Why I work in private practice

John-Paul Davies

John-Paul Davies

UKCP psychotherapist John-Paul Davies is a UKCP Transpersonal psychotherapist and author of personal development book “Finding a Balanced Connection” now available on Amazon.

Whilst training, I’d always wanted to run my own private practice, based on my experience of therapy and probably depictions of therapists in the media. More than ten years later, my practice still takes up much of my working week, not because of inertia or any lack of imagination and opportunity, but for the huge benefits it continues to provide. 

Previously working in large corporate environments meant I was used to an ‘outward-in’ life, mostly responding to the needs and wants of others, often despite what I felt. There are of course the vital ethical frameworks to work within now and therapy is a service industry just like the law, but working for myself means a much more ‘inward-out’ life. By ‘inward-out’ I mean I can navigate and be in pretty much full control of my life. I choose my hours, who I work with and if I feel drawn to a particular area, I can direct more energy into it. For example I now - around my existing client commitments - coach students coming into the therapy world who want to start their practices, have written a book, started a YouTube channel and contribute to various media, all of which are also great companions to the practice.

Of course, there are challenges in working for yourself. Particularly in the early stages, it was trial and error finding clients and establishing a financially viable business. The ability to be more ‘inward-out’ is exciting and energising, but working for yourself also means it’s all down to you. When things are going well, that makes it hugely rewarding, but it can make navigating the bumps - with the occasional client issues or new enquiries slowing -  a struggle. There’s less to hold you and bounce ideas off, nothing and no one to hide behind and often not a ‘right’ answer about what to do in a situation. There’s also the potential loneliness that comes from maintaining your obligation to confidentiality.

Over time though, a positive feedback loop starts, confidence grows and you’ll realise you can hold and trust yourself through it all. You’ll create support and connection with others through a network of peers and supervision, that’ll also help you grow your practice. In terms of building a client base, over time it will happen and it gets easier to rest safe in the knowledge it’s always going to be ok. 

Based on my journey, I’d suggest you try to trust other people as much as you can, you might be disappointed sometimes, but mostly that’ll bring out the best in both of you. At the same time, if you trust yourself, put time and energy into finding your own voice and try to be consistent with your efforts, I think it’s inevitable you’ll build the practice you want.

John-Paul Davies records a day in his life working as a psychotherapist in private practice. Watch the video on his YouTube channel


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