Private Practice Kickstart: Should I get certified in?

I talk to therapists often who report their business plan is to get certified in “fill in the blank.” At an EMDRIA conference it was amazing to speak to so many therapists whose practices were going well and packed! Many of them reported their certification in EMDR was a major determination of their success.

Correlation equal causation

These therapists are successful. They got a certification in EMDR. They can verbalize how valuable the certification was to their success. So, an EMDR certification makes people successful- right? Or, a DBT certification is the first step to a profitable private practice, right? Or clients respect psychologists more than licensed counselors so if you just get your PhD you’ll get clients, right?

Yes, therapists with advanced certifications and education can be successful, but certification or education alone cannot launch a successful private practice!

Why are advanced trainings and certifications important for therapists?

If you want to have a long-term profitable private practice, you need to be excellent at what you do. No matter how much marketing you do, or how many phone calls you get, if you don’t create change for clients- you can’t sustain a great practice. You won’t feel good about your work, your clients will drop off, and you won’t get a lot of word of mouth referrals.

Graduate schools prepare therapists to practice independently; they don’t always prepare therapists to be excellent. Great therapists are focused on becoming excellent! Advanced trainings and certifications can be a piece of the path of becoming excellent. Trainings can help you develop support networks, connect you with mentors, be a piece of how you market yourself, and help you become excellent at helping clients heal.

What certification should YOU get to kickstart your private practice?

So, what is the best training or certification for you to invest in? The answer is, it depends. Therapist, know thyself. No matter how profitable a niche or specialization in sex addiction might seem- if you aren’t passionate about that work- it isn’t the right training for you! What are you passionate about? What are you drawn to? What books can you devour? What trainings did you attend where an hour flew by and you would’ve loved to soak up another week?

No psychotherapy training or certification is a magic wand

Simply attending an advanced training, or getting a certification is not a magic wand. It will not magically make you a great therapist if you don’t implement it. Simply telling people “I’m trained in “blank” will very seldom start a conversation or engage people (unless you are talking to other therapists). It won’t magically make people value what you do. You have to be able to conceptualize and articulate what you do and how you do it– in words that other people can immediately resonate with.

More importantly, it won’t magically make you value what you do. Want to know what the single most important step to having client believe you are worth the investment of their hard earned money, time, energy, and trust? You have to believe it. If you don’t believe you are worthy of being paid, no amount of education or training is going to shift that. You have to shift that belief system.

Therapists heal thyself

We, as therapists, tell our clients all the time that the way they think impacts how they feel, how they react, and their relationships with others. And yet, often when it comes to building a private practice, we see it as a completely rational exercise. Therapists who go through our Business School Bootcamp for Therapists report shock when they realize how much their mindset has been hampering their financial and clinical outcomes.

So, sit down today and explore how you can create excellence in your clinical practice, whether it is a training, a certification, more life balance, devouring a great book, dropping insurance panels, etc. Make a list and make a commitment to move towards excellence! Go to trainings to create excellence, and then learn to market that excellence so people know you exist!

We’d love to hear from you: What is the single best training or certification you have attended? Share below! (For me- yes, it was my EMDR training!)

Miranda Palmer, LMFT is a therapist and business coach who sees how business decisions impact clinical work- for good or for bad. She wants to teach therapists how to make business decisions that allow them to do the best therapy work possible. You can check out over 10 hours of recorded free trainings for therapists here.


Miranda Palmer

I have successfully built a cash pay psychotherapy practice from scratch on a shoestring budget. I have also failed a licensed exam by 1 point (only to have the licensing board send me a later months later saying I passed), started an online study group to ease my own isolation and have now reached thousands of therapists across the country, helped other therapists market their psychotherapy practices, and helped awesome business owners move from close to closing their doors, to being profitable in less than 6 weeks. I've failed at launching online programs. I've had wild success at launching online programs. I've made mistakes in private practice I've taught others how to avoid my mistakes. You can do this. You were called to this work. Now- go do it! Find some help or inspiration as you need it- but do the work!