Are you thinking of starting your own counseling private practice? Well, we don’t blame you! You’d be your own boss, with complete control over your schedule and an opportunity to support people on your own terms. And, given the meteoric rise in demand for mental health services due to COVID-19, now’s a great time to take the plunge.
But that doesn’t make it easy! Starting a counseling practice is an involved process with many moving parts and crucial factors to consider. Approach this task in the wrong way and your big dreams may never come to fruition.
Want to avoid that fate and enjoy a smoother process from start to finish? Well, this post should help. Today we’re going through 6 top tips on how to open a private counseling practice (the right way).
1. Finish Training and Get Your License
This may sound obvious, but the first step to starting a private counseling practice is to complete your training as a counselor! Now, the exact pathway to qualifying in this discipline depends on two main factors:
- Where you live in the country, and
- The specific area of counseling in which you want to work.
Alas, it’d take too long to explain the different areas of counseling and what it takes to qualify in each one! If you haven’t got to this stage yet, then do some further reading on the subject. The take-home message, though, is that you won’t be able to start a private practice until you’re qualified and licensed in your state.
2. Identify Potential Obstacles
The idea of starting a private practice and working for yourself is always exciting. Yet it’s important to be realistic about what’s involved! From setting up shop to running things when you’re done, you can expect a steep learning curve and plenty of obstacles to overcome.
For instance, do you understand the legal and fiscal obligations of owning a counseling practice? Are you willing to sacrifice a stable income for one that changes throughout the year? And are you ready to deal with the endless bureaucracy and paperwork?
Make sure you look ahead and do your research to assess the territory. Don’t let the potential challenges and uncertainty involved stop you from taking action. But do educate yourself so you can enter this process knowing what’s to come.
3. Contact Other Private Counselors
The best way to do this is to reach out to counselors who have been through the process and now run a thriving practice. Drop them an email to see if they’d be willing to help, and then grill them on their experience! Trust us, they’ll be an invaluable source of information and shed light on the process to come.
After all, you’ll hear from the horse’s mouth what to do and what not to do. You’ll benefit from lessons that they had to learn the hard way. And, as a result, you’ll have a better chance of setting up a private practice without making as many expensive mistakes.
4. Speak to an Attorney
We strongly recommend seeking professional legal support as well. You may feel confident about your legal responsibilities, clear on what’s involved, and capable of navigating the process alone. But you don’t know what you don’t know, right?
Imagine finding out in the future that you made an egregious error in the setup process and have been breaking the law ever since! With your license on the line, the sensible thing to do is consult a business attorney on your private counseling practice requirements. They’ll outline everything you need to know on the laws in your state, business licenses, incorporation, and liability insurance to ensure you proceed by the book.
5. Treat It Like a Business
You might not think about private counseling practices as businesses. Yet that’s precisely what they are! You’re solving a problem and selling a service, which means you have to stay on top of your accounts, market yourself, nurture relationships with “customers”, and remain profitable at all costs.
Treat your practice as a business from the outset by writing a business plan. Think about your financial goals, the competition, how much capital you’ll need, how you’ll find customers, the obstacles that lay ahead, and how you’ll overcome them. Then write it all down into a cohesive plan of action.
This step is more than a mere formality! Having a business plan will help you apply for loans too. Unless you’re self-funding, any reputable lenders you go to for financial support will ask to see your plan and base their decision on what they read.
6. Sort Out Your Space
With the theoretical side covered, it’s time to get practical! You have to find the perfect place to set up your practice, design the layout, furnish and decorate it, and acquire any equipment and psychologist management software you’ll need to succeed.
The space itself is all-important. For example, your practice should be located somewhere that’s easy for your future clients to access. Proximity to public transport networks and free onsite parking are two winning qualities to look for in this regard.
Of course, matters of security and confidentiality are paramount too. Soundproof rooms and panic buttons might be necessary, and the overall design should be calming in nature.
Time to Start Your Counseling Private Practice
Starting a counseling private practice is both an exciting and daunting prospect. You’re eager to work for yourself and thrilled at the thought of growing a thriving service to support people with mental health issues. Yet you may have no idea how or where to begin and be fearful of making mistakes along the way!
Does that sound about right? Well, we hope the tips in this post will help. Keep them in mind and the process of setting up your practice should go ahead with minimal difficulty.
Would you like to continue your education on the ins and outs of starting a business? Browse the ‘Business’ section of the website now and discover everything you need to know about making your new therapy practice a success.