There is a further area of personal development that is vital to the success of your private practice. This really is simply, your own persona. The development of warmth, empathy, genuineness, patience intelligent interest and a desire to truly understand your client and his difficulties will stand you in as good, if not better, stead than all the theoretical knowledge (and even possibly, previous clinical experience) that you have under your belt. It is an observation that, in pressurised agency environments, clients themselves can be less demanding – they are desperately grateful to receive any help at all.
Private practice is different. Clients ask for the absolute best from you at all times, and you cannot afford to give anything less than this. This means not just being the cleverest theorist in the world (although of course that is important), but having the ability to establish a strong personal relationship of real quality with the client. Unlike the agency clients, who usually have little choice in who they see, the private client does have choices, and if you don’t work on this side of your therapy skills, you’ll lose clients to therapists who do possess – and develop – this quality.
Also important, although rarely raised as a discussion issue, is how you dress and present yourself physically. If your office is in your home, you may well see this as an opportunity to adopt a very casual dress code. Think hard about this. What image do you want to present to your clients? You may wish to dress differently according to the type of client you have. It is actually a good idea for your own dress code to reflect that of the individual client (although I’m obviously not suggesting you keep flying upstairs to peruse your wardrobe every time a new client walks in).
At the very least, ensure that you look neat, clean and tidy. Much research shows that clients are most comfortable where the therapist is dressed in a way that they see as appropriate to the meeting, and in line with their own dress code.
This post is part of the free E-Course “How to Develop Your Therapy Practice”. Each lesson only covers the bare essentials of what you need to learn and should not form your only source of information.
For the complete detailed guide which takes you through each step of setting up and building a successful Therapy Practice – click here.
If you missed the previous lessons, here are the links:
An Introduction to Private Practice
Is Private Practice for You?
Are You Ready for Private Practice?
What are the Initial Considerations?
Developing a Client Base
Fee Levels and Fee Payment