the way that we’re scheduling clients. There’s so many things that when the negative thing comes, it can actually allow you to have new goals for your practice and to move forward instead of sitting in the, like I said, yuckiness of where you’re at. It’s important that you think about those goals. And even as a practice, you might want to see if you have a group practice and consider what those goals are with your other teammates.
If you’re a solo practitioner, maybe talking with your consultant or talking with your family and loved ones saying, “Hey, this awful thing happened. So, what can you see good coming out of this? Where should my practice be going at this point?” As I look back on some discouraging things that have really happened, I’ve seen those as turning points in my practice. When I lost another employee, it was a while back, because that’s part of being a practice owner; is you know, as you grow you can have so many employees, but then eventually sometimes things happen. And so, one of them was very discouraging and so I’m kind of thinking through that. So, at that point I was nervous about where the practice was going to go. But I ended up using that as a turning point for where I wanted to be.
And it was actually when I changed my model from contractors to employees and the practice has run so much more smoothly ever since I made that transition. And I remember at the time reaching out to a Facebook group that I was a part of and saying to people, “Hey, I feel terrible that this just happened and I just lost this contractor. What are your opinions on this?” And several people said, “You know, it’s your first-year private practice, you’re figuring things out, things are going to change. But what’s important is that you move forward and that you see where you’re going. And we all have discouragement, especially in the first year.” And that really encouraged me. I feel like ever since that moment when I look back, the practice has done so much better ever since that time. And even the employees that have hired have just been great quality people that are encouraging and working hard and helping their clients. And it’s caused a better morale among the group of us.
And so, when we’re talking about discouragement in private practice, those moments are going to come and they’re going to hurt. And it’s important that you take the time to think through these things. Don’t just push the emotions down and move forward but really work through those and make a difference out of it. So, when we talk about the three things with, when you’re feeling discouraged, the first was remembering where you came from and write those things down. So, these are the stones that you’re going to be looking at as a Memorial for where you’ve come from. Two is focusing on the positive things that are happening in your practice instead of looking at the negative. And the third is that you let your future drive the things that you do and not letting the past drive the things that you do.
So, think that will be helpful for you as you move forward in practice. And when you find times of discouragement, I hope that these three things will be reminder to you and we’ll help you press forward in what you’re doing and really encourage you to get involved in a community of other private practice owners because it is so important that we utilize one another when we go through difficult decisions in times. So, don’t do it by yourself, find a community and we love Practice of the Practice and I personally have found so much growth in my own life and my own practice through this community. And so, we’re glad that you’re joining us and encourage you to get more involved. You can go to the Practice of the Practice website and if you want to work with me or in a mastermind group, you can do backslash apply and get more involved. Thanks for listening to the podcast.
Thank you for listening to the Faith in Practice podcast. If you love this podcast, please rate and review on iTunes or your favorite podcast player. If you liked this episode and want to know more, check out the Practice of the Practice website. Also, there you can learn more about me, options for working together, such as individual and group consulting, or just shoot me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Would love to hear from you.
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