Michelle Ham: Joining a Collective to Build a Successful Practice | Ep 123

Many therapists may feel daunted by the idea of returning to school to get their masters or a PhD, especially after they have settled into their adult lives. However, it truly is never too late! 

If you have a desire to take your Canadian private practice to the next level, or you feel frustrated working on someone else’s schedule, and you desire more professional autonomy, taking a step forward with additional training may be very helpful to you. 

In this podcast episode, I chat with Michelle who did just that. Michelle felt a desire to lead her own way forward, and to manage her own work, and decided to go back to school, become a therapist, and has now opened her own private practice. Listen in to learn more!

Jane is an all-in-one health and wellness practice management platform designed to be helpful to you, no matter how or where you practice. Available online and on any device, Jane offers branded online booking, beautiful scheduling, insurance management, customizable charting, online intake forms, patient reminders, integrated payment processing, online appointments (telehealth) and more! Use the code FEARLESS at signup to receive your first month completely free!


Michelle Ham, C.C.C., is a compassionate and dedicated psychotherapist based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Family Social Sciences and a Master’s in Counselling Psychology, Michelle brings over a decade of experience in social work to her practice. She is committed to creating a safe and inclusive space where individuals and couples can explore their unique strengths and needs. Michelle’s therapeutic approach is rooted in a holistic, integrative, and person-centered framework, allowing her clients to collaboratively navigate their pathway to change. Through evidence-based modalities such as Internal Family Systems, somatic-based work, narrative therapy, EMDR, and mindfulness, Michelle provides personalized therapy sessions that empower her clients to find healing, understanding, and growth.

Learn more about Michelle on her website, Instagram account, and Psychology Today profile

In This Episode

  • Michelle’s journey into psychotherapy 
  • Michelle’s steps into private practice 
  • The lessons learned thus far
  • Marketing a private practice 
  • Michelle’s advice for new therapists or practice owners

Michelle’s journey into psychotherapy 

Michelle graduated with an undergraduate degree in family social sciences in 2008. She then started working in the social work world, holding various different positions.

‘I was able to work with an agency serving indigenous communities throughout Manitoba … as well as charitable organizations, and I was really feeling the pull to stay in this field but in a different capacity, one that may lend itself more to a work-life balance.’ – Michelle Ham

Following this desire to have more autonomy over her time, Michelle returned to school in 2021. She took her masters in counselling psychology online so that she could manage her course work, while continuing with her job, and being a mom. Now, Michelle has returned to the field, but in the capacity that she had wanted to be in! 

Michelle’s steps into private practice 

Once Michelle graduated, she opened up a sole-proprietorship for her own private practice, and she rents office space in a local collective. The office space is shared with other therapists, and Michelle is able to reap the benefits of an extensive referral network through her collective’s director, as well as enjoying the professional company of others while scheduling and working her own hours. 

‘I pay a flat rental fee each month, and that includes access to our own Jane platform, and the office space … And then the rest of the earnings are income for my private practice.’ – Michelle Ham

Going forward, Michelle would one day like to have her own collective so that she has more say over the way things are run, set up, and structured. But she knows that day will come, and so is therefore satisfied with continuing as she currently is!

The lessons learned thus far 

‘If I could find a phrase to really describe what this process has been like, it would be, “A lot of trial and error!” Having worked in agencies and organizations for 12+ years before this, I knew I was ready for a shift.’ – Michelle Ham 

Even though there has been so much change and trial and error moments, as Michelle explains, she also says that she enjoys having the chance to set her own hours, set her own schedule, and to see the clients that she wants to. 

After spending more than a decade working within someone else’s structure, it can feel freeing and relieving to work within your own. 

Marketing a private practice 

Even though Michelle’s only been in private practice for a few years, her caseload is already filling up. She credits this partially to the well-connectedness of the collective, which networks with the local community. This allows for Michelle and others that are a part of the collective to work with clients that come from their director’s referral network. 

Additionally, when Michelle was still a student, she was intentional about working on her social media platform to slowly and organically begin growing an online presence. 

‘Just to share little tidbits about therapy and my approach to potential clients online, not only to just offer them some insights … But also to ideally invite them to come into my therapy space and engage in therapy here, so that’s been helpful!’ – Michelle Ham

Michelle’s advice for new therapists or practice owners 

Michelle encourages listeners to explore what is most suitable for them in terms of whether they want to do a sole-proprietorship or to take another approach. You can tailor the way your business works to your preferences – that’s important to do!

Whether you want to open an in-person Canadian private practice or offer therapy services online, make sure that it is what you want to do, feel qualified in doing, and that you have a strong support network around you. 

‘I think connection to community, whether it be fellow therapists or a director or just colleagues, is really important because [this is] hard work, right? And having a safe place to land has been foundational for me.’ – Michelle Ham

Lastly, check in with yourself! Don’t steamroll into the future, and also avoid never taking a chance or a calculated risk. There is a balance that you can find outside of your comfort zone that encourages you to grow without pushing yourself too far, too fast.

Connect With Me

Resources Mentioned and Useful Links:

Ep 122: Embracing the Dynamic Nature of Niching | EP 122

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

Jane App (use code FEARLESS for one month free)

Learn more about Michelle on her website, Instagram account, and Psychology Today profile

Rate, review, and subscribe to this podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts, SpotifyAmazon, 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 www.ccpa-accp.ca/blog/.