Overcoming Anxiety in Private Practice:
Interview with John Clarke
If you haven’t heard of John Clarke yet, he’s a fantastic resource for therapists getting started in private practice or who are wanting to scale their practice to the next level. I’ve found several of John’s podcast episodes incredibly helpful to my own practice, and he also offers strategy sessions to help you in your practice.
John reached out to me on Instagram a couple of months back inviting me to participate in his podcast. My response? YES, please! I felt so honored.
We covered some great topics that are dear to my heart, all centered around overcoming the anxiety that often surrounds us when we consider starting a private practice.
Feel free to head over and give it a listen. Here are some of the topics we cover and a few additional thoughts beyond what we cover in the episode:
Cultural Systems Promoting Anxiety Surrounding Private Practice
Unfortunately, both John and I shared similar experiences both in our personal journeys as well as from what we’ve observed in others. On so many levels, our current culture in the clinical psychology field can be unkind towards therapists pursuing private practice, and can even stigmatize the idea of charging money to offer help to those in need of support.
Can you relate to this experience?
Clinical Psychology Graduate School and Private Practice Don’t Get Along
When I taught at the graduate level, students confided that other professors seemed to poo-poo the idea of private practice. I was their first professor who openly advocated for private practice as an available career path for these students.
Somehow, graduate school culture often expresses disdain towards those interested in pursuing private practice. One of the driving forces behind this idea is the belief that genuine help should not come at a price.
Though this sentiment sounds nice at first (and I bought into it during my grad school days too), it’s not sustainable. On what planet would we suggest to our clients that they ought to work hard without pay? In order to make the help we offer sustainable, we need to get paid for it somehow in order to continue doing the work.
Sometimes Other Therapists in Private Practice See us as Competition
I’ve experienced my fair share of this, and it sucks. If every therapist you reach out to for help with private practice gives you the cold shoulder because they don’t want to share their “secret recipe” for success with the “competition,” it can leave you feeling like you have to figure it out on your own.
That definitely happened to me when I was starting out. However, I learned in time that other therapists in private practice are key supports. They are our support networks, friends, and referral sources. There is definitely enough business to keep us all busy. And for every client we see in our practices, there are many more out there in need of support who haven’t yet accessed it.
Unfortunately, not all therapists have this point of view. You may have to reach out to several therapists before you find a group of people who truly support you rather than view you as their competition. I encourage you to carry on with the search because it’s completely worth it.
Myth: Marketing a Private Practice is Self-Promoting Rather than Supportive of Society
Both John and I have heard others express this concern: how can we claim to offer genuine support to others when we have to focus on promoting ourselves in order to encourage clients to meet with us in private practice?
Marketing of a genuinely helpful product is not self-promoting. In fact, it focuses on meeting the need of the consumer. If you had a leaky pipe causing damage in your home, wouldn’t you wish you knew about a plumber who could help you fix it?
Marketing a private practice is about identifying the needs of a potential client and offering an option for how our services might be able to meet those needs.
Of course, this sometimes involves overcoming some of our own insecurities about whether our services truly are helpful to people.
Overcoming Insecurities that Keep us from Starting a Private Practice
Here are some common insecurities involved in starting a private practice:
- I’m not good enough to charge an out of pocket rate
- I’m not good at marketing; I’m not extraverted enough
- I’m not good with numbers so I can’t run a business
Have you ever been guilty of any of these? I’ve definitely been guilty of all three at various points in my process of getting started in private practice (we cover some of those in the episode).
Overcoming Imposter Syndrome in Private Practice
I believe imposter syndrome is fairly universal when starting a private practice. It may even be accurate that we don’t yet know what we’re doing when it comes to marketing or running a business. However, the best way to progress is to dive in and allow the way it feels to change in time. I love the way John phrased it during the interview:
Change the behavior, and then the identity eventually catches up.”
YES! I couldn’t agree more. Don’t wait until you feel ready, because then you may never get started. Start where you are and with time you will learn to master some of the tools that were previously foreign to you.
I think we have a long way to go when it comes to destigmatizing and uncomplicating the process of getting started in private practice in our culture. In the meantime, don’t let the stigma stop you from overcoming your anxiety about private practice.
All of us have similar questions and fears about getting into private practice. Once we do a little bit of work on the back end with some simple tools, we can be on our way with our practice!
A huge THANK YOU to John Clarke for featuring me on his podcast. We cover so much more in this episode. I encourage you to give it a listen. If you like the episode, leave a review and say I sent you. Here’s where you can find the episode:
Ready to dive deeper into starting a private practice? I have a free guide for that! Check it out here to grab your free guide: Start a Private Practice in Counseling
Until next time, from one therapist to another: I wish you well!