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Setting up a Counselling Business

All you need to know about starting and running your business

Business guides » Setting up a Counselling Business

What is a Counselling Business?

With increased mental health awareness in the UK, more people than ever are engaging in counselling. Counselling is a type of talking therapy performed by a trained professional. The person attending a counselling session will discuss any issues, problems or difficulties they are facing with the counsellor.

Counselling takes place in a safe, confidential environment with the aim to help the individual deal with any emotional or personal issues they are facing and explore their thoughts and feelings. A counsellor often doesn’t give their own opinion or offer direct advice. Instead, they challenge their clients to understand their situation better and identify the root causes of their issues and resolve or reconcile their problems.

If you are considering starting up a counselling business, there are several different ways you can offer counselling sessions.

Individual Counselling

Individual counselling is where you meet with the client 1:1, without other people present. Individual counselling is better for people who prefer confidentiality and the 1:1 attention of the counsellor. Individual counselling usually encourages a more intimate and trusting counsellor-client relationship and is beneficial for people who have difficulty opening up about their problems.

Group Counselling

During group counselling, the counsellor will meet with a group of people at the same time (usually between 4 and 10 people) who are experiencing similar difficulties. The group will usually meet at the same time every week. Group counselling can be beneficial as it offers your clients support from other people in a similar situation, the opportunity to hear about different experiences and different perspectives, and a level of accountability and social interactions. Group counselling is usually less expensive for each client.

Face-to-Face Counselling

Face-to-face counselling is where the counsellor meets with the client in person. Sessions can be conducted from any location, including your office or the clients’ homes. Face-to-face counselling allows you to consider the clients’ body language and other non-verbal communication. Some clients find face-to-face counselling to be more beneficial and are more likely to create a positive line of communication and continue with the sessions.

Telephone Counselling

Telephone counselling still takes place 1:1, in a private, confidential setting between the counsellor and the client. However, the entire session takes place over the telephone, allowing your client to access counselling from their own home. Telephone counselling is usually more affordable and is recommended for people who cannot easily travel to their sessions, for example, if they don’t have the means to travel or experience an anxiety disorder. However, some clients struggle to connect with the counsellor and don’t always commit to their sessions over time.

Online Counselling

Online counselling can be done in a variety of ways, including by video chat, email or instant messaging. It may be recommended for those who cannot attend counselling because of scheduling difficulties or location restrictions, or those who feel more comfortable communicating in this way. Online counselling is usually less expensive for the client and requires less time commitment from the counsellor.


Although counselling is available on the NHS, there is often a long wait time (usually around 18 weeks). There is also a limit on how many counselling sessions are available on the NHS, with most NHS regions offering between 6 and 12 sessions. This has resulted in many people turning to private counselling, making now a great time to start up a counselling business.

As part of your counselling business, you will have a variety of day-to-day responsibilities.

These could include:

  • Building trusting, positive relationships with your clients that are mutually respectful and non-judgemental.
  • Planning sessions.
  • Creating appointments and coordinating sessions.
  • Encouraging your clients to talk about their experiences, thoughts and feelings.
  • Asking questions, encouraging open communication, empathising and supporting your clients.
  • Helping your clients to perceive their difficulties in different ways and find solutions.
  • Making notes and keeping confidential records.


To operate as a counsellor in the UK, you will need to obtain either a diploma, a bachelor’s degree or a postgraduate qualification in counselling or psychotherapy.

You will also need personal skills such as active listening skills, empathy, sensitivity and patience. You will also need the ability to understand people’s reactions and interpret their non-verbal cues. A non-judgemental approach and the ability to communicate with people from a variety of backgrounds are essential.

Counselling can be a difficult career choice. You will therefore need resilience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations and be able to work under pressure.

