How to start your own private practice

I’m back! Oh and I got my LPC and started a private practice!

Wow that feels good to say. It seems so far in my past that I’ve made it through that licensure process. I could probably write tons of posts on every twist and turn of that wretched process but I think it’s still too soon. I want to do a series on starting your own private practice because there’s really not that much guidance out there. I’ll probably do this in multiple posts but here are the basic steps:

  • Find an office space.
  • File for an LLC.
  • Get your finances in check.
  • Create all your forms.
  • Decide what you want to specialize in.
  • Write your personal statement.
  • Post an ad on Psychology Today to get clients.
  • Create your website.

If you like how that goes and you are succeeding on your own. You can then start to expand which is what I’m doing now. These are the ways to do that:

  • Get the supervision training required by the board.
  • Submit for the courtesy review of becoming a clinical supervisor and wait to get approved.
  • Post a job ad looking for contract therapists.
  • Find good therapists and start having them work for you.
  • Pay it forward by helping them get licensed and teaching them the ropes.

I’ll write a post for each step so you’ll have a detailed guide. Also feel free to contact me with any questions. I offer coaching sessions to help you through this process. I wish someone was there to help me!

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When to quit your job

Realizing when your not passionate about your work can be a difficult process full of denial and second guessing yourself. The fear of leaving what you know to pursue the unknown can be overwhelming. Feeling like you are throwing tens of thousands of dollars in student loans away can be especially painful. However, suffering in a career that is not satisfying or internally rewarding is worse yet. It’s important to recognize when your not happy and decide if you can salvage a career in your same field or if it’s time to jump ship. Use these tips to help you evaluate whether you are happy or not and what your options are.

1) Notice how you feel as you’re getting ready for work. Is it dread, disgust, excitement, or stress? Everyone experiences a certain level of these emotions but most people don’t completely dread going to work.

2) Get feedback from loved ones about how happy they see you in your career. For example, if others notice that you take a deep sigh every time you’re talking about work, it may be time for a career adjustment.

3) Research your options. Maybe it’s not your actual career or field but it’s your company or your specific job title. See what else is out there and ask yourself if the new jobs have what you feel is lacking in your current job or if you feel it might be more of the same.

4) If you sense that you might be unhappy in any job in your field or you know that even if you switched companies you would soon feel the way you do now, it might be time to face the music- you don’t love what you do.

5) Get creative. Figure out a way that you can use your skills to design a new position or forge your own career path.

6) Just do it. Of course, set yourself up for success by having a back up plan or another job lined up. It’s terrifying especially in this economy but when you’re following your heart, things usually work out. Remember that no one can take what you’ve learned, you’ll always have your degree and you can always go back if you end up not enjoying your new career.

Creating your freedom as a counselor

I don’t know about you, but most counselors I’ve talked to that work in the community mental health setting are completely burned out. I know I am… I’m trying to brainstorm ways to continue doing what I love-that is, helping others, being there in a time of need, asking tough questions, making my own living-without all the crap that goes along with working in a mental health agency. I’m tired of overloaded caseloads, of doing others’ jobs, of overcompensating for counselors and case managers who are burned out and checked out themselves. But just when I think I’ve had enough, and I’m ready to put my two weeks in, I have an amazing group or individual session or I get some positive feedback from a client. It’s hard to up and leave when someone tells you the only reason they get out of bed on Mondays is to come to group, or that I’m the first person who didn’t make them feel crazy etc. So how do I balance, what am I missing? I think working from home until my scheduled group or individual sessions is the key, because then I’d bypass all the office politics and wouldn’t get caught doing others’ work but I could still be there for my clients. I can’t wait until I have my LPC so I can start my own business, do it my own way, hopefully have some employees that I would let take control of their workloads and schedules just like I would like to have now. I feel like I have a part time job now of building my own business so in 18 months when I have my LPC I can say goodbye to the trenches also known as community mental health. Any tips and advice would be much appreciated!

Common mistakes that hold up getting LPC

1) having too many group supervision hours and not enough individual hours

2) not giving clients a letter that states you are under supervision and provide supervisor’s contact information

3) not having a signed piece of paper for each supervision session

4) not having a supervisor that is efficient and gets the paperwork in

more to come, I’m doing more research!

Tips for getting LAC

Here are some tips when applying for LAC in AZ. It’s a difficult process but you can learn from my mistakes. If you have any questions, shoot me an email or make a comment so I can clarify.

1) READ the  Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS), yes they are boring and wordy but they explain everything; look for my future posts that will break them down.

2) Start the application before you graduate but after you have taken and passed NCE

3) Send for official NCE scores (you can pay an extra 50 dollars to get them expedited)

4) Once you graduate, request official transcripts because those take a couple weeks

5) Check and recheck the application

6) Make sure you attach a separate signed letter for each period of unemployment no matter how long. A short explanation on the application is not good enough. This held up my licensure for about 3 months.

7) Make sure that in your current position you do not put that you are providing psychotherapy if your company is not licensed by the state OBHL (check with your supervisor). If it is not licensed you are technically a BHT not a therapist until you or the company becomes licensed. Once you get your LAC you can say you’re a therapist.

8) Right before you are almost done with the packet, do the self-query online, print it off and get it notarized because that expires in 90 days

9) Make a copy of the entire packet, insure it and send it off

10) Wait for your letter in the mail that confirms they received your application. They are supposed to contact you within 90 days to let you know if there is something missing of if you have been recommended for licensure. They will wait almost the full 90 days to let you know if anything is missing which is why it is so important to check and recheck your application before you send it off.

Feel free to email me with any questions. Good luck!

Welcome counselors

I’m excited to start blogging and sharing what i learn as I go through the licensure process in Arizona to become an LPC. It’s so confusing and there are basically no resources online to help. I plan to provide info about the National Certified Counselor (NCC) certification, applying to be a Licensed Associate Counselor, supervision requirements, tips for job searching and evaluating your current position in its ability to help you move towards licensure and finally obtaining the coveted Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) title. Most of my information will be for Arizona specifically but after I exhaust that information I hope to move on to help others in their respective states. I just know first hand how difficult it is in AZ.