Going Into Private Counselling Practice

By Duanita G. Eleniak, MSW RCSW ATR BCATR RCAT

You are a counselor and you want to go into private practice yet you are scared and wonder whether or not you can do it? You don’t even know where to start? Well you are in good company for most of us counsellors were never trained about business in our counselling programs. Our training focus on healing activities often leaves us unbalanced in our knowledge and handicapped in the real world of business.

I was 33 years old when I decided to go into private practice, single with no children and one cat. I was a seasoned counsellor by then. I was very experienced in agencies. I had 5 years of work experience in non-profits as well as in mental health agencies, all of which had been counselling. Throughout my 9 years of University studying counselling and learning counselling skills, I had wonderful field placements in shelters for battered women, rape crisis centers, family planning centers, hospitals, and family counseling agencies. I had been privileged to do my own counselling work for 15 years with a fabulous woman the place where I think I learned the most about the process of healing. I worked with outstanding mentors and supervisors who gladly shared their wisdom.

Yet despite all of my formal education, field experience and personal process work, I was scared when I faced going into private practice. I felt vulnerable without the cloak of an agency. I was scared that I would make a mistake. I was filled with questions…Where do I practice? How much do I charge? I felt ‘funny” accepting money at first since I was so used to providing the counselling in an agency context for free. The first time I signed a lease to rent a space for my very own office I thought I’d pass out! What a huge financial responsibility?! What if I fail? What if I can’t pay my rent?

My movement into private practice was guided by my mentor Dr. Marie Jose Dhaese, who initially assisted me to make it real by connecting me with a colleague who had an office to share, referring people to me and guiding my first fledgling steps. There were no tools to help me at that time. There were no courses in any of my training to prepare me.

My point? Beginning a private practice can be scary as well as exciting. This course is an accumulation of my learning designed to guide and support you through the process of setting up a private practice as a counsellor. If you already have a private practice, this course will give you ideas about how to connect with clients, how to enhance and amplify what you are doing. It addresses the questions you have and gives you information to answer the questions that you don’t even know to ask.

My goal as a mentor has always been to support those I teach, supervise and consult with to the point where they far exceed any success that I have been able to achieve for myself. This is why I wrote this course, so that you may have easy access to information that took me decades to discover because I had to learn through experience. I am hopeful that this course can help you learn through my accumulated decades of experience in private practice and therefore greatly accelerate your journey to success.

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