Private Practice 101

Private Practice

This is an outline of a guide for professionals considering private practice. Dr. Lazarus, a psychologist in Littleton, Colorado would be happy to do a phone consultation with you to discuss these issues at length. This process can help you decide if private practice is for you and if so, the steps needed to have a successful practice with as many clients as you would like.

Please feel free to Contact Dr. Lazarus if you are seeking further advice or supervision.

  • Niche
  • Marketing
  • Location
  • Paperwork, Records
  • Money, legal, accounting

Why do a private practice?

Advantages: Freedom to do what you want, see who you want. You can have your ideal clients. No boss other than your clients, no mandatory meetings or trainings. You have complete autonomy. You have flexibility and can set your own schedule. You can make much more money. It’s fun, you can be creative, grow, change what you’re doing

Disadvantages: You have to do your own marketing; It can be isolating and lonely. You don’t have a consistent income.

1) Niche

What is your specialty? Who do you like to work with? Who do you want to come in? Groups, Individual, couples, population, children, divorce, GLBT, Bereavement, substance abuse

2) Marketing: (Create a funnel system for people to find you) Evaluate your Rate of Return of each system.

  • Web site (creating a website), what should it say, how do people find you i. Blogging, Google Adwords
  • Lunches with professionals (RATE OF RETURN)
  • Do a free talk about a topic
  • Local paper (write an article, do an interview)
  • Insurance companies, managed care panels, Psychology today, Theratribe
  • Physicians, doctors’ offices

3) Location, Location, Location: Where can you make a difference? Is it therapist central or are you unique. Where do you find your clients?

  • Windows vs. interior, size, furniture, play therapy equipment.
  • Rent someone else’s space by the hour, half day, full day until you’re up and running vs. jump in head first with full rent
  • Your own space vs. multi room suite (strongly recommend multi room), kitchen, built in referrals, shared expenses.

4) Paperwork, Records

  1. Know your professional standards. In Colorado, look at DORA for requirements. i. Mandatory Disclosure Statement
  • Releases of Information
  • Intake Paperwork, forms
  • Progress Notes (DAP, SOAP)
    • Doing notes during sessions vs. after?
  • Treatment plans
  • Discharge paperwork

A note about HIPPA: If you transmit any client information electronically, you need to be HIPPA compliant

5) Storage and keeping of records and information

  • Paper records, locked up (3 locks)
  • Computer, laptop (Encrypted)
  • Storage and retention of records(10years) 5) Money, Legal, Accounting
  • How much do you charge per session? Sliding fee models vs. no Sliding fee
  • Malpractice Insurance
  • Office Liability Insurance
  • Taxes: Self Employed, LLC, Corporation
    • Schedule C for business
    • Track money in and expenses
  • Banking: Get a separate business checking account for all transactions
  • Legal advice, paperwork, consultation regarding legal issues?
  • Clinical supervision questions, ethical issues




The Paper Office, Fourth Edition: Forms, Guidelines, and Resources to Make Your Practice Work Ethically, Legally, and Profitably (The Clinician’s Toolbox) [Paperback]

Edward L. Zuckerman PhD (Author)

The Complete Adult Psychotherapy Treatment Planner (PracticePlanners) [Paperback] Arthur E. Jongsma Jr. (Author), L. Mark Peterson (Author), Timothy J. Bruce (Editor)

Wiley offers over 20 treatment planners both in paper versions and in electronic format.

In addition, they have progress note planners and homework planners which contain handouts for clients.

The Clinical Documentation Sourcebook: The Complete Paperwork Resource for Your Mental Health Practice [Paperback]

Donald E. Wiger

The Clinical Documentation Sourcebook: A Comprehensive Collection of Mental Health Practice Forms, Handouts, and Records, 2nd Edition [Paperback]

Donald E. Wiger



Play Therapy Treatment Planning and Interventions: The Ecosystemic Model and Workbook (Practical Resources for the Mental Health Professional) [Kindle Edition]

Kevin John. O’Connor (Author), Sue Ammen (Author)

Therapist’s Guide to Clinical Intervention (Practical Resources for the Mental Health Professional) [Kindle Edition] Sharon Johnson (Author)



Copyright® 2016 Dr. Steven A. Lazarus. All Rights Reserved