It’s a challenging decision that many therapists face – whether or not to go into private practice. Leaving a secure, salaried job with traditional benefits and transitioning to one where pay isn’t guaranteed is a valid source of anxiety even for seasoned practitioners.
From my own experience over the many years I’ve been a private practice therapist, the freedom and flexibility that accompany private practice are well worth it, but deciding to take the initial leap can feel overwhelming. Understanding and weighing the pros and cons of solo vs group private practice can help you make an informed decision.
To put things in perspective, the average annual salary of a private practice therapist in the United States is $97,696 per year. However, this number can range anywhere from $24,500 to $250,000+.
That’s a lot of variability in earning potential for private practice therapists, which is influenced by multiple factors, including the number of sessions you conduct each week, your rates, specialty areas, compensation, and years of experience in the field, to name a few.
the Pros and Cons of Solo vs Group Private Practice for Therapists
Here are a few questions to consider when thinking about whether you should stay an individual therapist in solo practice or join a group practice. Treat this as an exercise as an opportunity to be radically honest with yourself about your preferences, asking if these statements feel exciting and energizing, or intimidating or depleting.
|A built-in community of colleagues and peers that I can regularly exchange ideas and receive support from is a priority for me.||True||False|
|Peer supervision or having a place to discuss difficult client cases is something that’s important to my work and wellbeing.||True||False|
|The idea of managing and being responsible for my own business feels overwhelming or unappealing.||True||False|
|I like knowing that I’m not alone and can get feedback whenever I may have ethical questions or concerns related to best practices||True||False|
|I don’t want to shoulder the daily burden of administrative or operations work, even if it means that I’m not the one in charge at the end of the day.||True||False|
|I could benefit from hands-on digital marketing support to help me attract my ideal clients.||True||False|
You may thrive in a group practice if you value a built-in community of colleagues to exchange ideas and get support from.
If you checked True more times than False…
You may be someone who feels their best when you’re connected to a like-minded community of peers. You thrive when given the right tools, and may feel overwhelmed at the prospect of having to start from scratch, or go at it alone. If this sounds like you, joining a group practice may be a positive next step in your personal and professional journey.
If you checked False more times than True…
You may be a highly creative and entrepreneurial individual who’s invigorated at the idea of creating and managing the aspects associated with running a business. If consulting with colleagues or receiving support from administrative staff isn’t high on your list of must-haves, you may thrive in solo private practice.
You may be a highly creative and entrepreneurial individual who’s invigorated at the idea of creating and managing the aspects associated with running a business.
Staying True to You
This exercise isn’t meant to compel you towards one decision over another, but rather to help you consider your own goals and personal working style. After all, you won’t enjoy going into solo private practice if you’re a people person who can’t stand to work alone.
Solo private practice means the freedom and creative power to define your own vision for your business. At the end of the day, you’re your own boss and you call the shots. This includes deciding where to locate, whether or not you’ll accept insurance, and how you’ll attract clients.
The freedom and flexibility that accompany private practice are well worth it, but deciding to take the initial leap into private practice can feel overwhelming.
On the other hand, joining an established group can mean reducing isolation and risk of burnout while providing valuable opportunities that wouldn’t be available otherwise.
Depending on the size, groups may offer administrative support with scheduling and billing, shared risk management, furnished office space that covers rent, internet, and utilities, EHRs and other technical equipment such as EMDR tools, and have more marketing reach.
Joining an established group can mean reducing isolation and risk of burnout while providing valuable opportunities that wouldn’t be available otherwise.
The Bottom Line
No matter what you choose to do, make sure to be radically honest with yourself about your needs and what will ultimately nourish you. What’s most important is that you take care of yourself and do what feels like a good fit for your personality, goals, needs, and overall lifestyle.
Be clear about who you are. At the end of the day, nobody but you knows what’s truly best for you. Staying true to yourself and your needs will allow you to build an expansive life and decide whether solo or group practice feels most like you.
Your Turn: As a therapist, what benefits have you discovered from your experiences in solo or group private practice? We’d love to hear your thoughts below.