This Therapist Spotlight is a part of our interview series with experienced Mental Health Practitioners, where therapists share their experiences in Private Practice Therapy.
What was one of the biggest problems you struggled with and ultimately solved in the beginning of your private practice? What solution did you find to your (perhaps persisting) problem?
One of the most difficult things I struggled with beginning my private practice was learning how to start my own business. With very little knowledge or background in business, this seemed like a daunting task. I slowly muddled through it with help from established colleagues and friends. They became my mentors and walked me through it step by step. The best solution I found to this problem is to contact an accountant to assist with setting up the business side of private practice. This alleviates much of the stress that accompanies small business startups and is worth the money to know it has been done correctly.
What advice would you give to a budding mental health practitioner just getting licensed?
The best advice I could give to someone starting out in this field is to find and join several list serves in the community they will be working in. It is a great way to connect to other professionals and colleagues in the community. This has been such an important connection for me because it enables me to advertise my services as well as enlist assistance for referrals when I need them for clients. Another way it is useful for professionals is to find a supervision group to meet with to discuss difficult cases.
What advice would you have given yourself early in your career?
If I could go back and advise myself of one thing early on in my career, it would be to pursue certification in a specialty. I was interested in sex therapy but it took me more than 8 years to begin a course of study which will lead to certification in this area.
Do you see any persisting or upcoming problems in the private practice industry. If so, how do you handle them?
One of the challenges I see in the private practice industry is clinicians claiming they can treat every type of mental health concern well. I believe many mental health diagnoses are very complex and it is important for individuals to find therapists who have experience and training treating the issue for which they are seeking therapy.
Please let us know about you: where are you located, any specialties, credentials, and educational background. How should someone get in touch with you?
My name is Shannon Hickman and I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 12 years of experience helping individuals, couples, families and groups. I have worked in various settings, including hospitals, clinics, drug and alcohol treatment facilities, group settings and now in private practice. I specialize in couples counseling and sex therapy. My office is located near Salt Lake City, Utah. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Utah and I received my Master’s Degree in Social Work from Rutger’s University. I can be contacted through my website at shannonhickmancounseling.com.
What makes you and your practice, your approach, unique? How are you different?
I am a solution focused therapist and it is my goal to help individuals begin to find hope and feel better in the very first session of therapy. As a trained sex therapist, I am able to help individuals with a variety of sexual concerns. Sex therapy can help teach individuals and couples how to communicate their sexual needs and desires to enhance their sexual lives.