By Ari Goldstein, Ph.D.
In the course of my twenty years in the education and psychology fields, I have engaged in conversations with hundreds of colleagues and students who are new to private practice work. The question I am asked the most frequently from these individuals is, “How did you build your practice?” To put some perspective on this question, I should note that it was coming from individuals who excelled in their respective academic fields during graduate school. Many were highly skilled clinicians, with strong patient success rates. Some had published research papers and years of clinical experience. But one simple thing eluded them. How do I build my private practice?
When I first began Cognitive Solutions Learning Center, it was myself and a colleague conducting tutoring sessions out of a small office. As our reputation grew so did the size of our clinic, both in terms of staff and physical space. With this growth, I was required to ask myself a fundamental question: “How can I have a strong business model and entrepreneurial mentality when I am in a helping profession?”
This question is more complex than it first appears. Many drawn to helping professions (Mental Health, Education and Tutoring, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Music Therapy) thrive on being able to provide their patients or students with help achieving their goals. They come to these professions with a big heart and a sense of enthusiasm. Years of education and training were spent on learning their respective professions, and how to best employ their techniques or therapies with their chosen populations. Following graduate school many work within larger private practice groups or organizations, but eventually some are lured by the sense of freedom in having their own practice.
When these individuals are faced with the prospect of working outside of a larger institution or organization, they often come to realize how unprepared they are for the daily task lists associated with running a business. Someone has always done their insurance billing for them. Someone else has calculated their hours and given them a paycheck. The marketing department has always brought clients in the door and maintained the website.
Just giving extended thought to this process can be wholly overwhelming for the most organized and motivated individual. Add to that the conflict of “I want to help” vs “I need to make money” that rages in all new private practice clinicians. As this conflict arises, a shift in mindset is required. It is possible to help, and be compensated well for your help. It is possible to serve a wide population of people from varied socio-economic backgrounds without the fear of not being able to pay the mortgage each month. This does, however, require a shift in thinking and work balance. It also requires knowing your skill sets, and brining in professional help for the aspects of running a practice that seem more daunting. At times, engaging the right individuals for support can be essential.
At CliniGrow Business Solutions, LLC, we understand the small private practice. We can help you navigate the waters of “practice building”, as well as better understand how to be a clinician and a business owner. In the process, we will help you turn the goals for your business into a reality beyond your expectations.