Nourishing Growth and Giving Breath to my Hungry Private Practice

I’m very excited to be selected and featured on the Inaugural Private Practice From the Inside Out Blog Carnival!  Private Practice From the Inside Out (PPIO) is a blog and professional resource center created in 2003 by Tamara Suttle, M.Ed, LPC, and is “designed to help [therapists in private practice] cultivate an openness to new and different ways of developing your practice into a vibrant story of possibilities”.  She has been an invaluable resource to me as I build and nurture my own private practice and I encourage you to sign up for her weekly blog posts of you are thinking of starting your own practice!

The theme for this blog carnival was “Creative Responses in Building a Private Practice”.  Below you will find my reflections on tending to my hungry practice and “feeding” its needs.  Please note the links at the end of the article to posts by my colleagues who were also featured in the blog carnival.  I’m so grateful to be among such talented, creative, and dedicated colleagues.

Nourishing Growth and Giving Breath to My Hungry Private Practice


The day I founded my private practice, Kate Daigle Counseling, I breathed life into a dream I’ve always held.  Today, more than two years later, my practice can breathe on its own, as I continue to tend to its hunger, its fullness, its voice, its energy.

I have imagined my journey to developing my private practice as akin to nourishing a living being.  My practice grows; my practice breathes; my practice slows its steps and stops for reflection.  I find I can best support my practice by not only becoming informed in business-building skills, networking opportunities and clinical best practices, but by also approaching my practice as a creative and unique entity whose needs are always evolving.  By relating to my practice in this way, I am also able to tune into my own needs in my personal, clinical, and professional life and notice where I am starved, where I am satisfied, where I am growing my branches to connect with others.

Developing a successful private practice involves embodying multiple roles, some of which might feel out-of-sync with our clinical therapist training.  Therapists, myself included, can feel uncomfortable standing up for the financial needs of their practices and shy away from the business side of this career.  Networking with large groups of other professionals might feel intimidating to a therapist who thrives in small one-on-one environments.  At times, the work involved in this journey can feel exhausting and overwhelming and might dry up our internal resources.  When this occurs, I try to tune into what my practice is asking for.  As I use body-centered techniques in my work with clients to try to heal the mind-body connection, I similarly need to support my practice and myself in the healthiest and most authentic way so that my business can grow deep roots and I can maintain energy to breathe into it.

What do living things need?  How do trees grow deep and sustainable roots so that they may provide clean air and shade to those in need?  How can I tend to my practice so that I can continue to offer support to clients and take care of my own personal needs, allowing me to be as present, open, and connected as possible?

Wearing my “new” therapist shoes  – I am of the mindset that I will always be learning and growing throughout my career – I have settled with a few observations as to how I can support the authentic, creative, and organic growth of my private practice.

  • When it’s thirsty, give it water.  This might mean different things for each practice, but I know that my practice needs to be watered in several ways.  I try to make time for writing, both personal writing and business-related writing such as blogging; I make time to read articles related to clinical practices as well as business-building; and I plan days that are not too demanding on me so that I can have energy available for my clients, who are the most important part of my practice.  I also must schedule in self-care and make it just as significant as anything else.
  • Help it to connect to others so that it may grow, learn, and rejuvenate.  One of the most nourishing things for my practice is its connection to other therapists, practices, and other health professionals.  As my practice extends its branches all over this city and into other cities, I am able to deepen my knowledge, identify referral sources, and find solace that there is always support out there if I need it.  This, in turn, helps me identify my ideal client, refer out when a client’s issues are out of my competency, and support my clients in a comprehensive and complete manner.
  • If your practice seems under the weather, there’s always a remedy (even if it’s the one you’d least expect).  One of the things I love most about having a private practice is its uniqueness wherein I am able to have creative freedom in how I structure my approach.  In this way, when I come upon a problem or feel stuck, there are numerous possibilities to try to attend to it.  This might feel overwhelming at times, but I remind myself to reframe and become open to alternatives.  A hard-learned lesson about supporting my practice has been allowing my business to digest, breathe and settle.  Why is this challenging?  Because there is a feeling that I “need to always be working on something related to my business” and that “it won’t succeed unless I’m meeting my daily goals”.  Well, these goals have led me to feel burnt out and drained at times, and by stepping back and taking a day off, I am able to truly give back to my practice in a refreshed, mindful way.

