Why You Should Start an Online Canadian Private Practice | Ep 38

Do you feel hesitant in deciding if an online practice is a right fit for you or your clients? Have you been thinking about making a change in your approach to work-life balance? What would that look like for you?  

I recognise that making the switch to online private practice is a risk, but often things are both risks and opportunities! If you want to make significant changes in your lifestyle, become more remote, or have more control over your schedule, providing online therapy is a great way  to achieve your personal and professional goals. 

In this podcast episode, I share my positive (and some negative) experiences of launching my Canadian online private practice, and I hope that it inspires you to do the same while feeling as prepared as you can be!

As you know I’m all about seeing you succeed in your Canadian private practice, so in the spirit of keeping things real, check out my Tools and Deals page where you can get free access to my online private practice checklist, as well as discount codes and subscriptions specials on EMRs, website builders, and online practice essentials. Visit fearlesspractice.ca/deals to claim your discount codes and to get more info!

In This Episode

  • The benefits of online counselling 
  • Some cons to be aware of (and tips to help!)
  • Questions to ask yourself before starting an online private practice
  • What I recommend

The benefits of online counselling  

Like many other therapists, I transitioned to an online private practice because of the pandemic. It just happened! And even though I was scared in the beginning, I am so glad that I chose this path. 

I understood that online therapy is not discount therapy, and even though that myth was more real before the pandemic, it still can hold some therapists back from making the switch, even if they want to. 

‘What I realised was that with my clients, they were willing to continue paying my fee and see me online because they were still getting the benefits of therapy, of my mind, of my attention, care, and support for them. It was just online, nothing else had changed in the therapy that we were doing.’ – Julia Smith 

My clients were also able to see me more often, and more easily! They didn’t have to drive or travel anywhere to get to my office. 

Some more pros that I experienced starting an online Canadian private practice include: 

  • The flexibility of clinical hours 
  • Saving money on rent 
  • Making my schedule suit my life 
  • Saving money on professional clothing 
  • Launching an online group Canadian private practice 

‘That flexibility and freedom to be able to do that, to still work remotely and be around family, and then get to go back to Halifax and live my single city life, is just wonderful, to get to have both of those experiences.’ – Julia Smith 

Some cons to be aware of (and tips to help!)

Even though I love the experience of working online and remotely, there are some cons that you should be aware of when you are considering opening your own Canadian online private practice. 

Some of these include: 

  • Working alone 

‘I miss [working with others], I miss not having [other counsellors] around me physically. That is why I always recommend that if you are going to do a solo online private practice, to hire a clinical supervisor.’ – Julia Smith 

Get in touch with a clinical supervisor whom you can reach out to and work with when you feel that you need and want some extra support. Additionally, network! Start professional relationships with other therapists who work remotely in your area, and form a community together. 

  • Working from home 

Working from home can be difficult because you do almost everything there, from personal to professional life. To curb this cabin fever, I recommend getting out every single day. Go for a walk, join a gym, or try a new hobby in someplace new to help mitigate the sameness. 

  • A loss of sense of the importance of going to an office. 

Even though it is good to be humbled, your ego can sometimes take a hit from working alone where no one is there to see and celebrate your accomplishments alongside you. So, make an effort to check up on yourself, celebrate your good days, and share them with friends! 

  • Everything is going to be online. 

You may never meet your associates, virtual assistants, or clients in person . You talk to a screen a lot, but on the other hand, this creates a helpful boundary between your personal and professional activities.  

‘In my personal life, everything is in person. I see my friends in person, I go to the gym in person … all of my interactions are in person, whereas with my business, everything is online and that helps me to separate my work life from my personal life.’ – Julia Smith 

  • Practicing self-discipline 

Having your own online private practice means that you are in control of everything because no one is going to knock on your door to get you to work. This can be a benefit if you like to control your own schedule but could also be a drawback if managing your own schedule is difficult for you.

Questions to ask yourself before starting an online private practice

1 – Have you completed your master’s degree?

2 – Do you have a clinical supervisor? 

3 – Do you like to be in charge of your own schedule? 

4 – Do you want to run a business? 

5 – Can you afford to? 

6 – Do you have a social life outside of work? 

What I recommend

  • Split time to experiment and see if an online Canadian private practice works for you. Have a full- or part-time counselling job to make professional connections, and start your online Canadian private practice on the side. 
  • Build your professional community. Network with other therapists and hire therapists into your online private practice. 
  • Create a non-professional community – join clubs, go to events, and get out there!

‘With private practice, you want to find that work-life balance where you get to do your thing in your own business but also have a life and connections and community and support that is completely separate from your business.’ – Julia Smith

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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 www.ccpa-accp.ca/blog/.