More specific topic areas to be covered include:
We have extensive training to prepare for a lifetime of working alone in our offices with a patient, group or family; be confidential about the details of the work; listen rather than speak; be conservative and avoid obvious marketing efforts.
Unlike most other professional groups, our graduate schools teach us to feel uncomfortable about selling our services to individuals or groups with whom we have any other type of relationship. Therefore, our ability to earn our livelihoods was based primarily upon referrals from other professionals and clients. Our professional language developed to separate us from "business-minded, entrepreneurial individuals who sold other types of services or developed *products.* In fact, we don't sell services, we *provide*services. We don't network or market ourselves, we seek "referrals." The language of psychotherapy is not designed to have us compete in the marketplace.
We were taught to believe that if we are good at our work, referrals will come our way. Those days are gone. Psychotherapy is increasingly considered irrelevant to health care delivery, and practitioners are being forced outof their quiet, conservative offices into group practices or advertising, marketing, and promotion if they are to survive within the profession. The latter group is busy developing "products" for the consumer who may not be receiving the mental health services they need. Compared to twenty years ago, the American public is demanding a wide variety of self-help books,audio & videotapes, workshops, seminars, and groups.
As a result, the face of mental-health delivery is changing dramatically. This trend will only continue as managed care sweeps the country. Yet we receive NO formal training in business. Informal training is only occasionally directed specifically at practicing psychotherapists. For example, our conventions now have several seminars for how to cope with managed care. Rarely will we see seminars devoted to how to produce and market your own *product.*
One way to survive finacially in the future is to stop thinking only like mental health practitioiners and start thinking like business people. It's time we look around and see what survivors in other professions are doing. We can do this ethically, and with integrity.
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