There are some of you who have held close the dream of one day having your own private practice. For some, the dream has been to work in their practice part-time. For others, the dream has been to cut all ties with third party employers.
If you were to have your miracle day, the day you first began private practice, what would it look like? Would you wake up at maybe 9 AM or 10 am in the morning? On your miracle day, would you have your choice concerning what types of clients you would see that day? Would you wake up that morning with a clear mind that is clear because you know that you don’t have to see 6 to 8 to 10 clients in one day? Because this is a miracle morning you might see let’s say, 3 to 4 full pay clients, and this day you won’t be sharing fees. No 60/40 cut on this day. Today, on this miracle day, all the cuts go to you.
If you haven’t enjoyed the experience of having your own private practice, a miracle day like this may seem far fetched and out of reach. This is how I felt just a few years ago. But what really is so far fetched about you experiencing this miracle moment. What is it that keeps you from experiencing or moving closer to experiencing this reality? I would like to share some perspectives on how your thoughts may be part of the hold-up.
I don’t have enough experience
One of the great myths about why not to start a private practice is the belief that you do not have enough experience. Quick question, if you had the experience that you needed, how much would that be, and would “that” really be enough for you to move forward?
The idea of being “qualified” is so subjective. Who makes the decision that “now you are officially qualified?” There are tons of people who have been in private practice for ten or more years whom we all might agree are unqualified. What is most important is knowing that you are great at what you do. It is also important to feel confident that you can execute.
I remember the grief I was put myself through trying to determine what my specialty would be when I started my private practice. I had almost very, very limited experience providing therapy sessions, so I thought “How in the world am I going to have a specialty, when I haven’t seen any clients?“ I’m not suggesting that you do this but here is what I did. I explored the areas I felt I was most competent to provide support in. I chose Anger Management and Relationship Counseling. That’s where I started, I still specialize in those areas, and I have never looked back.
Remember, just because you have limited experience does not mean that you should become a generalist, and it certainly doesn’t mean that you should not venture into private practice. You are highly qualified and your license proves it!
I might get sued
Being sued is a therapist’s worst nightmare. Nobody wants to be sued, but the truth is that somebody may choose to sue you. Sounds scary, doesn’t it? Here are some questions to offer a more probable positive alternative to this view that may hopefully ease your anxiety.
Has anyone ever tried to sue you on the job where are you are currently employed? Has anyone attempted to sue you while working for your former employer? Do you personally know of any other therapist who has been sued while working ethically in private practice? If you checked yes to any of these questions I would like to ask, do you feel that cases of therapists being sued are frequent or common.
Sure we all run the chance of being sued, but do we want to allow that fear to pigeonhole us into working for someone else instead of exploring options for independence? At some point, we just have to take risks. Besides, just in case lightning strikes your practice, keep in mind that you have your liability insurance in place to mitigate any loss.
I don’t have an office
Who wants to rent out an office space when there is great uncertainty about how to secure clients. Some of us are braver than others and don’t have a problem dropping everything and moving into practice. I wasn’t one of the brave. I started my private practice by subletting. In other words, I rented space from a friend who rented office space and had extra rooms.
It is not always necessary to leap into full-time private practice if you are not yet ready. There are tons of people who have office space that they rarely use. Some use their office space only during the day or night. I agreed to pay $20 per hour for the office space I used in my first subletting arrangement. It was a great looking office, and no one knew I wasn’t first on the lease. Subletting is a great option to consider, however, with virtual therapy on the rise there will be less and less of a need for an office.
Where do I get clients?
My marketing mentors taught me that in order to understand how to get clients, you must first understand the top ways That clients would search or find out about The type of services you provide. When I first began I found the Internet, physician’s offices, and Psychology Today to be my top 3 options to resource clients.
There are a ton of marketing strategies that you may find useful to support you with growing your business. There is tons of information and membership option on this website to help you through this process. But if I were to choose one quick option for fast results, I would choose Psychology Today. When I started my part private practice, I probably used Psychology Today exclusively for approximately two to three years. The return on investment was and has been one of the best marketing investment I have paid for. I had more clients than I could handle part-time.
Psychology Today may not be a guaranteed option, but it is a good place to begin exploring options that might work best for you. Challenge yourself concerning why you Have not started your private practice. Make small steps to alleviate any fear that may stagnate your growth. Surround yourself with the company of those who are taking risks, experiencing success, and are willing to share with you. When you do it will only be a matter of time before you will be sharing your success story with someone else.
Choya Wise, LICSW, PIP is the owner of Aspire Counseling & Consulting Services in Huntsville, Alabama. Choya specializes in relationship counseling and hosts Online Social Work Clinical Supervision Groups in Alabama.