Very Good Counseling EMDR Therapy Because You Matter

Beyond the Couch: Insights for Starting a Private Practice

Jan 4, 2024 | 0 comments


The information provided here is not intended to be a substitute for professional health and mental health care or consultation. Individuals who believe they may require or benefit from treatment should seek the advice of a psychologist or other licensed mental health professional.

Very Good Counseling is a private practice of licensed mental health therapists who specialize in EMDR.  We provide online mental health services to individuals throughout the State of Florida,  and in-person at our office in Fort Myers, FL. For more information, contact us.

by: <a href="" target="_blank">Robert Engle, EMDRIA-Approved EMDR Therapist</a>

by: Robert Engle, EMDRIA-Approved EMDR Therapist

Because We Believe You Matter

Robert joined the practice full time in 2022 to help neurodivergent individuals with ADHD, anxiety, and depression find freedom and enjoy life through counseling. He is currently working towards becoming a Certified ADHD Professional (ADHD-CCSP). Trained in EMDR therapy, he excels at understanding the intricacies of ADHD and Trauma.

So, you’re thinking about starting a private practice? The idea of starting a private practice often emerges from a deep-seated desire for autonomy. It’s that yearning to shape your therapeutic environment, tailor your approach, and dance to your own professional rhythm. 

You’re not just thinking about a career; you’re envisioning a space where your unique therapeutic magic can unfold, unrestricted. Imagine having the freedom to handpick your clients, choose your niche, and conduct therapy on your terms. 

It’s more than a job; it’s an opportunity to create a haven where your therapeutic vision comes to life, reflecting your authentic style and values. It’s a lifestyle shift. It’s about embracing the entrepreneurial spirit and navigating the waters of self-employment. 

If you find yourself feeling a bit confined in institutional settings, yearning for more control over your therapeutic approach, and eager to craft a space that aligns with your values – then yes, you might be the perfect candidate.

And know that starting a private practice isn’t reserved for seasoned therapists with decades of experience. New grads with an entrepreneurial itch can jump into the mix too. If you’re passionate about your craft, eager to learn, and ready for a unique professional adventure, the private practice path is open to therapists of all experience levels.

So, as you stand at this crossroads contemplating the leap into private practice, remember, the question isn’t just “Should I start a private practice?” but rather “When do I begin this exciting odyssey?” Let’s begin right now:

Table of Contents

Why Should You Start a Private Practice?

Every passionate therapist should, at some point, consider venturing into the realm of private practice – especially if the existing group practice landscape doesn’t quite groove with their desire to make a profound impact or doesn’t align with their unique vision for healing.

A private practice provides you with a canvas to paint your unique approach to healing. It’s about tailoring your practice to align with your values, choosing the clients you resonate with, and fostering an environment where your passion for therapy can flourish.

Starting a private practice is a nod to the entrepreneurial spirit within every therapist. It’s about navigating the business side of therapy, learning the ropes of self-employment, and embracing the challenges and triumphs that come with running your own show. 

Beyond the allure of autonomy, diving into private practice comes with a host of practical reasons that can make this professional leap incredibly rewarding. Let’s break down some of these practical aspects:

1. Financial Control:

In a private practice, you are the financial maestro. You get to decide your fee structure, set your rates, and manage your financial affairs. This control extends to how you invest in your practice, allowing you to make strategic decisions aligned with your financial goals.

2. Flexibility in Scheduling:

Private practice brings the gift of scheduling freedom. You have the flexibility to set your own hours, accommodating both your professional and personal life. This is particularly valuable for therapists who appreciate a non-traditional work schedule or need flexibility for family commitments.

3. Customized Clientele:

One of the perks of running your own show is the ability to choose your clientele. You can define your niche and work with clients whose needs align with your expertise and passion. This not only enhances job satisfaction but can also contribute to more impactful therapeutic outcomes.

4. Tailored Therapeutic Approach:

In private practice, you’re the captain of your therapeutic ship. You have the freedom to craft and tailor your therapeutic approach without adhering to standardized methods dictated by a larger institution. This adaptability allows you to respond more dynamically to the unique needs of your clients.

