The 7 Lies Therapists Tell Themselves That Keep Them Struggling, Broke, and Overwhelmed

Young Woman with Her Hand on Her Belly and Man Beside Her WritingWe all have these little lies we tell ourselves. We even have the little lies that we tell each other. Often these little lies help us get through difficult situations. (One of my favorite little lies to myself at the moment is “my kids are just about to reach the age where they stop fighting so much.” I’ve been telling myself that one for four years now, so please don’t burst my bubble!)

See, here’s the thing about lying to yourself. It’s that incredibly powerful sub-conscious at work. So often you don’t even know that you’re doing it. You often can’t see that you’re lying to yourself unless someone points it out to you. And not all of these little lies are harmless. Sometimes they cause us tremendous pain. They prevent us from reaching our goals. They stop us from taking inspired action. They block us energetically.

These lies are incredibly destructive. And when you lie to yourself about your practice, and what it takes to be successful, you create a situation that keeps you “struggling, broke, and overwhelmed”.

I remember early in my career when I was trying to determine my niche. Like many of you, I was initially afraid to specialize for fear of “losing clients”. I told my coach, “But if I just focus on one specialty, then I’ll be losing out on the chance to work with all these other clients.” She responded, “What other clients? You’re not getting the clients right now, so what do you have to lose? WHO EXACTLY will you be missing out on? If you keep going like this, where will you be in 6 months?” Ouch! But she was dead-on. Fear was holding me back, so the lie I told myself was that I needed to cast my net as widely as possible. But I was really lying to myself as a way to justify my actions and avoid the fear. It took that really direct, honest exchange to break through to me and get me to be honest with myself. That’s what I’m hoping to do for you here.

So what exactly are these lies?

  1. I can’t charge more or I will lose all my clients. Let me share how I finally got past this one… This story goes back about 8 years, but it completely changed my thinking about fees. I had a client who was a prominent attorney here in town. He was what I call a “practice angel”, one of those who just loved me and the work we did together. (I know you’ve got a few of these in your practice as well.) This is back when I was charging $125. He said, “I have two friends I’d like to refer to you, but you have to make a deal with me.” I was immediately wary and a bit defensive, even before what came next. But I heard him out and asked him what the deal was. He said, “You have to charge them at least $175 per session. Otherwise they’re not going to want to come and see you. They’ll think you don’t know what you’re doing.” At the time, I was shocked by his statement. But now I completely get it. I’m not saying you have to make a $50 jump overnight, but many of you could (and should).
  2. I need to accept insurance or I won’t get clients. Here’s the little secret about accepting insurance: even if you are lucky enough to get on one of the “good” panels, that’s no guarantee that you’ll actually GET clients. I worked with a woman last year who made $11,500 for the year. She was on lots of panels, but still wasn’t getting referrals. And her story isn’t unique. Even if you ARE on panels, plan that you still have to market yourself and your services. You’re just getting paid a lot less per session.
  3. If I’m an excellent clinician, word will get out and clients will find me. The reality of business-building is that your clinical skills have little to do with success. Clinical skills will help you retain clients, but not attract clients. Client attraction is a whole different skill set. In order for clients to find you, you have to put yourself in their path at the moment that they need you. That doesn’t happen accidentally. It takes careful planning and self-promotion.
  4. If clients like me, they’ll refer more clients to me. This is closely connected to #3. Except this one is sorta true. Clients who like you may refer clients to you. But these random referrals aren’t enough to build a practice on. You CAN build a practice on referrals. This is one of my top marketing strategies I teach my clients. But it’s accomplished through careful strategies to build relationships and ask for the referrals. It doesn’t just happen on it’s own.
  5. If I specialize, I’ll miss out on a lot of clients. As you probably figured out from my story above, this was a lie I told myself for a while. It might seem counter-intuitive, but your practice just won’t take off the way you want it to until you clearly define your practice specialty. When you try to create marketing that is appealing to everyone, it ends up being compelling to no one. A clearly defined target market is the first step to success.
  6. If I just keep doing what I’m doing, eventually I’ll get more clients. Sorry, but doing more of the wrong things doesn’t make it more effective. I worked with a therapist earlier this year who was investing her entire marketing budget, thousands of dollars, in print advertising. Her results? Not a single client. Nothing. I asked her to stop all that marketing activity immediately. Then we found more effective marketing strategies that cost her a lot less. If what you’re doing isn’t getting the results you want, stop and re-group.
  7. I’m not _______ enough to charge more. (You fill in the blank with your own reason.) This one is truly a mindset issue. Yes, you are experienced enough. Yes, you are old enough. Yes, you are young enough. Yes, you are enough. Yes, you are worthy of charging what you are worth.

Those therapists that break through the 6-figure barrier know that it takes more than just effective marketing to get there. They’ve discovered that true success requires you to develop a mindset for success. If you’re ready to break through these mental barriers and take your practice to the next level, join us for the September Practice-Building Success Workshop. You can join us live in Boca Raton, or by livestream from your home. In this workshop, you’ll:

  • Clearly identify the mental barriers you’ve created
  • Determine exactly how these barriers have stood in the way of your success
  • Create a plan to leapfrog over these barriers to a whole new level of freedom and success

You can learn more about it and register here: https://septembersuccess.eventbrite.com