Home – Start Your Private Practice Journey Here

cover of guide

(please pardon the mess – new site under construction – if you’d like to purchase the guide Contact Bonnie)

Would you like to know the exact steps to seeing your first private practice client, without spending a fortune and without hunting the internet endlessly for information?

Do you need help navigating unfamiliar territory?

I’ve written a guide to help you get started.

Here’s the Deal – My offer to you.

If you are a licensed clinician (LMFT, LCSW), with at least two years of post-licensure experience, considering private practice, and need help navigating your journey, this guide is for you.  LPCCs may use the guide as well because the steps are generally the same, however, information specific to LPCCs is not included.

If you are not interested in coaching, here’s what I offer to help get you started quickly without breaking the bank: 

  • The Guide: 14 Concrete (but not so hard!) Steps to Private Practice Regular Price $29.99 On Sale $19.99 If you purchased the guide before August 30th, 2022, you are entitled to a free 30-minute consultation.
  • Navigator News blog & occasional Newsletter – FREE! Sign up here Navigator News Blog. I promise not to spam your inbox. On the relatively rare occasion that I write a blog post, it is purely information related to private practice.

The Guide: 14 Concrete (but not so hard!) Steps to Private Practice is an electronic .PDF that you can print or use in digital form (it has tons of URL links) to help you get your practice started quickly and efficiently. Contact Bonnie for information on how to purchase.

I highly recommend you have an idea of the steps (the big picture) (see Table of Contents) before you make any major decisions, such as choosing an office or a billing service.

Why did I write this guide? Why do I continue to update it periodically?

Because in 2013/14 when I was researching how to start a practice, I found books that were too big which explained pieces of the puzzle over sprawling pages that didn’t answer basic questions like What should I do first? What do I do next?

Sure, the legalities, philosophies, and ethics are all SUPER important. But, you also need to know the basic, concrete, actual steps to take and what some of the choices are at each step along the way.

For example: How do you choose an email address and what should you be thinking about? 

Answer: You should be thinking about HIPAA compliance, boundaries, and your license. Here’s a blog post about it: Choosing a HIPAA-Compliant Email for Your Psychotherapy Practice. For the longest time, I had no idea that using a regular email service could bring legal misery to my doorstep.

When I started my practice, nowhere could I find the actual steps to take or what the choices might be at each step.  I relied on a friend who was an MFT with a private practice serving young children (no Medicare experience) and my own therapist for guidance and support.

At that time in my life, private practice was the next goal on my career itinerary (and the last goal that I imagined), but I didn’t know how to proceed. I thought (and talked!) about it for over a year before I took the first step.

I had no “big picture” regarding all the steps and details involved. It was kinda nerve-wracking not having an actual plan to follow. I was pretty much flying by the seat of my pants (and greatly guided by that friend who told me a great deal and my therapist who encouraged me to persevere), but looking back I can truly say that a concrete plan would have reduced my stress tremendously. I kept asking those colleagues, What do I do next?

The first step (naming my business) was the beginning of an amazing journey!  It’s been professionally, personally, and financially satisfying to be in private practice and be my own boss.

More Details About How I Did It.

A therapist friend, who had experience with a thriving and dynamic private practice, generously shared her knowledge with me for months.  When I was ready, she helped me look for an office and gave me tons of information to help me make my decisions. She patiently answered my most basic questions like, “What do I do first?” and “How much do I charge?” She was my consultant, if only informally. 

I didn’t even know what an NPI was until she told me. That was one of those details I didn’t even know to ask about until she told me. Prior to private practice, I’d spent my social work years in a hospital and other settings. Grad school did nothing to prepare me for private practice.

If you don’t know what an NPI is either, it’s okay. There’s a link at the bottom of this page for more information. The point is, my friend was one of those people who come into your life for reasons you’d never anticipate and stick around for a lifetime. To this day, we still consult with each other about private practice. And, to be completely transparent here, occasionally it’s simply commiserating about the complexities.

Learning about private practice is sorta like learning a new language, except it’s easier. You already know how to serve and help people – in many ways that was a new language you learned. It’s what your career is all about: helping others whether it’s individually, a small group, or on a macro level. Now, you need to learn how to incorporate what you’ve learned along the way into your unique private practice.

Are you ready to give it a try or do you just want to get a feel for what it’s all about?

When I started out…

…there was so much to learn, but I couldn’t find a map that would tell me where I needed to go first to get my practice started. I found snippets of information that weren’t enough and big books with more information than I wanted to read. I needed to be able to ask a question and all of the follow-up questions when they came to me.

As cool as it was (and still is!) to have a friend I could text, email, or call just about anytime, I needed so much information that it didn’t feel right to depend solely on her.

I started asking my own therapist questions. The biggest one was, “Can I really do this?”

Turns out my friend and my therapist were right. I could and I did! 

My friend and my therapist made my journey into private practice possible. They showed me the way, encouraged me, and cautioned me when needed. They still do and I am forever grateful.

Because there are just too many details to hold in my jammed-packed head for each step (and because you don’t want to call me every day to ask What next? I wrote the guide. The Guide is now named: The 14 Concrete (but not so hard!) Steps to Private Practice

Because “Mentor, Coach, Consultant” is just awkward, I decided to call myself your “Private Practice Navigator.” As a child, I dreamt of being an aviator.  Life happened (you know how that goes) and social work became my career.

Helping others navigate their private practice startup is the best alternative to real flight navigation I can think of!

Thus, the Guide


PrivatePracticeNavigator.Coach was born.

Bonnie’s Philosophy about Your Business

You are the pilot of your career. You know where you want to go. You just need someone to show you the map. 

Depending on your regional area, the options you choose to start with when setting up your practice (assuming you sublet a few hours/week to start), and without coaching costs factored in (there are lots of private practice coaches out there), you can likely be ready to see clients after spending around or less than $1,000.

With the dedication of just a few hours a week and a bit of luck or blessings, you can be ready to see your first private practice client in a few months.

Let’s get you on your way!

About Your NPI

Don’t forget to subscribe for updated information on the Guide, blog posts, and the occasional Navigator News Newsletter!

Email Bonnie Your Questions