My entire mission in launching Private Practice Skills was to make sure I could teach you the skills I wish I had when I first started out in private practice. So I thought it would be helpful to outline the biggest mistakes I made when I first started my therapy practice so that you can avoid them.
If you avoid these four mistakes when starting a therapy practice, you’ll be well on your way to success!
I’ve shared before about my journey getting started in private practice as a pre-licensed intern. I dive into the nitty-gritty details of what it was like starting my therapy practice in that article if you’re interested in hearing the whole story.
Mistakes to avoid when starting a therapy practice
These are the biggest mistakes I made when I got started. If I could go back and make these changes, I’m sure I wouldn’t have had to spend so long twiddling my thumbs waiting for potential clients to appear from thin air!
Mistake 1: Not staying connected to your values
It’s not an accident that I name this mistake first. When I first got started in private practice, rather than honing in on what mattered most to me and building a mission statement for my practice from there, I ran around like a chicken with its head cut off trying every tactic someone suggested to me without really understanding my purpose in it all.
Instead, it would have been helpful to pause for a moment and create a document outlining my values and the reasons for starting a therapy practice. Then I could have measured every choice I made thereafter against this mission statement.
Deciding to stay aligned with my values was a complete game-changer in my business. It helped me to streamline my tasks to stay focused on what mattered, and it kept me from burning out since every choice I made had a specific purpose.
Mistake 2: Not leveraging online marketing
Ugh. Online marketing?? Most of us therapists roll our eyes when we hear about online marketing. It can feel so disconnected from our skillset. But hear me out for a second.
I launched my private practice in 2012. And though the internet has changed quite a bit since then, it wasn’t so far back in the stone age that I couldn’t have launched a website and an online marketing campaign at the time. Since I worked in an independent group practice, I relied on my therapist profile within the group to get referrals online.
And, even though I did get many referrals through the group, I could have launched so much more successfully if I had my own website and built it up by writing weekly blogs while I was trying to grow my caseload.
Trust me, it pays dividends in the long run to invest a little bit in online marketing for your therapy practice. Not sure where to start? Here are a few articles I’ve written on the topic:
Mistake 3: Seeing other therapists as competition
I so regret making this mistake. When I started out, I saw other therapists’ success as a threat to mine. I thought somehow they were snagging up “my clients.”
This was such an unhealthy and unhelpful mindset!
Instead, I wish I had seen fellow therapists in private practice as my allies, friends, and referral sources. We need to support each other and we also offer referrals to each other. Now I see other therapists’ success as a testament that the same success can be possible for me too!
Mistake 4: Undervaluing your services
When I started in private practice, I really didn’t think I was qualified enough to charge what my supervisor suggested as my starting rate. And I know I’m not the only therapist with this tendency.
Undercharging is a huge mistake! Even while charging the right rate, it took some time before I felt I could fully “own” that rate during initial calls with clients. I think our clients can sense this trepidation and it makes them doubt the value of our work too!
I talk about this mistake in-depth in my article all about charging what you’re worth, so feel free to check it out here:
How to Make More Money in Private Practice: Charge your Worth
You can start a therapy practice too!
Trust me, I made a LOT of other mistakes at the beginning and since. But if I could go back and change these four things, I think I would have been successful starting a therapy practice far sooner and I would have felt far less anxious throughout the process.
My guess is, if I’ve made these mistakes, you may be prone to making some of them too. Before anxiously diving into private practice, I encourage you to run through each of the items on this list and create a plan for how you will address each one. It will save you time and heartache down the road, and it will help your practice take off so much faster!
Want more support starting a private practice? I have a free guide for that! Check it out here to grab your free guide: Start a Private Practice in Counseling
Until next time, from one therapist to another: I wish you well!