5 Things I Wish They Told Me In Grad School

Amanda Patterson, LMHC, CAP, NCC is a private practice success story. She has been so successful individually that she's built a successful group private practice.  As a member of the Abundance Practice Builders Facebook Group, she has generously offered support to clinicians new to private practice from her wealth of experience. I totally agree with this blog post; I had no idea what was available to me as a grad student and may have started this process much earlier if I had.  It’s been more than eight years since I left my graduate program and set out on this journey of being a therapist.  The education I was received prepared me very well to be a therapist.  It prepared me very well to be a skilled therapist in an agency, making peanuts.  While I learned about diagnoses, treatment techniques, theories and statistics, I received no education about what it meant to be a real-life therapist in a real-life situation of private practice.     If I could (and this is my platform to do so, so I am) give advice to students in counseling programs and beginning therapists, I would have five things to share with them and they are listed here:   

  1. You can start a private practice now

You don’t have to wait until you are graduated, licensed or licensed for three years.  Go out and meet people who are in private practice now and get a feel for what they do.  You can begin to brand yourself in graduate school by creating a LinkedIn profile, professional business Facebook page and any other social media that interests you.  You can even start blogging about your process of going through graduate school or being a beginning therapist.  There is a market for that and you don’t have to wait any longer.  

2. Pick a supervisor that aligns with your long-term goals

I’ll be honest, I picked my supervisor because she worked at my agency and she was free.  She was a very talented psychologist and taught me a lot about being a stellar therapist but we NEVER spoke about my long-term goals outside of the agency and we NEVER discussed the logistics and ethics around having a private practice.  If your long-term goal is to be in private practice, I would recommend having a supervisor who has a practice already established.  

3. You are going to be a large amount of paperwork

Yes, they tell you there is going to be a lot of paperwork but it can’t be understated how much paperwork you are going to do in any type of work as a therapist.  There is less paperwork in private practice; however you still need to keep files, intake paperwork, notes, biopsychosocials, treatment plans, emails, treatment plan updates, billing paperwork, etc.  Figure out a way to be a master at paperwork so you don’t get bogged down trying to catch up with paperwork and you can focus on client care.

4. Having a private practice is a business

This is the part that is seldom talked about during graduate school.  Having basic business skills will take you far in this industry.  If you start and run a private practice, you will need to know about accounting practices, filing your business with the state, advertising and marketing, bookkeeping, business planning, and more.  You can learn this by reading business books, following private practice consultants and generally using tools available to you such as blog posts and business workshops in the community.  This is the education you will need to receive once you leave graduate school.

5. You can make money in this field

How many of us were told that you weren’t going to make any money in this field?  And then when we graduate and take our first job and we aren’t making very much money at all, this statement and belief is reinforced.  I’ve got exciting news for you though!  You can make money in this field.  There are tons of therapists out there in private practice making over that exciting six figures threshold, and you can do it too! If you didn’t receive the business aspect of being a therapist in graduate school it’s not too late.  Join Facebook groups focused on building private practices.  Read books about therapy practices and other business strategies.  Find a supervisor that runs a successful practice and work with them on building a practice.  Hire a private practice coach and invest in your future.  Doing these things and more helped me launch and achieve a six figures private practice.  Amanda Patterson, LMHC, CAP, NCC is an expert in treating adults and adolescents with depression, anxiety and substance abuse. Amanda has a successful group private practice: “Caring Therapists of Broward”. Amanda helps her clients begin on the journey of symptom relief, self-discovery and healing. Her approach is to help you clean up your past, get focused in the present and move your goals forward for the future. Amanda utilizes a variety of techniques, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, stress management, increasing self-worth, inner child work, incorporation of meditation, mind/body connection, 12 step work, assertiveness training, mood management, anxiety reduction, empowerment and work/life balance. Amanda is an LMHC Qualified Supervisor for licensure. During supervision with Amanda, you will address case consultation, ethics and laws and personal growth as a therapist. You can connect with Amanda on Facebook at www.facebook.com/amandapattersonlmhc or www.amandapattersonlmhc.com.       Allison Puryear is an LCSW with a nearly diagnosable obsession with business development. She has started practices in three different states and wants you to know that building a private practice is shockingly doable when you have a plan and support. After retiring her individual consultation services, she opened the Abundance Party, where you can get practice-building help for the cost of a copay. You can download a free private practice checklist to make sure you have your ducks in a row, get weekly private practice tips, listen to the podcast, hop into the free Facebook Group. Allison is all about helping you gain the confidence and tools you need to succeed.



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