Types of Clients

Many counselling businesses opt to target a specific client base. Your client base can depend on several factors:

The type of counselling you specialise in:

Counsellors can specialise in a huge range of difficulties or issues, including:

  • Mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders and stress disorders.
  • A health condition that has had a negative impact on the client’s well-being or mental health (for example, infertility or a physical disability).
  • Upsetting life events or traumas, such as a bereavement or a relationship breakdown.
  • Difficulties in regulating emotions.
  • Relationship issues.
  • Issues relating to sexual identity or gender identity.
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed, feelings of hopelessness and low self-esteem.
  • Social withdrawal.
  • Addictions.
  • Bullying.


Where you operate your business from:

Counselling businesses can operate from a variety of locations.

You can choose to:

  • Operate from your own counselling office.
  • Operate from a GP surgery, a hospital or another medical setting.
  • Operate from an educational setting such as a school, college or university.
  • Operate from a workplace or a business premises.
  • Operate counselling groups in a community or private setting.


The type of counselling sessions you offer:

Some clients prefer individual sessions rather than group sessions. Some prefer face-to-face counselling whereas others prefer telephone or online counselling. The type of counselling sessions you offer will affect your client base.

Your pricing strategy:

Your price per session will impact your typical customer base, as your clients may have a specific budget in mind.

Counsellor with patient
Counselling sofa
Filing documents in cabinet

Equipment You Will Need

The type of equipment you will need for your counselling business will depend on the type of business you run. Below is a full list of equipment required by different counselling businesses.

Consider the type of business you are going to run when determining your equipment requirements:

A website

Your website will most likely be your most important advertising tool. It will allow potential clients to find your business online, especially if you utilise Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), allowing you to rank higher on search engines. Your website should be designed to reflect your business and your branding. It should also contain important information such as your qualifications and experience, your specialities and services you offer and customer reviews. You may also have your contact information or an online booking form for potential clients to complete.

An email service

You will need to set up your own email service using your own domain. Using a public email domain such as @google or @hotmail can look less professional compared to using your own business domain. You will need to make sure your email service is fully secure and encrypted and abides by email security policies in the UK.

A secure storage system

Many of the documents you work with will contain highly sensitive information that you will need to store securely at all times. The vast number of documents will likely require you to invest in secure cloud storage. You should ensure the storage you opt for is password protected and encrypted. You should also ensure everything is backed up externally to protect the information in the event of a technological issue. The cost of cloud storage can vary significantly, depending on the amount of storage you need.

A scheduling tool or software

Scheduling tools allow you and your clients to make appointments and meetings without needing to waste time trying to find an available date and time. The software links to your calendar and recognises your availability. If a client books a session with you via the software, you will receive an automatic confirmation email and the session will appear in your calendar. Prices can start at as little as £2 per month.

A laptop or desktop computer

You will need a high-specification, reliable laptop or desktop computer that can handle the amount of time you will be using it each day and all the software you will need to install. If you offer online or video appointments, you will need to ensure your laptop or computer has a reliable camera. A high-spec laptop can cost between £500 and £3,000.

High-speed Wi-Fi

If you run your business remotely, you will need to ensure your Wi-Fi is reliable and high speed. If you offer video or online sessions, you will need to ensure it doesn’t cut out in the middle of a session. Wi-Fi prices usually range from £20-£50 per month depending on your provider and your required speeds.

A shredder

You will be dealing with confidential information daily and ensuring any confidential paperwork is properly shredded and disposed of is a legal requirement. A shredder can be purchased for as little as £15.

Counselling Office Equipment:

When styling your counselling office, you will need to consider what equipment and furnishings are practical, easy to clean and create a comfortable and calming environment for your clients.

Some equipment your counselling office may require includes:

A therapy sofa or chair

You want your clients to feel comfortable and calm when attending your office. Your therapy sofa should be made of a material that is easy to clean and looks professional but is still comfortable. Prices can vary but usually start at £500.

