How to Start a Private Practice in Graduate School | PoP 502

How to Start a Private Practice in Graduate School | PoP 502

Are you in graduate school and wanting to dive into the world of private practice? Not sure where to start? What are some of Joe Sanok’s best insights into how you can approach the plethora of topics that will prepare you for private practice.

In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok talks about how to start a private practice in graduate school.

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In This Podcast


  • The initial phases
  • Approach initiating shadow work with a therapist
  • Marketing insights
  • From graduate school to private practice

The initial phases

  • In graduate school, many students jump into working with a specific niche from the get-go, Joe recommends that they try to do shadow work over a bunch of different specialties because this will inform you and educate you outside of what you have already learned and been exposed to.

This will help you with networking, may trigger different things you did not know, broadening your scope of experience outside of the classroom.

For grad students, you are so uniquely positioned that people want to see you be successful. So, now before you graduate is the time to make as many connections as you can. Those influencers, those people want to talk to you… but if they don’t give you 15 minutes or half an hour of their time, then they’re probably not the influencer that you wanna follow.

  • In grad school, you can start a website. As you write papers, think about how you could pull 20% of the information out of that paper, put it on a website, and build your SEO. Then, when you transfer this information into a clinical website, you will have a bulk of SEO to work from which gives you a significant boost.
  • Have external links from other people’s websites that connect to yours and aim to connect with websites that have high domain authority.
  • Check out HARO – help a reporter out.

Approach initiating shadow work with a therapist

Look up therapists in your area, or online, that are specialized in working with the topic you are interested in. Ask them if you could sit-in on one of their sessions with a client of theirs, with the consent of the client.

You may have 9 out of 10 people that will not respond, but do not take it personally because therapists can be very busy, but still email people and start the conversation.

Marketing insights

View marketing yourself on social media as practice – take a message, structure it well, and put it out there for people to interact with.

The act of telling your story when you market yourself and telling it in a concise yet self-aware way – is one of the most powerful things you can get good at. People do not always care about the initials of a type of therapy, people want to know how you can help them. The client cares about the pain, you offer the transformation and the tools to help them.

With branding, you want to talk about the pain that many people deal with to engage the audience. When you make a blog post or do a Facebook live, try this formula when expressing information about a specific pain-point:

  • First, identify the primary emotion: what might the anger be masking?
  • Second, use one of these tools and then
  • Three, use this step to transform.

From graduate school to private practice

There is a lot at the beginning at you may not know, but those first couple of years are about learning. Try not to let shame come into the equation, be curious about all the other things you can come to know throughout your career.

There is no reason that you could not start a private practice straight out of graduate school unless you live in some states that have specific requirements. There are many ways of doing similar work that will set you up for private practice.

For coaching in the here-and-now base, it deals more with the present than deep-diving into the past. With a coach, there is more of an accountability side to it than a therapeutic approach. A coach is more of a trainer than diving into the ‘why’ of it.

With speaking, it is a great way to level up. Speaking at a school, to teachers, and at a PTA are all great ways to get good referrals. Speaking comes out of the relationship that you build, so get to know the organization first can lead to landing speaking gigs.

To set up your own private practice, there are funding opportunities for specific things. Look at:

  • Local Rotary clubs
  • Local chambers of commerce
  • Research possible state grants and programs

View your private practice as simply the first step.

Books mentioned in this episode

Useful Links:

Meet Joe Sanok

private practice consultant

Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.

Thanks For Listening!

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