5 Practical Things You Need to Do Before Starting Your Private Practice

Starting a private practice is an exciting yet daunting endeavour for any therapist. Beyond clinical skills, you’ll need to do some careful planning and make sure you’re adhering to various legal and financial obligations. Here are five practical steps to help you establish a solid foundation for your new private practice…

  1. Decide Where Your Referrals Will Come From

When you’re starting out in private practice, it’s not uncommon to sign-up with referral agencies. Bear in mind, it can take at least a year to start receiving a steady stream of referrals. Building a financial buffer before you take the leap into private practice will help you ride this out.

Download this >>> Free Referral Companies List

Eventually, you may decide you want to work with more self-funding clients. Attracting self-funding clients who have researched you thoroughly and chosen to work with you can be extremely rewarding. They’re often motivated, committed to starting therapy and keen to begin making positive changes. To make this happen, you’ll need to start saying no to the referrals you want less of and create space for the referrals you do. You’ll also need a website and a marketing strategy you can follow and stick to.

Read this >>> How to Create a Website for Your Private Practice

Learn more >>> How to Increase Visibility Beyond Your Website

  1. Get Insurance

It’s your responsibility to make sure you have the necessary insurances, like professional liability and contents insurance if you have your own practice space. Also, think about income protection and other financial safety nets.

  1. Register with the ICO and Get GDPR Processes in Place

As you will be handling personal data, you must register with The Information Commissioners Office (ICO), the independent supervisory body regarding the UK’s data protection legislation. GDPR compliance is crucial, so ensure you understand how to collect, store, and delete data properly. The ICO has some good resources to support you here. You also need to invest in secure systems for your notes and client information.

Read this >>> A GDPR Cheat Sheet

  1. Set the Right Fee

Deciding what to charge and understanding client affordability can be tricky. It’s very common for people to undercharge initially and this can have a long-term impact on business sustainability. Rather than plucking numbers from thin air, I’d encourage you to base your prices on facts.

Start here >>>  Free Therapist Fee Calculator

  1. Notify HMRC and Set Up a Separate Bank Account

Once you’ve decided whether you’ll be a sole trader or form a limited company, you must inform HMRC. It’s important you understand your tax obligations, including self-assessment, VAT registration (if applicable), and National Insurance contributions.

I recommend keeping personal and business finances separate for easier tracking and tax reporting. Choose a bank that offers favourable terms for business accounts and then use this for all business transactions. This will help you maintain accurate financial records to facilitate tax filing and compliance. However, I would still recommend getting an accountant and bookkeeper from the start, especially if finances aren’t your strong suit.

Read this >>> How to Decide Between Sole Trader and Limited Company

I Believe in You

As I said at the outset, building a successful private practice involves more than just clinical work. It requires strategic planning and adherence to legal and financial requirements. This can feel overwhelming, especially if you don’t feel particularly ‘business-minded’. I remember struggling with this in the early days. I knew I was good therapist, but could I really build and run a business?! Well, I did, and I do, and you can too! By focusing on these five practical steps, you’ll be well on your way to establishing a successful, compliant private practice.

Join Therapists Corner Today!

When you’re just starting out in private practice, connecting with others in your field can make a real difference. We created Therapists Corner on Substack for this very reason. It’s grown into a welcoming online community where you can receive support from people who have been exactly where you are now Better still, when you sign-up, you can download a comprehensive checklist of things to do when setting up in private practice.

Sign-up here >>> Therapists Corner

Useful Links

Private Practice – Is It Worth It?

10 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Starting My Private Practice

How to Go from Working in the NHS to Private Practice – A Therapist’s Guide


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