A desk and desk chair

You’ll need a desk to sit at when completing any notes or paperwork and when using your computer or laptop. Ensure your desk looks professional and fits the design of your business. It should also be set at a good height to avoid any musculoskeletal issues. You can expect to spend between £200 and £2,000 depending on the quality of the materials and the manufacturer.

A therapist chair

You likely won’t sit at your desk chair when talking with your clients as the desk can create a barrier and make you look too formal. It is also recommended that you sit at the same height as your clients to encourage a respectful relationship and ensure you don’t appear intimidating. Keep in mind that you could be spending several hours a day sitting in the chair so you will need it to be supportive and comfortable. You can opt for a chair that matches your sofa or is a similar height. You can expect to spend £200 and above.

Office décor

To make your office more personable and attractive and a more comfortable environment for your clients, you could choose décor such as:

  • Plants and flowers.
  • Pictures and wall art.
  • Rugs.


A CCTV system

This can protect your business from potential break-ins and theft. A CCTV system can cost between £300 and £5,000 depending on the specification of the equipment, how many cameras you require, and the installation costs.

A fully stocked first aid kit

In case of an accident or injury, a first aid kit is an essential piece of equipment. A fully stocked first aid kit can be purchased for approximately £15.

Business cards

Business cards are an important marketing tool and can be given to new or existing clients. They can also be used to record appointment times. Your business cards should include your business name, contact information, location and the types of services you offer. 500 business cards can cost as little as £20.

Organisational equipment

Some organisational equipment you may require includes:

  • Filing cabinets.
  • Client folders.
  • Binders.
  • Filing labels.
  • Calendars and diaries.


Stationery equipment

Some stationery equipment you may require includes:

  • Pens and pencils.
  • Highlighters.
  • Rubbers and Tipp-Ex.
  • Elastic bands.
  • Scissors.
  • Staplers.
  • Envelopes.
  • Note pads.
  • Printer paper.
  • Post-it notes.
Counselling session in office

Typical Pricing

When setting up your counselling business, an important step is to plan your finances and calculate the approximate costs associated with setting up and running your business. This includes your start-up costs and your monthly, quarterly and annual outgoings.

Some of the typical costs associated with a counselling business are:

A premises (if relevant)

If you run your counselling business from your own office or other premises, this will likely be your biggest expenditure. You will need to rent your premises on a monthly or annual basis. Rental prices can vary significantly, depending on the location, the size of the premises and the on-site facilities. City centre locations and newly built premises usually have the highest rental costs. Rental costs are often calculated per square metre. They can range significantly, from £500 to £15,000 per square metre annually.

Renovation and refurbishment

You will likely need to renovate or refurbish your premises to fit your business aesthetic and make it fit for purpose. Your premises should be a calming, comfortable environment and you may need to redecorate and install furniture to fit this. Renovation costs can vary, depending on the level and scale of work required.


Depending on the type of counselling business you set up, your equipment costs may be relatively low. You will need to invest in the relevant technology and/or furnishings, depending on your business requirements. Equipment costs can range from £500 to £5,000.

Monthly and annual equipment costs

Your monthly and annual subscription costs could include your Wi-Fi, website, email service and your secure storage. Depending on which subscriptions you require and the specifications of the ones you choose, expect to pay a minimum of £40 per month, although this could rise as high as £200 per month.

Running costs

These are the everyday costs associated with running your counselling business. It could include your overhead costs such as electricity, gas, water and council tax. Most of your running costs will be paid monthly, although some may be paid quarterly or annually. Keeping your running costs as low as possible allows you to maximise your profits.


Branding can help you to establish your business’s identity and set you apart from your competition. Branding could include creating your business’s visual identity, a logo, your business name, and creating your business website. You can hire a professional to help you with branding or do some of the work yourself. Branding can cost between £500 and £10,000, depending on the amount of branding you require.

Marketing and advertising

This can help you to grow your business. You may require more advertising and marketing when your business first launches, and you are attempting to grow your client base. It is recommended that you spend between 1% and 3% of your annual revenue on advertising costs; for example, if you make £100,000 per year, you should spend between £1,000 and £3,000 on advertising.