5. Creative Control in Marketing:

Marketing is not just a practical necessity; it’s an opportunity for creative expression. In private practice, you have control over how you market your services. Whether it’s through a personalized website, community outreach, or digital marketing, you get to shape your professional image in a way that resonates with you.

6. Administrative Authority:

Running your own practice means you’re in charge of the administrative details. From handling paperwork and client records to managing appointments and coordinating billing, you have the authority to streamline these processes according to your preferences and efficiency standards.

7. Direct Client Interaction:

In larger settings, administrative duties might take you away from direct client interaction. Private practice, however, allows you to maintain a more direct and personal relationship with your clients. This hands-on approach often fosters stronger therapeutic connections.

8. Increased Earning Potential:

While financial control is a practical advantage, it’s worth emphasizing the potential for increased earnings. With autonomy in setting your fees and the ability to manage your practice efficiently, you have the opportunity to maximize your income compared to working within a larger organization.

9. Specialized Services and Offerings:

If you have a passion for a specific therapeutic modality or want to offer specialized services, private practice is the ideal platform. You can develop and promote niche services, attracting clients seeking your unique expertise.

10. Professional Growth Opportunities:

Private practice opens doors to diverse professional growth opportunities. Whether it’s expanding your practice, collaborating with other professionals, or incorporating additional services, you have the freedom to evolve and grow in directions that align with your long-term goals.

So, who’s ready for this therapeutic odyssey? If you’re feeling constrained in institutional settings, yearning for autonomy, and have a desire to craft your therapeutic haven, then you might just be the perfect candidate. 

Starting a Private Practice: When’s the Best Time to Take the Leap?

Timing is crucial. So, when’s the right time to spread your therapy wings and soar into starting a private practice? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. 

Some therapists dive right in after getting licensed, while others gather more experience. It’s about finding that sweet spot where you feel ready for the adventure. There are several factors to ponder when contemplating the timing of this significant professional leap, such as: 

1. Post-Licensure Experience:

Many therapists choose to gain post-licensure experience before starting a private practice. This additional experience not only enhances your therapeutic skills but also provides a broader understanding of diverse client needs. It’s like adding layers to your professional foundation, making you more robust and adaptable.

2. Confidence and Competence:

Starting a private practice requires a level of confidence in your therapeutic abilities. Assess your competence and comfort in handling a variety of cases independently. Confidence doesn’t mean knowing everything; it means having the assurance that you can navigate challenges and provide effective therapy.

3. Personal Readiness:

Consider your own readiness for the responsibilities that come with running a private practice. Are you prepared for the administrative tasks, marketing efforts, and financial management? Assess your comfort level with entrepreneurship and determine if you feel ready to take on these additional roles.

4. Establishing a Niche:

Some therapists prefer to wait until they’ve established a niche or specialization. Having a clear focus can attract specific clients, make marketing more effective, and set you apart in a competitive landscape. Waiting until you’ve identified your niche can be a strategic move.

5. Financial Preparedness:

Starting a private practice incurs costs – from setting up your physical space to investing in marketing and administrative tools. Assess your financial readiness. Do you have the savings or a financial plan to cover the initial expenses and sustain your practice during the initial phases?

6. Networking and Referral Connections:

Having a network of professional connections and referral sources can be beneficial when starting a private practice. If you’ve built relationships within the therapeutic community, it can contribute to a more robust client base as you embark on your independent journey.

7. Market Demand in Your Area:

Evaluate the market demand for therapy services in your area. Research the needs of the community and assess if there’s a demand for your specific therapeutic approach. Understanding the market can influence the timing of starting your practice.

8. Virtual Practice as a Starting Point:

In the age of digital connectivity, virtual practice offers a viable starting point for many therapists. It reduces initial overhead costs, broadens your potential client base, and allows you to test the waters before committing to a physical location.

9. Passion for Independence:

Your passion for independence and autonomy is a powerful indicator. If you find yourself yearning for creative control, wanting to shape your therapeutic space, and feeling excited about the idea of entrepreneurship, it might be a sign that you’re ready to start your private practice.

10. Life Circumstances:

Consider your current life circumstances. Are there major life changes on the horizon, such as a move or significant personal commitments? Assessing your life context can help you determine if the timing aligns with your broader life plan.

