We hear it time and time again — isolation and loneliness are real issues for our community of private practitioners.
Sure, solo-practitioners interact with people everyday, but seeing clients is not the same as having a team or a network of colleagues to rely on.
To delve into the idea of loneliness in private practice, we’ve partnered with Allison Puryear, LCSW, SimplePractice Community Leader and owner of Abundance Practice Building. Aside from working with clients with eating disorders, Allison consults her very own community of behavioral health professionals through her blog, podcast, and Mastermind program.
In this 6-part audio series, Allison explores five ways to overcome loneliness that will not only make you a stronger practitioner, but will also help build your business and increase your client load. Take a few minutes out of your day to listen to Episode 1 and let us know your thoughts in the comments section!
Hey, everybody! This is Allison Puryear from Abundance Practice-Building and today we’re going to talk about five ways to battle loneliness in private practice that also happen to build your business. This is something that I hear a lot from the people that I help build their practices. It’s something that a lot of us struggle with. We go from agency jobs with people milling around and we have front desk staff we can chill with in between clients, if our colleague’s doing therapy or busy. Or maybe you’re in a hospital setting and you’re just used to having a lot more people around. And for many of us, introverts and extroverts alike, it can feel a little quiet to be in private practice.
So, what I want to talk about in this series is how you can battle that loneliness and how that actually is going to help you build your practice in different ways. So, a little bit about me — my name is Allison Puryear. I’m an LCSW and a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist. I own Abundance Practice-Building, which you can check out at abundancepracticebuilding.com. I have a podcast called The Abundant Practice Podcast. And I also have a Facebook group that you can find at facebook.com/groups/abundancepracticebuilders and we’ve got tons of loving, helpful people in there if you want some support as you’re going forward.
So, as we talk about loneliness, I want us to get at a few different pieces of that. First, I want us to acknowledge that building a business is super scary for pretty much all of us. And so, that’s going to heighten that loneliness. It’s going to make us feel even more vulnerable. I want us to also consider, what I was saying before, we’ve gone from these workplaces with a lot of hustle and bustle, a lot of people around, to this quiet, solitude. It might be a little bit of a disconcerting leap. Especially if you’re going from a very full caseload to a very slow or maybe non-existent caseload. So, I want to normalize that.
I want to talk to you about some of the things we’re going to cover in the series. So, the benefit of exploring some of these different ways of battling the loneliness while building your practice. First, it has the opportunity to make you a better clinician. Next, the goal in all of this, right? None of us want to suck at our jobs. We all want to do really good work. It also has the opportunity to make you a better colleague. So, by that I mean you’re going to have an opportunity to refer to some of your colleagues, to send them the clients that they do the best work with.
I’m really big on not hoarding clients, not holding onto everybody who calls you, especially when you know there’s someone out there who can do maybe a better job with them. Not to sound harsh, but if it’s not your specialty area or it’s not a modality that you’re as skilled in as somebody else, that’s not to say to put yourself down, because I hear that alot, too. You’re confident. You’re good at what you do. But if you don’t work with eating disorders, you should probably refer them on, instead of trying to force something that doesn’t work.
It also gives you the opportunity to be a better referral source! So, I want to talk about the benefit of exploring these five different ways to battle loneliness in private practice. First, it gives you the opportunity to become a better clinician, which is kind of the goal in all this, right? We all want to be good at what we’re doing. We all want to make a difference in people’s lives and I have found, personally, that being in private practice has upped my game significantly.
It also gives you the opportunity to make you a better colleague. Meaning, you are helping your fellow clinicians out in different ways, whether they’re learning from you, whether you’re sending them clients. There’re a lot of different ways in which this is going to make you a better colleague. It’s the opportunity to make you a better referral source. Since you’re not going to hoard clients, because you know you don’t need to hoard clients. There are plenty to go around. You can send clients who call you, who are not necessarily within in you niche or specialty area, to the people that are going to do amazing work with them.
It also affords the opportunity to be a better person to refer to. So, your colleagues are going to get to know you better. They’re going to get to trust you and like and that’s going to definitely increase the number of phone calls you’re getting from potential clients. It’s also the opportunity to help others become better at what they do, too. So, ultimately, in this whole battling back your own loneliness and building your practice, in my mind, what this tends to do within communities of therapists is it ups everybody’s game. Everybody’s doing better work. Everybody’s being, having a more abundant experience, where they’re really helping one another out and building camaraderie and being kind.
So, I think it’s also important to consider that this is going to get you out of your office. It’s really easy to just go from work, back home, wake up, go back to work from home. I want you to have some other places in your life. I don’t want your world to feel like it’s shrinking as you’re in private practice. You need to get out of your office some in order to stay abreast of the world. So, I also want to say that this is what I’ve used. I’ve been in private practice for almost 12 years now and I’m an outgoing extrovert and these are some tools that I’ve used to keep me from shriveling up and dying. I know we talk a lot about introvert, extrovert and some of the introverts are probably like, “No, I’m really fine with it being really quiet around my office.” And that’s great, but loneliness is a different animal and that’s what we’re talking about.
So, with that in mind, we’re going to move on through this series and next we’ll be talking about networking.