Am I Ready for Private Practice?
Hi! I’m Anne Rice, a licensed professional counselor in GA and I’ve been running my private pay private practice since 2017. Starting a private practice can be daunting, exciting, the worst decision, and the best decision all in one day. Being a business owner is definitely not for everyone.
My husband and I are both therapists but having a private practice is not something that’s appealing to him, despite me trying to sell him on it. When we moved to Atlanta, I knew that I wanted to start a practice the minute I got licensed.
I was working at an agency and when my license came through, I put in a month’s notice, used my savings to rent an office and buy some furniture, and started my practice. It was terrifying and I definitely did not always know how I was going to pay the bills, but for my entrepreneurial personality, it was and is so much fun. I had one client for about a month before things started to pick up. Now I have a group practice and can’t imagine doing anything else or ever working for anyone else but myself.
My husband on the other hand, likes his 9-5 job at a hospital. He likes the stability and being able to clock out. He has an entire staff that supports him and can answer questions. If he wants to take time off, he can request it and gets paid without having to think about if he saved up enough money. No one bothers him on the weekends. Someone handles all the money and he doesn’t have to worry about if insurance pays or requests money back. He also doesn’t have to chase clients down for payments. He doesn’t have to worry about paying rent for the office space. And possibly most importantly, he has employer sponsored health insurance.
There are plenty of appealing things about working for someone else and I certainly benefit from having a partner who has a steady paycheck with benefits.
I’m not saying all of this to scare you away from private practice but to think through if your life and personality are a match for private practice. It’s really hard work and it can easily take over your life. But, with the right guidance and boundaries, having your own private practice can let you live the life you want.
I think a lot of us are told in graduate school that we didn’t go into this field to make money but that absolutely does not need to be true. You can make enough to pay for health insurance, vacations, your rent or mortgage, if you understand that your practice is a business and therefore requires systems. It’s not just sitting back, talking with people, and hoping they pay you. Sometimes you have to have hard conversations with clients about what they can afford and set up boundaries for yourself. You’ll be playing both the role of empathetic listener and debt collector.
It’s not easy, I still struggle with the narrative that therapists need to be completely selfless and help everyone who walks through the door no matter the cost. And when I started my practice, I definitely fell into that trap too often and my business struggled. When I started treating my practice like a business, I was still able to help people AND put dinner on the table for my family.
Along with my private practice I run a coworking space for therapists called Blue House Wellness where I support members on their private practice journey. I can easily spot who will succeed and who will fail after a few short conversations. The successful people know their business will be hard work, they know their worth and charge it, they stick to strict boundaries about their time, and are consistent with networking and advertising.
When people fail it’s usually because they only think they need to have a website or join some insurance panels and then they are done. Private practice requires frequent maintenance. I also see people fail because they burn out working too hard on their practice.
This course will go over the logistical things needed to get your practice running like getting an LLC and also the nuances like setting good boundaries and setting yourself up for success so that you don’t burn out and give up.
Now if you feel like your personality is a good fit for either part time or full time private practice, awesome! This course is for you. I do want to note, it’s important to know your state laws about the type of license you need to practice independently. In Georgia, you can’t have a private practice unless you are fully licensed. Provisionally licensed therapists can’t be paid directly by clients and are not allowed to advertise themselves. You have to be at a site that has a director who pays you and a supervisor that you receive supervision from. Although I see a lot of people bending the rules, in Georgia you absolutely have to work for someone else until you are fully licensed.
But that doesn’t mean this course isn’t for you. The reason I was so quickly able to get my practice up and running after giving a month’s notice at my job was because I did all of the prep work before I was licensed. I built my website, registered my LLC, picked out which Electronic health record system I would use, figured out all of my paperwork, and set up my bank account so that literally the day my license came, I was ready to go. This course will walk you through all of those things so that you can hit the ground running, the minute you are ready.
So don’t be like me when I started my practice and stay up all night trying to figure out how to get things going. Use this course to lay all of the groundwork you need to get your practice going in no time.