Home Speech-Language Pathology Starting My Private Practice

Starting My Private Practice

by Heidi Hanks
written by

It was 2003, I had a one year old son and I was working part time as a Speech Language Pathologist in Early Intervention.  I was suffering from what I like to refer to as “Mom guilt.”  I loved my job, I loved my son but I hated dropping him off at daycare.  My husband and I decided it was time for a change.  We determined private practice was the answer.  I could work from home in the evening while my husband watched our son.  I put in my notice at work and immediately went about setting up my own private practice.  I’m not going to deny that I was a little nervous.  How was I going to get clients?  How was I going to pay for all the materials I needed to provide adequate services?  How would I set up my home environment in a way to allow me to provide therapy for my clients without interrupting my family’s life?  How would I handle billing?  What about liability?

Over the last few years several SLP’s interested in setting up their own private practices have asked me similar questions.  While I am no expert, I am happy to share what has worked for me.  Hopefully, those of you interested in working for yourselves will gain some insight as to how you might make it a reality.

My first concern of course was clients.  How would I get them?  Having worked in early intervention I was fortunate enough to know some people looking for private therapy now that their children were over the age of three.  I started with those clients and went from there.  Next I made sure my name was on the ASHA web site as a private SLP in my area.  After that I contacted the local hospitals and Universities and got my name on the referral list for private speech therapists.  I also contacted other private therapists in the area and let them know that I would appreciate any referrals they might have in the event that their caseloads were full.  I have also found it useful to share my business cards with local pediatricians and school teachers.  Between my efforts to get my name out there, and word of mouth I have always had all the clients I have time to see.

With a handful of clients interested in beginning therapy my next question was how would I afford the materials I needed to get started.  After consulting with my husband we decided we’d make the investment in a few key things, my own personal computer, Boardmaker, a copier and a laminator.  With those tools we figured I could make what I needed to get started and continue to acquire what I needed as I went.  I was armed and prepared (at least I felt like was making progress).  Even still the task of making all the materials I needed was daunting so I just took it a week at a time.  I prepared what materials I needed in therapy for the upcoming week.  As the weeks went on I appreciated how quickly I was able to acquire the materials I needed.  Over time, I have been able to acquire some basic assessments for the school age population I work mainly with, as well as other therapy tools and treatment programs.  The trick was to not expect to have everything right away, just start with your clients immediate needs and build from there.

Now that I had clients coming, and the therapy materials I needed, my next question was how would I set up my home environment in a way to allow me to provide therapy for my clients without interrupting my family’s life?  Well to be honest, when I first started my therapy setup wasn’t ideal but we figured a way to make it work.  I tell you this because if you are determined you can find a way no matter what your circumstances may be.  At the time I started my husband and I lived in a three bedroom, two bathroom condo on the second floor.  We decided to turn the first bedroom into my therapy room.  The second bedroom remained my son’s room and the third bedroom was ours.  I organized all my son’s toys on shelves in my therapy room.  I used the closet for all my therapy materials I didn’t want my son to get into during the week and I put a small table with two chairs in the middle of the room.  When I opened my closet doors on therapy day my room was immediately transformed from my sons play room to my therapy room.  I had easy access to all my therapy materials.

With my therapy room all setup I had to determine where I would have the parents wait while I did therapy with their children.  So I put a video camera in my therapy room that would always be on my client and I.  Then my husband connected the video camera to the television in my family room so the parents of my clients could wait on the couch in the other room while they watched what we were doing in therapy.  It has turned out to be a great system.  The parents love that they can see everything that is going on, and I love that having the parents in the other room reduces client distractions.

Another way I have tried to reduce distractions for my clients during therapy is to put a sign on my front door, like the one pictured above, with my clinic name on it that invites clients to just walk in instead of ringing the doorbell.  When the next client arrives they simply wait in the family room until the previous session has ended.  This makes for a smooth transition between clients.

When my second child was on the way my husband and I looked for a larger home.  While we made therapy work in the condo, meaning my husband and son pretty much hibernated in the back bedrooms while I did therapy, we decided it was time to look for a home that would work a little better. Our goal was to find a home that could have a separate entrance for my clients and a space we could divide from the rest of the house that included a therapy room, a family room/waiting room and a bathroom.  With a little patience we were able to find what we were looking for within our budget.  And the best part is I can do therapy without it affecting the lives of my family quite as much.

With clients coming, materials ready and a place to provide therapy I knew it was time to tackle the uncomfortable subject of billing.  To start with I had to determine how much I would charge for my services.  I did this by comparing how much other private therapists in the area were charging before I determined my rate.  Then I decided that I would offer therapy sessions in 30 minute or 1 hour increments only.  From there I was able to prepare my invoices.  I was sure to include my clinic logo and information, the client name, the billing month, the dates of service, the hourly rate for service and the total due.  I also include at the bottom of every bill an outline of the payment agreement.

The payment agreement states that the client will pay for services one month in advance, if a client is more than two weeks late in paying their bill a late fee of $10 will be applied to their bill.  The client is allowed two free cancellations a year and after that they are charged 50% for every additional cancellation.  It also states that if a client misses therapy with no notice that they will be charged the full amount for services.  In addition if a client check bounces a $25.00 fee will be applied to their bill.

This type of stuff can be difficult to talk to clients about, but it’s certainly necessary to let them know up front what your expectations are. I simply put it in the parent contract I have the parents sign at my first parent meeting before I begin therapy, then follow up and ask if they have any questions.  I have found that having it all outlined for the parents makes it easier on them and me.  It helps them realize that my time is important and they seem to be more committed to therapy as a result.

With committed clients, therapy materials, a place to practice and invoices ready I only had one more concern.  What about liability?  That can be kind of scary for an independent private therapist.  First I made sure I got a business license through the city in which I reside.  Then I decided to handle this the same way most health care providers handle it.  I have my clients sign a contract before therapy begins that essentially releases me from any liability.

In my contract I state that I am an SLP with my certificate of clinical competence through ASHA.  I state that I am licensed through my state as well as have a business license with my city.  I state that I will provide services that both parties agree on but that ultimately it is the parents’ responsibility for bringing the goals to therapy.  It is stated that the parent will not hold me responsible for any claims or damages of any kind, for injury to any person or persons and/or for any damages due to loss of property arising directly or indirectly out of participation in these therapy sessions.

Then I review the payment agreement, which I outlined above.  Finally I have the parents sign their name and the date.  I’m sure my contract may not be legally air tight, but it gives me a little more peace of mind as I try to do what I love to do.  Be a mom and a speech language pathologist out of my home.

With clients, materials, a place to do therapy, invoices handled and less concern about liability the only thing left to do is just do it!  I know that everyone’s situation is different and what has worked for me, may not entirely work for you. I hope that sharing this information will at least give you a place to begin when starting your home-based speech therapy business.

Running my own private practice has truly been a joy of mine, and the best part is that I feel like I’m still home with my kiddos.  I get to do it all, stay connected to the world of speech language pathology on my own time and never miss putting my kids down for nap or greeting them when they get off the bus.  I love it!  I hope you will too.

