I was chatting with a therapist earlier this week who is in the usual position – not enough clients to really make it work and having to keep a job she hates just to pay the rent. She’s stressed, angry, and unhappy.
Sadly that’s where seven out of ten of us are. Struggling, feeling a bit lost, afraid of wasting time and money, and feeling we have already wasted our training and effort in becoming the therapist or coach we are.
Yet when I spoke to her it was so obvious that she really wants to help people and to do something worthwhile with her working life. She’s passionate about helping others, she’s got great skills which she spent thousands developing and hundreds of hours practising, yet it’s not a reality for her at this point.
All that hope, good intent, effort, and money is feeling like a drag rather than the opportunity it is to do good in the world and to earn a living to support herself and her family.
We had a long chat and I thought about it all a bit later this week. Here are those thoughts:
The most important factor in becoming successful, is courage.
We all know there are successful therapists and coaches: People with great careers helping others; People who make a difference in real lives every week. They have waiting lists, they are booked out, they have too many clients in many cases.
We know this, but yet we fear that we can’t join them. Fear of trying the wrong thing, or wasting money on an advert, or of what people will think, are often huge factors.
The biggest bugbear however, is ‘What if people see me fail?’
While not trying can feel like an easy route, it is GUARANTEED failure in the long run.
Every successful therapist and coach out there had to take a risk, had to push themselves to step out and be seen, and had to keep trying in order to build success.
It doesn’t happen by accident. Even if trained in the easy ways to succeed, it still requires some courage.
The bottom line here:
Your fear of putting yourself out there has to be eclipsed by your desire and will to help others!
The next most important factor is persistence.
This I learned the hard way. I thought I knew what I was doing, but I didn’t when it came to marketing. I had to try lots of things and one-off efforts don’t work. So I had to keep going on and see what did work. Then I dropped what delivered little and did more of what worked better.
I tried again and again and kept building. At any point I could have given up.
At one point I had less than a hundred left in my bank account. I persisted. Now I’ve gone from those weeks with one client sometimes, to booked out and with a waiting list.
While I found the best ways to reach and connect with those who need my help, I needed to knuckle down and keep going in order to build that knowledge and implement those strategies.
I’m not alone. Every successful therapist I know took longer to build success than they expected. They had to keep going, and by being persistent they got to help a lot more people along the way. They also got to build real incomes to support themselves and their families, but it requires us to keep going.
The bottom line here:
Expecting us to suddenly make it big without continued effort building ongoing success is like expecting a Lottery win to solve your problems.
This is not the X Factor. No one will do it for you. We build our own success with ongoing effort, and it’s worth it!
The third factor is adaptability.
As we go there will be things that we find will work better for us and which people respond more positively to.
For example, our specialisation often is chosen not by ourselves but by our clients. When I started I was trained in a general way – I could help a lot of issues and I didn’t know what direction I would go in.
It was building up and seeing more clients that made that obvious. The anxiety people were telling more people because they got good results. The fact that I’d lived anxiety was probably the biggest factor in drawing me that way but it was my clients seeing results and recommending me to others, that made it stand out.
What we’re best at tends to become more in demand as time goes on. Word of mouth is a slow build in most cases, but it does show where the results are.
Being adaptable in trying different ways to reach clients and in how we work with different people is a huge benefit in working with clients.
The bottom line here:
If something isn’t working – change up and try some other variant or element of it.
Don’t fall into the trap of ‘I’m not busy, I must have the wrong skills’, and train in another modality. It’s tempting but futile. Focus on getting current skills into action.
Most of us end up with several ways to help and still don’t know how to get clients. I fell into that too along the way, but the reality is that there are clients for each therapy and coaching method, it’s about reaching those people. That is a skill set different to the ones we learn when we train to become a helper. That’s marketing. If needed, it can be learned too.
Hope this helps you look at what can be improved and builds some hope and momentum.
There are more people who need help, but who are unaware where to go for it, than we can ever help. If we put the effort in to reach them, we get to give them the change to a better life as we make our own better too.
Please keep sharing your help.
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Have a great week,
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John Prendergast is an award-winning Success Coach and and Psycho-Trauma Anxiety Therapist.
He is also the Founder of Therapy and Coaching Success that specialises in helping Therapists, Coaches and other Wellness Practitioners, connect with those in need, build their diaries and earn the income they need.
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