You may initially operate your business independently and then hire more counsellors or secretarial staff as your business grows. If you hire staff permanently, you will need to pay them at least the national minimum wage of £9.50 per hour, although qualified counsellors will expect a significantly higher wage. You will also need to account for other expenses such as holiday pay, sick pay and maternity/paternity pay.

Business insurance

There are several types of insurance coverage you could choose for your counselling business. The cost of your insurance can vary depending on your insurance provider and your level of coverage. Prices typically start at £8 per month.

Some insurance options you could choose are:

  • Professional Treatment Liability Insurance.
  • Property Insurance.
  • Public Liability Insurance for Counsellors.
  • Employers’ Liability Insurance (if relevant).
  • Business and Office Equipment Insurance.
  • Legal Expenses Insurance.
  • Personal Accident Insurance.


Once you have determined your approximate start-up costs and running costs, you can then calculate your pricing.

Counsellors usually charge a fee per session, with fees varying depending on:

  • Your qualifications.
  • Your experience.
  • Any specialist training.
  • Whether you have worked across a range of settings.
  • Your location.
  • Your reputation.
  • Whether it is an individual or group session.
  • Whether it is an in-person session.


Fees can vary from £20 to £150 per session, although on average, counsellors typically charge between £30 and £50 per session.

Safely Running a Counselling Business

Safely running your counselling business can help to protect you, your clients and your business. Safe practices can help to protect your clients’ health and well-being, keep you and your employees safe, and protect your business.

Some ways you can safely run your counselling business are:

Join a registered professional body

Registering with a professional body will give you access to resources, knowledge and networks that can help your training and ensure you run your counselling business safely and ethically. It will also give your business professional credibility.

There are several professional bodies you could register with, including:

  • British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).
  • Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
  • The National Counselling Society (NCS).
  • Universities Psychotherapy and Counselling Association (UPCA).
  • Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP).


Adhere to an ethical code

Ensuring you implement and follow ethical practices at all times is essential. An ethical code helps to protect the well-being of your clients and ensures good practice at all times. An ethical code may be provided by your registered professional body, or you may create your own ethical code.

Create counselling contracts

Also known as a counselling agreement, a counselling contract is a mutual agreement between you and your clients outlining your therapeutic relationship. The contract states your responsibilities towards the client and vice versa. It also ensures your client gives written informed consent and ensures all counselling is conducted in a safe and professional manner.

Gain appropriate qualifications

Although the law does not specifically state which qualifications are required by counsellors, guidelines recommend an appropriate educational course, such as:

  • A diploma or advanced diploma in Counselling.
  • A Bachelor’s degree in Counselling Psychology.
  • A postgraduate diploma or Master’s in Counselling.


Keep your skills and knowledge up to date

The parameters for certain mental health conditions are constantly changing and more research is constantly being done. Counsellors must ensure they keep up to date with changes and updates and ensure they have the skills and knowledge to provide their clients with the best possible service.

Conduct risk assessments

Risk assessments are only a legal requirement if your business has five or more employees. If you have fewer employees, risk assessments are recommended to ensure safe practices in your business.

When conducting risk assessments, you should:

  • Identify hazards.
  • Determine who could be at risk.
  • Evaluate the potential risks.
  • Implement safety measures.
  • Record the results of the risk assessment.
  • Review the risk assessment on a regular basis.


Your risk assessments should also cover any additional risks related to individual clients.

Counsellor introducing himself
Group counselling session

Implement cleaning procedures

If you conduct face-to-face sessions, you must ensure cleaning procedures are followed after each client. This could include cleaning all equipment after use, such as chairs, tables and pens. You should also ensure handwashing procedures are followed.

