For psychologists who are considering starting their own private practice, it may feel like you’re going it alone. From developing your business plan to fitting out the premises, it can feel like a solitary experience. But here’s the thing: it doesn’t have to be.
Tapping into the professional networks you have built up over the years as a practicing psychologist is something you should leverage and use to your advantage. As you shift to private practice, your networks and affiliations with professional associations become more important than ever.
When Robyn Stead, Educational Psychologist and Founder of Educational Psychology Services, started her New Zealand-based private practice, she knew that she couldn’t go it alone. As Robyn reflects on launching her business, she made a focused effort to connect with her networks, nurture her relationships and dial up her involvement in professional associations.
“I had always been a member of the New Zealand Psychological Society, but I've become much more proactive in linking in with that since launching my private practice. Overall, this is something I work hard at to maintain my professional connections and associations.”
Robyn also recently stepped into the role of chairperson of the Institute of Educational and Developmental Psychology (IEDP). She says that she acknowledged early on that influencing wider systems, and the nature of networking daily in the office, was something she simply wasn’t going to get in her private practice, so it had to be sourced from different settings. “The IEDP is a great opportunity to maintain those areas of professional activity.”
Having practiced in the public service arena for quite some time, Robyn consolidated her network of like-minded professionals, however, now firmly set up and flourishing in her private practice, she noted that it’s the private practitioner’s responsibility to actively engage with their wider network to keep the dialogue open and the relationships nurtured. Robyn says that as soon as she left her public service role and started her private practice, she lost some key daily interactions.
“It’s critical to have professional associations, especially in private practice. When I was working for schools and in education, my community was right there for me. There were educational psychologists in my office...that I easily could connect with, there were accessible professional development areas, and so on.”
Further to tapping into the psychology-specific networks, Robyn notes that in order to set her private practice up the right way, she opted to speak to additional business professionals, which encompassed accountants, marketers, and website experts to name a few, who helped with the areas that weren't in her wheelhouse.
Robyn says this was “an invaluable exercise” that helped her take the leap into her own private practice with confidence. She says that it’s amazing that by just telling people what you’re setting out to achieve, how many of them will come back to you with indispensable advice.
Once you’re set up, another creative way to scale your private practice is to hold lunch and learn initiatives or workshop sessions. These activities help to build your thought leadership position and establish you as an authority in your field. While working to build your private practice’s brand and your position as an expert, these activities will also open further opportunities to organically grow your professional networks.
Ultimately, launching your own private practice is an exciting time in your career, and it shouldn’t be marred by the fear of going it alone. Robyn’s message to aspiring private practitioners is to be brave, leverage your networks and be clear on the ethos of your practice. With that, you’ll set yourself up with a sustainable business that has a lasting impact.