Just A Little Reminder (That Has Nothing To Do With Private Practice)


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What Ghandi Can Teach Us About Building A Private Practice Through Creativity, Connection, And Joy


I first noticed Mary Reilly Mathews,Image of Creativity & Camaraderie Club LCSWR popping up in conversations on a fairly regular basis here at Private Practice from the Inside Out about a year ago.  But, it was only  5 months ago when Mary made a passing comment in response to a blog post where she referenced starting a Creativity and Camaraderie Club.  That comment seemed to catch the attention and spur the curiosity of many of us.  

When I read her biography on one website, I knew immediately why her comments often resonate with me.  She describes herself as working at the intersection of creativity, intuition, embodied therapies, and the wisdom traditions. 

In preparing for her guest post today, Mary sais “Mahatma Ghandi never belonged to a Creativity and Camaraderie Club . . . but he would want therapists to . . . .” That loaded statement alone was a good reason to have Mary join us today to share more about this idea as a support for therapists in private practice. 

(If you are interested in writing a guest post, check out the guidelines here.)


A Guest Post by Mary Reilly Mathews, LCSWR

Sharpen Your Tool

Ghandi understood that if psychotherapists want to influence others, we must first embody those hoped-for qualities in ourselves.  We must practice what we preach.

Have you heard the story of the worried mother who waited on line for three days with her son to have an audience with Ghandi?  When she finally was in his presence, she asked him to please, please, please tell her son to stop eating an unhealthy amount of candy.  Ghandi told her to come back in two weeks.

Two weeks later, she returned, waited on line for three days, and asked once again.  This time Ghandi looked at the son and said with authority “You must stop eating candy.”  The son easily agreed.   The mother asked, “Why couldn’t you have just told him that two weeks ago?”  Ghandi’s reply?  “Because I had not stopped eating candy yet myself two weeks ago.  Now I have.”

YOU are the most powerful therapeutic tool in a client interaction.  Do you embody a presence that inspires people to think, “I’ll have what she’s having!?”

Camraderie and Vision

Ghandi understood psychotherapists must replenish ourselves by surrounding ourselves with like-minded people who share our vision.  He understood that healing does not take place, personally or collectively, in isolation.

When I was fifteen years into my private psychotherapy practice things began to feel heavy.  I loved facilitating people, but I was losing steam.  Of course, this also coincided with mid-life, seeing an aging mother through dementia, the empty nest, and the “mortality reality” wake up call of my husband’s cancer diagnosis. (He’s fine now.)

I needed to replenish myself badly.  I needed to act to prevent burnout. I decided to give myself what I had been creating professionally for others for years – a support group based on the principles of positive psychology.  I needed some fun, not analysis!

My group would emphasize the importance of regular, committed social interaction that had nothing to do with work.  I started a Creativity & Camaraderie Club for myself.  We have been going strong for the last five years. Wow!  What an energizing experience this has been, and WOW!  It’s been amazing to witness how others have “upped their ante” by:

  •  Experimenting with a very broad definition of creativity in six major arenas of wholehearted living  “just because they felt like it”;
  •  Cross-pollinating each other with enthusiasm, expertise, and resources;
  •  Encouraging each other to play and “go for it”; and,
  •  Creating a rich social network based on fun, creativity and mutual support  (and the pot-luck dinners are great too!).

Balance It All

Ghandi understood that life needs to be in balance.

He regularly withdrew to replenish himself.

In order to provide “living water” for others, you need to find concrete ways to replenish your well.  If your life has become solely organized around “the helping role” you are out of balance.   If your “life-lens” now tends to view everything through diagnosis and dysfunction it is time for some FUN.  If you think your practice will become more successful by simply working harder, think again.

Are you actually living the balance that you are telling your clients they need?

Creative Engagement

Ghandi understood the importance of hands-on creative engagement.

He regularly spun cloth on a hand loom.

Positive psychology is catching up with ancient wisdom traditions.  It is recognizing the role hands-on creative engagement plays in our sense of wellbeing.

I once wrote an entire blog post on the importance of crafts in developing intuition and spiritual receptivity.  Craft making has neurological, social, and cognitive benefits.  (I often assign clients homework based on this.)  Creativity & Camaraderie Club members create in so many tangible ways:  writing, knitting, photography, silent retreats, poetry, flying trapeze classes, pottery, kayaking, printmaking, mandalas, etc.


Ghandi understood that once we have transformed ourselves, we are then capable of transforming others . . . and that we should do just that.

I don’t know about you, but my own transformation has always been a “work in progress.” I do know, however, that I only need to be three steps ahead of a client to be able to have a positive influence.   That is why I encourage you to give yourself permission first to experience the power of a non-work-related Creativity & Camaraderie Club for at least a year. Ask your colleagues to join you.  Then you can go forth and create groups for others.

So many people asked our group how we “did it” that I wrote up a detailed “how-to” handbook:  The Creativity & Camaraderie Club Handbook:  Have More Fun, Live More Wholeheartedly, Encourage Each Other.   The group process outlined in it is the one I have used professionally for many years.  (I learned it from my “master mentor”, Dale Schwarz, of the Center for Creative Consciousness.)  The handbook addresses concerns, cautions, expectations, resources, etc.  It will walk you through everything you need to know to start a successful group.

