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7 Signs Private Practice is Not For You: Part I

Many therapists have fantasies of going into private practice – and, this is no surprise given all the hype around the benefits of building your own private practice. Hype that I contribute to, no doubt!

The promises are endless:

  • You’ll have unlimited freedom and flexibility.
  • There’s no ceiling on your earning potential.
  • You get to work only with the clients you are passionate about serving.
  • The sun always shines and a never ending rainbow will stretch across the skies outside of your light-filled office!

Alas, I wish it were so. But the fact is – it ain’t. The research tells us that 50% of new businesses fail in their first few years. Despite all the enthusiasm about stickin’ it to the man and going out on your own, private practice is not for everyone.

Here are the first 3 signs that private practice is not for you:

1. You abhor discomfort.

In the early years, private practice is a grueling lesson in navigating the unknown. To truly be successful, you’ve got to take risks – daily. It is un-freakin’-comfortable. You’ll be required to go to the places that trigger your anxiety and then hang out there. Agh!

Therapists who do go into private practice often feel incredibly uncomfortable working for someone else. For these folks, the discomfort of being employed trumps the daily anxiety of working for oneself. If you feel relatively comfortable working at your current job and you’re not a big fan of risk… then the private practice route may not be for you.

46995046_s2. You hate marketing.

I’ve spent a lot of time arguing for the joys of marketing.

“You can do it in ways you love,” I’ve declared.

“There is so much creative expression,” I’ve screeched.

But, the fact of the matter is, if you don’t like the idea of putting your self out there, if you’re not interested in drawing potential clients to you, if you get itchy at the  mere thought of writing, public speaking or engaging on social media – then going into private practice probably isn’t for you.

Ain’t no shame in the no-marketing game. Learning how to delight in marketing is essential to building a sustainable private practice. If it’s not for you, it’s better to be honest about this and stick to your strengths rather than to force yourself into something that brings you zero joy.

3. You love the perks that come with having a boss!

There are all kinds of great benefits to having a boss. You get consistent feedback. You get praise when you’re doing well. You, hopefully, have a mentor and a cheerleader. When things go wrong, you have a finger to point – and point you should. That’s one of the primary joys of having a boss! When you work for someone else, you are free of the burden of an entire business surviving or failing based on your efforts. It can be a huge relief!

While working for yourself, being your own boss, is often spoken about as a dream come true, it’s work. It’s a different kind of work than that which comes from being employed by someone else, but it’s work nonetheless. There are costs and benefits to either route. One choice is not is objectively better than the other. The most important thing is for you to honestly evaluate what your goals, wants and needs are and then make your decision based on what is best for you.

Next week, I’ll unveil the last four signs that that private practice may not be for you

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you! What are some of your pros and cons when it comes to weighing the private practice question?

Join the discussion below!

7 Signs Private Practice is Not For You: Part I

APA Reference
McLain, T. (2016). 7 Signs Private Practice is Not For You: Part I. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 16, 2019, from