Ask me about my private practice and I light up. I love it. I just spent the last day and a half furnishing and decorating an additional office location in a neighboring city. I’m excited to be able to expand the reach of my practice and help clients in other geographic locations. There is such a satisfaction in feeling fully self-expressed professionally and to make a difference in the lives of my clients and my colleagues. My passion for building a private practice is why I asked Dr. John Grohol, CEO of PsychCentral.com if I could start this blog. I can’t imagine being happier with a work situation and I want to help you develop the tools to feel the same way about your practice.
I asked several successful private practice therapists the question, “What do you love about being in private practice?” I wanted to share their answers with you to inspire those of you who are considering going into private practice to do it! If you’re unhappy with your practice, I hope you’ll draw from these successful private practice experiences to create a practice that you love.
If you got an email today from a local news station asking to interview you as an expert on camera about one of your specialty areas for a news story, how would you respond? Surprisingly, many therapists let the opportunity to speak on camera for a large audience pass them by because of their own anxieties and insecurities about being on camera.
Landing interviews on local news and talk shows allows thousands of people “get to know you,” hear about your areas of expertise, and become aware of your private practice.
In my experience, the most effective marketing and public relations opportunities for my private practice are the ones I don’t have to pay for, where someone else is featuring me as an expert, where I can reach thousands and thousands of people in one shot with accurate information, and where I can let them know that I am in private practice. Several years ago I decided I wanted to not just accept invitations to interview on TV but to actively seek them out and gain media experience. Over the past few years I’ve become a regular contributor on Utahs #1 women’s lifestyle show KSL TV’s Studio 5, as well as being interviewed frequently for various news stories. Here are a few things I’ve learned in the process to help you land local TV interviews in your area in order to educate your community and to draw potential clients to your private practice.
My motivation for starting my private practice, Wasatch Family Therapy, was very clear. I wanted to create my ideal work environment and I knew that no one else could do that for me.
I felt called to help people heal themselves and their relationships. I knew that I wanted work with therapy clients who valued my services and time, and who were dedicated to working hard to improve their life. I wanted the flexibility to set my own schedule and take time off to be with my children and attend school and sporting events. I wanted to do paperwork that was relevant and helpful for treatment. I wanted to invite other clinicians into my professional space who were gifted therapists, genuine people, and who I enjoyed spending time with. I wanted to work as a social worker part-time and make a full-time income (a lofty goal in a profession where many work full-time and make a part-time income).
I know why I chose to go into private practice but I was curious if other therapists and counselors around the country had similar motivation opening private practice. I recently asked several therapists about their reasons for taking the leap into the business world of owning their own practices and noticed three common themes emerged. I call them the 3 “F”s of private practice: flexibility, freedom, financial opportunity.
If you’re considering going into private practice, it’s always smart to talk to other clinicians who have been there. When I opened my practice years ago, I had very little business experience. Luckily, I did a few things right that allowed me to be profitable (and it didn’t hurt to be married to a CPA). Over time, I learned that I have a knack for marketing and networking that has allowed my practice to continue to grow, even during a recession.
Few private practitioners are armed with small business skills when they venture into private practice. According the U.S. Small Business Administration, around 50% of new businesses will close their doors within 5 years. The realities of making a profit and running a successful private practice can be discouraging and exhausting. If you’re considering opening a practice, I think you’ll enjoy several seasoned practitioners answer the question,”What do you wish you’d know before starting your private practice?
You take good care of you clients but are you taking good care of you? Being a therapist in private practice is incredibly fulfilling and very emotionally draining. While it’s an honor to be trusted with client’s deepest fears, pain, and vulnerabilities, it can take an emotional toll.
Therapists seem to be particularly vulnerable to putting our own needs on the back burner to attend to others. It’s why we’re good at what we do. It’s also why prioritizing self-care is crucial to professional and personal success, and to avoiding burnout.
At times, working with managed care insurance panels in private practice felt like dating a bad boyfriend. I was constantly investing more time and attention than “he” was in the “relationship” and it started to wear me down. I got up the nerve to break it off for good. I’ve never looked back.
I understand that building a practice free of managed care isn’t for every therapist. I am grateful for excellent colleagues who participate on insurance panel because and there is a great need for their services and I frequently refer clients to them. However, if you’re a private practitioner considering building a practice outside of managed care, I share my experience of resigning from managed care to give you the courage to take the leap, and the faith to know that it can work. So here’s my story…
Many private practice therapists don’t have a business plan or think of themselves as a “business owner.” A private practice is a business and successful businesses have a plan to help guide their growth.
Even if you’ve never taken a business course you already know how to write a business plan. Think of your private practice as a “client” in need of a clinical treatment plan. Here are some tips to transform your clinical assessment and treatment planning skills into a private practice business plan so you have a clear path to grow your practice.
Are you a beginning blogger feeling overwhelmed by the thought of coming up with original content to write about on a regular basis? I have some good news for you! Much of what is posted online is not entirely original content. Braden Talbot posted this insightful comment on my post 5 Tips To Overcoming blogophobia.
Once you understand that 99% (if not 100%) of information [posted on blogs] isn’t really new, it’s not so scary.
The new part is your story and your spin and you’d be amazed at how many people are interested to hear it.
Blogging is a great way to talk to potential clients about your private practice services and specialties. You can set up a blog account for free at wordpress.com, blogger.com, and many other blogging sites. Since blogs are search engine friendly and blog posts are easy to share on social media sites they are a great tool for attracting new clients to your therapy practice.
In addition to reaching potential clients, blogging is also an avenue that allows you to provide valuable resources for current clients. In spite of the many business benefits of blogging, many therapists are hesitant to venture into the blogging world. This hesitation or anxiety about blogging is known as “blogophobia.”