Author Archives: Julia Smith

How to choose a niche for your Canadian private practice

Posted by: Julia Smith on October 29, 2020 10:25 am

It can be tempting to advertise as a generalist in private practice. The fear that you won’t get enough clients if you niche (specialize) in one area of counselling can trick you into believing that you must generalize in order to fill up your private practice. If you give in to this scarcity fallacy, you may make decisions about your Canadian private practice that could in fact reduce the number of clients who choose you.

Why It’s Important to Niche

When there are many options, you need to stand out from the crowd. From my experience niching is an excellent way to do this. Though it’s not the only factor, niching showcases your passion and expertise so that your ideal clientele will have an easier time finding and selecting you over other therapists.

How to select a niche in private practice

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What type of cases do you look forward to?
  • What type of cases energize you?
  • What counselling outcomes bring you satisfaction?

I believe that you should go into private practice to do work that you are passionate about and that you find fulfilling. Do not let the fear of not getting enough clients push you into selecting a niche that you don’t like but that you think will get you more clients. Make sure that when you start your private practice you can support yourself financially without any clients so that you will not make decisions based on desperation. If you feel that you are not skilled in the area that you are most passionate about, get more training and find a supervisor that is an expert in that area before advertising.

Types of Niches

Choosing a niche usually involves a:

  • Certain age group
  • Certain problem
  • Certain outcome

A therapeutic approach could also be included in your niche, but from my experience, people choose therapists from the criteria above and are less concerned about your approach. Niches can be very specific or more general. Deciding how specific your niche should be (or if you should have multiple niches) usually depends on how big of a population there is in your town or city. The bigger the city the more specific and focused the niche should be so that you stand out. For example, when I started my private practice in Halifax in 2016, my niche was:

“I help teens who feel weighed down by anxiety and depression build confidence, gain insight, and find happiness.”

This niche fit well for me at the time because I was (and still am) passionate about helping teens. Through previous experiences before starting private practice, I realized that I enjoyed helping teens who were struggling with mental health issues and I loved to see teenagers become confident and happy through therapy with me. I also had experience working for the BC government as a Child and Youth Mental Health Clinician.

However, if I was in a larger city like Toronto, I would have focused my niche even further. Such as:

“I help teens who feel weighed down by depression find happiness”

Or if I was in a small town, I would have added a couple of niches such as:

“I help teens who feel weighed down by depression build confidence and young adults who feel lost find direction”

It can be scary to limit your advertising to one area of counselling. Bur when you niche, more clients will choose you because you’ll stand out as an expert. And don’t fear that niching means you can only counsel a certain population. Just because you niche does not mean that you only have to accept clients who fit your specialization. I have many clients that seek me out who do not fit into my niche(s). They choose me for other reasons. But the main part of my private practice has been built through niching.

Until next time,

Julia

About Julia

Julia Smith, MEd, RCT, CCC, is the owner of Fearless Practice. She specializes in consulting with Canadian counsellors and therapists who want support and guidance with starting an online private practice. She also owns a virtual private practice in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Optimizing Psychology Today in Canada

Posted by: Julia Smith on October 5, 2020 4:46 pm

Click here to get your FREE Online Private Practice Checklist

Deciding how to market your Canadian private practice can be a challenge. With so many options that cost time and money, it’s important to be wise. Having tried many different ways to market my private practice, I’ve found that the directory, Psychology Today Canada, has consistently been one of the main ways I get clients. Plus, it only costs $34.95 CAD (tax included) per month! In this article I will show you what to focus on when creating your Psychology Today Canada profile so that you can optimize the service to grow your Canadian private practice.

What to Focus On in Your Psychology Today Canada Profile

Once purchasing your subscription to Psychology Today Canada, you’ll notice that there are sections where you can fill out information about yourself and your private practice.

Personal Statement

  • Speak to your ideal client’s reasons for seeking counselling and the outcomes they want from counselling. People searching for counselling are trying to find a therapist that can help them with what they are struggling with. Talk about those struggles and how you can help people feel better.
  • Don’t focus your statement solely on your qualifications. People want a counsellor that understands what they’re going through as well as someone that can help them. Yes, they want to know that you’re qualified but your personal statement should mainly speak to what your ideal client is experiencing and how you can help them.

