Private Practice Resources

When we launched A SMART PRACTICE earlier this year, our goal was simple: To provide engaging content to help practicians build their practices. We are six months in and have published over 50 articles by almost a dozen contributors and engaged our readers with bi-monthly newsletters. This week we launched a new feature of our site: Private […]

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January 15th, Quarterly Tax Day

The IRS will be expecting a check from you on the 15th, unless this is your first year in business. Regardless of how much (or little) you have to pay the IRS, setup a reminder to write this check at least 3 days before it’s due. Here are some previous articles we’ve written about quarterly […]

New Year, New Opportunities

Happy New Year! Each year I try to identify a single word that is my focus for the year. Last year was “Finish,” this year is “Risk.” I’m generally a risk averse person, even though many of my friends would not say that about me. For me, taking risks means that I have to face […]

Some Thoughts on Brand Building

Creating a brand is one of the best ways to generate referrals for your practice. A brand is a story, a set of unique values and ideals. A private practice without a brand is like a person without a personality: They just aren’t very attractive. Creating a brand is an involved process that can be overwhelming. But […]

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What is Your Mission?

Your practice needs a mission. “I want to help people” is not a good reason to be in business. One could argue that every single business has that same goal in mind of helping people. The businesses that thrive are the ones that can articulate their mission and the uniqueness of how their product or […]

The Need for Productivity: The New Disorder

I have begun to notice this trend with my clients, and not just with a couple of them, but with almost all of them. At some point they say things like, “I feel like I am not doing enough.” “I should be doing more.” “I’m not as far in my career as I should be.” […]

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September 15th — Quarterly Tax Day

For the self-employed, private practicians, tax day happens every quarter. Tomorrow, September 15th, is the due date for your estimated taxes to be paid. Here are a few suggestions and reminders to help you with your tax needs. Download the 1040-ES Form from the IRS. Make sure your payment is postmarked by 9/15/15 If you began […]

Private Practice Questions

Last Friday I gave a presentation to a group of therapists eager to start or grow their private practice. Over the course of our time together, several questions were asked that I think would be helpful to post here: Q: Do I need a business license to open up a private practice? A: I’m not […]

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The Happy Therapist

“Caleb, I just want to be happy.” When a client says this to me, I am often struck by the solidarity that I have with my client. A colleague of mine once told a 15-year-old girl client, “There isn’t very much that is different about me and you. I too am trying to figure out […]

ICD-10 Coding Coming October 1st

After multiple delays over the past few years, beginning October 1 insurance companies will require ICD-10 codes. ICD-9 codes have been in use for decades, so the tenth revision of these codes will likely be the first change the majority of practitioners will have faced. This is an important change as it will affect anyone […]

33 Ways to Get More Referrals

Almost every private practice needs to have a consistent strategy for generating more leads and referrals. Here are 33 ideas to help get you started: 1. Develop a new specialty 2. Become an adjunct profession at your local college or university 3. Host a peer consultation group 4. Start a writing workshop for aspiring authors 5. […]

Guest Post: The Entrepreneurial Spirit – by Carla Archuletta

  Editors note: This is a guest post from Carla Archuletta. We occasionally have other practitioners share their story and experience of building a private practice. Carla shares some insights from her story as she looks to begin her career as a therapist. We’d love to hear your story. If you have ideas you’d like to […]

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Private Practice SWOT

I recently wrote about the need to plan tasks needing to be done in your business. I approach these tasks on a weekly/monthly/quarterly/yearly timetable. Doing this gives me bite-sized portions of tasks that keep me ahead of the business curve. One of the tasks I advocate for private practicians to engage in is a personal/professional […]

Guest Post: Managing the Flow of a Therapy Session – Jeff Morgan

  Editors note: This is a guest post from Jeff Morgan. We occasionally have other practitioners share their story and experience of building a private practice. Jeff shares some insights he has gained from building a private practice in Nashville. We’d love to hear your story. If you have ideas you’d like to share with our readers, click here to contact us for […]

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Hitting 60

Today marks the 60th published article here at A SMART PRACTICE. When we launched in January of this year, we weren’t exactly sure how everything was going to shake out. Looking back over the past 6 months, and 60 articles, there’s been a lot of great content, resources, and community development here. Our goal here is to […]

