After moving to a new city, and working on networking with other therapists, I have realized just how many myths about starting a therapy practice are out there.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been focusing on connecting with therapists. I joined all the local Facebook groups. I messaged folks I haven’t reached out to in a while, and I’ve been meeting with local therapists who seem pretty cool.
In the midst of this, I’ve noticed a theme pop up over and over again: folks don’t want to do private practice the way they see everyone else doing it.
And, frankly, I hadn’t realized that I don’t really do private practice the way most people do it. Hardly at all.
There’s Not Just One Way
It’s possible that with Private Practice Skills, I’ve fostered a following of folks who have enough overlap with some of the ways that I like to run my practice, that I kind of forgot that the way I do private practice isn’t especially representative of the norm for therapists in private practice.
I have found that many people hold onto myths about starting a therapy practice which keeps them from pursuing the way that they want to run their private practice.
Myths About Private Practice
I’ll preface this list of myths by saying that none of the items I bring up are inherently bad. Not at all!
I just don’t want people to feel like there is just this ONE way of doing private practice. Rather, each of these items reflects one of many possibilities.
1) “I have to be on insurance panels if I want a full practice.”
2) “I have to see at least 30 clients a week in order to be considered full time”
- If you want to see 30 clients you can, but most people consider seeing 20 clients a week a full caseload.
- In reality, maybe having 10 or 15 clients is full time for you. Or you could work part-time, like me.
3) “I can’t charge more than $___ cash rate if I’m not on insurance.”
(Again, not true!)
4) “I have to offer a sliding scale in order to fill my practice”
- This isn’t true. Check out my video about offering sliding scales to learn more.
5) “The only way to increase my income is to see more weekly clients”
- You can increase your income in lots of different ways. By raising your rate, or doing group counseling, or selling a product on the side you could earn more without seeing more therapy clients.
6) “In order for my practice to be considered successful, I have to keep scaling bigger”
- Your practice is successful when it achieves whatever you consider to be successful rather than having success be based on someone else’s metrics.
7) “I have to be willing to work with all kinds of presenting issues in order to be a good therapist”
- Focusing on one niche and doing it really well also makes you a good therapist!
8) “I need to have specialized certifications in order to have a cash pay practice”
- Not true. I delve more into if extra certifications will help your practice in this video.
- As long as you’re qualified to provide therapy and have your own practice, you can have a cash pay practice.
9) “I have to be seasoned in my career in order to start my practice.”
- By the time you are licensed, you have had so much training that you are equipped for private practice.
- If there are any presenting issues that you are not equipped to see, then you shouldn’t see that client. Or you need to get the adequate training and supervision needed to meet that client’s needs. This is true in any work environment. Not just private practice.
10) “If I advertise the presenting issues I really want to see, no one will want to work with me”
- This myth may be based on imposter syndrome.
- There will be people out there who need your help!
11) “If I have a private pay practice, it means I don’t really care about the people I’m seeing”
- For me, having a cash only practice allows me to see the number of clients that still enables me to have a pool of energy to draw from.
- This actually benefits my clients greatly. I feel more present to them and intrinsically motivated to meet with them.
12) “I can’t have a private pay practice while advocating for equitable access to care”
- Just because you are a cash only therapist doesn’t mean you can’t be working to give back to those in need.
- By charging a cash rate you can free up some time in your schedule to give back. I have a video that shares many examples of ways to give back in private practice.
13) “Because I don’t like working with [specific presenting issue], I’m not cut out for private practice”
- Not true! The people you hope to work with are out there.
Private Practice Can Look Anyway You Want It To
Listen, whoever you are, whatever your passions and values are, whatever amount you want to work, and whatever income you want to earn, you can have a private practice if you want to. And yes, you can earn the income you want while also advocating for equal access to services.
I know what’s going to happen for some folks watching this video. You read through this list and you really believe that one of the items is NOT a myth about starting a private practice, but is legitimately true. Or it’s true for you because of where you live, your specialty, or other circumstances about your specific situation.
Marketing May Be The Key To Debunking The Myths
Here’s the thing: many of the items on the list can be solved with marketing or with a mindset shift (or both). Sometimes, creative, out-of-the-box thinking is necessary to get there, but I believe it’s possible.
I talk about marketing a lot. Because private practice is a business, and in order for a business to work folks have to be able to find the business and believe that the item the business is selling is exactly what they are looking for.
I’ve talked about marketing extensively on my YouTube channel, so I’ll link to my private practice marketing playlist if you would like some help in this area.
Still Feeling Stuck?
If you’re feeling stuck in some of these myths about starting a private practice and it’s not clear how to find a way out, I encourage you to seek out fellow therapists. Find therapists who are successfully approaching their lives or their practice in a way that reflects what you want for yourself. Get to know them, invite their feedback, and welcome changes to your mindset where needed.
Here is a video on tips to find fellow therapists you click with.
And regardless of how you run your practice, if you’re happy with what it looks like right now, then enjoy! There is no right or wrong way to approach it, just as long as it aligns with how you want to do it.
Until next time, from one therapist to another: I wish you well.
Photo by Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels