Happy New Year from Boston! As 2017 has come to a close, I thought it would be fitting to review the past year (which is not something I’ve publicly done before).
The biggest event of this year was the decision to close my practice and return back to the Boston area to accept a new opportunity. Over the prior five years, I was living a paradox: helping clients look at their lives and their choices in order to find a sense of peace or balance, while I was running my practice unbalanced. Sure I didn’t work 5 days a week, and not every work day was solid block of 7 clients in 7 hours, but by the end I was juggling a lot. I can admit that I enjoyed the hectic schedule, I liked the hustle, and I was successful, but it wasn’t sustainable.
As a therapist, like most, I don’t disclose personal details of my life (very frustrating for clients). What most people didn’t know was that having my practice while my kids were young gave me a lot of freedom to be a stay at home dad during the day, volunteer in my kid’s classroom, teach, mentor/supervise students, etc. As many parents will share, time seems to fly by when you’re a parent, and 5 years later, my kids seem to be grown. It seems like yesterday they were so dependent on their parents, and now here I was at my office most afternoons and evenings working with children who were not mine, missing a good chunk of my biological kid’s lives. Like all businesses, I had grown to a level where I needed to pivot- I either needed to think about raising my rates (which remained the same over the past 5 years), or change my business from a solo to a group practice by bringing on additional counselors to work along side of me.
The truth is that in early 2016, I thought I was going to be closing my practice to accept a job, which, despite being a final candidate, was not to be my story. The process of interviewing did offer a glimpse of how my work life and personal/family life could be more balanced. By the fall of 2016 I returned to seeking out opportunities similar to the “one that got away,” and by the spring of 2017 I had an official offer letter in hand.
Many therapists aspire to have their own practice someday, and here I was closing a successful practice to return to work for an organization. The trade off better aligned with the balance that I needed, greater time to enjoy with my growing children and family, while still doing what I love- being a counselor to those who are seeking change, and support through difficulties. The beauty of my work is that change is always possible.
Professionally, this past year I really began to embrace the usefulness and benefits of mindfulness and meditation as a practice but also as a tool for my clients. More specifically the act of being compassionate towards the struggles of my clients vs providing empathy. As well as the practice of self-compassion in my professional and personal life, and sharing the ideas of self-compassion with others. I’m still deeply interested in these ideas and practices and look forward to continuing to cultivate these principles in the new year.
On a similar note, while living and practicing in the belt buckle of the Bible Belt, I think I found greater comfort in the role of spirituality and faith in counseling, and when to integrate Christian values and principles in counseling (obviously when the clients were Christian and open to such ideas). For those who were not Christian, Buddhist values and teachings seem to be a more accessible starting point re:spirituality. Personally, I have come to appreciate the intersectionality of faith traditions and practices, as spirituality is something I found many adult clients coming back to or seeking out especially during a tumultuous year.
Most importantly, I am most appreciative of individuals and families who entrusted me with their struggles, pains, and secrets over the years on Broad St.
Wishing you all much laughter, joy, and peace in 2018!