Best Practices For Career Counselors: The Advantage Of Having A Dual Specialty Private Practice
By Beverly Baskin
Counseling Was My Calling
Over the years. career and mental health counseling have been my passion. Actually counseling was my second career, after serving as a business teacher in the early 1970s. I taught upper classmen in the local high school and realized that fifty percent of my job was performing career guidance. I counseled young women who would have probably never attended college if they were not exposed to business courses and the opportunities it afforded them. It was rewarding work, and thirty years later I still keep in contact with former students.
Because of that position, I became friendly with the college representatives, and I was hired by a local community college as a career instructor, helping women re-enter the work force. I was using my career guidance and coaching skills on a daily basis and I yearned to further my education. It was then that I decided to continue with my Master’s Degree, and later, with my Ed.S degree in Counseling.
The Clinical Counseling Hat
Once in graduate school, my professors influenced me to try on the “clinical counseling hat” and it fit! The combination was perfect for me, combining career and mental health counseling. As part of my continuing education, I obtained career certifications (Master Career Counselor, MCC, and National Certified Career Counselor, NCCC, and Professional Association of Resume Writers, PARW) and mental health licenses and certifications (Licensed Professional Counselor, LPC, Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselors, CCMHC, and National Certified Counselor, NCC).
My adult students at the college asked me if I would see their family and friends privately and that is how my own practice, BBCS Counseling, began. Marketing myself with the career and mental health specialties provided me with numerous clients. I performed clinical counseling, addressing many problems that encompassed a client’s career, family, marriage and other transitions. In the interim, I raised two children, continued with my studies, and joined local business associations to hone my increasing entrepreneurial skills. The learning curve concerning growing my private practice was fast and steep, and I found it very exciting.
The Evolution Of BBCS Counseling Services
BBCS Counseling has evolved since the 1980s. Twelve years ago my husband joined us in the business, and we expanded to the size we are now. There are six mental health counselors and two career counselors. It has been a wonderful experience and a labor of love. The business supports us both, and provides jobs for other LPCs in New Jersey. We work with clients and corporations nationwide.
Tips For A Successful Business
- Start working in a venue that you know. Your clients will show you where there is an additional need for private services; my college clients did and that is how I started my own practice.
- Build referral sources from other therapists in your counseling organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce, higher education institutions, high school guidance counselors and supervisors. My contracts from corporations came from many of these referral sources.
- Make sure your verbal and written communications reflect your individual expertise. Continue to evaluate your services as they relate to changing social and business media. Think about the types of clients you want to attract and where they are found in terms of marketing venues.
- Be transparent about your skills and communicate that softly but with high self esteem. A long time ago I was told by a mentor of mine that the entrepreneur’s creed is: “If you think you’re doing it…your doing it!
- People trust established businesses. As an example of how to show that, our tag line is “over 17 years of helping people.”
- When your business starts to thrive, think about hiring others to help you. Your income will increase; you can service more people and implement your entrepreneurial visions as the practice starts to become a running business.
- Believe in your mission, your talents and the talents of other professionals that you hire or contract with. Mutual respect and a true admiration society among various helping professionals bring credibility and shows your integrity.
Making A Difference
Looking back, I can say that the “business of counseling” is one that has provided wonderful dividends for me, both personally and financially. Even as a young woman, I wanted a career that made a difference in people’s lives, but I never realized how my clients and my colleagues would make a difference in my life as well! They provide me with continuing insight, and I have had a lifetime learning experience to which I am truly blessed.
Beverly Baskin, Ed.S, LPC, CCMHC, NCCC, MCC, PARW, has been a Licensed Professional Counselor since 2000 and is the Executive Director of BBCS Counseling, with offices in Freehold, Cranford and Princeton, New Jersey. Additionally, Beverly serves as the Community Career Counselor for the Continuing Education Division of Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, New Jersey. Beverly’s contact information can be found at www.BBCSCounseling.com