Private Practice 101: An Introduction to Creating Your Own Private Practice

by Kimberly on March 9, 2010 · 18 comments

One of the joys of starting something new is not knowing where it will take you. Inevitably the direction you initially thought it would take ends up morphing into something a little different.

It’s happening with this blog. I initially thought this blog would be more sharing about music and music therapy. But I’ve started to receive more and more questions about the private practice side of music therapy. It seems people are hungry are that information.

Time for the first-ever Music Therapy Maven series.

About the Private Practice 101 Series

Today’s post starts an eight-week series where I will walk you through the steps of what needs to happen to get your private practice up and running. I won’t do the work for you, but I will help you get you started in the right direction. Starting a private practice requires you to roll up your sleeves and get a little dirty. But it doesn’t have to be scary.

You’ve already seen several different articles on this blog related to starting and running your own private practice:

But this series is different. I will systematically walk you through the steps and thought processes you need to do to get your practice up and running. Not only that, but each week you’ll have a list of action steps you can incorporate immediately.

Private Practice 101 Overview

The topics you’ll learn about include:

  • Finding professional support–Accountants, Lawyers, Administrative support
  • Getting paid–Invoices and grants
  • Creating your Paperwork–Documentation, Policies, Assessments
  • How to Market–Nurturing Your Business Relationships with the Right Tools
  • And more!

So let’s get started…

Part 1: What Do You Want?

I won’t lie to you. Starting a private practice takes work and it takes time. You won’t be a success overnight. You will get frustrated and you will have to do things you don’t feel like doing.

That said, going into private practice can also be tremendously rewarding. For example, you have enormous flexibility. You have the ultimate control over your professional life, what you want to do and what you don’t want to do.

It’s also rather amazing to go through the process of creating something out of nothing. Of  starting with an idea and developing it into something tangible and worthwhile.

Deciding to go into private practice is your first step. But it’s also THE most important one and should take some careful thought and consideration.

You need to sit down and think about why you want to start a private practice. As with any job, there are pros and cons. Your list of pros and cons will be different than my list of pros and cons–you just need to make sure that, for you, the pros side of starting a practice outweighs the cons side.

I cannot emphasis the importance of this step enough. This is what will carry you through the challenging times (and there will be challenging times). But if you have a clear vision for what you want and a clear understanding of why you want it, those challenging times will be easier to maneuver.

Action Steps

This week’s action steps are easy. Sit down with a pen and paper. Draw a line down the middle of the paper. On the left side, write “PROS” and on the top of the right-hand column write “CONS.”

Now spend 30 minutes (or more) thinking of and writing down a list of pros and a list of cons for starting your own private practice:

  • Try to imagine how this will impact your finances, your time, your home life.
  • Think of the tasks involved: bookkeeping, invoicing, marketing, taxes, documentation, scheduling, equipment. What parts will you love doing? What will you hate doing? What might you not mind doing, even if it’s not your favorite thing?
  • Visualize your overall purpose for starting a private practice. How will this enrich your life?
  • Make sure to answer this simple question: Why do you want to start a private practice?

It’s really important for you to go through the step of writing this down. There’s something about writing these things down that takes it out of your head and makes it more concrete and tangible.

BONUS ACTION STEP: As a bonus, share your list (or a summarized version of your list) in the comments section in this post! Sharing with others

NEXT WEEK: Next Tuesday, we’ll cover who you’ll need on your business team. You can’t know it all–nor do you need to. These people will help.


{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Carolyn March 9, 2010 at 10:09 am

Thanks for the great post, and I look forward to others in the series. I’ve been contemplating starting a private practice (in the far future) and it can be very overwhelming… 🙂

Kat Fulton March 10, 2010 at 9:24 am

I’m looking forward to this series, Kim! Please include an incorporation discussion at some point… Thanks for all that you do!
.-= Kat Fulton´s last blog ..Personal experiment: Music, art, and dance all day =-.

Rachel March 10, 2010 at 7:19 pm

this is wonderful- cant wait for more! If you can, touch upon this “flexibility” issue. I have found that, yes, you choose what to do…but ultimately, you have that many more bosses that you need to keep in order, and still have rigidity with, does that make sense?

Kimberly March 11, 2010 at 8:54 am

It does make sense, Rachel. But I don’t think of all my clients as bosses. We are in a working business relationship. Part of my role is to provide them with the services they need; their role is to pay me for those services. So, yes, I work with them to provide them with what they need–and this does involve being flexible and adapting to their changing needs. But they are not my bosses. I think you’ve hit on an important distinction–does my answer make sense?

Kimberly March 11, 2010 at 8:54 am

I surely will! I think that comes in week 3…

Kimberly March 11, 2010 at 8:55 am

There is a LOT to think about, but taking it a step at a time will help. You don’t have to do it all at once!

Natalie March 11, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Wow, I think you may be reading my mind. I’m doing this exact thing with plans of a potential start up in the fall. (I am in a no reimbursement state, I currently have a full time position that I hate, but hubs and I are dependent on steady income that I want to be sure I will have a footing before the plunge). I will post my pros/cons this weekend!

Natalie March 14, 2010 at 3:54 pm

My Pros:
-My choices and actions will be mine (yes, I know clients are bosses, too, but I won’t be at the mercy of the corporation)
-Never will I be subjected to carry out directives that I know are unethical at the threat of my job or write up because of the misguided-ness of a superior.
-My stress will be my OWN.
-I will have control (relative) over my own schedule.
-I will have control over my own piece of what I am doing and not have those within my own sphere sabotaging the progress my clients make. Wholesome environment.
-No bad ju-ju here.
-More time to spend with my husband as I see fit.
-I will be the only one telling myself I can and cannot do things.

-Running a business looks h.a.r.d. (watched my dad do it for 20+ years)
-Math Skillz/organization
-Social Isolation (For all the negatives in being part of a beast, there are at least other souls like you).
-Will this actually work?
-Start up monies- have no savings other than emergency fund, refuse to recognize house as asset. Can I actually do this by 2011?
-Will I be able to manage a steady client base?
-actuality of more family time
-days off, paid leave (insurance is good, hubband is a good state worker like I don’t want to be anymore)

My cons are more like questions. The only real cons are the paid leave and business management stuff. It’s a lot to stare up at!

Kimberly March 15, 2010 at 10:29 am

This is a GREAT list of pros and cons. I will try to address what I can in this series. Thank you for your honesty. I guarantee that you are not the only one with these worries and questions. ~Kimberly

Practice Builders July 7, 2010 at 1:05 am

Get expert advice and tips to market your medical practice at
.-= Practice Builders´s last blog ..Marketing ideas for medical practices- Use PR to your marketing advantage =-.

Shemaiah January 7, 2017 at 9:08 am

Hi, I am a high school student .For my academic fair I choose to do music therapy.
I was wondering if you had any tips on how to go about doing private music therapy experiments. Thank You

Laquita Hiser July 2, 2017 at 8:06 am

The subsequent time I learn a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I truly thought youd have one thing interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about one thing that you would repair for those who werent too busy looking for attention.

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