Jackie Schuld Art Therapy Blog

I Thought I Could Build a Utopian Private Practice… Without Resources

When I started my private practice, I envisioned building a business that operated similar to Norway. I had read books about Norway’s social policies and programs that enable its people to flourish.


I dreamt of hiring clinicians and providing them with a place that truly saw them as human and enabled them to flourish.


I pictured health insurance, paid education, ample leave policies (for both sick and child-rearing), generous vacation time, a positive work environment, and more.


A LOT MORE. Like fun, informative staff meetings. Supervision that enabled them to feel empowered with their clients. Paid internships for art therapy students. Relevant trainings. Significant budgets for the art supplies they needed.


I also wanted to be a boss who saw the most in my clinicians and nourished their individual talents.


However, as I formed and grew my my solo private practice, I quickly realized I could not even provide those things to myself.


I had based my fee on the market standard, but it wasn’t enough to provide a flourishing life for myself (which I discuss in my essay Please Stop Basing Your Therapy Fee on the Market).


I was emotionally exhausted from the size of my caseload.


This wasn’t the Norway I envisioned.


What had gone wrong?


I was trying to create Norway all by myself.


A bright abstract painting with geometric shapes in the background and twists and knots in the foreground.
"It's Complicated" Acrylic painting by Jackie Schuld

I was trying to solve systemic problems (such as our government’s inadequate health care system) with individual sacrifices and effort.


I thought I could build Norway… without significant resources.


I can’t.


It takes money to have health insurance, retirement accounts, sick leave, and all of the other goodies I dreamt about.


It also takes money in a savings account to be able to take extended vacations from work.


It takes money to purchase additional education or wonderful art supplies.


As a private practice owner, I don’t have access to the grants, governmental assistance, and large budgets of mental health agencies.


I have me, and whatever revenue my private practice generates.


So, in May 2021, I began restructuring my business.


I took steps to help my business provide for me in the ways I envisioned.


It felt selfish at first. I’ve always been taught to help others first. But we cannot help others consistently and sustainably if our own emotional, mental, and financial resources are depleted.


I still have dreams of providing my Norwegic vision to other clinicians, but I have to make sure I can provide them to myself first.

 

I provide consultation to therapists who want thriving private practices.


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