Seasons of Practice

Over the past 10 plus years, I’ve seen plenty of ups and downs in my client load. When the schedule is full, I tend to feel very confident and can find myself approaching my clients differently than when my schedule isn’t as full. Part of this is that I have some belief that I am the […]

Practice Budgets

image courtesy of www.gotcredit.com From a practice management standpoint, this might be the single most important habit to setup: Develop on a budget. Income will be variable, and to keep money from sinking your business (or credit), you need a plan. Regardless if you practice a budget in your personal life (and I think you […]

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6 Observations About LinkedIn

The Original Social Media Explained with Donuts by Doug Ray / Three Ships Media. #socialmediaexplained #socialdonut #facebook #pinterest #linkedin #youtube #foursquare #twitter #instagram #socialmedia #googleplus #lastfm #memes #funnypics A post shared by Doug Ray (@douglaswray) on Feb 3, 2012 at 2:21pm PST I’ve been experimenting with a few new ideas on LinkedIn lately. Of all […]

Guest Post: How I Built a Practice – Tressa Gibbs

Editors note: This is a guest post from Tressa Gibbs. We occasionally have other practitioners share their story and experience of building a private practice. Tressa shares some insights she gained from building her private practice in Nashville. We’d love to hear your story. If you have ideas you’d like to share with our readers, click here to contact us for […]

Counseling 13th Most Stressful Job

I recently ran across this article in Business Insider that detailed the 14 most stressful jobs in America. I don’t think many of the jobs listed would be all that surprising: Air Traffic Controllers, Supervisors in the Police force, Doctors, and police/fire/911 Dispatchers. What was surprising was that Mental Health Counseling was included in this […]

Want a Thriving Practice? Do Good Work

You can make the most amazing website, hire the best designer, and decorate your office to the nines, but if you do not do good work with people your business will not last very long. You might be asking, “How does one go about doing good work?” There are a number a different factors that […]

Book Review: Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

The Premise: My professional crush with Brene Brown started a few years ago with her infamous TEDx talk on the power of vulnerability. She spoke so beautifully; holding a great tension between information and vulnerability. She’s done a marvelous job bringing rich research and marrying it to real life settings and relationships. Daring Greatly is a book about […]

Tech Tuesday: Keeping Calendars

Some time ago, I was driving out of my office parking lot getting settled in for my commute home. Just as I was about to turn down the secondary street, I noticed my clients drive by me on their way into my office parking lot. My first thought is unpublishable here, but suffice to say […]

Guest Post: Am I Good Enough? – Erin Pierson

Editors note: This is a guest post from Erin Pierson. We occasionally have other practitioners share their story and experience of building a private practice. Erin offers her reflections on being in the early stages of her career. We’d love to hear your story. If you have ideas you’d like to share with our readers, click here to […]

Thursday Tidbit: Beauty Schools

Admit it. You’ve always wanted to be a beautician, right? It’s ok, I didn’t answer ‘yes’ either. Regardless how you answered, the reality is that the role of a therapist and a beautician are very similar. I actually think beauticians have more access and trust with their clients than we do as therapists with our […]

8 Ideas to Generate More Referrals

– Guest-post on other blogs – Offer a support group for the parents of kids with crisis pregnancies. – Start a “new-professionals” group for goal setting, idea sharing, and accountability. – Host a workshop on secondary trauma for Police, 911, and emergency dispatchers. – Connect with other professionals on LinkedIn. Setup times to meet for […]

Private Practice Coaching Group

Are you struggling to get new clients, develop solid referral sources, or overwhelmed with running a business? Join Samuel Rainey, LPC-MHSP and founder of aSmartPractice.com, this summer for a private practice coaching group to help you grow and stabilize your private practice. This is a group for beginners and seasoned professionals alike. Participants need to […]

Tech Tuesday: Building Your Website

I have lots of professionals that ask me for recommendations about getting a website setup and running. If you’re not all that familiar with design, web design, or technology, getting this done can be really overwhelming. A website is the main place people will go to learn more about you and your services, which is why it needs […]