Be clear with your prices

Profile Photo

  • Smile. Smiling portrays that you are kind, welcoming, and happy.
  • Have good lighting. Make sure that your photo is bright and that potential clients can see your happy face.
  • Quality. Use a professional photographer to make sure your photo is high resolution and has excellent quality. 
  • Focus on your face. Make sure that the photo focuses on your face. Potential clients want to see the person they will be speaking to so minimize the background in your photo.  

Other Photos

  • Add photos of you counselling someone. People will be curious about what it would be like to have a counselling session with you. So, take some photos with a fake client (a friend or family member) and add them as extra photos on your profile.

Video

  • Just like with the personal statement, speak to what the potential client is struggling with, how you help, and how they will feel once therapy is done.
  • Speak slowly and smile as you talk. This will portray a happy and calm demeanour.

Extra Tips

  • Link to the website button to your booking page. If a potential client has read your personal statement, they do not need to be directed to your home page of your website as they already know who you are and what you do. Instead link the website button to your online booking page so that they can easily book their first appointment.  
  • Target your listing. Make sure to not only target your listing to your area but also two other areas close by. With Psychology Today Canada, you can add two extra targets for free!

Until next time,

Julia

Get MORE Canadian private practice help at:  www.fearlesspractice.ca!

About Julia

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 HERE!

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




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

5 Steps to Starting an Online Canadian Private Practice

Posted by: Julia Smith on March 13, 2020 11:51 am

Note: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. 

Starting an online Canadian private practice can be a great option for Canadian counsellors who don’t want to spend money on renting an office. It also allows you to counsel clients from the comfort of your home (or when travelling J). There are many considerations when starting an online counselling business or even adding it to your existing Canadian private practice. In addition to the article: 15 Steps to Starting a Canadian Private practice, the next five steps will help you in opening your online Canadian private practice!

  1. Liability Insurance

One of the main questions Canadians have when starting an online counselling business is if you can counsel clients who live outside of Canada. Though BMS CCPA insurance covers e-services worldwide, all claims must be brought forward in Canada. This means that if a client from outside Canada files a complaint in a different country, BMS will not cover you! Since you have no control where international clients file complaints… it may be wise to only offer e-services to people living in Canada. What kinds of measures can practitioners take to ensure that they are properly marketing their services exclusively to Canadians?

  1. HST Rates

If you are making over $30 000 you will have to charge the sales tax that is required in the client’s province. That means that if you live in Toronto and have an online client that lives in Halifax., you will have to charge Nova Scotia’s 15% HST and not  Ontario’s 13% HST rate. If you have clients that are not Canadian citizens and live outside of Canada, you cannot charge sales tax. Click here for more information about sales tax in Canada. Didn’t you just advise in the previous paragraph to only counsel Canadian clients? A bit confusing… Also, what happens in the case of Canadians who are temporarily residing in other countries? Ex-pats? Snowbirds?

  1. Build a website

Having an awesome website with amazing SEO (search engine optimization) is VERY, VERY, VERY important for an online Canadian counselling business. Your website will be one of the main ways people find you. So, you will want to invest in having a beautiful website that also appears in internet searches. Check out Brighter Vision and Beam Local to get help with creating your website 🙂

To learn more about SEO and why it is so important, read this article: https://www.fearlesspractice.com/website

  1. EMR

It is very important that you understand Canadian’s privacy laws when it comes to online counselling. Video counselling sessions should be encrypted and the content of the video should never be recorded or stored anywhere to make sure that it is secure. Canadian Based EMR (Electronic Medical Records), Jane or OWL include secure video sessions. Ideally, you want to be using an EMR that includes video counselling as it is easier to schedule clients, send appointment reminders, and log on to the online counselling session all from one platform. I recommend using a Canadian EMR like Jane or OWL , especially if you live in British Columbia or Nova Scotia (where you have to have a Canadian EMR) as these platforms follow Canadian privacy laws.

  1. Psychology Today

Ideally, you will have a Psychology Today profile for your online services in all Canadian/US cities. But that can get very expensive! So instead, in your account, you will see the “Edit Profile” icon. Select that and then from the drop-down menu select “Target Your Listing”. You can then choose two more locations where your profile will be advertised for free!

