Setting up a private practice in psychotherapy brings several challenges, including a considerable investment of time and money.
You can reduce risks early on by identifying up front the ideal client and the format of the service on offer.
Next comes planning your approach and identifying the best therapeutic resources available to boost the likelihood of a positive treatment outcome for your clients (McLeod & McLeod, 2022).
Once done, you can focus your energy on delivering the best treatment possible and maximizing opportunities for success for your practice and its clients (DeAngelis, 2011).
This article shares many powerful and well-proven therapy resources for use across varied and diverse client groups to kick-start your practice.
Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Positive CBT Exercises for free. These science-based exercises will provide you with detailed insight into positive Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and the tools to apply it in your therapy or coaching.
Quenza stands out as a well-crafted and visually attractive platform designed by a team of mental health experts, offering user-friendly features and science-based content and activities for your clients.
Choosing suitable activities, tools, and worksheets
Having selected a platform such as Quenza (which makes it easy to onboard clients and send and schedule homework exercises), it is essential to identify the best resources and tools for your practice to increase your clients’ opportunity for a successful therapeutic outcome.
The following steps support choosing those resources:
Define your goals and needs.
Spend time understanding and defining your treatment goals and needs.
What are your preferred therapeutic approaches, and what would you like to focus on? Who are your target client populations?
Use credible sources and check that the content is evidence-based.
Choosing resources, evidence-based tools, and activities from reputable and credible sources is more likely to yield positive client outcomes.
Our blog offers a vast resource of free articles, tools, and guidance grounded on research-led psychological theory and research.
Employ various formats and topics.
Gather diverse and varied resources that meet your client’s specific and individualized needs and your preferred personal therapeutic approach.
Where appropriate, combine them to address specific client needs.
Offer user-friendly layouts and instructions.
Prioritize resources with clear and concise instructions tailored to your clients’ needs.
Provide customization and personalization.
While free resources are enticing, ensure that tools are high quality and allow customization.
Personalizing worksheets to match your practice’s branding and tailoring them to individual client needs will boost client experience.
Use interactive and engaging content.
Seek resources that encourage your clients’ prolonged engagement and interaction. Tools and activities must be practical and relevant.
Prioritize interactive worksheets and exercises that actively involve clients in their therapeutic journey.
Lean on community and support.
Seek out online platforms offering a community or forum where you can interact with other professionals, share your experiences, and exchange ideas.
Connecting with peers provides invaluable support, fosters professional growth, and encourages information sharing regarding the best treatment resources.
Keep your resource library current.
Regularly review your resources, seeking and adding new materials and removing outdated or irrelevant ones.
In doing so, you keep your offerings current and demonstrate your commitment to staying at the forefront of psychological developments and expertise.
Request client feedback.
After using materials with clients, ask for their feedback.
Client input can help you identify the most effective tools, understand what resonates best, and provide consistent, high-quality treatment.
Following these tips when choosing and using free resources creates a compelling library of exercises, activities, assessments, and tools that enhance the treatment.
Not only that, your resources’ quality, appropriateness, and effectiveness play a significant role in establishing your credibility as a psychologist, so invest time in curating materials that reflect your dedication to your clients’ wellbeing and growth.
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Free CBT Resources
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is a well-validated and widely used treatment for helping clients identify and reframe unhelpful thoughts (Edelman, 2018).
The following therapy resources help recognize and challenge negative thoughts and adopt alternative ways of thinking:
Case Formulation Worksheet
The four Ps of case formulation (predisposing, precipitating, perpetuating, and protective factors) provide a helpful framework to reach a shared understanding of the client’s presenting problem.
ABC Functional Analysis Worksheet
The ABC technique collects information about what factors lead to specific problematic behavior (antecedents) and what factors result (consequences) from that behavior.
Coping Styles Formulation
A CBT case conceptualization worksheet for therapists and clients to come to a shared understanding of their problems.
Simple Thought Diary
Record thoughts and emotions associated with an event for later reflection and review.
