Writing and Reflection – 8/28/13

When you're asking the question, you kindof know the answer . . .

When you’re asking the question, you kindof know the answer . . .

From my Morning Pages dated 8/28/13, 9:05 am:

I don’t know what to write.  I do – but I don’t know where to start.  I’m really glad I’m retiring as a therapist.  I feel  – relieved.

I liked the trappings of it – I got to keep “preparing” and the clothes were funky, earth mother cool.  Clothes from Anthropologie and Free People.  I liked saying, “oh, I’m a psychotherapist.”  It had cachet.  As hard and arduous as the process was, I enjoyed it – filling out weekly logs, going to supervision and getting help with difficult cases.  Then I got the license and then . . . I didn’t really know what to do.  The structure of doing therapy was there, but the business wasn’t.

I did love working with some of the clients.  Some were difficult, some were not.

I can’t rate myself very well.  Obviously, I was effective with some, but not with others.  And since I haven’t had enough [time] to gauge this, I have to give myself an “incomplete” grade.  And I have to live with it.  That’s okay – I’m more willing to do that than potentially harm anyone.  So my retirement will take nobody by surprise, I’m sure.  I was never much of  a therapist to begin with.  I didn’t get as much out of it as I had wanted, but then again, I put very little in.  So what do you expect?  Exactly.

I’m not sad yet – I don’t miss it.  I do feel a sense of relief . . . and what am I going to do with all those books?  I’m looking forward to down sizing and books are part of that.  Quite a project.  Well, enough for today – anon.

I end each writing with “anon” to indicate I’m done for now but will take it back up tomorrow.

This is an interesting writing and I picked it at random.  Now, on April 2, I’m sitting here thinking about this retirement business.

I still feel the same way – I was a therapist from 2001 through 2013, but only got licensed in 2006.  In California, you do thousands of hours of internship and yet see clients the whole time, so that’s why I put the date as early as 2001.  I saw clients right after 9/11.

There were parts I really liked – I liked being a professional and having malpractice insurance (well, nobody likes having malpractice insurance . . . but the fact that I had it proved I was a professional).  I was a paralegal for 25 years, some of it crossing my time as a therapist, and I never felt like I was treated that well.  So being a professional was great.

But the part about getting clients was terrible.  I’d go to seminars, read books and listen to webinars and they all had lots of tips on marketing yourself.  Ugh.  Most of these just didn’t work for me – I got a website, I got business cards, I asked for referrals from clients (and got them), but giving a speech to a group, no thanks.  I never felt confident enough to be getting up in front of people and doing other things that successful therapists were willing to do.

I became a therapist during a time of huge change in the field and how it was paid for by insurance companies.  I tried several times to get on insurance panels but the truth was, being in the metropolitan Los Angeles area meant being in a completely impacted area for all of the major insurers.  Which meant, realistically, that I couldn’t get on any panels.  Ever.

If I spoke Spanish, I probably could have had more success; if I worked with certain populations, I probably could have had more success.  If I specialized in certain areas, I probably could have had more success.

As to the first, well, learning Spanish, maybe important living in the LA area, was not something that was going to be done too quickly, so that was out.  And the other things – well, I really did not want to work with those populations or specialize in those areas.

I’m not naming them because it’s unimportant.  And frankly, every year, it was something different – work with men, children, specialize in divorce counseling, or infertile women, etc. etc.

What was important was my image of the type of therapist I wanted to be and who I wanted to see.   This image stemmed from my own therapist and who I imagined her clients (besides me) were.  Yes, that sounds childish and narcissistic – so be it.  Even if I didn’t realize it at the time, that was what was guiding me and so every time I’d try something new or different, I’d subtly resist and sabotage myself anyway.  I just never got that this old style therapy wasn’t what was selling in the marketplace.  I wanted a past where setting up a practice was easier and managed care hadn’t yet come in and chipped away at the talking cure.

Ultimately, I didn’t love being a therapist enough to want to do it in spite of all the hurdles to jump over.  In spite of managed care and insurance panels, and in spite of myself and my limitations.

So it became relatively easy to consider retirement back when I wrote this entry last year.  The ‘Publican was leaving his job at the end of September.  And my license renewal was coming up at the end of October, so I simply  renewed as “inactive” and let my malpractice policy lapse.  Almost all of my clients had terminated by then and I was able to give referrals to a few others.  Everybody was actually happy for me.

And as to the books?  Well, I put some up on half.com (eBay’s site for books) and even sold one at a bargain.  That took me by surprise, but I was glad to be rid of it.  That’s one of . . . hundreds.  Not all of my books are clinical, but those are the expensive ones.  The ones I’d like to be able to sell rather than give away, if possible.

So . . . anon.



2 thoughts on “Writing and Reflection – 8/28/13

  1. Wow, what a powerful post. So much there. I assume you know that, so no need to say much. It’s a reminder to me of what it was like starting out in business years ago, when women weren’t in the field much. Now we’re everywhere. Lots about dressing the part, suits, having the right paraphernalia to be taken seriously by men and clients and employers. What about the work, the task? It seemed I couldn’t get into it, past the forest to the trees, not because I didn’t want to, it was the times I think. As Senator Clinton said recently in an interview, with all her important work, the press and the public wanted to know or comment about her hair!

  2. That’s funny about Clinton – yes, as women, we get judged differently than men. No doubt about that. And in the therapy world, men get judged probably as more competent, but not necessarily as more suited to be therapists. I remember distinctly that there was some research on clients picking therapists – when it came to gender, everybody preferred women to men. It’s funny – some of them men I knew in graduate school seemed like solid sorts, but an awful lot seemed just plain weird. And this carried forth through internship and practice, too. I’m glad I’m retired now, but there are times that I so miss the interaction with the clients, especially some of my favorite ones. I know we’re not supposed to have favorites, but I’m human and I did. Just as i knew I was one of my therapist’s favorites for a time. (Smile.) Thanks so much for your comment – this is one of my older pieces on my renewed blog here – glad you’re reading and hope you come back to read some more! Laura

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