How did I start? Like the lyrics of a famous Frank Sinatra song, “I did it my way”. I started my solo private practice, Maternal Counseling Services, with the notion that I was going to craft my practice. Furthermore, I knew that I wanted flexibility and to be able to provide impeccable care, while allowing myself the opportunity to make mistakes. I forged this journey with M&M’s in mind. Not the candy… but rather, Motherhood and Money.
When starting a private practice, it’s important to prioritize. You are the business owner and the one in charge. So, at first, everything falls upon your shoulders. That can make you feel like every bit of time that you have should be used for your private practice. When crafting Maternal Counseling Services, I knew that writing out my priorities was crucial to staying true to my ‘why’ of private practice – my son.
I am the mother of a 2 year old boy, who is such a joy, and he is very much a priority. Prior to my son, I was a full time Assistant Director and career counselor at a private college, while also seeing clients as an independent contractor in a group practice. After having my little one, my priorities shifted. I wanted to have the flexibility to spend more time caring for my son.
So, what did I do? Go into private practice. That may seem counterintuitive and like it created more time away. But, rather, it gave me the opportunity to craft what I wanted my work life to look like. I transitioned to a part-time counseling position at a community college, which allowed me to take the time to develop my private practice. Making this shift, and knowing my priorities, meant I needed to be efficient, as well as create healthy working boundaries. We teach our client’s boundaries. Starting a private practice is the perfect time to model the same principles we share.
Tip: List out your priorities, set your boundaries, and learn to be efficient with the time you have.
As shared, I started my private practice very part-time. While I do want a group practice in the future, starting part-time allowed me the opportunity to “try things on” without having to support other clinicians. This allowed me to test electronic health systems, create an intake process, as well as start marketing and networking. However, with having limited client hours, I knew that I would have to be mindful of expenses and look for passive income opportunities.
My practice is located in southwest Michigan and I was able to find an extremely reasonable office space. I have a small waiting area and two provider offices. I use my office about nine hours a week, which leaves it open over 30 hours a week. And this does not include the second office. That is 70+ office hours that could be used. To help out other clinicians who are starting off, or who are interested in working part-time, I created a space where providers can use the office hourly. I did so in a manner that would require minimal effort on my part.
After meeting the providers, making sure it’s a good fit, and signing a contract, they are provided with a key, access to reserve online, and directions on how to pay. Really, no other effort my way. While the office is nowhere near capacity, the additional income towards expenses has allowed me to have a comfortable, steady pace, that honors my boundaries created.
Tip: Think outside of the box about income vs. expenses and give yourself time to “try on” things.
Ciji C. Gamble, is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the Kalamazoo/Portage Michigan area, and the owner of Maternal Counseling Services, a counseling private practice that specializes in the mental wellness of pregnant and postpartum moms. As a counselor Ciji helps women, at all stages of life, find peace in their present and hope for their future.