The decision to start a private practice can be an anxiety ridden one for most therapists. Many therapists come to me saying things like, “how in the world can I, little old me, start a private practice?” In the words of Maya Angelou – who are you not to? Self doubt is a normal part of taking any risk as we stand tall in our vulnerability and courage declaring that we can make a difference for others.
What is self doubt and why does it pose such an obstacle for therapists? Self doubt is the part of us that says that despite all of the time spent in graduate school, all the training experiences, clinical supervision and continued advancement of our knowledge that we are still not enough. It’s the feeling that makes us not ask that question in a meeting or that makes us take up less psychical and emotional space with others. It’s important to know that this feeling is normal and happens for all of us deciding to make such a huge step.
However, for some therapists it’s paralyzing. One way to facilitate movement is to create your vision for yourself and your practice. What do I mean by vision for yourself and your practice? Well, I mean stopping to pause and reflect on your life as it is in this current moment. Ask yourself, what are the benefits for me to going into private practice? And, what about this feeling of self-doubt is so challenging for me? What would I need in this moment to feel more confident?
Time to Reflect
Taking time to take stock is a fundamental tool for private practice work and a way to assess the use of our psychological and emotional energy – if you’re working smarter or just harder. When you take time to reflect you can unlock more creative energy to imagine for yourself what your ideal life looks like and how you can make practical steps toward getting there. The vision is ultimately about what you want your life to look like, an important part of this is what type of practice do you want?
Many folks mistakenly take the same pace and issues from their human service jobs into private practice because they didn’t take the time to construct a vision for themselves. If you can take the next 15 minutes after reading this article to start writing up your vision, what are some adjectives you would use about the way you want to feel in your practice and your life? Having this list is a first step in helping you tackle self doubt and take another step towards opening your private practice. You got this!
Aaron Skinner-Spain, LCSW is the Founder and Director of Clinical Services of NYC Affirmative Psychotherapy LCSW PLLC. NYC Affirmative Psychotherapy is a community-focused, sliding scale group practice with a special commitment to serve queer communities of color. Besides working in his group practice Aaron provides clinical supervision and consults with other therapists who want to start private practice, group practices, or those launching other types of new businesses.