I love those stories from therapists where the breakthrough occurs or the client has the “aha” moment at just the time when the clinician is feeling irrelevant or at a loss. We see the process of therapy in action. The relief is palpable. Our hard work is paying off and both clinician and client can exhale and leap forward. Forward, Back then Zoom!
However, there is also the moment when the client inexplicably cancels or worse, ghosts us. The hardest is, without explanation, the client terminates. We are left hanging wondering what went wrong and how to make it right. The trick is to recognize that in both scenarios it’s the same process with a different outcome. We learn from both.
Early on, I remember asking a client about his family of origin in the first session. He stared at me. “If I wanted you to talk about my mother, I would have bought her a plane ticket.” Yikes. I regrouped and explained why asking about his family might have something to do with his relationships at work. I backtracked, left his mother alone for that session and tried another tactic.
That’s how it is with starting a therapy or coaching practice. We begin with every great intention. Our office is welcoming, the schedule is filling up. There are a few missteps but we flex and move on. Occasionally though, it feels like it’s going down the tubes. Three cancellations in a row, and we are sitting in our office with a stretch of time that gives way to judgemental thinking. “What did I say? What didn’t I say? Are my fees too high? Did I screw up the last session?”
In the beginning every day brings a new set of problems. That is, if you decide they are problems. Consider this: The same process of therapy can be applied to the business of your practice. Try something new if the last thing fell flat.
You may lose a client because your heart wasn’t in it. Or their heart wasn’t! You might not have exhibited confidence about your fees when the call started going south. Maybe you don’t feel like promoting yourself to one more person. The voice in your head tells you that you’re not cut out for running a business. And besides that, the bookkeeping is confusing, and Square isn’t working well on your phone. That’s when you try another tactic. Rewrite your vision statement about your favorite type of client. Read a helpful article in Psychotherapy Networker about a tough case. Practice your fee conversation with a willing colleague. Google “How to make Square work on my phone”.
The point is to trust and work the process. Your hard work WILL pay off and there will be a leap forward. Eventually a resolution emerges that probably has little or nothing to do with the discussion that played out in your head. Be patient with yourself, and the relief will be palpable when you leave the judgement behind.