Did you know there is a huge shadow stopping many therapists from thriving in private practice?

If you are a therapist you likely chose this career to make the world a better place by uplifting peoples’ lives and reducing unnecessary suffering. You have very little doubt about your purpose on this planet. You studied for years in a graduate school or a training institute and spent countless hours honing your skills in internships and other forms of employment. You feel fairly confident that you know how to help others and long to create the private practice of your dreams.

But if you’re like me when I started, something big is blocking your path to success.

When I opened the doors to my private practice, I found a business coach and followed his advice and started getting some referrals. The small spike in my client load boosted my confidence enough to believe that having a thriving practice was really possible. I did all kinds of local and online networking and paid advertising. But then months went by and not much more happened. My client load wasn’t growing. I was stuck and I didn’t know why. I knew this wasn’t just about marketing; it had something to do with my spiritual development. I just wasn’t exactly sure what it was.

I have coached many therapists over the years that have shared similar stories.

Maybe you are starting to gain some traction on understanding marketing. You have your sweet office space and even have a few solid referral sources. You start to get a handful of clients, but then they seem to fall away and your client load dries up. Or maybe you haven’t gotten that far and you know something is in the way, but you are having trouble identifying the true core issue.

If this sounds familiar, it’s likely you have what I call, “The Money Shadow.” I had it and most therapists have some version of it too.

Many therapists find themselves on a quest in their twenties and thirties and often have a conflict with their desire for money. We believe that not prioritizing wealth will allow us to attain our higher ideals such as non-attachment and the alleviation of social inequalities. This concept makes sense. We are well intentioned and don’t want to be greedy or cause more problems in the world. Unfortunately, all too often that drive to live off very little doesn’t truly come from altruism; it comes from a place of devaluing your self, typically because of past hurts and wounds around money. And the cost is great.

What happens when therapists devalue money and themselves?

This is the real reason so many therapists don’t succeed in private practice!

Therapists aren’t clear in their relationship to money and it stops them from earning it. You might devalue how much you are worth or lack confidence charging respectable fees for your service. Others don’t believe they have the skills to earn the money they want. Some have childhood wounds such as workaholic parents that caused them to reject wealth. Many therapists feel worried that their clients will judge them or be angry for asking for too high of a fee. The list goes on and on. The worst part is that a therapist can’t achieve their full potential in private practice without working through this issue. Clients and referral sources sense this deep seated insecurity and as a result devalue the therapist and choose to go elsewhere.

So, how do you overcome your money shadow so that you can achieve your potential in private practice and help make the world a better place?

It’s time to challenge your core beliefs about money. They are likely not really your own. You probably took on someone else’s ideas and struggle with money.

By asking yourself these five questions you can identify and challenge your core beliefs around money and start to truly transform your relationship to wealth and success:

  1. “How do I really feel about earning money in private practice?”
  2. “How much money is ok and why?”
  3. “What beliefs about money are not my own and are ready to be let go of”?
  4. “What am I most afraid of about the exchange of money in private practice?”
  5. “What do I need to do to overcome my biggest fear around money in my private practice?”

If you work with these questions over and over you will find you can change your relationship to money to gain financial freedom. You need to be financially successful in order to have a thriving private practice and achieve your highest potential as a therapist. A for-profit business can only survive when the bottom line generates enough of a profit to nourish the business owner.

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Keith Kurlander

Keith Kurlander is the founder of Higher Practice, a company dedicated to helping therapists achieve their highest potential in private practice. He has two decades of combined experience in business administration, group facilitation, teaching at the undergraduate and graduate level, yoga instruction and as a licensed professional counselor in private practice.

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