Y’all know I’m a private practice proselytizer. I believe private practice is an excellent fit for the vast majority of the people it appeals to, but you can get stuck in a huge loop of private practice-free resource overload and not realize private practice may not be a good fit for you.
Let’s talk about what would make private practice a bad fit for someone.
If you have no job or a job you have to get out of ASAP and no savings, and no way to pay your bills, now may not be the best time. Starting a practice takes money. Thankfully, not a ton compared to other businesses, but it is entirely too much pressure, and a teeny tiny minority of practices get enough clients between deciding to start and having to pay their next rent payment. So if you don’t have a way to pay for your life for the next few months, don’t do it.
Another “maybe don’t” would be if you would describe yourself as lazy and requiring a fair bit of external motivation. There has to be a fair bit of internal motivation to keep this train on the tracks, especially in the early days.
The timing is iffy if you’re completely overwhelmed with life stuff. If you’re mid-divorce with a kid with special needs and ill parents you care for, I’m not saying that private practice isn’t the best choice for you right now. It absolutely might be. No other mental health job is going to pay you as much or provide as much flexibility. Starting a practice is emotionally challenging. There’s a period in which almost all of us feel like it’s not going to work because our marketing seeds have not yet bloomed. It also takes time, energy, and money. All that to say, It means being really honest with yourself about how much more you can handle without cracking. If you’re like me, you may overestimate that. Be careful.
I talk to folx who have executive functioning issues who worry that they won’t be able to keep up with private practice. If that’s you, I want you to know that this can be way easier than you think with structure and support. It’s crucial for you to have an all-in-one system, so you have fewer plates to spin. I mentioned Therapy Notes. I believe wholeheartedly that it would make the running of your practice so much smoother.
Besides having an all-in-one system that makes scheduling, payment, and charting easier, you need office policies and schedule planning. Don’t let that scare you. You’re the one who gets to choose what you want it to look like, and it’s not set in stone.
Lastly, as a future business owner, I’m going to suggest getting into a business owner mindset. You aren’t learning to make candles in your spare time on youtube. You’re learning how to build a business that is responsible not only for your financial and vocational well-being, you’re also responsible for your potential clients and communities’ experience of their introduction to you as a business owner.
You can cobble together tons of free content from myself and other practice builders and learn what you need to, but it’s going to take significantly more of your essential time, and some things may not be as fleshed out as they need to be for optimal success. Investing money and time in your business will expedite the building process to the extent that you can. If you have plenty of time, free can be great. But the sooner you get clients, the sooner you are running a financially viable business. I don’t think I fully appreciated the whole time-is-money thing until I was in private practice. If you get your marketing rolling, and let’s say you get a few clients from it, the exponential growth that tends to happen once you have clients coming in all happens sooner. As does the paycheck you get to give yourself.
If you’re ready to jump into private practice with some support and guidance, check out the Abundance Party!