Mental health social workers see individuals, couples and families who turn to social work counseling for help. They do not necessarily need to see a psychiatrist for their mental health counseling needs. Referrals to a social work private practice may come from school counselors, family doctors or others in the social work profession. Many patients also are self-referred.
Social work counselors are always in great demand. You may provide counseling services to a general population, or you may decide to specialize, offering a narrower focus in your mental health counseling practice. For instance, you may choose to use your social work counseling degree to work with children, substance abusers or couples.
To begin a private practice in counseling and social work, you need to:
1. Develop a business plan to determine start-up and ongoing expenses.
2. Ensure that you have the proper licenses and malpractice insurance coverage to run a social work counseling practice.
3. Set up office space to conduct business as a social worker counselor.
Create your social work counseling business planBefore you start a social work counseling private practice, you need to prepare a business plan to ensure that your practice succeeds.
Secure the proper mental health counseling licenses and insuranceYou will need to check with your local and state offices to find out what kinds of licenses and insurance is required in your area to open a social work counseling office. In most states, you should be a licensed clinical social worker (LSCW). This will allow you to bill most health insurance companies. Even if the state in which you are opening your private practice does not require you to carry malpractice insurance, it is critical that you do so to protect your practice and assets from lawsuits.
Outsource some of your social work counseling practice operationsMany professionals in the helping fields believe they can do it all. But while you may be a terrific mental health counselor, you may not fare as well at keeping the books straight. You should consider sticking to providing the counseling in your social work counseling practice and outsource other business services to leave you more time to concentrate on your core business of mental health counseling.
- Experience working at community mental health counseling centers and in other social work counseling jobs is good preparation for providing counseling in social work services to a diverse client population in your private practice.