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7 Steps to Owning a Private Practice

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.

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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!

Analee Phang, LMFT Owner of the private practice, Simplee Therapy
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Associates in Private Practice


Registration Now Open!

*Seats are limited.*

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Top 3 Blogs of 2021 at Simplee Therapy

2021 has been a doozy of a year, and who knows what 2022 has in store. One thing is for certain though, we have all taken a look at how we can improve our mental health and relationships. Simplee Therapy has always been a space about making therapy simple and providing relatable information on how to improve ourselves and the relationships we keep. Check out the top three posts this year to reflect on some of the things we have learned!

concerned black couple sitting on bed in misunderstanding

Coming Together for Interracial Couples

2021 has been a hard year for a lot of couples. Navigating financial strains, health issues, loss of family, working from home, then toss in racial injustice on top of all of that, and some new questions and values may have been surfaced throughout the past 24 months. Take a look back on some important topics to be addressed in an interracial relationship.

Engagement Anxiety

Although 2021 had its not so great moments, there were also plenty of beautiful expressions of love. Realizing you want to spend the rest of your life with someone is a momentous occasion. Excitement may be the initial feeling for many, but anxiety can also show up for those approaching happily ever after. Take a look back on how to cope with a wedding pending.

You’ve Decided to Go to Therapy: 3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Scheduling Your First Appointment

So many individuals made 2021 the year to start their mental health journey, and what an important step that is! Maybe you were still on the fence about starting down that path of introspection, and that’s okay. Check out the three questions to help you start navigating your mental health journey with intention and openness to the process.

Take a look back and see what will be helpful on your therapy journey. Starting a new mental health journey? Check out the Healing Journal to track your therapy progress!

peace, love, happiness, Lee
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Do You Know Your Therapist’s Social Media Policy?

Understanding Therapy Consent Forms

We continue our series on informed consents for treatment in therapy with the discussion of social media policies. If you want to read more about informed consent for treatment check out our previous blogs here.

Over the past few years there has been a significant increase in the amount of therapists in the social media space. Whether a therapist is on Facebook, Instagram, or even TikTok, they probably have some form of a social media policy in place to protect you and themselves from a breach in boundaries.

So what exactly is a social media policy, and why is it important?

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A social media policy is a layer of legal/ethical understanding put into place in order to protect the therapeutic relationship between a client and their therapist. Therapists will often list this policy on their social media pages, in an informed consent, or through a verbal acknowledgement in session. This policy often looks something like this:

What a Social Media Policy looks like…

“In order to prevent breaches in confidentiality and the creation of any dual relationships, the therapist will not accept any “friend requests” or “follows” on any social media platform by any current or former client. If following a business account associated with the therapist, the therapist highly recommends to not engage in comments or direct messaging through these social media platforms as these are not regularly monitored and may put your confidentiality at risk of being breached. The therapist may not reply to any contacts made through various social media platforms. Do not use these platforms to request emergency resources.”

You may also see a version of these policies listed as “disclaimers” on a therapist’s social media accounts. These disclaimers often describe how to engage appropriately with these social media pages, expectations of interactions, ways to maintain confidentiality, and resources in case there is an emergency that needs immediate attention. Reading these policies and disclaimers is an important part of being informed as you enter into a therapy space.

Ultimately, these social media policies are in place to prevent the forming of dual relationships. Dual relationships are an ethical concern for mental health professionals, as it can deteriorate the professional relationship formed with a client. The professional and therapeutic relationship formed between a therapist and client should be the ONLY relationship formed between a therapist and client. Therapists should not form business relationships, friendships, or romantic relationships with their clients due to the risk of harming the client’s therapeutic progress and degrading a therapist’s professional lens when treating a patient. Therapist’s should always prioritize your growth and what is most therapeutically helpful.

If you aren’t sure if your therapist has a social media policy, always feel free to ask, so as not to cross a boundary that is ultimately in place for the betterment of your therapeutic work. For therapists, always be clear about what boundaries are in place to protect your client’s confidentiality and therapeutic process.

peace love happiness, Lee

What are the Limits to Confidentiality in Therapy?

Understanding Therapy Consent Forms Series

Reading over the consent for treatment is such an important step in starting therapy services. We continue our discussion today with the topic of limits to confidentiality in therapy. (Feel free to check out our previous discussions on “No Secrets” policies and the benefits of therapy.)

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Most of those outside of the mental health field find confidentiality and therapists to be one in the same. These two things feel synonymous as therapists are only second to lawyers when it comes to professionals who hold secrets for their clients. However, those within the mental health field know that confidentiality is actually our second most important priority. This is due to limits of confidentiality in therapy treatment.