Protect you and your staff from threatening or abusive behaviour

Threatening or abusive behaviour could come from clients, especially if they are in pain, on medication, are confused or experiencing emotional difficulties. Implement procedures for dealing with threatening behaviour, record any incidents and implement emergency procedures that can be followed in the event of threatening or abusive behaviour.

Keep potentially dangerous objects away from clients

You may be working with clients who are dealing with mental health difficulties or who are going through a distressing time. In the event of an emotional outburst, ensuring any dangerous objects, such as scissors, are kept out of the client’s reach can help to protect both you and the client.

Use a firewall on your devices

A firewall helps to protect the information stored on your devices. It prevents any unauthorised access to your device or accounts and sends you an automatic alert if someone attempts to access your information. Some computers and laptops come with a built-in firewall whereas others may need you to install or enable a firewall.

Secure your Wi-Fi network

Don’t simply set up your Wi-Fi and use the pre-given password. Choose your own secure password and ensure your Wi-Fi network is encrypted to prevent anyone from accessing or hacking it. This is particularly important if you are using your Wi-Fi network to access client records.

Use two-factor authentication for client records and information

All your personal and business passwords should be set up with two-factor authentication. This means you will need to prove your identity in two ways, such as with your usual password and with a code that is sent to your registered mobile number. This adds an extra layer of security to your accounts.

Legal Requirements

There are several legal guidelines you will need to adhere to, to ensure your business is operating in full compliance with the law. Failure to comply with legal guidelines can be detrimental to you and your business.

Some legal requirements you should be aware of are:

Comply with the Equality Act (2010)

The Equality Act states that every individual should be treated fairly and equally, regardless of their age, gender, race, religion, physical and mental ability, sexuality and socioeconomic class. You should ensure counselling is accessible to all, you understand different cultural backgrounds and overcome communication obstacles. You should also be aware of any unconscious biases you may hold.

Be aware of the legal limits to confidentiality

Although counsellors must ensure their clients’ confidentiality, this does not apply if your client discloses information relating to certain illegal activities.

Such as:

  • Drug trafficking.
  • Money laundering.
  • Terrorism.
  • Child abuse.


Comply with any legal orders relating to your client notes

If any of your clients are involved in legal proceedings, a police issue or if they die, you may be asked to surrender your client notes. You should comply with any orders to release your notes and ensure your notes are factual.

Comply with the Data Protection Act (2018)

You have both a legal and ethical duty to ensure all your client notes are stored safely and securely. The Data Protection Act applies to any client information that is stored on a computer or any physical information, such as in your paper filing system. You must comply with legislation on how you collect, store and use personal information.

Ensure your clients have the capacity to give informed consent

You must use your judgement and the clients’ information to determine whether each client has the capacity to give informed consent to the counselling sessions. If you work with children, you must gain informed consent from their parents or guardians.

Obtain criminal record checks

As you may be working with vulnerable individuals, you and your employees must undergo a criminal record check and obtain a certificate.

The type of check required depends on the country you live in:

  • England: Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
  • Wales: Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
  • Scotland: Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme.
  • Northern Ireland: AccessNI.


Keep accurate, factual records

Any records should be kept for a minimum of seven years after your clients’ sessions have ended. When destroying records, ensure this is done in line with the policies of your local authority.

Ensure you are first aid trained

If you conduct face-to-face sessions, you must ensure you have appropriate first aid training and have a fully stocked first aid kit. This will allow you to administer medical treatment if necessary.

Comply with employment legislation

If you employ any staff, you must ensure you follow employment legislation, including the Employment Rights Act (1996) and the National Minimum Wage Act (1998). You must also comply with legislation relating to recruitment, working hours, sickness, discrimination, dismissals, and maternity or paternity pay.

Comply with the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 2013

RIDDOR states that you must report all injuries, diseases and dangerous events that occur when your business is operating. Reports must be made to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) using an appropriate recording document.

Implement health and safety policies and fire safety procedures

All businesses should have health and safety policies that help to manage health and safety in your business. They protect the health and safety of you, your clients and your business. Your policies and procedures could include fire safety and emergency procedures.

