WHY YOU SHOULDN’T START A PRIVATE PRACTICE | EP 98
Even though you might be hearing about how private practices are all the rage, it is still a choice of preference. Owning and running a private practice may not be well-suited to you, or your goals for your work, and that’s okay.
Your work in the mental health industry does not need to look the same as others. It is best for your clients, for you, and your mental health to structure your work environment in the way that best supports these three aspects, and if a private practice isn’t it, then something else will fit you better.
If you haven’t felt a pull to start a private practice but you can’t pinpoint why, or if you think you’d like to try one but you’re not sure if it will suit you, then listen in on this episode. Here, I discuss the reasons why you might not be suited to private practice, and what you could do instead.
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In This Episode
- Not being properly certified or licensed
- Needing full income immediately
- Don’t want to work alone
- If you don’t feel confident in your skills
- If you have a low stress tolerance
- Lacking motivation
- Being disorganized
Not being properly certified or licensed
‘In Nova Scotia we call that candidacy, in Ontario it’s called qualifying, but basically you are a part of the college or a part of CCPA … If you are not, then you shouldn’t start a private practice yet!’ – Julia Smith
On a more logistical note, you need to have your correct paperwork in order and filed properly before you ethically begin a private practice. If you open one without it, you risk legal damages and/or providing a service that you are not capable of doing (which could harm clients).
Needing full income immediately
One of the most common aspects of owning and running a private practice is that it can take a while for it to become profitable.
If you are strapped for cash or you need stable and reliable income, then starting a private practice won’t be a great plan for you. Not only can it take a while for funds to come in, but it also costs a lot of money to get up and off the ground in the first place.
‘I’m not saying that it’s not possible, but for the vast majority of private practice owners, it can take a while in order to make an income with your private practice. That is why I recommend that you have savings, or a part-time job, or a full-time job that is paying the bills so that when you start your private practice, you are not stressing about money.’ – Julia Smith
Don’t want to work alone
Running a private practice can be a lonely experience. For the first few months or years it is often just you behind the desk, or in sessions with clients, and it can be rare for you to work in close quarters with another counsellor.
‘If you know that you really don’t like to work alone, and there are no other therapists that want to start a private practice with you … then starting a private practice might not be the best option for you.’ – Julia Smith
Many private practice owners actually seek out memberships or communities to join if they yearn for some professional friendships or connection. However, if you can’t stand the idea of sitting alone doing paperwork, or only seeing clients, then consider joining another practice instead of opening your own.
If you don’t feel confident in your skills
If you don’t yet feel confident in your skills as a therapist, hold off on starting a practice until you have reached a more capable level.
Consider taking extra time to do more coursework, study with other great therapists, and get certifications so that you can feel more confident to provide effective and wonderful therapy.
‘The last thing you want to do is start a practice when you’re not feeling confident in your skills as a therapist and then things go wrong. So get more training before you start a private practice if you don’t feel like you’re able to provide therapy yet!’ – Julia Smith
If you have a low stress tolerance
Starting a private practice is stressful! There are many changing and unexpected variables that can throw you off course, as well as the fact that there are lots of responsibilities that will sit squarely on your shoulders.
I recommend hiring a consultant if you struggle with managing stress but you are excited to start a private practice.
‘So, even if you do have a low stress tolerance, it doesn’t mean that you can’t start a private practice, but just make sure that you have things in place so that when things happen and it gets stressful, you can reach out to a consultant.’ – Julia Smith
If you lack motivation, it will feel like a constant uphill battle to keep working on your private practice. Rome was not built in a day, and neither are private practices!
Are you excited about the journey ahead of you, despite the challenges that you will surely face? If you are not in love with this idea, then wait a bit. Don’t start something that you are dreading doing even before it’s been launched.
There are so many things that you need to do when you run a private practice, especially as a solo owner!
‘There are a lot of things to be on top of, and if you are not good with organizing, managing your time, then maybe you shouldn’t start a private practice [because] it might become too overwhelming.’ – Julia Smith
However, there are ways to get around this! Speak to a consultant about the basics of organizing and running a private practice to manage it with great systems. Consider outsourcing tasks to people as well, so that everything doesn’t sit on your plate.
Connect With Me
Resources Mentioned and Useful Links:
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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/.