When I decided to move from a solo counseling practice to starting a group practice, I honestly didn’t think much about it. I was turning away clients, I hated saying no, and I knew that I could learn the skills needed to move into group practice ownership. So, I decided to hire a clinician or two and call myself a group practice owner! However, what I didn’t know about group practices was a whole lot more than what I did know. What I didn’t know could have filled several buckets. In retrospect, I probably overestimated my knowledge and ability to learn what I didn’t know. Two years later, I am so glad I took the plunge to group practice ownership, and now I can clearly identify what I wish I would have known two years ago.
Starting A Group Practice’s Daily Operations Are Vastly Different Than a Solo Practice
Your intake process will be different, your payment collection process will change, and your therapists will do things differently than you do. As a solo practitioner, you are used to doing everything yourself. For example, you are used to doing consultation calls and scheduling yourself. But when you start trying to get potential clients scheduled with therapists other than yourself, they refuse and want to see you – and only you. Because you have made the initial connection with the client, they don’t want to be passed along to someone else. You will need to change your intake and scheduling system so that it’s easier to get your therapists’ caseloads filled. It’s a good idea to perhaps hire administrative help to take over the scheduling.
The Stress of Going to Group Practice Ownership is More Than Double That of Being in Solo Practice
Conversely, the rewards of growing and becoming successful as a group practice are more than double that of your solo practice. Because when you start adding therapists to your practice you start feeling the responsibility of filling their caseloads. You could direct each therapist to do the marketing and work to fill their own caseloads. But then why are they working for you when they could start their own practice if they have to do all that work? The ups and downs of finding that balance between demand and supply for your therapy services can become exhausting. It helps to start looking at your statistics and performance measures on more of a monthly or quarterly basis than a daily basis. If you have a low day for new intakes, that’s ok because overall for the month you’re right on track.
Starting A Group Practice is Not a 9-5 Job
As you grew and mastered your solo private practice, you’re probably at the point where you’re fairly full? Most of your time is spent on your clinical work, and your processes are going smoothly for running your practice. You know what works. But moving to group practice ownership is completely different, and when things are different and we don’t know all the answers we can overthink things. I still have moments when I feel like I didn’t sleep at all. I keep thinking about a practice-related issue or plan that I want to work on in the morning. Just because you only “work” during the week, it doesn’t stop you from thinking about your practice non-stop or from doing work on the weekends and evenings. You have to put in extra time outside of your normal working hours to do everything needed to grow a group practice. Having a supportive person/people around you to listen can help manage your overthinking and set some limits on your time.
I hope that these 3 things I wish I knew before starting a group practice are helpful. I don’t want to frighten you away from starting a group practice if it’s something you want and can do. However, I do want to give you a heads up. You should definitely put more thought into the time commitment and impact on your life that starting a group practice causes. You cannot expect to just hire a therapist and start a group practice without putting more time and energy into the process.
Stay tuned for next month’s blog, 3 More Things I Wish I Knew About Group Practice Before I Started!
Thinking of starting your own Group Practice? Check out more of Shannon’s articles to help you on your journey:
- How to Hire Right In The Beginning
- 4 Mindset Shifts Moving From Solo to Group Practice
- Systems to Create For Your Group Practice
Shannon Heers is a licensed professional counselor in Colorado. She owns the private-pay group practice Catalyss Counseling in the Denver metro area, focusing on helping adults manage their anxiety, grief, and trauma. Shannon is also an experienced clinical supervisor and manager who offers business consultation services to other therapists. She balances working with raising her two young children.