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  • Writer's pictureAntonia Higgins

Successful Private Practice: here's my 'why'!

Who am I to teach you?

“Who are you to teach other people about private practice?” my ‘Not Good Enough Gremlin’ kept asking me when I had the idea that I wanted to do just that. And for a while, I didn’t have an answer, so I put away my mind map and it lay dormant for about a year. But my enthusiasm for the idea kept

sticking it’s head above the parapet reminding me that I do have a useful perspective to offer.

Here’s my ‘why’!

I developed this workshop for counsellors because I wanted to change the narrative about how difficult it can be to go out there and set up your private practice. It was a product of being in many conversations and seeing many messages - offline and online - about the struggles of being a private counsellor: saturated markets, not enough clients, finding space to practice, the cost of everything, being expected to work for it just really isn’t worth it and you can’t make a living from it. I disagree.

I realised I disagree with a lot of the things I hear and read about going it alone. While I won’t deny the experiences of others, these haven’t been my experiences, so I feel strongly that it’s important to show the other side of this story. And so I decided to use my own experiences to develop my mind map into something more concrete. And this became Successful Private Practice, a workshop to help counsellors who are considering private practice, or who are in the early stages of that journey to develop your successful practice, your way.

So…what qualifies me to offer this?

I’m a counsellor who has grown her private practice from a very part-time venture of two clients when I opened in March 2016, to a full-time practice of around 15-18 clients per week, offering workshop facilitation and training, and also taking on the role of Secretary of PCT Scotland ~ the membership association for person-centred counsellors north of the border ~ and currently going through supervision training.

From the start of my counselling training I knew that I wanted to work for myself and so had been mentally forming various plans for a while before I graduated in November 2015. I gave myself a goal of being fully self-employed five years from graduating, and made it happen in three-and-a-half.

I guess I always had the mindset that being my own boss was where I would end up, and I was never in any real doubt that I could make it happen eventually. That has played a big part in helping me build my business. Developing a positive and confident mindset is something that we explore in Successful Private Practice.

“What do you mean by success anyway?”

I believe that what success means is different for everybody, and depends very much on personal experiences and where you are right now. It’s not absolute: self-actualising is about growing, changing and learning about ourselves, so I believe that our individual definitions of success can change over time.

For example, before I became a mother, success looked like an empty intray at the end of the week after being in the office early and leaving late every day. When my first child came along, success was being able to work a shorter week to allow me to juggle family life with earning a living, while managing my energy levels to make it all possible. Even though I was earning less than before, life was far more fulfilling and my priorities shifted dramatically.

And then, after my second child came along, success was the day I realised I had to walk away from a working environment that was toxic to me, though I’m only able to call that ‘success’ with hindsight, and it took a lot of work on myself to reach that point!

So, part of what we explore in Day 1 of Successful Private Practice is individual ideas and definitions of success, as knowing what this is for you can help you more realistically plan how to get there.

“What about the practical stuff I need to know?”

Day 2 of Successful Private Practice is about getting started: admin, money, registrations, premises...the things that can seem so overwhelming at the start. This is what I call the ‘boring but necessary stuff’. Knowing you have the legal and ethical foundations in place gives you a strong base that allows you to concentrate on what’s important ~ your work with people ~ with a clearer mind and a clear conscience.

Day 2 is also about getting yourself known and becoming visible to clients: we’ll think about branding, different ways of marketing your practice, how to start creating a following and making an

impact in an ethical way. It can feel really vulnerable to put yourself out there and become visible, particularly online, but my experience is that it becomes more comfortable over time and can increase the number of clients who find you.

Successful Private Practice - venue Sept 2019
Successful Private Practice: The Therapy Workshop, Falkirk

I’m also passionate about keeping the support going, so after the event participants can join the Successful Private Practice Academy Facebook group to keep in touch with me and other colleagues, share experiences, tips and advice

(and cat memes!) and benefit from a small community of positive, committed practitioners.

I hope that my experience and my passion for counselling and being my own boss can inspire you to realise that success in private practice is achievable.

Successful Private Practice is running for the second time on 28th~29th February 2020. For more information visit

Tickets available from Eventbrite:

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