Launching a start-up: Private practice in the making

It is often the case that social workers transition into private practice in later stages of the profession. In the early years of practice, most social workers grapple with the role. The struggle to balance the clinical intensity created by stories people share with the ever-present pressure to account for and build a repertoire of effective clinical interventions founded on models of care and compassion is ongoing. Social work has grappled with its own professional identity over several years and has certainly matured more recently. Nestled within a range of service providers including psychology, psychotherapy, child and youth work, and psychiatry, social work borrows tenets of service that are strength-based. It is often the role of the social worker to mine personal and family stories for health, strength, ability, and potential. The carefully crafted social work skill to interview for strengths emerges only after several years of practice. It is not an easy task to help people locate strengths at first. Problems, troubles, issues, dilemmas, and unexpected events cloud judgment, create conflict, and disrupt otherwise healthy personal, family, or social environments. It is only after years of practice and with the expert support of clinical supervisors, that professional social workers gain the much-needed confidence and skills that truly work to settle stormy waters. Clients demonstrate their own healing in real ways and, when able, freely articulate areas of personal growth, change, and development in the confidential and safe space created with their social work clinician. People require options to access highly qualified expert caregivers that best meet their own personal needs. Social workers offering private practice options are responding to a growing need for easily accessible expert models of healthcare built on years of field practice, excellent supervision, continuous professional development, and compassion. Launching a start-up is anxiety provoking. Finding the right location, managing expenses, and learning to maximize social media in healthy and proactive ways are all very exciting and time-consuming aspects that happen well before meeting your first client. Building a network with clinical social workers in private practice is important as the move to a fee for service model is a professional milestone likely to trigger emotional reactions. A private practice in the making is a common late stage experience for many social workers as they transition to retirement. It is an excellent way to provide high quality specialized care to a small number of individuals, families, or groups requesting support in your area of expertise. My new start-up will be updated on TheModernSocialWorker for use by other clinical practitioners interested in starting a private practice of their own.