How to ease into Private Practice therapy (psychological)
May 7, 2013 2:51 PM   Subscribe

Asking for a friend who is an MFT. He is considering moving into private practice, however, he isn't ready to make the leap from a steady and reliable job to a job where income is very dependent on the size of your professional network--and he doesn't really have a professional network at all right now. Any tips on how to ease into private practice with a low initial commitment and pressure--just a part time thing with only one or a few clients?
posted by brenton to Work & Money (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
A lot of this will depend on the rules where he works now. Is he allowed to moonlight? If so, why doesn't he just put up a website and/or advertise on craigslist?
posted by small_ruminant at 3:03 PM on May 7, 2013

Yeah, moonlighting is ok. The website/craigslist route seems a bit sketchy, and even that is a bit daunting, you know? Where does he meet with clients without taking the huge step of renting office space? Just the first thing that comes to my mind.
posted by brenton at 3:04 PM on May 7, 2013

In my area companies have something called an EAP where initial consultations with a network of freelance Therapists are covered; some clients choose to continue with those therapists. It is one way to build a client base.
posted by saucysault at 3:10 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

He should call around to other therapists and rent their offices when they aren't using this. This is very common around here in Berkeley. If they keep M-F 9-5 hours, he rents Wednesday 5:30-9 for $100 per week or whatever.

Often MANY therapists use the same office.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:14 PM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

I know a therapist who has met clients at quiet restaurants and coffee shops when she didn't have an office. Or, if it was a family with kids who need therapy, she would go to the family's home for sessions there (after first meeting with the parents in a neutral place).

Psychology Today has a Find a Therapist directory where your friend could get listed. If he wants to work with parents and children, approaching local schools and offering to give talks on parenting issues is a way to find new clients. Also he should let his contacts in other fields who might be able to refer clients (e.g. doctors, lawyers) that he's looking to expand his practice.
posted by unsub at 3:43 PM on May 7, 2013

He should call around to other therapists and rent their offices when they aren't using this.

That is what my therapist has done, until this last year. Now she and her partners (who opened up their own "practice" where everyone pays for their own stuff but they split the rent) rent their offices to other people during hours they're not there.

She is also transitioning away from being an employee of someone else - during the time I've seen her it's gone from 40+ hours at the real job and 10-15 at the office she's subletting from someone else, to 10 hours at the real job and 35 at the office she's at least now listed on the lease of.

She seems to have almost 100% gotten her clients from EAP referrals until recently. Downside: she accidentally specializes in addictions and "I think my kids/wife/etc. and I are at a total crisis point," with a heavy dose of midlife crises and financial ruin. I'm one of the very few serious and persistent mental illness patients she has, and I think on balance only a handful of her clients see her for extended periods of time. Her real job is on the other hand almost 100% SPMI types and comorbid mental illness/addiction (people on disability.)

My perception is that it's way easier to do this once you're either entitled to put "S" after your counseling credential or can claim to be some kind of specialist in addiction disorders. Also, it might just be her circle, but all the ones I know of who've gone this route have a ton of specialty therapy credentials and training certificates, like "EMDR Level 2," to put on their websites.
posted by Fee Phi Faux Phumb I Smell t'Socks o' a Puppetman! at 4:41 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, my therapist also rents her office (and has rented other offices) out.

Another possibility is being a therapist who primarily works long-distance, via phone or Skype. I actually think that might be an awesome idea for folks who can't always go to a weekly therapy session during a work day, especially if your friend is willing to work the off-hours.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:21 PM on May 7, 2013

I know a therapist who has met clients at quiet restaurants and coffee shops when she didn't have an office.

This is unethical, and impractical to boot. How do you handle an emotionally disregulated patient in that kind of situation? (Hint: you can't.)

Another possibility is being a therapist who primarily works long-distance, via phone or Skype.

The laws around this are emerging, and it might be against the rules of the board that licenses him.

The traditional way to do this is to sublet office space from someone an evening a week, and work to develop referral sources. Sometimes there are local mailing lists for therapists that facilitate finding this kind of sublet and forming referral sources.

The best way, without a strong referral network in place, to start out is to get paneled with a couple of insurances. Depending on the area, this is usually not hard to do, but does take completing some paperwork.

Another way to ease in is to see if there are practices in the area that hire part-time therapists. They don't usually pay all that well, but they will empanel you, and it's a way to start out.
posted by OmieWise at 5:43 AM on May 8, 2013

A friend of mine began by working with an established therapist who needed an additional person to help handle the workload. She worked one day a week out of the other psychologist's space. You do need at least a small professional network to find someone like that who needs the help and trusts you to work in her practice, so perhaps building the network is a good place to start.
posted by Stacey at 5:52 AM on May 8, 2013

« Older Iconic films featuring San Francisco   |   What is this tree that is lining my new street? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.