Ultimately, the right time to start a private practice is a personal decision. It involves a blend of professional readiness, personal confidence, financial preparation, and a keen awareness of your unique journey. 

Listen to your instincts, assess your circumstances, and when the stars align, you’ll know it’s the opportune moment to embark on this transformative professional adventure.

In Nutshell: What Are the Steps to Starting a Private Practice?

Let’s break it down. First, get licensed – the golden ticket to your therapeutic haven. It’s the foundational step, ensuring you have the credentials to embark on this professional adventure. 

Next, find your niche. What sets your therapeutic vibe apart? This is your unique offering to the therapeutic landscape.

Logistics come into play – secure a physical space or explore the ever-expanding digital realm for a virtual practice. 

Then it’s time to dive into the paperwork jungle, making sure you’re legally and ethically sound. 

And then, the drumroll, please – marketing! Shout your therapeutic presence from the rooftops, or perhaps, more realistically, through strategic online and offline channels.

Now, here comes the confession – this nutshell version of ours barely scratches the surface. Yes, we know. 

The reality is more intricate, involving administrative intricacies, financial considerations, and a profound understanding of your target audience. But fear not, brave therapist! It can be a smoother process than it sounds, especially with experienced guidance.

Enlisting the support of mentors or consultants who have tread this path can be a game-changer. Their insights can transform the seemingly daunting steps into manageable milestones. 

Remember, the journey may not be entirely smooth, but it’s definitely navigable. With the right mindset, a dash of entrepreneurial spirit, and a sprinkle of therapeutic magic, you’ll find yourself not just starting a private practice but crafting a therapeutic haven uniquely your own. 

Don’t shy away! Embrace the adventure, and may your therapeutic journey be as transformative as the healing you aim to provide.

Starting a Private Practice: Common Questions and Answers

Q: What legal considerations should I keep in mind when starting a private practice?

A: Legalities are paramount. Ensure you understand the legal requirements for running a therapy practice in your jurisdiction. This includes issues like licensure, client confidentiality, and compliance with healthcare laws.

Q: How can I manage the transition from working for an agency to running my own practice?

A: Transitioning from agency work to private practice involves shifts in mindset and responsibilities. Consider how you’ll handle the change in client load, administrative tasks, and the financial adjustments that come with independent practice.

Q: What role does technology play in a private practice, and how can I leverage it effectively?

A: Technology is a game-changer. Explore how electronic health records (EHR), teletherapy platforms, and online scheduling can enhance your practice. Understand the ethical considerations and legal requirements associated with using technology in therapy.

Q: How do I set competitive yet fair fees for my services?

A: Determining your fee structure is a delicate balance. Research local market rates, consider your experience and specialization, and factor in your financial goals. Be transparent about your fees, and communicate their value to clients.

Q: What strategies can I use to market my private practice authentically?

A: Authenticity is key in marketing. Craft a compelling narrative about your therapeutic approach, share client success stories (with consent), and use social media strategically. Consider networking with local businesses and community organizations to expand your reach.

Q: How can I ensure a smooth billing and insurance process for my clients?

A: Billing and insurance can be complex. Clearly communicate your billing policies to clients, explore electronic billing options, and educate yourself about insurance processes. Consider hiring a billing professional or using billing software to streamline this aspect of your practice.

Q: What ongoing professional development is essential for private practitioners?

A: Continuous learning is crucial. Stay informed about the latest therapeutic techniques, attend workshops or conferences, and consider seeking specialized certifications. Joining professional organizations and communities for therapists can provide access to resources and networking opportunities.

Q: How do I establish a work-life balance in private practice, especially in the early stages?

A: Balancing work and personal life is a common challenge. Set clear boundaries for your work hours, schedule breaks between sessions, and prioritize self-care. As your practice evolves, revisit and adjust your strategies to maintain a sustainable work-life balance.

Q: What should I consider when choosing a location for a physical practice?

A: Physical location matters. Consider the demographics of the area, competition, and accessibility for clients. Evaluate whether leasing or owning is the right choice for you. A location that aligns with your practice’s vibe and attracts your target clientele is key.

Q: How do I handle challenging ethical dilemmas that may arise in private practice?

