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How to Start a Counselling Service

Starting a private practice providing counselling services to clients can be exhilarating. It gives you a chance to help people on your own terms, to research and try new therapeutic techniques, and to structure your business in a way that works with your lifestyle. It can also be terrifying. After all, you might know how to support clients, but likely have little or no experience running or marketing a business. Find out what skills you need, the different paths you can take, important considerations and how to legally establish your business.

What Is Counselling?

Counselling falls under the umbrella term ‘talking therapies’ and allows people to discuss their problems and any difficult feelings they encounter in a safe, confidential environment. The term can mean different things to different people, but in general, it is a process people seek when they want to change something in their lives, or simply explore their thoughts and feelings in more depth.

Professional counsellors help their clients to identify goals and potential solutions to problems which cause emotional turmoil. They also seek to improve communication and coping skills, strengthen self-esteem and promote behaviour change and optimal mental health with their clients. The demand for counsellors rose by 11.4% in 2018-19 in the UK and is expected to grow in the coming years, as peoples’ awareness and education of mental health continue to increase.

What Qualifications Do You Need to Be a Counsellor?

There are strict educational requirements needed to be a counsellor. Before starting your counselling service, you will need to ensure you have the following certifications; a diploma, bachelor's degree, master's degree or doctorate in counselling or psychotherapy and supervised work experience of at least 100 hours. You will require a clean DBS record , as you may be working with children and vulnerable adults. You will also need a strong set of interpersonal skills, including empathy, communication, patience, problem-solving and attention to detail.

Different Types of Counselling Services

Your first task in setting up is to decide what sort of service you wish to create and how you will provide it. Counselling and therapy services come in all shapes and sizes. Many of the most successful practitioners have found that specialising in a particular field is the key to attracting clients. If your training has been in a specific area, such as bereavement counselling or cognitive behaviour therapy, you may already have some idea of what counselling you will specialise in. Here are a few suggestions to consider how you can provide your service to your clients:

  1. Individual Counselling — This is where a client receives the counsellor’s full attention and can work with the counsellor on a one-on-one basis. This results in a very focused and intense therapeutic experience.
  2. Group Counselling — Group therapy consists of one or more counsellors treating at least two individuals in the same session. This kind of counselling service is adopted when a shared sense of goals amongst attendees will foster improvement, such as when counselling for addiction recovery.
  3. Online Counselling — The internet has opened up new avenues for mental health treatment. You might decide to offer your counselling services online, which would mean access to a broader client base and lower costs, without the need to rent or buy real estate for a practice.

How to Start a Counselling Service

If you want to start your own counselling service, you’ll need to create a solid business plan before you launch. Research what counselling services are operating in your area and where the demand for a specific service isn’t being met. If you can fill a particular need, you will be guaranteed to have clients and likely be more successful. Here are several other things to consider when creating your business plan:

  • What Are Your Start-up Costs and Expenses? — This will all depend on the path you take, the options for which are described above. If you provide your therapy in person, you will need to rent or buy practise space, which might mean high initial costs. If you opt to provide your services online your start-up costs will be minimal.
  • How Much Income Can You Make? — The amount counsellors get paid from their services can vary hugely. You will need to work out your budget for the amount of cash flow you need to sustain your practice, including how many clients you will have to see to get the revenue you require.
  • What Rules and Regulations Must You Follow? — This might vary depending on the location of your services, but there will be strict rules and regulations you will need to follow. This includes data compliance, to ensure the confidentiality of your clients’ personal information, as well as getting liability insurance to protect yourself and your business from any claims made against you by clients.

Other things to consider for your business plan are your business model and legal structure, where you will offer services, organising a budget plan, prices for services, your recruitment strategy for hiring employees and a marketing plan that includes how to build your online presence.

Ready to Launch Your Counselling Service?

If you are ready to launch your counselling service, it’s time to form your company. You can form a limited company, sole trader or go down the non-profit route if you plan to run your service like a charity. Deciding and completing your company formation can be the most challenging part of starting a business, but it’s crucial to your success.

Are you ready to start a counselling service? At Mint Formations , we help you form your limited company or self-employed business and take away all the stress that comes with starting a business. We’ll secure your brand name and get your company registered fast so you can start doing what you love.

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