Building Your Practice

Group vs. Solo: The Nuances of Private Practice

August 17, 2021

Article written by
Heard Editorial Team

The decision to establish and run your own practice is one of the toughest that a therapist or clinical psychologist could ever make. As a business owner, opening and managing your own practice adds on a lot of additional responsibilities for a clinician. This is why many mental health professionals take a long time to deliberate whether they want to join private practice at all, and if so, whether they want to launch their own solo practice or join an ongoing, already established group practice. The next question that typically puts those mental health professionals to deep thinking and thoughtful consideration is whether they should join an ongoing group practice or launch their own solo private practice.

Both solo and group practices offer advantages and disadvantages, and as all clinicians know, no route lacks its challenges. Depending on your unique and personal situation as a therapist, you can research the benefits and challenges of group and solo practice in order to pick the right kind of practice that is in alignment with your personal preferences and business objectives.

Solo Practice 

Running a solo private practice involves one therapist (ie. you!) providing professional mental health services to patients looking for treatment. 

Benefits

Autonomy: In a solo practice, licensed therapists who establish and run solo practices are granted complete autonomy to make all the decisions and determine all the aspects of the business. This ranges from how many therapy sessions they want to conduct per day to the allocation of all costs and expenses.

Better Pay Opportunities: When you are the owner, as well as the only shareholder, of the practice, 100% of the remaining profit after the deduction of all the expenses is then distributed to you. You are also able to set your own rates to see clients. As a result, this can lead to significantly more income than those belonging to a group practice. 

Minimal Conflict: Many mental health professionals prefer this way of practicing their mental health care services because they perform the most efficiently in an independent environment and avoid the potential conflicts that could arise in a shared group practice with other co-workers. 

Challenges

Full Responsibility: When running and managing your own private practice, you also become responsible for every task on the business side of things. In addition to your traditional caseload, you then have more responsibility, such as management, staffing, bookkeeping and accounting work, managing your expenses.

Financial Need: Being the business owner of your own practice requires you to have sufficient funding to keep your business running and growing. If the business is financially struggling for whatever reason, you are greatly impacted. This is especially true if your business is registered and operated as a sole proprietorship.

Burnout: With no colleagues to share your workload with, some clinicians find this model to be overwhelming. It is necessary to become good at juggling your clinical work with your business matters when running your own private practice.


Group Practice 

A group practice consists of multiple therapists and counselors who provide mental health care to patients looking for treatment within the same facility. 

Benefits

No Need to Be Business Savvy: When joining an established group practice, you are not the sole person responsible for managing and running the business all on your own. Most times, everything is already in place, and your focus is now really to utilize your expertise and clinical experience to provide care for the patients.

Colleague Support: If you join a new group practice and take on any additional responsibilities, you have a group of clinicians to work alongside you with the potential to share that workload.  There are plenty of opportunities to learn from your colleagues and room to share tips or advice on how to provide better care, improving the competency level among clinicians and quality of services for the patients.

No Overhead: Since there are no nuisances on the business side if you join this business model, there will be no worries regarding all the overhead expenses needed to run the business. 

Challenges

Lower Pay: When in a group practice, you are employed by the group practice owner, meaning that they will likely deduct some portion of your salary to pay fees associated with marketing you or getting referrals of clients for you on your behalf. In addition, you often will need to contribute your share to the group practice to keep it running via the overhead expenses. 

Less Autonomy: Compared to a solo private practice, you do not have as much autonomy to make all of the decisions within the practice. Someone else will typically be in charge of setting up your schedule and managing how many sessions you're allowed each day.

Workplace Conflict: Working in an environment where you interact and socialize with your colleagues on a daily basis offers more opportunity for conflict or butting heads with others in how the business should be run. Depending on how prominent some of these aspects are to you, this can potentially lead to underlying conflicts and disagreements. 

Which Practice is Right For You?

Finding which of the two is the right fit for you requires a lot of thought on what is important to you as a therapist. There are several factors that clinicians can consider, such as what kind of personality you have, what your financial situation looks like, where you want to live, what your practice style is, and many more. Answering these questions will be a great starting point in determining whether you now have the ability and all the resources available to start your own practice, or if you want to take your time and join a group practice to gain more experience before opening one of your own. You may decide not to open your own practice at all.

No matter which direction you head, taking steps to improve your business and your finances is an exciting foray into a new direction, and it will push you to grow in a variety of ways. Now it’s your time to explore and make the best decision for yourself!

This post is to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, business, or tax advice. Each person should consult his or her own attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in this post.

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