Step by step guide to starting your private practice

A Step-by-Step Guide to Starting Your Mental Health Private Practice

A Step-by-Step Guide to Starting Your Mental Health Private Practice

Beginning your mental health private practice can often feel scary or daunting. There’s so much to do, it can often be difficult to know where to begin. Rather than looking at the big picture, I advise breaking it down into small steps. Helping private practice owners set themselves up for real success is my passion, and this guide has the first steps you need to take.

In this blog, we will discuss:

  • The feeling of overwhelm and how to reframe it
  • How to ask for help to create your best business plan
  • Taking your small business to the next level
  • Building a clientele

With these components in place, your private practice can expand greater than your imagination. It is easy to feel alone or get lost in building your small business. Practice management can take your company to the next level. Through these strategies, my mental health practice has become a multi-million dollar company. I have helped numerous private practitioners get to places they want to go, and I hope to do the same for you. Together, we can create a legacy of change in the mental health realm.

Mindset Matters

Mindset Matters & Imposter Syndrome

A lot of times, business owners view their counseling practice as a way to help others, rather than a way to make money. Once you conquer the mindset of realizing that it is possible to do both, you are finally in the position to make your small business profitable. 

Identifying imposter syndrome and fear-based thinking is vital for mental health professionals. When you change the way you view things, you can change your life.

The first time I felt severely overwhelmed in my private practice was in March 2020, when Covid-19 began. With the world shutting down and people staying home, I worried about how my group practice would thrive. My overwhelm didn’t last long because I knew I had the team in place to make changes to stay relevant in the changing market. 

Your initial private practice support team should include:

  • An accountant
  • A billing department
  • Administrative staff

Once I had all those roles in place, I was able to focus more on maintaining confidence that my new business plan would not only work, but it would succeed. At the time, it was interesting to see the contrasting perspectives of the pandemic. Some believed it would end as quickly as it began, while others were fearful their private practice would collapse. This sort of mindset is exactly what you want to avoid in your therapy practice. 

Prayer or meditation can go a long way when you find yourself stuck in a rut. It allows you to stay open to possibilities, like answers from God, or physical help from others.

A client of mine struggled deeply with imposter syndrome. It became more complex the more her small business grew. As soon as you find you’ve grasped one part of entrepreneurship, a new opportunity may be introduced, triggering more negative thought patterns and fearful spirals. You must have faith in your skills and talents, and a support team in place to help you through those times. For more on emotional regulation as a practice owner, read this blog.

Questions you can ask yourself when imposter syndrome shows up:

  • What experiences from your past have made you believe you can’t do this?
  • Do you honestly find it difficult to learn new things, or do you simply not want to?
  • Who told you that you didn’t deserve the amount of success you are looking for?

All these thoughts are normal. You are not alone. Confronting those fears by answering those questions honestly will allow your business plan to change for the better. Inviting a new mindset into your consciousness is simply the first piece of this big puzzle. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean much if you don’t act on your guidance. Once you believe that you can be successful, it is time to take the necessary action to help your small business grow. Remember why you started in the first place and how you want to be your own boss with your own practice.

Legal Considerations for Building Your Private Practice

Legal Considerations for Building Your Private Practice

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. This is another form of fear-based mindset; believing you have to do everything alone and figure it out for yourself. That is simply not true. An abundant amount of resources and people exist to help you turn your simple practice into one that thrives.

When I first met with my accountant, Antonio, I experienced a lot of fear and panic. Imposter syndrome had resurfaced. Yet, after speaking with him for an hour and a half, I gained an understanding of business structure. The most important thing he pointed out to me was that I wasn’t paying myself enough! That negative mindset had been deep in my psyche without me even realizing it. He informed me that if I didn’t adjust, I would pay more in taxes. This is what shifted my counseling practice from an LLC to a SCORP. While more doubt and fear set in, I looked at Antonio and saw his confidence. This put my negative mindset at ease. I knew I was in good hands. Within hours, he had my SCORP set up. Not only had my business structure improved, but I was learning so much!

