For many therapists, owning a private practice is the ultimate dream. Being your own boss, creating your own brand, and serving the population that speaks to you can be such a rewarding experience. Getting to that place however, often feels like a fantasy. My journey to owning a private practice was definitely a stressful one, but I knew that at the end the reward would be sweet. If I had known about these steps to private practice sooner, it may have saved a few headaches.
My Journey from Graduate Student to Owner of Simplee Therapy
It ultimately took six, long years to reach my goal. For some the steps to a private practice are easier, and for others it is a long, stressful process. That is the thing about building a business. It will always be unique to you and will happen when you are ready to put in the work necessary to build it.
My process looked a little something like this…
Summer 2015: Started my graduate program at San Diego State University.
Summer 2016: *Found out I was having a baby!*
Owning a private practice & creating my own schedule became even more of a priority.
Winter 2017: *Had my darling, daughter!*
Summer 2017: Spoke with my clinical supervisor about my desire to own a private practice as soon as possible. My supervisor gave me the number of a colleague (also an alumni of my program) who was thinking of hiring an associate.
Fall 2017: I blindly called this alumni to ask if she was hiring associates in her practice. She said she was considering it, but wasn’t actively hiring.
Started my blog “Simplee Therapy” when I realized the information I was looking for wasn’t readily available. So I began writing down what I learned. (This blog was created alongside my Instagram page, and my therapist community quickly started to grow.)
Graduated with my Masters in Counseling!
Winter 2018: Waited (forever) for my associate number to be processed.
Got a call from the alumni of my program expressing that she was interested in bringing on an associate therapist and to let her know when my AMFT # was finalized.
Spring 2018: Signed an agreement to start working in her private practice as a Supervised Associate.
A few weeks later I also got offered a job at a school based mental health program (also thanks to a referral from another alumni from my program). The power of networking!
Summer 2019: Due to working two jobs, I was about 80% of the way to the 3000 hours needed to apply for my license.
Fall 2019: *Side note: I got married!*
I started setting aside more time for building out my therapist community via social media & my website. This proved to be very beneficial in the long run.
Spring 2020: I reached my 3000 hours for licensure!
*The world shut down.*
I finalized my 3000 hours and sent them to the BBS with hopes to have them approved fairly quickly (surprise, surprise…it wasn’t quick).
Summer 2020: Got notified that I could take my licensing Exam!
Passed my MFT Exam and received my licensing number!
Simplee Therapy officially opened for business!!! My blog was easily transitioned into a site for hosting information about my business.
Fall 2020: Due to the pandemic, I had to let go of the office space I used up until that point for seeing clients. Teletherapy was going to have to work.
I had a little extra time during quarantine, so I created and published a journal for clients to use during therapy.
Summer 2021: I officially transitioned to Full Time private practice owner!
Plus, I hosted the first “Associates in Private Practice” online course!
The Steps to Building Your Private Practice
1. Identify Your “Why?”
From my undergraduate days, I knew that private practice was my long term goal. I valued autonomy and being able to decide what my work environment & schedule would be. When I realized having a flexible schedule would be much easier to manage with a little one at home, I decided to push up my original goal of starting a practice 7years after graduating, to starting a practice as soon as I got my license. My “why?” never changed, just the timeline did. Deciding your “why?” is what will ultimately fuel your passion.
2. Identify People in Your Support Network that can Provide Mentorship
Mentorship is so important when running a business. Whether you find a mentor who is just super business savvy or a therapist who has successfully built a practice, doesn’t really matter. What matters is they have information and tools that can help keep you on track towards your goals and educate you along the way.
3. Talk about Your Goals
You don’t have to keep it a secret that you want to start a business. Talking about it with friends, family, or colleagues from day one means having people that will start associating you with that business. Ultimately, they will start sending referrals, resources, and opportunities your way that may help that business idea grow into a thriving practice.
4. Make a Plan for Reaching those Goals
You can’t have a business without a business plan. There are key elements of any good business plan: partnerships, marketing, research, resources, costs, revenue streams, and opportunities for growth. Creating a clear plan helps keep you on track, and allows you to make small edits along the way to maximize your time.
5. Follow Through on Said Plans
This should be a no brainer. If you make a plan, follow it. If you feel that something isn’t working it may actually be because you have strayed from the plan. Re-access along the way, and see where you strayed so you can get back on track.
6. Stick with it Through the Tough Times
Bumps in the road are inevitable. Life happens and sometimes we have to make significant changes to the plan. Don’t give up during those trying times. Stick it out and make tweaks as needed.
7. Bask in the Sun!
Once you set goals, create a plan, and follow through you will begin to reap all the rewards. It is bliss being able to work your desired hours, take breaks when you want to, expand and reach goals that maybe you never knew were possible.
As a therapist, I know that we learn very little (if anything) about starting a business and creating the career you dreamed of. That’s why I wanted to help other new therapists understand the steps to building a private practice. If you can dream it, you can build it. Private practice is for those determined to create their own lane, and I’m here for it!
Associates in Private Practice
Registration Now Open!
*Seats are limited.*