How to Start an MFT Private Practice

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Divorce statistics from 2008 from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that nearly half of all marriages end in divorce based on the fact that slightly more than seven out of every 1,000 people get married while three and one-half of 1,000 get divorced. Prior to seeking a divorce many couples try to work through their problems and prevent separating their finances, belongings and lives from each other. They often seek the advice and counsel of a marriage family therapist (MFT) who helps them communicate and tackle their problems as a couple. If you're a therapist or counselor specializing in this niche you can profit by learning how to start a MFT private practice.

  • Get your license. Attend graduate school to earn your master's degree in marriage family therapy as well as gain experience counseling couples and families in supervised sessions. Apply for a license from the counseling board in your state and pass the national certification exam given by the National Board for Certified Counselors.

  • Apply for loans. Unless you have the money in savings to start your own MFT practice, apply for loans with commercial lenders in your community. Know exactly how much you need to start and operate your practice before you are able to make a profit. Understand that if a poor credit score prevents you from obtaining a loan you may need to take on a partner in your practice or wait until you've raised your credit score high enough to qualify for funding before you're able to start your own MFT practice.

  • Find a facility. Search for an office or commercial space in your community that will serve the needs of your MFT practice. This includes a reception area as well as a private office where you can meet privately with couples and families. It's also beneficial to find a property that has a storage room or extra office as this provide a secure and confidential place to store your client records.

  • Register your business. Visit your city hall or county government building to obtain a business license to operate your MFT private practice at the physical location you've chosen. Check with your department of revenue to learn what sales tax laws and regulations apply to your business and the services you provide at both the state and local level. Comply with these laws and regulations while also registering your business on the federal level with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by filling out a form to obtain a federal tax identification number.

  • Set your specifics. Decide what hours of operation your MFT private practice is open for meetings and sessions with clients. Some therapists operate strictly during traditional business hours while others offer evening or weekend hours to accommodate the working and school demands of many couples and families. Determine what rate you need to charge clients seeking your services based on your time as well as your expenses operating your own private practice.

  • Hire staff. Find a receptionist or administrative assistant able to answer phones and schedule appointments when you are working with clients. Consider employing additional marriage family therapists in your practice if your client base grows large enough you are unable to meet with all of them.

  • Promote your practice. List your practice with counseling referral agencies in your local community and state. Advertise via radio, television, newspaper and the yellow pages. Create a website using content that is optimized for search engines to assist clients searching for an MFT in your area to find your practice. Promote your website and your practice using social marketing, and consider sponsoring marriage, communication, wellness and health events in your community as a way of increasing awareness of your services.

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