Heidi Hanks, MS, CCC-SLP, lives in Utah with her husband and (soon to be) 4 children.  She graduated from Utah State University in 2000 with her Master’s degree in Communicative Disorders. She worked in early intervention for 3 years and has been doing private therapy from her home for the last 7 years. She also writes the blog Mommy Speech Therapy, which is aimed at helping parents take a more active role in helping their children with speech and communication development. Heidi can also be found on Twitter @mommy_slp.

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javariya December 7, 2010 - 1:30 pm


Heidi December 8, 2010 - 3:56 pm


Thanks for your comment! CCC stands for a certificate of clinical competence from the American Speech Language Hearing Association. SLP stands for Speech Language Pathologist.

Good luck with your studies!


Natalie December 7, 2010 - 4:28 pm

How inspiring! Thanks for posting this. Your therapy room is absolutely adorable. I was just wondering, do you have liability insurance? Whenever I have provided private therapy (at client’s homes) I always made sure I was covered. It is only around $100 per year and provides a lot of peace of mind. You can check the ASHA website for companies that provide it. Best of luck with continued success!

Heidi December 8, 2010 - 3:38 pm


Thank you so much for your comment. I agree that liability insurance is a great protection for us, and at $100 I think it is definitely worth the peace of mind.


Shaqueena Murreld September 28, 2012 - 12:22 pm

PTC mentor

Hello I am actually interested in starting up my own Pediatric Therapy Center. I have reviewed many of your posts and related articles and I believe that you have done a fantastic job. I am interested in communicating with you in regards to the steps I should take in creating my own center or maybe someone I can contact as a mentor for my venture. I would greatly appreciate anything you are able to do. I look forward to hearing from you and wish you continuous success in your own venture.

Britnee December 7, 2010 - 6:30 pm

I loved reading your story! I am just finishing my undergraduate at Utah State University~GO AGGIES! Your story makes me very excited to finish school and start working. I was wondering if you deal with insurance at all, and if so how that works? Thanks for sharing your story.

Heidi December 8, 2010 - 3:43 pm


To make it easy on myself I have decided not to deal with insurance companies. I have told my clients if they are interested in seeking reimbursement from their insurance company they are welcome to submit for it themselves and I am happy to provide any information the insurance company might need. That has worked for a few of my clients. I hope this helps.

Good luck with school! USU is awesome.


Melanie February 23, 2011 - 4:38 pm

Did you ever have a problem with non-payment since you weren’t billing the insurance companies? Also, I know you mentioned that you called around to find the “going rate.” But who did you compare with? Private practices that saw children only or private practices that saw adults or both? I’m looking to start with seeing young children only. (My background is in the schools). But there are no clinics in my area who see children-only so I don’t know how to get that starting number.
Thanks for any help!

Mary Jewell July 8, 2013 - 11:02 pm

July 2013: After years of working for others, I am taking leap to start own practice in large metropolitan area here in Texas. Do you still run your practice from home? As you mentioned that you bill clients directly, Is your home practice located in an affluent part of your community? In other words, What are the demographics of your client base?
What part of your earnings end up in uncollected debt?

Heather December 7, 2010 - 6:42 pm

Sounds like a great solution! I love the idea of being able to be at home with the kids, but still work (on your own terms). Have you ever had anyone bring up the issue of zoning (e.g., increased traffic coming into a residential zone, client parking, etc), or has it never really been an issue for you? Also, do you do your own accounting or do you work with CPA?

Heidi December 8, 2010 - 3:49 pm


Thanks for your comment!

Zoning has never been an issue for me since I only see one client at a time. Also, I have a business license through my city and before I was able to begin my practice they came out and inspected my home and gave me clearance to run my business.

As far as accounting goes, I do all my own billing. However, I do work with a CPA at the end of the year to do all my business taxes.

laura dudley July 7, 2013 - 12:33 pm

Hi. Do you use a medical billing software and if so, which one? I have a small private practice and would like to start doing my own billing. Thank you, Laura Dudley, M.S., CCC-SLP

Bethany December 8, 2010 - 9:02 pm

Thanks for sharing this. My husband and I have often talked about me starting a private practice at some point down the road, and this is a well thought out documentation of one way to do so. Thanks for your input!

Samantha December 10, 2010 - 6:53 pm

I was glad to read this. I am 7 years out of grad school and ready to begin private practice. There seemed to be so many pieces but you highlighted the main ones nicely. I’m finding that other than having my CCC’s the 2 pieces to be able to practice legally and safely are to have a business license and liability insurance. I do not yet have clients or a space to practice in but after reading your post I have confidence that it will all work out. I was pleased to see that you are the author of Mommy Speech Therapy – it is one of few SLP blogs I check in on from time to time.

Rhonda January 7, 2011 - 5:13 pm

I am currently working as a Speech Therapist in a public school. Just before working in the schools, I worked in nursing homes with patients exhibiting a variety of disorders such as dementia, CVA, and dysphagia. I am interested in doing private speech therapy after hours and on Saturday. You mentioned payment in your article but never mentioned if you ever bill their insurance, Medicaid or Medicare for your services. I’m not even sure that I can do that but was just curious if you only take payments from the individuals. Do you know what would be involved to be able to take insurance payments?

Heidi August 18, 2011 - 2:11 pm


I personally do not bill insurance companies. I have never needed to. But, ASHA’s “Model Superbill for Speech-Language Pathology” my be useful to you if you are interested in doing so. Check it out at http://www.asha.org/uploadedFiles/ModelSuperbillSLP.pdf.

Tracy Elms March 9, 2011 - 1:55 pm

Thank you so much for posting this. I am a mommy to two little ones and have been working part-time in the schools for four years. Its been really strong on my heart that I need to do private so I can spend more time at home with my kids while they are so young. My husband and I sat down to run the numbers and pray about it and are trying to get it kick started. Your article was just what I needed to read! Thank you so much!!

Nancy March 30, 2011 - 7:52 pm

I am helping out a friend and seeing her son (volunteer time) I told her she did not have to pay me. Is this ethical and allowed or should there be some sort of contract/paperwork?

Heidi August 18, 2011 - 2:08 pm


That is a good question. I guess it depends on what kind of relationship you have with your friend. If you are at all concerned I would have her sign a Release of Liability just to protect yourself. I am sure she won’t mind especially considering she is getting the services for free.

Katie April 26, 2011 - 1:22 pm

I am looking for a speech therapist that can help my child this summer. She will be going into kindergarten in the fall and we have been doing speech for 2 years. I live in Santaquin Utah. I am not sure where you are or if you know someone that does private speech in south utah county but if you have any advice I would love to hear from you. Thanks!

Alissa Holloway May 3, 2011 - 10:33 pm


I was just scrolling through the asha website and I saw your post. I am a speech therapist and I run my own private practice in Payson, UT. I would love to help you and your child out this summer. You can check out my website for more information about my practice or contact me at anytime. I would be happy to meet with you to answer any questions you have.

Thanks so much!

Alissa Holloway MS-CCC, SLP
Utah’s Communication Connection LLC

Joscelyn May 3, 2011 - 11:25 am

I love this!! I am almost done with my CFY and would love nothing more than to have my own private practice! It’s so scary, though!!!

