Why is Dr. Hartman so jazzed about Professional Identity Development?
12 minute read:
A large part of my MRC business is about providing professional identity development products, services and opportunities to Wellness Service Providers. After 20 years of providing psychotherapy and working alongside both stellar Clinicians and mediocre Clinicians, beginner Clinicians and seasoned Clinicians, burnt-out clinicians and energized clinicians, I’ve figured out that one of things that make the stellar ones so stellar is their highly developed professional identities.
Professional Identity is the ‘portal’ or ‘filter’ through which we brand, market and build relationships with the consumers with whom we are providing our services. It’s the fuel that drives our brand and services to the market. Our professional identity is what takes care of our clients. And because becoming and being wellness service providers is probably the most important endeavor of our lives, it’s worth it to have highly developed professional identities. The wellness industry is a ‘sensitive’ lot… as consumers, we’re in pain, suffering in some way and seeking trusted guides to help us achieve wellness. In my opinion, it’s the wellness professionals who are easy to identify with, who have authentic presence with WHO they are in the room with clients, are relateable and clear, who ‘walk the walk in addition to talk the talk' that build the trust and loyalty of our sensitive consumers… and as a result, our clients become inspired, want to ‘be like us and they have a shot at achieving lasting wellness. MRC provides guidance... to learn more, check out the 3 Ways MRC Can Support You.
I have many examples, but the one that stands out is my wellness coach, Patricia. Interestingly, my Pilates Instructor nearly 3 years ago heard me talk about my business, my aches/pains, my personal history and one day, she told me about HER coach (Patricia). What was fascinating to me was that before she even told me too many details about Patricia, I found myself feeling hopeful... even already attached to Patricia. And years later, I figured out that my initial and immediate 'visceral' openness about Patricia was because my Pilates Instructor was conveying Patricia's professional identity. Ok... hang in there with me... I know that sounded 'woo-hoo weird-ish'.
Knowing Patricia as I do now, and how Patricia EMBODIES her professional identity, she wears her highly developed and actualized authenticity on her sleeve. My pilates instructor had conveyed to me NONVERBALLY in her referral 'Patricia is THE REAL DEAL... she's got all the wellness support services you need'. And that was before my pilates instructor even told me what Patricia 'does'.
Our professional identities include our ‘story’, our value, who we are as a WHOLE offering to our market. For instance, I’m a Mom, wife, sister… I’m a Psychologist… I make jewelry for fun that makes me feel good when I wear it to work, I have gluten/dairy intolerance, I love nature, I've experienced tremendous personal adversity (and triumphed) and ALL these personal qualities and experiences INFORM my professional work… and that makes me unique and relateable.
My personality has this conservative side (rule-follower), but also this playful side (Pajama hike with my kids). This shows up in my professional identity when I tell clients the seriousness of their ailment if they don't do the exercises, yet I come up with playful exercises to lighten it up. I've heard from clients and colleagues that it's one of the things that makes me interesting to be around.
Professionally, I’ve provided serious treatment to kids, parents and adults, using a short-term, solution-focused model… and I’m inspired by the profound commitment it takes for people to achieve wellness. They come back years later when a new issue arises and they tell me time and time again that it’s because they feel they KNOW me, they know my commitment to them, my resourcefulness and that I ‘get it’. They know that even if I can't directly help them, I will find someone I trust who can take care of them on my behalf. I think that’s in part because my professional identity INCLUDES my personal values, such as making sure that my clients feel I’m not just here to fix one problem… I’m here to fix them all… for the long-haul of their wellness. I'm a loyal person, I'm like that with my kids, sister, husband, friendships. Click here to learn more about me and my wellness professional academy offerings. To achieve this personal value embedded in my professional identity, I stay informed on multiple ways to support wellness. So if my specific services aren’t enough, I take ownership of my client's wellness by explaining the rationale for and referring them to another wellness service provider, such as acupuncture. BUT, with that said, I have to KNOW that other wellness service providers are stellar, relateable, successful and have sustainable businesses so that consumers get well.
That’s when I realized that it’s the ones who have highly developed professional identities that I refer too… I know them uniquely… I understand the totality of what makes them successful (NOT just their placement of the needles or their therapy model).
There are so many passionate, committed, effective wellness practitioners out there, but because their professional identities are not well developed, consumers and referral sources like me might not be as attracted to them. For instance, I might know that someone ‘does’ acupuncture, but I don’t know much else that makes them especially trustworthy, relateable, ‘special’ as PEOPLE who ‘do’ acupuncture… so they sort of fall off my radar.
And back to Patricia, within my first session, I knew her... she had mastered 'authenticity' THAT well! AND, I happened to like what I was learning about her (my sense of her as a person, a professional)... it made what I liked about her services even more likable (and willing to invest my limited money in her). And what I realized too is that if I didn't like HER and/or what she was offering... GOOD FOR ME! Better to know and move on than to invest in her and be disappointed later. Professional Identity needs to be that 'obvious' that people get a fair choice about who they are choosing as their wellness leader. So, I’ve begun to create curriculum for providing professional identity development for wellness professionals and my goal is to make these offerings ‘live’ (i.e. local or traveling), in videos, as well as in webinars to work with every wellness practitioner's schedule and location. Not all wellness practitioners will take action on it, but for those who are ready to develop professional identities that are so strong, clear and authentic that consumers flock to them, stay with them and recommend them (which as we know, creates more financial freedom for the wellness practitioners), I’d like to be their guide via MRC... YOUR GUIDE. Check out my professional identity courses.
And I have to also point out... in terms of scaleability (growing your business and income over time), I believe that highly developed professional identities allow people to become leaders, teachers, mentors and models for other wellness practitioners. So it is my hope that some of my MRC ‘students’ and 'alums' may want to climb THEIR ladder some day and provide professional identity development services or wellness leadership services as well. And guess what? Their teachings will vary from mine because their teachings will be through their unique professional identity 'portal'... which is great! I love to support our uniqueness! (oh, and why reinvent the wheel...? I'll show you how... I'll be making 'templates' of all of my curriculum for everyone to use as a model). In sum, I believe:
- when our professional identities aren’t developed, we become who we think the market wants and our 'sensitive' consumers won't be as trusting
- when we haven’t figured out how to integrate THAT private part of our story that makes us great, we haven’t grown into our authority and unique authenticity, then we are less likely to stand out among the competitors
- when we haven’t mastered how to be fully PRESENT with our clients (and we work to compartmentalize too much), wellness service providers are more at risk of burn out, our businesses aren’t sustainable and scaleable.
- when our professional identities are integrated and actualized, our brand speaks for itself and the business can become truly sustainable.
MRC and I are here to help! Contact us today! (oh and if YOU'RE READY to attract more clients, referrals and income, check out our events page for our latest offerings on professional identity development for wellness professionals)
- Dr. Julie Hartman and our MRC Team