Private Therapy Practice Tips
Everything you need to know, all in one place.
Setting up your own private therapy practice is a really exciting time.
We’re here to help you get started with our top tips to make your counselling and psychotherapy service a success.
First, Reflect On Your Own Experiences
By now you will have had plenty of experience of being both a client and a therapist, in perhaps a number of different settings. Consequently, you’ll have your own ideas about what worked for you and what didn’t.
This is a great starting point when setting up your own private practice.
Ask yourself what mattered most to you as a client and hold this in mind when you are both creating your brand, and marketing and running your service.
In our experience the therapy services that put their clients at the heart of what they do and stay mindful of the client perspective throughout, are the ones that tend to thrive.
#1 Getting Started
There are four main practicalities that you'll need to put in place before you start seeing clients privately.
A Confidential, Quiet Space
This may be a room at home or a room that you rent. Either way consider the client’s experience of the location before committing. Think about accessibility i.e are there good transport links, is the building easy to find, is it wheelchair accessible? Location can play a big part in the success of your practice, so the more accessible it is the better.
Alongside this, the “feel” of the place is also crucial. Does the space feel safe and private? Is it well soundproofed and can you guarantee that there won’t be interruptions? If you’ll be offering early morning or evening sessions, is the entry well lit?
Finding the right space goes a long way in building a thriving practice. The more comfortable your clients feel the more likely they are to both return and to recommend your service.
Professional Indemnity Insurance
A must for all therapists. This is there to support you, should you ever need to defend yourself against any legal claims made as a result of the service you’ve offered, or injuries sustained in your practice.
Make sure your insurance includes public liability and that the cover is for at least £1,000,000, as many insurance and EAP referrers require this level.
If you’re working from home, it’s best practice to undertake both a health and safety audit and a fire risk assessment, and purchase a fire extinguisher, first aid kit and accident book, just in case.
Your Unique Taxpayer Reference
When you start out in private practice you’ll be classed as a sole trader and will need to register for Self Assessment with the HMRC. At this point, you’ll be given your UTR number, which you’ll then use to submit your annual accounts.
If you intend to manage your own accounts, you’ll need to register with the HMRC and submit your record of sales and expenses each year.
Alternatively, you can enlist the services of an accountant who will register you as a sole trader and will process and submit your accounts each year as your agent.
Registration With ICO
Once clients start using your service, even if you’re using Kiku or another practice management service to store your client information, you will become both a data controller and a data processor.
You’ll therefore need to register with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) and pay an annual Data Protection fee.
They’ll offer guidance on how to follow GDPR best practice and you’ll need to contact them immediately, should there ever be a data breach.
#2 Creating Your Brand
Now that you know where you’re going to work and you’ve got all the necessary paperwork in order, it’s time to create your brand so you can start marketing your services.
Step 1: Choosing The Right Name
The name of your service can play a huge role in those all-important first impressions. It sets the tone of your brand and influences client expectations. You may already know exactly what you want to call your practice and we are definitely of the belief, “If it feels right, it is right”, but if you’re unsure, think about the following before you start to brainstorm:
- What is your therapeutic ethos?
- How do you want clients to feel when they come to you?
- What are your long term goals for your practice?
The name that fits these three criteria, will be the one.
Step 2: Designing Your Logo
Your logo forms an important part of your brand and the first impressions that clients will have of your service. You’ll most likely use your logo on your website, marketing materials, email signatures, letterhead, and appointment cards, so make sure you’re happy with it.
Think about the emotional chord that you want your logo to hit and choose your imagery and colour scheme accordingly. Are you going for something hopeful and empowering? If so, choose a bright colour palette. If you’re going for a calming and soothing feel, then a softer more muted palette will work best.
We’d also recommend that you take a look at the branding of other therapists in your area and think about how you can stand out from the competition.
Step 3: Setting Up Your Website
The reality is, that even once you’re established, the majority of your clients will find you online. We’d therefore strongly recommend that you create your own website to help you to raise your online profile.
You can do this fairly inexpensively by using website builder sites. As part of this process, you’ll need to purchase a domain name, which alongside hosting fees, you’ll pay for each year.
Your website is your “shopfront”, so it’s important that you design it in a way that is welcoming to prospective clients. The colour scheme, images, line spacing, font and the language that you use will all play a part in creating the impression of your service, so consider all of this carefully.
An effective website will clearly communicate the most important information about you and your service, whilst not overwhelming the client. Avoid clutter at all costs.
Put Yourself In A Client's Shoes
Remember how anxiety provoking arranging therapy can be and how this stress can interfere with our cognitive capacity.
Your website needs to be clear and easy to navigate to help clients to make it to the booking stage.
Ensure that the font you choose is easy to read, avoid writing in long blocks of text and make the most important information easy to find.
What Is The Most Important Information?
Beyond these legal requirements, in our experience, the key information that clients want prior to booking is :
1. Where are you based?
The suburb and city will do, if you’d rather not advertise your full address online.
2. How much do your sessions cost?
Create a price list and place this page in your main menu.
3. Are you available, and if so, what are your clinical hours?
Having a session free that fits with the client’s diary is often the clincher in securing a booking. The more flexible you can be at the start of building your practice, the better – just make sure you don’t exhaust yourself.
With Kiku, you can embed our booking feature into your website, so clients can view your current availability and book in straight away.
4. How do they arrange a session?
Make sure your contact details are easy to find. Consider providing a guide to the booking process and even what to expect from the first session to help to put clients’ minds at ease.
You can download a client guide to the Kiku booking process here.
Alongside the logistics, your website should also give prospective clients a sense for who you are and what they can expect from therapy with you.
Tell Them Who You Are
Irrespective of the approach we use, therapy is always, at its core, a relationship. If the relational fit is not there, clients will not continue on in therapy with us.
It’s therefore in everyone’s interest that your website is a good representation of you and how you conduct therapy. That way clients can make an informed decision about whether you’re the right therapist for them and you'll attract people who are more likely to become regulars. It’s a win win.
Tell Them How You Work
For many people, counselling and psychotherapy are mysterious processes, surrounded by many myths that we, as therapists, are tasked with debunking.
Offering some information about how you work, your modality (if there’s a central approach that you use), what areas may be touched upon in the therapeutic process and how this can help, can go a long way in demystifying the therapeutic process and encourage first time clients to give it a try.
Getting More Clients
Already set up your private counselling service?
We'll help you to start building your caseload.
Running A Successful Therapy Practice
How you run your counselling service is one of the key determinants of your success.
We'll help you to put your best foot forward.
Benefit From Our Experience. Join Kiku
Kiku has been designed based on our experience of running and growing successful counselling services.
We've made sure you'll have everything you need here to run and grow your own private practice.