This article was written by Jena Casbon, MS CCC-SLP, a private practice consultant and founder of The Independent Clinician. Looking for more information about starting to treat private clients? Sign up for the brand new Private Client Mini Course here.
As the admin for the group, I asked established private practitioners to answer this question:
Here is their advice for you:
1. Vanessa Anderson-Smith, Anderson-Smith Speech Therapy, LLC
"Start slowly while still at your FT job and with home visits to keep overhead down! Also, invest in YOURSELF and your ideas...find a specialization and word of mouth gets around for more clients."
**Vanessa shared her private practice success story with The Independent Clinician back in July of 2015. You can check out "From 'No Plan' to Four Month Wait List: Vanessa's Private Practice Success Story" here.
2. Laura Badger McGloine, Badger Speech Therapy
"Believe in yourself, your skills and your education. Be confident-practice building your confidence by rehearsing the business details at home or in front of family."
"Build relationships with other SLPs in your area, they may become referral sources for you! I recommend starting small too, maybe a few private clients on the side so that you can get the hang of billing, etc. :-)
And just remember...YOU GOT THIS!"
3. Laurie Farkas Harriman, Speech-Language Pathologist
4. Asia Hutchins, Eloquent Speech and Language Therapy, LLC
5. Marena Mitchell, Bringing Therapy Home
"Say "yes" and then figure out how to do things - you will be presented with opportunities so be ready for them.
Definitely try to avoid comparing yourself to others - follow the code of ethics, develop goals, and be the best YOU - remember, you don't know another therapist's story so avoid comparing yourself to the competition. It's about providing services to kids and families."
6. Kristen Keilman Chadwick, Chadwick Speech Therapy LLC
"Don't question yourself or your worth. There is a NEED for our profession, and once you get your groove, the sky is the limit!"
7. Kathleen Campbell Clifford, Speech-Language Pathologist
"Be patient, take on some clients while maintaining full-time employment, invest in yourself in training in area of passion/need in community. Network."
8. Lane T. Brown, Speech-Language Pathologist
"Document everything! The paper trail is what covers you in any disputes with patients or insurance companies. So make sure you've got a solid one to CYA!"
9. Alison Edelstein, Chirpy Chatterbox
"Believe in yourself as you stay open to learning and growing as a clinician and as a person. Develop a support system of other SLP's in your area that you can bounce ideas off of and commiserate with on the tougher parts of the job. Support your clients areas of need with their wonderful strengths. :-)
10. Ashley Gibson Bonkofsky, AGB Speech Therapy
"Say "yes" to opportunities, of course, but also know when to say "no." Understand your limits, your personal goals and your professional scope. Know you can do this!"
11. Heather Brown, Speech-Language Pathologist
"Don't avoid doing something because you hit wall after wall. One will break down eventually."
12. Sarah McDonnell, Sarah McDonnell LLC
"What you are looking for is on the other side of fear, and the only way out is through! Dream big, articulate and write your goals and steps to get there. Nothing is as hard as it seems when you take it step by step! And don't be afraid to ask for help!"
13. Robyn Wilmot Hillison, Capital Speech & Language Therapy Services
"This may not be the right choice for most, but I had to just give up every excuse I had been making and every fear that had been stopping me from doing what I truly wanted to do for a long time and just do it with 100% dedication! I went forward with no back up plan! It's a very uncomfortable position to be in, but I'll say, I've had no choice but to be successful."
14. Kristie Skeen Crawford, Crawford Therapy Services, LLC
"Yes... Patience! I started this process around August '15. I got ONE client (a friends kid ). But, after credentialing, calling, passing out brochures/cards/pens, creating a website, fb page.... Finally, LAST week i got 6 calls! Starting with ALL of them this and next week!! Things will look up, don't give up."
15. Elissa Flagg, SLP(C), Reg. CASLPO
"Be yourself. It's hard to establish a good therapeutic relationship if you're not being authentic. It's tempting to copy your style from a mentor whose skills you admire, but it doesn't work if that's not you. You'll be uncomfortable and so will the client. Have confidence that your way of 'being there' for the client is ok too!"
16. Avital (Tali) Kellerstein, S-LP The Speak Boutique
"Plan your next session - even if it's just a one word idea - as soon as you are done your last."
17. Jena Casbon, The Independent Clinician
"Every private practice starts with ONE client. While you may have dreams of running a big private practice someday, starting with one client "on the side" will help you learn the ropes and keep things manageable.
At some point, you just have to start. If you let fear of making a mistake consume you, you'll end up with "analysis paralysis"and never have the flexibility, clinical freedom, income or autonomy you desire."
There's one more especially important piece of advice I have for you:
Don't compare someone else's private practice with the one you're just beginning. You've heard from seventeen established speech pathology private practice owners who were once in your shoes. While you may aspire to have the same level of success, you can't possible start there!
So, What Common Themes Emerged?
The most common themes in this advice to clinicians looking to start their own speech therapy private practice are ones of:
Every single one of the above private practitioners started from scratch. They were afraid. They didn't know what they were doing. They worried about making a mistake or failing.
What sets these clinicians apart however, is that they took their fears and hesitations into account and did it anyway. They did it anyway.
They took action.
They did it.
They found success.
If you follow their advice, you can too.
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Jena H. Casbon, MS CCC-SLP is a private practice consultant who helps SLPs, OTs and PTs start their own private practices. She is the author of two books: The Guide to Private Patients and The Guide to Creating a Web Presence For Your Private Practice and an online course, Grow Your Private Practice.