Did you know that Psychology and Social Work are the Top 2 worst paid Master’s degree? I’ve talked with hundreds of therapists, psychologists, social workers and counselors from all around the world. One thing is clear to me- people are called to this profession. This isn’t something you do to haphazardly. But, there is exodus happening right now. Really amazing therapists are leaving the field and leaving their licenses behind in some cases because they’ve been told they can’t be successful just doing great therapy.
It makes me sad how many therapists are struggling to get by, and going into massive amounts of debt. While they are feeling overwhelmed financially- they are feeling pressure to keep their fees at a rate that won’t ever allow them to pay off their student loans- much less develop a retirement account.
On the other hand, I get to meet hundreds of successful therapists. Therapists who get paid well to do what they love. They are transforming their community. Their clients are learning about strong, healthy relationships with themselves and others. I want to share a few important tips about what successful therapists do differently:
1. Successful therapists surround themselves with successful people.
If you are surrounded each day with people telling you that nothing will work, and that there is no way to make a living doing great psychotherapy- then you will begin to believe this is true. If you believe it to be true, it will seem pointless to take the steps to be successful. While some therapists have internalized skills that allow them to struggle financially long-term while still retaining a love of the work- this is the exception- not the rule. The bulk of therapists will admit that being unpaid or underpaid leads to financial and emotional stress that puts them at risk for burnout- even though they LOVE therapy!
2. Successful therapists learn the skills they need to be successful.
Successful therapists look closely at where they are excelling, and where they are struggling. They take time to work on areas of struggle that are impeding their work. They also tend to focus on activities that will allow their strong skills to shine. Take some time today to clarify your strengths and areas to improve. Look outside for assistance in the areas you are struggling. Need help taking your private practice business to the next level? Here are over 10 hours of free training to get you started.
3. Successful therapists know they can’t be awesome at everything
Being a great therapists takes a broad skill-set and knowledge based. However, that broad base does not make all therapists well qualified to be awesome at every issue that they might encounter. Great therapists cherry pick their clients. No, they aren’t picking “the easy clients.” They are choosing the clients that they are primed to be most successful with- and yes, that makes the therapy process “easier” for the client and the therapist. A client that is “easy” for one therapist, would be a struggle for another. These therapists still get diverse caseloads, but they learn to quickly assess the specific issues that they do need to refer out. They also get more referrals from the community because people will rave about what they do.
4. Successful therapists learn how to articulate themselves.
No, this doesn’t mean they are narcissistically shouting about their accomplishments from rooftops. However, they do learn ways to clearly speak about what they are passionate about. They allow themselves to be known by people in their communities. You need to be able to confidently speak about what you do. People want to know you. I’ve met a great number of really amazing, successful therapists that were quite soft-spoken and introverted. You don’t have to be loud to be heard.
5. Successful therapists don’t take no for an answer.
Successful therapists aren’t pushy. However, they aren’t push-overs either. They are very clear about what works for them, what doesn’t work for them, and their vision for their work. These are individuals who will ask the questions, explore, and find the way to make their vision a reality. They reach out to others and find ways to connect with people in real, authentic ways.
6. Successful therapists don’t water down their clinical effectiveness
Successful therapists know at the end of the day- they need to be great therapists. This means they don’t agree to anything that will water down the effectiveness of what they do: haphazard session scheduling, ineffective treatment methods, fees that will breed resentment, insurance contracts that aren’t in their best interest, etc. Successful therapists know what they need to be absolutely great, and they build that into their business plan and life plan. They are able to see the big picture and realize that not taking vacations, or not being able to afford great consultation is going to have a clinical impact long-term.
7. Successful therapists are nice.
Ok, truth be told, I’ve met some not so nice “successful” therapists. News flash: I don’t count that as success. The therapists who I refer to, and who I want to go out of my way for are always the nice ones. I can’t count the number of times I’ve offered to do something very valuable for someone else just due to wanting to support this person. They didn’t even have to ask.
You can be successful in private practice. Are you meant to do this work? Do you believe this is your calling? Then do whatever it takes to fulfill your purpose.