Sometimes our supervision groups turn into a litany of complaints about insurance reimbursement, cancelled appointments, and vacant hours. Other times, high achieving therapists spend way too much time on one client and the place they find themselves in with a particular sticky clinical situation. All of these are important. Unless they are the items that hold you back from taking any action!
Here, then, are five issues that keep you from building your practice and keep you in a holding pattern.
Your inner circle is only other therapists.
Yep, they understand better than anyone how it’s isolating and sometimes intimidating to go outside the office and ply your wares. And, if history is a good indicator, therapists and M.D.’s have been reluctant to avail themselves of outside help because of the unseemliness of “doing business” rather than doing therapy. Remember, we don’t have practices filled with therapists. While colleagues can often be a good referral source, they generally keep what comes to them. So, widen the circle. Go to a lunch and learn for small businesses, contact the Small Business Administration (SBA) for their free services and invite the Provider Relations Coordinator at your local psychiatric hospital to lunch.
Spending time and money on business cards, office space, and marketing materials.
Sometimes feeling legitimate means having the trappings of a business rather than bodies showing up for appointments. Stop worrying about fonts, pillows, and handouts, and be sure your online presence is up to date, your niche is well known, and you are not sitting in an office…waiting. Take care of all of those things in a very short amount of time. In fact, start first with feeling confident about what you do and tell others! Then, visit Vistaprint for your cards.
Pursuing certifications that don’t matter.
In any profession, there is often a desire to pursue legitimacy through classes, seminars, and certificates. Not to mention, the boot camps, intensives and 3-day workshops that expand your expertise. Or do they? In the first few years of practice, be sure to earn as many CEU’s as you can; it’s important to always put your education first. But there is no need to to spend thousands of dollars and precious hours becoming a “specialist” in an area that does not interest you or forward your skill set. Find those areas that really pique your interest, have great ratings, and can build upon your niche. Then, as you become successful, by all means, enjoy the esoteric and the 3-day aways.
Reinventing the wheel.
There is no need to come up with the perfect practice name, the best location, the snazzy website. It’s been done. Find a trusted colleague with an open afternoon, sign up at Psychology Today, and incorporate as yourself. You have plenty of time to define your vision, sign a lease, and build an interactive site. If a client can Google you to find you, you are ready to launch. You can add office addresses, a tagline that explains your vision, and forms and checklists for download. Don’t let the trappings of a practice stop you from practicing!
Keeping your referral circle too small.
Repeat after me: Everyone you meet is a potential referral source. Everyone! Try this exercise. Today, keep count of everyone you come in contact with. The security guard in your building, the woman you say hello to at the dry cleaners, your exercise buddy, the clerk at the drugstore, your neighbor walking the dog.They are not therapists, but they might need one. If not you, your office mate or a favorite colleague. Nobody knows what you do unless you tell them. I am not suggesting you target everyone you come in contact with to make an appointment; rather, I’m suggesting you widen your view and give yourself an opportunity to interact with anyone who seems interesting. Asking “How are you today?” can lead to a discussion about what you do very easily. For both of you!
There you have it. Five missteps to carefully avoid that can slow you down and undermine your progress.