There was a time when I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to succeed in my private practice.

I studied diligently in school to learn how to help people transform their lives and was so eager and excited to have my own practice. But I had no clue how to start a business. No one in graduate school ever mentioned that a private practice was an actual business and they surely never told me how to build one.

I was scared of failing, but even worse, I was afraid I was never going to try.

I’m sure you can relate. So many years of studying therapy. Countless hours in internships learning the art of a deeply mission-driven calling. Spending years working toward licensure. Wanting so badly to have a robust practice and live out your vision, but afraid of not fully succeeding as a result of lacking basic information, skills and confidence.

If someone would have just told me a few essential steps to thriving in the modern small business world, I would have avoided years of anxiety, literal failures, living paycheck to paycheck, being stuck in dissatisfying jobs, and not serving the clients that needed my help the most.

Unfortunately, no one told me the essentials that I had to learn on my own. It’s not that I regret my journey. It built character, persistence and discipline. But I also took the slow and lonely road, which you don’t need to take; there’s really no reason for anyone to do it alone anymore.

In our profession, we get many messages that therapists aren’t supposed to make a lot of money and achieve high levels of success quickly.

In fact, you see many therapists in practice for decades not earning enough from their business, working two part-time jobs on the side just to make a living. Many of these therapists will tell you it takes five years to build a full private practice. While this may have been true previously, in the modern digital age, this is now completely outdated information.

Do you really want to wait five years to build your practice? Sure, it takes persistence and time to build a business, but if you don’t start now, most likely a year from now you will still be longing and wishing for the private practice of your dreams and won’t be any closer than you are today.

Here’s the amazing truth: If you have support and mentorship about how modern small business entrepreneurship really works, you can build a practice in under a year!

I want to tell you about the three things that grew my practice to full time in under a year once I put them in place, and why there’s no reason to wait half a decade to turn your vision into a reality.

1. The Modern Website

The first priority should be creating a modern website with invaluable content. Why? Most of your prospective clients will visit your website before ever calling you. The appearance, the story it tells, how you write your content, and what you choose to display will either leave a tremendous impact or will push clients away. We’ve all grown accustomed to beautiful user-friendly design when it comes to websites. So it’s very important to make that first impression as genuine and impactful as possible.

2. Honest Marketing

It’s sometimes difficult as a therapist to recognize that you need to market yourself in order to reach the clients you are meant to serve. Without marketing yourself, very few people will know your doors are open. But you may fall into the category of feeling hurt by marketing in some way or simply that marketing is intimidating.

This is where it’s absolutely vital you redefine your relationship to marketing. I call this honest marketing.

It’s about learning how to always portray the most authentic version of yourself, while using the most effective methods of reaching the people you want to serve. The more clear and committed you are in relationship to your marketing efforts, the more results you will get. To read more about this concept check out an article I wrote on How Therapists Can Learn to Love Modern Marketing.

3. Pre-established Relationships

In the digital age it’s very important to understand how to utilize the online arena to market yourself. However, as therapists there’s still no replacement for local networking.

The quickest way to get new clients is through colleagues and friends that already know you, like you, trust you and have access to prospective clients.

You’ve already developed trust with your pre-established relationships. These people want to be your advocates. Nurture these relationships early on and you will find that your new referrals will increase immediately and consistently.

If you focus on these three areas with discipline, you will create a solid foundation upon which your practice will thrive over the next 12 months. Sure, there are a number of other steps you will need to take, but If you approach your practice by taking random actions and hope for the best, it’s likely you will find yourself on a very slow road and feeling alone. These are the methods that I used and have taught many others to use. They consistently result in therapists reaching their potential. Remember, your future clients are waiting to find you.

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Keith Kurlander

Keith Kurlander is the founder of Higher Practice, a company dedicated to helping therapists achieve their highest potential in private practice. He has two decades of combined experience in business administration, group facilitation, teaching at the undergraduate and graduate level, yoga instruction and as a licensed professional counselor in private practice.

4 thoughts on “3 Essential Tools to Create a Full-Time Therapy Practice in Less than One Year

  1. I have over thirty years experience in mental health , chemical dependency, co-occurring disorders, family , individual , group and didactic therapy. While working with adolescents In long term residential treatment also did recrecreation and music therapy .helped establish two treatment prograls for women and their children through the age of 18.

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