Counselors and therapists play an important role in helping people deal with and overcome problems in their lives. While some focus on specific segments of the populations such as families or married couples, others counsel individuals with certain conditions such as schizophrenia. In addition to helping people, one of the major benefits that exists for most counselors is the opportunity to start their own counseling business.
Things You Will NeedOffice or Facility
Counseling Degree and License
Step 1Get your counseling license. Every state except for California requires counselors to be licensed. This generally requires submitting an application for license and a license feeing, showing proof of completion of a master's or doctorate degree in counseling and passing scores on the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification given by the National Board for Certified Counselors. You can find the specific licensing requirements for the state where your business will be located by visiting the website of the American Counseling Association.
Step 2Determine your specialty. Many counselors have a specialty whether they treat a specific problem or population. You may have already chosen your specialty while obtaining your degree since many degree programs are problem or population specific such as marriage and family therapy or substance abuse counseling.
Step 3Find a facility to house your counseling business. The facility for your counseling office should contain a small, private room for you to meet with clients as well as a reception area and an additional office to hold files and records. If you plan to do group counseling or counsel families, you'll need a larger space that can accommodate more people. You can find facilities in your city by contacting commercial realtors or developers and learning what properties are available to lease or purchase.
Step 4Purchase equipment for your business. Counseling businesses are like many other businesses as they need the basic office furniture and supplies to run efficiently. This includes chairs, desks, file drawers, computers and phones which are available through office supply stores. In addition consider what other items you need for your counseling business such as an appointment book or scheduling program.
Step 5Hire staff to help run your counseling business. While you may be the only licensed counselor providing services through your business, you can benefit by hiring additional staff to help you. For example, a receptionist can answer phones and take appointments while you are busy meeting with a client.
Step 6Set your counseling rates and policies. Before you begin accepting clients, you need to determine what rates you are going to charge for services. Many counselors charge per session with sessions generally lasting 30 minutes to an hour. You also need to create policies and procedures for your business that can assist you in terminating your services with a client or referring the client to a different counselor if you feel you are no longer able to serve them.
Step 7Advertise your counseling services. There are a number of different ways to advertise your counseling business from putting an ad in the yellow pages to developing your own website. While each of these can be beneficial, to get clients it is best to network with professionals in your community. Lawyers, doctors, school leaders and nonprofit organization administrators are just a few of the people that refer people to counselors to get help for their problems. Getting to know these individuals can help grow your business simply through referrals.