15 STEPS To Starting a Canadian Private Practice
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1. Get certified/ licensed
First things first: become a Certified Canadian Counsellor, this will allow you to get liability insurance. You’ll also be able to sign up with a few insurance companies whose members may get reimbursed for their counselling sessions. Ideally, also get licensed so that your can sign up for A LOT more insurance companies that potential clients might have benefits with. Right now Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia are the only provinces where you can become licensed. To learn more: https://www.ccpa-accp.ca/profession/regulation-across-canada/
2. Get liability insurance
Once you’re a certified CCPA member you can get liability insurance through BMS. Click here to learn more https://www.ccpa-accp.ca/membership/insurance/insurance-details/
3. Name your private practice
Naming your practice after yourself can seem like a simple solution BUT if you ever want to hire other counsellors or sell your business it can become A LOT trickier. Check out this great article that can help you decide:
4. Register your business
Check the rules in your province; all I can say is that in Nova Scotia you need to register your business.
5. Get an HST # for your business
Since we are not regulated in five provinces (yet) we have to charge HST for anything over $30 000. I recommend you speak with an accountant to decide when you get your HST# and when you should start charging.
6. Find office space
Start off small. Speak to other health practitioners (naturopaths, massage therapists, other counsellors etc.) to see if you can rent a room from them for a day or for a couple hours a week as you build your client base.
7. Get an office phone number
I use Grasshopper, which has cheap rates and allows me to use my personal phone. Check them out at: www.fearlesspractice.com/phone
8. Get business cards
I use MOO because of their stylish cards. Check it out at: www.fearlesspractice.com/businesscards
9. Find a niche
Figure out what you are going to specialize in. Hesitant to choose a niche? Read this: https://abundancepracticebuilding.com/niche/busting-niche-hesitations/
And then click here to figure out what you’ll specialize in: http://practiceoftherapy.com/creating-niche-counseling-private-practice/
10. Build a website
I use and LOVE Brighter Vision! They specialize in creating counselling websites and offer unlimited support, an email address, AND SEO. Check out my website at: https://insightmentalhealth.ca and if you want to try Brighter Vision out you can get ONE MONTH FREE! at https://www.brightervision.com/try/smith/
11. Figure out how you’re going to store client records
The are many awesome online management systems that offer secure online notes and scheduling. I also keep some parts of client’s files in a locked file cabinet.
Check out Simple Practice at: www.fearlesspractice.com/simplepractice (US) or OWL at: www.fearlesspractice.com/OWL (Canadian). Before choosing your system make sure you are compliant with Canada’s privacy laws: https://vsee.com/blog/hipaa-canada-health-information-privacy/.
12. Develop a paperwork packet that includes consent forms and your business policy.
Learn how to create your own or purchase a premade (US) paperwork packet at http://www.practiceofthepractice.com/starting-paperwork-right-private-practice/
13. Decide on your price for your services
Here’s a great article about how to do so: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/private-practice-owners-how-set-session-fees-your-clients-adams
14. Join Psychology Today
Many potential clients find counsellors on this site (I’ve gotten many from this site!). Check it out at: https://www.psychologytoday.com
15. Join Open Path Collective
Give back by offering a couple of slots for clients that cannot afford your full fee. I have found that it gets very complicated and annoying negotiating a sliding scale with clients. This site takes out the bargaining. You have your full fee or your Open Path fee PLUS it’s free to join. Here’s the link: https://openpathcollective.org and you can see how I advertise it on my fee page here: https://insightmentalhealth.ca/rates-insurance/
Disclaimer: The information provided through this blog is for informational purposes only. It is not clinical or consulting advice. E-subscribers and website visitors are receiving general advertising and information about starting a Canadian private practice and should not act upon this information without seeking professional consultation.
Julia Smith, MEd, RCT-C, CCC, is the owner of Fearless Practice. She specializes in consulting with Canadian counsellors and therapists who want to start private practice. Julia has a part-time private practice in Halifax, Nova Scotia and works as a part-time counsellor at Dalhousie University. She also blogs for the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. You can read more articles about Canadian counselling and psychotherapy at www.ccpa-accp.ca/blog/.