Can you really see yourself working with clients day after day and LOVING it?
Do you REALLY want to be a full time counselor?
This is a question I pose with all the love I can muster, and I ask it for good reason. In my ten years owning a group private practice, I have seen all kinds of counselors come through the door. Being someone that is very committed to seeing quality in mental health care, I am always looking for counselors that really love this work and are willing to do it consistently and with excellence.
I have come to realize that this description does not apply to all of us…and it is not necessarily a bad thing. You just have to know who you really are in this. So when I ask are you REALLY a counselor?...what I am referring to is your Clinical Stamina. Trust me, this is something you want to know before you hang your shingle and build a business around providing clinical services.
Do you know how to take good care of yourself and remain fulfilled while consistently giving your best to your clients? There are a few things to consider to help you discover the answer.
Can you see 8-10 clients back to back for 3, 4 or even 5 days a week? Now that is what I call clinical stamina! Can you do that for at least 48 weeks out of the year? Ah-ha…now the rubber meets the road.
You have to figure out where you fall on the continuum of clinical stamina. Maybe you are suited to see four clients a day in the afternoon with a break after two. Maybe you are fine to see 8 clients back to back but can only do so on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.
Finding out how much time you can spend in front of clients and remain connected and useful to them is so important. This will guide you on how to build your practice around what works best for you. Not to mention being clear about what kinds of clients you really want to work with. There are undoubtedly going to be clients that challenge you and are difficult for you to work with. Do yourself a favor and begin to realize what kinds of clients those are so that you can choose to work with clients that bring out the best in you. You deserve that and quite frankly your clients do too!
Capacity for Self Care
If you were going to repair a broken house…you are going to need some pretty sharp tools. I mean, crisp state of the art, ready for action tools…not worn out, dull and ineffective ones.
Taking good care of yourself as a clinician is your way of making sure that your clients are being repaired with great tools. Healers are human too! Quite honestly, it is usually our own experience of pain that draws us into the field of helping others in the first place. But all too often, we don’t focus enough time and attention on doing our own work.
There even seems to be a small feeling lingering out there that doing so is somehow selfish. Well I want to dispel that myth and share that NOT doing so is selfish.
When you don’t take good care of yourself you are depriving your clients of the best of what you have to offer.
Great clinicians understand that self care is a part of keeping the tools sharp. They regularly invest in themselves…their professional and personal growth and development. They allow themselves space to unplug and relax. They learn to be less harsh and judgmental with themselves and others. They take good care of their minds, bodies, relationships, finances etc. You get the picture. Taking good care of yourself is the only way to take good care of others.
There are some things in life that people are just really good at. For instance, you might be great a washing dishes, you know how to get them to sparkle and shine. That is great for the dishes and the kitchen, but what if you don’t love it? It might not be great for you.
Even if we are working in an area where we can produce great results. If we do not absolutely love our work, we will never experience the sense of fulfillment that is so essential to battling burn out and experiencing career success. Just because you are good at it doesn’t mean you love it. Find work, clients and business experiences that excite you…something that you love. That is the sweet spot where you can make a difference in the lives of so many…starting with yourself.
These are questions you may want to answer for yourself before you go through the process of hanging your shingle to build a private practice. Doing so will save you a bit of time and frustration, because once you get started you will find that it requires you to have some skin in the game. If you are not REALLY a full time counselor at heart...that might just show up!
I always encourage those new to the industry to Let the Ink Dry on your license before you hang your shingle. Go for a test drive in private practice by working within other practices for some time. Get your sea legs before you buy the boat. In the long run, that time spent exploring will be well worth the wait.