I want to tell you about my vice that almost crushed my practice.

This is difficult to talk about, but every therapist has one. A vice that leads you astray from your private practice and into a shadow that few people know about.

For some therapists, it’s a very obvious destructive path of alcohol or drug addiction. For others, it can be marital affairs or sexual addictions. Maybe for you, it’s a less obvious vice such as playing too many video games or co-dependency on a partner.

The majority of therapists I know discover that their vice is relying on others for financial security even when it no longer aligns with their heart.

They have a difficult time having a self-reliant relationship to money which is necessary for a private practice. This is a big way therapists lose their autonomy around money and become enslaved to it.

There are too many vices to list, but we all have one.

As therapists, we are expected to be superhuman in some way.  Our communities project that we have achieved a perfected life and we always impart a saintly wisdom.

Unfortunately, it’s not true and never will be. You are human just like me. You have a vice just like me. And the only difference between an evolved therapist and a completely destructive one is to recognize your vice and work at transforming it.

My vice was very destructive to my practice at one time.

It seemed benign to my friends and family, but in fact it was quite a crushing force.

I relied on watching movies when I needed a distraction from my life. The problem was, there were periods of time where I could watch two to three movies a day. I would completely stop all of my marketing efforts and just do the bare minimum for my practice.

So, even a somewhat innocuous habit of movie watching turned out to threaten the very existence of my private practice.

I’m embarrassed about my movie watching vice. It’s not easy to write about. It can take over my life just like any other addiction. I can spend days or weeks or in this case months doing my minimal responsibilities.

When I was confronted by the reality that I would never create a full-time, full fee practice without dealing with my movie watching habit, I honestly didn’t know if I wanted to give it up at the time.

I was still in my early thirties and although I was somewhat ambitious, I was a bit disempowered around my dreams for the future.

But after years of struggle I came to a crossroads.  I was about thirty-four. After months of movie watching my practice suffered big time. My client loads were dropping and I was back to living month to month financially.

I had to hit a low in my own way in order to recognize my demons. My once stable client load of twenty-five people a week dropped down to about ten a week.

Well, that motivated me. I finally realized I never wanted to live paycheck to paycheck again because of my vices.

I want to reiterate this statement…I finally realized I never wanted to live paycheck to paycheck because of my vices.

It was like the big lightbulb in my head went off.  I saw how out-of-control I was in relationship to my career and money. It was all because I was unwilling to deal with this movie watching addiction that kept me distracted from the things that mattered most.

This was the turning point in my practice. So,the first thing I did was I decided to take the middle road.

I gave myself permission to watch a movie every couple of days, but also had a strict boundary around going beyond that.

Once I made this change, I slowly got back to a full-time practice but ever since then I stayed there indefinitely.

Looking back on it, I realize now this is the journey of the entrepreneur.  You must prioritize facing your demons, because they will find a way into your business just like any other part of your life.

The entrepreneurial road taught me a major lesson.

My vices will destroy my business if I allow them to run it. When they come full-steam ahead, I need to recognize they are back, give them a little space and then grab the reins and take charge from an empowered place.

This discovery isn’t really new.  It’s something every entrepreneur has to work. And it really boils down to a few simply steps in order to succeed:

  • Recognize your vices
  • Give them a little space
  • Assert yourself as quickly as possible so they don’t run the show
  • But never pretend you don’t have any or they will always run the show

I know this sounds simplistic. But it works. If your vices are in charge you are always swimming upstream. But you can take your practice back. You just need to make it your top priority and you are bound to be successful.

Don’t forget to sign up for our free live training for August 5th on How to Double Your Therapy Practice in Three Months by clicking this link!

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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.

2 thoughts on “The Vice That Almost Destroyed My Therapy Practice

  1. I really enjoyed the honesty of this article! It’s so important, how the little things add up to the big things, and simply stated. A good lesson for me. Thank you.

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