The 10 top ways to send your practice down the drain…

I’ve seen a lot of people go into private practice and thrive.

I’ve seen a lot of people go into private practice and run it into the ground.

Here’s the short-list of ways to flush your practice in a hurry…

  1. Don’t choose a niche
    • Even if you have a “general” practice, you’ve got to find ways to make you unique and memorable
  2. Don’t send thank you letters to your referral sources
    • Everybody likes to be appreciated and acknowledged — including your referral sources
  3. Tell current/prospective clients or your referral sources  that you are not taking new clients right now
    • Whenever possible accommodate your clients.  Once word gets out you are not taking new clients you may not be able to shake that status
  4. Run more than 20 minutes late/change or cancel appointments with regularity
    • Aside from the therapeutic issues associated with these behaviors, it is just disrespectful to treat clients like they don’t matter
  5. Don’t ask for referrals
    • You can’t be shy if you are going to make it in this business.  If you need more referrals you’d better ask for them
  6. Don’t communicate with your clients
    • Clients want to know that you are vital, active, and interested in providing them with services even when they are not in the room with you.  Newsletters, flyers for new groups and services, and providing a helpful website are ways to let your clients know you care
  7. Don’t keep up with trends
    • If you are going to be a hold out — website, email, Skype, cyber services, niche products and services — just know that someone else will be there to meet your clients where they are at
  8. Don’t ask your referral sources how you can best serve them
    • Help out your referral sources whenever possible — they will learn to count on you and they will feel obligated to reciprocate
  9. Fall asleep in session
    • Don’t laugh.  At least twice a year I see a new client who fired the last therapist for falling asleep in session!
  10. Treat other therapists like the enemy
    • Collaborating with colleagues is a great way to build a referral system that will last a lifetime

Leave A Comment!



  1. Daphne /Reply

    Dr. Legge, thanks for the insightful information! It is very helpful coming from a veteran in the professional counseling arena. God bless you for sharing your experiences!

    1. Deborah Legge PhD CRC LMHC /Reply

      You’re welcome Daphne. It warms my heart to know that you find the info helpful.

  2. LaTonya Washington /Reply

    Hello, Dr. Legge:

    I have a Master of Social Work (MSW) and am licensed at the graduate level which unlike counseling does not allow me to start a private practice under the supervision of an independently licensed clinical social worker. It has been 2 yrs since I completed my MSW and I feel like my investment is going down the drain. Moreover, I am fed up with struggling financially and feel like I have nothing to lose by taking a chance on starting my own practice. I would like to begin a geriatric care management practice which does not require a license. As a graduate student I completed a specialized geriatric social internship as a Hartford Partnership Practicum in Aging Fellowship which required dual rotations in oncology and clinical community case management/geriatric care management. I also have some experience in health care case management in the medical setting that I feel would lend itself well to practice as a geriatric care manager. Do you provide coaching and consultations to individuals who are not mental health counselors? If so, I’d really be interested the services you have to offer! Thanks in advance!-LaTonya

    1. Deborah Legge PhD CRC LMHC /Reply

      LaTonya, your idea sounds exiting. I do provide coaching for private practitioners from many disciplines; I’d be thrilled to help you. I will send you a Coaching Application and an email describing the coaching process. I look forward to learning more about you and your future business!

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