Five Things I’ve Learned In My Third Month Of Private Practice

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Lessons learned in private practice

What a month! Transitioning into my niche (teen depression), networking with doctors and fellow counsellors, and becoming a Rotarian! So many good things yet, I have to be honest and say, private practice hasn’t been going well. Have got very few calls this month and only one new client. I’m worried that because I don’t accept many insurances that maybe my private practice will flop. I’ve lost so many clients because I don’t accept their insurance. And, with all the competition, I dunno… maybe private practice and me just isn’t meant to be.

Even though I don’t feel confident about my practice right now, I definitely am still learning a lot!

1. Use Simple Language On Your Website

They say that the language on your website has to be at around a grade three’s level. I used this website and realized that my writing was at a grade 12’s level! Turns out I’ve been in the counselling world too long and what I think are simple terms and words… are still too technical. Time to stop using therapy jargon!

2. Move Forward

Sometimes I can get so caught up with editing my website (changing pictures, wording, and colours) OR editing my Psychology Today Profile, that I don’t focus on moving forward. As a writer, I love editing. But, as a business owner, I can’t stay in the past and revise all the time. So, this month I started to move forward and network more, plan for a video shoot (more information to come in month four!), and even helped to facilitate a Healthy Minds group with other counsellors! My mantra has been “Julia, what can you do today to move forward?”.

3. Acknowledge Your Hang-ups About Charging For A Session

For the first couple of months, I thought I was fine with charging for my sessions because I never gave anyone a discount. However, I realized this month that I was acting differently at the end of sessions. When I worked for an agency, I made sure to book clients for their next appointments. But, in private practice, I realized that I never did. After some thought, I figured out it’s because I am still not comfortable charging clients my fee. So, I didn’t suggest they book another session as I felt bad taking MORE money from them.

4. Save Money For Mistakes

You are gunna learn a lot in private practice, SO you will need a nest egg for mistakes! For example, I had beautiful photos taken of me, hired a professional make-up artist, and got my hair done. However, the photos don’t look like me and I feel I have to get really done up to meet with clients so that they don’t feel “cat fished”. Therefore, next month I will be getting new photos taken which will cost extra $$$. Moral of the story: make sure you have enough money to make mistakes, because you definitely will. It’s part of the process 🙂

5. Be Yourself

It can be overwhelming with all of these experts telling us private practitioners what we “should” do all the time. Though they (me included) may have great advice and tips, you can forget to listen to your intuition. I have been trying to be this “professional” for the past couple of months, forgetting that I wrote a governor general nominated thesis and won speaking awards by being genuine and shamelessly me. I am skilled at connecting with audiences by sharing my experiences. So, f#$! it! My private practice blogging and speaking engagements will be more genuine and personal than before, even if experts suggest you keep your s#*! to yourself.


About Julia

Julia Smith, BA, MEd, CCC, is the owner of Insight Mental Health Counselling in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia. She specializes in helping teenagers stop depression from affecting their lives.

Click here to learn more about her downtown Halifax counselling practice!