Being a solo practitioner has a lot of perks; you get to make all the decisions, no one touches your stuff, there are never any mystery lunches of questionable vintage left in the fridge.
However, it can also get very lonely.
In those early days of private practice, you may only see your family, the Starbucks barista and your office neighbour who avoids eye contact with you at all costs. There is no one to shoot the breeze with around the water cooler or catch up about the latest Netflix series that you're binging on.
As your practice grows and you get busier, your day will get full with clients. However, it's (as it should be) all about them and their needs. It wouldn't be appropriate to tell your 9:00 a.m. about the crappy morning you've had.
It can feel like you're in this alone.
This can be detrimental to your own well-being as well as to the growth of your practice. As human beings, we are not meant to be alone especially when we are doing something as big as running a private practice.
So how do you immunize yourself from isolation? It does take a some effort, but it's critical to your well-being?
- reach out to colleagues in your area. Don't know any? Hop on to Psychology Today and check out who is in your area and ask them to get together. Yes, you risk getting rejected or ignored, but when it works, it can be pretty darn blissful (if someone in my hometown had reached out to me in those early days, I would have been the human equivalent of a golden retriever)
- make an effort to see your friends. They may not know what it's like to be building a private practice, but if they are good friends they will remind you of how awesome you are (and if they don't, maybe it's time for some different friends ;)
- reconnect with people from grad school. You may be in different locations, but you likely still have a lot in common (and maybe someone is also on the private practice journey)
- connect with members of your community in creative ways. Part of my private practice is in the area of maternal mental health, so I joined a community coalition that focuses on providing support and resources to new moms. I met some great people (and somehow ended up becoming the chair, but that's a post for another time ;)
- Take advantage of social media. There are so many amazing people who hang out on-line who are also building their own counseling private practice. My favourite place to hang out is Facebook, where I have connected with so many amazing people. If you'd like to join the Blissful Practice group, sign up below and I'll send you the link.
Isolation in private practice is a common experience for so many of us. However, it is totally worth the time and effort to connect with others and spend a bit less time alone.