Community is powerful. Connection is powerful. We know in our work with clients that without a strong support network it is hard for anyone to be truly happy long term. What about you? Do you have what you need as a therapist to be happy and healthy long-term? Do you have a real community around you that really gets what you do? I want to share some of the top reasons why therapists need a Brave community around them to flourish in (and out) of private practice.
Reason #1: People Don’t Get What We Do
I just moved to a new city and state over the summer- and that means new everything. You have to find a new gym, a new grocery store, new local friends, etc. I learned years ago that introducing myself as a therapist has its pros and cons. Currently, I introduce myself as a business consultant since I am not seeing clients while I get resettled in California AND because it avoids lots of silly conversations. Turns out though… despite being on the “down-low” word has gotten around my gym. In fact, people have been talking about how there is a “psychiatrist” coming to the gym now! I am sure you get it to. People thinking we “fix” people. People thinking we psychoanalyze people in our daily lives (I save that for paying clients thank you). People thinking we just “hear sad stories all day.” It is almost impossible to convey to others the sheer beauty, and the pain of what we experience in the therapy room.
Having a community of people who we can talk deeply with, consult with, and share experiences with is incredibly powerful. While “therapist” is not “who I am” it is a big part of my identity. (In fact, it has been “odd” to not be seeing clients the last year while moving and forced some deeper examination). Having people in life that speak that language, that I can trust to be real with- without judgment- allows me to live more fully as a therapist and as a human.
Reasons #2: Prevention of Burnout and Depression
Therapists, our work is fantastic, inspiring, and transformational. It is also hard. Really hard. It is no wonder why our profession is ranked #3 for both worst jobs for burnout, and most likely to be depressed. For some, private practice actually is the path out of burnout- a chance to work in a more balanced manner. For others, private practice leads to longer hours and more isolation-creating a scenario ripe for burnout and depression.
You might be thinking? What does this have to do with community? Or maybe- I’m not burned out- this has nothing to do with me. Did you know that most therapists who are burnt out don’t recognize it? Community has everything to do with creating a culture and a process that supports therapists in creating life and work balance so they can avoid and/or heal from depression and burnout. Ninety-five percent of therapists who sign up for our Business School Bootcamp for Therapists are glad they did it. And while all of them rave about the curriculum- they most often comment about the community. I truly believe this is the reason. We have created a community that is committed to supporting therapists to create private practices that are sustainable. We have created a space where it is safe to talk about burnout and create plans to avoid it. There are lots of places you might find this sort of community for yourself online on in person. Join or start a consultation group. Join or start a support group. Create a monthly meetup or mixer. Join or start a supportive book group.
The biggest piece is that the community you start or join needs to be safe, trustworthy, brave, authentic, supportive, and well educated. (I have seen well-meaning people lead people in directions that were based on a lack of information and expertise in certain groups).
#3. Community Inspires Creativity, Bravery, and Change
Can you imagine Brené Brown creating what she has created in a vacuum-without community? Over and over again she reiterates the power of safe, transformational relationships and communities. When we put together the Most Awesome Conference for Therapists we thought really deeply about what would make it better and different from traditional conferences. One of the things we really wanted to build was a strong sense of connection and community.
Therapists came to a one-stop shop to get things done AND get inspired about the future. However, one piece of feedback that we got repeatedly that it was the community that gave them PERMISSION to do something bigger, greater, and more impactful in their businesses. For some, what we were saying was brand new. For many, they “knew” a lot of the material but had been truly stuck actually implementing and putting things into practice. Needing permission and acceptance from your peers isn’t a bad thing-it is normal part of life!
#4. Brave Communities Create Brave Clinicians
Sometimes, we have a community in our mental health world, but it isn’t brave. It tells us we can’t over and over again.
- You can’t create something impactful outside of therapy.
- You can’t run a private practice without a second job.
- You can’t do private pay only.
- You can’t take insurance and be successful.
- You can’t think Beyond the Couch™
- You can’t be in private practice if you are single.
- You can’t raise your fees and care deeply about your clients.
- You can’t provide ethical and legally sound treatment to your clients.
And yet, all of the people that we honor in our professional John Gottman, Sue Johnson, Irvin Yalom, Brené Brown… they were brave. They looked at the things others said they couldn’t do and they did something great. They did something powerful. They are doing amazing things for the world, our clients, for us… and they aren’t sitting in a room underpaid, overworked, burnt out, and boxed in. (And yes, there are therapists whose wings are clipped and who are being told they can’t use evidence-based, effective treatment strategies with their clients- crazy huh?)
How will you create or join a Brave, Inspiring Community? Share in the comments below.