Making the decision to open a therapy private practice is a decision that requires a lot of soul searching. Opening a practice requires patience, knowledge, persistence and endurance, not to mention passion. It will take research and planning to make your dream a reality. I encourage people who are seeking this new adventure in their counselling career to take the time to reflect to make sure it is the right decision for you. There are a few things that I recommend you ask yourself before moving forward:
- Are you emotionally ready? Are you emotionally stable at this point to open your own practice? Keep in mind that you will be an entrepreneur, your own boss and you will be self-employed. I always encourage therapy for therapists to deal with their own issues so that transference issues and burnout are avoided as much as possible. Great self care practices to keep yourself healthy while you treat client issues are essential.
- Are you physically ready? Starting a private practice will require extensive time commitments not only in the planning stages but even with maintaining your practice. I suggest giving at least three months to develop and implement a business plan prior to opening. There is a lot involved in the process and keeping a checklist of what’s involved is crucial. I also suggest investing in a few books that will help you develop a business plan. Personally, I like the book “The Essential Skills for Setting Up a Counselling and Psychotherapy Practice” by McMahon, Palmer and Wilding.
- Are you financially ready? Create a financial cost-analysis of what will be financially involved in starting up. This can include (but not limited to) office rent, furniture and supplies as well as liability and general insurance, supervision, CCPA certification and advertising. Make sure you have a back up financial plan via secondary means of income. I recommend going part time in your practice to begin with and work somewhere else to provide consistent financial income.
- Do you have the credentials and experience? People make the leap into private practice at different stages in their counselling career. It is best to have some counselling experience under your belt. Seeking supervision from a psychologist and continuing to take educational courses, workshops and certifications will assist you in developing a tailored knowledge base that coincides with your niche. Networking with other therapists will not only help with referrals but also with building on your knowledge base.
It may be best to write a pro/con list if you decide to take the private practice route. This may help in your decision process. Don’t forget to reflect, process and research. I wish you all the best in your private practice embarkment. Stay tuned for more blog posts on running your private practice.
Andrea Cashman is a private practice counsellor who has founded Holistic Counselling Services for individual clients seeking therapy in Ottawa, ON. She also practices at the Ottawa Hospital as a registered nurse. Feel free to comment below or contact her at [email protected] or visit her website at www.holisticcounsellingservices.ca
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA