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It can overwhelming to start a private practice! So many things to consider like website, insurance, business cards, paperwork, finding an office space… ugh! Having started a private practice last year in Halifax, I get how stressful it can be! So, to help all you fellow Canadian counsellor entrepreneurs, I came up with a list of 15 steps that will help you start your private practice. Hopefully, this list will make it a lot more easier for you to begin! Enjoy!
- Get certified/ licensed
First things first: become a Certified Canadian Counsellor, this will allow you to get liability insurance. You’ll also be able to sign up with a few insurance companies whose members may get reimbursed for their counselling sessions. Ideally, also get licensed so that your can sign up for A LOT more insurance companies that potential clients might have benefits with. Right now Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia are the only provinces where you can become licensed. To learn more: https://www.ccpa-accp.ca/profession/regulation-across-canada/
- Get liability insurance
Once you’re a certified CCPA member you can get liability insurance through BMS. Click here to learn more https://www.ccpa-accp.ca/membership/insurance/insurance-details/
- Name your private practice
Naming your practice after yourself can seem like a simple solution BUT if you ever want to hire other counsellors or sell your business it can become A LOT trickier. Start my FREE e-course on How To Start a Canadian Private Practice to learn how to name your private practice.
- Register your business
Check the rules in your province; all I can say is that in Nova Scotia you need to register your business.
- Get an HST # for your business
Since we are not regulated in five provinces (yet) we have to charge HST for anything over $30 000. I recommend you speak with an accountant to decide when you get your HST# and when you should start charging.
- Find office space
Start off small. Speak to other health practitioners (naturopaths, massage therapists, other counsellors etc.) to see if you can rent a room from them for a day or for a couple hours a week as you build your client base.
7. Get an office phone number
I use Grasshopper, which has cheap rates and allows me to use my personal phone. Check them out at: www.fearlesspractice.com/phone
- Get business cards
I use MOO because of their stylish cards. Check it out at: www.fearlesspractice.com/businesscards
- Find a niche
Figure out what you are going to specialize in. Hesitant to choose a niche? Check out this article that can help you decide:
- Build a website
Beam Local is who built and manages my awesome Fearless Practice website. This Canadian company is awesome because they build professional websites for counsellors, maintain the website, provide unlimited support, and so much more! Plus, their websites are built on WordPress which gives you excellent SEO and design flexibility as your business grows.
Try Beam Local and get an amazing deal at: https://www.beamlocal.com/fearlesspractice/
11. Figure out how you’re going to store client records
I use the Canadian EMR Jane App at: www.fearlesspractice.ca/Jane and love how professional and easy it is to use. Plus, you can use the code FEARLESS to try it for one month completely free!
Before choosing your system make sure you are compliant with Canada’s privacy laws: https://vsee.com/blog/hipaa-canada-health-information-privacy/.
12. Develop a paperwork packet that includes consent forms and your business policy. Create your own or purchase the Canadian Private Practice Paperwork Packet at https://www.fearlesspractice.ca/fearless-practice-products/. Better yet, use code FEARLESSPP to get it for only $99 plus tax!
13. Decide on your price for your services
Here’s a great article about how to do so https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/private-practice-owners-how-set-session-fees-your-clients-adams
14. Join Psychology Today
Many potential clients find counsellors on this site (I’ve gotten many from this site!). Check it out at: https://www.psychologytoday.com
15. Join Open Path Collective
Give back by offering a couple of slots for clients that cannot afford your full fee. I have found that it gets very complicated and annoying negotiating a sliding scale with clients. This site takes out the bargaining. You have your full fee or your Open Path fee PLUS it’s free to join.
Here’s the link: https://www.fearlesspractice.ca/openpath
and you can see how I advertise it on my fee page here: https://insightmentalhealth.ca/rates-insurance/
Get MORE Canadian private practice help at: www.fearlesspractice.ca
Julia Smith, MEd, RCT, CCC, is the owner of Fearless Practice. She specializes in consulting with Canadian counsellors and therapists who want to start a private practice. She also owns a private practice in Halifax, Nova Scotia where she helps teenagers and adults who want to be confident and happy but are feeling weighed down by anxiety, stress, and depression.
Learn more about her consulting services at www.fearlesspractice.ca!
Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. It is not clinical or consulting advice. E-subscribers and website visitors are receiving general advertising and information about starting a private practice and should not act upon this information without seeking professional consultation.
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA