Lessons Learned From My First Year in Full-Time Therapy Private Practice – Part 2
Updated: Mar 31
***Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not provide medical, legal, or health advice and is not a substitute for mental health services
If you’d like to read Part 1 of my lessons learned from my first year of full-time private practice, please click here.
This post contains the second half of the key lessons I’ve learned this past year.
6. Manage your expectations
There are so many articles on the internet focusing on how to build a 6-figure therapy private practice. You might think that, if you are not reaching that target, then you haven’t made it or that you aren’t doing well enough.
Let’s pause for a moment and think about the fact that this dollar figure may not be feasible right now. When you’re just starting out in private practice, the number of clients that you see each week will not be at its peak, so your income level will not be the same as it would be if you were at full capacity. Or perhaps your session rate is lower if you have fewer years of experience, meaning that your income when you are starting out will be naturally lower than perhaps 5 or 10 years from now as your session rate increases incrementally over time.
It’s also important to recognize that there are many therapists out there who are only able to work part-time in their practice because they need to take care of young children or an elderly family member, or perhaps they need a second job that gives a bit more income stability to manage their monthly expenses.
Remember where you are at in your unique journey and align your expectations with it. Whenever I find myself questioning if I should be further along than I am, I try to go back to this concept to help ground me.
7. Make a plan and stick to it
In building a business, there’s a lot of competition out there and it’s so easy to get caught up in ‘comparison-itis’ – in other words, observing others in the field and thinking that you don’t measure up or believing that they are way ahead of you.
Social media is completely saturated with so many businesses doing the same thing you are that you also may find yourself dealing with ‘shiny object syndrome’, where you end up switching from one strategy to the next, trying to find that one big thing that will help you grow your practice exponentially.
Changing your approach by the day, week, or month, will not only be overwhelming and confusing to you but could also be confusing to those who follow you or work with you as they will have trouble keeping up with the constant changes.
In many ways, it’s better to make a plan that works for you – and stick to it - in terms of your marketing strategy, how you engage with potential clients, the systems and processes you use to make your practice efficient, and other factors related to your business.
I sometimes have to bring myself back to center by telling myself that I need to stay focused on my business plan and not get distracted by everything happening around me.
8. Reflect and reassess regularly
While it is important to stick with a plan as a guide post, it is just as relevant to review your strategies annually and possibly even quarterly to see what’s working for you - and what’s not.
Look at your website traffic, social media engagement, referral sources, client demographics, client goals and needs, and other key indicators to help you figure out what makes sense to continue doing, what to work on more intensely, or where your attention may need to shift. Maximizing how you invest your time helps to sustain and build your practice and also ensures you continue to provide great service.
9. Celebrate your wins along the way
Celebrate your wins, no matter how small.
It might be a thank you from a client, witnessing a therapeutic breakthrough and helping your client move forward, having a successful consult and booking the first session, or reaching the end of therapy with a client and receiving kind feedback that lets you know you are doing a good job and what you can do even better in the future.
Taking the time to recognize successes is what helps you keep going, particularly on hard days. If you haven’t had a chance to do this yet, try it out and see what difference it makes for you and your therapy practice.
10. Keep looking forward
The daily grind can be all you feel you can focus on sometimes as you try to get through the work week. However, it is just as valuable to reflect on where you see your business heading over the next year, 3 years, 5 years, and, yes, even 10 years!
You may not have all the answers right now and that’s ok. What’s more vital is to simply make sure you are devoting time to think about the future because you’re in it for the long haul.
Try to carve out little pockets of time – the evenings after you’ve finished work, the mornings when you’re enjoying some coffee or tea, or even when you have a few stolen moments of peace and quiet to yourself. It’s incredible what pops up in your mind in terms of innovative ideas when it’s at rest.
I hope you found this article helpful if you are about to start a private practice or if you have already begun and are thinking about doing it full-time! You can do it - believe in yourself, your skills, and your willingness to make it happen!
Wishing you well on your journey.
Davina Tiwari MSW, RSW, CSFT Registered Social Worker and Certified Solution Focused Therapist
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