Being in private practice comes along with a lot of uncertainty and anxiety. Business is not always stable; there are weeks you see more clients than usual and weeks that are slow. A healthy level of anxiety keeps us motivated to do the work of marketing and networking. An unhealthy level of anxiety often leads to unnecessary competition and rivalry among peers.
As I have met with therapists new to building a private practice, I have heard a lot of surprise about my willingness to share information and support their efforts. They have encountered other therapists who are not willing to share knowledge and experience, seemingly in fear of losing clients to someone else. I welcome new practitioners because I think our work is so important. As the stigma of receiving mental health treatment continues to lessen, more people are reaching out for help. I want our field to be filled with competent and capable clinicians to provide good therapy to everyone who needs it.
Putting other therapists down is not going to help grow your practice. It doesn’t put you in a great light. You might meet therapists you aren’t confident referring to, and that’s OK. I had someone ask about a specific therapist; let’s call her Samantha. I had some concerns about her practice and had received some negative comments from a former client of hers. I was not comfortable referring to her. When someone asked about Samantha, my response was “She’s not someone I typically refer to. I usually recommend Melissa; she’s got a great clinical mind and is easy to talk to.” You can share your preference for another clinician without negativity.
Ideally, our job is to work ourselves out of a job with each client. But this doesn’t mean we will run out of clients. People will always have problems and need help navigating life. Continue the work of promoting your practice and honing your skills. There are plenty of clients to go around. When the market is saturated, focus on your niche. What can you provide that others cannot? Market your services well and provide solid therapy within your scope of practice. You will never have to worry about competition preventing your business from growing.