Building a private psychotherapy practice: Don’t quit your day job was originally published in Washington DC psychologist, psychoanalyst, Dr. Lynn Friedman’s blog for her Johns Hopkins graduate students.

You are preparing for private practice. You done all of the right things. You’ve taken broad-based coursework. You have begun to develop a niche area. You are enrolled in a postgraduate program in your area of interest. You are taking workshops in your niche area. You are networking with colleagues. You are in you are in your own therapy or psychoanalysis.

You want to go out into private practice but you are afraid of, well, starvation. What steps can you take to lay the groundwork to ensure that you will be busy once you get started? First, don’t quit your day job. Start by negotiating new hours with your boss. Can you work 4, 10 hour days instead of 5, 8 hour days?Can you work 80% time? In this way, you can begin your practice part-time. Rent an office by the hour so that you will not have to pay a large rent.

If possible, negotiate a shift in responsibilities. It’s time to get visible. Get visible with your colleagues and with laypeople. If your organization does outreach, ask to become involved in it. For example, if you are working at an independent school, begin to do workshops for students and parents on your niche areas. If your niche is ADHD, give a workshop to the parent body. If you work at an agency, find out if you can give workshops on your niche as a part of your job. How do you develop content for your workshops? Do a careful review of the professional literature. Find out who the leaders in the field are. Attend their workshops when they present locally. In fact, go to any local workshops on the topic. You will learn how others approach the topic and you will be able to network with others who are interested in this topic. Obviously, this is only 1 of 100 things that you might do but it’s a possible approach to consider.

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