After qualifying as a person-centred counsellor I felt ready to start a private practice. At that time the main networking avenues were advertising in telephone directories, writing letters to doctor’s surgeries and schools and putting leaflets through people’s doors. Some of this was expensive, all of it was time consuming, and none of it brought me much work, just a trickle.
It made sense to stay in my job as a nursery school teacher whilst continuing to see clients in voluntary placements. I recognized that working with a variety of client groups was broadening my counselling experience and at the same time I was eager to move on. My supervisor and I sat with the dilemma of wanting to do something practical towards building my private practice, whilst not knowing what to do.
Through our discussions I became more accepting of my situation, I felt calmer and able to empathise with my frustration and sense of stuckness. Inwardly this provided some extra space for fresh ideas to emerge. I could approach networking with interest and curiosity, I had a new enthusiasm for it.
I left supervision sessions feeling more grounded and optimistic. Amazingly I would return home to one or two enquiries left on my answer phone. This occurred enough times for me view it as one of those strange and mysterious things that tend to happen when something within me changes.
Learning how things work
Gradually my private practice built up. Most of the people who approached me for counselling had heard about my work from fellow trainees or former clients. I began to get an overall picture of how connections can result in an enquiry and that connections can go back many years, I still have a few recommendations from parents whose children were at the nursery school.
The internet allows for numerous connections. I find that it helps to be visible in several places, my website, blog, appropriate directories, Twitter, Pinterest and my Facebook business page. Then people can build up a picture of who I am and the therapeutic services that I offer.
Photographs of one's self and the counselling room are important. There are various practical aspects to consider when finding a counsellor and supervisor. At a more emotional level people are interested in the practitioner and what they are like personally. Whether this is someone who they can trust and connect with. Photographs and videos give prospective clients and supervisees an initial impression.
Contacting a therapist or supervisor can be daunting and I hope that with all the personal information available online this becomes a little easier.
I enjoy connecting with colleagues both online and offline. I like being sociable and there is great scope for supporting and learning from each other. This includes therapeutic theory and practice as well as understanding social media and how to use it for networking. I have found groups that are relevant to me through my professional organisations, friend and colleague recommendations, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Coming across Onlinevents https://www.onlinevents.co.uk has added to the richness of my learning and networking experiences. They are a brother and sister team offering wonderful learning resources for people who are working in the counselling / therapy field. Resources include online groups, free online CPD with therapy, networking and social media topics. They also run an online library with a collection of video interviews, workshops and conference presentations.
Social networking continues to develop and change, so when something new becomes available I have learnt to check my personal and professional boundaries to decide whether or not I want to engage with it. I take into account how much time it might require and whether this is something that I could enjoy, as well as the networking potential. Before posting something on social media I always reflect upon its possible effects for clients, supervisees and Focusing students.
I have discovered the joys of networking. For me it is a creative and sociable activity. I find that I can be openly myself whilst also taking care to post sensitively. I enjoy developing relationships with peers that are mutually supportive and helpful.