A: Ethical considerations are paramount. Have a clear understanding of your ethical responsibilities, seek supervision or consultation when needed, and stay connected with the therapeutic community for support. Establishing ethical guidelines and a solid ethical framework is essential.

The Currency of Care: Insurance vs. Cash Pay in Your Private Practice

Embarking on the journey of becoming a private practice owner is a thrilling venture, isn’t it? And one of the most pivotal decisions you’ll make is determining your payment structure. 

The currency of care, if you will, comes in two primary forms: insurance reimbursement or cash pay. Each avenue has its merits and considerations, and finding the right balance is crucial for both the financial health of your practice and the accessibility of your services.

Insurance Reimbursement: A Double-Edged Sword

Opting for insurance reimbursement allows you to cast a wider net, making your services more accessible to individuals who rely on insurance coverage. It can potentially attract a larger client base, as many people prefer the convenience of utilizing their insurance benefits for therapy.

However, the path of insurance reimbursement comes with its own set of complexities. Navigating the intricacies of billing, dealing with insurance companies, and adhering to their policies can be time-consuming and occasionally frustrating. Reimbursement rates may also vary, impacting your overall income.

Moreover, insurance requires a commitment to stringent record-keeping and, in some cases, a diagnostic label for each client, potentially influencing the therapeutic dynamic. While it broadens accessibility, it involves a dance with the bureaucratic side of mental health care.

Cash Pay: The Simplicity of Direct Exchange

On the flip side, adopting a cash pay model simplifies the financial exchange between you and your clients. The transparency and directness of this approach offer a sense of clarity and control. With no third-party involvement, you set your rates and receive the full compensation for your services.

The cash pay model also untangles the administrative web associated with insurance billing. You’re free from the paperwork, allowing more time for what truly matters – the therapeutic process. This simplicity often resonates with both therapists and clients, fostering a straightforward financial arrangement.

However, the potential limitation lies in accessibility. Not everyone can afford private pay rates, potentially excluding a portion of the population from accessing your services. Striking the right balance between financial sustainability and inclusivity becomes a delicate dance in the realm of cash pay.

Taking a Mixed Approach: Accepting Both Insurance and Cash Pay

Some therapists take a balanced approach to payments by integrating both insurance reimbursement and cash pay options into their practice. Those who stick with this approach do so because they find that it allows financial stability while considering the accessibility needs of a diverse clientele.

Therapists may choose to accept insurance for a portion of their caseload, providing an inclusive option for those reliant on insurance coverage, while also maintaining a cash pay option for others who prefer a straightforward financial exchange.

The Currency of Care: Making the Choice for Your Practice

The decision between insurance reimbursement and cash pay is a personal one, influenced by various considerations such as financial goals, target demographics, and administrative capacity. The choices we make regarding the currency of care define the landscape of our therapeutic journey.

Therapeutic modalities add another layer to this currency of care. Take, for instance, the transformative power of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). While celebrated for its efficacy, the compatibility of EMDR with insurance coverage introduces a unique consideration. 

Whether therapists choose insurance, cash pay, or a combination of both, it reflects not only a financial strategy but also considerations for inclusivity, transparency, and the overall therapeutic journey. 

Conclusion – Starting a Private Practice: Putting It into Action

So, therapist extraordinaire, starting a private practice is like embarking on a therapeutic odyssey. It’s about self-discovery, autonomy, and sculpting a space where your therapeutic magic can unfold. 

Amid the myriad of choices and considerations to make when crafting your private practice, remember that the journey is as important as the destination. Starting a private practice is not a sprint but a thoughtfully navigated marathon, where each decision becomes a stepping stone in the creation of a therapeutic haven uniquely yours.

As you stand at the threshold of this transformative venture, the key lies not in a hurried leap but in the deliberate mapping of your plan, one step at a time. You don’t need to rush; you need to savor the process. 

Begin by envisioning the practice you aspire to build. The stronger you lay the foundation, the more resilient and fulfilling your practice will be, both for you and the clients you serve. 

Take the time to explore, learn, and adapt. Seek guidance when needed, celebrate the victories, and learn from the challenges. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your starting a private practice is a testament to your passion, commitment, and dedication to the art of healing.

Start your healing journey with us. 

Not to brag, but we’re Very Good.

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