One of the best ways to build a robust private practice is to become an established expert in one area of specialty. When you choose an area of specialty and then become known for that by writing, public speaking, and talking to colleagues about that specialty, your practice will grow quickly. Many therapists get uncomfortable about this and they say “I don’t want to claim to be an expert.” If you’re thinking this, maybe you need to adjust your thinking on what it means to be an expert.
If an expert is a person who knows everything about a certain issue, can help any person solve problems around that issue, has 20 years of experience, and has none of their own problems with that issue, well then perhaps you can’t be an expert. Let’s question that definition! Here’s a secret: some of the people you think are experts probably doubt themselves too.
Here’s what I think an expert is: a person who is passionate, knowledgeable, and regularly engaged with a particular issue; someone who perhaps struggles with that issue as well, and has a lot of both personal and professional experience with the issue; someone who has a lot of ideas and questions about an issue and likes to be in complex conversations about that issue.
In order to be seen as an expert, you never actually have to say “I am an expert.” As you stand tall in your knowledge, skills and point of view in your area of expertise, others will recognize that you are an expert. Perhaps your clients will recognize that you are the kind of expert they can get real help from, the kind who doesn’t claim to know everything and is open to different ideas.