Alumni, Community and Student Engagement Initiatives

Building a Private Practice

Going Solo / Part 2: Introduction to Practical Aspects

So you’ve decided that indeed, you are ready to go into private practice. You need to be concerned about the nuts and bolts of business… just because you’re a therapist doesn’t mean that you’re insulated from the concerns of any entrepreneur. You’ll need an office, a telephone number, a web site, and most importantly, a strategy to promote yourself.

You will need to become comfortable with shamelessly promoting yourself and your therapy practice. When you’re on your own, you will quickly realize that, unlike working in established agencies that insulate you (as a therapist) from marketing concerns, you’ll now be doing all of this yourself.

And what about insurance? Liability? Supervision? Marketing? Advertising? All of these should be covered in your business plan. Business plan? Yes: this isn’t a lemonade stand, this is your livelihood, your career (tune in next week for more on that).

Next begins the task of setting appointments and viewing office spaces. Price-per-square-foot, triple-net vs. gross leases (typically a minimum of 5 years) are all terms that you will need to become comfortable with. We lost 2 spaces before we secured the one we have – be ready for change and disappointment.

During this time, keep developing your business plan. As the details flesh out around time commitment, niche, space and financial needs and limitations, you will be better able to assess the appropriateness of the spaces you are seeing. Do you need a group room? A one-way mirror? A reception area?

You’ll probably be establishing a limited liability company (LLC) for your business, creating NPI and tax ID numbers, and insulating your personal finances from risk should your venture fail (it happens).

And finally, you need to promote the business. A web site is a must, but worthless if nobody knows about it. Your marketing plan should include a budget for developing the site, a budget for business cards and brochures, fliers, ads, radio. Also, prepare some free seminars and workshops, to put you in front of your potential client base.

Tune in next week for Going Solo / Part 3: Your Practice’s Business Plan

Katherine Allen is a graduate of Fairfield University’s MFT program. She has worked in several agency settings; namely FSW Bridgeport, Family & Children’s Agency in Norwalk, and Family ReEntry in Norwalk and Bridgeport. Katherine also brings 16 years of leadership, advertising and design experience to her private group practice, Marriage & Family Therapy of Trumbull (MFT3) Check out the blog at

You can find Katherine on LinkedIn (,, Twitter (@mft3), Facebook (katal1967), and Social Networking for Therapists and Mental Health Professionals ( She is a member of Ladies Who Launch, Fairfield County. Katherine has appeared on WGCH 1490 AM on the “One Smart Mother” show ( and will be a guest again on September 29, at 9am.

Contact Katherine at if you’d like her to consult with you in opening or building your private practice.


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