Since I can remember, I’ve always had determination. I would describe myself as thoughtful, organized and goal driven—so when I decided to go into the field of counseling, it made a lot of sense. I had big plans. When I graduated in 2014, the harsh reality of being fresh out of graduate school while also not having much experience settled in. I realized that perhaps my dreams of opening a private practice right away, needed to be put on pause for now.
Initially, I started working in a community setting that was based around crisis management—and I loved it. There wasn’t a day that was the same as the previous one, and I didn’t mind the long hours that sometimes felt like days blended together. However, all of that quickly changed.
In 2019, I welcomed my daughter. She was a tiny baby, but her impact would be more than I ever anticipated. When my maternity leave was over, I was reluctant to return to work. It wasn’t that I didn’t like my job anymore, because I did—it’s that I wasn’t the same person that I was before I became a mom.
Planting the Seed
Over the next year, I would find myself creating plans to do something different, something less demanding, something that felt more in my control. Opening a private practice was still on my mind, but I was hesitant and talked myself out of it plenty of times. But at the same time, every day I went to work, I felt crushed by guilt and sadness. When I would get home, I’d be told by other people about all the things my daughter had accomplished that day. Her new ability to pull herself up on furniture. Her first word. Her new favorite animal at the zoo. I couldn’t imagine continuing to miss out on these moments—so I knew I needed to make a change.
I was sad, tired, burnt out, and ready to make my own schedule. One day during supervision with my boss, I was checked out and daydreaming about what my life could look like if I ventured into private practice. I realized that the life private practice could give me was exactly what I wanted. I gave my notice without a second thought. Initially, I felt a lot of relief—and then instant panic. I had never opened a business before. I’d never been my own boss, and I didn’t have a lot of money saved up.
Imposter syndrome set in almost immediately. Was I even qualified to be doing this? How was I going to keep up financially? What if I failed completely? However, that night after my daughter was asleep, I started to think about being able to spend more time with her than just the weekends, and in that moment, I knew that I had made the right decision.
Finding My Roots
When I opened my private practice, I didn’t have much of a starting point or a plan, but I knew what kind of foundation I wanted to build on. I was also limited financially, so I knew there was a lot of groundwork I was going to have to do on my own. I found an office space that was affordable, and had amenities included in the rent. That office is small and doesn’t have much natural light, but there’s something about being able to call it my own that makes it feel like a suite.
I looked for other ways I could build my practice to save me money that I could then use elsewhere. With a lot of patience, I started by creating my own website. I then utilized other resources that offered free forms to create my intake paperwork. Once I secured and registered my business name with the state, I started to think about my ideal clients, and how to find them.
I knew that having a niche was important, and I also wanted it to be aligned with where I was in my personal life. Because of this, I decided to specialize in postpartum support. In my own experience with postpartum anxiety, I knew that there was a gap in services for new moms, and I felt that determination to offer support for other people in the same position.
With the foundation of my private practice in place, it was time for me to open. I quickly realized that I no longer had the luxury of a company sending me referrals, and the networking piece was yet another hurdle that I was going to have to figure out. I decided to partner with a company that referred clients to me for a portion of my fee. For where I was in my practice at the time, partnering with them was the right decision—it allowed me to simultaneously build up my client base while also earning income right from the start of my practice.
As I’ve continued to grow my business, I’ve started to build up my own clientele through networking with local doctor’s offices and other therapists, being active on different websites, and offering support groups. It’s been fulfilling to watch my business grow, but for me, the best part of opening a private practice is it allowed me to feel like a mom again. I no longer have to work early mornings or late nights unless I choose to, leaving me more time to do other things that I love.
Being a mom is the hardest and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done—but opening a private practice is a close second. I don’t have any regrets about my decision to alter my career path, as it’s allowed me to be with my daughter much more than I ever was before. My private practice has a long way to go before it reaches the level I hope it will. But I always remind myself of something that I frequently tell my clients: You don’t eat the fruit the day you plant the seed.