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Private Practice Kickstart
with Miranda Palmer, LMFT
& Kelly Higdon, LMFT

Private Practice Q&A: What do you need to know to get started in private practice?

We love helping therapists who are starting, growing, or revamping their private practices and answering their private practice questions. We’ve written hundreds of articles for PsychCentral, other online resources for therapists, and on our own private practice blog.

Today, I thought we’d do something a little different to give back- a free private practice question and answer. Post your private questions below in the comments, and I will answer your questions here in the blog or point you to blogs we’ve already written on those topics!

We will answer the first 30 questions that are posted, so post your question today!

How do you get more clients? I am not sure if I send out letters, I have joined Psychology today but no luck.

I know it is going to sound like a non-answer answer, but the truth is, it depends. I could give you a list of 100 things that work for marketing a private practice. But ultimately, you don’t have time to do “all the things” and some strategies work better based on your personality, the type of clients you are marketing to, your personality, etc. The biggest thing you MUST do before you start down the path of choosing marketing strategies is to make sure that you have clarity about the type of clients that you do your best work with and develop a marketing message that when your ideal clients read it they get excited about reaching out and scheduling with you. Consumers today aren’t just looking for a “counselor” they are looking for someone that gives them hope that they can heal. We go into this whole dynamic more in this 60-minute free training on how and why to develop a niche or specialization (and yes, you can have more than one!) as part of our Free Private Practice Library. I’ll answer more about creating a marketing plan specifically for the next question!

How do you market yourself if you’re more on the introverted side? How can you get more people to your website?

A two-part question that is really asking- how do I get my great marketing message out into the world in a way that fits who I am? A great marketing plan for your counseling private practice is one that meets your needs and your client’s needs. Your marketing plan needs to be focused on your personality, your strengths, the connections you have, what you enjoy, who your client is, where they are at, etc. So if you are an introvert who enjoys writing, blogging can be a great strategy. If you are an introvert who enjoys speaking one-on-one coffee dates, or even vlogs or facebook lives could actually be a great strategy. Or, if you prefer to speak, but don’t love the thought of seeing yourself on camera or being in front of groups, you could record audio blogs and have them transcribed and edited into blogs by someone who loves to write! We have a free 60-minute training on Marketing 101 in our free Private Practice Library. It will help you understand how to create a marketing plan that really makes sense for your unique practice.

What is the best organizational structure for a small private practice of 1, 2, or 3 clinicians – or can you review the pros/cons to the C corp, S corp, LLC, and Professional Association business structures for practices?

Choosing your organizational structure is based on several different factors that are unique to your state, your license, what assets you own, and what the overall income and tax picture is for your tax filing status. That means your spouse’s income, other jobs, assets you do or don’t have could play a role on when or if you created certain business structures. When I started my private practice, I was advised initially to stay a sole proprietor until my profits reached a certain point. In California, as a therapist, I had to create a professional corporation, and then I could choose to be taxed as an S-Corp. Eventually, my business partner and I formed an LLC for our consulting business that each of our Professional Corporations that file as s-corps are a part of… For many of you, this sounds like a foreign language. It was for me too! The best advice I can give you starting out is this: 1. Come up with a clear plan for your bookkeeping on a monthly basis- whether that is outsourcing to a bookkeeper like Grow the Books, or using a software like GoDaddy Bookkeeping. 2. Look at your numbers and start to get clear about what money is coming in, what is going out, and how much your profit is. 3. Make an appointment with a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) in EARLY Fall at the latest and go over those numbers and ask for advice based on your particular situation. Don’t be afraid to schedule free consults with 2-3 different CPAs to find the one that you feel most comfortable with. 4. If you have assets, you may want to consult with a lawyer as well about what makes most sense, but be CAREFUL and work with a lawyer that knows our industry. Here is a free 60-minute Q & A about accounting and bookkeeping with a CPA (you will need to sign up for or login to the free Private Practice Library to access.

To expand on a previous question, can you review the differences between what an LLC, Sole Proprietor, C Corp, and an S corp is?

This is a question that you usually ask your CPA or lawyer. But, here are some overviews to help get you setup for talking to them. When you start a business, if you don’t do anything special, you are automatically considered a sole proprietor. You can hire employees, be an employer, and still be considered a sole proprietor.

An LLC is one type of business entity. There are several including professional corporations, general partnerships, non-profits, and limited partnerships. The type of entity you can become may differ from state to state. For example, as a therapist in California, you can’t become an LLC, you have to become a Professional Corporation.

Once you for your entity, you can elect to file for corporate taxation as an s-corp, or a c-corp. Our lawyers and CPAs we consulted with all recommended s-corps. There were major changes to the federal tax laws in 2018 that are still being sussed out, I honestly don’t know if the recommendations will change, but it is worth the time, energy, and investment of doing a consultation with a CPA or lawyer who specializes in these issues that can give recommendations based on your unique business, state, and tax situation.

I previously worked in a hospital and felt very confident in working with clients. Now that I’m starting out in private practice, I feel nervous and wonder if I have what it takes to do this. Is this normal? How can I overcome my fear of going it alone?

Your feelings are completely normal! No matter what setting you’ve worked in previously it is an adjustment to work on your own and to become a business owner. I could just tell you to journal or repeat some mantras and those are great! But, in my experience, they will only take you so far. The best way to overcome your fear is to create a community for yourself. A peer consultation group can go a LONG way to helping you get your confidence back up. Also, there is a lot to learn on the business end, so make sure that you are supporting both your clinical and business development as you move forward. If you ignore either of these aspects of your private practice, it will impact both sides of your practice.

Keep your Private Practice Questions coming! We love to answer them!

Private Practice Q&A: What do you need to know to get started in private practice?

Miranda Palmer, LMFT

Miranda Palmer, LMFT is passionate about empowering therapists to be extraordinary. Palmer trains therapists how to develop private practices that not only thrive financially, but that provide excellence in clinical care through free private practice marketing trainings, the Business School Bootcamp for therapists, and free study group for licensing exams for pre-licensed therapists.


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APA Reference
Palmer, M. (2019). Private Practice Q&A: What do you need to know to get started in private practice?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 13, 2020, from