Have you ever dreamed of having your own psychology practice? If so, you are amongst millions of psychologist who wish to have something of their own. While opening a psychology practice is time-consuming, frustrating and tiring at times, the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. Owning a psychology practice allows you to determine which hours you work, how much you charge for your services and which issues you will treat. You are the “BOSS.” According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014), approximately 75% of psychologists open their own psychology practices. If you are contemplating opening your own psychology practice make sure you thoroughly research your state’s licensing requirements and regulations before treating clients. If you are wondering how to open your own psychology practice you have come to the right place – this article will teach you how to pursue your dream of opening your own psychology practice.
Listed below are steps that you can take to open your own psychology practice:
• Become Licensed
The first thing you will need to do, if you want to open your own psychology practice, is to become licensed and/or certified as a mental health professional (i.e. clinical social worker, psychologist, psychotherapist, counselor, psychiatrist, marriage and family therapist, etc.). Most states require that mental health professionals obtain a license in a mental health field before providing counseling services to clients. Contact your state’s psychology regulatory board to find out the guidelines, prerequisites, regulations and requirements associated with opening a psychology practice in your state. Depending on your state’s guidelines, you may be required to work under a licensed and/or certified psychologist for a number of years before opening your own psychology practice. To become licensed to practice psychology, you will need to take and pass your state’s psychology licensure exam and complete all of the other requirements set by your state’s licensure board.
• Name Your Practice
Once you have graduated with an advanced psychology degree (M.A. or Ph.D.) and obtained licensure and/or certification in your specialty field, you will need to name your practice. Choose something catchy, but professional, if possible. Once you have chosen the perfect name for your practice, you will need to register it with your state. Most names end with the initials (LLC). LLC stands for limited liability corporation. This title requires less documentation than traditional business formats and protects your business from excess taxes and legal ramifications. It is important to note that you will be required to pay business registration fees and complete a plethora of paperwork to register your psychology practice.
• Location! Location! Location!
Location plays a significant role in how many clients you will acquire and how profitable your psychology practice will be. Look for a location that is close to a business complex or busy retail area. You want to make your practice accessible to those who may want your services. Stay away from rural and urban areas and areas in which parking is challenging or non-existent. Moreover, choose a building that offers a space that is conducive for counseling sessions. In other words, make sure that you cannot hear what is happening outside of your counseling room. Also, make sure the area is comfortable, homey and inviting for clients. Once you have chosen your perfect office space, contact the property owner, sign a lease and pay your deposit.
• Acquire Liability Insurance
It is imperative that you acquire liability insurance, if you want to open your own psychology practice. Treating clients can be tricky and it is best to be protected from lawsuits, in the case that your treatment is not well-received by your clients. Contact a variety of insurance companies and inquire about their liability protection plans and rates. Once you find the liability insurance plan that best fits your practice, complete an application and pay any associated fees.
• Advertise Your Services
Decorate your counseling office and place a sign with your name and title outside of your building and/or office space. Place ads in your local newspaper and if possible advertise your services with radio ads and billboards. Moreover, list your services in your local phone book, give out business cards and brochures and promote your practice on social media websites like: Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Furthermore, contact social service agencies and mental health centers and create a partnership in which clients that need follow-up services are referred to you.
American Psychological Association. (2014). APA guidelines for practitioners. Retrieved from http://apa.org/practice/guidelines/index.aspx
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2014). Psychologists. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm