I’ve had a few people ask me questions about running a private practice as they were contemplating opening their own. Of the counsellors that I’ve spoken to, it was made clear which ones had severe doubts in their abilities and which ones were self-assured and confident with making their entrepreneural move. I do not believe that this is a career choice for the faint of heart. Private practice can be very isolating at times. While the appeal to be your own boss and be creative as you wish to be, there is always the drawback of isolation, stress and uncertainty popping up to make an appearance.
There are many stressors that private practice can bring. There is the stress of economic uncertainty. Building a practice will take time, perhaps years for you to make a decent income. Even once established, there will be ebbs and flows in your practice that you will need to consider and plan for. You may be working in isolation even if you are renting space in an office. You also have to consider working different hours which may include early morning appointments and evening appointments to make client hours available. You also have to consider that you have no cover when you are ill. Great self-care is essential to running your practice, not just physical care but emotional and mental care as well. Seeing a counsellor for your own issues is highly recommended to avoid any countertransference issues. I strongly recommend you have had at least one session as a client to see what it is like from a client’s perspective. Another thing to keep in mind about your practice is the expectation of client cancellations, no shows and drop outs. This is where supervision is beneficial to work on any doubts you have as a counsellor. There can be other stressors as well, for example, competition of other practitioners, marketing stress, adminstrative or environmental stressors etc.,
What stressors do you anticipate in your practice? Reflect on how you can deal with them and what you will need in doing so? Will social support, networking, personal counselling, research, supervision, time management help you with these stressors? Taking the time to reflect on your doubts and anticipated stress will make you feel better prepared to make the transition. I know how hard it can be; however, I think you need to be in a place in your life where you have the strength and stamina to open your business. If you feel your not ready at this current time, it doesn’t mean you will never be. It just means that you need to work on yourself first and there’s nothing wrong with that.
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