About Julia
Julia Smith, MEd, RCT-C, CCC, is a Canadian private practice consultant who specializes in helping Canadian counsellors and therapists start private practice. She also owns a private practice in Halifax, Nova Scotia where she helps depressed teens build confidence, find happiness, and gain insight.
Click here to get more help with building your Canadian private practice!



*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Sliding Scale Fee in a Canadian Private Practice

Posted by: Julia Smith on January 29, 2020 12:31 pm

There are many reasons why Canadian counsellors opt for a sliding scale fee in private practice. Some counsellors may include a sliding scale because they:

  1. want to offer therapy to those who cannot afford their full fee
  2. want to have a full caseload of clients
  3. are not confident in their session fee price
  4. all or some of the above

Are Sliding Scale Fees Worth It?
Having a sliding scale can solve the above issues but may also create more! If anything, having a sliding scale opens the door for negotiation on your session fee price. That means more administration work of going back and forth trying to negotiate a session price for each client! You also risk not getting your ideal clientele (people who will pay your full fee). When you advertise that you have a sliding scale, people who are looking for a deal will be drawn to your practice. And those that pay the full fee may resent that they are not getting a deal. Sliding scale fees can cause so much hassle and potential harm to your business that I believe they are not worth !

Solution

Offering affordable counselling:
Instead of having a sliding scale … sign up for Open Path Collective. It is free for you to join and allows you to advertise a discounted price for counselling. You can decide how many sessions a month you want to have at the discounted rate and then once full, you can post on Open Path that you are full at your discounted rate. When a potential client inquires about a sliding scale you can just refer them to Open Path. No negation on your counselling fee price needed.

Wanting a Full Case Load:
First and foremost, don’t start a private practice until you have AT LEAST three months of savings and/or have another job to support yourself! It can be very easy to lower your rate and have a sliding scale out of worry that you will not be able to pay your bills. There are many ways to build your private practice caseload that does not include lowering your session fee. One tip is to offer a free 15 minute phone or in-person consultation where you can showcase your value to potential clients.

Not Confident in Your Price:
I get it. The ‘imposter syndrome’ is difficult to deal with. It makes us think we are not worthy. It makes us forget that we have graduate degrees in counselling, experience, and counselling skills that have helped people overcome issues. You are worthy of a fee that reflects that. Click here to learn more about how to set your fee!

Until next time,

Julia

About Julia
Julia Smith, MEd, RCT-C, CCC, is a Canadian private practice consultant who specializes in helping Canadian counsellors and therapists start private practice. She also owns a private practice in Halifax, Nova Scotia where she helps depressed teens build confidence, find happiness, and gain insight.
Click here to get more help with building your Canadian private practice!

 




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

How to Store Client Records in a Canadian Private Practice

Posted by: Julia Smith on November 28, 2019 9:31 am

Keeping client’s notes and personal information secure is a very important task that all Canadian counsellors must do. There are two main ways that Canadian counsellors store their client records:

  1. File Cabinet
    Many Canadian therapists, like myself, started their careers with writing paper-based notes and then storing the notes in a locked file cabinet. In private practice, this can be an affordable way to keep client records. However, as your caseload grows you will need more and more space to store the records! Plus, if you do not have your own office space yet or commute between offices… it can become a very big hassle to store paper-based records.
  1. Electronically
    Since starting my Canadian private practice, I have been using Electronic Medical Record systems, otherwise known as an EMR. Yes, it does cost money… but it is soooooo worth it! By using an EMR you can easily store client records securely on an Internet server. By storing client records online, you can easily access your notes at any location! Plus most EMR’s include other services in their packages that help to grow your Canadian private practice!

Privacy Laws in Canada for Storing Electronic Records

As Canadian counsellors, we have to follow the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) (a federal law) as well as any provincial Personal Information Acts. The main point in PIPEDA for Canadian Therapists is to make sure that you are storing electronic records correctly. Electronic records are stored on Internet servers that can be located anywhere in the world (depending on what EMR you are using).

Since some provinces have some type of provincial Personal Information Act, regulations can be different per province. This means that currently every province (except British Columbia and Nova Scotia) can store their records on US or Canadian servers. This is a good thing as it gives Canadian private practice owners more options when choosing an EMR (you can choose a US or Canadian EMR). Unfortunately, British Columbia and Nova Scotia MUST store their records on Canadian Internet servers (you can only choose Canadian EMRs).

