HCPC Psychologists: Considering Private Practice but Need a Little Extra Push To Get You There?

Dr Sara Carr, Clinical Psychologist and Director of Find My Psychologist

Posted 13.07.2021

Have you recently qualified with a doctorate and thought about dipping your toe into private practice? Perhaps you’ve been qualified for some time and pondering the apparent mountain of documents that need to be completed before launching yourself into the private world.

“I just can’t get my head around what I need to do to set up in private practice”

Find My Psychologist is here to help. I qualified with a doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Southampton in 2017, and knew that quite quickly I wanted to practice privately (I also work part-time in the NHS). The freedom to accept which clients I took on, to “hone” my specialty, to invest in my own CPD, as well as accessing individuals who didn’t meet the criteria for NHS services were all (and still are) appealing.

Starting out was daunting and quite overwhelming, though – a response shared by many- and, in speaking with other psychologists, clinical training just didn’t prepare many of us for the private world of work. I recently stumbled across an excellent blog post written by the team at The Wellbeing Rooms (www.thewellbeingrooms.org.uk) who offer 8 top tips on “Preparing to see clients in private practice: what are the top essential first steps??” [8th March 2021] including:

  1. Have the right qualifications
  2. Become a member of a regulatory body
  3. Gather relevant experience
  4. Consider what skills you have
  5. Get professional indemnity insurance
  6. Get public liability insurance
  7. Register with the ICO
  8. Know about and comply with GDPR

The latter four are particularly important and imperative to set up prior to starting out in private practice, to protect clients and yourself. Click here to read The Wellbeing Room’s full blog.

Other Considerations

AREAS OF SPECIALISM

This is a big area to consider and you will likely draw on your specialisms within your developing experience and training. You might know exactly the area you’d focus on in private practice, and this can serve you well in building a practice, honing your messages and skills and developing brand identity.

But if all of this sounds a bit too intimidating right now, it’s also ok to start off general and over time you will likely get a feel for the type of work that interests you, the type of work that you are comfortable with, the type of work that excites you, and the type of work that you’d prefer to decline.

GET YOURSELF A WEBSITE

A top tip is to create yourself a website. This doesn’t have to be all singing and dancing – or cost the earth. There are so many website builders out there which make creating a website quick and easy. We love the accessibility of Wix, the possibilities of WordPress and the design aspects of Squarespace. Even if you have a steady stream of referrals, a website often leads to a more professional presence online.

“It’s liberating being able to choose referrals and signpost others that just don’t feel like a good fit”

FINDING REFERRAL SOURCES IS IMPORTANT

Find My Psychologist is a brand new directory website specifically for finding Health Care & Professions Council (HCPC) registered psychologists in private practice. We offer an exclusive service listing approach so that you can advertise a range of psychological services to the public – in a jargon-free way that will appeal to different target audiences – because we know that not all psychologists’ work is therapy. Importantly, we understand that you won’t want to spend a monthly fee to be listed on directory websites when you are starting out in private practice, and with the unique feature of being able to “switch off” referrals (and subsequent payment) when you’re at capacity, we offer the flexibility you need as a private practitioner. 

SEEK ADDITIONAL SUPPORT

It can be incredibly helpful to seek additional support when starting your private practice. A few highly recommended courses and memberships which we have come across are:

  1. The Psychology Business School (PBS) run by Dr Rosie Gilderthorp, Clinical Psychologist, aims to “teach you how to avoid overwhelm, attract clients, and finally achieve a work life balance”. The PBS programme runs over 12 weeks and includes important content on defining your specialism, pricing your services, understanding and preparing all of the legal stuff (including website and service terms of use, and therapy contracts) to name a few of the benefits, and the Do More Than Therapy membership provides amazing value with mini coaching calls and access to specialist masterclasses. Not sure where to start? Head to the Do More Than Therapy Facebook Group (which is completely free) to access some of Rosie’s helpful podcasts and other free content she has shared.
  2. Dr Colin Clerkin, Clinical Psychologist and Business Coach, runs Your Practice Coach that provides coaching services for talking professionals. Colin can “help you define more clearly what it is you want from your business and then work with you to support you in taking the steps that will help you achieve this. Together, we will develop an action plan that you can implement to move you towards achieving your goals.” He provides 1:2:1 coaching, as well as online training programmes including “Getting Your Practice Started”, “Marketing Your Practice” and a free “Practice Health Check Webinar”.
  3. Wendy Kendall, Occupational Psychologist, has developed Grow Your Psychology Practice, that supports you in creating an inspiring and meaningful psychology practice that fits with your life and values. She offers one to one coaching, marketing communications and a Psychology Practice Accelerator Programme. Wendy has also established a Masterclass Video Series so that you can understand whether you are growing a psychology practice or a psychology business…and why this matters!

Is Now the Right Time to Step Into Private Practice?

If you have been returning to the thought of private practice for some time, I’d say, go for it! Hopefully the above information has focused your attention on specific areas to consider prior to starting out in private practice and has reduced the natural overwhelm. The reality is that once you start sorting out liability insurance and registering with the ICO – both tasks that actually are much more straightforward and time-limited than I was anticipating-you’re almost ready to go.

NHS services were already stretched prior to COVID-19, and there’s a large number of people who just don’t meet the criteria for the “severe and enduring mental health difficulties” in order to access NHS services. Other people just don’t want the wait times. Of course, depending on practitioner psychologist type, there are limitless possibilities of how you develop your private practice and many psychologists offer several services and different strands of business including therapy, coaching, workshops, supervision, consultancy, expert reports…as well as setting up more passive income streams, such as online courses.

Final Reflections

Private practice opens up so much flexibility and creativity, whether you take on one or two cases a week or whether you fully embrace the private world. Many psychologists now run busy practices with associates nationwide.

We hope this article has taken out some of the overwhelm of working privately and opened up some of the exciting possibilities ahead.

Register now on Find My Psychologist to join our growing community of psychologists in private practice, including access to listed training and supervision opportunities posted by psychologists – for psychologists – in our members-only area.

 

About the Author

Dr Sara Carr is a clinical psychologist working in both the NHS and private practice in the South of England.

Passionate about people gaining access to safe and evidenced-based psychological services when they need it, Sara launched Find My Psychologist earlier this year.

Let’s connect! Linked In or email hello@findmypsychologist.com

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