Starting a Christian Private Practice

The benefits and challenges of owning a private counseling practice.

You’re a therapist who works for a group practice. That’s the operative word there: for. You’re doing what you love, but you’re confined by the practice’s policies and guidelines. You’re not allowed to integrate your faith into your counseling as much as you’d like. You feel stunted in your professional development because you know there is so much more you can do, if only you were allowed to be in charge of your work, set your own policies and guidelines, and have the freedom to lean into the faith aspect of your identity.

The Benefits of Owning a Counseling Practice

The dream of owning a private practice can sometimes look like a general idea, but 

I want you to take a minute and flesh out what that dream actually looks like. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of working for yourself. 

  1. Set your schedule. This is a big reason you may choose to start your private practice. Being in control of your workload and work-life balance is important to you.
  1. Scale your work. In the same vein as setting your own schedule, you can decide how many clients you want to work with to fit your goals. In some seasons you may need to scale back and take on fewer clients to prioritize other areas of life. In other seasons you may feel energized and ready to take on more clients to advance your goals. You can also be more selective with which clients you agree to work.
  1. Set your prices. No longer are you obligated to work for the prices set by the group practice. You can set prices that best meet your and your clients’ needs.
  1. Specify your services. If you thrive on working with children and teens, you can tailor your practice to offer services pertaining to that specific group of people. You aren’t required to offer services that don’t interest or energize you. If you exclusively work within your area of interest, you won’t expend time or energy in areas that are less life-giving to you. Your clients deserve quality mental health services from a provider whose heart is truly in it.
  1. Integrate your faith into your work. You can give clients a faith-based, Biblical perspective, and be true to who God made you to be. You can fulfill your calling and grow in the freedom of working without suppressing your faith.

With all these in mind, it’s hard to resist the idea of being your own boss.

The Challenges of Owning a Private Practice

If owning a private practice is so ideal, why doesn’t everyone do it? There may be a few reasons, but the biggest reason is the unknown. It’s scary to step out of the corporate mold and try to start a small business. Maybe that’s all you’ve known your whole life: your parents always worked for a company or boss, and no one in your family has ever tried to start their own small business. You don’t even know what that looks like or where to begin. You’re just one person, how can you handle all the details that make a small business run smoothly? 

There is a reason most businesses have different departments to handle things like accounting and payroll, human resources, administration, customer service, and client acquisition. How is one person supposed to navigate all those things while simultaneously devoting time to client sessions? There don’t seem to be enough hours in the week.

A few of the challenges you face when starting a private practice include:

  • Legal and regulatory requirements. The documents stating these requirements are often very detailed and full of important information. These requirements include registering your small business with the proper governing agencies and can vary from state to state. They can be difficult to understand but they are something you want to be crystal clear on before moving forward.
  • Calculating taxes and income. Becoming your own boss means you’ll have to figure out how to file taxes for a small business, as well as give yourself an appropriate paycheck every month. This can be a very daunting task for anyone who does not have a background in accounting.
  • Marketing. This is a huge challenge for anyone who does not have experience in marketing or sales. You need to learn how to market your business to draw in the right clients. Marketing includes everything from advertising to website design, which is an area most people do not have experience with unless they specifically went to school for it. Your marketing plan will directly impact how well your private practice does, so it’s important to get it right.
  • Business plan. Having a strong business plan is a vital component to ensuring your private practice’s success. Making a business plan can be a daunting task for anyone striking out on their own, much less someone who does not have a business degree.
  • Paperwork. You don’t know what you don’t know. It is hard to know which forms you need and what paperwork you have to fill out unless someone teaches you. You have to come up with legally binding contracts that include clauses to cover all your bases and protect your business.
  • Client Acquisition. One of the hardest parts about owning a private practice is finding your own clients. In a group practice, the pressure of client acquisition is taken off your shoulders, but when you’re on your own, the success of your practice depends directly on your client acquisition plan.

The prospect is daunting, facing all these challenges by yourself as you try to navigate an experience you’ve never had before. It is not for everyone. Some people feel that the group practice they work for is the right place for them. Other people, like you, feel the tug toward something more. You feel unsatisfied with what you’re currently doing. You’re on the right track but you feel that God is calling you to step out in faith and trust Him with your future. If you’re ready to take that step but you’re scared of navigating the challenges, I’m here to help.

Consulting for Christian Counseling Start-ups

I was in your shoes once. I felt the push to start my private practice so I could integrate my faith freely into my work and help clients from a Christian perspective. I know how scary and daunting it is.

I took advantage of all the educational tools at my disposal. I watched videos online and read articles about starting a small business. The tool that helped me the most was the consulting services I took advantage of to guide me through the process. Now that I have successfully started my private practice, I want to extend that hope to other Christian clinicians who don’t know where to start. In my Christian Counseling Startup sessions, I answer each of the challenges listed above and guide you through the process.

Truth & Grace Consulting Services Blog Series

Over the next several months, I’ll be doing a deep dive into each aspect of my consulting services. I can help you take the leap into owning your private practice, staying true to who God made you to be, and honoring God while doing what you love. If you’re ready to take the next step toward your dream of operating your own private practice, click here.