I currently work in a school system (with special needs and gen. ed. children ages 3-21) and we just found out we aren’t getting a raise until 2016….. 🙁 I don’t know how much longer I can “afford” to work in the schools! To be at home and do what I love sounds amazing. Plus, it’d be great considering my husband and I are about to start a family!

Do you limit your therapy to a specific population? Just wondering how much has changed since you wrote this article.

Thank you!!

Heidi August 18, 2011 - 2:06 pm


My advice would be to take the clients that come in the beginning. And then as your practice grows you will have the freedom to choose the population you work the best with.

Beth Tycer May 19, 2011 - 3:15 pm

I am wanting to start my own private practice, but more like home health where I go to the client’s home. I am clueless when it comes to billing and all. Can you send any help or advice on the initial steps that I need to take to do this??

Heidi August 18, 2011 - 2:00 pm


Check out the “Model Superbill for Speech-Languge Pathology from ASHA at http://www.asha.org/uploadedFiles/ModelSuperbillSLP.pdf. It is a great guide to get you started with billing.

Holly May 24, 2011 - 3:29 pm

I am also interested in starting a private home health practice. What licensure did you need? I know you need to be a licensed therapist by the state, but is there anything else? I know that you mentioned a business license. I have an LLC..is this similar? Thanks!

Heidi August 18, 2011 - 1:54 pm


I also have a business license with the city I live in. So to sum it up, I have my state license, my city business license, my ASHA credentials and I set up an S-Corp for tax purposes. I think the S-Corp and the LLC accomplish the same thing. Good luck!

katherine July 26, 2011 - 10:11 am

This is awesome, thanks for this post. I work in a different field and have just purchased professional liability insurance. My question is about taxes. Did you start out creating a company (like, an LLC) or did you do something else? I am not at the point where I think I need to officially own my own company, but I don’t understand the workings in terms of how to file with the IRS in 2012. Any tips, pointers, etc? Thanks!

Heidi August 18, 2011 - 1:51 pm


I started out by talking to an accountant I trusted. I am sure an LLC would work great. I was advised to start an S-Corp. It is supposed to save me money on my taxes I think. The truth is I just meet with the accountant at the end of the year and do whatever she tells me to do.

I would much rather spend my time in therapy than on taxes!

Brian Goldberg September 12, 2013 - 1:23 pm

Hi, I am a business attorney and a close family member is a licensed speech language pathologist (SLP). She is interested in starting her own private practice. We read the above article and found it truly inspiring – thank you for sharing your experience. After reading, I thought I would pitch in on the legal end to help out some of the readers.

If you are starting your own private practice as an SLP it is important to incorporate or organize a company to protect yourself from personal liability. Depending on what state you incorporate/organize your business in, you should consider forming either a PC (professional corporation) or a PLLC (a professional limited liability company). These are entities that are created for those who hold licenses like registered SLP’s.

The LLC is a limited liability company for profit and working with a license under this form of entity may lead to problems with your state licensing board or taxes.

Please consult with your lawyer and/or tax professional before making any decisions.

Feel free to email me with any technical inquiries at bgoldberg@sorinrand.com

Stephanie July 27, 2011 - 10:48 am

This was a wonderful article! I don’t even know you, but I’m so proud of you for going for it! I graduated with my MS in Speech Therapy last May (just got my Cs!) and have been working for a school district for the last year. I would LOVE to start a private practice. I love organizing things and completing paperwork (weird, right?) and I just love the idea of owning my own practice! I am thinking of maybe starting out with just servicing a few clients on the side in the evenings. It’s the insurance that terrifies me. I can’t understand how insurance works for the life of me! Thanks for this awesome article and the tips you provided! Maybe I will start getting serious about this and go for my dream!

Guest Blog: Starting My Private Practice August 1, 2011 - 3:18 pm

[…] Copyright 2011. Reprinted with the express permission of ASHASphere as the article appeared on their blog ASHAsphere […]

LISA August 17, 2011 - 10:30 pm

Hi. I’m very interested in doing private speech therapy in my home. I wanted my clients to pay me up front and go through their insurance company to see how much they could get reimbursed. How does the client do this exactly? Does the insurance company need to see an evaluation before deciding on reimbursement? Also, since I will build my caseload slowly and I do not have materials in my home, what standardized tests would you recomend me to buy for artic and language starting at 3 yrs +? Do you use any online sites for therapy? Favorite therapeutic materials? I have to spend my first few hundred dollars wisely in the investment. I’ve been working in the geriatric population since gradschool and want to work with pedes again and it’s been awhile! Thanks, Lisa

Heidi August 18, 2011 - 1:47 pm


Because I am not doing private therapy full time I have never worked with the insurance companies. I simply have my clients pay me the first session of every month. The clients I have worked with have had no problem doing this.

The assessments I purchased to get started are the Goldman Fristoe Test of Articulation 2, and the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test. I don’t think you need the PPVT right away. I would probably go with the PLS-4 and or the CELF4 for older kids. The Functional Communication Profile from LinguiSystems also looks like it would give you a good idea of a child’s language skills for a much more affordable price.

I access the worksheets on my site mommyspeechtherapy.com from my ipad in almost every therapy session. I also have other sites I enjoy on my links page at mommyspeechtherapy.com. Good luck with your private practice! You will love it!

Jeanine September 20, 2011 - 1:13 pm

Hi Heidi. How do you handle insurance reimbursement/billing?

Heidi September 20, 2011 - 5:39 pm


I don’t deal with insurance companies. All of my clients are self pay. In my contract I state that if the client is interested in insurance reimbursement it is up to the client to coordinate it. Then I provide any information that the insurance company requests. So far it hasn’t been a problem.

Nikki September 23, 2011 - 7:12 am

Hi Heidi ~
You are such an inspiration. Thank you!
I am an independent provider who services kiddos from 0-5 years of age. I travel between private daycares and schools. I have no physical space at this time, though a car load of toys/materials, assessment tools, audiometer, etc. All of my clients are private pay. Currently there is an SLP who is interested in learning from me and being incorporated into the mix in some capacity. I will be taking maternity leave for my second peanut in February. It might be a great time to integrate someone into my wee little practice. 🙂 That way, my clients won’t miss crucial therapy time. I realized you haven’t added on to your own practice, but wondered if you have ever considered it. I’m just not sure what the next step(s) would be – how to reimburse her, how to make certain the “business” remains mine, how to best incorporate her…so many questions! 🙂 Also, I utilize our guest room to complete paperwork and have that closet at my disposal. How did you best organize all of your fabulous toys/materials/paperwork, etc. I love your photos, but selfishly, want more details! 😉 Again, thank YOU!

Heidi September 26, 2011 - 3:08 pm

Hi Nikki,

Congrats on your business. It sounds like it is going really well. And Congrats on your second little peanut! That is very exciting!

You’re right, I haven’t added onto my own business but I have talked with some other SLP’s running their own private practice and gotten some feedback on what they do when they’ve added SLP’s to their practice. If you are providing the clients, materials and training then I would consider paying the SLP half of what you charge the client. I would also be sure to type up the terms of your working relationship as far as what you will provide and what she can expect and vice versa.

