Becoming a therapist or counselor is a noble and fulfilling profession, but it doesn’t come without its unique set of challenges, especially when contemplating the leap into private practice. The transition from a clinical setting to starting your counseling business can be intimidating. It’s essential to recognize the common mindsets that may hinder therapists from taking this bold step.
Mental Barrier #1: The Desire to Do Things Right
Therapists often have a strong desire to do things “right.” This dedication to ethical practice and patient care is commendable. However, it can sometimes lead to overthinking and perfectionism when it comes to starting a private practice. They may fear making mistakes or missteps, which can paralyze them from taking the necessary steps to embark on this new journey. While striving for excellence is crucial, therapists must also embrace the learning process and understand that mistakes are part of any successful endeavor.
Mental Barrier #2:The Perceived Risk of Entrepreneurship
Another common mindset among therapists is the perception of entrepreneurship as a risky endeavor. Traditional training in the field emphasizes clinical skills, ethics, and patient care, but it often lacks guidance on the business aspect of counseling. This leaves many therapists feeling ill-equipped to navigate the challenges of running a private practice.
It’s essential to recognize that starting a private practice does involve some level of risk, as does any business venture. However, with careful planning, research, and a willingness to learn, therapists can mitigate these risks and build thriving counseling practices.
Mental Barrier #3: The “Job” vs. “Business” Mindset
Therapists are typically trained to excel in their roles as employees within healthcare organizations or agencies. This employee mindset can make it challenging to transition into the role of a business owner. The responsibilities of running a private practice, such as marketing, managing finances, and handling administrative tasks, may seem daunting to those accustomed to the structure of a job.
To overcome this mindset, therapists can seek out resources and training specifically geared toward entrepreneurship and business management. Learning to balance clinical expertise with business acumen is essential for private practice success.
Mental Barrier #4: The Money Mindset
Many therapists enter the field with a deep commitment to helping others and a desire to make a positive impact on their clients’ lives. While this is admirable, some therapists develop a mindset that views making more money as inherently negative or exploitative. This perspective can hinder their ability to charge competitive rates for their services or market their practices effectively.
Therapists should recognize that charging fair fees for their expertise and services is not only acceptable but necessary for sustaining a private practice. A thriving business enables therapists to reach and help more clients while also providing for their own well-being.
Mental Barrier #5: The Martyr Complex
Some therapists inadvertently adopt a martyr-like attitude, believing that their work should involve personal sacrifice and selflessness to an extreme degree. This mindset can lead to burnout, low income, and an inability to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
To overcome the martyr complex, therapists should prioritize self-care and recognize the importance of a sustainable work-life balance. Healthy boundaries, both professionally and personally, are crucial for long-term success and well-being.
Mental Barrier #6: Lack of Business Training in Graduate School
One significant barrier therapists face when contemplating private practice is the lack of business training during their graduate education. Most graduate programs focus heavily on clinical skills and theoretical knowledge, leaving little room for business education.
However, there’s another mindset-related obstacle that often goes unnoticed: the allure of “golden handcuffs.” Some therapists are lured into staying in their current job positions because they perceive job security, excellent retirement benefits, and a stable income. But what they may not realize is that by running some numbers, they could discover that a private practice could provide the same income with significantly fewer hours worked.
Let’s break it down: Suppose a therapist has a job earning $100,000 per year. To match this income in a private practice, they could charge $150 per session (assuming 25 clients per week). Taking into account expenses like rent, insurance, and taxes, let’s estimate that each session costs the therapist $40, leaving them with $110 per session in profit.
If they work 50 weeks a year (factoring in some time off), seeing 25 clients a week at $110 per session, they would earn $143,000 annually. This demonstrates that the potential to maintain or even increase income exists in a private practice, all while affording the therapist more control over their schedule and the freedom to focus on their ideal clientele.
The decision to start a private counseling practice is a significant step in a therapist’s career journey. Overcoming the mental barriers that can hinder this transition is crucial for success. By recognizing and addressing mindsets related to perfectionism, risk aversion, the employee mindset, money, martyrdom, and the lack of business training, therapists can embark on their private practice journey with confidence and a greater likelihood of achieving their professional and financial goals. Starting a private practice is not just about providing exceptional care to clients; it’s also about creating a sustainable and fulfilling career path for oneself, potentially unlocking the “golden handcuffs” that keep them in jobs they’ve outgrown.
If you’re ready to start a practice, we have memberships to help you know exactly what to do when you are getting started, read more now.