I decided to move across the country to start a Canadian private practice in Halifax, NS with only 1 year of professional counselling experience under my belt, but I was pretty determined and really excited!

In this episode, I am going to talk you through how I set up my private practice in that first year.

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In This Episode

  • Having to stick to a budget and have minimal expenses
  • How I started my private practice
  • The top 3 things I focused on in the first year
  • Supplementing my income

Having to stick to a budget and have minimal expenses

It was really important to me that I found someplace that was affordable. I wanted to put most of the money that I had saved and that I would be making from my private practice, back into my business and create the vision that I had for my Canadian private practice.

Being able to find an affordable bachelor apartment in downtown Halifax was such a huge win for me.

‘For that first week or so I was just sleeping on a yoga mat, in an empty apartment, questioning all of my life’s decisions.’ – Julia Smith

How I started my Canadian private practice

In that first month, I was finding my way and just getting settled into Halifax, but once I had everything figured out, I was ready to start building my private practice.

‘I was really fortunate to have a consultant. That really helped my anxiety level, knowing that somebody had my back and that they had been through starting a private practice and they were going to help me.’ – Julia Smith

I already had office space where I could see clients, but here are a few things that I did to set myself up to start my private practice:

  • Registered my private practice
  • Became certified with CCPA (Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association)
  • Got on an insurance (you can do this through CCPA)
  • Found a Narrative Therapist who could supervise me so that I could be licensed in Nova Scotia
  • Established my niche
  • Built my website
  • Got an HST number
  • Purchased and EMR (Electronic Management Record System) subscription
  • Designed a logo
  • Took professional photos
  • Determined my intake and session rates
  • Secured a business phone number
  • Opened a business bank account
  • Network, blogged, and created a video

To get the exact steps I followed, sign up for my free e-course on How to Start an Online Canadian Private Practice

The top 3 things I focused on in the first year

  1. Blogging
  2. Networking
  3. Creating a video
  1. Blogging

‘I didn’t have a lot of money to put into marketing, to pay for advertisements. And blogging is free, it just takes up your time. And in that first year, I did have more time.’ – Julia Smith

I wanted to market myself as much as possible to get my name out there. So, for me, blogging was really important, I made a commitment to blog every single week.

  1. Networking

After blogging for a while, my consultant really pushed me to network with other Halifax therapists in private practice, as well as other practitioners. This was nerve-wracking but it was a really good benefit to my private practice as I met other therapists in the area and built a community. We all learned about each other and I was able to build a network of people I could refer out to, or could refer to me.

  1. Creating a video

‘I think it’s important to not only have a professional photo, but to also have yourself speaking on your website in a video where people can see you, hear you, and then hopefully feel connected to you. And, choose you to be their therapist because they feel a connection.’ – Julia Smith

This is also a great way to talk about your niche, who you are, who you help, and why you help. Creating this video was expensive, but it was so worth it because I definitely started to get more clients.


Supplementing my income

In that first year, I was seeing a few clients but not enough to feel secure. As I was building my private practice and doing all these things, I got a job for 2 days a week, counselling university students at Dalhousie University.

I felt so lucky, I could live off of this income very frugally, I had posted my video at the end of the summer and I was starting to see a couple more clients in my Canadian private practice. I had completed all my foundational work in building the practice.

But then sh*t hit the fan…

Connect With Me

Resources Mentioned and Useful Links:

Ep 01: Why I Started a Canadian Private Practice

Sign up for my free e-course on How to Start an Online Canadian Private Practice

Learn about Julia’s Canadian private practice

Rate, review, and subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon, and TuneIn.

About Julia

Julia Smith, MEd, RCT, CCC is a registered Counselling Therapist who owns a group private practice in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She is also the owner of Fearless Practice Consulting and hosts the Fearless Practice podcast. Through the Fearless Practice podcast, she provides invaluable insights and practical advice on starting and growing a successful Canadian private practice. Julia’s wealth of knowledge also extends beyond the podcast, as she provides personalized one-on-one consulting to therapists who are feeling burnt out and overwhelmed with their solo or group private practices. With Julia’s expertise, therapists can confidently navigate the complexities of owning a private practice and find work life – balance. 

Julia also has written articles for the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy association. You can learn more at