CHRIS, TELL US THE STORY OF HOW YOU GOT INTO PRIVATE PRACTICE?
I was that person working and living in an agency who wanted to truly make a difference in as many lives as I could. I was tired of sitting in a room waiting for people to get sick so I can make a difference. I wanted to get out of the office to teach, to train, to make products and programs that make a difference in peoples lives beyond my office. I felt it was my duty to help as many people as I could and I was frustrated stuck in an office.
My agency told me I was too damn good as a therapist and that was how they are going to use my expertise. It frustrated me to think I was going to be stuck in an office and only the chosen few who have been promoted to high level management would interact with the community at large. I wanted to be the author of my professional life and didn’t want my agency in charge or writing that professional story!
My health declined as I was stressed, burned out, and struggling to meet with 30 to 35 hours of counseling with some of the most high risk and difficult cases week after week. I was on an antidepressant, anti-anxiety, a heart pill, and a blood pressure pill. Not sleeping well and driving my family nuts as I was attacked with negativity and anger.
And then I had a vision…..
I was sitting on my porch in the land of agency and was looking out at the private practice mountains and I saw people who had freedom, relief, were smiling, felt successful, who controlled their own schedule, worked with the clients they wanted to work with, they were able to be a part of their children’s functions and with their family more than I ever was. They looked confident, secure, poised under pressure, strong, and flexible. They were the authors of their lives and living their dreams! And I wanted to be like that too!
Darkness soon set in, ripping me from my vision, and reminded me of my reality of where I was; living and struggling in the land of agency. Somehow it got me to think that I wasn’t good enough or deserving to have that life in the mountains of private practice. That life was reserved for others; not me. That old insecurity has been there my whole life whispering to me how others can get what they deserve and I am just not good enough or deserving. That my role is stand on the sidelines of life watching others live out my dreams.
I desired that life in the mountains of private practice where I too could be the author of my life, have that flexibility, those freedoms, that time with my family, that confidence, that strength, and that feeling of success where I can truly make a difference in the lives of others.
I knew going there meant quitting my job and losing that paycheck. At the time, I was the only income earner in my family and we only had enough for a month to a month in a half before all of our money would be gone. I knew we could lose our house and way of life if I didn’t make it. I also knew that not making it would forever feed my insecurity.
I then was reminded of my ancestors who left nearly everything including their family and friends to move to another country for a better opportunity. They had no idea what this country was like or how they were going to make it either. However, they refused to be simply a character in someone else’s story and demanded to be the authors of their lives. So, they took the leap of faith and made the journey so that generations later I could have the opportunities that they never had! I knew right then that I had a duty to my children and generations after to make a similar leap of faith so that they too could have better opportunities than I ever did. It was my time to pay back the sacrifices my ancestors made. I had to find a way!
I had only enough money to last 1 to 1 ½ months and I would be starting from scratch with no clients. I didn’t have tens of thousands of dollars to pay a coach to guide me and get me there. I didn’t have hundreds of dollars to pay for courses that could help guide me. Plus, I didn’t know anyone in private practice that could help me as well.
I made the leap! Left my agency and opened my private practice. Within the first year I had made more money than I ever did at my agency. I got to experience that freedom, that flexibility of schedule to be with my family and involved with my children’s activities. A new sense of confidence and success was growing. Two months in to starting this journey I went to my doctor and had a clean bill of health. She thought the meds were finally working. In fact, I hadn’t taken any in two months and I felt much better! Things worked out. However, it wasn’t easy. There were many and numerous challenges along the way, but I found a way and never quit!
WHAT WAS THE “WAY” YOU FOUND? LIKE, HOW DID YOU DO IT?
Simply put, incremental learning and fine tuning along the way! Remember, I didn’t have much finances to invest in learning. So, I spent a great deal of time reading books and scouring the internet for anything related to private practice. I would write down many cool ideas (today I call them Master Ideas) and I would learn them incrementally (one master idea at a time). I then would take those ideas and implement them into my private practice day after day. Over time, I began to see tremendous growth and progress as I fine-tuned my practice with these Master Ideas. Soon I had that full practice, a marketing system that worked, and I was truly making the difference in the lives of others beyond my office.
However, it wasn’t just the “what” to do that made the difference. I also needed to develop the right mindset to face the challenges we all face going into private practice and while growing our practice. So, part of my incremental learning was to also find Master Ideas from books on mental toughness and resiliency. And then to incrementally (one Master Idea at a time) plant and cultivate them into my mind.
I felt this was part of the journey that many others helping those succeed in private practice missed. We get too focused on how to setup our website, or what are business cards should look like, or what marketing idea is the best. All that external stuff. Anyways, it just seemed like all I needed to do was follow this recipe and I was gonna get to the great mountain in Private Practice. As if there wasn’t going to be any growing pains, challenges, and a fight with my insecurities.
Through implementing those mindset Master Ideas and facing the challenges is where that confidence, strength, and resiliency came from. Today, I have combined all those ideas and formulated what I refer to as a “Rhino Mentality”. Which essentially represents the powerful mindset needed to get through the growing pains and struggles that we ALL face in building our practices.
How do we develop that Rhino Mentality? By learning one mindset Master Idea at a time. And more importantly, by getting through the struggles, pains, and hardships we all face on this journey. Those pains and struggles are what forge that powerful mindset! Over time you too will develop that strength, wisdom, and resiliency! Do not be afraid of the struggle as it is the struggle that will forge your confidence, strength, and resiliency!
However, I can’t say that I did this all by myself. I didn’t have a lot of support in the beginning, but I did have a few individuals in my community who did offer their support and help. I am forever grateful for those who helped me along this way. I am greatly indebted to each and every one of you.
They offered their support because they too were once where I was. Now they didn’t set up a private practice, but they had built other businesses where they too went through the challenges and struggles of establishing a business. They indicated to me they wanted to help to give back as someone had also helped them in the beginning.
This is why I have created Master Private Practice. I want to give others the wisdom, knowledge, mindset, and support needed to succeed on this journey of private practice. I want to give back and be a teammate to those who are looking to start a practice or are in those struggles and growing pains of developing a practice. I want to provide others with those Master Ideas that helped me incrementally develop the practice I desired.
Chris Swenson, LMFT