15 STEPS To Starting a Canadian Private Practice
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 at:
2. Get liability insurance
Once you’re a certified CCPA member you can get liability insurance through BMS. Learn more at:
3. 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. Start my FREE e-course on How to Start a Canadian Private Practice to learn how to name your private practice.
4. Register your business
Check the rules in your province; all I can say is that in Nova Scotia you need to register your business if it is not your name:
5. 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. Learn more about HST numbers at:
6. 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. Learn more about how to rent Canadian office space at:
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:
8. Get business cards
I use MOO because of their stylish cards. Check it out at:
9. Find a niche
Figure out what you are going to specialize in. Hesitant to choose a niche? Check out this article that can help you decide:
10. Build a website
Beam Local is who built and manages my awesome Fearless Practice website. This Canadian company is awesome because they build professional websites for counsellors, maintain the website, provide unlimited support, and so much more! Plus, their websites are built on WordPress which gives you excellent SEO and design flexibility as your business grows. Try Beam Local and get an amazing deal at:
And click here to learn more about building your Canadian counselling website:
11. 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 use Jane at: www.fearlesspractice.ca/Jane (Canadian) and love how professional and easy it is to use. Plus, you can use the code FEARLESS to try it for one month completely free!
Before choosing your system make sure you are compliant with Canada’s privacy laws: https://vsee.com/blog/hipaa-canada-health-information-privacy/.
12. Develop a paperwork packet that includes consent forms and your business policy.
Create your own or purchase the Canadian Private Practice Paperwork Packet at https://fearlesspracticeshop.ca/products/canadian-private-practice-paperwork. Better yet, use code FEARLESSPP to get it for only $99 plus tax!
13. Decide on your price for your services
Here’s a great article about how to do so:
14. Join Psychology Today
Many potential clients find counsellors on this site (I’ve gotten many from this site!). Check it out at:
15. 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:
and you can see how I advertise it on my fee page here:
Disclaimer: The information provided through 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 Canadian private practice and should not act upon this information without seeking professional consultation.
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. She also blogs for the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. You can read more articles about Canadian counselling and psychotherapy at www.ccpa-accp.ca/blog/.