Building a Private Practice is all about creating a strong foundation. This foundation builds as you strengthen your business plan, the way you do business, you as therapist and your marketing plan. I have found many therapists don't know how to describe themselves or tell others what they do and why they do it. Here I present just a piece of what I think makes up a private practice.

What is Your Specialty?
I ask everyone I work with to define themselves as a therapist. Who do you want to work with and what do you find curative? Think about how you describe yourself to people , the work you do and how you can help them. Many people want to cast a big net and be expert in a lot of areas and that may sound like a good marketing idea, actually having a target group of who you work with helps build a larger practice. Now that you have decided what your specialties are, how connected are you to those organizations that work with your population? I have many years working with all types of addictions and I try to stay in contact with treatment programs and the addiction community as a way of keeping my name out there but also to stay informed about treatment and what programs are available.

When was the last time you attended a workshop, networking meeting or event that your community offered? You would be surprised at how you will develop friends and referral sources.

Spending Time on the phone pays off.
A woman called me the other day and my plan was not to take on any new patients for a couple of weeks. I had already spoken with her and told her I could see her in a couple of weeks, I offered her some referrals but she wanted to wait and see me. Several days later she called back saying she wanted a referral to a psychiatrist, her life coach had suggested she take antidepressants. I realize I could have given her the name of several of the psychiatrists I regularly use and let it go at that but I don't like to encourage the use of psychotropics without therapy and I wanted to hear more. As we talked she broke down into tears and said she didn't want to take medication and she didn't know what to do. I realized she couldn't wait a couple of weeks and we made an appointment to sort out her feelings and create a plan. Taking the time with her on the phone helped me to understand and I hope she felt understood.

I have usually found the time on the phone is well worth it. I have had many clients call me back and want to see me after they have spoken with others (and often I gave them the referrals) but they felt so attended too by the time I gave them, they often come back. I know I am not perfect and there are the times when I have not returned a call but I do my best to return all calls, even if I am not accepting new patients I always try and make the effort to help them find someone else.

In my private practice development program often I am asked, usually from newly licensed or interns/students, how to do the first call to the patient, I realized most of them have come from agencies or clinics where the appointments are made for them. Those that intern in a private practice usually stay there as they develop a practice. So here is what I tell them:

* Make sure you have enough time to talk with them.
* Try and hear some of their story to see if you are a good match.
* If you are not a good match have referrals ready for them.
* Offer them an idea of how you would work with them.
* Inform them of your fee & how insurance is handled.
* I always close with encouraging them to find a therapist they feel understood by.
* And to call me back if they have questions, want more information or if they want more referrals. I want them to find the right person and if I can help I will.

And I always remind myself that the energy I put out today will be returned to me further down the road. Also keep in mind that it is important that you have a large network to refer too and it makes a great topic to discuss at networking meetings.

Remember building a successful private practice comes with using a combination of marketing tools, persistence, creativity and taking risks. I look forward to working with you and hearing all your feedback.

Licia Ginne
310) 828.1256

Author's Bio: 

Licia Ginne, a licensed marriage and family therapist with a successful private practice in Santa Monica, California. I have a full time private practice, which I have been in for over 20 years and in the mental health field for almost 30 years. I do consultation and training in practice development, marketing, creating a web presence and website development. My therapy practice is strictly fee for service based, I removed myself from all insurance panels about 10 years ago and have been fortunate to have a full-time practice. I have learned how to develop and build my practice and create a web presence that has a successful organic ranking with the search engines. You can contact me via my websites: or and at my marketing website you can sign up and receive an article listing many marketing tools to get your practice started.