Marlee Rubel: Building an Online Private Practice in Toronto | Ep 111

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Marlee Rubel (she/her) is a Registered Psychotherapist offering clinical consultation, supervision, trainings, and program development to individuals, hospitals and various agencies within Toronto. Operating from a social justice oriented and trauma-informed lens, she specializes in complex trauma, queer experience, and relationship therapy in her clinical practice. She approaches her work with warmth, humour, and an ongoing commitment to skillfulness and ease. She is the Clinical Director of Soft Landings Psychotherapy.

Learn more about Marlee on her website, LinkedIn profile, and practice website

In This Episode

  • How Marlee started her private practice 
  • Supporting the not-for-profit sector with consulting 
  • Owning a virtual practice 
  • Marlee’s tips for listeners

How Marlee started her private practice 

After completing her counselling degree, Marlee started working in a hospital as well as  working part-time in a group private practice. 

‘I was doing both of those, both part-time in that first year after my masters and really I appreciated that balance; I got so much out of working with other clinicians in the hospital, but then I got so much freedom and independence in private practice, so I think it was healthy for me to have one foot in each world at that time of my career.’ – Marlee Rubel 

Marlee only worked in the hospital for a year before changing to work in an addiction treatment program with a great team, but it was tough and challenging work to do. 

‘I then looked at the next chunk of my life and thought, “Okay, what do I want to change about my work to make this all more sustainable?” And then eventually I went full-time into private work on my own, so that was a big transition then.’ – Marlee Rubel 

When Marlee was working in the addiction program and before in the hospital, she found that most people she worked with were burned out, and she knew that for her career that she wanted to do something different so that she could continue to provide care while also caring for herself. 

Supporting the not-for-profit sector with consulting 

‘There’s a lot of guilt that sits on the shoulders of younger or newer therapists right now; [they’re] stuck in this stuck position in these entry level jobs and they kind of know, “I might not be able to stay here”, or, “I can’t do this” … There’s so much pressure to make systems work right now which is obviously coming from a place of wanting to support our clients, and show up and stay, but I think it is a really important piece to look at who’s shouldering the responsibility for that.’ – Marlee Rubel 

One of the aspects of Marlee’s work is that she supports and helps counsellors working in the not-for-profit sector to not get burned out. Since she’s had experience in the field, she can give important advice. 

Counsellors and therapists know how strained the mental health system is, and so many workers get burned out so easily since the need is so great but the system isn’t designed with catches to support mental health practitioners when the strain inevitably gets too much. To keep the system going without therapists getting constantly burned out, there needs to be additional support, and that is something Marlee provides. 

‘Helping therapists to create an exit-plan so that they can do the work now, knowing that in three to five years [they] have a plan to get out of this. That can be really helpful to just stay present in the situation, and to enjoy it while it lasts!’ – Julia Smith 

Owning a virtual practice 

Marlee hasn’t had many clients be upset or leave the practice due to it being a virtual business. In many ways, the virtual therapy offers additional support, such as: 

  • Accessing therapy when they are ill at home 
  • Attending a session if a child is at home sick 
  • Not having to pay for gas or travel expenses 
  • If a client is dealing with anxiety about leaving their home 

‘I mean, it’s really novel that a lot of folks can still get support without leaving their house and for reasons connected to their mental health as well … Wow, I would never have imagined that 10 years ago.’ – Marlee Rubel 

After some time, Marlee decided to develop her Canadian private practice into a group practice by listing her business on job platforms and hiring new clinicians. 

Since Marlee had some experience working previously in group private practices, she knew both what she wanted (a sense of community and professional respect and support amongst staff), and what she didn’t want (for burnt out to be rampant or the expected norm) for her future group practice.

Marlee’s tips for listeners  

Don’t operate from a scarcity mindset. The need for mental health is increasing, and there will always be people that require and seek help. So, know that your skills and your work will always be needed, you just need to show up, be authentic, and build the foundation of your business on your mission and values. 

Additionally, network! Build up your network as soon as you can. It is a relatively simple but highly effective way to develop your practice, reach out to other professionals, and create lifetime sources of referrals. So, don’t be afraid to connect with other therapists. Build a wonderful community of like-minded professionals to be supported by, and to support in turn. 

Connect With Me

Resources Mentioned and Useful Links:

Ep 110: What to Consider when Setting Your Private Practice Rates | EP 110

Learn more about the tools and deals that I love and use for my Canadian private practice

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

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Learn more about Marlee on her website, LinkedIn profile, and practice website 

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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