Starting a private practice is a daunting adventure.
I was at a group practice that was well-known in the community. There was no shortage of clients. I established a reputation and received many referrals from former clients. Moving to another town where nobody knew me and starting my own private practice was a big risk. I knew that I wouldn’t have many clients initially. I worried about how long it would take me to gain enough clients.
I wanted to start a private practice and do it “right”. My drive to do it “perfectly” came from a fear of “failing”. Somewhere I adopted the false belief that “if I don’t do this right, then I won’t get clients, and I will fail”. Making sure that I did everything “right” gave me a sense of security.
I didn’t specifically and realistically define what I needed to do. I didn’t create a detailed plan either. That left me with a constant general feeling that I wasn’t doing enough, whether it was building my website, creating a blog, designing my office space, reaching out to other professionals in the community, or all the various administrative tasks. I became very stressed and anxious with the pressure I put on myself.
Below are some helpful tips on how to start a private practice business, especially if you struggle with perfectionism. It will reduce your stress and give you more joy in the whole process.
Setting Helpful Goals
Define what you want to accomplish
Without a specific realistic goal, you will have a vague general feeling that you’re not doing enough or have not succeeded. You feel bad but you’re not exactly sure what would make you feel better. It can help if you can concretely put down what you want to accomplish.
Break down what you want to accomplish into smaller goals
Setting a big goal can be discouraging because it may take awhile to accomplish it. Breaking down what we want to accomplish into smaller goals can give you a sense of progress.
Set the bar low
If you struggle with perfectionism you may set the bar too high. You feel a sense of discouragement which may lead you to either procrastinate or overwork yourself. Either way, you become less efficient and happy in what you are doing. Making goals that are easily achievable can help you feel encouraged, engaged, and motivated.
Your happiness is not solely dependent on reaching your goals.
Outsource your Needs to the Experts
If you are like most therapists, your training is in helping people not in marketing, website design, interior design, finances, or administration. You don’t have to do everything yourself. Work with someone experienced with starting a private practice. He can come alongside to coach and guide you and relieve some of your stress and anxiety about starting a business.
Create Space to Relax and Not Think About your Business
Scheduling well can help you compartmentalize your stress. Schedule time to work. Schedule time to rest and forget about your work.
Create space to celebrate the wins no matter how small. Slow down and let it sink in. Celebrate with those you love. It is easy to see what is not yet done. It takes intentional action to see what has been accomplished. Tell yourself “ progress not perfection”.
Slow down, step back, take a deep breath, and look at what you have accomplished so far. Be very “picky” about every little small thing you accomplished. Catch yourself saying “I did this…but I still have to do this…” and instead tell yourself “I have accomplished this…wow, I’m so grateful and proud of…”
Lean on People Close to you
Talk to someone who cares about you about the process of starting a private practice. Slow down and share with them your excitement, joy, disappointments, and fears. Being together with someone you feel safe and secure with buffers against the stresses of life. Opening up and connecting with someone that cares about you soothes your worries and fears. As Celtic saying goes, “we live in the shelter of each other”.
Starting a private practice, like any business, is a process. It can be messy, inconsistent, and unpredictable. There is always something to improve on. Building a “perfect’ business is constantly a “work in progress”. It is possible to enjoy the process of creating a thriving practice that helps others thrive.
Casey is the owner of Rooted Hearts Counseling and specializes in Couples and Marriage Counseling with advanced training in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). He gets to the heart of the matter in issues of communication, conflict resolution, infidelity, and infertility. He helps couples heal wounds, grow together, and connect emotionally.