These 17 Positive CBT & Cognitive Therapy Exercises (available to purchase) offer a comprehensive collection of evidence-based CBT exercises designed to empower therapists with practical tools to enhance their clients’ wellbeing.
Free Occupational Therapy Resources
Occupational therapy helps us be our best in the workplace, education, home, and beyond (Royal College of Occupational Therapists, n.d.).
The following therapy resources support clients in completing tasks, offering techniques to overcome fears and other limiting beliefs:
Graded Exposure Worksheet
Fears can stop clients from reaching their potential in the workplace and beyond. Graded exposure involves creating a safe environment in which clients are exposed to what they typically avoid.
I Will Survive
Reflecting on past events that clients have successfully overcome can build strength and resilience for coping with future challenges.
Defining social problems and goal barriers can help clients learn how to overcome them.
Who Am I Self-Reflection
Clients take stock of what they are good at, what challenges they have overcome, and what inspires them.
This handwriting exercise is a helpful occupational therapy for children to learn how to manage what is inside and outside their control.
Our 17 Work & Career Coaching Exercises (available to purchase) offer a valuable resource designed to support therapists as they guide their clients toward fulfilling and successful careers.
Why not try integrating these exercises into your practice to empower your clients as they navigate career transitions, unlock their full potential, and cultivate a sense of purpose in a professional setting?
Free Art Therapy Worksheets
Art therapy creates opportunities for free self-expression, therapeutically supporting self-awareness and creativity (Isserow, 2013).
The following worksheets are helpful for working with both adults and children:
This children’s activity involves drawing pictures that represent and express multiple examples of when they experienced emotions.
Children become better at practicing gratitude and being thankful by drawing what they are grateful for.
Visualizing Your Boundaries
Encourage clients to use this worksheet to visualize their boundaries to clarify the limits they need to set between themselves and others.
The 17 Positive Psychology Exercises collection (available to purchase) is a comprehensive resource that equips therapists with an array of evidence-based exercises to promote psychological wellbeing and flourishing in their clients.
Listening With Purpose
We are often guilty of failing to listen well to our partners. This worksheet encourages each person to talk openly and take time to share how they feel in a safe environment.
Regular Couple Checkups:
Although we have regular checkups for our physical wellbeing, we rarely have them for our relationship health. Use this worksheet to take stock honestly and openly.
The Positive Relationships Masterclass is an enriching resource designed to empower therapists with valuable insights and practical strategies for cultivating positive and meaningful relationships in therapy.
Gain further insight into the family relationships formed during childhood and how birth order may have affected beliefs and behavior.
The 17 Positive Relationships Exercises is a valuable collection of evidence-based exercises tailored to help therapists facilitate positive and transformative changes within their clients’ interpersonal relationships and provide practical tools to address communication issues, build trust, foster empathy, and promote intimacy.
Free Resources for Career Therapists
Career coaching and therapy can help clients reflect on their career direction and adjust to changing roles and workplace environments (Yates, 2021).
The following free therapy resources help career therapists support their clients:
FIRST Framework Questions
The FIRST acronym (focus, information, realism, scope, and tactics) is a helpful and practical tool for identifying and understanding the client’s current situation regarding their chosen career.
Use this worksheet to imagine (in as much detail as possible) how it would look and feel to have the career of your dreams.
Exploring Past Resilience
Consider resources and strategies that have helped in the past and recognize their future potential.
Incorporating such exercises into your practice helps guide your clients toward developing essential work-related skills, improving work–life balance, and achieving greater career success and satisfaction.
We have many resources that support you as therapists starting up or growing practices.
In addition to the selection of free worksheets shared throughout the article, we also have a subscription service offering you access to over 500 top-quality exercises, activities, questionnaires, assessments, and interventions.
Positive psychology toolkit preview
These are powerful tools to energize and motivate your work with clients and provide essential tools to support your therapeutic approach.
