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Starting a Therapy Practice Do’s and Don’ts

So, you’ve finally decided to take the plunge and open your own practice. Fortunately, there are some guidelines that you can follow in order to avoid repeating the mistakes of those who have come before you. In this article, we guide you through a simple ‘starting a therapy practice do’s and don’ts list’. Read on to learn more.

Starting a Private Practice

As a psychologist or therapist, you’ve engaged in a lot of non-profit training. Most of us found ourselves in this profession due to an interest in helping others – not in becoming filthy rich! What many need to take stock of, however, is the fact that helping people and making money are not mutually exclusive. It’s important that you recognize your own worth as a clinician.

Some Things to Do…

Let’s begin our starting a therapy practice do’s and don’ts list on a positive note: with things you should do.

Do Make a Plan

When it comes to starting a practice, the adage – those who fail to plan, plan to fail – is apt! What do you hope to achieve in opening a practice? And how are you going to achieve your goals? Reflect on your progress by tracking your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). These are personal and may include things such as how much profit you made at the end of the month, or how many of your ideal clients did you see.

Continue to reflect on the sort of practice that you want to develop. For example, will you focus on induvial therapy, couple’s therapy, group therapy, family therapy or a combination of the above? Build a brand for yourself that reflects your vision in every respect.

Do Your Research

It may be worth your while to hire a private practice consultant (i.e. a business coach) to help get your practice off the ground. If this isn’t an option, make sure to do your research – which you’ve already started, given that you’re reading our starting a therapy practice do’s and don’ts list!

Be sure to find the right geographical location for your practice. Insurance is another topic that will require some research: do you know how to process insurance claims? Dealing with health insurance is an art in its own and you can save hours of your time and countless headaches if you hire someone who specializes in it, or else consult with a colleague who can guide you.

Do Identify Your Niche Market and Ideal Client

Failing to find a niche market may result in you getting lost amongst the broad pool of generalists that already exists. Find out who your ideal client is. In your previous work, who did you feel the most energized to help? What type of client would benefit from your approach to therapy? Having a niche market makes you easily recognizable and easy to refer to. If people know exactly who you are, who you help and how you help them you’ll find your practice filling up with clients who are perfectly suited to you.

Do Network and Continuously Build Your Referral Sources

Mental health is a sensitive and private topic for many and people want to work with people that they trust. Networking allows you to connect with professionals around you. It is important to build relationships with these people so that they can trust you.

Starting a Therapy Practice Do's and Don'ts

Attend professional functions, case presentations, and relevant social gatherings. You never know when someone may be looking for a therapist with your skill set. Be open about the service you provide. Keep your business cards on hand and don’t feel embarrassed to spread these widely amongst colleagues and friends.

Some Things Not to Do

Now you know what to do let’s look at some of the things you should avoid in our starting a therapy practice do’s and don’ts list.

Don’t Avoid the Marketing Mindset

Marketing isn’t just for product peddlers. Marketing is what allows your ideal client to find you easily. Firstly, have an online presence that is true to your brand. Social media is a powerful tool and an opportunity that can’t be missed. Other online tools include directories: get yourself listed to make it easier for clients to find you. Offline marketing is also important, get your business cards and flyers in doctors waiting rooms, or take out an ad in the local paper.

Don’t Forget to Build A Website

Your website should tell people who you are, who you help and how you help them. A great website is easy to scan through with your contact details front and center, not hidden at the bottom of the page in the contact us section. Videos are more interesting to potential clients than long paragraphs. Put yourself in the client’s shoes and ensure that your content answers the important questions that might come up in the mind of a prospective client.

Don’t Forget to Establish Boundaries

Even though you want to help everybody all the time it’s important to set boundaries for your sake and for the sake of your practice. Have clear hours of operation and set up a policy for latecomers or no-shows. These topics should be addressed in the first session with your new client; and some choose to write up a formal contract. As paradoxical as it may seem, this sort of formality can be therapeutic for the client: helping them to understand what is expected of them and what the limits of the therapeutic relationship are.

Don’t Get Too Rigid With Your Business Model

When it comes to building a practice that’s both therapeutic and successful, flexibility is key. If your current business model is not working, it’s important that you’re open to change and adaptation.

Do You Have What It Takes?

Opening a private practice is a large undertaking, but if you have a brand and a plan that you feel is important to share with the world, your dream can certainly be made into a reality. Lean on your network, and be sure to ask for advice when you need it. There is no profitable business that didn’t have a few hiccups along the way. Use our starting a therapy practice do’s and don’ts list as a guideline to shape your new successful practice.

About The Author Daniel Sher
 

Hi there, my name is Daniel. I’m a clinical psychologist, registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa. My professional interests as a therapist include long-term psychodynamic work, as well as cognitive-behavioral and mindfulness-based interventions. In my practice, I work as a sex therapist with men who struggle with sexual dysfunction. I also work closely with people who have diabetes and other chronic illnesses. Finally, I have a keen interest in neuropsychology and neuropsychoanalysis. When I’m not practicing, I enjoy writing on the topic of psychology, surfing, hiking and practicing martial arts.

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