As I shifted into private practice work years ago, I stumbled upon some things that were the norm where I worked but I eventually realized were not working for me. The insight came when I was completely burnt out and very unhappy with my workplace dynamics.
I hope these tips will help you avoid some of the angst I experienced as I transitioned into private practice.
So here are my recommendations for 5 Things Every Private Practice Clinician Should be Mindful of:
- Lunch – You should eat lunch every day or at least take some breaks between clients. I used to see 12 clients back to back and only had lunch or a break if someone cancelled. It's tempting to overschedule to allow for cancellations but this is not a healthy solution. This leads to burnout fast!
- End sessions on time –If you are coming from agency work where there are often different expectations about how long sessions or client work should last, learning to end on time can be challenging. Figure out how to begin wrapping up your session at least 5 minutes before the session ends. This can be done by beginning a recap of the session or with a phrase you use. “Well, I see we are out of time today” is not my favorite but if it works for you, great! There will obviously be times when a session needs extra time but that should be the exception instead of the rule.
- Handling no shows and late cancellations – Decide what your policy is or learn about the policy where you work, and check in with your values. Does this policy feel fair to you? Would you be OK with this policy being in place with a provider you see? Are there times you can choose to make an exception? Getting clear in your mind about this with yourself and with your clients is a must do. Holding boundaries is important but there may be times you decide to waive your policy or choose not to charge for them at all. Just be really clear with yourself and your client about why you are waiving it and about the expectation moving forward.
- How you feel about reducing rates – This was a doozy for me at one time. I had to define when and at what rate I would reduce to for clients in need. The last thing you want to do is give someone a reduced rate, with no time-limit to reassess the need, and then feel trapped and annoyed because they keep telling you about the new shoes they just bought. (Yes, this happened to me.) If you are gifting a reduced rate, set a time period to reassess the need then understand that their values may differ from yours around how they spend their money.
- Set boundaries around your schedule – In the early days especially, it's easy to take clients whenever they are available. Over time though, this can create chaos in your life. Set your schedule and stick to it (emergencies aside of course). And remember, it is perfectly OK to change your schedule to accommodate your life. Clients sometimes need to change their appointment to accommodate their lives and with enough notice, you can do that too.
I fully recognize that there are LOTS of opinions out these about these things. The bottom line for me is, check your values, be super clear to yourself and your clients about the parameters, and understand that others will do it differently.
Different is OK.
It's nice to learn about other options for managing some of these things but ultimately, you need to practice in a way that works for you!
Due to repeated requests, I am forming BRAND NEW groups for pre-licensed therapists!
These groups will run just like my current CollabOasis consultation groups except all group members will be pre-licensed. Members participate in closed, facilitated groups of 6-8 clinicians who meet virtually twice a month to get consultation on cases, discuss ethics, get business tips and resources, and find supportive colleagues you will get to know and trust.
The focus of these groups is on supporting each other and creating a place of benevolence to establish trust and get the clinical support that is so vital in our work.
The monthly fee includes 2 small group meetings per month. And once you are licensed, you will get 6 months at a reduced rate for the groups for fully licensed members as you work at or build a private practice.
**Please note, these hours will not count towards licensure since this is not supervision.
If you want to learn more about it, please set up a chat with Jeanene by clicking on the Contact Us tab of this website.