In addition, you will then obtain access to our online community of like-minded professionals, who are very interactive and keen to support newcomers.
Here is a review from one of our community members, sharing his thoughts on the practical use of the Toolkit tools.
Adam Schilling - Review of the positive psychology toolkit
A Take-Home Message
Setting up a private practice in psychotherapy may be challenging. Therapists can mitigate many of the risks by identifying their ideal clients and service format early on.
By planning their approach, then identifying and using the most potent and effective therapeutic resources, therapists can maximize the likelihood of positive treatment outcomes for their clients.
This article presents a diverse range of well-proven therapy resources to kick-start your practices, including engaging intake forms, goal-setting tools, specific treatment exercises, progress-monitoring techniques, and tips for evaluating and terminating therapy.
We offer a vast library of resources — many free to use — that will support you in your new practice while providing evidence-based, psychology-led support for your clients’ wellbeing.
As a therapist setting up your practice, time invested in identifying your ideal clients and service format helps focus energy on delivering the best treatment possible.
Combined with continuously updating and seeking client feedback on resources, you can ensure you provide consistent, high-quality treatment, establishing your credibility as a therapist dedicated to your clients’ wellbeing and growth.
Finding the best tools and activities for your client at the right time during treatment is vital to being a good therapist. Mental health professionals consistently reach beyond their preferred approach to ensure the best client outcome possible (Nelson-Jones, 2014; McLeod & McLeod, 2022).
What are the essential elements of successful therapy?
A solid therapeutic alliance combined with appropriate interventions and techniques will best support your clients and provide a positive therapy experience (DeAngelis, 2019).
What therapy has the highest success rate?
Despite no single therapy meeting the needs of all clients and their problems, CBT is often considered the gold-standard psychological treatment among mental health professionals (Goldfried, 2019; David et al., 2018).
What are the 3 pillars of therapy?
Empathy, unconditional positive regard, and congruence are typically recognized as the three pillars of effective psychotherapy (Nelson-Jones, 2014).
David, D., Cristea, I., & Hofmann, S. G. (2018). Why cognitive behavioral therapy is the current gold standard of psychotherapy. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 9.
DeAngelis, T. (2011). Are you really ready for private practice? American Psychological Association. Retrieved July 18, 2023, from https://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2011/11/private-practice.
DeAngelis, T. (2019, November 1). Better relationships with patients lead to better outcomes. Monitor on Psychology, 50(10), 38.
Edelman, S. (2018). Change your thinking with CBT: Overcome stress, combat anxiety and improve your life. Vermilion.
Gehart, D. R. (2016). Theory and treatment planning in counseling and psychotherapy. Cengage Learning.
Goldenberg, I. (2017). Family therapy: An overview. Cengage Learning.
Goldfried, M. R. (2019). Obtaining consensus in psychotherapy: What holds us back? American Psychologist, 74(4), 484–496.
Isserow, J. (2013). Between water and words: Reflective self-awareness and symbol formation in art therapy. International Journal of Art Therapy, 18(3), 122–131.
McLeod, J., & McLeod, J. (2022). Counselling skills: Theory, research and Practice. Open University Press.
Nelson-Jones, R. (2006). Human relationship skills: Coaching and self-coaching (4th ed.). Routledge.
Nelson-Jones, R. (2014). Practical counselling and helping skills. Sage.
Royal College of Occupational Therapists. (n.d.) About occupational therapy. Retrieved July 18, 2023, from https://www.rcot.co.uk/about-occupational-therapy/what-is-occupational-therapy.
Yates, J. (2021). Career coaching. In J. Passmore (Ed.), The coaches’ handbook: The complete practitioner guide for professional coaches (pp. 280–290). Routledge.
About the author
Jeremy Sutton, Ph.D., is a writer and researcher studying the human capacity to push physical and mental limits. His work always remains true to the science beneath, his real-world background in technology, his role as a husband and parent, and his passion as an ultra-marathoner.