Feeling Lonely? How to Handle the Isolation of Running Your Group Therapy Practice
Loneliness can be a strange paradox. You interact with people every day: clients, colleagues, clinicians, staff members, and people in your community who have come to know you because of your service and success. Yet a group therapy practice owner may experience deep feelings of loneliness despite being surrounded by all these people. Running your business can be isolating, with unique challenges that few would understand. There are ways to overcome these challenges and thrive in both your business and your life.
In this blog, we will discuss the isolation faced by owners of a group therapy practice and bring solutions into your business plan. Overcoming isolation and loneliness involves dealing with all the following areas:
- Realities of leadership in a group practice
- Feelings and emotions of leading a group practice
- Learning to thrive as a group practice owner
- Real-life solutions
Realities of Leadership in a Group Mental Health Practice
When you own your own group practice, you have all the responsibilities of a solo private practice owner, plus much more. This means you may continue the clinical work and caseload of individual therapy, group therapy, in-person counseling, online therapy, and telehealth. You’re busy conducting therapy sessions and successful group therapy, not to mention working for referrals and finding new clients. Plus, staying current on your credentialing and HIPAA regulations is necessary. It is a full-time job.
Now as a group practice owner, you are faced with the additional work of adapting your business model, staff management, decision-making, and payroll. You are working on group cohesion in your group sessions and in your office setting.
Let’s delve deeper into the struggles of loneliness and isolation experienced by leaders and explore some of the causes:
Communication Barriers: As a leader, there may be a perceived distance between you and your team members. This could be due to the need to maintain professionalism and authority, which can create barriers to open communication. This sense of separation can lead to loneliness and a lack of understanding of the team’s true feelings and perspectives.
Decision-Making Burden: As the owner of your own business, you don’t have colleagues at the same level with whom you can discuss and share the decision-making process. The weight of these decisions can lead to a sense of loneliness.
Work-Life Imbalance: As a business owner, the work never truly ends, which can hinder interpersonal relationships. Without proper scheduling and delegation, it could lead to a work-life imbalance contributing to loneliness as leaders find themselves distanced from friends, family, and hobbies that provide a sense of connection and fulfillment.
Personal Sacrifices: As a leader, you make personal sacrifices for the greater good of your teams and organizations. These sacrifices can lead to a sense of isolation as you may feel you must put the needs of your leadership role before your own well-being.
Lack of Peer Support: While you regularly interact with your clients and staff, you may lack peers or colleagues who truly understand the challenges and intricacies of owning and operating a group therapy practice. This can create a sense of isolation, as you may not have individuals to turn to for advice, empathy, or simply to vent about your experiences.
Peer support plays a crucial role in providing guidance, camaraderie, and a sense of understanding among individuals who share similar experiences and challenges.
Feelings and Emotions of Leading a Group Therapy Practice
Being a mental healthcare provider comes with unique emotional challenges and struggles that can impact your well-being and overall experience. While entrepreneurship offers opportunities for growth and success, it also requires a significant investment of time, energy, and emotions. Here are some feelings you may have experienced as a business owner.
Responsibility Overload: Business owners bear the ultimate responsibility for the success or failure of their venture. The weight of decision-making, financial stability, and employee wellness can lead to constant stress and feeling overwhelmed.
Financial Stress: Fluctuations in revenue, cash flow problems, and the need to manage expenses can create anxiety about the business’s financial stability.
Fear and Apprehension: Operating a business involves navigating unpredictable situations and taking calculated risks. The fear of making wrong choices or encountering unexpected challenges can lead to persistent stress and anxiety.
Emotional Fatigue: Balancing the demands of a business with a personal life can be a constant struggle. Long working hours, lack of breaks, and the inability to disconnect from work-related concerns can result in emotional exhaustion and strained relationships.
Pressure to Perform: Business owners often set high standards for themselves and their businesses. The pressure to meet targets, exceed expectations, and compete in the market can lead to stress and feelings of inadequacy.
Frustration with People: Managing employees, handling conflicts, and ensuring a harmonious work environment can be emotionally taxing. Dealing with personnel issues, performance evaluations, and addressing grievances can drain the owner’s emotional reserves.
Grief and Disappointment: Business owners inevitably encounter failures, setbacks, and challenges. Dealing with disappointments, setbacks, and the fear of failure can take a toll on one’s emotional well-being.
Mental Fatigue: From minor daily decisions to major strategic choices, business owners are constantly making judgments that impact the company’s direction. This ongoing decision-making process can be mentally exhausting and contribute to decision fatigue.
Time Pressure The demands of the business often leave little time for personal pursuits, hobbies, or self-care. This lack of personal time and the inability to recharge can lead to emotional burnout.
Stress of Change: Businesses need to evolve and adapt to changes in the market, technology, and consumer preferences. Constantly seeking innovation and staying ahead of the curve can create stress and a sense of being on edge.
Imposter Syndrome: Despite many accomplishments and much expertise, a business owner might battle imposter syndrome. This is the feeling that you don’t truly belong or deserve success. This can lead to isolation, as you may believe you can’t share your insecurities with others.
Learning to Thrive as a Group Therapy Practice Owner
With all the realities and emotional struggles that come with owning a group practice, you may wonder why you would even want to pursue this enormous venture. Well, it doesn’t have to be this way. If you can relate to any of the struggles discussed here, it is not a sign to give up. It is a sign to find solutions. You deserve to live out your dreams with your cup overflowing, not drained at the end of the day.
Here are some solutions to keep you inspired, supported, and living your dreams without the stress.
Peer Networking: Connecting with other mental health professionals or business owners can provide a supportive community where you can share experiences and challenges. Having a peer network can infuse your life and business with areas of positive energy, such as:
- Collaboration: With access to peer networks, you can expand your professional connections, collaborate on projects, or discover new business opportunities.
- Learning Opportunities: When you access peer support, you gain valuable learning opportunities that could help you improve your skills, adapt to changes in your industry, and enhance your business strategies.
- Problem-Solving: Peer input can lead to better decision-making with less stress.
Coaching and Consultation: Coaching and consultation with more experienced professionals can offer a space to discuss your feelings and gain guidance. Self-Care: Prioritizing self-care and setting boundaries to ensure a healthy work-life balance can alleviate some of the emotional strain. Remember, life isn’t all work. Engaging in hobbies or social activities outside of work can help form connections and reduce feelings of isolation.