So you’re getting ready to hire your first therapist and start building your group practice, but you’ve never hired anyone before. It can be daunting – even scary – to figure out the process of hiring someone, or even identify what your first steps should be! The good news is, you can do this with just a bit of preparation. The key in hiring someone is taking your time and not making decisions that you’ll regret later – just because you’re desperate to get someone on board ASAP.
Hire Your First Therapist For Fit, Not Just Experience or Specialization
One of the biggest mistakes that novice hirers do is just look for experience or specialization in candidates. You’ll be working closely with this therapist, and your practice’s reputation will depend on the good work that your new clinician does. For sure, you do want to hire your first therapist who either is similar in specializations or niche to what you do. If you have an abundance of referrals and are hoping to pass them along to your new therapist, you’ll want someone who complements what you do. You may also want to expand your services or specializations. But be careful of hiring someone who has great experience but who you don’t mesh with or see yourself working with. Trust me, it will cause you much more stress in the long term.
Identify Who Will Not Be a Good Fit
One way of identifying who will be a good fit when you hire your first therapist is to decide what type of person/characteristics will not be a good fit. For example, you may not want to hire someone who also has their own private practice on the side because then loyalties will be split. They could potentially just be working for you to build up a caseload then take their clients to their own practice. Or they may not be able to devote as much time to your practice as you’d hope.
Or maybe you’re not willing to work with a pre-licensed therapist who requires supervision because you’re doing a 1099 Independent Contractor model (most pre-licensed therapists who require supervision don’t fit into the IRS definition of a 1099 Independent Contractor)? Or because you lack experience or training in providing supervision? Or perhaps you just don’t want to spend that much time training and supervising a new therapist and would prefer someone who can practice independently?
Create a List of Characteristics or Skills You Want to Assess When Hiring Your First Therapist
Now you want to get prepared for conducting a formal interview with potential candidates. I always suggest doing at least 1 if not 2 interviews with potential candidates. This way you can really get an idea of who your candidate is and how he/she works.
You can include things on your list such as:
- Good team player
- Works independently
- Completes paperwork on time
- Has good assessment skills
- Is knowledgeable about a particular specialization/niche
- Can develop rapport easily via telehealth
Or whatever other skills or characteristics you want to assess. Then you’ll want to create interview questions based on each item on your list (1 question per item). I wouldn’t suggest going over 11-12 questions, as that is about the most you’ll be able to get through in an hour interview. You’ll also want some time at the beginning of the interview to set your candidate at ease and develop a bit of rapport. At the end of the interview you’ll also want time for additional questions you and your candidate may have.
Advertise and Interview
Now you’re ready to advertise for your position and start interviewing! Another very common question that I get asked is, “how do you find good therapists to hire?” Look for my blog coming out next month to help you answer this question. Whoever you have in mind to hire, whether it’s someone completely new, or someone you’ve known for long, it’s always worth it to formalize the process. Always try to go through the interview steps so you know that everyone is on the same page.
The more prep time you put into deciding who would be a good fit with you, the more successful your new hire will be!
Previous Articles by Shannon Heers
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.
Group practice ownership is daunting but can be done easily if you do your homework, prepare, and learn all you can about the process!