Choosing an EMR/EHR Software Program

With the implementation of the Affordability Care Act, also comes the hope that electronic record keeping (electronic medical records – EMR or electronic health records – EHR) might create a system that saves money and provides better client care. The economic savings and ease of these systems are hotly debated and the ease of use […]

Autobiography in 5 Short Chapters

Everyone has been there before: Down in the pits, wondering why the same thing keeps happening. In Private Practice, this might mean that you’re starting another week without any new clients, or struggling to pay the bills for yet another month. Something I share with my clients is the “Autobiography in 5 Short Chapters.” I’ve […]

Guest Post: Managing Expectations – Laura Anderson

Editors note: This is a guest post from Laura Anderson. We occasionally have other practitioners share their story of building a private practice. Laura offers some excellent insights about starting a practice. If you have ideas you’d like to share with our readers, click here to contact us for more information. March marked the three year anniversary of […]

Tech Tuesday: Wearable Technology and the Therapist

“How do you like your fitbit?” Every so often I get asked for my opinion on wearing a Fitbit (a device worn on your wrist to track your physical activity and other health related data). I usually respond with the positives and negatives of wearing it, giving a 45 second product review like I’m on a […]

Office Feng Shui

Part of what you are giving to the client is not only your presence, but “place”. Place is a space set up for a specific or particular purpose. And so, the hope is that we will create an office environment that is both inviting and hospitable to our clients and their process. In other words, […]

Try Failing

Like most new therapists, when I was beginning my practice I had no idea where my referrals would come from. Over the next several years, I developed some good referral sources but it wasn’t until around year 4 that I felt firmly established in my community. To get there I did a lot of experiments. […]

Tech Tuesday: Using a Facebook Page

With over 1.39 Billion active users, the Facebook population (if it were a country) would be the largest country on Earth. It’s astounding how integrated most of us are with Facebook. With that said, I think Facebook is an excellent way to get a starter website up for your practice. You need to have a Facebook […]

Guest Post: Becoming a Collaborative Divorce Coach – Gary Watson

  Editors note: This is a guest post from Gary Watson. We occasionally have other practitioners share their story of building a private practice. Gary offers a unique idea and opportunity into diversifying a practice. If you have ideas you’d like to share with our readers, click here to contact us for more information. I’ve been exploring the possibility of becoming […]

Thursday Tidbit: Accounting for Counselors

Recently, I sat down with my new bookkeeper for 2 hours and found myself exerting my brain and focus in ways that I can only describe as excruciating. It reminded me of when I sat in Greek class in graduate school. Not only was she using terms that I wasn’t exactly sure I understood, there […]

Tech Tuesday: How to Type Less!

There are a lot of things that I used to type over and over again. Mainly these were for emails to clients or potential clients. I got tired of typing out directions to my office each time someone asked, and thus I went hunting for something to help. What I found was a confluence of applications […]

Keeping Receipts

I’m probably a bit on the odd side, but I really like numbers. For one, numbers do not lie. There is so much ambiguity in our work as a counselor, coach, or consultant that numbers can be a welcomed relief of solid ground. The unfortunate part of this is most graduate schools don’t really train […]

Thursday Tidbit: Building Your Brand

Building your brand is one of the quickest ways to generating referrals for your practice. A brand is created by setting expectations, and then delivering a product that measures up to those set expectations. As a private practician, you and your message are your brand. The specifics of how you build your brand are up to […]

Tech Tuesday App Review: Evernote

If you’ve read much of what I’ve written here, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of blogging. Moreover, I’m a big fan of writing. I think writing is a lost art, and with that loss we miss out on a ton of therapeutic value in writing. From word processors to the old fashioned pen-and-paper […]

Guest Post: How I built My Practice – James Trone

Editors note. This is a guest post from James Trone. We occasionally have other practitioners share their story of building a private practice. James offers some great insights into this process. if you have ideas you’d like to share with our readers, click here to contact us for more information. As I write this, I am keenly aware […]

Thursday Tidbit: People Remember How You Made Them Feel

I met this other therapist about 7 years ago. It was a brief meeting, and one I recall holding a bit of tension as we disagreed on several aspects of mental health. We haven’t spoken since, to no fault of either party. This past week I was asking a local referral network for some suggestions […]

