Private Practice – Is It Worth It?

Private practice offers the chance to be your own boss, make your own schedule, and choose your clients. But is it worth it? Ultimately, only you can answer this question. In this article, I want to help you make the right decision by sharing my own experience and a few things I learned the hard way, so you don’t have to.

Private Practice – Is It Worth It? Here’s My Perspective…

Starting my own private practice was like stepping onto a rollercoaster in the dark. It was exciting, exhilarating, and at times, incredibly scary!

The early days were a heady mix of anxiety and ambition. I remember the jitters that came with the endless ‘what ifs.’ I was worried about building a caseload, managing risks, and financial viability. Thankfully, these anxieties that come with starting a business gradually subsided as I found my footing.

Some of the perks of running a private practice are the empowerment and freedom to shape my working life, the gratification from continuous learning, and the flexibility to align my work hours and holidays with my family’s needs. I’ve discovered that independence isn’t just about setting my own schedule or fees. It’s about cultivating a practice that mirrors my ethos and approach to therapy.

However, I won’t sugarcoat it – the transition was challenging! Learning to manage the business side of things, from marketing to accounting, was initially foreign to me, a former NHS professional accustomed to focusing solely on therapy. Understanding the importance of a resilient caseload and the need for a strong financial buffer was paramount. I also had to navigate becoming visible through a well-crafted website and effective marketing strategies.

Looking back, a robust business plan from the start would have been a lifesaver. A clear, regularly reviewed plan is the backbone of a thriving practice, guiding you through the complexities of running your business and allowing you to devote your energies to what you love—providing high-quality therapy.

Ultimately, there’s an unparalleled satisfaction in watching your own business take root and flourish. It taps into a deep sense of accomplishment that comes from positively impacting clients’ lives, all while steering your professional destiny.

Things to Consider

Weighing the following points against your personal and professional goals can help you make an informed decision about whether private practice is the right path for you.

  1. Financial Considerations & Growth Potential

Unlike a steady paycheck in a salaried position, building your own private practice requires upfront investment and financial planning for a fluctuating income. There’s also the cost of operations to consider. Ongoing expenses include renting office space, purchasing supplies, insurance, continuing education, and potential staffing.

At the same time, the potential for increased income can be significant, surpassing what might be possible in a clinic or hospital setting. There’s room for growth and diversification of services, which can lead to higher income and professional development. The same is true for those who choose to specialise in specific therapeutic areas or populations (sometimes called ‘niching’).

  1. Business Management

You’re responsible for all aspects of the business, from marketing to billing to compliance with legal and ethical standards. The pressure of this can be significant. It’s also a steep learning curve if you’re not familiar with business operations. Learning new skills can take time and possibly require additional training or consultation.

  1. Work-Life Balance

There’s potential for a flexible work-life balance, but boundaries can become blurred without disciplined time management.

  1. Professional Isolation

Working alone can be isolating without the built-in network of colleagues available in an agency or group practice. I would encourage you to establish your own network of peers, mentors and professional support, for example, by joining my Substack community, Therapists Corner.

  1. Patience, Resilience and Adaptability

The success of a private practice can depend on your ability to adapt to changing circumstances and client needs. Building a reputation takes time and consistent effort, which is crucial for a sustainable practice. For me, patience was critical, especially after launching my website. It took three months to receive my first queries and another year to achieve the desired consistent referral rate. Working with referral agencies and insurance companies offered a starting point, but striving for independence through self-funding clients became my goal.

Taking the Leap into Private Practice

If you’re contemplating taking this leap, know that the rewards can be significant. Your private practice is not just a business – it’s a testament to your dedication to your craft and commitment to your clients. It can give you the freedom to exercise your autonomy, creativity, and professionalism in ways that no other setup can offer.

For anyone ready to dive in, I’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to help you every step of the way—from finding the perfect location to building a solid client base. You’ll receive a free copy of my ultimate checklist, Getting Started in Private Practice, when you sign up to Therapists Corner on Substack. I can’t wait to see you there!

Useful Links

Business Planning for Private Practice

Referral Sources in Private Practice

Attracting Self-Funding Clients

How to Create a Website for Your Private Practice

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