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Building My Private Practice as a Focusing Trainer and Therapist

by Cathy Pascal, M.Ed., LCSW, Trainer, USA

Cathy Pascal is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Certified Focusing Trainer. Reach her at The Carolina Focusing Center (919) 932-9933 or by e-mail, CAPascal@aol.com

My part time private practice, Carolina Focusing Center, is about two and a half years old. Through it, I offer Focusing classes, individual Focusing sessions and a limited amount of Focusing-oriented psychotherapy. One of the important first steps in opening my practice was creating my brochure. I created a logo, had a picture done and spent a lot of time getting the text just right (borrowing liberally from Ann Weiser Cornell's beautiful words about Focusing. Thank you, Ann!). Though I had many things in place before hand, when that brochure came off the press, I knew I was in business! The rest of the world seemed to respond that way too. Many people contacted me to wish me well; others told me that they "actually got it," and a few even made appointments. It was an investment, but for me, it was very important to have something smart and attractive that conveyed the essence of Focusing and how I was working with it. I did a mailing to about everyone I could think of -- friends, people from the Unitarian Fellowship, parents from Carolina Friends School. To fellow practitioners who I thought would be open to it and would make good referral sources, I offered a free Focusing session. Ten or twelve people took me up on this offer, and I ended up getting several referrals from it. I also traded sessions with practitioners in the shared house where I rent office space. These sessions produced some referrals, as well as some important on-going collaborative relationships. I have also traded Focusing sessions for services like brochure design hours, clinical supervision, coaching and artwork for my office.

These moves were good for getting me going, but a few months into my practice, I realized that I needed to move from informing all the people that I knew to reaching lots of people that I didn't know. I got myself listed in a couple of local directories of health and healing practitioners. Those listings have really paid off: I regularly get phone calls from those sources. Another more expensive but also more visible outreach involved writing short articles for the special advertising sections of two regional publications. I time the articles with the beginning of a new class so that people have something to sign up for after they read it.

Thus far, the most cost effective and beneficial thing I have done to build my practice has been to teach classes through Continuing Education at Duke University. The Duke Short Courses Program catalogs (60,000 each issue) are published quarterly. These classes usually draw good numbers of students, and I get additional calls from people who want to know more about Focusing or to do individual work. While these Continuing Education classes are not as profitable as those I teach through my practice, the exposure is fantastic, and there are significant intangible benefits from the association with a well respected institution. Also, I offer only Level One classes through the Duke program, therefore creating the opportunity to teach the higher levels through my private practice.

My efforts here in the Chapel Hill area have been centered on educating people about Focusing and then letting them know I am a trainer/practitioner, but it is important to acknowledge that a significant number of people have contacted me after finding Focusing first and subsequently seeking a trainer. The listing on the Focusing Institute web site as well as other trainers are the very best sources for those referrals.

As a mother of three, my private practice is part time, by desire and design. As my children mature, so will the opportunities for teaching and Focusing-oriented psychotherapy. Teaching more evening classes, weekend workshops and offering a series of introductory talks are ways that I can continue to expand when the time is right.

As we know in the Focusing community, it is challenging to reach out into the wider world about the importance and value of what we know and love so well. "Focusing is hard to hype," I often say to my clients who are amazed that this method of self awareness and healing is not more widely known. Yet, it is the very best of products to market. It is not a quick fix, it's the real deal. And when you experience it, you know it to be true and get to keep it for life.


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