• Dr. Matt Zakreski

reflections a year into private practice

Updated: Sep 9, 2021

One year ago, I opened my own private practice, The Neurodiversity Collective. I opened that practice in the midst of a global pandemic, political strife, and having just had our second child. To open NDC, I left a stable, safe job in a group practice. I was counting on my generally positive reputation in the broader #gifted and #neurodiversity communities to stand out enough in a see of mental health providers.

I lost a lot of sleep over this decision. (Well, I would have, but babies have other plans).

Am I good enough at this? Can I reach the people that need me? Can I make enough money to help support my family? Can I survive the organizational and infrastructure demands that running a business requires? Am I really willing to do entirely telehealth?

The answers the questions are (to varying degrees of surprise to me), a resounding YES. I often am conflicted about the role of private practice in the broader mental health space. I wish that the system was set up to meet the needs of more people for longer with more personalized support. I left the insurance networks so I could provide the kind of treatment that I felt was most appropriate, without the unnecessary oversight and nit-picking. I work hard to keep my services affordable without losing the fact that I have to make money to survive. (Kids, my friends, aren't cheap... but you probably knew that if you read this page).

I love what I do. Don't get me wrong; it is so hard, and challenging, and gut-wrenching. I lose wayyyyyy more than I win. I fight the good fight as much as I can and throw myself towards the challenges that my clients should not be facing on their own. And I love it. I got into this work because I wanted to be the person that kids needed growing up. I was lucky; I had those people. Both of my parents are clinical psychologists (hi mom and dad!), so my family spoke #mentalhealth fluently. I had a lot of things normalized and accommodated that a lot of people did not. I wanted to turn my good fortune into meaningful service, because I truly believe that if you have been given a gift, you should build a bigger table, not a higher fence.

The work is hard and the way forward is full of challenges. I won't lie to you; things will probably get worse before they get better. But they CAN GET BETTER. At the end of the day, I promise you a person that will listen, a safe space to feel, and a few strategies to carry out into the world. Mostly, I don't want you to feel alone. The world is hard enough without support.

I hope that this page helps with that process. I hope that my therapy work helps with that process as well. I try to give as many talks as I can in as many venues/formats as I can because I know that is a way to help many people at once.

Thank you to colleagues at Widener University IGCP, SENG, PAGE, NJAGC, NAGC, CAGT, TAGT, Minnesota Gifted and Talented, Beyond IQ, Dabrowski, The Grayson School, FlexSchool, AIM Academy, AFS, Crefeld School, MEGS and MCGATE, Julie Skolnick and With Understanding Comes Calm, Hoagies Gifted, InterGifted, Femke Hovinga, Bridges Academy, Don Ambrose, Jim Delisle, Mike Postma, and so many others. A special shout-out to my international colleagues in Australia, New Zealand, Holland, and Amsterdam. One special acknowledgement to my wife Julia who supported this risky choice; thank you for believing in me when my own cup runs dry. I'm sure that I've forgotten many people; blame my executive dysfunction.

Thank you for being a part of this journey. Thank you for supporting my work either as a client, a member of an audience, or as a viewer of this page. Please continue to share this work when it feels resonant to you.

We are all in this together, after all; we just need to keep inviting people to the table. #drmatt

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