This weekend I am enjoying Blizzcon 2010 in Anaheim, CA. Blizzcon is the biggest convention for fans of the online games World of Warcraft, Diablo, and Starcraft. The fact that I am able to go to this as part of my work and recreation is to me a testament to why private practice is worth the work.
I have been playing World of Warcraft since 2006, and in the course of the past 4 years I have met many people in-world who have educated me about who plays, and why. I have been part of several guilds, and learned about how groups deal with leadership and cooperation. But most of all I have had tons of fun and stress relief, and found a recreational pastime that is flexible and creative.
Because of my interest in online gaming, I began to think, write and teach about online gaming and psychotherapy. I was able to do this because I had built a private practice based on creativity and diligence, not fear and rigidity. I was willing to hold open a space in my practice to work with people who game, and who feel that they want a gamer-affirmative therapist. I was able to see that for me, trying to wheedle with insurance companies for an extra session was a waste of my time and money. In the time I had previously spent arguing with insurance companies for 8 more sessions I could write a workshop syllabus that brought in more revenue. In the process I discovered my niche, psychotherapy and it’s interface with Web 2.0, so that I was able to focus my business and help people find me.
An old creative writing teacher once told me, “What interests you is interesting.” Too often the therapists I consult with approach finding their niche as a chore or a limitation. My experience has been otherwise, I have found that I still have a generalist practice, which I will always want as part of my business plan; but in addition I have managed to diversify what I do so that all parts of my work become more interesting. So don’t be afraid of finding your niche, it is ok to have interests and passions, and your entire practice and you will be the better for it.
The other reason that this trip is happening is because I get to be my own boss. I worked a few hours more over the past few weeks to make some room for the trip, and I have even managed to find ways to mix business with pleasure. Not only is the trip tax deductible, but I am getting to be on the forward edge of the gaming industry and gamer culture. And, some of the CA psychotherapists I met via social media over the past several years and I are finally going to get to meet in person, and eat dinner together overlooking the Pacific. Good times, good colleagues, and things that engage the mind and soul!
So don’t be afraid to follow your bliss, as Joseph Campbell says, but don’t be afraid to do the extra footwork it takes to follow it. The work is daunting, sometimes tedious, always time consuming: But the payoff is huge.