Steps to starting a private counselling practice

Learning the steps to starting a private counselling practice are essential to save a therapist time, money, energy and to ensure that their actions result in a positive outcome, namely ‘running a successful and sustainable counselling practice’.
 
The majority of counselling courses do little to help therapists on this journey, instead imploring them to join an agency where they can refine their skills and gain valuable hours of counselling practice under supervision. By the time a therapist feels sufficiently competent and seeks greater autonomy in their work, they find little to help them identify how to start a practice.
 
There are some key steps:
  • Be clear on why you want to practice privately.
  • Identify and dispel the myths you have about private practice to ensure you avoid costly mistakes.
  • Research your market – what are your clients looking for and why would they choose you?
  • Develop a business plan of how you will develop, market and sell your services and what sources of income will be necessary to sustain your practice.
  • Create a marketing plan to consistently promote your service, using online and offline methods.
  • Evaluate the results of your actions and modify your strategy.
 
Many therapists are surprised to learn that a business and marketing strategy is necessary to develop their practice. It is however an important step in ensuring your success. Without one, you will not have any real idea of where you are going and as the maxim says ‘If you don’t know where you are going – you will end up somewhere else’. Don’t let your lack of business knowledge, integrated with highly effecting counselling skills, stand in the way of having a successful counselling practice.
 
One major barrier in the way to a counsellor’s success is their own myths and assumptions of what private practice is and the necessity of applying business principles to it. Many therapists believe that a steady flow of clients will come from a referral source that regularly sends clients their way. This traditionally has worked but today things have changed. Firstly, there are an enormous number of counsellors, coaches, psychologists and personal development specialists offering solutions to clients’ problems. This means the client has much more choice in how to overcome their difficulties. Secondly, the methods for finding help have changed to. Today the Internet is used widely by all sectors of the population and a therapist who doesn’t have an active, online presence will find that their would-be clients go elsewhere. However, it is not sufficient to just have a website; it must be active and filled regularly with relevant, rich content matched to your clients problems. Thus, a marketing strategy must be part of your business plan to ensure your success.
 
They are steps to being successful but it takes time, effort and dispelling any myths you may have that running a successful counselling practice is not a business. It is a business with an exchange of services and applying business principles to attracting, retaining and assisting clients to solve their problems, is essential to your success.

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