Accountability partners were my lifeline as I built my private practice.
When I started my private practice, I didn’t know anyone else doing what I was doing. I had just graduated and wanted to seize on the opportunity to work for myself.
Luckily, I had an amazing art therapy supervisor who supported me as I built my practice. Due to the supervision requirements, we met every week for two hours. Our sessions were as much about my clients as they were about how to structure my policies and practices within my private practice.
Admittedly, our relationship wasn’t a true “accountability partner” situation. Since she was my paid supervisor, our time together was focused on my needs and goals as a therapist. Although it was a one way relationship, it helped me see and experience the value of checking in with a knowledgeable, like-minded professional.
When I decided to restructure my private practice, I joined Tiffany McClains’s paid group program for therapists. It was enlivening to be around so many therapists with similar values and goals. I began reaching out to them for individual virtual coffee dates to get to know each other better.
There were a few with whom I clicked very well and we decided to become accountability partners. I met with one therapist weekly and she was seminal as I raised my fees and went through all of the emotions. She was doing the same thing, and so our conversations were rich, mutual, and supportive.
I also set up accountability partnerships for support in other specific areas. For example, another therapist and I agreed to meet weekly to discuss our marketing goals and hold each other accountable. At the time, I was struggling to discern the best use of my time and how to intentionally expand my marketing. Our conversations helped me to set small, manageable goals each week, as well as select goals that ever so slightly challenge me.
I’ve learned a few things in these past two years of business accountability partners:
Select partners that are in the same field. It is incredibly beneficial to have accountability partners that are doing the same that you’re doing. They immediately understand and will have many ideas. You will learn from each other and develop incredible synergy. While there is value in anyone holding you accountable, the extra benefits of someone in your field will make the relationship even more impactful.
You can vary the frequency that you meet. I have one accountability partner with whom I meet weekly. I have another that we meet every other week. I have another that we only meet monthly. You both get to decide the level of support you need and that includes the frequency of your meetings.
You can determine HOW you meet. I meet with a few of my accountability partners solely over the phone. This allows us to be doing other things as we talk, such as going on a walk, cleaning up the house, preparing dinner, etc. For others, we meet via video. If someone is in town, it can be fun to meet up for coffee.
You can clarify what kind of communication outside of your meetings is preferable. Sometimes accountability partners and I decide that it’s ok to text each other with support throughout the week. So we’ll send messages of excitement when we get a new client or ask questions as they come up. It helps us to feel more connected.
You can have multiple accountability partners. As I mentioned earlier, I have accountability partners for various purposes. For example, I joined a feminist copywriting program that has modules and assignments to complete. I asked a fellow program participant if they wanted to be accountability partners about our assignments and work in the program. In deciding how many accountability partners you need, I suggest only adding one at a time and maintain that relationship for a while. It also helps if additional accountability partners are for separate subjects, or you may find yourself repeating yourself and not using your time as effectively.
Accountability partners can come and go. Sometimes, an accountability relationship serves its purpose for a period of time and then is ready for conclusion. This is ok.
We need to speak up when a relationship is no longer beneficial. As private practice owners, our time is extremely valuable. It is easy to overload our schedules with extra meetings. We need to ensure that our time is valuable. As it becomes clear that a particular relationship isn’t benefiting you or the other person, it is best to address it. There may be ways to shift your meetings, or perhaps it is time for the relationship to end. I’ve had both happen.
While I’ve primarily shared examples of accountability partners for my private practice, I’ve found that the biggest impact of my accountability partners is on my soul. Running a private practice can be very difficult at times. My accountability partners have been there to listen to me, validate me, and attend to my heart. They’ve helped me to keep making decisions in line with my values and heart. They’ve enabled me to be seen, heard, and understood. These things are invaluable. Owning a private practice can be a very solitary experience. We need others to see and support us as we see and support them.