A therapist going to networking events. Yes – this does happen. We are a small business, so we attend networking events. Often, I am the only mental health therapist in the room.
Responses Heard by a Therapist Going to Networking Events
Part of my role at Integrative Health Resources is marketing our practice and helping it grow. One way I try to do this is through this blog. Another way is by attending networking events. When I attend networking events, I introduce myself and state what I do for a living: “I am a social worker, with a private mental health practice on the north side.” I tend to get one of three responses:
- You are so brave/strong/sweet/kind/good – I could never do that!
- So you’re looking to meet the crazy people then?
- Can I ask you about my friend/niece/wife/son?
None of these three responses is helpful. I will try to explain why.
Thoughts of a Therapist Going to Networking Events
Here’s what I am really thinking about each of these responses:
- I am not so brave/strong/sweet/kind/good. I am a highly trained professional. This training included recognizing destructive patterns in other people so I can get myself out of the way and not take it personally. When my clients share intense emotion (which happens at least twice a day, hopefully!), I have been trained to maintain an empathetic connection without getting caught up in their emotions myself. Finally, my calling means I have a serious self-interest in this situation. My job enables me to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of human nature in a deep and intimate way. I love it!
- This response (or similar ones) is insulting and reeks of stigma. We are all crazy in some way – some just hide it better than others. No, I am looking for someone who knows something is holding them back from the life they want, who is willing to risk making changes in their life. Or looking for your friend who seems stuck in a rut, always complaining about the same things. Or your friend who’s marriage is shaky, empty or DOA. Or your neighbor with the out-of-control teenager. Anyone who needs more tools in their emotional tool-kit please!
- You realize I charge money to answer these questions right? I am more willing to give you some thoughts at a networking event than I am at a party. Doesn’t mean we’ll do a 20-min session here at Scotty’s Brewhouse, thanks. Would you ask a doctor about your sore hangnail right after you met her?
So for those non-therapists out there – treat me like any other business person! Ask about my challenges (hint: likely not my clients), my plans for our company, my business needs, etc. And other therapists who might be reading this – how do you navigate these kinds of responses?