Trust the process, it really works.

It can be a great practice builder to become known as someone who encourages creativity, connection and joy.

This has certainly been true for my practice!  It has always been my hope that The Creativity & Camaraderie Club handbook would be picked up by therapists, life-coaches, wellness centers and church groups.  Let’s make it part of our job to help spread the joie di vivre virus . . . and let’s be sure we thoroughly inoculate ourselves with it first!

What is it you can do to start sharing this idea with as many people as possible? 


 Mary Reilly Mathews, LCSWR

About the Author: Mary Reilly Mathews, LCSWR has been an integrative psychotherapist for 20+ years, with a Mind, Body, Spirit approach.  Her passions include the healing power of creative imagination, dream work, intuition and energy psychology.

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Therapists Blogging For Business: 15 Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making


If you are a therapist who is blogging for your business, you are likely ahead of your peers who are not. Image of Oops There’s really nothing else that equals the speed and breadth of blogging when it comes to building your reputation as a mental health professional. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t polish up the blogging that you are already doing . . . .

I’m gearing up to teach another 4-week series of BlogStart for Therapists next month and thought I might share some of the common mistakes all bloggers make when first starting out.

  1. Calling the articles on your blog “blogs.”  (My personal pet peeve.) They aren’t “blogs.”  They are “posts.”
  2. Not adding images to your posts.  Research shows that adding appropriate images to each post increases the number of folks who stop by to read your blog, increases the length of time they hang out there, and increases how often your posts get shared online.
  3. Only linking to your own posts.  Internal linking is a really smart thing to do but so is external linking i.e. linking to sites other than your own.
  4. Failing to tag and categorize your posts.  Tags and categories make your site more user-friendly by allowing readers (and search engines) to search more easily for the precise information they are looking for.
  5. Not inviting other bloggers in to guest post on your blog.  By hosting other bloggers on your website, you are give the appearance of being generous, confident, and collaborative  as well as being able to share a greater depth of information and perspectives with your readers.
  6. Preventing readers from commenting.  No one want you to simply push information out there to them.  They want to engage, be seen, and be heard.
  7. Ignoring the comments you receive.  Blogging for business is about building relationships.  If your readers are talking to you, it’s rude to not talk back.
  8. Not commenting on other bloggers’ blogs.  This is the equivalent of hanging out your tiny shingle on a busy road (without any other effort on your part) and expecting the masses of clients to find and choose you.  It’s not going to happen.  Commenting on other blogs is how you build your visibility, how you build your online community, and how you get seen.
  9. Waiting for the perfect . . . [You fill in the blank.]  I’ve mentioned before that perfect is the enemy of good enough.  Waiting for the perfect time to blog, the perfect title, the perfect content, etc. is just fear in disguise.  Just do it.  If it’s not good enough, it will get better (and quicker) as you do it more often.
  10. Publishing too often.  There’s no need to publish a new post every day.  You’ll just overwhelm your audience.  If you are brand new to blogging, aim initially for once / month.  Then, as you are able, increase the frequency to twice / month.  For an optimum balance (between being remembered and being forgotten), aim for once or twice weekly.
  11. Copying content, images, video, or podcasts onto your blog.  The same copy right laws apply online as they do in print.  If you didn’t create it, you don’t own it and you do not have permission to use it . . . Unless you obtain (written) permission to do so.  Bottom line is, if you don’t own it, you need to ask permission to use it.
  12. Being too general in your focus.  No one will follow your blog if you are writing a great generalist’s psychotherapy blog.  Not one of your colleagues has ever asked for a recommendation for a generalist’s blog.  Instead, they are asking for a great blog on suicide or psychodrama or surrogacy.
  13. Making it difficult (or nearly impossible!) for your readers to share your posts elsewhere.  There are a lot of plugins for blogs that allow your readers to Tweet your posts, share them on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google +, and pin them on Pinterest.  Do your homework.  Find a plugin for sharing and encourage your readers to use it.
  14. Using too many words (and not enough white space).  We read differently online than we read in print.  If your posts are too long and the breaks in your text are too infrequent, your readers will drop by briefly and move on rather than think of your site as a destination to hang out in.
  15. Outsourcing your content.  Yes, I know I’ve talked with you about my fabulous Virtual Assistant, Mindy, but this is different.  Outsourcing your blog content is like outsourcing your relationship with your family.  Having someone else take care of their physical and emotional needs is certainly dangerous to your blog (and your business) and might well be fatal.  You are responsible for your relationships . . . with your family, with your clients, and with your readers.  If you aren’t interested in (or up for) the job, then don’t do it.

Care to share the mistakes you’ve made as a new blogger?  Or whatever advice you might have for those who are interested in learning to blog?

Do you want to improve the quality of the blogs you are already reading?  Share this post now so that other therapists can learn how to do it better.


(And, if you are interested in learning how to blog effectively to get seen, get known, and get clients while hanging out in your pajamas, you can sign up for BlogStart for Therapists right now!  We start our next round on Wednesday, October 15, 2014.  Would love to have you join me!)



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