Who starts a business in a global pandemic?
Starting any business in the midst of a global pandemic may have seemed a little bit odd to most people but for me it was the perfect opportunity. I had recently finished a whole years maternity leave and was furloughed from my teaching role (teaching Nurses and care staff), shortly after this I was made redundant.
With our household expenses decreasing significantly thanks to lock downs lack of family days out, barely any fuel costs and no meals out/coffees with friends taking place it seemed the best time for us to risk me earning very little or nothing at all for a while.
Plus I hoped a private practice would bring me the work/life balance I always wanted and of course would allow me to undertake my passion of helping others potentially every working day.
How to find a silver lining- get made redundant so decide to follow your life long dream!
I had Imposter Syndrome
I have been a qualified and practising therapist since 2007 but always felt unable to have my own private practice and commit to the job full time because it was just too plain scary! How would I pay my bills if I didn't get any clients? How would I pay the mortgage and feed the kids and animals? (For those who don't know me I have 2 kids and many many pets!)
I suffered from imposter syndrome- surely I needed more and more supervised clinical hours and maybe even my PHD to open my own practice??!
I always felt I needed a "real" job (teaching, in HR etc.) in order to pay my bills and therapy was basically a (very expensive) hobby on the side. But being a therapist IS a real job for thousands of people throughout the UK. It was time to pull up my big girl pants and go for it.
Helping people makes me feel good.
Many people think therapists are these totally selfless angel like people- sadly I can burst that bubble straight away for you! We are flawed humans like everyone else but as a group we are normally very empathic and caring people. I love helping people in any way, be that putting a elderly neighbours bin out for them, supporting someone with a work based problem, teaching someone a new skill or helping others to deal with their emotions and work through life's challenge's. All of my jobs have been helping roles and I have got a buzz out of all of them.
So I have not set up my private practice to be totally selfless and I am not sadly running a charity (who knows maybe in the future!!). Although it is a business and I charge because I need to clothe and feed everyone at home, I have the best job in the world in my opinion because I get to work with different people and help them through some of life's biggest challenges!
I realised during lockdown 1 that there was a mental health crisis beginning and I felt compelled to help, setting up my practice enabled me to do just that. Did you know I also do some pro bono and low cost sessions for those who cannot afford therapy but need it the most? (I tend to keep that to myself as I don't like to shout about it) I also worked with lots of NHS staff during the pandemic and have volunteered my services for those affected by the war in Ukraine.
"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life."
Depression and me
I wrote a previous blog about my post natal experiences of depression and anxiety. I have always been an anxious person, even as a child I would worry about everything- school, my class mates, who liked me, if someone had fallen out with me, if my parents would lose their jobs, break up or get ill! All these worries in one tiny little mind...which is pretty sad really in retrospect.
But this is not a pity party believe me, quite the opposite. Had I not had these experiences and struggled I don't think I would have felt quite so compelled to become a therapist and help other people with their mental health. My experiences also helped me to really know what my niche area would be- anxiety and depression. My personal experiences in this area mean I genuinely get it and empathise deeply when my clients describe their symptoms, my heart goes out to them and the mission begins to empower them to manage their mental health.
Where am I now?
Well it's almost 2 years later, I'm earning a living and doing my own taxes (which sounded terrifying at first but actually was pretty simple!) and I really do love every single day of work.
I no longer have the Sunday night/Monday morning dread or a long commute. I can do the school runs most days and cook tea at a reasonable hour working in between or during the evenings to suit me and my family.
I have my private practice clients, I work alongside some fantastic local and national companies providing therapy to their staff and I get to teach too! I pick up workshops/guest speaker opportunities, I develop training materials for training providers to deliver and I have a few full days of lecturing in various places a month (most of which is from the comfort of my own home thanks to everything having moved online!)
Don't get me wrong there are challenges to being a therapist, and to being self employed for that matter. I have to attempt to remember to actually advertise myself so people can find me which normally involves posting on various social media platforms (not much point sitting there as a qualified therapist without anyone knowing you exist!)
I've had to get my head around all sorts of business stuff I had never done before like blogs, websites, taxes, Instagram, YouTube channel etc. But I have overcome all of these challenges and each time I overcome something else it kicks that imposter syndrome away a little bit further because I am doing this and my business is thriving.
At times I worry if suddenly my income drops when a few clients finish their sessions around the same time but it all seems to even out again pretty quickly.
I have met and worked with some fantastic individuals so far, I have an amazing supervisor and I have been lucky enough to gain several awards for the work I've been doing so I can't be doing that bad a job!
Some of my awards to date;
Post Natal Depression and Me. www.gilljacksoncounselling.com/blog/categories/imposter-syndrome
Imposter Syndrome. www.gilljacksoncounselling.com/blog/categories/imposter-syndrome
Author: Gill Jackson of Gill Jackson Therapeutic Counselling, BA Hons Counselling, Diploma in Couples and Family Therapy, Diploma in EFT, CIPD, SMACCPH
Bio: I am a Therapist/Psychotherapist, Accredited Mentor and Teacher in private practice in the UK. Qualified since 2007. Working with adults and young adults. I specialise in Anxiety Disorders and Depression.
This article is not intended as a replacement for medical advice, if you are suffering from any physical or mental ill health please seek advice of your Doctor where necessary.
Images used with permission from Wix and Unsplashed.