Starting a Private Practice can be a huge step in a Clinician’s professional career. You have worked so hard on post-graduate hours and studying to finally become licensed in your state. You are now licensed to practice psychotherapy independently and you want to open your own practice? Private practice is not for every Clinician, so it is important to carefully evaluate your goals and objectives before taking the leap!
When I first started my practice, I made a bunch of mistakes along the way. I am going to explore FIVE common mistakes Clinicians make in private practice.
1. Lack of Marketing–Many Clinicians do not understand the importance of marketing their practice to others by highlighting their skill set. Some of the best Clinicians fail in private practice. But why? They ONLY focus on Clinical skills versus their business skills. In private practice, we need to refine our business skills as much as our clinical skills. We are small business owners and we must own and embrace this!
2. Poor Office Space- I have seen Clinicians choose very poor office space such as, space without a waiting room, an uncomfortable space, broken furniture, etc. This all reflects your awareness and understanding of what your clients need. If you don’t value the space you are creating for your clients to heal, why should they believe you have an investment in helping them achieve their goals? Next, find space that is not above your means, but has the necessary requirements such as adequate parking, office space, waiting room, sound proofing, etc.
3. Lack of Support-Clinicians need to reach out to their support network to build a thriving private practice. This means Supervisors, Coaches, billing consultants, etc to help them acquire the skills to build their practice. You are investing in a business and you need support. Give yourself permission to invest in this.
4. Lack of Time-I find many Clinicians do not have the time to adequately invest in their private practice. They have great ideas, but no motivation to execute these in a timely passion to produce results. Many Clinicians build their practices while holding full-time positions so it does require a huge time commitment when starting your practice.
5. Setting Unrealistic Expectations-“I will have 10 new clients by the end of the week.” “I just need to open an office and clients will show up.” Have a Business Plan that reflects your short term and long goals for your practice is critical. Evaluate how much time you want to invest in your practice. How much time will it take to see clients? time to market? time to bill? time for accounting? Setting realistic goals and understanding can be you and your family understand this is a huge project to undertake and you will need to set time aside to develop this.
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