From Dr. Jane's Notebook

Home Offices: Secrets of Success

I will never forget the day I began reading Alvin Toffler’s book, Future Shock. I was in my first semester of college, and though I was not exactly sure what kind of work I would do, I knew that Alvin Toffler’s description of the electronic cottage in Future Shock was for me. As Betty Friedan described in her book, The Third Wave, I was one of those women who was unwilling to forego any of my roles as wife, mother and career woman. I wanted it all and I wanted my time to be shared meaningfully. Spending time driving to and from work has always seemed to be a waste of useful time. But home offices are not for everyone.

During my professional career, I have worked in private practice, a group practice, hospitals, colleges and universities, and human service agencies, to name a few. After completing graduate school, I believe that therapists must acquaint themselves with a wide variety of clients and work settings, in order to gain the necessary experience before forging their path alone. Especially during one’s early professional years, it is most help to work in the company of those who have had more experience. Only on the basis of that experience can one know enough to appreciate the full spectrum and implications of a client’s problems. In other words, if we are going to work alone, we must be prepared to handle difficult situations.

Over the past 13 years of my 23 years as a therapist, I have been able to successfully maintain my practice in my home office. In all, I have established a successful practice in three states: Connecticut, Florida and North Carolina.

Frequently, I am asked to consult with other therapists who are either concerned about particular cases, or they may be considering a change in the nature of their practice. Sometimes, we weigh the pros and cons of private practice; sometimes, we weight the pros and cons of having a private practice within our homes.

In both cases, the successful private practitioner must be willing to think and behave in the role of an entrepreneur and fully anticipate the reality of what it takes to be an entrepreneur. I often find myself saying, in the weighing the decision of whether or not to start a private practice in one’s home, don’t make your choice of the basis of saving overhead expenses. The money saved on overhead expenses.

There will always be overhead expenses, rarely enough money good way to cut down on overhead expenses. Your office says a lot about its occupant. Professionals must be able to present themselves to the public in a way that commands the respect of their clients and colleagues. Secondly, they must not adversely affect the household in which they and their families live. Our homes are sacred and private territories to family members. If the office part of the house is treated as if it were more important than the family, a home office will end up costing you much in the long run . What’s more, its is unlikely that a home office can be sustained if tension and hostility lead to the destruction of the marriage and trauma within the family. The successful home business is betting it all... and therefore requires special knowledge and awareness, and a special set of tools with which to prevent or solve the special problems which arise when we combine work and family.

All in all, working together is great unless it interferes with your love relationship. Beware... if you are tired of being together at the end of the day, if you are biting your tongue to keep from criticizing each other, or if you begin wishing that your spouse was an employee who could be fired! Remember... At the end of the day, it will be time to resume your relationship as lovers. Couples who work together must also be able to play together.

ęCopyright, 2000, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.

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