2023 Counselling Practice Guide | How to Start a Counselling Business


Best 2023 Guide on Starting a Private Practice in Counseling – Step-by-Step Guide

Disclaimer

With global mental health issues on the rise, the need and demand for more private practice counseling businesses is higher than ever.

In fact, based on Statista’s twenty-year research, the number of U.S. adults who received mental health treatment or counseling has been on the consistent rise. In the last 10 years alone, the number of U.S. adults that opted for some type of clinical psychology and counselling psychology therapy has increased by 25%.

This steady increase in demand along with the overburdened health system has created space for new private mental health counselling businesses.

psychology clinical & counseling

How to Start a Private Counseling Practice

If you’re a mental health professional who’s considering transitioning into a role of private practice counselor or looking into how to start a counselling business, Social Work Portal has got you covered with this step-by-step guide on how to start a counselling business.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about starting your own private practice counselling, private practice counseling salary, counseling practice names, and much more!



See Also: Tips for Starting Your Own Therapy Practice


Would you like to share feedback and tips on your experience working for a private practice counseling? If so, contact the Social Work Portal Team.


Table of Contents: How to Open a Private Practice Counselling Business

Keep on scrolling down this page to read each section or click any link below to go directly to that section.

  1. What is a Private Counseling Practice? | Private Practice Counselor Definition
  2. How to Start a Counselling Business | Setting Up Private Practice Counselling
    1. Private Counseling Practice Requirements
    2. Private Practice Counselling Business Plan
    3. Finding a Private Counselling Practice Space
    4. Forming and Starting a Counseling Practice Business
  3. Counselling Practice Approaches & Theories
    1. Types of Counseling Practice Clinical Approaches
    2. Clinical Psychology and Counselling Psychology Differentiation
    3. Private Counselling Practice Specialties
  4. Private Practice Counselor Salary & Counseling Session Cost
    1. Private Practice Counselor Salary
    2. Cost of psychology clinical & counseling sessions
  5. Conclusion | Starting a Private Practice in Counseling
  6. FAQ | How to Start a Counseling Private Practice



Don’t Miss: Best Questions Therapists Ask Clients – Guide


Would you like to share feedback and tips on how to start a successful private practice? Is there a private practice counselling business plan that has provided great value to you that we can include in this guide for other counselors to leverage? If so, contact the Social Work Portal Team.

To best answer and explain what private counseling practice is, we’ll start by defining counselling in general.


What is Private Practice Counseling?

Private practice counselling is a type of collaborative, psychological talk therapy that enables individuals to safely address their issues, concerns, and troubles in a non-judgmental environment. A private practice counselor is a certified professional that’s typically self-employed and works in a private counselling practice.

Private practice counselling services may be offered by qualified professionals such as: psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, or other types of certified therapists.

Related: CPT Codes for Mental Health & Therapy


The section below provides you with tips on starting your own counselor private practice. Let us know if you have any feedback: contact the Social Work Portal Team.


How to Start a Mental Health Counselor Private Practice | Building Your Private Practice

Starting a private practice in counseling is both an exhilarating, but also a daunting step. While as a mental health professional you may have already been working for a private practice counseling, building your private practice comes with some challenges that may not be obvious at first.

Apart from learning to be a private practice counselor on your own, you will also have to learn all the ins and outs of running a business.

To best prepare you for becoming a private practice counselor and business owner, we’ve compiled a guide on how to start a private counseling practice.

Our guide on starting a counseling practice will include everything any potential private practice counselor should know about counseling fees, choosing suitable counseling practice names, private practice counselling business plan, and much more. Let’s dive right in!

  1. Private Counseling Practice Requirements | How to Start a Counseling Private Practice

Opening your own mental health counselor private practice will require that you obtain an appropriate license. Licensing requirements will vary depending on what state you plan to operate your private counselling practice in.

However, regardless of what state you’re in, to start working towards opening your private mental health counselling business you will need to be licensed.

To determine what license(s) you’ll need to legally open a mental health counseling private practice, you’ll need to check your state laws.

While individuals are allowed to engage in the counselling practice without being licensed, they won’t be able to use the “licensed professional counselor (LPC)” title and will be limited in services they can provide in their mental health counseling private practice.

successful private practice

Private Counseling Practice Requirements – Building Your Private Practice

  1. Private Practice Counselling Business Plan | How to Start a Counseling Private Practice

Creating your own private practice counselling business plan may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re considering setting up private practice counselling.

Be that as it may, if you’re planning on building your private practice and seeing it grow, this will be an essential part.

A well-planned out private practice counselling business plan will help you:

  • Research, analyze, and identify which type of private counselling practice is underrepresented in the area you’ll be serving
  • Determine what private practice counselling services you’ll be offering and make your practice stand out from other mental health counselor private practice businesses
  • Plan on getting your private counselling practice office (rent, buy, find a private practice for sale, virtual options, etc.)
  • Determine your counseling session cost and counseling fees
  • Create a clear picture of your short and long-term counselling practice financial goals (income, expenses, hiring an accountant or bookkeeper, etc.)
  • Envision and execute a marketing goal for your private mental health counselling practice
  • Stay focused and liable to make it a successful private practice

While having a business plan is not one of the private counseling practice requirements, it is highly recommended that you have one before starting a private practice in counseling.



Popular Article: Psychosocial Assessment Guide for Social Workers, Therapists, and Counselors


Are you looking for free social worker templates & forms? You can download all our free social worker tools here.


  1. Getting Your Private Counselling Practice Space | How to Start a Private Counseling Practice

Depending on how you’re planning to establish your mental health counselor private practice, one of the first things you’ll need is a calm and safe space to serve your clients.

If you’re only at the initial stage of setting up private practice counselling, you may want to opt for less traditional practice space or even consider looking up a private practice for sale in your area.

Some mental health counseling private practice professionals utilize counseling sessions:

  • Over the phone
  • Virtually
  • By subletting an office space only when they need it
  1. Forming and Starting a Counseling Practice Business Entity | Counseling Practice Names

Once you’re set on starting your own counseling practice, it’s time to form a legal business entity.

This is also the best time to start looking into different counseling practice names. Making the right choice in selecting among so many counseling practice names options is crucial.

You want to ensure that your unique private mental health counselling stands out among so many generic counseling practice names out there so you may want to research what other private practice counselor business names in your area before settling.

Most private practice counselling businesses opt for a Limited Liability Company type. LLC is a great option for private practice counseling as assets and liabilities are held separately from the counselor.

When starting your own counseling practice, you will also have to get “EIN” and “NPI” numbers.

EIN is an “Employee Identification Number” IRS uses for taxes related to your private mental health counselling business. EIN will also be used to open your business bank account.

NPI or “National Provider Identifier” is a HIPAA requirement for all mental health counselor private practice businesses and healthcare providers in general. NPI is also a unique identifier for your private practice counselling business that will be used to electronically submit health care information.

Both EIN and NPI are issued free of charge and can be applied for online:

Read More: Introduction to Social Work with Free Templates & Examples


The section below provides you with tips on the various types of private practice counseling, methodologies and theories. Let us know if you have any feedback: contact the Social Work Portal Team.


Types of Private Practice Counseling | Counselling Practice Approaches & Theories

Psychology is a broad area that covers many different areas in which it’s possible to practice and potentially start your own mental health counseling private practice.

In the sections below we’ll cover the most popular types of private practice counselling along with counselling practice approaches and theories that mental health professionals can specialize in.

  1. Types of Counseling Practice Approaches

Every individual is unique and that uniqueness is also reflected in how they respond to therapy. It’s a similar situation if you’re striving to become or are already working on becoming a private practice counselor.

Choosing the right type of mental health counseling practice, style, and method(s) is essential for establishing your private counseling practice correctly.

Here are the most popular types of private practice counseling clinical approaches and styles that you may want to consider prior to starting a private practice in counseling:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
  • Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT)
  • Psychodynamic or Psychoanalytic Counselling Practice
  • Humanistic Counseling Practice
  • Solution Focused Brief Therapy

These are just some of the many counselling practice approaches or schools of thought theories that private practice counselor may decide to utilize in therapy.

A private practice counselor will typically focus or specialize in one of these clinical psychology and counselling psychiatry methods.

However, most often than not, a successful private practice counselor or therapist will combine various methods and approaches in order to provide the most effective clinical and counseling psychology therapy.

But, what is the difference between clinical vs counseling psychiatry? Let’s find out!



Related: CAGE Screening Tool for Alcohol & Drug Use


Do you have any questions about counselling practice approaches & theories described above? Click here to contact the Social Work Portal Team.


  1. Clinical Psychology and Counselling Psychology Differences

Clinical and counselling psychology are two most popular careers in the mental health field. Nonetheless, many striving mental health professionals often find it hard to understand the difference between clinical vs counseling psychology.

Clinical and counseling psychology share a lot of similarities but there are also distinct differences between these two career paths.

working for a private practice counseling

Psychology Clinical & Counseling

S0, what is the main difference between clinical psychology and counselling psychology?

The main difference between clinical and counseling psychology is the focus area. While clinical psychology focuses on the study of mental disorders, counseling practice is helping clients with addressing all the emotional, physical, and social issues they face in their daily lives.

Choosing a type of psychology clinical & counselling aspiring practitioners want to specialize in will come down to personal preference. At the end of the day, both clinical and counseling psychology mental health professionals have the same goal of helping clients to improve their mental well-being.

Don’t Miss: Free Methods of Evaluation in Social Work Slides 


Do you have any questions about clinical psychology and counselling psychology? Do you have feedback on how to start a private counseling practice (psychology clinical & counseling)? If so, contact the Social Work Portal Team.


