Starting Your Own Practice? Here’s Where to Start.

Going into private practice can be an exciting venture! It can also be an extremely stressful one. You will be able to set your own hours, be your own boss, and enjoy all the liberties that come along with it. However, you will also be subjected to some of stresses and challenges that come for working for yourself. To help clinicians get started on the process of branching out into private practice, this blog will be dedicated to many of the components you will need to think through.

Before you fully commit to private practice, it is important to understand all the challenges and responsibilities that come with it. Private practice can be a very expensive endeavor! Although you will be able to charge what you like, private practice psychologists will typically face higher taxes, overhead expenses, and other incidental payments. Working for yourself will also mean that you need to ensure that you have your own health insurance and benefits taken care of. Additionally, if you have anyone else on staff, you will need to ensure that they have health care options, that you can provide them with benefits, and that you can offer a competitive salary.

Being able to manage all these expenses will come from your increased income! Before going into private practice, you will have to decide if you are only going to take cash payments or if you will negotiate with insurance companies. If you choose to go through insurance, you will open yourself up to a host of new potential patients. At the same time, you will also have to negotiate with several different insurance panels and organizations. This can be a very frustrating process, as many insurance companies require extremely specific paperwork, billing methods, and reimbursement negotiations. When there is something amiss, insurance companies can potentially reduce or reject paying you entirely. To ensure that you have all your bases covered, it may be beneficial to hire a billing expert. However, this will also cause your expenses to increase, as well. As with everything else, this will be a balancing act that you will need to weigh out.

Before going into private practice, you should also be aware of all the paperwork that will be required. In the mental health profession, it already seems like there is an endless supply of paperwork. Going into private practice will certainly cause this mountain to increase. In order to ensure that you are in compliance with all laws, ensuring your clients rights, and keeping adequate notes, you will have to spend a couple hours per day managing the paperwork. This can be a great thing--if your work style permits it! Private practice will also require you to have very strong time management skills and organization. As long as you are highly motivated and able to manage yourself, private practice could be a good option for you.

With these challenges in mind, going into private practice can be an exciting venture! If you already love being in the mental health profession, then private practice can intensify all these enjoyable things! You will be able to choose your clientele, pursue the types of psychology that you feel most passionately about, and make meaningful differences in many people’s lives. Not only will you be able to pursue this profession that you already love, but you will also be able to set your own hours and enjoy your profession on your schedule.

If you are serious about opening a private practice, you should find a mentor who has already started a succeeding private practice. Ideally, this person will be in the same state as you so they can help you navigate the unique laws, tax rates, and other incidental issues that come with each specific state. This mentor can also help you navigate joining all the appropriate insurance panels and help you decide what your fees will be. This person can also help you build up your practice. Connecting with a mentor can help you to network with other professionals in your area. With this network, you will better be able to grow your practice with more clients, more internal office support, and providing much-needed clinician support.

While it can be a very stressful venture, going into private practice can be extremely rewarding. To ensure that you have the most enjoyable experience, ensure that you do all the necessary leg work ahead of time! Connecting with a mentor and finding community support can certainly help you to grow your business into a flourishing private practice.

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