For many counselors and clinicians, opening a private practice is how they know “they’ve made it”. 

Many students on graduation day don’t dream of working under someone else’s thumb for the rest of their lives, following orders blindly without any say in what they think or believe.

When it comes to opening your own private practice as a therapist it’s easy to only think of the positives and benefits being your own boss provides. 

However, it’s imperative to understand exactly what this process entails. It is a business, after all, so you’re going to need to make sure you have some background knowledge on what it takes to be an entrepreneur. 

So, what are some strategies to know when opening your own private therapy practice?

Read on to get the answer to this loaded question, so you can have a better understanding of how to successfully live out your dream. 

Why Should You Open A Private Practice In The First Place?

There are many wonderful advantages when it comes to opening your own practice. Doctors and health care workers that open their own private practice have actually reported lower levels of stress, and higher levels of life satisfaction. Why is this so?

  • Flexibility: One of the most obvious reasons why many therapists choose to open their own private practice is for the flexibility it provides. Being able to set your own hours, take time off when needed, and cultivate a healthier work-life balance are all highly rewarding. This is particularly true for those with children and families at home. 
  • Decision Making: The power you have over making decisions within your own business is what draws many therapists and health care workers to open up their own practice. Nobody enjoys being bossed around, and with yourself as your boss, you’re free to choose whatever path you want your business to take, without anyone telling you that you can’t.
  • Control Your Pay: Another perk of being your own boss is the ability to control all financial aspects of your practice. While finances can be a tricky subject to navigate, there is great satisfaction in the influence you have over your income. 

Strategies For Opening Your Private Therapy Practice:

The transition from being an employee, to not only being the boss but the owner, takes extensive planning. While it’s an exciting time, it can be risky if not done correctly. 

Many skills you need to open your own practice aren’t related to therapy at all. This unfamiliarity can seem daunting at first, but follow this checklist when it comes to opening and being successful in your own private therapy practice. 

Fully Grasp The Difficulties Of Running A Private Practice

I’m not telling you to ruminate on all the worst case scenarios, or overthink about every situation that could possibly go wrong. But, it would be foolish to only think of the positives without considering how challenging opening up your own private practice can be. 

Running your own business will add many new tasks to your everyday life, so planning ahead on how you will go about these responsibilities is necessary to avoid being caught off guard. 

Keep in mind the expenses that come along with opening your own business, time management, the work environment you want to create, and all the paperwork that comes with business management. 

Understand The Legal Aspects

With each state having its own set of rules and regulations when it comes to opening a private practice, you’ll want to consult with a business lawyer to avoid making any detrimental mistakes. 

Zoning laws can inhibit where your practice is located so it’s important to keep that mind. 

In addition, obtaining a business license, malpractice and liability insurance, and establishing your business as a separate entity are all crucial bases to cover beforehand. 

Create Your Business Plan

In order for a bank to give you a loan, you’ll want to present them with a business plan. This can be as broad as your niche market, or as intricate as what therapeutic strategies you aim to implement. 

Your business plan does NOT have to be set in stone, but should serve as a more general guideline to ensure you stay on track with your goals. 

Some important areas of a business plan to cover are:

  • How much revenue you will need to make per year to stay running 
  • How much income you need to make each year to live comfortably
  • Any financial goals you want to achieve
  • A strategic marketing plan 
  • Short term and long term goals
  • If a loan is needed: create a loan repayment plan 
  • Funding costs 

Office Environment

When it comes to a private therapy practice, it’s quite a bit more important than in other professions to create a warm, welcoming, safe environment for your clients. 

Research has shown that when a client feels more comfortable, they are more willing to open up and speak vulnerably. 

You don’t need to invest all your money into a fancy office. Soft lights, comfortable chairs, and photography on the walls can go a long way. 

Ensure you’ve budgeted enough for furniture, decor, technology, and any security features. 

Consider Help

Not every one that opens their own private practice decides they want to hire anyone else. That’s okay, but remember, both the clinical and business responsibilities will fall directly on your shoulders. 

Answering the phone, filling out paperwork, filing insurance, and tracking payments are all tasks that can be delegated by a secretary. 

Even if you don’t want to hire another therapist just yet, a receptionist or financial aid are both extremely useful to have around. 

Join Insurance Panels

Joining an insurance provider panel can boost your customer base significantly. By making your practice more accessible and affordable to future clients you’re opening the door for new revenue. Apply to the largest providers in your area by visiting their webpage. 

Market Your Business

One of the most crucial ‘non-therapy related’ steps when opening up your new private practice is to spread the word. 

Without marketing, how are any clients going to know you’re ready for business?

  • Invest in a functional website: this means stocking your website full of quality information, and empathetic, inviting language. 
  • Blog, blog and blog: Providing content that is useful for your clients is one of the biggest ways to drive traffic to your business. You’re showing them that you’re an expert and you have the answers they’re looking for. 
  • Network with other therapists
  • Join mental health boards and online forums
  • Create a social media page for your practice 
  • Invest in professional business cards
  • Consider social media or Google paid ads
  • Hire a photographer to take quality headshot photos

If technology isn’t your strongest suit, there are plenty of freelancers that have the knowledge and skills to help you create an online presence for your company. In this generation, online visibility is everything. 

Opening Your Own Private Therapy Practice Takes Work:

If you’ve always dreamed of the day you get to be your own boss, and the day you’re able to help clients the way you feel is best, then opening a private therapy practice may be your dream come true. 

While there are many benefits to this journey, keep in mind the work and effort it takes to not only open but sustain your own business. 

Don’t allow this fear of the unknown responsibilities take you from your dream. There are millions of people just like you that open up their own private practices every year. All it takes is the motivation, and desire to succeed. 

Once you’ve covered all your bases, sit back and watch as your dream unfolds.