I conduct business. I conduct therapeutic consultations. It is important to keep clear boundaries and pay attention to both if you want to make a living from your practice. I put on my marketing and sales hat at networking meetings or while talking to people who call to inquire about our services. I put on my business hat when discussing profit and loss with my accountant, and when collecting fees prior to a session. With an appropriate fee received and business out of the way, I can put on my therapy hat and direct my full attention at the client’s needs.
Whether you believe it or not, uncertainty about whether or not you are going to receive payment exerts an inexorable strain on your work. Wearing two hats at once means neither fits very well. When I choose to give a pro bono session, the business hat is set aside, which allows my therapy hat to fit snugly. Remember, it is MY conscious choice.
The hats sometimes swap quickly, as when discussing a client’s future needs (therapy) and an appropriate fee for addressing those needs (business). My advisory work with Gwen has been to help her not just get comfortable with the business hat, but to recognize when she should be swapping hats to ensure that she is not just helping people, but also making a living.