Starting a Private Practice as a Mom: Part 3

Starting a private practice as a mom is a tricky business. While things are shifting in this area, women have historically held themselves to impossibly high standards as they’ve gone to work. They often hold the same amount of home duties that stay at home mom’s held, but simply tack on a full time job.

Part-time or Full-time private practice

The truth is, whether you are doing a full time or a part-time private practice, starting a private practice can easily become a full-time job. Also, we tend to create privates practices that resemble agency or non-profit work. That can mean the expectation that seeing 20 clients a week is “part-time.” When, in fact, for most therapists in private practice 20 clients is a full-time schedule once they factor in the additional responsibilities of a being a business owner. Download this free training How to set your fees in private practice to learn more about how to set the right schedule for you.

Marketing is a full time job

Letting people know you are out there, and connecting with them so they want to call and schedule with you can feel like a full time job. It takes a LOT more energy to get the ball rolling and create the momentum than it does to keep the momentum. For me, I was teaching a few nights a week, and a few mornings a week. My son took 2 naps of about 90 minutes a day (on good days) and that was my marketing time.

How to start marketing

Because I didn’t have or want full-time childcare, I had to find a way to market that didn’t involve me leaving the house. So, I learned how to make myself findable online. I built my first website for free on Google Sites. Partially because I couldn’t have hired it out at the time if I’d wanted to. I didn’t know what I wanted, I wasn’t sure what to ask for. I am a kinesthetic learner. The only way I knew to figure out what I wanted was to play with things and come to it organically through trial and error.

My Website Was My First Step

Creating a website was one of the most powerful things I did when starting out. I joined Casey Truffo’s membership program for under $60 a month and I started listening and learning. At the time, this information was NOT part of the general knowledge base. Now, you can search on YouTube, or participate in dozens in free webinars every month. In fact, we have over 10 hours of free trainings available here and free monthly webinars for therapists.

My First Websites Sucked

The truth is, my first website(s) sucked! Yep, I said it. They didn’t look incredibly professional, and had lots of errors. I did my best, but I wasn’t perfect. I still got clients. One of the reasons I still got clients was because other therapists in my area weren’t doing websites at all or getting on the Internet. I learned many important lessons about putting yourself out there, and stepping out to be a leader. It is a powerful thing!

Learning To Trust My Intution

One of the most important lessons Casey’s program taught me was how to speak with passion and empathy to clients out in the world. She taught a lot about niches and how to get REALLY specific. It was an AWESOME lesson to learn. At the same time, at that particular time, there weren’t other therapists with websites. I lived in a relatively rural area, and it made MORE sense to have a less specialized practice. So, I found a balance between marketing in a “niched” way by having a few powerful specialities, but also speaking with empathy to clients searching for services.

I Took My Ideal Clients

As my confidence grew, I learned how to better assess potential clients, refer out with confidence, and how to establish my expertise in certain areas out in the community. Eventually, I circled back to focus in on my deep passion- working with clients with trauma histories. However, I found that even the couples that came to me usually had one (or both) partners with trauma histories. And that clients with anxiety, or communication struggles really had underlying trauma. The fact that my website was set up the way it was- allowed my ideal clients to come to me where they were at and then ease into the deeper trauma work.

My Clients Paid My Full Fee

And, guess what, as I started getting clients in my practice they paid my full fee, and they came in weekly. By the time I could’ve gotten on insurance panels, it was really clear to me that it wasn’t necessary. In fact, getting on insurance panels would’ve cut my pay- not added to it. While I could’ve gone to networking groups and built my practice in person, building it online was really perfect for me. Clients could find me 24/7 while I was nursing my son, playing, or going to my mom’s group. I could do my marketing while he was napping, and it really built a platform that made it easy to move from two packed evenings a week to 2 full days of private practice when I ran out of evening spaces and realized I did NOT want to work another evening a week.

You can build a private practice as a mom

 There are SO many more details I could share of my story of starting a counseling practice as a new mom. However, the biggest thing I want you to know is: It can be done. Did you pay attention to the timeline? I started conceptualizing my practice in August of 2007- just a few months before the recession started. By August of 2009 as my son was old enough for preschool. I was starting to have to turn away clients in my current set-up. I moved into a full-time office space and switched to day time hours and got filled up lickety split. 

 In fact, I went back into my email to see what was happening…. and found this message that I sent to a client who was scheduling: “I filled up several spots since we talked on Monday :)”

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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!