As far as my closet goes, well I had my brother-in-law build me shelves that would fit my plastic drawers for articulation and PECS as well as all my notebooks with my language programs in it. To be truthful, I am using apps on my ipad more and more and all those bulky materials less and less. I may be doing some reworking in the future.

Good luck with all you are doing! It sounds exciting!

Elizabeth Diaz October 1, 2011 - 4:10 pm

Hello Heidi,

WOW! You inspired me tremendously with your story. I definitely jotted down notes. I am currently still a little new to the field. Do you think it is too soon to open up my own practice?

Also, I have a specific population I would like to work with. In your opinion, do you think focusing on a particular group of individuals would bring less business to me?
Your advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again.


Heidi October 3, 2011 - 12:10 pm


If private practice is something you want to do, now is as good a time as any. To get started all you need is one client. As you plan activities and collect materials to meet the needs of that client your materials will begin to accumulate and your confidence will grow. From here you will be able to take on more and more clients.

In regards to your question about targeting a specific population, I think targeting a specific population is a good idea. It is more cost and time efficient to do it that way.

Wishing you success!

Belinda October 12, 2011 - 12:59 am

Great Story! Thanks for sharing. I have been working in public schools for the past 18 years and am considering doing private therapy. I am thinking of starting up slowly over the summer (possibly with kiddos whose parents don’t want to see regression). I am planning to travel to client’s homes/daycares but was also wondering about the possibility of renting space from a local church for a couple of hours per week. Have you ever heard of this? Not sure what liability insurance, etc I would have to carry! Thanks so much for sharing your story!

Kristy October 17, 2011 - 9:43 pm

Thank you for the article. It’s great to see that such a big jump in our career paths is feasible.. step by step you can do it! (e.g. buying a few products at a time, etc.). I just set up my LLC, facebook page, this week website, business cards, advertisement in the papers next month … researching daily about the necessary paperwork (e.g. billing, HIPPA, etc.). It’s scary but it’s great when you read stories like this. I’m always concerned about the billing but I think everyone’s journey will be slightly different (take insurance vs. don’t take insurance; no shows pay versus pay 1/2 or nothing … showing up late ..? then what? etc.).
Thanks again for sharing your story!


LISA October 20, 2011 - 8:11 pm

hi again. i’m still trying to figure all of this out. i wrote a few months ago. i recently got my LLC and i want to do private pay and have the client submit for reimbursement. so, if the patient wants to get reimbursement from their insurance company, what will they need??? cms 1500 form, my eval, dr’s order??? does the patient fill out the cms form? do you have any standard HIPPA or consent to treat forms that you could possibly share with me? i feel like i’m getting closer to begin but yet so far away. there’s so much to figure out! thanks so much.

Heidi October 28, 2011 - 12:06 pm

Hi Lisa,

I apologize. I don’t know how to answer your questions. All of my clients are private pay. I have only had one client over the last 8 years that tried to get reimbursement for speech services through their insurance company. That client communicated with their insurance company directly. Then their insurance company sent me some forms to fill out but I never heard if they ended up getting reimbursed for their services since they were seeking reimbursement after the client had already completed services with me.

I don’t have any standard forms to share with you. I am sure however that there are a lot of other Speech Pathologists with the same questions about insurance you have. I hope that if you find the answers to some of these questions you would be willing to share them here. Or if anyone else has some ideas for Lisa please share.

Good luck!

We can all learn a lot from each other!

Dana October 27, 2011 - 5:49 pm

Thank you for this article…it is clearly helpful to so many of us! I currently work in early intervention and frequently recommend your blog to my families as I think it is so well done and user-friendly.
I am planning to begin seeing clients privately and wondered if you think it is possible to start out without owning any standardized tests? I was thinking of advertising to families who already have an IEP in place and working off of the goals that are already established. Any thoughts on this? Also, do you provide the families with written progress reports, and if so, how often?
Thanks again for being willing to share!

Heidi October 28, 2011 - 11:50 am

Hi Dana.

I started my practice with no assessments at all. I simply had the client bring a copy of all the assessments and IEP goals that had been done in the schools. Even now, if there is an assessment I would like done that I don’t own I have my client request it from the schools. All of my clients have been happy to comply.

As far as written reports go, I have explained to all my clients that I am happy to provide them with written reports if they request them. I do charge my same hourly rate to write the reports. As a result, I very rarely have a request for a written report.

Good luck with your practice. You’ll love it!

Maddy November 1, 2011 - 3:53 pm

Hi there,
I just started my business and all of my clients are private pay too…I am curious how you came up with a contract for them to sign? Do you have a “sample” I could look at so I know how to build my contract? I also contract with facilities and then sub-contract to other therapists…any chance you have advise for those contracts between me and the facility? I have a 1099 contract between me and the sub-contracting SLP already.
Thank you so much!

Heidi November 8, 2011 - 1:28 am

Hi Maddy,

I’m sorry I don’t have a contract I can share with you but when creating your contract I would recommend you consider including the following:

1-Contact Information
2-Your expectations of the responsible party.
3-What services and/or materials you will be responsible for providing.
4-Terms for payment.
5-Release of liability.
6-Arbitration clause.

After you have created your contract I would recommend having a lawyer look over it for you just to make sure you have covered all your bases.

I hope this helps.

jackie November 7, 2011 - 11:50 am

Is it possible to start a private practice before earning your ccc?

Heidi November 8, 2011 - 1:30 am

Hi Jackie,

I don’t know if there is any rule against it but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Linda Dickson August 30, 2013 - 2:09 pm

You have to be licensed to practice speech pathology in all states now (I live in Colorado, we were the last state to license SLPs). If you have by some chance have a license without your C’s, then you can do private practice. But if not, it is illegal.

Nancy, word o September 13, 2013 - 12:59 am

Actually, South Dakota isn’t quite licensed yet…..finally passed legislation and undergoing implementation.

Brooke November 9, 2011 - 9:06 pm

Hi Heidi!
It was great to read your article. I will be soon getting my ccc’s at the end of this year, as well as having a second baby in February, so I would love to start working with birth-3 in a home health setting, I just dont have the room to do it out of my home at this time. How would you recommend building a caseload initially and what are the numbers on your caseload to maintain a decent income working part-time? I currently work 3 days a week, but like you hate dropping my daughter off at daycare, just curious how many clients I would need to maintain my current income.
Thanks so much,

Maureen McCarron November 10, 2011 - 12:09 am

Dear Jackie: Congratulations on your private practice ambitions. A recommended caution on private practice before you acquire your CCCs: As I understand it, the ASHA Code of Ethics explicitly requires members to restrict their practice (as an employee or as a private practitioner) to only those areas of practice for which they are QUALIFIED by both training and experience. A person, before they have acquired their CCCs, would, by definition, not be qualified yet, as they still practice under direct supervision. In my experience, clients are usually (but not always) willing to be treated by a newly certified therapist, or a student or resident/intern who is supervised by a certified colleague, but would understandably be less than confident in a solo therapist who has not yet competed his/her certification. Good luck pursuing your ambitions. In the meantime, be sure to work under supervisors who are experts in the clinical areas you want to pursue for your own practice!

