This space is dedicated to you…those who are walking the path “beyond dollars for hours” into a world with more autonomy, freedom, and choice than any “job” can offer. These are the trailblazers. These are their stories.
Erin Ruston is a NYS Licensed Mental Health Counselor. (www.aldencounseling.com) Her 4-year-old Private Practice is in Alden, NY (a suburb of Buffalo). Two years ago, Erin took her “leap of faith” and left a well-paying job with the county to work with veterans. She continues to grow her practice and branch out into uncharted territory. Clearly, Erin is an “Influential Therapist”. Here’s what she has to offer others on the path…
(Deb Legge) How long did you work for others before you decided to open your private practice?
(Erin) Post Masters, I worked in clinical settings for 7 years before I opened my practice.
(Deb) What was your biggest fear?
(Erin) I had a lot of fears, but I feel that they keep changing as the practice grows and I overcome some of the initial fears. I feared running a business. You have all these questions about how to run a business, find clients, advertising, insurance, taxes, etc. I feared being the youngest of the group that I put together and being a leader. I feared leaving my full-time, secure job for a contractual job through my practice. I feel that all these fears have helped me become more confident when I have been successful, and re-evaluate choices that may not worked out as I had hoped.
(Deb) What was your biggest motivator?
(Erin) My motivators have changed, as well. My parents were older and my father was also a Counselor. I wanted to go straight through to complete my Master’s program, so that my parents would see my success. I knew I wanted to do Private Practice since I was in school. Unexpectedly, my father passed away 6 months before I graduated with my Master’s Degree. My family always taught me to go for what I wanted in life and that I can be anything I wanted to be. That motivation grew as I got married and had my kids. I wanted to be there for them more by making my own schedule. I guess looking back, there is just one motivator for me- Family.
(Deb) What has been your biggest challenge?
(Erin) My biggest challenge was leaving my full-time job to participate in contractual work. I worked as a contractor for 6 months and did not get paid from the company, which is now in Bankruptcy Court. It created a set back for me both financially and decreasing my time for Private Practice.
(Deb) What words of wisdom do you have for someone about to open their first private practice?
(Erin) “Keep growing, Keep dreaming, Laugh some every day.” I have a plaque in my office that has this written on it and it has been so true for me. Always be willing to think outside the box to learn and grow. Sometimes the things we want are not on a straight path. Be willing to explore other ways of getting to your goals, even when it is uncomfortable. The challenges we go through only make us stronger. The most important piece is having a sense of humor and being able to laugh with your friends, family, colleagues and even your clients. We all want to enjoy ourselves in life when we reach our goals…what’s wrong with enjoying the process, as well?
(Deb) What are you hopeful for/How do you imagine your practice 5 years from now
(Erin) I continue to be hopeful that my practice will be self-sustaining within the next few years. I will continue to learn new ways of advertising and networking, as well as, other avenues to expand my business.