Starting in private practice: 10 tips you can start today

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start a private practice

As I patiently awaited my actual counseling license approval, I decided to be proactive and ensure all was in place to be able jump right into private practice as soon as my license arrived…and I did!

Thinking back, I knew that private practice was what was calling me. So in my last year of Grad School I did a little research as to who was doing what in my community as far as counseling. Now, my background is twenty years working with children and families and I have a huge passion and interest in Infant Mental Health and a vast understanding of Child Development. Therefore, I wanted to find a place where my expertise would be a good fit.

In my search and through many different connections, I met Joe Sanok of Traverse City counseling Practice, Mental Wellness Counseling. Joe’s enthusiasm for counseling, business, and his impressive knowledge and ability to navigate and utilize social media is what caught my eye.

Not to mention, the unique ways he approaches therapy with adolescents and families.

Knowing this, I felt his counseling philosophy would seamlessly connect with mine and together we would be able to support children and families throughout the many stages in which humans develop as well as help people navigate through the bumps and discoveries life can bring.

Once I knew Mental Wellness Counseling would be a good fit for me I had to get buy-in from Joe. This was the start of the many hoops I jumped through to be ready to dive in to private practice once my license arrived!


Start early… show Motivation and Confidence

I contacted Joe of Mental Wellness Counseling for coffee to introduce myself and pick his brain for ideas. He learned a bit about me, as did I about him. He was then able to ask around about me and gain some understanding of my credentials through informal references. I met again a few months later.

Set Goals

Set a timeline that leads up to your approx. license arrival date. I did something every week to such as research liability insurance, create a business card, write my bio, etc.

Make Connections

Get to know who is doing what in counseling and begin to reach out and meet them. Find organizations that could benefit from services you’ll offer. Do things in the community for free. I did some Parent Cafes and Parenting Book Talks at different places in the community…schools, bookstores, coffee shops, library, etc.

Know your niche

What is your passion, what experiences do you have, what is your expertise?

What’s your philosophy?

What is your mission?

I had much practice in building several educational programs and knew that having a good understanding of my counseling philosophy and a solid mission statement would help me hone in on what Mental Wellness Counseling’s services I will offer as well as being better at articulating them.

Create an Elevator Speech

Elevator speeches help you sell your services. You basically craft a script to help you better articulate what you have to offer. Begin now telling everyone you know what your passion is and what you see your Private practice looking like.

Write your Bio

I wrote my bio and had Joe put it up on the website with a “Joining in July” tagline.


I created business cards that stated joining in July as well. I handed them out to everyone. I started scheduling early and had business cards made that said “Joining in July 2014.”

Professional Photos

Get a professional photo taken. This helps with marketing and begins to get your face out there. It adds a personal yet professional touch to your appearance to the community.


I used This was an easy inexpensive way to get my PLLC. In Michigan you need to have your license to send to the state in order to get your Professional Limited Liability Company. I work as a contractor with Mental Wellness Counseling, so having my own company helps protect me as a professional. It also allows me to contract with other organizations to do consulting or other services that don’t fall under the Mental Wellness Counseling realm.

Liability Insurance

The other important piece is, as a contractor you want to hold your own liability insurance, another form of protection. I used HPSO. The application was easy and the insurance affordable. Only cliché was it wouldn’t process on a Mac.
Traverse City Counselor


Trisha Short, MA, LLPC is a Traverse City counselor at Mental Wellness Counseling. She specializes in infant mental health, early childhood and families. She is is a LLPC in Michigan and is under Joe Sanok’s LLPC Supervision.

Photo by Roger Blake