Self Funding Clients Vs Referral Companies

Self-Funding Clients Vs. Referrals

Attracting self-funding clients who have researched you thoroughly and chosen to work with you is extremely rewarding. They’re often motivated, committed to starting therapy and keen to begin making positive changes.

However, when you’re starting out in private practice, it’s not uncommon to sign-up with referral agencies. Download a list of places where you can register HERE. 

As a therapist, one of the decisions you’ll have to make is whether to work with self-funding clients or referral agencies. Both options have pros and cons, and understanding them is important before deciding.

Working with Self-Funding Clients:


  • Greater autonomy: When working with self-funding clients, you have more control over your schedule, fees, and the therapeutic approach you take. This allows you to work more independently and tailor your services to each client’s specific needs
  • Clients who have chosen to work directly with you tend to be very motivated and committed to the therapeutic process.
  • Direct payment: You’ll receive payment directly from the client, which can lead to a more straightforward payment process and fewer administrative duties.
  • Less bureaucracy: Working with self-funding clients typically involves less paperwork and administrative work than working with referral agencies.
  • You and the client decide on the number of therapy sessions.


  • Limited marketing opportunities: It can be challenging to find self-funding clients, as you’ll need to rely on your own marketing efforts and word-of-mouth referrals to build your client base. This takes time and financial investment.
  • Your income may fluctuate if there are any changes in your referral stream.

Working with Referral Agencies:


  • Guaranteed referrals: Working with referral agencies means that you’ll have a steady stream of clients, providing a more predictable income.
  • Established marketing: Referral agencies typically have established marketing strategies that can help attract clients to your services.
  • Administrative support: Referral agencies often provide administrative support, such as scheduling appointments, billing, and managing client records.


  • Less autonomy: Working with referral agencies can limit your autonomy, as you’ll need to follow their guidelines and protocols for working with clients.
  • There can be a limited number of therapy sessions for clients.
  • It’s like having an employer with limited benefits.
  • If the company goes into administration, you could be financially impacted.
  • Reduced fees: Referral agencies often take a percentage of your fees, which can reduce your income per session.
  • Bureaucratic hurdles: Working with referral agencies can involve more paperwork and administrative work than working with self-funding clients.

In conclusion, working with self-funding clients and referral agencies both have their advantages and disadvantages. Choosing between the two will depend on your personal preferences and professional goals. Working with self-funding clients may be better if you value autonomy and flexibility. If you prefer a steady stream of clients and the support of an established organisation, working with referral agencies may be a better choice.

Regardless of which route you choose, it’s important to carefully consider your options and make an informed decision that aligns with your values and professional goals. By doing so, you can build a fulfilling and successful career as a therapist.

Useful Links

Getting Started in Private Practice Checklist

Business planning in private practice

Should I Niche My Private Practice

Pocketsite Branding Identity Guide

Websites and Resources for therapists

SEO for Therapists – How Can It Help Your Private Practice?

Download the free SEO guide.


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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