Setting up in Private Practice

Getting started in private practice is one of the scariest things I’ve ever done, but it’s also one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling. I’ve never looked back since making the decision and taking the leap. Private Practice: Is it worth it?

However, I did experience a lot of uncertainty at the beginning. Will I be able to build up a caseload? How will I manage risk? What if I can’t earn enough money? What if referrals stop? What if I feel isolated? The ‘what ifs’ can feel endless, but they do subside over time.

Ultimately, working in private practice has enabled me to help people on my own terms, work creatively, receive high-quality supervision and complete the training I’m passionate about. It’s also allowed me to structure my business hours and holidays in a way that works for my family and lifestyle.

The Getting Started in Private Practice Course Has Arrived—Read More—A 5-Week Course on Setting Up in Private Practice.

Getting Started in Private Practice

The benefits of running your own private therapy practice include

  1. Independence: You can set your own schedule and determine your fees. Control over your work environment: You create a space reflecting your values and therapeutic approach.
  2. Increased income potential: As a private practitioner, you have the potential to earn more than you would as an employee in a clinic or hospital setting.
  3. Greater flexibility: You can specialise in specific areas of therapy, work with specific populations, or offer unique services that align with your interests and expertise.
  4. Personal satisfaction: Starting your own business can be incredibly rewarding, as you are able to help people in a way that aligns with your values and passions.
  5. Career development: Running your private therapy practice can help you develop leadership, business, and management skills that can be valuable in any career.
  6. Opportunity for growth: As a private practitioner, you have the potential to grow your client base, expand your services, and increase your income over time.

The Business of Running a Business

Having worked in the NHS for several years, I knew how to provide therapy, but I had little experience of running or marketing a business. I soon realised getting a handle on these things had to be a priority.

If you’re going to be successful in private practice, it’s essential to focus on developing a resilient caseload. This means having a regular stream of referrals and an excellent financial buffer. Unfortunately, being a great therapist won’t bring clients to your door until you’ve been established for a while and begun to benefit from word-of-mouth recommendations. Until then, you need to think about making your business visible so people can find you and book appointments. Will you have a website? Will you work with referral agencies? Will you invest in paid advertising or focus on social media?

If I could go back in time and do it all again, I would first start with a business plan. A business plan provides a clear direction for your private practice. It gives clarity, reduces risk and uncertainty, and helps you feel more confident.  Having a clear, concise plan from the start saves time and energy and will prevent some common mistakes, saving you time, energy and stress in the long term.

A good business plan tells you what you need to do and how to do it. It’s a working, living document. Reviewing it regularly will ensure the running of your business doesn’t consume your time or overwhelm you.

When your business runs smoothly, you can focus on the therapy you provide and maintain the delivery of high-quality CBT. Working in this way also maintains the reputation of CBT as a standard gold treatment, securing your future and ensuring you can continue doing what you love and have trained so hard to deliver. If you want to know more, check out The Business Plan for Therapists.

If You Build It, They Will Come

No matter how you decide to market your private practice, getting started requires patience and consistency. Following the launch of my website, it took three months to generate my first enquiries and another year to reach a consistent referral rate at the level I wanted.

Initially, I also worked with referral agencies and insurance companies. This was useful at the time because they found the referrals for you, but my goal was always to work with self-funding clients as much as possible.

Why? Well, referral agencies can close, reduce their rates or suddenly choose to work with other therapists whenever they want. This means your referral stream is not guaranteed or within your control. It’s a bit like people who build and market their businesses using a Facebook page. If and when the algorithm changes, they have no say in the visibility of their own business.

In short, you can’t rely on other platforms to stay the same, so it’s vital you build your own.  Developing an effective website with good SEO is essential. Read SEO for Therapists for more advice and a link to my free local SEO guide.

Other Things to Think About

* Where will you work from?

* What hours will you work?

* How much will you charge?

* What are the data protection requirements?

These are just a few of the things you need to consider if you want to build a strong foundation for your business. I’ve created this free ‘Getting Started Checklist.’

You can download yours here and there is a copy of the checklist when you sign up to Therapists Corner on Substack : The Ultimate Getting Started in Private Practice Checklist.

Still not sure where to start? Start Here –

Getting Started in Private Practice – Useful Links

The Getting Started in Private Practice 5-Week Course.

Private Practice: Is it worth it?

Purchase a business plan template here. – Websites and Resources for Therapists

Referral Sources in Private Practice


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Sarah Rees

Sarah is a fully accredited Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and mental health writer delivering Modern Mental Health for you and with you in Mind. Sarah is the author of ‘The CBT Journal’ which helps you write for your wellbeing incorporating CBT techniques. For more information and to keep in touch have a look at