Book Review: QBQ! The Question Behind the Question

The Premise: If you’re asking the wrong questions, you’re not going to solve the problems correctly, or efficiently. Personal accountability is achieved when we ask “what” and “how,” not “why” and “who.” Businesses thrive when those involved take responsibility by asking the correct questions about their situation. Ask, “how can I solve …” instead of […]

Tech Tuesday: 5 Tips for Using Twitter

You’ve read our point/counterpoint on the reasons of why and why not to use social media, and now you’re ready to start using twitter. Here are 5 tips for using twitter as a private practician. 1. Identify your voice. As counselors we need to consider the ethical issues at hand in how and what we […]

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Taking Payment – Part 2

“Caleb, I know you have a business to run, and I know you probably just thought it was a credit card, but when you charged my card, you charged my debit card and wiped out our funds for the rest of the month.” My heart sank. I realized that I had caused my client a difficult hardship. […]

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Thursday Tidbit: Answer the Phone!

We therapists are notorious for not being able (or perhaps we’re not willing?) to answer the phone. Often this is because of how our schedules work. I have traded voicemails with potential clients for many days due to not being able to connect at the right time. There are times at the end of a […]

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Tech Tuesday: Technology Limits

This might seem antithetical to the category of “Tech Tuesday,” but I think all good strategies have to include limits for how you’re going to implement them. The same is true for our personal lives as it is for business: Getting sidetracked with technology is an easy trap. We can spend too much time in virtual […]

Flickr photo courtesy of Leu Gardens

Building Rocking Chairs: Practicing Self Care

It was Thursday afternoon at 4:30 and I was finished with my full day of appointments. As I locked my office, my colleague noticed I was leaving and said, “You look exhausted.” His observation couldn’t have been more true. I’d scheduled 7 sessions for that Thursday, with a scant 30 minute lunch break. One day of […]

Thursday Tidbit: Saving for No Shows

No shows are part of the business. Sometimes these no-shows don’t ever come back and pay. One way to mitigate that is to follow Caleb’s advice and take a credit card number to reserve each session. Another option is to save $5 from every session you complete, put it in a cash lockbox (I use this […]

Tech Tuesday: Writing Your Online Profile

There are a ton of online resources to help market your practice. Besides social sites, there are a lot of directories (like Psychology Today, Good Therapy, and Therapy Tribe). To varying degrees, these sites will ask you to write a profile about yourself. Questions like: “Describe your ideal client,” and “What makes you unique,” are […]

Guest Post: How I Built my Practice – Luke Brasel

Editors note. This is a guest post from Luke Brasel. We occasionally have other practitioners share their story of building a private practice. Luke offers some great insights into this process. if you have ideas you’d like to share with our readers, click here to contact us for more information. When Samuel asked me to share […]

Thursday Tidbit: Quality of Marketing Materials

In building a practice, the quality of your work will be your best marketing tool. But, we suggest matching the quality of your work with the quality of your public marketing materials. Business cards, website, blog, and social media profiles all work together to tell the story of what kind of business you are running. […]

Book Review: The War of Art

I think everyone would agree the practice of counseling is an art, not a science. To take that one step further, the practice of building a private counseling practice is also an art (which is one of the reasons we created this website, to help you create your art). This book review is about Steven […]

Tech Tuesday: Credit Card Processing & Surcharges

In the past 5-7 years the range of payment options for counselors has had a significant expansion. This is primarily linked to the smartphone and the capabilities it possesses in business functions. If you’re not accepting credit card payments, you might be missing out on potential clients. But, what to do about the fee the […]

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Taking Payment – Part 1

To practice your craft for the good of your clients you have to have a fee. The fee is foundational to building a practice.  For young and old counselors alike, this can be a difficult task. There are many reasons for this. Maybe the therapist has not integrated himself/herself as a therapist and a business person […]

Thursday Tidbit: Time Audit

Facebook can be a fantastic resource for community and even for marketing. Something I’ve noticed in my own usage of the site is that it’s easy to get distracted. I can intend to get on the site for business purposes, but can get sidetracked with other conversations that don’t really have anything to do with […]

Marketing for the Long Haul

I’d furnished my office, printed my business cards, and met with several potential referral sources. It was my first full week in private practice, and I had no idea when my first client would call and set an appointment. In those first few weeks and months, I spent a lot of time making sure all my marketing […]

