How To Start a Psychology Practice

Most working professionals at certain points in their working lives will kick back in their office chair and ponder what their working life would be like if they were the boss and owner of their own business.

If you’re a practicing psychologist, that may mean starting your own psychology private practice, or purchasing an existing practice that is up for sale and making it your own. Whichever route you decide to take to starting your psychology practice, there are certain steps that can helo make it a success.

If you’re intent on starting your own psychology practice, you will likely have a feel for when the time is right to do so. You will have built up a network of loyal patients who appreciate the work you do with them, you will have achieved a level of standing amongst your peers, and you may be considered an emerging thought leader in the industry.

Launching and growing your own psychology private practice can initially seem challenging. But diving in with both feet can be the best way to get started on the right foot.

If you have committed to launching your own psychology private practice, then there are several key things that you will benefit from being across from the start. These range from your business aptitude to your professional readiness to your own personal level of resilience, as well as your understanding of insurance for psychologists

As with any other business, running your own psychology private practice requires that you are equipped to weather changing business conditions. You now have dual roles – one as a practicing psychologist, and one as a small business owner. So, let’s take a closer look at the steps involved in starting a psychology private practice and making it a long-term success.

Create a business plan

A business plan is a roadmap that will help you to define the path to success for your psychology private practice. To create a business plan, first define your vision for your psychology private practice. A crystal clear and concise vision will help keep your business plan focused on your ultimate purpose. Ensure that your vision for your practice inspires you. As part of your business plan, clearly set out the list of services you will offer, what your ideal customer will look like, and essential risk management measures such as psychologist insurance.

The next part of your business plan should cover goal setting. Create a picture in your head of where you would like your psychology private practice to be at the end of its first year in business. To keep yourself honest, make sure that your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-specific.

The final step in rounding out your psychology practice business plan is to set challenging but attainable monthly targets for each month of your first year. In setting your monthly goals, take into consideration things that may impact your business growth, such as holiday periods and historical trends. This will help you to set monthly goals that are realistic and achievable.

Define the services your practice will offer

Once you’ve created the business plan for your new psychology practice, the next step is to define the suite of psychology services your practice will offer to its patients. Often times when psychologists launch their own private practice, they may struggle with how to position their practice and the services they will offer to their patients.

It may be beneficial to take a broad approach and avoid narrowcasting your services and expertise into any specific niche area of psychology. If you decide to concentrate your service offering on only one or two psychology disciplines, you will have a smaller pool of patients to offer your services to. This could limit the growth potential of your new private practice.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to give up your preferred services and become a generalist to succeed with your new private practice. Rather, this is all about knowing what your strengths are, what your weaknesses are, and then finding the sweet spot where there’s untapped opportunity. Servicing that sweet spot will enable you to cater to a larger pool of clients.

Market your psychology practice

All businesses need marketing to grow, and that includes psychology practices. Word of mouth and referrals will get you so far, after which point you can implement a marketing strategy to promote your psychology practice. There are many, many channels at your disposal to market your psychology practice, including, but not limited to:

  • digital advertising such as Google ads;
  • social media advertising;
  • a company website;
  • client referral programs;
  • building relationships with local businesses;
  • developing your personal brand as an industry thought leader;
  • accepting invitations to speak at local events;
  • Invest in content marketing activities such as eBooks, white papers; and
  • regular blogs on your company website.

Keep up regular industry appearances

This point ties in with the above point about marketing your psychology practice. While you’re busy building an attractive reputation for your new psychology private practice, it’s important that you keep up your regular appearances at industry events and networking events.

In fact, such appearances are even more important now that you are operating your own private psychology practice. This is because the success of your business will be directly related to your own personal brand and standing in the industry, as well as in your local community. So, it’s in your interest to remain as visible and active in your local community and in professional circles as time permits.

Perfect your customer experience

The importance of delivering an exceptional customer experience is something that gets a lot of attention in other industries, such as corporate sales and retail. However in some sectors of the healthcare industry the customer experience can occasionally, and understandably, be left a little wanting.

When you start your own psychology practice, it may be worth considering the flavour of customer experience that your practice will provide. This is important, because delivering a great customer experience is its own reward.

Think about the last time that you received a great customer experience, and how it made you feel. It makes you want to return and become a repeat customer. Not providing a great customer experience may mean that your clients choose to seek professional help elsewhere.

Overcome the challenges

Starting and growing your own psychology practice will not be without its challenges, so resilience, tenacity, and the determination to overcome challenges or setbacks is a must.

While it’s true that private practice psychologists typically enjoy a level of freedom, they also face many challenges that come with owning and operating a small business.

Running a private counseling practice will most likely require you to regularly work long hours, including occasionally performing tasks outside the scope of your role as a psychologist. It comes with the territory when you own and manage your own business.

Small business admin

Now that you’re running your own small business, there are small business administration duties that you will need to keep abreast of. This includes tracking your business tax, bookkeeping, and general small business administration tasks.

While complex financial matters will likely require consultation with tax accountants and business lawyers, private practice therapists may consider learning a few basic business accounting practices that will help with managing their business admin.

Taxes and accounting

While complex financial matters may require consultation with tax accountants and attorneys, private practice therapists can learn basic accounting to protect their business and avoid tax penalties.

A private counseling practice’s business structure dictates how it pays taxes. Nevertheless, every private practice psychologist must keep their business receipts and maintain financial paperwork to write off expenses. Additionally, they must pay quarterly self-employment taxes to avoid a large tax bill or penalties come tax time.

Insurance for psychologists

 Every business can benefit from the risk management and protection that business insurance can provide, including psychologists who start and run their own psychology practice in New Zealand. Two common types of psychologist insurance include:

Professional Indemnity*: Professional Indemnity insurance covers claims against your business for losses that result from actual or alleged negligent acts, omissions, and other forms of wrongdoing in the provision of your professional service or advice. Professional Indemnity insurance also assists with the legal costs associated with responding to or managing claims which are covered by the policy. Read more about professional indemnity insurance with BizCover NZ.

Public Liability*: Public Liability insurance provides protection for you and your business if a client, supplier or a member of the public is injured (and not covered by the Accident Compensation Commission (ACC)) or sustains property damage because of your negligent business activities. Read more about public liability insurance with BizCover NZ.

Just like all other small business owners, qualified psychologists who operate their own psychology practice in New Zealand can benefit from actively reducing the risks to their business. And a great way to do just that is to invest in psychologist insurance*.


As you plot and plan starting your new psychology practice it may be worth considering business insurance for psychologists to protect your business so you can keep helping your patients without interruption.


*This information is general only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be relied upon as advice. As with any insurance, cover will be subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy wording. © 2022 BizCover Pty Limited, all rights reserved. BizCover Limited is owned by BizCover Pty Ltd (ABN 68 127 707 975)

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