Certain professionals are bound to codes of law & ethics. Doctors and therapists have similar codes when it comes to confidentiality. HIPAA laws require healthcare workers to protect a client’s private health information. Unlike lawyers (who practice attorney-client privilege), healthcare workers are required to breach confidentiality when it comes to safety concerns for clients.

So what exactly are the “limits to confidentiality”? Well, for therapists the limits include four things:

  1. Suspicion of child abuse (any person under 18 years of age) of any kind (physical, sexual, verbal, neglect, etc.)
  2. Suspicion of elder* abuse (any person over 65 years of age) of any kind (physical, sexual, financial, verbal, neglect, etc.). *This can also be applied to those with disabilities of any age.
  3. A credible threat to harm oneself
  4. A credible threat to harm someone else

Therapists are obligated to act on these four things because the #1 most important priority in therapy is the safety of a client and those around them. Therapists will report these things either in the moment, if it is time sensitive, or at the very latest within 36 hours of the disclosure of these occurrences.

We ultimately report these disclosures to authority figures such as the local police or child/adult protective services in order to increase the safety of those involved. If it is a suicidal or homicidal threat, the police will be called to escort the client to a hospital setting to get psychiatric care, and/or the threatened party will be notified for their safety. If it is a safety issue concerning a child, elder, or someone who is disabled, the appropriate protective services agency will be notified so they can reach out to those involved and provide appropriate resources to keep the family safe. This is why you may be asked your address at the beginning of every teletherapy session, so if an emergency arises your therapist can send the appropriate people to assist you in your time of need.

“Limits to confidentiality” is ultimately about safety. No therapist wants to see a client in harms way, or others in harms way due to a mental health crisis. So when you are beginning therapy there is no need to be surprised by your therapist mentioning these limits at the onset of treatment.

simplee therapy sign off. Peace, love, happiness, Lee.
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What is a “No Secrets” Policy?

Understanding Therapy Consent Forms

The first step in starting therapy is always looking over and signing a consent form about the treatment you will be receiving. By nature, most people skim over these documents and go right to the signature line, but do you really know what you are signing off on? These treatment agreements outline how therapy can help, what to expect about your confidentiality, your fee for services, and so much more. Today, I want to focus on the “No Secrets” policy that is often included in consents for couples or family therapy services.

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Who does a “No Secrets” policy apply to?

This policy is in place for couples or families participating in therapy together. If you are in individual therapy, this policy most likely wouldn’t affect your treatment. However, if you are entering into therapy with someone else to work on a relationship, this policy may be in place.

What is a “No Secrets” Policy?

This terminology is used by therapists to describe a unique policy in place for couples & family services. It is intended to prevent information important to a relationship from being hidden from either party participating in services. It comes from the understanding that when a couple or family are participating in services the “relationship” is the client, not one or the other participants. So in order to uphold what is best for the “relationship” the therapist will not hold secrets for one or the other participants.

Where would I find information about a “No Secrets” policy?

Now this is one of those questions where “it depends” is the only answer. Personally, I include this policy in my informed consents because I want clients to be well informed about this aspect of therapy prior to starting services. However, every therapist has differing ideas on how or when to tell a client about a “no secrets” policy. Some only verbally inform their clients of this policy once they enter into therapy, some will post this policy online or in their office without actually including it on a consent form. While other therapists may not utilize this policy at all, and are open to keeping certain “secrets” a secret.

When would a “No Secrets” policy be implemented?

The policy only gets implemented when something pertinent to the relationship (or detrimental to the relationship) is shared with the therapist by one participant in treatment, but not the other participant. For example, therapists may separate a couple for two individual sessions to assess for certain dynamics within the relationship. If one spouse discloses that they are having an affair in this individual session a therapist may invoke the “no secrets” policy because the information shared would be detrimental to the treatment if not shared with both parties of the relationship.

Why would a therapist have a “No Secrets” policy?

Ultimately, it is to keep the therapy space an open and honest one. When two people consent to participating in therapy treatment it has to be a space where they can both trust the therapist. If the therapist is holding a secret from one participant, it can become a breech of trust not only between the partners, but in the therapeutic relationship as well. Rapport and trust is the foundation of any therapy relationship, so upholding these things are of the utmost importance.

Understanding the consent forms is an important first step in starting the therapy process. Check out my understanding therapy consents series by reading more of the blog here. If you are interested in starting couples therapy reach out for an initial consultation here.

peace, love, happiness, Lee