However, a key tenet that applies to all private practice practitioners is the need to embrace a positive attitude toward business. It is critical for all mental health professionals in private practice to understand that when self-employed, the business operation of running their private practice is equally as important as their clinical work.
Success in private practice is positively correlated with confidence in running your business. Here are 4 tips that you can do now to build your business confidence:
- Dress for Success: Take pride in how you look. When you present yourself to your clients, dress in a professional way i.e. in a manner that is respectful to your clients. Fee-for-service clients are paying for your professional expertise – make sure you ‘look the part’.
- Be due diligent with your paper work: Whether hard copy or electronically – keep files (notes, forms), invoices and other important documents confidential, organized and secure. Develop a system that works well for you and keep it maintained. This organized system for your files, accounting procedures and important documents will serve you well in terms of your professional due diligence, code of ethics and peace of mind.
- Take payment up front: Generally speaking, counsellors and therapists have not been astute with business nor with money. Many in private practice find themselves embarrassed in taking payment for their services. As part of setting the professional tone of your clinical sessions, take payment at the start of each session.
- Build your professional support: In private practice, you need a support system i.e. ‘your people’. This group will grow over time and it will be made up of: a clinical supervisor, an accountant, IT /Web developer, a financial advisor, a lawyer, career/business coach etc. Having the right people to support you and give you the advice you need long term will help you thrive in the business of your private practice.
Private Practice can be extremely rewarding as a career and it can generate a wonderful lifestyle. Embrace the business aspect of your self-employment choice.