  1. Private Counselling Practice Specialties

When evaluating all the private counseling practice requirements and determining how to start a counselling business, every future private practice counselor should consider specializing in a certain form of counseling.

While a private practice counselor doesn’t have to focus on just one specialty or form of a counselling session, quite often a private counselling practice does just that.

Here are some of the most common private practice counselling specialties:

  • Individual private practice counseling
  • Couples counseling
  • Family counseling
  • Group counseling
  • Child/adolescent counseling
  • Addictions counseling
  • LGBTQ counseling
  • Military counseling
  • Virtual and over-the-phone counseling
  • And many more

To determine if you should focus on a certain form of counselling session when setting up private practice counselling, it’s highly recommended that you check what private counseling practice type is underrepresented in your area.



Popular Article: PHQ-4 Scoring and Assessment Guide


Are you looking for information on how to start a counselling business? Do you have any questions about building your private practice or working for a private practice counseling in general? Click here to contact the Social Work Portal Team.


Private Practice Counseling Salary & Counseling Fees  

One of the important aspects of setting up private practice counselling is determining counseling session cost and estimating what private practice counselor salary you can expect.

What Does an Average Counselling Session Cost?

Counseling session cost and counseling session fees will vary based on where you live, your education, years of experience in mental health counseling, certifications, and a variety of skills and specializations.

Average private practice counseling session cost: $60 -$150/per hour

Private counselling cost is higher than hospital outpatient counseling for a reason. As a private practice counselor, you have to be aware of business operating costs when determining how much your counselling session cost will be.

On top of that, the location of your private practice counselling will play a crucial role in the average counseling fees and counseling session cost you’ll be charging.

As an example, counseling session cost will be higher in California and New York than in North Carolina and Ohio.

Private counselling cost will also range depending on the form and type of counselling practice sessions you offer.

For example, private counselling cost for virtual and over-the-phone sessions will be lower than the group or family counseling session cost.

If you’re just starting out your own counseling practice and you’re not sure what your counseling fees should be, research the typical private counselling cost of other clinical and counseling psychology businesses in your area.

private practice for salePrivate Counselling Cost & Private Practice Counseling Salary

See Also: Guide on Top Mental Health Questionnaire Assessment Tools


What’s an Average Private Practice Counselor Salary?

As mentioned, different factors add into counseling fees and ultimately what your private practice counseling salary will be. Let’s take a look at what you can expect to get paid as a private practice counselor.

An average private practice counselor salary range: $62,415 – $76,879/per year

While the median private practice counseling salary in the USA ranges between $62,415 and $76,879, it’s important to take into consideration that entry-level positions can expect a lower annual salary of approximately $49,900/per year.

On the other hand, the most experienced mental health counselors can expect a private practice counseling salary of up to $100,000 per year which is definitely something to strive for in the long run.

Furthermore, it’s important to address that private practice counselor salary will vary from state to state. Understandably, salary will be one of the factors that will determine whether you should be starting a private practice in counseling.

However, most counselors that are starting a counseling practice go into it with a great motivation and the goal of helping people.



Don’t Miss: Guide for General Anxiety Disorder (GAD)


Do you have feedback on counseling fees or private practice counseling salary? If you already run a successful private practice, do you have any tips on how to start a private counseling practice that you would like to share? If so, contact the Social Work Portal Team.


Conclusion | Starting a Private Practice in Counselling

Starting a mental health counseling private practice will come with many challenges, but the rewards that come with it will outweigh it all.

Putting in hours, passion, and your knowledge into sincerely and ethically operating a successful private practice and doing it all for the greater good is a feat of its own.

We hope that our guide on how to start a mental health counselor private practice has helped you in determining if this is the right career path for you.

If you still have questions about how to start a counselling business, what’s the private counselling cost, or private practice counseling salary, don’t hesitate to reach out to Social Work Portal Team.

We wish you all the best in starting your own counseling practice!

Related: Everything You Need to Know about Social Worker Roles & Responsibilities


FAQ | How to Start a Counseling Private Practice

What are the main private counseling practice requirements?

The most important private counseling practice requirements are your education (degree), obtaining the appropriate license(s) to practice as a private practice counselor, and legally setting up your business.

What’s the average annual private practice counselor salary in the USA?

Average private practice counseling salary in the USA ranges between $62,415 - $76,879/per year.

How much does private counselling cost in the USA?

The average counseling fees in the USA ranges between $60-$150 per hour. This will vary depending on the state you operate your counseling practice in, and also the types and forms of clinical psychology and counseling psychology services you offer.


Note: Content on Social Works socialworkportal.com website is copyrighted. 
Social Work Portal Disclaimer: Social Work Portal is not a social work agency and we do not refer social workers. This web site is provided for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute providing medical advice or professional services. The information provided should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, and those seeking personal medical advice should consult with ... Read our full disclaimer here: Social Work Portal Disclaimer.

Image sources: Stock.adobe.com