As a therapist coach it is a joy to work with my clinical colleagues in supporting their professional dreams.
Sometimes those dreams include writing a book, creating an on line course, starting a private practice, or producing and launching a passive income stream.
No matter what the goals are, one piece of advise I give to every coaching client is this: Protect your most valuable resource - your time and energy.
Learning to be selective about who and what projects that you invest your time in is one of the best gifts you will give to yourself as a busy clinical professional.
Let’s face it, we cannot be all things to all people, and I believe that being thoughtful about where you invest your hard earned money (conferences, webinars, materials, workshops, coaching) is an act of self care. Instead of saying yes to everything and everyone, my advise is to learn to love the words "No thank you", and begin to practice JOMO (joy of missing out).
Additionally, ditch the "should-ing" all over yourself, begin to rescript the internal guilt messages, and embrace that your boundaries are a good thing and not just something that you teach your counseling clients.
Practicing a gracious, "thank you for the offer/invitation/question, however, my current schedule/budget/energy doesn't permit for the time I would need to invest in this” takes a bit of practice, but it can be done.
Sharing your boundaries in a kind and clear way doesn't make you stingy, mean, bitchy, rude, unfriendly, or any other thing the person receiving your gracious "no" may label you as. You are responsible for your delivery, not how someone receives and responds (or reacts) to your “no thank you.”
The world at large has a perception that therapists are much like water faucets - available at any time by turning the faucet handle. Simply because a person is “thirsty” doesn't mean that we are required to fill their glass. We actually (insert gasp here) get to fill our own cups first, and then choose how and who we give our time and energy, and how much we pour in to that person, place or thing. And yes, that includes our clinical and coaching clients.
The belief that therapists are on tap 24/7 is also alive and present within our own therapeutic community. Sadly the idea that our therapist colleagues must always be amenable, agreeable, and acquiescent is large and in charge with some of our peers. The stories I often hear are:
Agency managers who believe that their therapy staff "should" be available at the drop of a hat
Therapists labeling a colleague as “mean” if they don’t like the person’s boundaries
Group practices hiring therapists as 1099s but treating them as W2 employees
Therapists excluding colleagues who “piss them off” vs. discussing their concerns
Therapists expecting their fellow therapists to give their time away for free
Therapists believing they are required to work with every client who requests support
Therapists expecting freebies, discounts, and endless time and support
Colleagues taking content from other colleagues websites (plagiarizing)
Therapists pressuring colleagues to (fill in the blank)
Therapists knocking off forms, materials and ideas
Therapists using gossip as a form of punishment
Ego fencing on social media
Much of this unhealthy behavior takes place on social media between therapists. As Lady Gaga recently and aptly stated, “Social media is the toilet of the Internet”, and while I appreciate that social media should be utilized appropriately by clinicians for networking, supporting business endeavors, and marketing, it is up to each of us to practice and model good boundaries and professional behavior amongst ourselves so that we can begin to change this dynamic in and out of our community.
It is important to remember that a person having an expectation of your time is not the problem, people don't know what they don't know. Rather than resenting the person making the request, it is up to each of us to manage the expectations of colleagues and clients, and family and friends for that matter.
Boundaries are a good thing. Boundaries allow others to know who you are and what you can and cannot do for them. Boundaries increase respect - not the other way around. Boundaries allow for safety. If a person has an issue with your professional boundaries…well, that says more about that person, and less about you.
The goodness with boundaries is that it frees up your energy to then give generously to the people, projects and places you are excited about supporting. And that is a very good thing! And it also allows you time out of session for self care, or to create other income streams, or to focus on other things you enjoy.
Finally, giving back to our community, and sharing our knowledge, wisdom and resources is important and valuable. I provide free forms (and paid materials as well) in my ToolBox Store here.
I also mentor a couple of pre-licensed therapists without charge, and I provide a pro bono space in every coaching webinar, workshop, coaching group or counseling group I facilitate. Additionally, I regularly contribute extensive open source, step-by-step business and practice information in my coaching blogs, and on my professional listserves as well.
We can give as we choose to give from a place of energy, abundance and joy vs. a place of exhaustion, guilt, resentment, or people pleasing.
So back to my original point, protect your most valuable asset: your time and energy. You'll thank yourself for this gift.
Do you need support for a professional dream you’ve been wanting to launch but have been stuck in gear, or a private practice goal that you are not sure how to move forward on? If so, I’d love to help! You are welcome to check out what other colleagues have to say about my support here. If you’d like to schedule a one-on-one coaching session, you can do that here. Or if you need materials or free forms to support your practice, you can find those here.
Feel free to introduce yourself below in the comments. Have you been challenged by holding good boundaries with clients, projects or people pulling at your time? If so, you are not alone! We all start somewhere.
Kindly and in support,