How To Keep Yourself Safe In Your Private Practice

There are lots of things to plan for and think about when going into business for yourself. But in the mental health and wellness fields there is an added level of intentionality needed for everything we do with our clients. As certified mental health professionals, it is critical to make sure that this extends into our business thought process as well. 

After getting all your business paperwork filed, business entities formed, clinical paperwork in order, and networking events attended; you would think the planning should be done right? Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. One of the most important elements in your practice is client and practitioner safety.

Below we will break down the most important safety items to keep in mind when finding your office, setting it up, and scheduling clients to ensure you have appropriate safety precautions set in place for your items, your clients and most importantly you. 

When looking for an office space…

  • Ensure the office you are looking at has a lock on the office door or the ability to add one.  

  • Best case scenario for your new office would be that your office door does not lead to the exterior of the building and that there are some interior barriers between you and the outside.

  • Make sure that the office you are looking at has more than one exit and that you know where all the exits are

  • Think about where all exits lead to. Does it lead to a busy street? Does it lead to an alley way?

  • Think about the parking situation. Is the parking close by? Does it require a lengthy walk from the office door? Is it well lit? 

  • Think about who is around you. Are you renting an office in a space where you will be the only one working late or weekends? Suggestion to rent somewhere around other like-minded health and wellness professionals with similar schedules so you aren’t the only one in the building at all times. 

When setting up your office space…

  • When configuring the furniture in your office, ensure that there are no barriers between you and the door and that you are sitting closest to the door. 

  • Look at the décor in your office and evaluate what could be used as a potential weapon. Remove items that could be dangerous to you or your clients. 

  • If you have a waiting area, think about the population you work with and if giving them a locker in the waiting area would be appropriate. This then limits the possibility of dangerous items being brought back to your office. 

  • If not already developed, make an office-wide emergency plan (fire, power loss, tornado, active shooter, agitated client…). 

When scheduling new clients…

  • A great suggestion is to screen potential clients before scheduling intake appointments with a free 15-minute consultation call. Use this time to ask pertinent questions in regard to safety and to ensure that they are a good fit for your practice and expertise. 

  • If possible, try not to schedule new client appointments late into the night or as your last appointment of the day. 

  • If your office is around other people, give yourself an out and allow colleagues to interrupt if they hear a client getting volatile. Discuss with your coworkers that they can knock to inform you that you have a call or ask for your assistance with something. 


  • If possible, you can label one of your rooms a “panic” room so everyone in the office knows where to go in case of an emergency. 

  • You can download specific apps for your phone that act as a panic button and will call emergency authorities at the touch of a button. Certain smart watches will do this as well. Panic Button Apps

  • Keep your cell phone near you or in your pocket during sessions in case of an emergency. 

  • You can learn self-defense techniques5 Self Defense Moves Everyone Should Know

Of course, we hope that no one ever has to use these suggestions and techniques in real life but always better to be safe and prepared than in danger and not having a plan. 

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

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

b.mindful Louisville takes the safety of our tenants and their clients very seriously. We designed our offices with mental health and wellness professionals in mind and have taken care of a lot of safety measures for you. Our goal is to ensure our tenants feel confident, secure and prepared to tackle whatever comes into their office that day.