Three mistakes LPC interns can learn from

Mar 31, 2013 by

blackboardWell, here goes…

I’ve decided to specialize—again.

No, not in my own practice.

My people-pleasing specialty remains.

I’m talking about my supervision services.  I’ve decided that I need to specialize there, too.

I’ve decided that my supervision services are going to be tailored toward students who aim to be in private practice.

Let’s hope it doesn’t blow up in my face.  (Ok, ok—I know I’m being dramatic.)

Really, I don’t think it will.

Because I know a lot of you are looking for help building up a practice during your internship.

I know many of you want a safe space to process feelings and beliefs that might get in the way of building a successful practice.

And I bet a lot of you want help getting the practical business skills you need to be successful—because they don’t teach that kind of thing in school.

All of this is going to be paired alongside the other important pieces of supervision—a place to explore your own development as a therapist, a place to strengthen your clinical skills and theoretical understanding, a place to consult and learn and grow.

I’m so excited to begin.

The dream of private practice

ants workingMost of the counseling students I talk to say that private practice is where they want to end up eventually.

This doesn’t surprise me.

You get to set your own hours, to decide which kinds of clients to work with, to choose your fees.

There are many freedoms that come with being self-employed.

But there are also many risks.


More and more new counseling graduates in Austin are going into private practice or working under someone else’s practice during their internship.

And while many new therapists decide that private practice is what they want, others are making the choice for different reasons.

For some, the choice comes from basic pragmatism.

It has to do with the scarcity of paid LPC internships in Austin.  And internship scarcity is a problem in many large cities.  The ratio of paid positions to new graduates is steep.

There simply aren’t enough paid positions to go around.

Three mistakes to avoid

LPC intern mistakeBuilding a private practice is both deceptively simple and surprisingly complicated.

Over the past two years, I’ve made a study of it while I’ve been working on growing my own practice.

I’ve read books and blogs, attended workshops, seminars and support groups, and completed home study programs on practice building.

It seems a waste to have that information and not share it with others who want it.

So, in addition to building valuable clinical skills, I want to give my supervisees the knowledge and guidance they need to succeed in private practice.

You learned about one of my expensive mistakes in my last post.

Since writing about that mistake, I started thinking about others I have made and seen.

So, here are three stumbling blocks that most counselors struggle with in private practice:


Dollars1.)    Money.  From setting fees to collecting them, getting on insurance panels or running a fee-for-service practice, this is where most therapists struggle.

While it’s true that private practice can be very lucrative, most therapists don’t earn as much as they could.

Most therapists have beliefs about money that limits their income.

And beginning therapists are notorious for this—they have trouble accurately valuing and pricing their services.

leading2.)    Mentorship.  Many therapists build a practice in a vacuum.

They don’t have valuable mentorship and support systems in place to help them along the journey.

Part of the trouble with being self-employed is the lack of accountability.

The freedom of private practice is both a blessing and a curse.

Often, you are isolated, accountable only to yourself.

Having someone who will track your progress and help hold space for your vision is invaluable when building a practice.

Skilled mentorship will save you from many common errors and mistakes that beginners often make.

scatter3.)    Scatter.  Most LPC interns have a lot of enthusiasm and energy for clinical work and business building.

But when you’re building a practice, you need focus.

If you are working on multiple projects simultaneously, you’ll want to have someone helping you see the big picture.

It is easy to stall out or become paralyzed in the face of the long to-do list that most new business owners have.

This is where having a skilled mentor, supervisor, or business coach can come in handy (see #2).

Final thoughts

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, here.  If you want to work in private practice, do yourself a favor and team up with someone else who has lots of knowledge or experience doing the same.  You’ll save yourself a lot of time and money in the process.

And remember:  I’ll be bringing a few supervisees into my practice beginning in April of 2013.

If you’re looking for LPC intern supervision in Austin, drop me a line to get on the interest list.  Even if I’m full or not the right supervisor for you, I can offer you some recommendations.

Related Posts


Share This