Marie November 28, 2011 - 10:49 pm

Hi Heidi- I feel very lucky to have stumbled upon your article. I am a fellow “speechie” who has worked in both school and home settings for nearly 15 years. Currently, I am beginning the process of developing a private practice out of my home office for the very same reasons that got you started :). I am realizing that just making that setting change from “their” home to “my” home brings great convenience but some concerns as well, which you addressed in the article. Did you consult with anyone/anything (e.g. lawyer, website) to help put together a parent/liability contract? In addition, as a sole-proprietor, I am unsure if I am required to have parents sign a HIPPA release form? I have a few students whom I have begun to see which has been very fulfilling, not to mention, it’s wonderful to just walk to my office! Any direction you can provide with these questions would be greatly appreciated.

Kelly Buras January 14, 2012 - 10:52 pm

Heidi- I first want to tell you how much I love the Little Speech Bee app. We received an IPAD for Christmas and I loaded it immediately. I work in an elementary school and a couple of daycares and my students love it!!! I am definitely interested in starting something afterschool in my home. It would be great especially for the summer . What is the name of your business and how often do you see a client. Also, do you allow for vacation/breaks or do you follow the school calendar?

Heidi January 16, 2012 - 8:44 pm

Hi Kelly,

I am so glad to hear you are enjoying Articulation Station! The name of my business is Little Bee Speech. I started Little Bee Speech so I could be home with my kids and still have some supplemental income. When starting your own private practice you’ll have to determine how many hours a week you have to give to it just as I had to do. I started with once a week but ideally twice a week would be best. That way if you have clients with more severe needs you can see them twice a week. I have followed the school calendar in my area with the exception of summers.

I wish you the very best in starting your own business. I am sure you will find it rewarding!

🙂 Heidi

Terri Sash February 15, 2012 - 9:22 am

Hi Heidi

I’ve had a private practice for years. I was recently contacted by a local school district to provide services for children who have IEPs but are in private school. I was looking for a sample contract for the district. Any thoughts?


Heidi February 19, 2012 - 11:21 am

Hi Terri,

That sounds like a really great opportunity. I wish I had a sample contract for you. Has anyone else contracted with their local school district that would be willing to help Terri out with a sample contract? Please share.

Maribel March 20, 2012 - 1:36 pm

To start your own private practice do you have to have your masters degree or a doctorate degree?

Heidi March 21, 2012 - 1:08 am

Hi Maribel,

To start your own private practice you have to be a certified Speech Language Pathologist which does require a masters degree and a clinical fellowship year. It does not require a doctorate degree.

KathyAnn Murray April 3, 2012 - 12:54 pm

Hi Heidi,
Your story was inspiring. I am in the process of starting my own private practice in home care (pediatrics). I also do not want to accept insurance. In terms of my billing form do you recommend putting DSM -IV codes and CPT codes directly on the form even though I am not going through insurance? Also regarding your business license did you have to get that for your place of business? I formed an S-corp, have liability insurance, but wasn’t sure what else I needed if anything? I appreciate any info you can provide. I learned just from your article. Thank you!

Carma Shay April 4, 2012 - 1:09 am

Thank you for sharing your story. I am graduating in August and I have been thinking about starting a private practice here in Fairbanks Alaska. However here we have so many cancellations: weather, sicknesses, vacations etc. I would be worried about not getting enough income and think it might be worth it to work salary job in the schools. You said you charge for no shows but is this ethical? Only because we recently discussed this in my ethics class am I aware of Principle 1- O: Individuals shall not charge for services not rendered… I am assuming what you are doing is ethical by having them sign the contract ahead of time, but can you explain what the difference is between what would be unethical?

Heidi April 16, 2012 - 5:33 pm

Hi Carma,

That is a very good question. As I understand it including a clause in your contract that states you charge for “no shows” is not charging for services not rendered. It is charging a fee (that is agreed upon by the therapist and the client before services begin) for not showing up to a scheduled appointment without prior notification. There are always of course circumstances that come up that may cause a client to miss an appointment for reasons outside of their control. I handle those situations individually and will not charge for a missed appointment I feel could not have been avoided.

Advantage Speech Therapy Services has a good example of a contract between their therapists and their clients online you may be interested in looking over. They charge 50% for no shows or cancellations made within 24 hours of the scheduled appointment. You can find this contract here: http://www.advantagespeech.com/billing

In my estimation including a clause like this in your contract is ethical because it protects both the therapist and the clients. However, if the “no show” terms are not discussed and agreed upon before services begin and then you charge for a “no show” I think that would be considered unethical.

I hope this helps. Good luck with whatever you decide to do. Whether you are in the schools or in private practice I think being a speech pathologist is the best job ever!

Marti Mondell July 7, 2012 - 11:47 pm

Thank you so much for your very encouraging and delightful post. I am grateful to you for taking the time to help others out by sharing your experiences! I wish i had done that when my kids were younger!

Leah July 8, 2012 - 8:10 pm


You are an inspiration to all of us speech mommies looking to start on our own. I just left the public schools after 5 years. I have a one year old son, and I will be starting therapy out of my home. This blog has confirmed my thoughts and relieved some of my nerves. Thank you!

Iyanna July 11, 2012 - 4:11 pm

Hi my name is Iyanna; I am currently a high school student trying to find a career that I would be interested in. For a few years now I have always been debating between journalism and speech pathology through research and participating in career classes it came to my attention that journalism may not be a career that would be able to stabilize me. Although I am still young and able to change my decisions I truly and honestly believe that I would want to be a speech pathologist not only because its more stable but because I love children and enjoy working with them, I have always said that I wanted to be something where I am able to help people and make a difference and lastly my younger sister had stuttering problems, and I know what is like based on her experiences. Your website has truly inspired me and Thank you for your time .
– Iyanna

laura July 19, 2012 - 6:33 am

i am a licensed CCC-SLP living in Azerbaijian…with two young kids (worked for about ten years in California before having my babies). There have never been any SLPs here and the ex-pat community (international schools) here is in great need of SLP services. i contacted ASHA regarding my situation and if they had any suggestions about how best to provide services here overseas. they did not provide any help. your blog was helpful! thanks for mentioning the contract!

what i’m wondering is what suggestions you have for balancing it all. do you just offer a few hours/day or week? i do not have any standardized tests here, just the materials i’ve acquired over the years…do you assess using informal measures only? (observation, language sample, etc.). I am so used to working for a school district with so many regulations that this is all new for me!

I am so happy i chose this type of profession-seems we are needed everywhere!

any help will be appreciated!

Meena August 10, 2012 - 4:26 pm

Hi Heidi,
I think your app is great and innovative! I’d love to chat with you about app distribution and discoverability with Tapjoy!

Miranda August 17, 2012 - 6:14 pm

Hi Heidi,

I also wanted to thank you for posting this article. I was considering starting my own home based practice for a while and then I found your article. I thought with two years experience I wouldn’t be able to do it and did not feel I had enough confidence to try. Your article inspired me to get started and I am now in the process of setting everything up. Also, I love your closet. I was thinking of buying your articulation app next week when it goes on sale instead of making up hundreds of articulation cards with my new laminator 🙂

Danielle August 23, 2012 - 9:03 pm

Thank you so much for writing this! I’m an undergraduate student but I’m trying to get a plan started on how to make this work and your article was incredibly helpful!

Danielle August 23, 2012 - 10:21 pm

I also have a question. What did you need to do in order to be able to accept insurance?

Heidi September 4, 2012 - 2:47 pm

Hi Danielle,

I made the personal decision not to deal with insurance. I only accept private pay clients.

Good luck to you!

Beth September 25, 2012 - 8:01 pm

Like some of the others I was surfing and saw your post…I just gave notice at my job in Home care/ Hospice. I have been a Certified Home health aide for 22 years and mostly worked with geriatrics and end of life care…I found that in health care it’s more about the money than the consistent care of a client..I’m lucky to have had the work and learned so much from the facilities I’ve worked at, but I am so burnt out. Sometimes quantity not quality is the goal. I too have connections with RNs, church and family and hope to do this by word of mouth and business cards…wish me luck… Also, congrats on your success…your children are very lucky…

Heidi September 27, 2012 - 2:39 pm

Thanks Beth! You can do it too. Good luck!


Meghan April 14, 2013 - 5:48 pm

*I just came across this blog and have found it quite helpful. Your comments in particular resounded with me. I too have been working in LTC and am saddened to see so much emphasis on quantity. I love the geriatric population and would love to help them remain at home longer when faced with a diagnosis of dementia. I have been praying quite a bit about this and believe starting my own practice is where I will soon be turning. Best wishes to you Beth in your new venture. I would love to hear from you to see how your transition is coming along.

Liz October 2, 2012 - 1:52 pm

Hello Heidi,
Amazing!! Thanks so much for sharing your story. I am highly interested in starting my own clinic and wanted to ask you a few questions on how you began. Did you evaluate the kids before providing therapy? If you did not assess them, where did you get their goal information? Do you evaluate your clients before starting therapy? Do you follow an IEP? If you do who provides you with the information? Also, I agree with your method on charging via private pay and having your clients choose reimbursement, but how do I know how much to charge? Please Advise.

Liz October 2, 2012 - 2:00 pm

Oh before I forget…How do you maintain records of their progress (i.e. session notes/annual reports/quarterly reports)? After working in a school I see all the paperwork that needs to be handed in, such as session notes, quarterlies and annual reports.. I am wondering how it would work if I were a private clinic.

Heidi October 3, 2012 - 12:35 pm

Hi Liz,

I’m excited to hear you are thinking of starting your own private practice. To answer your questions I always do my own articulation evaluation if it is a speech client. Unfortunately, I do not own very many language assessments so I would always ask for a copy of the evaluations done in the schools. If language was a concern, I would do a language sample, and after interviewing the parents, reviewing the language sample, reviewing the assessment results from the school district together the parents and I would determine the language goals we wanted to target.

If the client has an IEP with the school district I try to integrate those goals into our treatment plan. Ultimately, it is the parents and I together that determine goals for therapy.

As far as tracking data goes I have created my own tracking forms for almost everything I do in therapy. You can find an example of my “Articulation Goal Tracker” on mommyspeechtherapy.com on the worksheets page. Every 6 months I set aside some time to meet with the parents to discuss progress and reevaluate goals. The nice thing about private practice is you work for yourself and your clients. If you can set up a system that works for both you and your clients then you’ve made it.

A good way to determine how much to charge is to call around to other private therapists in your area to find out how much they are charging and then determine what a comparable rate would be. I just had a call yesterday from a therapist starting her own private practice trying to determine the same thing. I hope this helps!

Wishing you a lot of success!

Kay October 3, 2012 - 5:52 pm

Hello Heidi–
Thanks a lot for sharing and answering these questions, this is really nice of you. Great questions Liz. I wanted to know, do you use the same mandate as the IEP or do you and the parents choose how often and how long the sessions will be ( i.e. how do you know to choose 2×30 or 1×45)? Again thanks for responding, you are great help. I’m grateful for people like you.

Heidi October 4, 2012 - 11:29 am

Hi Kay,

The parents and I choose how often and how long the sessions are. This is most often determined by what availability I have.

Thanks for your question!

Nikki Williams November 13, 2012 - 5:43 pm

Hi Heidi ~

I follow your Mommy Speech Therapy site and have purchased Little Bee Articulation app, too! Love it all! Thank you for doing all you do! 🙂

I am a private speech pathologist and just came back in action from a maternity leave. I feel a little dusty! (Ha!) I just evaluated a 2:6 year old little man. The results of the PLS are well within normal limits. The Goldman-Fristoe came up with 40 errors, 89 standard score, 35th percentile and 2-5 age equivalent. He seems to be communicating effectively with his classroom peers and teachers. According to Mom, others can understand him 70% of the time. He demonstrated the following errors which appear to be developmentally appropriate, though, NUMEROUS… He substitutes:
w/l, r;
d/j, v, s, z, eth ;
b/v; t/th ; and cluster reductions.
Is he on the fence as far as needing therapy?! I feel so out of the loop. He is a very verbal little guy and appears to be effective at verbally expressing himself to others. Any guidance on what to recommend to his family for a plan of action? EEK! I appreciate your help!!! Commence direct therapy now? Re-evaluate at a later time? Argh.

Thank you for your help! 🙂 You have no idea what it will mean to me!

Heidi November 26, 2012 - 5:58 pm

Hi Nikki,

I’m so glad to hear Mommy Speech Therapy, and Articulation Station have been helpful to you!

I apologize it has taken me so long to respond to your question. Things have been a little crazy for me lately.

To answer your question, it sounds like he is still within normal limits. I probably wouldn’t recommend direct therapy. Instead, I would make a list of recommendations of things the parents could do with him at home to improve his speech. Then I would follow up with the parents in a few months to check on his progress. If he isn’t making the kind of progress you would expect, or if the parents are still really concerned about his development, I would then recommend bringing him in for treatment. I hope this helps.

All the best!

Suzanne December 30, 2012 - 8:54 pm

HI Heidi –

On your Sept 26th post you mentioned “language programs”. Can you explain what they are in a little more detail.


Heidi January 2, 2013 - 5:15 pm

Hi Suzanne,

I was just referring to my own personal language programs I created to work with my clients. I organized each program into a notebook. For example I have a notebook for verbs, another notebook for sequencing another notebook for prepositions and so on. A lot of work when I think about it.

Hope that helps.


Marie January 15, 2013 - 6:37 pm

I’m looking into making the transition to private practice and I’m so glad I found this article. I apologize if I overlooked this but how do you document? Can you explain the system you use? Thanks!

Heidi January 16, 2013 - 12:50 pm

Hi Marie,

I’m not sure I understand your question exactly. I created tracking forms for pretty much everything I do in therapy. For example I have my attendance tracking form, I have goal tracking forms, I have tracking forms for the various programs I target including articulation, verbs, associations, prepositions, sequences, etc.. I keep a daily therapy log as well. Is that what you mean?

