You’ve learned all there is to learn about human psychology. You’ve dedicated countless hours to the intricate physiology of the brain. You’ve poured through the DSM-5.

But despite all the work you put into becoming a professional mental health therapist, all the classes you attended and all the hands-on practice you accrued, you’re still a neophyte when it comes to one critical element of achieving your professional goals: building, maintaining, and growing a private therapy practice.

No one ever taught you how to run a business.

Most therapists learn to build their practices through trial and error. They make mistakes, learn from them, make adjustments, and repeat the cycle until they have thriving practices, with stellar reputations and steady streams of new clients.

But there’s no reason you need to start from nothing — not when a community of successful professionals has paved the way.

We want to help you get off on the right foot. Here are three mistakes to avoid when building your private therapy practice.

Pitfall #1: Neglecting Your Online Presence

The first place you look when shopping for a new car or phone, when choosing a restaurant or hotel, or even looking for a new home is the internet. Why would it be any different for a client searching for a mental health provider?

These days, marketing and online marketing are one in the same. If you want clients to find your practice, you need to make sure you have a robust online presence.

Therapy business consultant L. Gordon Brewer, Jr., M.Ed., LMFT, writes that it’s not enough to be findable online:

“Your website is your public face. Spending the time and investment to get a well-functioning and good-looking website will payoff for years to come.”

Supplement your practice’s website with listings in the leading online therapy directories. Psychology Today and are both common first stops for those seeking therapists.

And don’t forget social media. Some of the most successful therapists build their practices around lively Facebook communities where they post helpful articles and spark discussions.

Pitfall #2: Failing to Research Your Local Market

Miranda Palmer, who runs a “Business School Bootcamp” for therapists, writes that, when she began her private practice, she didn’t know what “market research” meant. “That led to several bad...or at least odd decisions,” Palmer writes.

Market research doesn’t have to be intimidating. It can simply mean understanding the needs of potential therapy clients in your area and how those needs are already being (or not being) met.

If there are already several therapists in your area providing general mental health services, and you intend to do the same, you may struggle to attract new clients and referrals. But if there is a population with unmet needs — seniors struggling with depression, veterans struggling with PTSD — you may be able to carve out a niche for your practice.

The key to finding your niche is mastering a modality that is well-suited to treating a particular population or a particularly challenging mental health issue, which brings us to the third pitfall…

Pitfall #3: Not Specializing

At the Wellness Institute, we teach Heart-Centered Hypnotherapy, a powerful treatment model for helping your clients access the subconscious roots of their psychological challenges, healing their minds, bodies, and spirits.

Specialties like hypnotherapy can help you treat your clients more effectively, but they can also help you build your private therapy practice. We recently looked at the incomes of some of our graduates and found that many of them reach six figures annually.

By specializing, our graduates have been able to charge between $150 and $200 per session. Because clients achieve rapid, long-lasting results, many of them are willing to pay out-of-pocket, allowing our graduates to break free of restrictive insurance panels.

By cornering their local market on hypnotherapy, our graduates also establish themselves as a go-to source in their area. They receive regular referrals and retain most of their clients, even for difficult issues such as trauma and opioid addiction.

Start Your Private Therapy Practice Right

Establishing an online presence, understanding the local market, and specializing in a proven modality are three ways to supercharge your fledgling private therapy practice. What else can you do?

Discover “13 Ways to Grow or Start Your Private Practice” in our new guide for mental health professionals. Click below for your free copy.