Other things business owners need are:

  • A business name – When you get an LLC or SCORP, your business name has to be written in all the legal documentation. It is also helpful for creating your own domain on your business website.
  • A business bank account – This makes it easier for your accountant to do your taxes, and should be linked to your next item.
  • A business credit card – When you itemize your business expenses, it is easier to see them all in one place, rather than having to search through any personal credit cards of your own.
  • A business license – You’ll need proper certification to be legally considered your own private therapy practice.

Having someone on your team able to complete the proper credentialing paperwork can save you a headache and grant you the time and space to focus your energy on your private practice, like making money! 

With the help of your accountant and support team, you can decide on pricing that will be profitable. This includes cancellation policies in order not to lose money. You’ll also want to decide if your business will want to deal with an insurance company, as well as if you will accept private pay. If you’re unsure how much a private practice can make, it is time to understand the true abundance that awaits you.Answering these questions and identifying the legal and regulatory requirements for starting a healthcare practice is essential. With a plan in place, you can explore the wonderful world of marketing.

Marketing for Private Practice Startup

As much as you want to help people, it may be difficult when they don’t know you exist. After moving past imposter syndrome, and building your business legally, it is time to explore the realm of marketing. If you stay true to who you are, the brand of your company will showcase that. Have faith that you will fill your caseload and attract a vast amount of clients. Ask yourself what makes you stand apart from other clinicians out there.

Some effective strategies for marketing your new practice to attract your ideal client include:

  • Social mediaPosting online can help you gain new clients. Perhaps you will gain referrals for potential clients as well. Even if you are uncomfortable with social media or putting yourself on camera, know that it is only going to benefit your therapy practice. It is vital to maintain a social media presence.
  • Business cards and brochuresGive some thought and creativity to your design. VistaPrint is an excellent resource with templates to help you get started. You can also hire a professional to create a business card and brochures for you. Handing these out to area businesses and community organizations can result in referrals for years to come. Try doctor’s offices, schools, and organizations helping families in need.  
  • Build an email list – In addition to sending appointment reminders, you can also let your clients know about anything new and exciting your small business is offering.
  • Create a business website – I recommend using templates on WordPress and utilizing SEO. If you don’t know how to do this, hire someone who does. SEO increases your chances of being seen online when people search for mental health care.
  • An office space If you are going to have in-person sessions, your private practice must offer room for it. Another benefit to an office space is a place where your business cards and brochures can be on display and ideally passed on to new clients.


Soribel Martinez

Soribel Martinez is a Licensed Clinical Psychotherapist with dual graduate school diplomas, an MBA and MSW, with over 25 years of experience. She is the owner of SMPsychotherapy and Counseling Services, which has given her the hands-on business experience and know-how to help you reach your greatest potential.


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Closing Takeaways

I hope this inspired you to take action in setting up your best counseling practice with your best business plan. Setting business goals is helpful and allows you to see your progress. It is beneficial to see how you’ve grown, no matter how small each step may feel.

Wherever you are in your journey, do not give up. Continue to take care of yourself, especially your mental health, as it matters to all of us. Practice what you preach. If you find you may still need help reaching your business goals, There are many ways to work with me from free webinars, to in-person events, online courses, and private business coaching. To get started, take the quiz and then book one of my personalized assessment sessions!

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Every private practice owner’s guide to Bookkeeping, Money Management, and Investing so your private practice works for you.

I believe women with wealth, passion, and intention will elevate the world.

This is why I help purpose-driven women build profitable, Unbreakable lives and businesses.

Through my business consulting and coaching programs, I provide proven strategies, systems, and frameworks that make building a thriving, Unbreakable, life and business that provides the freedom they desire and the social impact they crave possible.

I guide you through scaling your Unbreakable business so you can have the impact you want on your community, enjoy the freedom that comes with owning your own business, and make the income that allows you to live the life you want.

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Every private practice owner’s guide to Bookkeeping, Money Management, and Investing so your private practice works for you.

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