updated - October 16, 2021 Saturday EDT
If you love being a counselor and therapist, opening your own practice may be a dream come true. However, even though you will be your own boss, there may be more details to starting your practice than you anticipated. While there may be some trial and error at first, you want to set the stage for success as early as possible. To do so, follow these tips when establishing your business.
Since you have the counseling skills needed for your practice, take time to understand the specific aspects of being your own boss. These will include funding your own health insurance, paying higher taxes due to being self-employed, and learning about payroll taxes, salaries, and benefits should you hire employees.
Being your own boss, nobody else will be telling you what to do and when to do it. While this sounds great, it can become a problem if you fail to focus on having excellent time management and organizational skills. Remember that in addition to seeing clients, you'll also need to spend time dealing with large amounts of paperwork from insurers and others.
Since you are likely not the only therapist in town, you will need to emphasize reasons why those in need should see you first. One of the best ways to do so is by possessing the best academic credentials. In this field, many practitioners have a doctorate in clinical psychology, so be sure you do as well. Also, if you decide to hire other counselors and therapists, make sure they too have academic credentials that can be verified.
As a counselor and therapist, remember that you don't necessarily need the fanciest office in town in order to help your clients work through very difficult issues. Thus, you'll need to decide on whether you want to convert a room at your home into an office, purchase a building for your practice, or instead rent office space in a commercial building. Also, don't forget to factor in other expenses you'll encounter, such as office furniture, equipment, and internet access.
Even though your goal is to help your clients no matter their situation, you still need to be practical in terms of thinking about your safety and that of any employees you may have at your practice. Depending on the clients you plan to work with, you may need to take such security measures as installing a panic button in your office or making your office accessible only through a security code.
Once you join insurance provider panels, this will result in you being listed on the insurance company's provider network. In doing so, this can help you find more clients, receive payments directly from the insurer, and give you more options in marketing your practice as one that can be trusted by potential clients.
Before you start your practice, develop your business plan. This should include specifics such as how much money you will need to earn annually to remain in private practice, how you plan to market your practice, a loan repayment plan if you needed financing to get your business started, and goals you want to meet within the first several months, after one year, and after five years.
In this area, this means finding out if your locality requires you to have a business license, how to incorporate your business, understanding zoning laws, and purchasing professional liability and malpractice insurance. If you have any questions about these areas, talk to an attorney.
By taking care of these important matters as you are in the process of opening your practice, the process can be much less stressful. Even if you hit a bump or two along the way, remember that once you get your counseling and therapy practice up and running, you will be changing people's lives for the better each and every day.
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