Five Steps to Starting a Mental Health Private Practice



You have registered as a mental health professional. Perhaps you have also joined a professional association. You are ready to ply your trade. You want to go into private practice but may not know the best way of getting started. This article discusses five steps to help you get started with your own private practice in mental health.

Step 1: Start With Your Why:

It is often useful to begin by reflecting on the reasons why you want to go into your own private practice, and why you specifically want to work in mental health. Your answers may reflect a desire for control over the way you work, the kinds of clients you choose to work with and the kinds of problems your clients are likely to face. Your answers might also reflect a desire for flexibility to look after a young family, pick up school-aged children or take care of aging parents.

From there, you may like to consider, where you would like to set up the practice. In so doing, you may like to consider the location of your professional rooms in relation to client sources, proximity to referring practitioners as well as proximity to public transport. You may also like to consider the location of premises in relation to ease of parking for both your clients and yourself.

Step 2: Find and Furnish Your Premises:

The second step is to find your own professional premises. You may choose to use a house, office or retail shop. You may decide to operate exclusively out of one location or you may choose to operate out of several locations. In either case, you might have exclusive use of the premises or you might be sharing the rooms with other colleagues.

When you have exclusive use of the professional rooms, you can furnish them so as to reflect your personal taste and intended professional image.

Step 3: Obtain Licenses, Registrations, Provider Numbers and Professional Indemnity Insurance:

As part of the third step, you will need to research and obtain any relevant licenses and registrations you may need to operate a mental health private practice in your state or country. These licenses and registrations may be in addition to your certification as a mental health professional.

Secondly, you will want to obtain your own professional indemnity insurance. Your professional indemnity insurance should provide adequate cover, given the nature of the work you intend to provide. It should also include adequate public liability cover.

Finally, you will want to obtain a provider number for each location you intend to operate from. In Australia, for example, you might register for Medicare, Work Cover, Transport Accident Commission and National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Step 4: Hang Up Your Professional Sign:

At this stage, you are ready to hang up a professional sign. When you have exclusive use of the professional rooms, the appearance of the sign will be at your discretion. You can place your sign over the external face of the professional rooms. You can also place a sign over your consulting room door. If you share premises with other colleagues, your sign might be of the same format as those of your colleagues. Your sign may also be interspersed with those of your peers in alphabetical order.

Step 5: Prepare Your Promotional Materials:

At the final step, you are ready to promote yourself to both prospective clients and potential referrers. It will therefore be useful to you to prepare your own practice logo, business cards and letterhead, as well as brochures, information sheets and handouts. Down the track, you may also want to develop your own website.

In terms of style, layout and design, you would be well-advised to keep each promotional document consistent with your intended professional image. Each promotional document will also need to be consistent with remaining promotional materials.

In terms of content, you would be well-advised to provide information about how you work with clients, what clients can expect from your services, your background and expertise, hours of operation and fees.

By following the above five steps, you are well positioned to operating your own private practice in mental health. From this point onward, it is a matter of dividing your time between seeing clients, doing any behind-the-scenes paperwork and marketing your professional services.



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