Sage Advice from Therapists Around the World

If you have ever wanted to glean encouragement and wisdom from other therapists who are in private practice, now is your chance. After surveying a few groups of therapists, these are some of the juiciest bits collated for you to use anytime you need support.

Building your private practice is as much about you as it is about others. As a business coach I have always said that your business is a mirror, reflecting your inner workings. Here is what others had to say:

Starting in private practice is so much more of a personal journey than you may expect. Take the time to address all of your own issues that come up so that you can be your most effective with clients. – Melissa Todd

You’re likely to learn as much about yourself as the clients who come in, and if you’re not, get some help. – Kimberly Wulfert

Be prepared for an identity crisis because you are asking others to believe in you, so you better believe in yourself. – Drina Nibbe

You are enough. – John Harrison

Be who you are as a person and as a therapist. The right people will find you. – Megan Hale

Be human. – Darlene Tando


Here are some thoughts about clinical development and your identity as a therapist.

I became a far better therapist the same day I realized I could let go of the need to do it “right”, and instead became at peace with not knowing much at all. – Megan Warner

Have lots of varied clinical experience under your belt, have much business experience and much life experience. This is a great formula for success when starting a private practice. – Debera Bragg

Good things happen in the silence, don’t be afraid of it. Connecting is more important than technique. – Sovann Penn

Its about learning to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. – Felicia Snell

Trust yourself, your clients and the process! – Laura Hollywood

Who you are in the therapy room will always be your best intervention, your best technique and your most successful tool. Grad school,certifications, trainings and degrees are ways to enhance your authentic and innate talent, not replace it. Invest in them, but don’t forget to stay committed to your originality. – Namrata Rindani McMahill

From a nearly licensed intern to those just starting: Know that your learning is a powerful gift. Your presence and your being yourself is just as valuable now as when you are licensed. Be careful not to compare yourself to other pre-licensed people, your own path at your own pace is something only you can feel is right for you, or not. Your mistakes will be your biggest teachers and your heart your best guide. Trust your gut. And above all, do not take an unpaid internship if you cannot live. We need to come from a place of resource in order to give of ourselves. – Natalie Amanda

A very large body of evidence shows that experience doesn’t make you better at counseling. Good therapists are good from the start because they know how to connect and build strong relationships. So, go and learn and train. But remember. At the end of the day it’s all in the relationship you build. – Mark Loewen

Be a beacon of hope. We are always becoming. Recognize that lifelong personal growth as a goal for self makes YOU…not a toolbox of techniques…your best intervention. Businesswise: Believe in yourself, but do the work necessary to spread your ideas like wildflowers. – Barbara Cunningham

Be authentic and even vulnerable, position yourself as a student of your clients’ life experiences rather than as an expert on their pathology. Rapport is everything. Nothing heals like being valued and understood. – Moira Conley Jackson

There is also the advice about the business side of starting your private practice.

You are worth every cent, hour, and support. Invest in yourself. – Michael Stokes

There will be low points, this is a seasonal business, so save some of your good month income for the valleys. – Marie Kerns

Have a vision, work hard & know when to take a day off. – Colleen Mullen

You don’t get to the top in one jump. You will have challenges to face, goals to meet, and hurdles to jump. But, it can and WILL happen if you keep taking one step at a time, doing something EVERYDAY toward your goal to get to the top. – Frances J Harvey

Follow your heart, your passion, the work that feeds your Soul; that’s your niche; that’s how you will best help people. (And learn about business & marketing!!) – Renee Beck

Take the leap and be prepared for the ups and downs! Don’t give up! It is worth it! – Jessica Blanco

Include making mistakes into your plan. – Agnes Wainman

If you don’t know business, find some one who does and then learn and work and learn and work and play and laugh and learn and work and enjoy it all and be grateful for the process of growing. – Josie Oakley

If you build it they will come…don’t leave home without your business card..its part of your attire now. – Derrick Prichard

In marketing your practice you are creating value for the public by educating people about the areas you work in and the problems you help with. Your ideal clients are out there, waiting to hear of someone who will understand them and be able to help. Don’t be shy in letting your ideal clients know you are here and you are ready to connect with them. –Jeremy Schwartz

And then there was just some more flat out inspiration from fellow therapists.

Get ready to be uncomfortable and practice what you preach on yourself. Stepping out on your own can feel like you walked off a cliff and are free falling but you will find your feet and it is totally worth it. – Ellie Hodges

Have fun and be picky! –Rebecca Wong

Always learn with the intent to teach. – Jamie Stacks

Don’t doubt yourself, just because someone else has all these extra credentials behind their name ( play therapy, art, sex offender, emdr) etc… Doesn’t mean you are clueless!! – Ryan Andrews Hodges

More positive and less negative. Stop over thinking things. – Darla Carmoney

You don’t need to be all things to all people. It’s okay- and at times vital to you and your clients- to say “no”. – Robert O’Brien

You’re in charge of your own heart, so no blaming and no excuses. – Steven Brownlow

It takes grit, feed the machine and believe. – Denise Onofrey

Focus on how you can serve others. You are being selfish if you withhold your gift, keeping to yourself what can enlighten others’ paths.  -Mou Solorz

Believe in yourself and surround yourself with people who believe in you too! Be kind to yourself. – Kimie Beth

Life is hard alone, think of trying to move a wagon by yourself. Now think of doing it with one or more other people. Which is easier? We tend to think we need to do something alone due to guilt or shame but truth is we aren’t meant to do it alone. Almost every creature man or animal needs two to make a baby. If we were meant to do it this world alone than we would need two to make a baby, we could do it alone.  – Terri McLing Moser

And some more…

Practice what you preach. Share that leniency, compassion and self-forgiveness you expect clients to have with themselves with yourself too! – Tehilla Luttig

There *is* competition for generic counseling services. But there is no competition for YOU. – Peter Hannah

Believe in yourself, believe that your desire to help others will earn you a good living, and don’t be afraid to specialize. The most important thing is to be passionate about something that you love doing and then you will be a success. – Stuart Fensterheim

If at first you don’t succeed, fail, fail again. – Grant Brenner

Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself with a client base that is new to you. Each person is unique to their life story & you will adjust along with their needs. My professor taught us to have compassionate love for all people. Start there & watch it unfold. – Juliette Fourgeot Sussman

Know your worth. – Jo Muirhead

Turn your assumptions into questions. – Betsy Arthur

Work on yourself as much as you work on your school work. Step into this new lifestyle with confidence and remember that whatever you invest in yourself, your clients and your business returns dividends that will pay you for years to come. There are two sides to becoming a therapist; your practice and your business. You will learn incredible things about how to help people in school, but not much about how to run a business as a therapist. In many ways learning to run a business as a therapist is more important than learning how to help people because it is required if you are to share your gifts with the world, take care of yourself and help people all at the same time. – Jordan Sybrandt

And with a final reminder…

Enjoy the ride but know that tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that and even the day after that you will need to shift and flow, wiggle and wait and still you will need to learn new steps. Until you learn to enjoy and do change well, you will not thrive (or even survive) long in private practice. – Tamara Suttle

Bookmark this, share it, pin it and remember – there is a whole host of therapists that are here, cheering you on and encouraging you to be your best self, everyday.

Thank you to all the therapists that contributed and shared their wisdom.

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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!