Private Practice Doesn’t Have To Live In Never Never Land

Throughout graduate school, it was always a dream of mine to “hang my own shingles” and start my private practice. My professors always painted it as something I MIGHT get to do in a land far, far away but definitely not anytime soon after graduation. In my studies, it was so rarely talked about that I didn't even know all that went into private practice therapy and owning my own business.

So when I decided that I wanted to venture into the private practice world just 2 years after graduation, I was honestly quite lost and felt that I was doing something “wrong” or that I hadn’t “paid my dues” long enough. Thank goodness for my amazing therapy networking community here in Louisville and for all the assistance they provided me (both on the business side, and therapeutically).

I have a feeling this is a similar experience as to what you are going through now or what you went through (or you probably wouldn’t be reading this)!

But this is why I am here to tell you that you (well only if you want to, swear you won’t be forced into opening a private practice by reading this blog) should dip your toes into private practice. Choose to dip a toe into it or take the leap, whatever works best for your life. Whatever you chose to do, know that opening a private practice is a big move and can surely be intimidating (I mean you are starting your own business, how exciting, but also terrifying…I mean what does that even mean to own a business?!). This might be something you have never done before, and something you’ll be doing on your own (new topic and doing it alone- real power couple right there, ha). But I am here to tell you that this is something you can do and that it doesn’t have to be so intimidating!

I think a lot of people stop thinking about hanging their own shingle right after having the realization that it is going to be something foreign and that you may be tackling it alone. But the thoughts don’t have to end there. Don’t let the fear of something new stop you from following your dreams and providing needed services to a community that desperately needs them.

I am writing this to help you over the hump, because trust me, private practice is worth it!

Private practice is…

liberating, freeing, and rewarding!

Throughout your journey with private practice, you will find out all sorts of new things about yourself (the good, the bad, and the ugly), and grow as a clinician in ways you didn’t see coming.

So, if you have been pondering about starting private practice, either part time or full time, take some time to do your research and be smart about your future moves.

Here are some steps you can take during your research phase.

Step #1.    Pick your colleague's brain who is in private practice.

These individuals can be the best resources out there. Use it as an excuse to go grab a drink or go to dinner and talk about their beginning days in private practice. 1) everyone likes to drink/eat, and 2) everyone loves to talk about themselves! Also, remember that we are all therapists here, so helping others out is second nature to us.

Step #2.    Join mental health practice building Facebook groups.

I know, I know Facebook smacebook. But trust me when I say that this can be a very valuable tool for practice building! You have the option to be as active as you want and Facebook makes it easy for you to search all the past posts so you can find answers to your questions quickly. Your city should have a local networking page for therapists (if it doesn’t then be the one to start it) and there are also national pages as well. Some of my favorite are: Louisville Therapy Networking Group, Abundance Practice Builders, Therapists in Private Practice, Amber Lyda(specializes in online therapy) and Practice of the Practice.

Step #3.    Listen to podcasts.

If you haven’t jumped on the podcast bandwagon yet, then hurry up and jump on! You are missing out. This is a great, easy way to get information and learn about all sorts of things (clinical and non-clinical topics). Some of my favorite practice building podcasts are: The Abundance Practice Podcast with Allison Puryear, The Ask Juliet & Clinton Show with Juliet Austin & Clinton Power, and Practice of Being Seen with Rebecca Wong.

Step #4.    Find your community.

Whether it be at your current job, at the gym, or in your home. Just make sure you have your group and they are ready to rally. Feel that you don’t have a community? Or thinking of leaving your current place of work to pursue private practice and feeling like you have no one to talk to there? Well then maybe try to find a space to practice in that fosters the community you are looking for. Shared office spaces (like b.mindful Louisville) are great for this. By becoming a part of a community such as b.mindful Louisville, you will be provided with the like-minded support network that you so desperately need in this field, as well as all the furnishings and amenities to support your thriving practice.

Step #5.    Talk with your “rock”

We’ve all got someone who is our go to, ride or die partner in crime. Don’t care if it is your mom, dad, partner, friend, therapist, or dog. Just talk to someone else about your thoughts of opening a business. I know it always helps me sort through things if I have someone I trust listening to me and providing advice where needed. It can be tough doing it all alone, so remember YOU DON’T HAVE TO!

Step #6.    Trust your gut!

Trust your gut (easier said than done, ha). But honestly, if this is something you have been thinking about for a long time, just do it!

But, to break that process down for you over-thinkers out there (cough cough not me…)

1) breathe in and relax your muscles, 2) ask yourself “what is my gut saying?”, 3) explore those thoughts (alone or with a friend), 4) then declare your choice out loud and tell your gut what your choice is.

Just remember that these are just the first steps and doing the initial research will pay off in the long run. I know it can be overwhelming because there are SO MANY places to start and so much information to gather, but just take it slow and remember to rely on your community for support.

Have additional questions? Feel free to message me and ask!

Shannon Gonter, LPCC, Owner and Founder of b.mindful Louisville

Shannon Gonter, LPCC, Owner and Founder of b.mindful Louisville

I’m a professional counselor and understand the importance of having a safe space to practice in, consulting, networking, having a solid referral list, and being around other like-minded professionals.