Are you interested in starting a private practice counseling business?
You may have spent years working for a hospital or government organization and you’re ready to go out on your own.
There’s a lot that you need to know, such as billing, marketing, and the financial management of your practice.
Not only that, but you’re now competing with dozens of other counselors with their own practices. You need to find ways to get your practice noticed. It’s a big reason why businesses have such a high failure rate in the first five years.
How can you start your practice and make it thrive?
Read on to find out.
1. Build the Foundation of Your Business
The only way to survive in business is to have a plan and a foundation. You have to think of yourself as a business owner now, not just as a counselor.
Too many business owners decide to open their doors for business and believe that people will show up. That may work for a little bit since you have clients that may follow you from your previous place of employment.
Those people are going to fade away and you need to make sure you have enough new clients to fill the gap.
You have three important questions that you need to answer before you do anything else.
- Who do you serve?
- How do you serve them?
- Why would someone go to your private practice as opposed to the others in your area?
Take your time in answering those questions. Do research on your fellow private practitioners. See where the opportunities are.
2. Know What Makes Your Practice Unique?
That third question is probably the most important one. It’s also one that you may struggle with the most. It’s hard to communicate why your counseling practice is a better fit than the others.
You can set yourself apart in a number of ways.
For example, you can set yourself apart by the method of treatment you use with your patients. Most private practice counseling offices use CBT, or Cognitive Behavior Therapy to treat mental health and behavioral issues.
You should also study the trends and emerging modalities of treatment. For example, ABA therapy is one form of treatment that is an alternative to change behavior patterns. Visit here to find out more about it.
You can also get an edge by focusing on one particular audience to work with. You can specialize in counseling children, families, or stressed out executives.
The more you know about your practice and your treatment methods, the more you can begin to set yourself apart.
3. Set Goals for Your Practice
You need to set goals for your practice. The fact is that if you don’t have your financials written down, you have zero understanding of your business.
Write down all of your startup and monthly expenses. You’ll need to factor in things like office equipment, marketing expenses, and furniture.
Since you’re in business for yourself, you’ll need to add in your personal expenses and financial obligations. You want to make sure that you are working with enough clients to meet your financial needs.
This will give you an opportunity to make changes to your pricing structure. You may come up against some resistance if you find that you need to increase your rates.
This is normal for counselors and coaches. They worry about losing clients if they increase their rates. If you are clear in the answers in the first step, you’ll be able to easily overcome those objectives.
4. Get Appropriate Licenses and Set Up Insurance
You have to make your business official by registering it with the secretary of state’s office in your state. You also have to have your board certifications in order to operate legally as a private practice.
Each state and municipality has different laws and regulations to get licensed. It’s best to check with your state.
You also have to set up insurance yourself. More insurance plans cover therapy and you want to make sure that your practice is listed with several insurance companies. You do need patience because it can take months to get set up.
5. Get a Great Location
People are going to travel to you for their counseling appointments. You want to make that process as easy as possible.
Your office should be easy to get to and more importantly, easy to find parking. If it’s a drag for your clients to get to your office, they’ll arrive stressed out. After a while, they won’t be your clients.
6. Plan to Scale Up Your Practice
The thing about being in private practice counseling is that you don’t have a way to grow your practice. There are only so many hours in the day and only so many patients you can see.
In other words, time is money. If you want to expand beyond your maximum income, you need to get creative and scale your practice up.
There are a few ways to do that. You can add services that aren’t dependent on your time, such as online resources that people can purchase.
Another option is to add more counselors to your practice. In this scenario, you can hire counselors as employees to handle more clients. You could also work on a contractor basis, where you provide office and marketing support for a percentage of client fees.
There are countless ways to increase your income, you just have to be creative and have a plan for it.
Private Practice Counseling Takes Courage
Starting private practice counseling isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes knowledge and patience to start a business from nothing and make it grow.
You need to know how to balance books, deal with insurance companies, and marketing principles to start. The key is to keep learning and know that it’s OK to make mistakes when you’re getting started.
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