Entrepreneurship in Psychotherapy and Psychiatric Practices

March 13, 2012

Lately I’ve been listening to audio books during my morning workouts and walks to and from work. The current one is The Start Up of You, by Reid Hoffman (of LinkedIn) and Ben Casnocha. As I have listened I have become much more aware that we solo practitioners are entrepreneurs. We are all engaged in starting up and refining our businesses. We can take it seriously, learn from the pros, or shy away from putting ourselves out there in the marketplace.

At a recent meeting in my professional “home town” I was confronted by one of my old teachers. “Bill, I’m angry with you,” she said immediately after I greeted her. “But Evelyn, what have I done?” “You’ve gone commercial.” Indeed I have.

Since moving to Chicago several years ago and starting my psychiatric practice from scratch, I have been networking and promoting my practice like crazy. It has paid off. I am busy and known to my new Chicago colleagues as a consumate marketer. But I have had a couple of odd experiences with them. Early in my forming CLP Consulting I offered to help at least two colleagues build their practices. They both declined, demurring, “But Bill. You’re good at it. It’s just not my style.” I am still perplexed by these reactions.

My best guess is that we psychotherapists, psychiatrists, and certainly us psychoanalysts for some reason fail to think of ourselves as businesses. Earlier today Reid Hoffman, in the above mentioned audio book, made the point that many businesspeople think of networking as “slimy.” I know for sure that promoting our practices, not to mention the many other aspects of the business end of our work, was never covered in medical school, psychiatric training, or psychoanalytic training. We are all set off on our career with a huge disadvantage – we fail to acknowledge ourselves as independent entrepreneurs.

Another factor may have been addressed in feedback on my book from Gary Malone, MD, a good friend of mine in Dallas: “I downloaded your book in PDF format on I-books and it is a true gem. This is all the information we talk about quietly, but no one addressees directly. It is so refreshing to have all this laid out in a professional, adult manner. I personally learned a great deal reading it. We were taught a “build it and they will come” approach combined with narcissism and overt resentment if they didn’t. This direct approach is truly a breath of fresh air! I’m recommending this book to all the residents I supervise at UT Southwestern.”

The good news is that entrepreneurship skills can be developed. All that is required is an acknowledgement of our deficiencies and a willingness to learn.

Are you an entrepreneur? Tell us how you do it by leaving a comment via the “comment” link at the top of this article.


Leave a Reply