Private Practice Essentials
the 3 essential parts of a successful private practice
As therapists and coaches, we have a commitment to care for others-- including those who struggle to care for themselves. A successful private practice is both willing and able to honor this commitment. Each private practice honors this commitment differently, but common ways include:
- Offering low-fee or pro-bono services to at least a segment of clients; and/or
- Using your extra funds from a full roster of self-pay clients to facilitate charitable cash donations to worthy causes and/or
- Volunteering your time in other ways to help the community around you as well as the global community more broadly
Profits in Action
Having a successful and sustainable practice empowers you to provide low-fee or pro bono services within your community as part of your commitment to helping underserved populations. You can feel empowered to have a profitable practice knowing that it only increases your resources to help others. Kiva is one of our favorite places to donate, where we fund micro-loans to female entrepreneurs in developing economies around the globe.
We all know that we feel our best when we're organized. A well-organized private practice reduces stress for the therapist, since everything runs smoothly. The right documents help a therapist keep healthy limits with clients around topics like billing, annual fee raises, late cancellations, attendance requirements for clients who wish to hold a standing appointment, and many other sensitive interpersonal issues that benefit from setting clear, neutral boundaries at the start of engagement.
Clients also tend to feel better when they get a clear sense that their therapist is well-organized in terms of things like client agreements, billing documents, and office policies that have clear and relatable language. Especially for a therapist with self-pay clients where adhering to office policies (or not) can mean the difference of hundreds or thousands of dollars annually, clear and organized paperwork is essential. The right paperwork will anticipate common issues of private practices by including clear policies that neutralize many delicate situations when clients' emotions may be running high.
As our world moves to a digital format, the need to maintain organized boundaries over email has become essential as well (such as when a client emails to say they need to cancel, and their cancellation will either mark them as late or be part of a pattern of frequent cancellations that is creating a burden to a therapist who is blocking her own schedule with a standing appointment for the frequent-canceller). Trying to create timely responses to emails "on the fly" is challenging for therapists-- so a bank of email templates for common (and not so common!) client situations can be a good resource for therapists to keep their private practice organized.
Each therapist has their own way of creating organization, but one way that we help is through offering our document collection.
Let's face it: While many of us were taught how to be excellent therapists, we were often not taught in graduate school how to be business people (including how to get clients, which is an essential part of any private practice). In fact, many therapists are actually very shy about putting themselves out there or marketing themselves. They thrive in a cozy private practice office doing individual sessions with their clients, but actually getting those clients into their practice remains a hurdle for even the best of therapists: Getting clients is a different skill set from treating clients.
Therapists who struggle to create a profitable practice are often vulnerable to burnout, because they may need to see far too many clients just to pay their basic bills (including those expensive student loans, in many cases!). It is hard for these therapists to be well-organized, since they are often juggling too many clients than is really best for them (or for the clients!). Alternatively, other therapists may languish without enough clients, feeling constantly stressed because their practice not sustainable without enough clients. Therapists without enough clients (or too many insurance clients and not enough self-pay clients) often benefit greatly from finding community and encouragement, as well as practical ideas on how to grow their practice so they can easily begin to pay off their loans, take care of their families, enjoy vacations or time off, and get massages or see a personal trainer to ensure their own self-care keeps them refreshed and ready to bring their best level of care to sessions.
Profits are more than just making money. In the holistic sense, and from its Latin root "profectus" meaning "progress" or "advance", a truly profitable practice is one that is also sustainable and organized. It enriches the clients, the therapist, and the community around it. A profitable practice allows the therapist to focus on what they enjoy most: Doing excellent therapy! Dr. Chloe's course for therapists addresses all of these issues in her course for therapists who wish to build these private practice essentials.