For some reason, in my head, I thought I needed to find “the one.” This mythical MH would share my vision and ethics for business, would work as hard and sacrifice as much time and money as me, and would pour their heart and soul into this work like I have. I’ve met many EAGALA teams that have seemingly found this in one another. I watch them at conferences in their matching shirts, huddled up during arena presentations, intensely discussing the methods on display. All this while I sat alone. I didn’t, and haven’t yet, met an MH who is ready to walk away from their private practice or academic career to roll the dice with me and bet on a full-time career offering EAGALA Model services.
Since I didn’t yet have the “one” partner, I decided to start where I was with what I had. Over the years, I have worked with 8 different MH’s. I have learned something from each one of them – about mental health issues and therapies, techniques with clients, ethical issues, and, of course, my ‘S. Each time I have had high hopes that they would be my EAGALA soulmate, and each time the relationship has achieved completion. I have never left one of those relationships without learning something about myself and what kind of practice I want to create.
Currently, I work with three MH’s. Each one of them brings a specialty to the practice that is uniquely different from the other. As a result, the organizations (a for-profit and a nonprofit) are able to offer diverse EAP & EAL services to a wide population of clients.
I have since let go of the need to find “the one.” I have reframed my thinking about finding a teammate. I engage each MH in a discovery process. This takes time, and is not always apparent through our first few meetings, sessions, or inevitable conflicts. Through it all, I have learned what is essential to me when assessing a new teammate relationship:
My teammate needs to have a good sense of what’s right and what’s wrong, the importance of adhering to our ethical codes, and a discernment in complex situations. I want to see how they move through the world. How do they treat the person behind the counter at the coffee shop? What is their reaction when the wrong lunch is brought to them at a restaurant? It may seem trivial, but those seemingly insignificant snapshots offer information to me about them, and ultimately our compatibility as a team.
Solution-Oriented Belief System
My mantra is simple: I am not here to heal clients. I am not here to fix them. I do not have that power – they do. I am here to hold the space, so they can find their own solutions to the challenges they are facing in their lives. I believe that in my core. If my teammate does not subscribe to this belief, then we aren’t a good fit.
Practicing a solution-oriented approach requires humility. We are not the ones that “make it better.” We must know our limitations as practitioners and own our missteps as we learn and grow in the Model. I want to work with someone who digs deep, who is in therapy/supervision, and who actively and regularly engages in a self-reflective process. This is a requirement to work with me. I adhere to this philosophy myself – as an ES, I am part of the treatment team so I am in therapy too. We are never done learning in the EAGALA Model. Maintaining the paradigm of “forever student” is mandatory.
The simple truth is that we, as an EAGALA community, are pioneering a treatment model that has yet to be regarded as evidence-based practice. That means we have to work on educating our community and selling our services at the same time. This is not an easy feat. It takes hard work, dedication, and long hours in extreme weather. While we deserve to get paid a fair price for our services, there are many times we have to work for free – offering dozens of free demos and sliding our payment scale considerably. THIS IS THE DEAL. We need to band together as a team with our passion driving our exhausted feet and empty pockets, knowing that the work will eventually pay off.