A Quick Guide to Starting Private Practice

Concise Steps with Helpful Tips for Starting a Sole Practitioner Private Psychotherapy Practice

– Over 100 pages designed to get you started quickly!

WHY THIS GUIDE? Purchase Guide $29.99 On Sale now $24.99

The Third Edition of the Guide is now available and along with additional resources added, it includes a sample introductory letter and seven (7) common forms. Check out the Appendices at the end of the Table of Contents.

PLEASE NOTE: The Guide is a digital product only. It is a .pdf. You can have it printed at a local store for personal use only. Please note: .pdfs are best read on a computer screen rather than a small screen like a cell phone.

Upon purchase you will immediately receive an email with a download link. Your download link expires in 14 days.  You’ll have the opportunity to download the .pdf four (4) times. Please do not share your link or the .pdf with others as this is a copyright-protected publication. If you think a colleague would like the guide, please send them to www.privatepracticenavigator.coach.

Add [email protected] and [email protected] to your contacts to ensure you receive the Guide via email immediately after ordering.  Be sure to check your SPAM if you don’t see an email with the download link attached in your regular inbox within a few minutes.

Guide Value:

Why this Guide? Because it is worth far more than the price tag!

  • For a third of the Medicare allowable for a regular session (90834), the “50-minute hour,” you will have in your hands the exact steps with extra details to start your practice quickly, and be ready to see your first client for less than $1,000 (assuming you sublet a few hours a week to start). The largest expenses to get started are your professional dues and liability insurance policies. If you hire someone to help you get on insurance panels (called “credentialing and contracting”), your cost will be higher – but before you get to that step you will be ready to see your first client. If you chose to start with your own office, your start up cost will be substantially higher due to rent. **see below for more information regarding average session rates across the U.S.**
  • This guide will save you time and the frustration of figuring what to do next.
  • The Third Edition available now includes sample practice forms:
    1. Introductory Letter
    2. Registration
    3. Diagnostic Evaluation / Biopsychosocial Assessment
    4. Payment log
    5. Confidential psychotherapy notes
    6. Superbill
    7. Treatment plan
    8. Full page progress note
  • You get a complimentary phone 30 minute Q&A with the purchase of the Guide (worth $45). There is a ton of information in this guide and the steps for getting started are laid out in detail. You will still have questions along the way related to your specific situation and let’s be honest, no single book can answer every question that comes up. However, your $29.99 $24.99 gives you a prepaid coaching session to supplement the guide. This is not a sales-pitch session. Your session, your questions.

And because…

  • My success can be your map! Step by Step I’ll show you the way plus offer alternatives that can also work. By the end of Step Fourteen, you will be set up to see your first client. You’ll accomplish this goal quickly, without breaking the bank, and have tons of information at your fingertips to help you start and grow your practice.
  • You will have more information than I had when I started out plus, you’ll benefit from my mistakes.

The Guide is offered as a download .pdf only at this time. You will receive it as a digital .pdf you can use to get started immediately. If you do not see the email with the Guide link within minutes, check your SPAM folder, then contact Bonnie as soon as possible if it is still not there.

If you like to hold a book in your hands, you may choose to have the whole thing printed by a local printer or print only select pages as you go. There are a few pages in the Appendices you will be prompted to print or replicate in a spiral notebook or electronic form.


This is an action-oriented guide. Your success will depend on actually completing the steps.

Starting a private practice, or any business adventure for that matter, requires homework in the form reading (lots of reading), talking to people (you’ve got that down!), patience (start practicing now), problem-solving, and getting out into your community (e.g., searching for an office). The guide offers numerous links to resources including other coaching websites you’ll want to follow. It is highly recommended you take the time to read the resources offered, even if on a site that is geared for another professional license.

