One of the things I love doing about a much as anything is hiking. I have gone through phases where I have not hiked for a while and then get back to it since the weather has changed. The other day I went hiking in one of the spots I love to go, Bays Mountain Park. Even though I have hiked there dozens of times before, I got lost. I got to the end of a trail and was not sure which direction to go. I wasn’t lost for long, but long enough to give me a bit of a sinking feeling of I’m not sure where I am.
In private practice it is easy to get in a similar place sometimes. Feeling lost and not sure which path to take happens. That is why it is always good to have a map or even better, a mentor to help you navigate. It is especially great to have someone that has been down the trails before and with the experience to navigate them.
I wish I had gotten a mentor sooner…
One of the things I wish I had done early on when I went into private practice was to get a mentor who was specifically experienced in private practice. Most all of our training programs give a lot of great clinical experience. But in knowing how to run the business side of things when going into private practice was something very few programs go into. It is something most clinicians have to learn on their own.
When clinicians begin the licensure process we go through the supervision process. In clinical supervision we learn new skills and get better at what we are doing. The parallel process of supervision and working with clients gives the clinician support and confidence.
As an AAMFT Approved Supervisor I have had the pleasure of working with a lot of great therapists and counselors with this training process. It is always so very rewarding to see people learn and grow. It really is a mentoring process and talking people through the “stuck places” and helping them see other possibilities, learning new things and even learning things they did not even realize they didn’t know.
Consulting is like supervision
On the business side of running a private practice why wouldn’t we use a similar model? That is, having a mentor to help us get started and running things. Using a consultant is one of the best ways to move forward quickly.
What working with a consultant can do:
- Consulting is a way to get clarity for yourself about your practice and business goals
- It helps you organize and know where and how to focus your energy
- Helps you draw on others expertise and knowledge
- Can help you create a niche and know areas to specialize
- Consulting helps you get the business knowledge you will need to grow
- Consulting helps learn ways to diversify your income in creative ways
- Consulting can help your put together financial and business plans
- Consulting also give an overall sense of support so you do not have to face it alone
- Consulting can help you come up with a clear marketing plan to optimize (or even start) your website and social media efforts
Ultimately by taking part in consulting you are entering into a mentoring relationship. The relationship will help you to learn how to approach private practice in a way that will make it sustainable and profitable. It will help you jumpstart your private practice and propel you forward.
Have a guide to keep you from not getting lost
Going into private practice can be daunting and challenging at times. Without the right preparation and planning it is easy to get “lost in the guidewoods”. Consulting is like having a guide. Having that mentor will absolutely keep you from getting lost in the woods and on the wrong trail.
By L. Gordon Brewer, Jr., MEd. LMFT – Gordon is the President and Founder of Kingsport Counseling Associates, PLLC. He is also a consultant and business mentor at The Practice of Therapy. Follow us on Twitter @therapistlearn. “Like” us on Facebook.