Wow, I did not post a single thing here in August, but did submit my poem "Why I Meditate" to the on-line magazine Elephant Journal, and it was published August 15. I was so very pleased to be selected and get a little bit of exposure.
But back to blogging for the moment.
Labor Day got me to thinking about my work.
I have been licensed as a clinical psychologist since 1990, and spent thousands and thousands of hours in training in the ten years before that. I was employed as a psychologist for about 10 years before opening up my private practice over 13 years ago. I have seen thousands of patients during the period before my private practice but I have no statistics, except for my practice. Here is what I found.
During the past 13 years, I have met with 701 different patients. Actually more if I had kept count of collateral contacts.
I currently have 68 active clients. Each week I usually schedule about 35 appointments, and end up having on average 30 direct service hours, with the balance taken up with phone calls, paperwork and a bit of down time for other things I enjoy doing.
Of these 68 folks, some I see weekly, many twice a month, some once a month, others three or four times during the year. I have no idea how this compares to other people's practices, but I feel fortunate that I am so busy. I usually get at least three or four inquiry calls a week, and often direct people elsewhere.
This steady stream has kept me free to do my work, without having had to spend much time or thought on advertising or generating more referrals. I do not want to get complacent about that, but I am thankful that as I got off the ground, I developed a few consistent sources of referrals, and then recommendations from previous clients and lots of self-referrals have allowed me to actually be selective in deciding with whom I wish to work. Psychotherapy is often personally demanding, and it helps me prevent burn-out to stick with the kinds of people and problems that I enjoy the most and with which I work the best.
However, a year or two ago I had the idea to build up my business in a different way, to market a personal development service for cash (not insurance) payment, and I put a fair amount of energy into developing that idea, even hiring a personal coach for awhile, but I stopped short of bringing it to full fruition. It is still there in the wings waiting for me when I am ready. I actually utilize a fair amount of those concepts with my current clients.
What happened instead: while going down the path of my own personal growth, I re-discovered my love and passion for writing, and have directed my energy there instead. And what a wonderful thing that has been for me.
I am re-energized.
I feel more creative.
I have taken risks.
I have come full circle back to something that was once so vital to me as an adolescent and young woman. I realize I never entirely stopped writing, but until recently neither did I really embrace it and direct energy and purpose to it.
And that has made all the difference in the world. I now see writing also as part of my work. It is a true labor of love, for which remuneration is not important. The chance to get some exposure, to have some sort of impact on the reader, to connect through my words, is the pay-off I seek.
In writing, as in psychotherapy, as in all relationships--words are powerful.
They can harm or heal, debase or empower, form enemies or alliances.
I intend for my words to provide pleasure for others, but more importantly to express an idea or an image that forms a connection, a reminder of shared humanity in both its many wonders and its frequent pain. Sometimes the content is serious, sometimes humorous.
And when it is at its very best, I want what I write to create in the reader a moment of awareness of what is essential.
An awakening of spirit.
A calling forth of something that seeks to hear its name.
Thank you for allowing me that opportunity.