New Private Practice

3 Common Mistakes New Private Practices Make

Congratulations! You’ve decided to start your own private practice. This is a big step, and exciting time in your career. Whether you are new to psychotherapy, or whether you’ve been in the field for a while but have just decided to go out on your own, you’ve got a grand adventure awaiting you! Learn the mistakes new practices make.

When you start a private practice, you become an entrepreneur, and that’s a whole new skill set. Tweet: When you start a private practice, you become an entrepreneur, and that's a whole new skill set to develop.

For most counselors, therapists, and psychologists who launch private practices, their clinical skills are their strong suit. It’s the practice-building and marketing skills that need work. In my work with new practices, I see so many therapists who come out of their first year discouraged with their results. I want to share with you the common mistakes I see these practices make, so that your first year can have a different outcome.

I’ve also put together a special checklist for those who are starting private practices.

My “Launching a New Practice Checklist” shows you the 20 essential elements you need in place to launch your practice and become profitable FAST. You can download your free copy here:

Click Here to Download Your      FREE NEW PRACTICE CHECKLIST

What exactly are these three common mistakes? Let’s dive in:

Expensive Mistake #1: Bad Fee Structure

Most therapists don’t expect to earn a 6-figure salary their first year in practice. However, they do expect to at least pay their bills, or make more than they would make working for an agency. That’s a reasonable expectation. You SHOULD do well financially in private practice. There’s no shame in wanting that.

Therapists deserve to be successful and earn a good living. It’s just that this takes some planning to accomplish. I often see new therapists that are seriously undercharging for their services.

One counselor I spoke with recently had a full schedule of 25 clients per week, and earned less than $30,000 per year in 2015. She was working hard to serve her clients and still wasn’t able to pay her bills. Another therapist I spoke with recently had been in practice for 2 years, and was still earning less than $40,000 per year. He was at the point where he could no longer continue to “subsidize” his practice. (Tip: Your practice should be paying you. If you’re putting money in to stay afloat, you’ve got a problem.)

In both of these cases, the therapists are struggling because they are undercharging for their services. When you undercharge, it becomes extremely difficult to succeed, because you are working so hard for so little.

Make sure you are crystal clear from day one how much you need to charge per session to reach your financial goals. I call this “revenue modeling” and it’s a key skill for private practice. You don’t have to be a math whiz to be a successful entrepreneur, but you do need to understand what’s behind the profitability of your business.

Expensive Mistake #2: Misunderstanding Marketing

It’s time for a bit of hard truth here. Ready? Handing out your business cards isn’t marketing. Joining insurance panels isn’t marketing. Getting that extra certification in EMDR isn’t marketing either. Here’s my definition of marketing:

Authentically connecting with those clients who are ready, willing, and able to working with you, and presenting them with an opportunity to make a lasting change in their lives.

True marketing is connection. It’s about identifying who are truly meant to serve, clarifying how you best serve them, and sharing your gifts with the world. Many therapists new to private practice have an “ick” factor around marketing.  Learn the mistakes new practices make.

Let me assure you, if any of your marketing feels “icky” to you, you’re doing it wrong. Marketing is your chance to shine and truly share your gifts with the world in a profound way. It doesn’t matter how exceptional your clinical skills are, if you are languishing in obscurity, you are going to struggle financially.

Expensive Mistake #3: Lack of Marketing Skills

Let’s imagine you get a call from a new client who is interested in hypnotherapy for chronic pain. This person is eager to work with you, and you are definitely eager for a new client. The only catch is that you have no training in hypnotherapy and you’ve never worked with chronic pain.

Would you still take accept this client? I’m guessing you wouldn’t. Why? Because you aren’t equipped to serve them. You don’t have the skills you need. You can’t just read a few things and know how to do hypnotherapy. It’s a skill that you learn, practice, and refine over time.

Marketing works the same way. Just like hypnotherapy, you’ve got to invest in developing your skills so that you can see the results that you want. Yet, so many therapists venture in to private practice without developing the marketing skills they need.  Learn the mistakes new practices make.

Yes, I was one of those therapists as well when I started my private practice in 2004. Not only did I not have the marketing skills I needed, I didn’t even know I needed them! Nice office? Check. Business cards? Check. Catchy tagline? Check. Marketing plan? Nope.

I had a rude awakening my first year in practice. I’d love for you to learn from my mistake. Invest in developing your marketing skills just as you have invested in developing your clinical skills. When you are in private practice, marketing skills and clinical skills are equally important. Please don’t shortchange yourself in this area. You will end up regretting it.

Simply by correcting these three mistakes in the early stages of private practice, you’ll put yourself on the path to profitability. This means you won’t spend years struggling and wondering if you can make this work or not.

If you’d like to get more specifics on all the steps necessary to launch your practice, click here to download your FREE copy of my Launching a New Private Practice checklist.

Click Here to Download Your          FREE NEW PRACTICE CHECKLIST