The Downside of Teaching Practice-Building in a Training Program

We are unique, and each of us has strengths to attract clients in a way that feels natural to us.

Our uniqueness is our biggest asset in getting and keeping clients. To make that process easy, discover and develop your innate strengths.

As somatic practitioners, one thing we all know in our hearts is that every one of our clients is an individual.

That’s why it’s ironic that so many practitioners who need clients never consider that “who they are” is their biggest asset. Instead, they are convinced they have to become someone they loathe — a sleazy salesperson — in order to be successful.

It’s a terrible dilemma and — as it should — being oneself usually wins.

The problem is that if being yourself wins without leading to a successful practice, ultimately everybody loses — you, your clients, and the world at large.

That’s why it’s so important as a practitioner to embrace “who you are” and develop your inborn strengths — strengths that will feel natural and help you get and keep clients who are looking for you.

Who is responsible for teaching practitioners how to get clients?

As I mentioned previously, practice skills are different from practice-building skills. Shortly after publishing that post, I asked on LinkedIn and Facebook “Who is responsible for making sure we can get clients?”

It didn’t surprise me that the consensus seemed to be that training programs should teach practice-building skills. It’s easy to associate one with the other, especially if you don’t have enough clients — which is the situation so many somatic practitioners of all kinds find themselves in.

It’s logic based on absence: since “how to get clients” is mostly missing from somatic practice training, that’s why practitioners don’t have enough clients.

But if that logic holds, then everyone who graduates from a training should feel confident to practice because practice skills are the focus of the learning. Yet, we all know that this is not the case… some people are confident and others are ready to sign up for an advanced training the minute they graduate.

Getting clients is like a lot of other things…

As is often the case, the thinking that got us here isn’t going to get us where we want to go! There’s more than one flaw in putting the onus on training programs.

  • Not everyone needs help. More than that, the people who don’t need it could actually be set back by being pushed into a way of going about it that doesn’t suit them.
  • Time in a training is very limited for anything that isn’t directly related to practice. That means that usually there’s only time to barely touch on the subject of getting clients. You can get “something” about practice development and believe that it should be enough because — well… because it’s what was taught. Unfortunately, for most of the people I’ve worked with over the last several years, “something” is far from enough.
  • The people who do need help usually need 3 things: more information than can be given in the amount of time available; much more time to assimilate the ideas; and support to make the mindset shifts that are necessary. If you don’t make those shifts, it’s possible for the practice-building ‘training’ that was offered to become one more thing you end up feeling you”just didn’t get” or “just can’t do.”
  • While everyone has strengths that help them get and keep clients, those strengths need to be uncovered, developed and claimed in order to be useful. Each person has a unique constellation of strengths, style, needs, internal resources and comfort level regarding the entire process of claiming their innate skills. It’s not the work of an afternoon, and it can be short-circuited by a “one size fits all” approach — which is generally what there’s time for, when “getting clients” is a relatively minor part of the overall focus.

In the end, the real downside of teaching practice-building skills in a training is that most people who really need the help can’t get what they need in their training, and may be pushed away from getting the help that would give them the skills that would make a real difference.

Next time: What does it take to build a successful practice?

I hope this series of posts will help you shift how you think about your practice — sign up for automatic email notification of new posts — just enter your email address below — so you won’t miss any of them!! 😉

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2 Responses to The Downside of Teaching Practice-Building in a Training Program

  1. Marsha Novak says:

    Hello Allison-
    What you say here clearly makes sense. However I propose an alternative way of thinking about this. When we train there is often a discussion of first or second or … approximation. We leave training with some ability to do the work and begin- and also in most cases optimally know that we have more to learn and have venues like advanced trainings or other to do this. Can’t the same be said for practice building skills. A presentation of some of the essential issues involved- as you do in your free materials- so that there is an awareness around this seems appropriate to me and I can’t see that it could really harm anyone if done well. It can be presented in a “first approximation” vein with the caveats you mention. If it is an area of interest or need people have options to continue the process in ways such as working with you.


    • Allison Rapp says:

      Hi, Marsha,

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

      For sure, there are approximations in learning to build a practice. The skills it takes are similar to the ones required to be a Feldenkrais practitioner, but applied in a different way. If we all could understand how to make them all feel natural to us, and then know where and how to generalize the skills, we would have very little trouble in getting a practice.

      So, the answer is, Yes — theoretically, it’s possible to have these approximations begin in a training. The key is having the information that makes it possible for everyone in the training to understand how to make the process fit like a glove. The harm I spoke of comes when it feels like they have to become someone else in order to make what they learned work.


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