Many therapists dream of having their own private practice, but many are afraid to take the plunge. The thought of being your own boss and setting your own schedule is certainly appealing, but the private practice lifestyle isn’t for everyone.
There are many benefits to starting your own private practice such as more control over what you do and who you serve, when you work, and how much you charge clients; however, there are some downsides such as the lack of formal training, a lower income initially as you build your practice, and the need to market yourself (something most therapists don’t know how to do).
Here’s why I think every LPC Associate should consider starting a private practice.
In Private Practice, You Decide Who You Work With and How
When you have your own private practice, you get to decide what kind of therapy you want to provide, what population you want to work with, and what type of clients you want to see. This can be a great way to customize your therapy practice to fit your unique interests and skills.
I believe the therapy field as a whole is moving more toward specialization, and I’m all for it. Gone are the days of the general practitioner who works with everyone and every issue. We now know that therapy can and should be tailored to the individual client and presenting concern.
I myself am a couples specialist with advanced training in couples therapy as well as discernment counseling. I also am trained in collaborative divorce. All of this equips me with the skills that I need to work with couples who find themselves at the crossroads of divorce.
Having a specialty or niche means you don’t have to wonder what training to attend and what books to read. It even helps you know who to network with and form relationships within your community.
You Have More Control Over When You Work
One of the best things about having your own private practice is that you get to set your own hours. This means that you can work around your personal schedule and see clients when it is convenient for you. This can be a great option for people who have other commitments such as family or social life (what a concept).
Want to work four days a week? You can do that. Want to schedule yourself off one week per month? Sure. Love working in the morning and being done by the time your kiddos get out of school? It’s your practice, you make the rules. Can you take a two-hour lunch in the middle of the day and sign up for that new Zumba class? If that’s your thing, go for it!
If you plan well, you can account for as much time off as you want to take. In Europe it’s not uncommon to take an entire month off for vacation. Can you imagine… a month without checking emails? a month without answering phone calls? a month to just sit back, relax, and enjoy living?
It’s possible in private practice; in your private practice.
You Can Charge What You Want
When you have your own private practice, you get to set your own fees. This means that you can charge what you feel is fair for your services. You can also offer discounts or sliding-scale fees to clients who may not be able to afford your full fee. This can be a great way to make your services more accessible to people who need them.
You’ve probably heard people say, “charge what you’re worth,” but how can you really put a price tag on transformation? How much do you charge to save a person’s life or their marriage? You can’t charge what you’re worth because the work you do is invaluable. Okay, I’m off that soapbox now. Let’s continue.
Just how much can you make in private practice? Compared to how much LPC Associates make in Texas working at an agency? A lot. I charge almost 10x more than I was making per hour out of grad school working at a hospital. You deserve to start building your practice and your wealth now, not ten years from now when you’ve become burnt out and stressed out. Again, soapbox… Sorry.
Setting fees in private practice can feel like a double-edged sword, but once you work through some of that money junk, it’s so liberating. Since LPC Associates are unable to be paneled with insurance, you have no choice (as of this writing) but to go private pay. A lot of fully licensed therapists get sucked into the abyss of insurance. For you, it’s not even an option, and that’s a beautiful thing.
Personally, I have never accepted insurance in my practice. Might it have helped me grow my caseload more quickly? Probably. Would it have been worth the headache to allow someone else to tell me how much my work is worth and then have to jump through countless hoops to ensure they pay me for it? Nope. Definitely not. It certainly would not be worth the risk of having them pay me then decide later that they really didn’t want to and ask me to give them their money back. Did you know that’s a thing? Cuz that’s a thing.
Start Your Private Practice Journey on the Right Foot
If you’re thinking about starting your own private practice as an LPC Associate, it’s important to do your research and weigh the pros and cons before making a decision. Private practice can be a great way to take control of your career, but it’s not right for everyone. Consider all of the factors involved before taking the plunge.
Grad school did not prepare you for private practice. In all honesty, it probably didn’t really prepare you to be a therapist. (Sorry to burst your bubble.) The good news is that that is exactly what your internship is for. Being an LPC Associate means you get the expert guidance of a qualified LPC Supervisor, someone who can walk you step-by-step on your journey to an amazing private practice.
At least, that’s what you’d get if you work with me. I’m an LPC Supervisor who believes every LPC Associate should have the choice and opportunity to pursue private practice. There is no better way to prepare you to be successful in private practice than to jump in under the watchful eye of your supervisor.
Sure, you can work with the clients that thrill and energize you, but do you know who they are and how to speak to them? I can help you with that. Being in private practice means setting your own hours, but so many therapists work from a scarcity mindset and will bend and break their own schedules to get clients in. I can show you how to create (and stick to) your ideal schedule.
Many counselors have a lot of money issues. So many are concerned about money, and it affects the way they do business. If we discover that your money story is holding you back, I’ll help you rewrite it. I’ll help you set fees that are appropriate and serve both you and your clients well.
Is Private Practice Right for You?
So, should you start your own private practice as an LPC Associate? The answer is: it depends (though I highly recommend it). There are many advantages to going out on your own, such as more control over what you do, when you work, and how much you charge your clients. However, there are also some downsides, such as the lack of formal training and the need to market yourself (something most therapists don’t know how to do).
Those barriers to entry mean little if you have an amazing supervisor showing you the way. I wish I had someone who could lead me through the process. I’m thrilled it’s an option for you! Being able to provide online supervision in Texas means I can work with you no matter where you are in the state. Let me help you achieve your private practice dreams. If you have the qualities for success in private practice, schedule a free 30-minute call with me below.
About the Author
Mark Cagle is an LPC Supervisor in Texas and provides online supervision to LPC Associates throughout the state. He also has a thriving private practice in Dallas focused on working with couples in crisis.
Being the nerd that he is, he also builds websites and creates digital marketing plans to help other therapists flourish in their practices.
There are many great reasons to work with Mark, but don't just take his word for it. If you want to skip the usual associate slog and jumpstart your career in private practice, schedule a chat.