5 Mistakes To Avoid When Starting A Group Practice

Building your own group therapy practice can be a fulfilling journey.

I’ve seen many therapists walk the path towards building successful, impactful clinics. However, there’s a lot to learn and some pitfalls to avoid. Having journeyed with many others, here are the top five mistakes that I’ve seen therapists make when starting their group practice. Don’t worry, we all stumble sometimes – that’s how we learn, right?

1. Trying to Do Everything Yourself

There’s something to be said about wearing many hats in the early days of your business. It can keep you fully aware of where your resources are going, and what is and isn’t working.

However, the mistake can lie in continuing to juggle all those roles without delegation, especially administrative tasks. Your time is precious and is best used in your areas of expertise, like strategizing for growth and providing therapy, rather than getting drowned in paperwork and scheduling appointments.

Hiring an administrative assistant at the start can do wonders for productivity. It’s an investment that pays off by allowing you to focus on what you do best – being a therapist.

Delegation Prevents Burnout

 When you’re juggling everything, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. That’s when burnout can sneak in, and trust me, it’s not pretty. Investing in support staff like an administrative assistant not only increases productivity, but also promotes work-life balance and ultimately, your wellbeing. It’s about creating a sustainable way of working that safeguards your energy and passion.

2. Not Clearly Defining Your Mission and Values

Defining the purpose and core values of your practice is not just a feel-good exercise. It provides direction and ensures alignment in your team. When every decision, big or small, aligns with your mission and values, your practice can weather any storm and thrive. Yet, I’ve seen many practitioners skip this important foundational step, leading to inconsistency and a lack of clear identity for the practice.

Make Sure Your Mission Has A Strong Focus Towards The Future

Remember, your mission and values shouldn’t just be about your practice; they should reflect your personal aspirations too.

Don’t forget to align your personal goals with those of your business. Being clear about what you want for your future can give you direction and help you make strategic decisions. It’s not just about the ‘now’, but where you want to be in five or ten years.

3. Overlooking The Importance Of a Strong Team Culture

Culture isn’t something that just happens – it’s something you build. I’ve observed that many practices underestimate the power of a positive, inclusive team culture. This goes beyond team building activities or perks. It involves open communication, mutual respect, and shared goals. A strong team culture fosters unity, productivity, and resilience, which ultimately contribute to the longevity and success of your practice.


Trust Your Gut – AND Check References By Phone.

When building your team, it’s crucial to trust your gut. You’ll come across many potential associates, all with varying degrees of experience and expertise. However, not all of them will be the right fit for your team. Listen to your intuition when interviewing potential hires. Sometimes, your instinct can pick up on nuances that aren’t visible on paper.

It’s also vital to still check their references, even if you think someone is a shoe-in for an associate position at your new clinic. Take the time and have an actual phone call with their references – sometimes people will tell you things over the phone that they may not want to put in writing in an email. 

4. Not Using a Business Consultant

As therapists, you’re often more focused on the clinical aspect of our work, which is great – but running a practice is also running a business. I’ve started with clinics where the business side of things have been quite neglected, which can lead to blind spots in critical areas like finance, marketing, and legal matters. Pursuing some form of business consulting or training can be hugely helpful, even just one or two sessions. Educating yourself is also helpful whether it’s a course, or self-study, is crucial to sustain and grow your practice.

Make Sure You Work With Someone Who Specifically Understands Counselling Clinics

There are a TON of different types of business coaches and consultants out there. Unlike mental health professionals, there is no consistent standard or governing body to regulate this industry. SO, make sure you are working with someone who isn’t just a general business consultant or coach, they need to know the specifics of your industry. Concerns around confidentiality, even regulations on advertising as therapists can be vitally important

5. Having Unrealistic Income Expectation

You want to start a clinic for a few different reasons, but chances are one of them is to increase your income. That can definitely happen, but in the first year, it’s crucial to keep your expectations realistic – you may actually lose month for the first 12 months if you are investing in things like advertising, administrative support, and office expenses.

Think of your new clinic as a garden that you’ve just planted. The first year is about nurturing those seeds – you’re watering, fertilizing, and providing sunshine, but the full harvest is yet to come. Similarly, your practice requires investments of time, energy, and resources before it truly begins to flourish. You might not see a hefty return on investment initially, but don’t let that deter you.


This is about laying a robust foundation and fostering healthy growth. In the long run, your early investments will pay off as your practice grows and prospers. Keep the faith and keep moving forward. You’re building something remarkable, and I can’t wait to see it bloom!

Making a Few Mistakes Is Normal, and Unavoidable

Mistakes are part of the journey. Believe me, I’ve made a few! However, the fear of making mistakes can often paralyze growth. Know that it’s good to take calculated risks, to experiment, and yes, sometimes, to fail. It’s from these mistakes that we learn the most.

The key takeaway that I’m hoping you’ll get from what I’ve shared here is this – invest in your team, establish your mission and values, nurture a strong culture, get support for yourself on the business side, and manage your expectations on your RIO – especially in the first year. These practices will put you on a solid path to success.

Best of luck with your journey in creating a group practice that will make a lasting impact. Remember, we are always learning, always growing. You’ve got this!

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