We know that getting into private practice can be daunting, especially if you’re in the early stages of your career as a mental health professional. Without the proper tools and guidance, the endeavor can seem incredibly challenging, if not downright impossible. This led us to sit down with Tim Geare, LMFT, and discuss what it takes to get started!
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Q: There’s so much to think about with private practice. Where should a therapist start?
A: I am always astounded that very good Master’s programs still don’t provide more education on the business element of private practice work! Perhaps the best place to start is creating a strong business plan, which is essential for a successful private practice. However, before the business plan is even developed, a therapist needs their own vision to be clear.
Q: What are some questions a therapist can ask themselves in order to develop their vision for private practice?
A: Start by asking yourself, “What kind of life do I want?” This will help place a private practice into the right context. Also ask yourself, “What do I want to experience?” “Who do I want to impact?” and “How does private practice fit with my broader life goals?” You don’t want to build something you may later regret, because it doesn’t fit with the kind of life you’ve envisioned for yourself.
Q: What would you say to readers who hesitate to go into private practice because they worry about generating referrals?
A: When it relates to private practice, the biggest question is always about money. There are two sides to this question: the financial planning side, and the legal/ethical side. At our upcoming workshop in San Diego, CA, I will be addressing the question of having enough clients week in and week out to make the practice worth it to you. The core element of developing a good flow of quality referrals is the necessity of delivering a high-quality, highly valued product.
Q: And how would you define that “product”?
A: It’s a given that the Master’s programs are excellent in preparing you to be a good therapist. You now have the opportunity to define your personal strengths and preferences by asking yourself, “Which types of clients do I like?” “Which therapeutic approach fits me best?” and “Which arena of therapy do I see creating the best outcomes for my clients?” You are presenting “you,” and “you” has value to certain audiences. Evaluating your “product” and identifying your strengths is fundamental to marketing your practice. The process of marketing a practice often sounds removed and distant from the therapy environment itself, but it doesn’t have to be! I will take time to develop this concept out further in our upcoming workshop, and make it more accessible to the therapist who’s building referrals. There are many ways to market a practice that generates interest, but it doesn’t always result in “therapy-ready” referrals, which is an essential difference I will also discuss further.
Q: Why do you want readers to attend your workshop?
A: Many prelicensed therapists have an interest in private practice, but are daunted by all the questions they have. We’ll be touching on everything I’ve mentioned, and several other key points, which isn’t something many workshops are able to cover in a single day! Attendees will be exposed to the realities of private practice, as well as the abundance of resources available to build a satisfying private practice. Our approach is easy, informative, and designed to help attendees determine if a private practice is right for them.
Q: What if someone is already in private practice?
A: Our workshop is designed to support attendees wherever they are with their private practice, whether they’re just starting to plan or have already established a private practice. I enjoy a lot of “give and take” from the audience, so if someone is currently in private practice and struggling, I expect we can answer their specific questions or concerns throughout the day. We’re also going to cover a lot of information about budgeting, marketing, practice management, and more throughout the day. Between myself and the other presenters, anyone who attends can receive a wealth of strategies and solutions that will strengthen their private practice.