Your First 28 Days: How To Start A Counseling Practice | PoP 595

On this therapist podcast, podcaster, consultant and author, talks about your first 28 days on how to start a counseling practice.

You want to start a practice: what do you do? What are the essentials to have in your practice? Which systems should you make sure to have on hand?

In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks about Your First 28 Days: How to Start a Counseling Practice.

Podcast Sponsor: Gusto

An image of Gusto is featured as the sponsor on the Practice of the Practice, a podcast for therapists. Gusto automatically files and pays your taxes, it’s super easy to use, and you can add benefits and HR support to help take care of your team and keep your business safe.

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In This Podcast

  • First steps
  • Digital
  • Paperwork
  • Practice
  • Financial
  • Launch

First steps

1 – The first step is to name your practice

A quick tip: don’t name it your name becauses if you, ever want to sell it, it’s going to be way easier. (Joe Sanok)

You can go one of two ways:

  • A more unique name that stands out and suggests a story
  • Something more traditional

How to name a counseling private practice

2 – Purchase your URL

Try to see if you can purchase a URL that is the same name as your practice to minimize confusion and to optimize SEO efficiency.


3 – Make sure that you are correctly licensed in your state

Each state has different protocols for whether you need a PLLC or an S-CORP or any additional business licensing.

4 – Create a plan

I hate five-year plans. Who I am now compared to five years ago is completely different and if I had made a five-year plan then, I would not have dreamed as big. (Joe Sanok)

Think in quarters instead of years so that you do not minimize your potential or get too caught up in the laid-out plan that you do not see potential wins or successes out of the corner of your eye.

5 – Get your liability insurance

Consider a $1m to $3m coverage. For counselors, Joe recommends HPSO.


6 – Get a website

Create a counseling website, and this is one of the first things you want to do so that you can boost your SEO, even if you do not have all your branding finished yet.

Brighter Vision – First 3 months free

To have your website built, email Sam. at

7 – Sign up for a Google Business account

This ties your online presence altogether as it allows you to email with your practice’s name at the forefront instead of with a standard Gmail account.


8 – Set up your legal structure

Make sure to consult someone from within your state as sometimes the legal structures and protocols can vary between states.

To get your legal structure in place

9 – Organize a business bank account

Open an account at a bank that is solely for your practice so that your business finances are separate from your personal transactions.

10 – Have your private practice paperwork set up

You want your platform to be HIPAA compliant and it may help you for it to contain:

  • Progress notes,
  • Informed consent,
  • HIPAA compliance

Some HER’s such as Therapy Notes have these aspects built into their systems which protect you and your clients while saving time and money.

To create your own paperwork packet.


11 – Identify a specialty

If you say I do individual, couples, and family therapy, I see everyone, nobody’s going to refer to you. You got to have some sort of specialty. (Joe Sanok)

Having a specialty gives you a strong marketing point, a way in which to connect with your ideal client, and helps you to stand out from the average counselor in your area.

12 – Find some physical space

When you are first starting you generally want to keep your costs low, so you can sub-lease from another established practice and offer them 10% of your gross average income in exchange for using their office.

You can also have a per-day office usage system where you pay a percentage a day once-off, instead of renting per month if your needs for a physical office are infrequent.

13 – Get media savvy

Connect with local newsagents, media outlets, and online platforms to get the word out about your new practice that is soon to be launching.

Help A Reporter

10 Reasons to become a media-savvy therapist article

14 – Start an email list because it is a great way to help your specialty

Consider having an automated email maybe once or twice a month with a piece of great free content to your subscribers to get good information out to them.

15 – Design a good-looking logo

A great logo can go a long way and it will help you stand out from the crowd of other counselors in your area.

Get Your Logo Done

16 – Buy someone a sandwich

Get out there and network – in a safe way – to find 10 people that are doing what you want to do and start a conversation with them.

The more you can collaborate with people in your specialty, the better, so offer to buy them each lunch and pick their brains about the ups and downs. (Joe Sanok)

Take them for coffee, buy them a sandwich, and start a great referral source with them and connect with the other therapists who share your specialty in your area.

17 – Focus on one social media

  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram

Create a profile for your practice where you are already connected and learn how to take it further from there. Try not to pitch sales constantly. Post content that relates to your client’s pain points and that connects with your specialty.

The Practice of the Practice Pinterest

18 – Evaluate your cancellation policy

How can you do this in a way that benefits the client and the clinician? Can you create a system that serves the practice?

19 – Set up your phone systems

Landlines can be expensive and there are numerous other phoneline options that you can look at. Consider setting up your new practice with extensions in case you decide to hire more clinicians and grow it.

Spruce Phone Lines

Grasshopper Phone Lines


20 – Insurance-based or not?

There are both benefits and potential downsides.

Taking insurance can:

  • Opens immediate markets,
  • It is a lot more convenient for the average person,

But if you focus on private pay:

  • That’s going to mean less paperwork,
  • Autonomy over your income and time,
  • Reducing your stress

21 – Order your business cards

Now that you have a great logo and new website, get some good business cards, and start handing them out. Give them to clients and business partners when you are building your referral sources.

Discount on Business Cards


22 – Schedule a community talk

Now that you have your specialty, you want to find partners that have an audience.

This could be:

  • Local non-profit organizations,
  • Schools,

It can be any place that will allow you to give a free talk to get your practice name out there and into community conversations that relate to your counseling skillsets.

23 – Evaluate your electronic medical records system

Find one that works best for you and that serves the needs of your practice as much as possible. It may be difficult to find one that is an exact match, although there are electronic record systems out there that are popular and stand with a good reputation.

Therapy Notes

24 – Set up a payment system

You can use credit cards, insurance, and so forth.

25 – Start blogging within your website

This is the single biggest way to build authority and boost your SEO ranking.

Aim to write 26 blog posts within the first half-year of your practice’s launch.

26 – Optimize your website

Look for keywords:

  • Your city + your niche
  • Your niche + counseling
  • Your city + counseling

Look for keywords that you can incorporate into your blog posts to further rank higher on your SEO.

27 – Become an Amazon associate

Amazon pays you 3 to 10% of sales that you refer to them. This counts if you refer to books and services but make sure to disclose it.

28 – Go check out Practice of the Practice’s One Year Practice Plan. One Year Practice Plan at $17

Books mentioned in this episode:

Image of the book Thursday Is The New Friday written by Joe Sanok. Author Joe Sanok offers the exercises, tools, and training that have helped thousands of professionals create the schedule they want, resulting in less work, greater income, and more time for what they most desire.

Useful Links mentioned in this episode:

Check out these additional resources

Meet Joe Sanok

A photo of Joe Sanok is displayed. Joe, private practice consultant, offers helpful advice for group practice owners to grow their private practice. His therapist podcast, Practice of the Practice, offers this advice.

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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