By approaching my private practice as a living, breathing being who has needs and hungers, its heartbeat enables me to offer compassion and space for it to grow.  In this way, I can creatively plan ahead for how my practice might look as it matures over the years, and how I can continue nurture this meaningful dream.


Don’t forget to continue your ride at the PPIO Blog Carnival!  Other informative and interesting submissions include:

Please feel free to comment on my post and any of these unique posts and begin a discussion about your own creative responses to building a private practice!

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11 Responses to “Nourishing Growth and Giving Breath to my Hungry Private Practice”

  1. Kate! I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post, it’s mah fav! I love the narrative approach to getting to know the needs of your practice. It makes sense to me how some of the things I have done have helped and why others might not be what it needs. LISTEN to your practice and yourself, brilliant work lady!

    • Thanks, Kat! I’m learning every day how to tune into the needs of my practice and try to listen to what it does and doesn’t need. This is turning out to be a comprehensive and deep endeavor! I find that narrative approaches tend to resonate most with me, so I naturally go towards that direction when conceptualizing problems. Glad that it resonated with you too! 🙂

  2. Hi, Kate! Thanks so much for participating in our first PPIO Blog Carnival!

    The imagery in your post really works for me! Sometimes when I try to problem-solve, I just get stuck! I do not excel at concrete / linear thinking and find that the use of imagery really helps me find my way.

    The metaphor of a living and breathing creature really helps me to stay flexible and responsive to those ever-changing needs in my practice.

    And, thank you, for sharing our Carnival with your readers!

    • Tamara, thank you for giving me the opportunity to participate in the first Blog Carnival! It’s so much fun to connect with other bloggers with a similar theme and to see what everyone does with it! I am so impressed with the creativity of all of the entries – they are inspiring! Thanks also for your feedback on my post; I find that when I am stuck or when I’m disconnected, I am not truly accessing the needs of my practice and myself, so if I can use imagery to think of my practice as a living, breathing, hungry entity, I’m more able to tune into what it does and doesn’t need. I hope that imagery exercises such as this one will be helpful for others too!

  3. Kate, I like so much of what you’ve written here, but what really resonates with me today is that I, too, am grateful for the freedom having a private practice gives me to structure my time and energies in the way that I feel best meets both the needs of my clients and my own self-care needs. My problem is similar to yours – that I am often so focused on achieving the next goal, checking off the next “todo” on my list, that I forget to take advantage of this freedom, make some space, and relax! Thanks for reminding me of this important wisdom.

    • Hi Anne! Thanks for your insight! I agree with you that sometimes it’s challenging to balance all of our needs – the needs of our clients, our practices, ourselves. I find that as a helping professional, sometimes I neglect myself! I’m glad to know that I’ve got company in some of these feelings and that finding a healthy balance is always the goal…even if it means re-evaluating that goal each day!

  4. Hi Kate,

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and insight with everyone. I love your metaphor about treating the practice as a living, growing entity because the truth is, I feel I always have to give it constant attention ultimately leaving me to have a breakdown when I don’t see immediate results. Thank you again! Best of luck with your practice.

    Christine M. Valentin
    Serving NY and NJ

    • Hi Christine,

      Thanks so much for your comment and for checking out my blog! I totally hear you about sometimes feeling like there is a never-stopping wheel we are running on when trying to support our practice. I have had similar worries about burning out and over-exerting myself when in truth that only hurts my practice and myself, not helps it! I’ve found that “immediate results” dont really exist in private practice — at least not the kind we tend to expect. Re-evaluating what “success” means has been helpful for me, as well as giving myself a break 🙂 Best of luck on your practice as well!