Starting your own private practice can be overwhelming and intimidating. It may be a dream of yours. Having your own office space, seeing clients when you want and really being able to dive deep into the therapeutic work you are always wishing you had more time for.Private practice isn’t for everyone, and it can be a huge leap of faith, especially if you plan on doing it full time. (Don't forget to download the Private Practice Checklist) People start private practice for many reasons, I started my practice because I needed to find a way to make money during the summer months.
I had been working in a Charter school for several years, and during those years I had been getting paid through the summer vacation month.Then there came the time when the pay scheduled changed and we would no longer get summer checks.Instead of saving money throughout the school year (I was not very good at that skill) I decided to take inventory of the skills I had and start making money from it.One side note: Private Practice wasn’t the first idea I had. I also attempted to sell my art. I learned that the investment outweighed the return.I scrapped that Idea.
If you are thinking about starting your own private practice, my recommendation is to not go at it alone.Rent can be expensive, so finding a space that you can sublet a few hours a week is more appropriate for a new therapist when you start out.I rented a small office with two other therapist friends for a year.We had assigned days and nights we would use the space.
You will also need to decide if you want to be on insurance panels.There are pros and cons to being on panels and not.Getting paneled can take time.Most of them will say they have up to 180 business days to approve you. That’s if they don’t lose your application.I have had one insurance company lose our application three times.
Before even applying for insurance panels you will need to get your NPI number and complete a CAQH questionnaire.(
.Your NPI number is like a therapist, social security number that will identify you and follow you around as long as you are in practice.
My other suggestion for you is to get a phone number that isn’t your personal number.In my practice, I use Grasshopper.It has been a great service that has grown with me as my practice has grown.You will also get your opening paperwork and some business cards.I also suggest that you have a bank account that is dedicated to the funds you receive from your practice.
I don’t suggest that anyone starts their private practice as a full-time business right away.I think it’s better to start it as a side hustle to another job.It takes time to get all your duck in a row before you can confidently start taking clients.
Although I have enjoyed the switch from working at a school to working at my own group practice full time, some people don’t enjoy the thought of dealing with all the moving parts that running your own business.Most of us didn’t learn business techniques when we went to school to become therapists, so the thought of learning how to run a business isn’t for everyone.I love owning and running my practice, but here are some of the negative sides to starting your own private practice.
Working evenings: most people want to see their therapist after work.This means you eat dinner at your office and leave when it’s dark out. If you have kids, it can mean less time with them.
Answering the phone:Ok, I must admit I hate answering the phone.This may not be a deal breaker for most, but I don’t like being a conversation I may not be ready for.
Learning how to market yourself:Most people don’t like talking about themselves and feeling as if they are trying to sell something.The fact is, when you own own business, you need to sell yourself and your expertise.
Learn Website design: You can hire someone to create a website for you. If you are starting out on a thin budget, you may have to figure out how to do this on your own.Most people like to see a therapist’s website before deciding to make the first call.
Learn the ins and outs of Insurance Companies:This can be an entire blog post .In short, when you own your own therapy practice and you want to be able to take insurance you need to learn how the ins and outs of each insurance company you want to work with.They all reimburse you a different amount and they have their own rules about when and for what they will reimburse you for.Beware!!! If you ever need to call one of them for a simple question, you will be spending time on hold for many hours of your life.Many times, if you can get several different answers if you call several different times.
Being stood up:It happens, clients will make appointments for you and not show up.This can be extremely frustrating if this an initial session and you haven’t even been able to have the conversation about no call no show appointments.Sometimes you will have made a special trip to the office to see that one only client of the day and they don’t show.
You don’t get paid when sick:Owning your own practice means that if you want to take a day off, you don’t get paid.The good thing is, you can always see if your client can reschedule for another time in the week.
Having your own private practice can be rewarding and grueling at the same time.I suggest that if you’re thinking of starting a private practice, be sure to connect with others who are in private practice too.They may be able to give you some support with business gets tough. You are welcome to join my Facebook group Private Practice Made East as a network and support system.I have included a steps you should take before opening your doors to your first client.
If you have done so already, please join our Facebook group Private Practice Made Easy. You will learn more trick and hacks to growing a thriving practice.
Find out more about Melissa DaSilva at MsMelissaDaSilva.com