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Private Practice Counseling?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I am currently employed in the school system which can often be pretty political and at a previous district, I swear we had a group of women that acted like they were in high school.  I am at a new district this year because the money is better and I get more of my summer off, however, I am not working in the same school as my kids which has been difficult.  I get off of work an hour after they are home and Ihave an ex who has tried to "spend time with them" until I get off work.  I don't mean to be mean or hateful but he is known for not getting them back on time and I really don't feel I should have to deal with him when it is my day with the kids so.......


I am really thinking about doing private counseling.  I still need to have many hours of supervision, but I know several people who have said they will supervise and work with me.  I could also be making money during supervision time.  My house is almost paid for, I have a car that is paid for and one vehicle I make payments on, but am trying to sell.  So, my bills can be down to a minimum and i do receive child support for my 3  kids and they have excellent insurance through their dad. 


I have also looked into transferring to another building where school is out at 2:30.  This would help with me getting home even before my kids do, but I would have to leave in the mornings about 20-30 minutes before they take the bus to school and we might be able to pull that off.  My 5 year old is difficult to get going in the morning and my 14 year old would be left to deal with some of that.


Still, I am scared to make the switch to private practice.  I have heard that the overhead is so high that many people return to working for an agency.  I wouldn't have insurance but so far I am a very healthy person.  Currently through the school, I have retirement and summers completely off.  If I have a private practice I can't just drop my clients in the summer. So, this is my predicament.


I truly want to work part-time while the kids are at school, so that I can still have the flexibility to be there right after school and attend class parties and enjoy life more.  I feel I have worked hard to stay almost debt free, but am so scared of leaving the secure, good job I have. Any advice?  Anyone been there done that?

post #2 of 6
Thread Starter 
Hmmmm, did I say something wrong? I was really just looking for advice.
post #3 of 6

I don't think you said anything wrong.  Personally, I'm not in a position to give you any advice.  Maybe someone else will read and will have something to share.  In the meantime, have this friendly smile, and my honest wishes that you discover your path and find great joy in walking down it.  smile.gif

post #4 of 6
It's a difficult situation, and I have only my personal opinions to offer. Selling the car sounds like a good idea. And continuing to work through a school would be my preference. The summers off so I could spend time with my children being the reason for the choice. However, neither of your current school options is ideal. In one, you are home after the kids, in the other, you leave before them. I would keep the home after them option. It is unfair and potentially problematic to have the 14 year old get the reluctant 5 year old off to school. But really, these are just opinions. I wish you well, whatever your choice!
post #5 of 6

I am a former private practice clinical social worker, and I owned a private agency with 16 therapists.  If it were me, I'd take the deal at the second school, enjoy the insurance, money, and summers off, and focus on streamlining your morning routine.  That sounds sooooooo much easier - and ultimately more profitable - than starting up a private practice.  Then again, I burned out to a total fizzle, so maybe I'm not the best cheerleader!  However, here are some thoughts about private practice that might help:


- Are you licensed?  You mentioned needing more supervision - if you're not yet fully licensed, you won't be able to bill insurance companies.  That means a mostly cash-only practice.  Do you have a client base that's willing to pay?  I found that self-paying clients were few and far between, and almost always got a reduced rate.  But, our biggest referral sources were the social services and court systems - not exactly affluent clients.


- For an individual "hanging out a shingle," the marketing and reputation-building can take years!  I wouldn't advise it unless you can do it on the side and don't need the income.  Imagine what you'd do if the phone just didn't ring.  Instead, I'd look for a private counseling agency, and take advantage of their standing in the community and their referral sources.  If they're busy, you can step right in and take overflow clients and get rolling.  That's how I got started.  It's also nice to have coworkers, and receptionists and billing staff.


- The income is very unsteady.  You should talk to some local therapists to see what the market's like where you live.  My numbers might be totally irrelevant, but I'll offer them anyway.  Our fee was $110 an hour.  Our average collection was $70 an hour.  40% of that went to the agency for overhead.  20-25 clients per week was doable in order not to go insane, and to keep up with the paperwork.  My best year, I made $40,000 before taxes.  I worked four days a week, usually 1-2 evenings.  Many clients refuse to take time off work or school for a counseling session, so daytime hours are the hardest.


- After all those cautions, I will say this.  Private counseling is awesome because of the flexibility.  You set your own schedule, so you simply mark off school field-trip days and teacher work days (of course, you don't get paid those days either).  And - my favorite of all - if a client cancels, you can close your door and take a nap on your comfy therapy couch.  :)  We had moms in our practice working all sorts of schedules.  One mom worked two very long days each week, seeing 8-10 clients each day.  Others worked only during school hours.  We found that two (or more) moms, sharing an office and flexing their time, did FAR more work each week than one full-time person ever could!  It was by far our best use of office space, so you can pitch that to prospective employers.


Hope this is at least a little helpful!

post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thanks Zirconia!!  Yes, I have 1-2 years of supervision, but I have heard other counselors whose supervisors charge them a fee per client or hour and then then supervised keep the rest.  They have done very well with this arrangement.  Your information was sooooooo helpful!!!!  As of now, my plan is to at least stay one more year to get things more in order.  If I take 3 more classes next year, I can get my supervision cut to 1 year.  I am really hoping to get transferred next year to the job that allows me to leave earlier.  (I am still waiting to see if there will be an opening).  If I get the job, then I will see how that works out for my family.  My youngest is doing much better with getting ready in the mornings and I think I could leave within 10 minutes of their bus pik up.


If the job is not available and I still have these yucky hours, then next year is going to be my get-it-together year. I'm going to have something else thats better for us becuz rite now, this isn't.  I'm talking to people about supervising already and may see about going in together.  I want that flexibility sooooo badly!!! So, I'm gonna be a trooper one more year, but get all my eggs in a basket at the same time, lol.

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