The Benefit of the Doubt

I’ve mentioned being wholly Team Locke so this post shouldn’t be a huge surprise. I’ve noticed a pattern in some folks as they’re in that scary building stage: a propensity to jump headlong into conclusions. I want to create a little structure to protect you from that because it’s not who you are and what you’re about (if it was you’d probably be super-annoyed by me all the time and likely unsubscribe pretty quickly).

Here are the top 3 ways I see this show up & suggestions on how to give the benefit of the doubt:

Client Interactions

When you’re building, you’re vulnerable. You’re going to be more sensitive and feel less valuable than you are. You may project some of how you’re feeling about yourself onto others. If you do this, you’re likely to assume that no one can or will afford your full fee. You’re apt to feel guilty charging for missed sessions.

When you feel bad charging clients

Step 1: Don’t pity potential clients or current clients. I’ve talked about this here.   

Step 2: Remember the importance of boundaries, especially in regard to no shows.

Step 3: Stay out of the poverty mentality, which this podcast goes into.  

Give clients the benefit of the doubt. They’re strong, resilient people on a journey with tons of agency.


A long term client gets terminal cancer and can’t afford counseling anymore? It doesn’t make you a bad business person if you decide to go pro bono with them. In considering your own exceptions, make sure they’re actually exceptional. Not, “Client A is struggling with depression and having a hard time.”

Other Counselors

In the Abundance Facebook Group (hop in!) and others I’ll see an assumption made about someone else’s clinical skills i.e. “You shouldn’t offer couples counseling if you aren’t trained in it!” in response to “What courses or trainings have prepared you best for providing couples counseling?” These stand out a lot since the FB Group is so full of love and generosity and help. It’s become a cue for me that that person is probably struggling. Someone will often jump to the original poster’s defense, “She was just asking, not advertising that she’s practicing out of scope” and then there’s defensiveness and shame and a whole big mess.

When you’re in Facebook Groups or Forums and you want to put someone in their place in any way:

Step 1: Stop. Look at what’s being triggered for you. For instance, I get super triggered when I see others touting bad treatment advice for eating disorders.

Step 2: Consider what others can and will hear. Saying “You have no idea what you’re doing!” certainly isn’t going to help. “In my training in this specialty, XYZ has always been considered best practices.”

Step 3: Be open to others opinions and experiences. There’s no one right way to treat any given issue. That’s the beauty of the art part of what we do.

Give other clinicians the benefit of the doubt. We’re usually trying to do our best.


Egregious choices should certainly be confronted. Here’s a dramatic example that has never happened: “I went on a date with a client and it was AWKWARD!”

Step 1: Report to Admin,

Step 2: PM the person your concerns,

Step 3: consider contacting the board.

Those Money-Grubbing Practice-Building Coaches/SEO Experts/Web Developers/Etc.

I usually see this from people who feel stuck in a poverty mindset. There’s an entitlement that sometimes gets built around the free content that is offered. A recent post I heard about (but admittedly didn’t see) in another FB Group expressed disdain about practice-building coaches providing webinars and then selling at the end of them. I’ve heard people complain about SEO Experts charging for their services when “it takes them like 5 minutes,” and a “how dare they” attitude around web developers charging thousands for a website.

First, I have a problem with all the entitlement. We’re all clear no one owes you anything, right? Personally, I love paying my SEO expert, tech team, assistants, and business coach because they do work that they deserve to be paid for. You know how I reinforce over and over that you deserve to be paid for what you do? They do, too.

Second, I can speak to my experience with the Practice-Building Coaches, SEO Experts, Web Developers, Business Coaches, etc that I know- I assure you from the depths of my heart that the folks I know are all worthy of the benefit of your doubt. If you begrudge them their fee I am 100% clear that that’s your stuff showing up, not theirs.

When someone’s fee is higher than you thought it should be or they tell you about a service they provide:

Step 1: Acknowledge that your discomfort is about you, not them.

Step 2: Recognize that they have the right to set whatever fee works for them

Step 3: Realize that these are very different business models and that you don’t know the time and energy that goes into what they provide (ex: I spend 7-10 hours a week just on content creation, most of which is free. I’m not an anomaly here.)

Give these support people the benefit of the doubt by assuming their hearts are in the right place. Working with therapists is usually a calling of some sort and the people I’ve met in this space are truly passionate about helping us build. We tend to have similar values.


Someone takes your money & doesn’t deliver on their service/product.

Step 1: Make sure you actually showed up for what you said you’d do. (Ex: if you never gave your copy to a website developer, don’t complain about them not building your website in the time frame allotted.)

Step 2: If you did your part, bring it up your grievances with the service provider. Ask for your money back. Do your best to have a phone conversation; things are worked out so much easier that way.

Step 3: If they’re unresponsive, consider the Better Business Bureau? I'm not sure; I've had this happen & it's awful.

Like out clients, when we're stressed we're not our best selves. Try anyway. Be kind to one another. 

How have you worked to give people the benefit of the doubt when you’ve been feeling “in your stuff?” Let us know in the comments. (Don’t be shy, we’ve all done it.)

Allison Puryear is an LCSW with a nearly diagnosable obsession with business development. She has started practices in three different states and wants you to know that building a private practice is shockingly doable when you have a plan and support. You can download a free private practice checklist to make sure you have your ducks in a row, get weekly private practice tips, listen to the podcast, hop into the free Facebook Group, and get help from Allison and a small group of new, close friends in Abundance Practice-Building Group. Allison is all about you gaining the confidence and tools you need to succeed.



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