How many times do I need to be told that I can write a good story…

…before I start showing more and more people?

I don’t actually have an answer, but I can tell you that it is more than enough (now!) so here is my latest:

Prologue

As a new psychotherapist setting up in private practice a business-mentor-friend of mine suggested (as did many other sources beforehand but paid no mind to) that I spend some proper time on identifying my ‘ideal client’.

This is a useful tool that people (myself included) balk at — why would I narrow down my audience so finely? Surely I want to cast my net faaaarrrr and wide to get as much business as possible? Creating such a small window of opportunity just seems so counterintuitive. Right?

It would seem not. And once I began writing, and identified who my ideal client was, I could already imagine all the things I could write about to ‘her’. How I could tailor my writing style to ‘her’. The images I would use that I know ‘she’ will find attractive, engaging. The humour that would create a connection with ‘her’.

The theory being that once I have connected with ‘her’, others will enjoy the way I write to this audience, they will also engage with it and feel confident that I know what I am talking about and that they want to connect with me too.

And so, may I present, Sandra, my ideal client:

Sandra is aged 39, she lives in Long Eaton with her husband of 12 years, two children aged 3 and 10, their dog Milo and hamster Spot. She drives a three year old SUV-type car which is both practical and stylish though has a few more crisp crumbs and empty water bottles under the passenger seat than she would like.

Sandra has worked at Boots HQ for five years, currently doing 30 hours a week in accounts/marketing. This is a job she sort of fell into but enjoys the intensity of it as well as the nature of being able to leave it in the office when she goes home. She does her 30 hours over four days allowing herself an afternoon each week for ‘me’ time when three year old Florence (Flo) is in nursery. She earns £25,000 a year doing this and her husband, Ben, earns £42,000 leaving them a nice amount of disposable income for holidays, nice clothes and DIY.

The family food shop is done weekly at Lidl after dropping Flo off at nursery on a Friday lunchtime. She began shopping there because Marjorie down the road said how terrible the quality of the produce was and “no wonder it’s so cheap, the tomatoes are always rotten and the meat is a health hazard”. Naturally, Sandra was curious as to how they could get away with it, but she found that actually, the tomatoes were always firm and fresh, the meat flavoursome and clearly marked with use by dates, and actually, the money she saves means she can buy magazines guilt-free. She took great pleasure in telling Marjorie how great it was. Sandra is sure she has caught Marjorie smuggling in a blue and yellow carrier bag on occasion.

She plays the role of traditional housewife, most nights cooking dinner for the children straight home from work after collecting them from Ben’s mum’s house on the other side of town, and then eating dinner with Ben after the children are in bed. She relishes the Saturday evening dinner when they all eat together and can chat about their weeks and make plans for Sunday activities. She recognises this routine is likely to change soon as 10 year old Francesca gets older and her bedtime gets later. Sandra quite likes the idea of more family meals throughout the week and is hoping that Ben’s responsibilities at work might lessen so that he can be home earlier more often.

Sandra has a couple of work friends and they enjoy the odd meal out together every few months. She feels she can talk to them about the difficulties of childcare and keeping everyone entertained at all hours of the day, plus the irritations of Ben working late and sometimes bringing work home and him being distracted. They help to make the work day pass by easily. Though she has this semi-regular outlet, she feels dissatisfied somehow. Sandra also keeps in sporadic contact with friends from University who are scattered all over the country, they sometimes reminisce about easier times gone by and try to get together at least once a year either somewhere coastal in Europe or at a spa hotel. She enjoys the relief these breaks bring and she always has fun stepping into the ‘old’ Sandra way of being.

Sandra has also noticed that with her increasing frustration at Ben’s work hours, his moodiness and her tiredness at taking responsibility for everyone’s health and eating habits, their sex life has dwindled and she has started to enjoy the cheeky flirt she has with the account manager at their weekly pow-wows. More than once she has caught herself fantasising about Phil, when lying in bed noticeably not touching Ben.

At the end of the week Sandra has her ‘extra’ day and has found herself buying Cosmopolitan magazine, Psychologies magazine and occasionally the National Enquirer to read on the afternoon that Flo is at nursery. She has begun to wonder about her role in the family, how much she actually gets from her friendships and has noticed how she can polish off a bottle of wine to herself when Ben is late. Sometimes she won’t eat the dinner she has prepared if he isn’t back to eat it with her.

Through the greater awareness of ‘something’ she has garnered from her weekly magazine reading and noticing that she feels less happy than she she has started to wonder whether she might need to change job. Or maybe she needs a holiday. The intrusive memories from her childhood of her parents arguing late into the night are becoming a bother too. And the eczema on her wrists just won’t seem to clear up.

I think Sandra will make regular appearances here as I get to know her, and others, better. Hopefully you will enjoy finding out how Sandra gets on on her therapeutic journey.

Thanks for reading!

Adventurer, word-lover, nature-enthusiast, psychotherapist, creative.