Tiffaney January 20, 2013 - 2:41 pm

Hello Heidi, Thank-you for all the information about starting an in home private practice! I was wondering if you have to pay extra on your home owners insurance in order to serve clients out of your home. I already have the professional liability insurance. I am strongly considering doing this and I even have the first client lined up once I get my business license through the city, but I’m really scared about the liability piece of it and also it makes me a little nervous to think about people I don’t know coming to my house. Also for your release of liability, did you write it on your own or did you have a lawyer do it and if a lawyer wrote it, how much did that cost you? Thanks!

Heidi January 24, 2013 - 5:31 pm

Hi Tiffany,

Getting extra coverage on your home owners insurance is a good idea but I don’t know if it is necessary. As far as the release of liability, writing it on your own first and then having a lawyer look it over will save you some money. If you are nervous about having people you don’t know come to your house you may consider meeting them at their house for the first appointment where you discuss goals and expectations. Then when they come to your house they won’t be strangers anymore. Getting started can seem a little intimidating but once you get going you will be so glad you did. Good luck!


Tiffaney January 26, 2013 - 1:10 am

Thank-you for your response! I just thought I’d mention that I spoke with my homeowners insurance this week. They checked and said that my homeowners would not cover any incidents that might happen with someone coming to my house for my business. He mentioned that you can purchase commercial liability insurance through some companies.

Heidi January 28, 2013 - 2:18 pm

Hi Tiffaney,

Thank you so much for sharing you experience!

Constantine February 6, 2013 - 10:19 am

I was talking to a Director of Rehab for a very large company (they did six billion dollars in business last year) and she said when she took the Comprehensive Dementia course from The Speech Team it changed her life and career. The problem is that the colleges don’t teach it, and SLPs are forced to learn inside of SNFs. I say walk into the SNFs prepared.

Kimberly February 17, 2013 - 4:43 pm

This post was so informative! Thank you! I was curious on your thought of a private home health practice? I have been thinking about starting a practice following this route. Instead of clients coming into my home, I would come do therapy with the child in his/her own home and just bring my materials with me. Do you have any advice to offer on this idea? Good or bad!

Heidi February 19, 2013 - 1:09 pm

I think that is a great idea! That is what Sherry Artemenko does at Play on Words.com and she has been very successful. You may want to visit her website for more ideas.

Kylee holman February 22, 2013 - 11:27 am


I am thinking about doing private practice and was wondering about billing. Earlier, you said that you have never had to bill insurance. Is that because you only take private pay clients, or do you just have the clients pay you directly and then they can bill their insurance for reimbursement? If so, it seems much easier and less of a headache. Also, this might be too personal, but did you find that your income decreased when you started private practice or were you able to maintain roughly the same as when you were not working for yourself? It is a little bit scary to think about…



Kylee holman February 22, 2013 - 11:31 am

sorry I missed the comment that said you only accept private pay clients. That seems easier.


Heidi March 5, 2013 - 5:52 pm

Hi Kylee,

As you saw I only accept private pay clients. To answer your question about income, I decided to only work one day a week so I could give my kids the time and attention they need from me while they are still young. For the time I spend working, I make more than I did when I was employed.

Lauren March 12, 2013 - 11:46 am

Hi Heidi! I just wanted to thank you for sharing your story. Im a senior in an undergrad SLP program and it’s about that time to start thinking and planning for my future. I have always wanted to go into business for myself and after realizing how much I will owe in student loans, that dream seems to get dimmer and dimmer over time. Your story is very inspiring for me! Thanks again.

Lauren (NY)

Catherine johns March 22, 2013 - 10:58 am

Dear Heidi,
I loved your article on how you started your private practice. I’m retiring after 35 years of working in one of New York State’s “Board of Cooperative Educational Services”, acronym “BOCES”. I’ve become specialized in students with severe to profound disabilities, autism, dual sensory impairments (deaf/blind), as well as students with general developmental delays. I have worked with a wide age range from as young as 6 months to 21 years old. I still “tutor” a young man who is deaf and autistic who is 25 years old.

In my retirement I wish to help raise my Grandson who is to be born this April. But, I also wish to share the knowledge I have gained in my specialty areas with others…Speech-Language Pathologists, Special Educators, Teaching Assistants and Aides, Caregivers, and Parents. I would also like to continue writing the PowerPoints I have used as a major tool for my therapy to assist in teaching weekly theme vocabulary and concepts. Do you have any advice on where to begin?

Heidi March 25, 2013 - 12:38 pm

Hi Catherine,

Congratulations on retirement! What an exciting time for you to have a little more free time and the time to spend with your grandson.

If sharing your experience and expertise with others is what you are passionate about I would recommend you start by creating a blog. A blog would be a great medium to share your power points and lesson plans. I am sure so many people would greatly benefit from what you have to share.

Best of luck in all your endeavors!

Alexis hill, ms ccc-SLP March 22, 2013 - 1:17 pm

Thank you so much for this article. It served as an inspiration and guide for me as I started building my private practice. Reading it made private practice seem like a possibility, not a wild dream.

Amy March 29, 2013 - 10:45 pm

Thank you for your informative article! It sounds like you have been very successful in this endeavor. Would you be willing to share how much you charge per 30 minute or 60 minute session? Or could you recommend a website where I might find this type of information? I’m sure it varies in different regions throughout the country. Thank you!

Heidi April 4, 2013 - 5:10 pm

That is a very good question. In Utah County, Utah the average rate for private therapy is about $70- $90 an hour, $35-$45 for a 30 minute session. I am sure it varies by region of the country. If other private therapists reading this would be willing to share what they charge it would benefit us all. Thank you!

Whitney May 30, 2013 - 12:35 am

Thank you so much for sharing your article! I am in the process of starting my own private practice out of my home, and when I start to have doubts I come back to read your blog and feel inspired again, knowing that it is possible! Thank you again, what great information.

rebecca June 12, 2013 - 9:44 am

I see you only accept private pay with your speech therapy clients. What paperwork do you give the parents to submit to their insurance company if they want to try to get services reimbursed? I had a practice in GA and recently moved to MS, and I don’t want to mess with insurance companies if I can help it (been there done that!). However, I am at a loss when it comes to private pay. Any advice is welcome! Thank you!

Heidi July 15, 2013 - 6:10 pm

Hi Rebecca,

I give my clients signed copies of all their paid invoices. It has worked great for reimbursement from Flex spending accounts and Health Savings Accounts.

Scott Harmon July 24, 2013 - 4:58 pm

As a fellow clinic owner I get a charge out of hearing how other therapists have created their clinic. Many of the stories are similar…start small and grow. It sounds like you did a really good job at staying within a budget and not taking on much debt to grow your business. This is one of the more difficult things to do in a private practice. Keep up the good work.

Scott Harmon

Heidi July 31, 2013 - 2:46 pm

Thanks Scott!

Jennifer August 5, 2013 - 10:01 pm

Hi Heidi, I am a Special Education teacher. I work with young children that have special needs, specializing in the area of ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis). My extensive experience is working with children that have been diagnosed with PDD or Autism. At this time I was interested in setting up my own private practice. Your post has provided me with inspiration and a positive outlook into doing what I love best from the comfort of my home. Any ideas as to where to start gaining clients that may benefit from my expertise. I live in Staten Island, NY. Thanks!