Thursday Tidbit: Website Design Help

Everyone needs an online presence, that’s just a fact of business in the 21st century. But you don’t really know much about the web and design, so trying to do one yourself isn’t really an option. There are literally tens of thousands of options out there from fully customized to cookie-cutter styles. There is no […]

Getting Someone Else’s Client

Here’s the scene: You sit down with a potential client for the intake, and as you begin to ask her questions you find out that she is in your office because she is looking for a new therapist. She goes on to talk about how awful her previous therapist was, and you begin to hear […]

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Thursday Tidbit: Some Ideas on Speaking

In the last Tidbit I suggested that you get out and speak as a way to build your practice. I wanted to follow up on that with a few suggestions for where you can find speaking gigs. The reality is you will have to create these opportunities: – Call a beauty salon, offer to come train […]

Why I Use Social Media

Last week Caleb shared some compelling reasons why he does not use social media. He makes some very good points that are worth your time to read and consider. I’m on the other side of the fence on this issue and want to share a few reasons for why I think it’s good idea to integrate this […]

Thursday Tidbit: Do What’s Difficult

There are no easy ways to build your practice. If it seems easy to do, it’s probably not worth spending all that much time doing or repeating. You’re not going to get more clients by hoping people find your website, Psychology Today profile, or see your Twitter feed. You probably hate public speaking (surprisingly, people […]

Why I don’t use Social Media

There are plenty of reasons that a small business/private practice can benefit from social media. I am not sure I know what they all are. I assume that they have something to do with getting your brand recognized and known. But, what I do know is that social media is not part of my marketing […]

Your Practice Needs an Emergency Fund

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “if something can go wrong, it will.” It’s a hard mantra to live by because it requires that we live with both our present and future needs in mind. This is a topic we often address with our clients, but can so easily forget to practice them in our […]

Practicing DBT Can Help You Run Your Private Practice

Running a small business on top of holding the stories of your clients and caring for them can quickly fill your time and energy reservoirs. Intrinsic to running a private practice are the multitude of moving parts that always seem to require attention. Invoices have to be made, insurance billed, emails and voicemails checked, appointments […]

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Measuring Success & Goals: Tracking Client Load

It’s a difficult balance to strike between running a profitable business yet not becoming overly obsessed with the financial health of your practice. Profit is not a four letter word, yet it’s easy to assume that because we deal with the complexities of others’ lives, we don’t need to profit from them. And to a large extent, I agree: […]

Integrating your Therapist Self with your Small Business Self

Often our clients only see one side of who we are as persons, which is our therapist self. Hopefully, they experience a non-anxious presence that provides safety and encourages them as persons, facilitating their growth process. Because of the nature of the therapeutic relationships, they do not experience another side of us who takes care […]

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Quarterly Taxes: A Primer

In just a few days on January 15th, a date all of us self-employed folks dread, our Quarterly tax payment is due the IRS. What I’ve come to appreciate about these quarterly payments is that I’m not writing a check to the IRS for my entire tax liability. Instead, I’m just writing a quarter of it. It’s like the old […]

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Banking 101

It’s pretty overwhelming to consider getting a business started from the ground floor. There are so many different issues to attend to, and generally speaking, we therapists are better with people than we are with numbers. Banking is a pretty simple concept that we are all familiar with, but I don’t see many therapists who […]

When to hire help

If you are thinking about hiring help, there is a high probability that you need to Pension go ahead and pull the trigger to hire someone. More than likely you are feeling the pinch time-wise and seeing many necessary tasks not getting done. Over the long haul this pile of unfinished business can be detrimental […]

Asking the Right Questions in Marketing

As therapists, we work to listen and ask good questions. Becoming an effective marketer is also about asking good questions, but instead of asking them of our clients, we have to ask ourselves good questions. While not exhaustive, these 3 simple questions can help guide your marketing decisions: 1. Who am I and what is my […]

The Ups and Downs

I’ve been in private practice for over 6 years, and there have been some very lean months. What I’ve noticed about myself is that I will work all kinds of crazy hours when my schedule is full to try and “make up” for the slower weeks and months. It’s hard to intentionally slow down and […]