For more information you can read: https://vsee.com/blog/hipaa-canada-health-information-privacy/

EMR Options

There are many EMRs that you can choose from. I recommend that you choose an EMR that includes:

  • Online booking: allows clients to easily book their sessions online without having to call to schedule a session. This feature has helped me build my caseload, as many people would prefer to book online rather than call. Plus, if you do not have online booking and a potential client calls to book an appointment and gets a voicemail… they may continue to search for a counsellor that they can get an appointment with right away.
  • Credit card technology (such as Stripe): being able to charge clients for sessions through your EMR and have their credit card information securely stored through the system, saves you money! It has been very useful for me to have client’s credit card information saved (through Stripe). Especially when a client does not show up for their appointment and I have to charge them. It is also useful if someone else is paying for the counselling sessions but is not attending them (such as a parent paying for their teen’s counselling).
  • Secure online video counselling technology: it can be useful to have the option to provide online counselling. I have found it helpful with client’s that have moved away but still want to have sessions with me.

Canadian EMR Options:

Jane (hyperlink to www.fearlesspractice.ca/Jane)

$74 CAD per month (plus provincial tax)

I LOVE and use Jane for my own private practice! Its platform is easy to use plus it provides you with online video counselling, Stripe, and online client booking! Jane also has an amazing support team 🙂 Let Jane know that Fearless Practice sent you.

Click here to try Jane  (hyperlink to www.fearlesspractice.ca/Jane)

OWL Practice 

$100 CAD per month (plus provincial tax)

OWL Practice is an awesome Canadian EMR that includes Stripe, online client booking, and video counselling if you choose their Premium Video EMR.

Click here to save 50% off your first moth with PROMO Code: FEARLESS

Remember to:
* make sure you have some type of cyber insurance (usually offered as an addition when purchasing private practice insurance)
*check with your organization/regulator to make sure that you are following their requirements for storing client records

About Julia
Julia Smith, MEd, RCT-C, CCC, is a Canadian private practice consultant who specializes in helping Canadian counsellors and therapists start private practice. She also owns a private practice in Halifax, Nova Scotia where she helps depressed teens build confidence, find happiness, and gain insight.
Click here to get more help with building your Canadian private practice!



*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

How to Rent a Canadian Counselling Office

Posted by: Julia Smith on November 1, 2019 10:07 am

One of the first things to do when starting a Canadian Private Practice is to find an office space to rent. Renting (or buying) your own office is ideal but for most Canadian counsellors, it is too expensive when beginning private practice.  Luckily, there are many professionals and clinics looking to rent out their offices when they are not using them! Here are two factors to consider in your search for the perfect space:

Location
When searching for office space it is important to consider where it will be located. The main thing to remember is that clients will travel to see a good therapist. However, the more convenient your office space is located… the better.

Many therapists feel that if there is a location with lots of counsellors that they should stay away from that area and find a location that doesn’t have any therapists. But usually, if an area has lots of counsellors, it means that there are lots of people willing to pay for therapy in that area! All of the office spaces that I have rented have been in a city where there are many therapists located. What I have found is that people are more willing to travel to a city to see a therapist than travel from a city to a rural counselling office.

Other things to consider:

Parking
One of the most important considerations is parking! In my first office, there was no parking and clients constantly complained about how difficult it was to find a parking space. This also meant that many clients were late for appointments as it took a long time for them to find parking. So, when searching for an office space… make sure there is parking available!!!!

Air Conditioning
In most provinces, spring/summer (and sometimes fall!) can get VERY HOT! Make sure that the office space you rent from has air conditioning. The last thing you want is to be counselling a client in July when it is 30 degrees Celsius! Clients will appreciate the cool office and the cool air will help you stay focused.

Accessibility
If you want to have the option to counsel all populations it is important to make sure that your office space is wheel chair accessible. Being accessible can also be helpful for clients who are injured (i.e. broken leg). The last thing you want are clients cancelling appointments because your office is not accessible.

Counselling At Your House and/or Online Therapy
Renting an office space will not be an issue if you want to build a private practice at your home or online. There are many legal and ethical considerations for these types of private practices so be sure to check with CCPA and your insurance provider before developing your Canadian private practice.

