Mental health is one of the few areas of health care that operates in both private and public sectors. Moving your practice over to the private sector calls for unique considerations that vastly differ from the public healthcare setting. The private practitioner must balance between two crucial roles - being an ethical registered healthcare professional and a business person who works for their livelihood. Experience, as well as mistakes along the way, are often foundational learning opportunities, my hope is to save you a few along the way…

  1. Transparency – from cancellation policies, to supervision and risk issues, spend time reviewing these things with client’s up front. It is much easier to follow through and have challenging conversations if you have clearly reviewed policies in advance.

  2. Reliability – if you say you’re going to do something, make sure you do it. Client’s seeing us as reliable promotes trust and helps them view us as dependable. Be consistent and if you make a mistake or drop the ball, say sorry, we are human too.

  3. Boundaries – there are the very obvious boundaries that go without saying, and then there are more subtle ones like texting outside of the appointments (see point 1), it’s important to lay out your limits from the beginning, a text here and there may not seem like a big deal but when you grow your client base and you have multiple people reaching out as well as friends, family, partner etc. it can become a lot, plus an increased risk of “dropping the ball”(see point 2). It’s not that it needs to be forbidden, but expectations are important – I’m a great talker (if I do say so myself) but I text like an 85 year old gramma who just figured out how to do it last week, therefore it’s important that I limit the support I provide through that communication platform because it’s important to have the face to face, non-verbal communication cues that tell AND show them that I care.

  4. End Goals – This is one of the foundational principles of any psychotherapy “How would we know this therapy was effective? What would you be doing more of or less of?” It’s wonderful to have a therapist available as needed and in an ideal world the work we do with clients will empower them to feel as if they don’t need us anymore, it’s important to note that with them too because sometimes people say they feel bad telling me that they don’t need to come anymore because they are doing really well and to us, this is the ultimate compliment, make sure they know that too!

  5. The168 Hour Rule – There are 168 hours in a week, we will usually spend at most, 1 hour of that with our clients, which means they spend .005 % of their time each week with us in therapy. This is why it is important for clients to simultaneously build additional support’s and why homework and skills between sessions are so important! We don’t expect our life to change dramatically by investing .005 % of it in anything else, working out, eating well, studying so why is completely shifting your life or battling mental health and addictions any different?


Lastly, as you may have gathered from this post, it is important to be authentic. I tend to “say it as it is” and that works for me because it’s who I am. Everyone is unique so be true to yourself, lean into your strengths, and be honest about your limitations. My hope is that by utilizing these underlying values they may help you “act with care and great tact, because remember life (and private practice) is a great balancing act”. (Dr. Seuss)


Elder woman and her caretaker

Five Values of a Business Minded Therapist