In this week’s spotlight, Hillary Schoninger, LCSW shares how SimplePractice helped her get organized in building her private practice. Outside of what she learned in grad school, most of Hillary’s business sense has been self-taught- read on to gain some insight!
Tell us about your journey!
I have been a therapist since graduating with my MSW from Loyola University in 2010. Upon graduation, I worked in a statewide crisis prevention program for underserved communities in Chicago. During my time as a crisis worker for the city, I started building my private practice. It was definitely a challenge to get clients to begin, and still remains a big part of my business.
How have you been able to overcome that?
Well, initially all of my therapist friends were telling me about word of mouth, and how word of mouth is truly powerful in starting a private practice from scratch. To be completely honest, it was a huge pain to rely on word of mouth as a growth tactic, especially when you’re just starting out.
At this point in my career, I know for a fact that the more you put yourself out there, the more you’re going to be known and recognized as a professional. It’s been very important for me to talk to a variety of people about my services, even the baristas at my favorite Starbucks!
How would you say you’ve been able to get yourself to reach out to other people and build up this sense of community around you?
I’ve made a huge effort to be a part of the Chicago therapy community, and through that, I’ve met a lot of colleagues that have been a huge help to me. I also just started a blog! I only have one post so far but I’m working on writing more which has been a really good motivator. I also have a Facebook page for my business that’s been doing really well- it helps a lot with networking and meeting new people.
What’s your favorite part of being an LCSW?
It’s truly beautiful seeing people flourish by coming to terms with things they couldn’t initially accept.
I’m very client centered so when I meet with a client, I’m very in tune with what they’re looking for and what they’re trying to get relief on. I think when I’m able to get under that, that’s when I’m able to start giving them the tools, encouragement, and affirmation that they need.
Top 3 tips for getting sh*t done:
- Schedule blocks of time to do notes every week!
- Get out of the office and into a different environment when you have notes to do.
- Find good people to help you in areas you might not feel confident in. There is always room to ask for help.
What would you say are the top resources that have helped you become the therapist you are today?
SimplePractice has really empowered me to do things on my own! Before that, I was sending things to billers, and basically outsourcing some of the things SimplePractice handles for me now. Now I can do everything on my own!
This isn’t necessarily a resource, but I’d also say that I’m working towards being better about all of the administrative “stuff” that comes along with running a private practice. I make sure to block off time on specific days to get these things done so that I’m not struggling by the end of my week.
In grad school, I wasn’t taught about the business of running a private practice, so all of my processes are self-taught. When I first started my practice, I had no idea about marketing, how to bill insurance, how to get on insurance panels… nothing. So it’s all been trial and error for the last four years. It’s a real thing that majority of therapists experience this gap in knowledge.
So you’ve learned by doing. That has its advantages, I’m sure!
Yes, completely. SimplePractice has made my journey so easy and organized. It’s nice knowing that I don’t have to carry around files! I’m honestly not trying to shower you guys in compliments or anything but SimplePractice has changed the game for me.
I now feel empowered to take over my own billing and client management. Prior to investing in SimplePractice, I felt very apprehensive and unsure about how I’d go about managing everything.
Do you have any words of wisdom for people aiming for success in private practice?
Put yourself out there and network with anybody and everybody. Word of mouth is incredibly valuable!
To close, what’s your vision for your practice?
Great question. I envision that my practice will continue to grow and that I will get the opportunity to work with more clients who are willing and able to live healthier and happier lives. In the future, I would absolutely love to transition my practice into a group practice so that I can implement my love of therapy while helping and working with other talented therapists! I also would love to somehow incorporate my yoga training into my practice in the future. One thing at a time…