Starting a Canadian private practice at home or online will save you money but you also might lose clients who only want in-person therapy. I offer both online and in-person counselling and also find it healthy to have an office space that is separate from my personal space.

Rent Price
The price to rent an office depends on what city, province, or town you are located in.  You do not want to be ‘house poor’ when renting space so make sure that you rent is no more than 20% of your income. The three ways that most Canadian offices rent out space are either:

  1. Rent per hour: When a practitioner is not using their office at certain times of the day/night and is looking to rent their office when they are not there.
  2. Rent per day: When a practitioner is not using their office on certain days and is looking to rent their office on those days.
  3. Percentage: Instead of paying rent, a practitioner will take a percentage of your counselling fee. This can be useful at the beginning because you will not have to worry about paying rent. BUT as your business grows… more and more of your money will go towards the practitioner/clinic. For example, if you charge $100 per session and the practitioner takes 30%… every time you see a client you will be paying the practitioner/clinic $30… so the more clients you see… the more money the practitioner/clinic will take. Whereas, if you have a set rental fee, you have the ability to make a lot more money in the long run! The busier your Canadian private practice becomes, the more money YOU will make. Plus, when you raise your prices it will not affect how much rent you are paying.

How to find a space:
The best way to find office space is to start sending out emails to other private practice counsellors in your area and/or health clinics (online advertising services like Kijiji.ca can also be helpful). When starting off, it can be best to just rent a day or couple evenings per week as you build your cliental. A simple sample email could look like:

Hi,

My name is Julia and I am a counsellor that is starting a private practice. I am looking to rent office space and am curious if there are any times during the week or on the weekend when you are not using your office?

Thank you,

Julia

Depending on where you rent, you can then choose to rent more time at the place you are renting from OR find another office space that meets your needs. Start small and grow big!

Happy searching,
Julia

About Julia
Julia Smith, MEd, RCT-C, CCC, is a Canadian private practice consultant who specializes in helping Canadian counsellors and therapists start private practice. She also owns a private practice in Halifax, Nova Scotia where she helps depressed teens build confidence, find happiness, and gain insight.
Click here to get more help with building your Canadian private practice!



*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

How to Build Your Canadian Private Practice Website

Posted by: Julia Smith on August 21, 2019 2:47 pm
Note: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. 

Creating a private practice website should be your priority when starting a Canadian private practice! It’s important because most people find their therapist through the internet nowadays. There are so many options when choosing how to build your private practice website. You could build it yourself from scratch, create one through a website builder like Wix or Square Space, or hire a company! The two most important things that you need to consider when building a Canadian website are:

  1.   SEO (search engine optimization) – SEO is fancy tech coding for your website that helps it rank high on internet searches so that people can easily find your website.
  2.   Flexibility – You want to make sure that you have lots of options when developing your website so that when your private practice grows… your website can grow with it!

Because of these two considerations, I highly recommend choosing WordPress to build your Canadian Private Practice website. WordPress websites have AMAZING SEO and unlimited options for creating your website! With website builders you are confined to a template and the SEO is restricted.

Plus, if you choose a website builder, all of your content is stored on their servers, so if you ever decide to switch to another company or take full control of your website… you will have to start from scratch and will lose all your content and SEO that you’ve built! It’s best just to start with WordPress where you can easily switch from templates to having full control of your website.

Recommended Options for Building Your Own Canadian Private Practice Website:

Below are my suggestions on what companies to work with when building your Canadian private practice website. Most of the companies I am suggesting include a domain web address (ie. www.fearlesspractice.com). BUT, for myself, I like to purchase my domains outside of the companies that I work with so that I own them separately. I purchase my domains from I Want My Name as I find it easy to purchase from them and to revenue each year.

WordPress Website Options:

Level 1: WordPress.org ($5.35 CAD per month for hosting)

This option is great for Canadian counsellors who are tech-savvy and have a very tight budget! WordPress.org is hosted on your own server that you purchase through a hosting company. This means that you own your website completely. I recommend Bluehost. Once you have your host you can choose from free themes to help build your website! The downside is that you will solely be in charge of updates, security, plugins, and design which can take up A LOT of your time.

