In this guest blog Ashley Eder, LPC offers part 2 of "Creating Your Perfect Work Week." Ashley is a counselor and supervisor who believes we each have the potential to create a more satisfying life. Located in Boulder, CO, she works with clients and therapists through curiosity, self-awareness, and acceptance in order to create lasting change.
In Part I of Creating Your Perfect Work Week, I prompted you to evaluate how well your practice is performing as a non-monetary form of compensation. As a reminder, here are the questions for you to ask yourself to get an idea of how rewarding your private practice work week is for you now:
- Are you excited to go to work?
- Do you enjoy your clients?
- Can you maintain your personal relationships?
- Do you have time for self-care?
- Do you feel satisfied and complete at the end of the day?
- Are you resentment-free?
- Are you intellectually stimulated?
- Have you stopped doing the things you dread?
If you followed through with this exercise, you know that it really is possible to answer “yes” to all of those questions; you are ready to experiment with adding Satisfaction Builders into your week and you have a pretty good idea of where they may need to go.
Below are a handful of suggestions for ways you can re-design your practice to work better for you. Remember, the ideal practice is different for everyone! Use these ideas to get you started, then listen for your own voice to guide you in getting it just right.
Improve Your Work Satisfaction
- Play with the flow of your day. You might sprinkle “mini-breaks” into your day (just 15 minutes to get some fresh air or eat a quick lunch); take a bigger break so you can leave the office to meet a friend or take a nap, or work straight through followed by extended time off. Which schedule leaves you least harried and most refreshed?
- Experiment with separating client hours from administrative hours versus weaving them together. Does it feel more natural and productive to you to chart and return calls between sessions as you get time or all at once in a pre-determined window?
- Fiddle around with work/home boundaries. Are you happier leaving work-based activities like social media and returning emails at the office, or do you prefer integrating them into your home life so that they don’t build up so much and you can maintain a connection to your business?
- Pursue the clients who make your work meaningful and refer along those who do not. Trust that it is best for clients and therapists when we narrow our focus to serving our ideal clients, and allow other clients to seek help from clinicians who would be a more nourishing fit.
- Raise your fees until you feel adequately compensated. Check out these tips on deciding to do that and how to broach it with clients.
- Re-evaluate your mission statement. Why are you in private practice? Why did you become a therapist? Align your practice with your mission.
- Seek professional support. Would it would feel good to treat yourself to expert supervision for a while? Choose a modality or style you would like to explore. Try building your own consultation network, and do not spend time with people you do not want to emulate. Get clear on who feels good to learn from and seek their support.
- Study something new. Remember the intellectual stimulation of grad school? Well now you can have that without all of the homework. Seek continuing education that encourages you to expand your niche and work at your growing edge.
- Do your own work. Take an honest appraisal of your clinical boundaries around time, responsibility for oneself, and money. This may involve a personal inventory and some existential exploration of what you truly believe about the nature of people. Then ask yourself: “Are these beliefs current or outdated? Do I choose to hang onto them or is it time to challenge them and my own habitual limitations?”
- Trust yourself. If something feels “off” about your work experience, it probably is. Hang out with that observation, let it develop, and seek consultation with trusted colleagues. Your private practice is a work in progress. With your time, attention, and care, it will continue to flourish and nourish you back.
- Imagine giving yourself permission to quit doing the things that don’t take care of you. Perhaps start by choosing one thing to let go of and observe the ripples. What happens next? Is it as scary as you thought it might be? Does your practice feel the impact? How do you feel without it? Hint: follow your resentments to find the practices that no longer serve your higher self.
- Drop the dread. If you dread a part of your job, it is not feeding you. Be creative in your efforts to automate it, outsource it, or drop it entirely.
- Question The ‘Busy’ Trap. Make room for self-care, including the necessity to do nothing on a regular basis. Identify what self-care truly means for you and allow it. It might mean making lovely meals or giving yourself a night off from cooking. It could look like an hour at the gym or an hour on the couch. It’s personal, and you get to choose.
- Lighten your load. Examine your beliefs around how many client hours you should fit into a week. Would you be more energized by dropping 2 clinical hours, raising your rate $10, and writing for your professional blog or playing in nature? Do it!
As a business owner and psychotherapist, your practice really is your life. This can be an anchor weighing you down or an opportunity to build a flexible, satisfying life. Which do you choose?