This weekend I’m finishing up my portfolio, which I will submit for tenure later this month. This process required a lot of reflection on my accomplishments and challenges over the past 6 years.
Private Practice is a huge part of my: Professional Development, Scholarship, Teaching, and Service. Whenever I reflect on my practice I am humbled and amazed.
Of course I am always humbled by the work I do and amazed at the opportunity to work with my clients. However there is another aspect of my life in Private Practice that elicits those emotions whenever I think about it.
Sometimes I just can’t believe that for almost 20 years my phone has been ringing with new referrals. For almost ¾ of that time I did not accept any insurance. Even now, the majority of my work is private pay or out of network. Yet, the phone keeps ringing.
I know (because of my work as a Private Practice Mentor) that building a referral base and getting clients is a HUGE source of anxiety for most folks. I try to calm my mentoring clients’ angst by teaching them the things that will lead to a career filled with referrals and clients.
These are the 7 “truths” I value most, and promote to my mentees:
•You have to provide value. What you do for your referral sources and your clients has to be so valuable that they cannot help but come back for more. They MUST feel that you are giving your “all”, without question
•You cannot forget that your Private Practice is a business. That is not a bad thing – it’s a FACT. If you are not able or have no interest in the business aspects of your practice, hire someone who can help you. Don’t kid yourself by thinking that the business will take care of itself. It won’t
•You must be a good colleague and collaborator. If you start out in this business feeling like you are in competition with other private practitioners, you could spend the rest of your career looking over your shoulder and waiting for the bottom to drop out. Both of those things are a waste of your energy and time. I will go as far as to say, if you can’t get past that – forget about private practice
•You should have a definitive answer to the BIG QUESTION: “Why, given all options including doing nothing at all, should I do business with YOU?” If you can’t answer that question with passion and certainty, stop everything until you can
•Recognize that you cannot be everything to everyone. Find a niche (or two) that you are passionate about; one that really needs your help and services. Then, make it your job to be the best you can be and do everything you can to ease the pain or meet the needs of your niche
•Experience and express your gratitude every day. Not just when things are going well. Not when you are in trouble and trying to turn over a new leaf. Each day you should have a time or two when you do nothing but count your blessings and give thanks – no matter your spiritual beliefs. The positive energy and magnetism generated in this process is unique and very real. It will keep you healthy and sane even when things are tough
•Give 'em what you promise. Follow through. Do what you say you are going to do. Let them count on you.
Deborah Legge (drlegge@InfluentialTherapist.com) is a counselor in Private Practice. After almost 20 years of helping counselors build successful Private Practices by modeling her success, she has become nationally known as a "Private Practice Mentor"