Starting a private practice

There are plenty of books, magazine articles and blogs out there for therapists who are starting their own private practice. The tone of what’s been written on this subject is invariably positive and encouraging: you can make your therapy business a success, if you just learn how to market and sell your personal brand well enough! I’ve read a lot of this stuff and that is at least the message I get from it.

As a recently qualified therapist starting my own practice, I find some of the advice daunting and difficult to follow. When I began my training I didn’t think I’d have to become a businessman at the end of it, but that is essentially what one has to do as a therapist, unless one is fortunate enough to stumble on a salaried job. The truth is that salaried jobs in the therapy world are rare and hence in high demand: only the most experienced therapists with accredited status and letters after their name tend to get them. For the rest of us, especially those of us new to this career, going it alone to try and attract paying clients is the only option.

Finding clients is crucial if one is to cover all the expenses that come with this line of work, such as room hire, professional body membership, insurance and supervision. To be successful in this endeavour it appears one has to become a salesman.

I’ve never thought of myself as a salesman, never had to market myself, never had to create a brand before. The blogs I’ve posted thus far might make it seem as if my ‘brand’ is that of an anxious therapist who is rather unsure of himself! This is not intentional, in fact if anything I’d rather that my ‘brand’ is one of honesty, and if anxious and uncertain come out of that, then so be it…for now!

What I’m trying to say is that I didn’t exactly know what I was doing when it came to being a private practitioner, and so currently I’m learning. The learning doesn’t stop when you qualify, much as you’d love it to. In years to come I expect I will see this as a critical phase in my journey of personal development. I like phases: they don’t last.

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