I want to have my own practice and work for myself. I want to maximize my earning potential and work with my ideal client. These are some of the statements clinicians make when identifying reasons why they want to start their own practice. I’ve made all of those remarks and then some. There were moments where I got caught thinking about my future practice and what it will be like instead of establishing the foundation.
I’ve emphasized that starting a practice is not easy in my previous posts. You’re creating something which takes a lot of time, dedication, and energy. I feel the most confident when I’m prepared so I tried to gather as much knowledge and information I could about starting a practice so I would be ready when the time came. I had lists and spreadsheets of what services I would use to streamline my practice operations. And, I planned to start my practice in another eight months. I planned for it to be self-pay, completely online, and only provide telemental health services. It’s good to plan, but also to expect plans to change or need adjustments. I spent a lot of time planning and 90% of it had to be adjusted when “life happens”.
Making That Decision
Without going into too much detail, I was working for group practice and abruptly decided that it was time for me to leave. I had a lot of difficulties making that choice. It was very hard to go that route since I risked losing clients as a result. Sometimes we have to put ourselves first do what’s best for us. I struggle with that occasionally and if you do also I want you to know its ok. I basically asked myself “If I won’t make myself a priority then who will?” At this point, I decided to leave but had no job prospects. I could have searched for another job, but that wasn’t my end goal. I wanted to have my own practice and I decided now was time to launch it. That was my main goal. Why delay that further? I turned in my two weeks notice.
What I Did
The next day I searched for potential office locations, applied to join the network for multiple insurance panels, and completed business-related paperwork. Notice that I applied to join insurance networks as a provider. I previously wanted to be self-pay only. That was one of many adjustments I decided to make in order to maximize the opportunities for my practice to succeed. I spent about two weeks finalizing my decisions. When that period was over I had two office spaces (one subleased for Mondays and Tuesdays only), a practice management system, phone and fax numbers, and started creating my paperwork packet. Sometimes it just takes motivation or the right situation to initiate the next phase of your private practice plan.
It was a scary situation for me. Stepping forth into uncharted territory usually is. However, I got through it and more accomplished in those two weeks than all of those months of “preparing”. I’m not sure why, but if I had to choose I would attribute it to pushing my fears and doubt aside to focus on executing and making things happen. If you’re reading this and feel like you don’t know when to take the next step in your private practice journey, ask yourself what’s holding you back? Are there legitimate reasons for not entering the next phase of your goal, or are you creating barriers in order to maintain the status quo?
What Helped Me
Two Practice of the Practice Podcast episodes which relate heavily to this post is episode 98 and episode 313. In episode 98 Joe fields a series of questions from clinicians who are working toward building their practice. He provides a lot of good information which is still relevant if you’re in the early planning stages of your practice. I like episode 313 because I heavily relate to it. Personally, I know of other clinicians who were/are in that same situation. I hope listening to episode 313 helps you identify your zone of comfort for leaving your job and diving into private practice full-time if that’s what you want to do. I’m assuming it is since you’re here in the first place. The grind isn’t always fun and it’s not an easy choice to make, but hopefully, it will allow you to reach your personal and professional goals. I’ll be sure to post my progress soon.
Michael Gilliard II was born and raised in Charleston, SC. He a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC) in Georgia. His private practice is named Ujima Counseling, Coaching, and Consulting. It is based off the Kwanzaa principle of Ujima which means “to build and maintain our community together and to make our brother’s and sister’s problems, our problems and to solve them together.” He is also working on experiences which integrate mental health and XR technology. Please contact him to learn more.