Stephanie Gilbert, LMFT is the CEO of Stephanie Gilbert and Associates LLC and understands the role that self belief has played in her business journey so far. She took some time out to speak with The Industry Leaders about this powerful state of mind.
Firstly, can you give us a little bit of background about your business journey?
I knew when I went to get my Masters in Clinical Psychology I wanted to eventually open my own private practice. It's a long journey to become a licensed therapist, and I made it my goal to get as much varied experience as possible. I started studying spiritual and depth psychology during my graduate work and had the opportunity to study Buddhism and psychology in France and the connection between spirituality and psychology in Brazil. I started working in community mental health, then worked in a few treatment centers before transitioning to working in a private practice before opening my own. I also chose to become trained as a Beck Institute CBT Certified Clinician from the Beck Institute in Philadelphia and am also trained in EMDR. My heavy emphasis on training and gaining experience in several different work settings are two things I would say helped me get to where I am today.
What role has self-belief played in your journey as a business leader? How has it influenced your decision-making and overall success?
My self beliefs have played a big role in my journey. I'm trained in CBT, which is a modality focused on self beliefs and thoughts, and I know that what we believe about ourselves heavily influences what we can accomplish. As a trained therapist, we receive no business training, so there was certainly a learning curve to running my own business. I was lucky to train in a practice before going out on my own, but believing that I could run a successful private practice allowed me to take the risk in opening up my own.
Can you share a specific moment or challenge in your journey where your self-belief was tested? How did you overcome it and what did you learn from that experience?
During the last few years the mental health field has undergone a huge shift with the increase in telehealth services. Pre pandemic I was seeing clients in my office in person, but overnight (literally) that had to change. There was a scramble to get set up as a telehealth provider as the entire field had to become accessible to those who needed us when it wasn't safe to practice in person. We all did the best we could as licensing boards created new rules and regulations, and we basically learned an entire new way to practice. If I hadn't been open to change, my practice would have stopped right there. But I stayed open to learning and came to appreciate telehealth therapy in a way I never would have guessed. Studies show it's just as effective as in person therapy and the advantages over in person therapy have inspired me to open a completely telehealth practice. I learned to stay open to solutions and flexibility is an asset. Sometimes the way you envision your future in business will change because it has to, and you need to change with it.
How do you cultivate and maintain a mindset of self-belief amidst the inevitable ups and downs of life?
This is an area I feel I have an advantage in because of what I do. I'm trained in CBT because I know that it works, and I use a lot of CBT tools to maintain my mindset of self belief.
Are there any specific strategies or practices you follow to boost your self-confidence when facing uncertainties or setbacks in your business?
If you're familiar with CBT, you may have heard of cognitive distortions. And if not, cognitive distortions are basically problematic beliefs that fuel negative thinking patterns. In CBT therapy, these distortions can be challenged and reframed, and I find these strategies work in my professional role as a business owner as well.
How do you handle self-doubt or negative self-talk that may arise as a business leader? Do you have any specific techniques for reframing negative thoughts?
CBT is fantastic for this! The most difficult part of challenging negative self talk can be identifying it, so making sure you're recognizing it rather than assuming the thoughts are true. Looking at a cognitive distortion list from CBT (there are 10 types of cognitive distortions), which can be found on the Beck Institute's website is a good place to start if you're interested in learning how to identify negative self talk.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who struggle with self-belief? How can they start building a stronger sense of confidence and belief in themselves?
You don't have to know how to do it all, you just need to know who to ask and learn from. When I started out I had more questions than answers about running a business, but breaking down everything into smaller goals and learning as I went was key. Believing in yourself is important, especially when starting out.
Have you ever encountered external skepticism or negativity regarding your business ideas or decisions? How do you stay grounded in your self-belief despite external influences?
Running an entirely online therapy practice could probably be seen as a risk. There was some skepticism in the field, and there still is, about the ability to have a successful telehealth practice. I view it more as the clients who are the right fit for me will find me, and those who prefer in person therapy will find another great practice to go to though. Different people connect with different therapists, and I don't need to work for everyone, I just need to find the people who feel like I'm the right fit for them. It's also helpful that I believe in and love what I do and appreciate telehealth therapy for the benefits it can provide that in person therapy can't.
Are there any books, podcasts, or people you'd recommend checking out for anyone who wants to change to a more self-confident and belief-rich mindset?
I would recommend any book by Dr Aaron Bec, the founder of CBT, or Dr Judith Beck, his daughter and current president of the Beck Institute.
Finally, what are some practical tips or exercises you can recommend for entrepreneurs to strengthen their self-belief and mindset on a regular basis?
In addition to the cognitive tools, I would also recommend making professional connections in your field. Having colleagues to talk with that also run businesses similar to mine has been a source of support.