Discussing our shares with the other members after a recent meeting gave me an answer that might have saved my career as a family therapist more than fifteen years ago. I had done coursework, training and supervision, obtained licensure, and had worked in a number of agencies. I seemed effective working with clients and had some quite notable successes. But I had not been successful working in the agencies. Indeed, those failures were what led me into CoDA.
In the meantime, my only alternative was private practice. So, I rented and furnished an office and put my name out as available for appointments. But I was uncomfortable charging for my work. Insurance was only beginning to pay for talk therapy at that time, so it had to be cash or check. And given my still weak self-esteem, I imposed on myself the expectation of impossible standards of success before I could justify charging the fee I needed to continue operating. I couldn’t manage it and soon gave up the effort.
As an interesting aside, my CoDA meetings contributed to that decision. I had been attracted to doing therapy because clients often brought a striving for honesty to the sessions. And I experienced that nowhere else …. until I attended CoDA meetings. There, I found that same honesty multiplied manyfold, week after week. So that reason for doing therapy was gone as well.
Through many years of CoDA meetings, I came to gain self-esteem. This after-meeting discussion happened to be about the issue that had defeated my private practice, what to tell people about the fee. And finally, I realized the solution I needed to know way back then … I needed, first of all, to say what my time was worth and if I could afford it, be open to negotiation. If I had been able to think that way years ago, my life would have gone in a different direction.
But the direction it did go in has been very good for me, thanks to CoDA. And I can occasionally share with others, in side conversations and elsewhere, the gifts and skills learned back then. Less than perfect can still be sufficient.
JB – 2/1/22