You might find yourself weighing the pros and cons of starting and operating a private therapy practice. There are a lot of decisions and facets in starting a therapy practice, some you may not even be thinking about. This post will highlight pros and cons of starting and operating a private practice. Our intention is to help you in your decision-making as you explore this exciting opportunity of being a private practice owner.
The Benefits of Running a Private Therapy Practice
To start, let’s review some of the benefits of starting and operating a private therapy practice:
1. You Are the Boss
Who doesn’t want to be their own boss? Being in charge of a company allows you to dictate the who, how, why, where and when. You may have a dream of working with a specific niche of the population with a type of therapy you strongly believe in. As the owner, you can set your practice up exactly as you please, which is a major benefit of having your own private therapy practice.
2. You Choose Who You Work With
As the boss, you get to choose who you work with, both professionally and the clients you see. When you work in someone else’s practice, you have to deal with people they hired, which can be a blessing or a curse. You also have to deal with the owners themselves, which can also be a blessing or a curse. In having your own private practice, you get to build the culture you want with professionals who will strengthen your vision.
3. You Make As Much As You Put In
How much money do you want to make? No seriously, what is your time worth and what do you think your practice should be making each year? As a private practice owner, you get to determine this as well as how to achieve this goal. Money isn’t everything but it certainly can make life a little easier when you have the resources to take care of your family and have a little extra fun in the process.
As a private practice owner, you have the opportunity to eclipse your old salary working for another practitioner, but it will take time. With time, you’ll figure out all sorts of ways you can start generating income beyond your therapy practice if you let the journey run its course.
4. You Feel Pride in Your Accomplishments
Creating a successful business is tough. When you do make it, you’ll have fought through tough battles financially, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to get where you are. It’s so important to celebrate your achievements and visualize them happening before you even start your practice.
WHEN you make it, you will have accomplished something many people never do.
The Challenges of Running a Private Practice
Starting a private therapy practice can be an amazing experience full of fulfillment. But there are also many challenges you will face. Before we jump in on our starting a private practice in counseling checklist, let’s highlight some of those challenges you will face while running a private practice:
1. Your Expenses
Running a business can be expensive. You might pay more in taxes with FICA, you’ll have to plan your own retirement, and you’ll also have to buy your own health insurance. If you hire employees, you’ll have to pay payroll taxes (unless they are contractors). Here are some more expenses you can expect to pay:
- Your own personal insurance
- Business insurance
- Accounting software or an accountant
- Invoicing software
- Website hosting
- Website design and build
- Domain name
- Electronic health record system / patient management system
- HIPAA compliant email address
- HIPAA compliant web forms
- IT support
- Marketing costs
- Lawyer fees
- Incorporation fees
- Tax accountant
- Networking memberships
- Payroll costs and fees
- Permit costs
- Software costs
You can begin to see that there are quite a few costs associated with starting a private practice in counseling.
2. You Need Self-Discipline
With any entrepreneurial adventure, you need self discipline. You are the boss, and you have to manage your own time. Time management, organizational skills, and motivation will be needed to push forward when things seem slow. If you don’t do it, no one else will (unless you pay them to!).
3. You Have More Admin Work
Starting and operating a business requires a lot of paperwork. Starting a therapy business requires even more. From insurance reimbursement forms (if you decide to take insurance), to therapy notes for your clients, you can plan on spending a set amount of time each week filling out paperwork. When you first start, you probably will be doing a lot of this paperwork yourself.
4. You Need a Familiarity with Technology
When you have your own practice, you’ll need to have the software and systems in place to operate smoothly and according to HIPAA guidelines. You will probably need an EHR / practice management software to manage your patients and streamline your practice.
When you work on streamlining your practice, having the right practice forms will be crucial. Fortunately, we’ve created a forms bundle that provides you with all of the essential forms your therapy practice will need including:
- Mental Status Exam
- Counseling Intake Form
- Counseling Treatment Plan
- Biopsychosocial Assessment
- Therapy Progress Notes + Goals
- Comprehensive SOAP Note
- Confidentiality Agreement for Counseling
- Medical Records Release Form
- Patient termination letter
- Therapy Goals Template
- Credit Card Authorization Form
- Superbill Template
You can find our counseling practice bundle here.
5. You Need to Find New Clients
Getting new clients is an important part of starting a private practice in counseling. For many mental health professionals, this process is not second nature. Many therapists try an assortment of strategies, from trying to be an Instagram influencer to spending money advertising. One common way is to build referral networks with other therapists. But referral networks can be hit or miss when it comes to a steady amount of new clients. Simply put, getting new clients is one of the biggest challenges facing therapists.
However, there is a top strategy we’d recommend to get new clients called SEO. You’ll also need to have a quality and strategic website, which is one of the most important steps in building a marketing strategy for therapists.
6. You Might Get Burnt Out
Another challenge of running a private practice in counseling is burnout. After you see your full caseload for the week, you still have many more tasks to do. From filing paperwork to getting new clients, you’ll be spending a lot of time building your practice. Months of this process can cause burnout. It’s important to take care of your own mental health so that you can best help your clients.
7. You Need a Long-Term Investment of Time and Resources
Practices aren’t built overnight. The most successful practices often take years of “figuring things out” and trial and error to find a formula that works. Are you ready to commit to keep building your practice when things look bleak? Your first year as a private practice owner will probably be difficult, but you need to know this going into it.
You’ll need to think long-term regarding:
- The time it takes to build a successful practice
- The money you invest in marketing and other fixed costs
- The mental and emotional energy it’s going to take to be successful
Are you ready to think long-term?
Final Thoughts on the Pros and cons of Starting a Private Practice
I hope this blog has helped you weigh some of the pros and cons of starting a private practice. We only live one life, so taking a calculated risk such as this is a major benefit in our book. TherapyByPro is here to help, our goal is to highlight and help mental health professionals like you! TherapyByPro is an online mental health directory that connects mental health pros with clients in need. If you’re a mental health professional, you can Join our community and add your practice listing here. We have assessments, practice forms, and worksheet templates mental health professionals can use to streamline their practice. View all of our mental health forms, worksheet, and assessments here.