Click here to purchase Bluehost. Click here to learn more about WordPress.org.

Level 2: WordPress.com ($10 CAD per month for their premium plan)

This option is great for Canadian therapists who are NOT tech-savvy and have a very tight budget. WordPress.com will host your WordPress website and provide you with security for your website. You can choose from VERY cheap monthly plans and the best part is, as your Canadian private practice grows and you want more flexibility with your site… you can switch to WordPress.org! The downside is that if you use WordPress.com you will not have full control of your website and you will be limited to what you can create on your website. Plus you still will have to design your website solely by yourself which again can take up A LOT of time.

Click here to build a wordpress.com website! Also, here is a great article that reviews the differences of wordpress.com and wordpress.org.

Level 3: Brighter Vision ($100 (USD)/ $130 (CAD) start-up fee and then$59 (USD)/ $77(CAD) per month)

Brighter Vision is what I use for my private practice. With Brighter Vision you can choose from WordPress templates that have been specifically designed for counsellors! Plus you get free counselling content, amazing SEO, and it’s mobile responsive! Instead of putting hours and hours into designing your website… they do it for you! You also get unlimited support so if you want any changes made… they will do it! Brighter Vision freed up my time so that I could focus on building my private practice rather than building a website.

Click here to get one month free!

Level 4: Beam Local ($1995 CAD to build the website then $79 CAD per month)

I used Beam Local when I created my consulting website because they offer custom designed WordPress websites! I wanted the freedom to design my website instead of just using a WordPress template. Templates can get frustrating when you want to add personal touches to your private practice website. With Beam Local, you can start with one of their stylish templates and then the team will create animated features and design to meet your website needs! They also offer unlimited support, mobile responsive design, and SEO!

Click here to get 2 months free!

Happy building!

Julia

About Julia
Julia Smith, MEd, RCT-C, CCC, is a Canadian private practice consultant who specializes in helping Canadian counsellors and therapists start private practice. She also owns a private practice in Halifax, Nova Scotia where she helps depressed teens build confidence, find happiness, and gain insight.

Click here to get more help with building your Canadian private practice!




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

15 STEPS TO STARTING A CANADIAN COUNSELLING PRIVATE PRACTICE

Posted by: Julia Smith on August 24, 2017 12:31 pm

Note: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Click here to get your FREE Online Private Practice Checklist

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!

15 STEPS
Note: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

  1. 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/

  1. 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/

  1. 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. Check out this great article that can help you decide:

http://www.practiceofthepractice.com/name-a-private-practice-step-by-step/

  1. Register your business

Check the rules in your province; all I can say is that in Nova Scotia you need to register your business.  http://novascotia.ca/sns/access/business/ready-register-business.asp

  1. 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.

  1. 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

  1. Get business cards

I use MOO because of their stylish cards. Check it out at: www.fearlesspractice.com/businesscards

  1. Find a niche

Figure out what you are going to specialize in. Hesitant to choose a niche? Read this https://abundancepracticebuilding.com/niche/busting-niche-hesitations/

And then click here to figure out what you’ll specialize in: http://practiceoftherapy.com/creating-niche-counseling-private-practice/

  1. Build a website

I use and LOVE Brighter Vision! They specialize in creating counselling websites  and offer unlimited support, an email address, AND SEO. Check out my website at: https://insightmentalhealth.ca and if you want to try Brighter Vision out you can get ONE MONTH FREE! at https://www.brightervision.com/try/smith/

  1. Figure out how you’re going to store client records

The are many awesome online management systems that offer secure online notes and scheduling. I also keep some parts of client’s files in a locked file cabinet.

Check out Simple Practice at: www.fearlesspractice.ca/Jane or OWL at: www.fearlesspractice.com/OWL (Canadian). Before choosing your system make sure you are compliant with Canada’s privacy laws: https://vsee.com/blog/hipaa-canada-health-information-privacy/.

  1. Develop a paperwork packet that includes consent forms and your business policy.Learn how to create your own or purchase a premade (US) paperwork packet at http://www.practiceofthepractice.com/starting-paperwork-right-private-practice/
  1. 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

  1. 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

  1. 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.com/help

For More Information Please go to www.fearlesspractice.ca

About Julia

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