You're starting your own private practice, congratulations! You're probably wondering what you should and shouldn't do with clients in and out of session. I was there over 10 years ago and am here to offer some guidance from lessons learned along the way.
Here are my top 10 things to know about being a therapist in private practice:
Set boundaries from the beginning. This includes starting and ending sessions on time and not taking calls after hours unless it's an emergency.
Work with your ideal client when you can. Work hard now at identifying who those clients are.
Be your true and authentic self. Clients are attracted more to us as humans, so keep your piercings, appropriately visible tattoos, and clothing preferences! Remember that it's the therapeutic rapport that is most powerful...followed by the therapy itself.
Follow your state legal guidelines. Do you need to be incorporated? Are you fully licensed and keeping your CEUs up to date?
Develop your network of trusted professionals so that you can refer cases out when needed. You can do this online, in person, or a mix of the two.
Know what you're good at and what you aren't. In more concentrated or saturated communities, it's better to be known as an expert in treating certain diagnoses, circumstances, etc. than to be known for treating everybody.
Get consultation and therapy for yourself. We don't want to put our "stuff" on our clients, so make sure that you're in the best emotional place to help your clients. The same is true for consultation. Get help on cases BEFORE you get lost.
Set goals for yourself. Where do you want to be 6 months from now? A year from now? Five years from now?
Accept that building a caseload of clients can take time. Don't get discouraged if clients come and don't come back. If or when this happens, evaluate what happened? How did you start and end session? Did you miss something in the intake related to fit?
Take breaks! We're in a high burnout field, so get those days off/vacations on the schedule in advance :)