Heidi August 6, 2013 - 1:54 pm

Hi Jennifer,

I think that’s great that you are going to start your own business from home! There are so many parents that are desperate to find help for their kids with Autism and PDD. I would recommend you contact the local early intervention program and give them your information. You may even consider offering to do some kind of free parent training occasionally so you can personally meet some of the parents who are looking for help. Then when they leave the program and they are given your name as a referral they will remember you and call you up. I would also talk with local pediatricians and community hospitals. Get your name on as many referral lists in the area as possible.

Before you know it you will have to put people on a waiting list. Good luck!

Lacey August 11, 2013 - 9:59 pm

Hi! Loved the article. I’m looking to start my own private business in peds and am curious about the billing aspect. You just invoice the parents for a flat rate? Do you or did you look at billing the insurance companies directly for payment? Thanks

Heidi August 16, 2013 - 12:57 pm

Hi Lacey,

Yes, I just bill the parents a flat rate. I never have looked into billing insurance companies. I haven’t needed to. I do have a friend in private practice that does bill the insurance companies. She said she just called ASHA and was directed to someone there that was able to give her all the information she needed to start billing insurance companies. The nice thing about that is once you get approved you are added to the approved provider list which can be another source of referrals.

Good luck with your business!


Justin Morgan September 9, 2013 - 10:37 am


I have enjoyed reading this post and all the replies. Thank you for sharing! I am in the middle of my CFY at a SNF. I’ve considered the idea of starting my own practice at some point in the future. Do you recommend that I gain some more clinical experience before I attempt to start privately? Do you think that your business could be a full-time venture? I ask that because I am a male SLP (rare, I know) and the primary breadwinner of the home, so I would be more interested in a full-time venture. Let me know what you think! Thanks!


Heidi Hanks September 9, 2013 - 2:58 pm

Hi Justin,

I would definitely recommend you spend a few years at least in the field. You will learn so much once you get out there. It will also give you a chance to make some connections which is really helpful as far as referrals go.

Yes, if I wanted to I know I could do private therapy full time. There are plenty of clients looking for help.

Good luck with your CFY!


Sada September 21, 2013 - 12:53 pm


Rose Chalil September 22, 2013 - 4:33 pm

Hi Heidi,
I want to thank you for posting your story. I have been playing around with the dream of starting my own practice. I am a ASHA certified SLP that just moved to Texas in June of this year. I have worked in the Early Intervention settings as well as in schools. I have been juggling my fears and nerves regarding this as well as trying to find the perfect balance for my family (husband and 4kids). Do you have any advice you can offer? I just feel like I need to take the leap but something keeps holding me back. I would like to ask, how did you do the rate comparison and handle billing? I think those are the things that intimidate me the most…Thanks so much.. Rose

Heidi Hanks September 24, 2013 - 1:45 pm

Hi Rose,

Taking that leap of faith can be a little scary at first and in my opinion is the hardest part, but you can do it! My advice, get a list of local SLP private providers, and call them. Introduce yourself, let them know you are new in the area and starting a private practice. Ask them what they charge for services. Let them know you would appreciate referrals if they have a full caseload.

Local colleges, hospitals, early intervention facilities and pediatricians often have lists of local providers. Send emails, and or drop off business cards to local facilities and ask them to put you on their provider list.

Attend your state Speech Language Hearing conference each year. That will give you a chance to get to know other SLP’s in your area and make contacts.

Billing…that’s no big deal. Kind of a pain, but no big deal. Just create invoices at the start of each month for upcoming services, deliver it to parents and request payment before services begin. That way you don’t have to try to collect for past services.

You can do it Rose! I believe in you!


Jina October 2, 2013 - 3:09 pm

Awesome! Thank you so much for sharing your experience and knowledge. I am new in the field (2nd year) and my dream is to have my own private practice. I currently work in the schools, as well as a private practice on Saturdays. Your post definitely has me thinking. Great therapy room!!! Thanks again!

Janet Eatman October 9, 2013 - 9:58 pm

Hello Heidi,

I am so impressed! You are indeed a super mom. I am working on making my dream come true of setting up my own practice as a bilingual speech and language therapist (Spanish/English). The need is great in the area where I live. Just concerned about parents being able to make the co-pays. Most are on Medicaid or the State health plan for kids. I’m also worried about high # of cancellations. I am at the early early stages of this. Giving myself plenty of time to read and study before jumping in! Thanks again for selflessly sharing of your time and experience. I too love the field after 20 years in it.


Scotttt Harmon January 7, 2014 - 1:56 pm

Heidi, I am looking for an SLP to interview on my podcast at http://www.startatherapypractice.com. Any time before summer would be great. This is the only place I could find to contact your “directly”.
Thank you,
Scott Harmon OTR/L

Heidi January 7, 2014 - 5:51 pm

Thanks for the comment Scott. I’ll email you directly.

ELIZABETH RILEY December 29, 2013 - 6:35 pm

Can’t thank you enough for this fabulous dialogue on private practice. Couple of questions:
1. do you ever see children for feeding therapy?
2. What would you say draws parents to your private practice versus a local clinic where therapy is provided?

Heidi January 13, 2014 - 2:39 pm

I don’t do feeding therapy, but I do work on oral motor exercises when necessary. As far as what drives parents to me, my answer is almost all by word of mouth and referrals.

emily January 5, 2014 - 5:42 pm

Heidi, this was very helpful for me. I too, graduated undergraduate in 2000! I graduated with my masters in 2003. Can you tell me how you developed your forms. Do you use paper or electronic notes?

Heidi January 7, 2014 - 6:18 pm

Hi Emily,

When I first started everything was paper forms of course. I spent hours outlining all my goals for each client and creating data tracking forms specific to each goal. As you may know when I saw my first iPod I knew change was coming. That’s when we created Articulation Station. Now of course all my data tracking for articulation and phonology goals is done within the app. Articulation Station made data tracking so much easier that I haven’t wanted to go back to laboriously keeping data on paper, so as a result… I am putting all my time and resources into software that will make our jobs a little easier. We recently released Articulation Test Center which is an assessment app for articulation and phonology. It actually makes marking errors, substitutions and phonological processes fun! It provides an easy fun way to get a speech sample, and the best part is… it gives you recommendations and writes your report for you!!! Yay!!! Those are the kind of time savers we need as busy SLP’s! So as far as articulation and phonology goes, go check out our products at littlebeespeech.com. In the meantime, you may want to check out some other data tracking software for your other goals. I really like what the folks over at Talktrac.com are doing.

All the best!

Heather K January 20, 2014 - 5:56 pm

Hi Heidi,

I am inspired by how you started your own private practice right at your house and designed your own apps! I am interested in starting my own preschool for typical students as well as those with special needs. I am a certified and licensed SLP. Do you have any insight as to the billing aspects for students with special needs aged 3-5? It seems like uncharted territory for unless done by a public institution such as Head Start or a university. I’d appreciate any insight you have! Thank you so much!


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