How to Grow Your Psychotherapy Practice, Part 1

March 16, 2011

Operating a psychiatric business, or any way of life, solely within the confines of a settled understanding of human development, psychopathology, or even basic business practices risks foreclosure – the opposite of curiosity, open mindedness, and an embrace of evolution. In their place you feel a hard to notice resistance to change.

Have you ever sat still gazing at the sky long enough to appreciate the subtle beauty of clouds at play? Ever changing, always moving as the winds push them along. Our lives are just like that. Our businesses can be like that too.

Both clouds and humans are nonlinear dynamic systems consisting of a mixture of predictable elements and random, unpredictable ones. We possess the ability to change at any time but our steady need for security causes us to cling to our delusions of predictability and fear our randomness, our nonlinear capacity for sudden change. This understandable need for certainty is the chief enemy of your business’s evolution and growth.

Cloud formations change constantly, unpredictably. As you learn to honor your chaotic parts you will begin to see opportunities for expansion. You will discover new ways of marketing your clinical practice or even unknown aspects of your current work or, seriously, totally new endeavors. I once used the tomato cage as a model for support and growth. In some ways it may still be useful, but we are much more than tomato plants. Your cage may be your preferred theoretical framework or therapeutic approach. It may be the family business that you inherited but is killing your spirit. Look around. See the world. Watch people and their antics.

Want to nurture your business? Let the dogs out. Run. Beware safety. It would have been the safe bet for me to have stayed in Dallas in my successful, comfortable practice, but I was moved by forces greater than myself. I was (and still am) in love. I stepped out into fear and never looked back.

I am unimaginably happier now. This experience has taught me to look askance at security. See the cage. Shake things up. Stretch yourself. Or settle for whatever “safe” job or position you have. Try to live a linear, predictable life. It’s impossible. We can predict the weather for only a few days out. Life events are unpredictable.

I don’t really care about your choice. For me, I’ll never look back.


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