Hiring a Clinical Director for Your Counseling Private Practice: Planning, Pros, and Compensation

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Hiring a Clinical Director for Your Counseling Private Practice Planning, Pros, and Compensation

Expanding your counseling private practice to the point where you need to hire a Clinical Director is a significant milestone. It reflects growth and the need for more specialized leadership within your organization. However, this decision is not to be taken lightly. In this article, we’ll delve into how private practice owners should approach this step, including considerations for hiring internally or externally, determining compensation, and redistributing responsibilities. This is one thing a lot of our Group Practice Bosses work on.

1. Internal vs. External Hiring of a Clinical Director: Pros and Cons

Before you decide whether to hire internally or externally for the role of Clinical Director, consider the following pros and cons:

Internal Hiring: Pros:

  1. Familiarity with the Practice: An internal candidate likely understands the practice’s culture, values, and operational processes, making for a smoother transition.
  2. Existing Relationships: They may have established relationships with staff and clients, making it easier to maintain continuity.
  3. Cost-Effective: Hiring internally can be cost-effective as you won’t need to spend time and resources on an external search.


  1. Limited Perspective: An internal candidate might bring a limited perspective compared to someone from outside your organization.
  2. Potential Gaps: If your practice lacks individuals with the necessary skills and experience, you may not find a suitable internal candidate.
  3. Internal Dynamics: Internal promotions can sometimes disrupt team dynamics and cause resentment among other staff members.

External Hiring: Pros:

  1. Fresh Perspective: An external candidate can bring new ideas, experiences, and perspectives to your practice.
  2. Diverse Skill Set: You can look for candidates with specific skills and experiences that align with your practice’s future goals.
  3. Avoiding Internal Bias: External hires are less likely to be influenced by existing office politics or biases.


  1. Onboarding Challenges: External candidates may take longer to adapt to your practice’s unique environment and culture.
  2. Increased Costs: The recruitment process for external candidates can be expensive, including advertising, interviews, and relocation costs.
  3. Risk of Misalignment: Ensuring alignment with your practice’s values and goals can be more challenging when hiring externally.

2. Compensation Structure

Determining how to compensate your Clinical Director is a crucial decision. There are various compensation models to consider:

Stipend: Offering a stipend is a fixed, predetermined payment that your Clinical Director would receive, regardless of the practice’s financial performance.


  • Predictable: Stipends provide financial stability for the Clinical Director.
  • Simple: It’s a straightforward compensation model.


  • May Lack Incentive: Stipends may not motivate the Clinical Director to actively contribute to the practice’s growth.
  • No Link to Performance: The Clinical Director’s compensation is unrelated to the practice’s financial performance.

Raise: Providing a salary increase to your Clinical Director is a common approach, especially if you are promoting from within.


  • Recognizes Contributions: A raise acknowledges the Clinical Director’s increased responsibilities and contributions.
  • Predictable Income: It provides financial stability for the Clinical Director.


  • May Not Reflect Performance: A raise might not align with the practice’s financial performance.
  • Limited Growth: There may be a ceiling on salary growth.

Percentage of Net Profits: This compensation model ties the Clinical Director’s earnings directly to the practice’s financial success.


  • Strong Incentive: It incentivizes the Clinical Director to actively contribute to the practice’s growth and profitability.
  • Aligns Interests: Both parties share an interest in the practice’s financial success.


  • Income Variability: The Clinical Director’s income can fluctuate based on the practice’s performance.
  • Risk: In poor financial years, the Clinical Director’s income may be significantly lower.

3. Delegating Private Practice Owner Responsibilities

As you transition from being the sole owner and operator of your counseling practice, it’s crucial to redistribute responsibilities effectively. Here are some tasks that can be shifted to your new Clinical Director:

  • Supervision: Delegating the supervision of limited or pre-license counselors to the Clinical Director is a logical step. They can provide guidance, support, and oversight, allowing you to focus on higher-level responsibilities.
  • Strategic Planning: The Clinical Director should play a key role in developing and executing the practice’s strategic plan. This includes setting goals, implementing growth strategies, and monitoring progress.
  • Staff Management: Your Clinical Director can take on responsibilities related to hiring, training, and evaluating staff members. This frees up your time for other critical tasks.
  • Quality Assurance: They can ensure that the practice maintains high-quality standards in counseling services, compliance with regulations, and ethical standards.
  • Client Relationships: While you may still maintain some client relationships, the Clinical Director can take on a larger role in client management and satisfaction, ensuring a seamless transition.

Conclusion on Hiring a Clinical Director 

Hiring a Clinical Director for your counseling private practice is a significant step toward growth and sustainability. The decision to hire internally or externally, determine compensation, and delegate responsibilities requires careful consideration. Ultimately, the choice should align with your practice’s values, goals, and long-term vision. By making thoughtful decisions in these areas, you can set your practice on a path to success with a strong leadership team in place.

Ready to get started? We have a full consulting team that cane help you 1:1 (Apply here to get started with consulting) or bring your leadership team to us for a facilitated team building, strategic planning, or visioning practice intensive!