Businesses are about making money, yet focusing on this alone does not ensure a successful business. In therapy, the business is helping people find healing in their lives. The individuals’ needs should always be put first. The dynamic between running a business and helping people can create conflicting priorities. It is a balancing act between making money and helping the person in front of you. It has torn agencies apart and contributed to bankruptcy in private practice. So, the real question is how do you maintain healthy boundaries between running a business and still help the person in front of you?
In agencies, it is important to have both voices at the table. Conflict occurs when the money or census numbers always rule decisions. It causes burnout in staff and that creates bad care for the individuals in service. On the other hand, if you are too structured and cannot bend to allow for people to get in when they need, you miss opportunities to help someone. The balance is respect, knowing when boundaries are being set by one side or the other that there is a deeper meaning behind these boundaries. Having a check and balance system to review processes and admissions is vital to the health of an agency. You have to have equal voices in clinical and business to be successful.
In private practice so many go bankrupt because of the difficulty of managing the business side of treatment. Haggling with insurance companies, getting co-pays from clients, and discontinuing services when there is a lack of payment or frequent no shows. We don’t become therapists to not help people but often forget that healthy boundaries are part of what we teach. Respect for ourselves and our time is just as important as the care we provide for others. The world is changing and it is easier to get assistance with billing, but we struggle with spending the time, energy or money on an entity that can help with the business in private practice.
There are no easy answers in this balance except respect for yourself, your peers, and your business to find and manage the ever-changing balance of care and making money.