This week’s guest blog is from Justin Bannister 


Picture this: you step off the stage at graduation, ready to take on a new career (along with whatever else the world throws at you). You go home feeling charged and ready for the incoming challenge. It doesn’t matter what kind of therapist you are; whether it’s for mind or body, we recall the feeling of new promise for the future after a long slog of studying, deadlines, exams, and case studies. Personally, I found the transition terrifying.

Is “terrifying” the right word? Some of my professors only spoke the optimistic when coaching our class in our new career; we were going to change lives, and we’d have nothing but fulfillment in return. I heard a lot of “you never work a day in your life if you love your job” pep talk. They weren’t totally wrong; at first I felt exhilarated, hopeful, motivated, inspired…but as time went on, I noticed the overwhelm, exhaustion, alarm, and panic setting in. You’re not alone if you’ve felt this as a therapist.

Where do you start when the feelings of overwhelm start creeping in? The best advice I ever got came from someone who was already working for themselves: take it slow, one piece at a time. First, the paperwork. It was one of the most daunting pieces for me. It took a lot of steps to get it done and I’m sure a lot of therapists can relate; the background checks, fees, proof of certifications, and reference letters…multiplied by at least two, if you have both an association and a regulatory college.

Next, I handled the money. Specifically, which bank I was choosing to work with for my business needs. The trick is to find something that will not overextend you as a customer, while providing ease of use and ease of access. Then, I chose a business name, filed the business name with the government so that I could retain an HST number for tax purposes, and started looking at branding. I did a lot of my work on Canva. In my opinion, paying the fee for a Pro account is well worth it. You can definitely do your own branding with that software, and it’ll save you a lot of money because hiring a professional graphic designer can get very expensive.

I wish I had a class, or someone else to sit down with to discuss all there was to know before heading in to building my own business. Finding yourself a mentor is a great idea if you’re just getting your business started. If you’re a new massage therapist, you should know that mentorship is offered through the website- just click on “mentorship” and choose the option that works best for you! If that route isn’t for you, my hope is that this blog will at least help outline the things that you should be aware of as you’re getting started in your new practice. I did a lot of things wrong and some things right when I first set out in my new career, and I know I would have saved myself some grief if only I had a mentor early on.

When I first started, there were days that I was purely overwhelmed, and days where I was overjoyed with taking a leap of faith and picking a new path. I’d say that the good far outweighs the bad. We all go into caregiving professions from a deep-seated desire to help others; being there for people in their time of need is important and fulfilling work. What I want you to remember (speaking as a counselling professional) throughout the journey is: take time for yourself. Finding work-life harmony is important, and prevents you from burning out. You are your most valuable asset, and your health is a priority if you’ll be helping others with their own sense of wellness. Enjoy the ride, it’s worth it!

About the Author

Justin is a Canadian Certified Counsellor from the East Coast of Canada and has a special clinical interest in concussion injuries, infertility, and men’s health. He decided to pursue a Master’s Degree in Counselling in order to better serve his community. Outside of his clinical practice, Justin enjoys working with kids and is a supply teacher with his local school district. In his spare time, Justin enjoys competing in reining with his horse, Princess. He has been an avid horseman since childhood and hopes to one day offer equine therapy as part of his counselling practice.