Here’s an example of reading you will be asked to do:

**Your first session is typically charged as a Diagnostic Evaluation (90791) which is reimbursed at a higher rate than a normal session. Check here for your state’s median therapy rates:  https://www.simplepractice.com/blog/median-therapy-session-rates-by-state-and-city-cpt-codes/. You will be returning to this in the Set Your Fees step in the guide. You can use this information now to get an idea of income potential. Median session rates (the rate set by the clinician – not the contracted rate with insurance panels) for 90837 range from $100-$200 across the U.S.**

You can get an overview by looking at the table of contents first. It is good to have some idea where you are going, but don’t get caught up in the details, yet. 

Feeling overwhelmed might be the reason you are looking for help. Don’t add to those feelings by thinking you need to understand all the details before you get there. 

If you get stuck, take advantage of my offer of a complimentary 30 minute telephone Q&A with the purchase of the guide.  This is a No Sales Pitch Q&A to help you succeed. If you ask about coaching services, I’ll be happy to tell you what I offer after your time, your questions.

Your Private Practice Story Has Already Begun!

Are you ready for the next new horizon in your career?

Starting a practice involves a new learning curve. Like most jobs, it might be a full year before you feel fully confident. That’s okay, though. It’s the experiences along the way that will build your competence to run your own business and sit confidently in your therapist chair as a business owner.

As a private practice therapist, you are taking the pilot’s position and as such will have the opportunity to set your itinerary and schedule while creating an environment according to your needs and preferences.

Be patient with yourself as you learn your new job. The moment you take the first step in this guide you become your own boss! Perhaps, you already are.

Success Factors

A large part of my success is the fact that I chose to Accept Assignment as a Medicare eligible provider, became a provider on commercial panels and Medi-Cal, and networked early on with agencies and people serving the population I was interested in working with. 

It’s true, many therapists have successful Private Pay Only practices! If “cash pay only” is your plan, you can skip the action parts of Step Sixteen – Start Applying to Insurance Panels, but you will still need to understand how insurance reimbursement works for your clients, so DO read all information offered.

This is not a marketing guide though during a few of the Steps you will be doing just that – marketing naturally by connecting with other therapists.  Step Seventeen – Get the Word Out has some helpful tips for marketing. 

This guide is designed for setting up your practice quickly. Additional general information, included as Steps, about applying to insurance panels, Medicare & Medi-Cal/Medicaid, telemental health, establishing your professional will, and self-care and compassion fatigue, are added as bonuses.

I Wrote this Guide for You and Me

Helping others is part of my healing process. Writing is a joyful healing process, too!

Because of my obvious success, others started asking me for help starting their practices.  Scratch notes weren’t gonna fly for long!

A Quick Guide to Starting Private Practice explains how to do what I did. Step by Step with enough details that you can follow the map with confidence.

This guide also includes additional information and details I learned later (still learnin’!). You’ll have a better view of what to do next and more information about your choices than I had.

Part mentor, part coach, part consultant, in these pages I will guide you through the process. You can call me your Private Practice Navigator.  The only caveat is that you have to do the work. I will share what I know, point you to others that know more, and encourage you to blaze your own successful trail.

You will make your choices and put them into practice. If the stars are aligned like others I’ve helped, you will create your own success story.

Some of the details included in this guide are specific to California, but the steps for starting a practice are essentially the same across the U.S.

The other reason I wrote this guide is to keep track of the information I learn along the way. Over time, I expect the guide will evolve as I integrate even more new information. It’s offered today in its 3rd edition.

​About the Author

Bonnie graduated with her Master’s in Social Work from California State University, Sacramento in 1998.  She became licensed in California in 2006. Bonnie’s journey to private practice included working in several environments including substance abuse treatment, community non-profit, adult county mental health and disability advocacy, outpatient medical case management, Level II Trauma Center, and hospice agency work. 

Bonnie has been in private practice successfully and joyfully since 2014.

Helping others start their private practice is part of Bonnie’s natural desire to see others succeed. Bonus for Bonnie: Writing about it is fun!

For more information about Bonnie and her Healing Through Writing & Creativity journey, visit her at her writer’s blog: www.bonniemckeeganauthor.wordpress.com

Psychotherapy Clients – Please Visit Bonnie’s Private Practice Website for more information: www.bonniemckeeganlcsw.net 

Email Bonnie Your Questions

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