I am known these days as a business coach, supervisor, and mentor, but before all of that, I was a practitioner and still am.
I have a few suggestions about practice as a psychologist.
Love yourself as a person but doubt yourself as a therapist.
Why you ask? Well, research tells us that as confidence and hours of practice increases, outcomes for our clients decrease. But more importantly highly effective therapists spend time looking at themselves and their practice.
When they feel a bit lost or stuck, they don’t turn to technique but to factors that affect client outcomes:
- advanced empathy
- thinking out loud with the client
- discussing options for treatment and approaches and
- answering the client’s questions.
That said, you can’t cure people with empathy; and a good relationship with a client but no outcome often leads to dependency on you or the process.
We need to be different in our response to clients when there is a client who doesn’t respond to treatment, and we need to listen for implicit and explicit emotions and unspoken feelings.
Burnout can be caused by working with people you are not helping (at least when there isn’t a pandemic and a tsunami of need).
Returning to the basics such as open questions, affirmations, reflective listening, and summarising are under-rated foundations of the helping profession.
Lots of things have changed over the years in private practice but some remain:
- Effective competent treatment is what will get you repeat work
- You can’t do this work without support
- Being a psychologist is a great career—that has its moment like most!
If you are interested in these ideas, check out my online course on private practice.