Building Your Practice
If you're just starting or currently building your practice as a healer, therapist, astrologer, intuitive guide, or coach, here are some tips for attracting the right kinds of clients, and for building your work in ways that are sustainable, enjoyable, and supportive to you.
I love this book, aimed at both artists & alternative healers, because it gets you thinking not just about how to build your career, but how to build your life with your work as an important but not all-consuming element within it.
For attracting the right kinds of people to work with, I recommend this book, written by a therapist. Although the world has changed since it was written, most of the suggestions are still relevant, or can be adjusted to the current climate.
Books are great, but we thrive and grow most through our human connections. Identify people who are doing work in your field, or a similar field that you are inspired by. Look closely at their websites, newsletters, social platforms, etc. Reach out to them, and see if they'll talk or email with you. Ask them about what worked for them, and what didn't. Then consider what would work for you.
Even better, schedule one or several sessions with them. Then you'll get to experience them in action, which will teach you things they might not be able or willing to articulate outside of a session. Although your life and career path are unique to you, connecting with colleagues and mentors will give you more of a sense of the lay of the land, and it will stimulate ideas in you.
No matter how well you plan, your career path is going to involve some trial and error. In terms of finding your own style, after each session you conduct, it's important to reflect on how it went, and perhaps take notes for you. I recommend keeping this separate from notes you take for tracking your client's process/progress. Rather, the purpose of this reflection is to consider what worked for you in terms of your methods, perspectives, and approaches within the session.
Did you hit a moment of flow, and if so, what got you there?
Did anything feel uncomfortable for you in a way that you'd rather not repeat?
Did you find a boundary you need to maintain, and if so, how will you maintain it?
Did you make any other discoveries about your process as a healer or guide?
DO WHAT YOU LOVE
When I first began my practice, all of my massage therapist and acupuncturist friends told me it would take 2-3 years to build my practice. But an astrology and intensive energy healing practice is quite different from a massage or acupuncture practice. Despite much effort, outreach, practice, study, and great feedback and deep adoration from my clients and students, seven years into my practice, I was still struggling to get enough clients to make a living. At that time, I reached out to an older astrologer for some advice. He was kind enough to reply, and his one single sentence spoke volumes of truth: "Enjoy your practice, practice, practice." Here's how I translate this:
DO WHAT YOU ENJOY. If you enjoy your work, you'll find all kinds of ways to practice it. In this way, you'll build mastery.
Your enjoyment and mastery will cause you to shine in your work. This will enable you to give your clients the most benefit. In turn, they'll tell their friends how great you are, and you'll also emit a natural enthusiasm and charisma that will draw more people to you.
BE PATIENT + HONEST
Continuing on the story of my long, arduous career path - it took another eight years (yep, fifteen years of scraping by with side jobs or just plain being broke) before I was able to make a sustainable living through my work. Everyone has a different path, and some of them are meandering and slow. No matter how long it takes you to develop your practice, keep moving in the direction of what you enjoy and what feels natural to you, and cut out anything that doesn't feel natural to you. Keep learning. Stay connected to others, and build new connections. Recognize when you've changed, and when your practice needs to reflect those changes.
Whether your practice is eeking along, thriving, building, or in a downturn, be grateful. Be grateful that you get to do this work, and that you get to work in the ways you are meant to with the unique individuals that are drawn to you. Be grateful for the wins, and be grateful for the space and possibility that losses open up. Be grateful for your mistakes, and for what they teach you. Be grateful for what inspires you, and be grateful for what challenges you, remembering that your own growth and evolution occurs through embracing both of those equally.
When you succeed in your work, it will be not just because of you and the work you did. It will also be because you sought out and received the right kinds of support. Maintain a steady in-flow of support for yourself, and maintain a deep and humble gratitude for this support. It will not only sustain you, but it will also keep you grounded, realistic, and approachable.
No matter how advanced, recognized, and seasoned you become in your work, always have teachers, colleagues, and other human support and inspiration in your life. Nature, art, and books offer invaluable comfort and inspiration, but we are social animals, and we thrive when we have many kinds of relationships with other humans. No matter how much space you can hold for others, no matter how much heartache and confusion and transformation you can support others through, always stay connected to the humility and vulnerability that enables you to let others hold you too.
As you practice, you'll change, your clients will change, your work will change, and the world will change. Flow with the change. Let go when it's time to let go, and be open to what's new, or what might be coming around the corner. Notice the points of shift along the arc of your path from student to "journeyman," and then on to master, and finally to elder. Each of those phases comes with different responsibilities and gifts that you'll need to embrace and then let go of as you shift from one phase to the next.
Your practice has its own lifespan, and it may come to an end before you do. If that's the case, embrace that ending, grieve it as much as you need to, and trust in the rebirth in your life that will follow when that space is freed up.
YOU ARE MORE THAN YOUR WORK
This brings us full circle to the idea that, as important as your work is, your life is vaster than your work. There is something you are here to do that is at once both simple and complex, obvious and yet subtle. It's something that comes through your work, but also spans far beyond it.
You are here to be you; to witness the world, and to observe yourself being you in the world; to wonder at all that you experience within and around you, and in that process, to transcend yourself. As important as your work is, always leave time and space for yourself to just simply be, to be touched by awe, and to graze, dip into, or merge with infinity, as is your wont.