Comply with the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations (1992)

Under these regulations, if your business has five or more employees you must ensure you conduct appropriate risk assessments, minimise any risks and maintain all equipment. You must also make sure high levels of cleanliness are maintained.

Register your business

You must register your business with HMRC before you begin operating. You can register as a sole trader or as a limited company. You will need to register your business name and any other relevant information.

Register for self-assessment tax

This allows you to calculate and pay your own taxes each year. You will need to track your finances every month and submit any expenses as part of your tax assessment.

Advancing career to child counselling

Positives of Owning a Counselling Business

Counselling can be an extremely rewarding career in many ways.

Some of the main pros associated with running a counselling business are:

It can be extremely lucrative

Running a counselling business can be extremely lucrative. You can charge between £30 and £150 for a counselling session. The more experienced a counsellor you are, the higher prices you can charge. You can also charge higher fees if you specialise in a specific type of counselling. By hiring additional counsellors and expanding your business, this can offer you unlimited income potential.

Opportunities to advance your career

By undergoing further training and obtaining additional certificates, you can advance your career and further your business. This could allow you to expand your clientele further and offer additional counselling services.

Great job satisfaction

As a counsellor, you can really make a difference in your clients’ lives. Seeing your clients make progress and make breakthroughs can be extremely rewarding. You will likely be seeing clients over a period of time and developing positive client relationships.

Set your own working hours

As the business owner, you can choose your own working hours and operate a flexible schedule. If you need a day off work, you can choose not to schedule any appointments on that day. You can choose the working hours that work best for you.

Few start-up costs required

As you can run your business from home or from another premises and you can offer telephone or online sessions, which could result in very few start-up costs. This means your business will require a lower investment and will be lower risk.

Design your dream business

You can design your counselling business exactly how you want. You can choose the type of counselling you offer, the type of sessions you want to run, your speciality and where you want to operate your business from. Creating your dream business can be both fun and rewarding.

Be your own boss

You can make all key decisions yourself and steer your business in whichever direction you choose. You can choose how involved you want to be, whether you want to grow your business and which hours you want to operate. You can make the best decisions for you and your business.

A constant need for your business

Once your business is established, you should find your services are constantly in demand. Counselling is becoming more popular as people are more aware of looking after their mental health and well-being. This should mean you never have to worry about your business not making a profit or experiencing a lack of demand.

Predictable income stream

You will likely have consistent clients with sessions booked in advance. This makes it easier to predict your income and your profits. You will also be able to see how much availability you have and how many more clients you can take on.

Client loyalty

You will likely be working with the same clients over extended periods. Not only does this offer you consistent profits, but you may also see client recommendations. Some clients undergo counselling for months or even years, which can be extremely beneficial to your business.

You can work alone or as part of a team

You can choose whether you want to operate alone or as part of a team. You can make the decision based on what is best for you and your business. Your counselling business can be run by you alone, or you can hire other counsellors.

Counsellor working in a high stress job

Negatives of Owning a Counselling Business

However, there are some negative aspects of being a counsellor you should be aware of, including:

Cancelled or rescheduled appointments

Clients may cancel their appointments with little notice or not attend appointments without first informing you. This could result in a loss of income for you and disruption in your clients’ progress.

It can be emotionally demanding

You will be dealing with high emotions and stressful situations on a daily basis. You will need to constantly monitor your clients’ emotions and well-being and react to their emotional cues. Dealing with negative emotions and monitoring mental health conditions can be emotionally draining.

It can be high stress

Not only will you feel responsible for the well-being of your clients and running sessions effectively, but you also need to consider the day-to-day responsibilities associated with running your business. This can be both time-consuming and demanding. Making your business succeed and ensuring you turn an acceptable profit can also be stressful.

It can take a long time to qualify

To work as a counsellor, you will need to study for several years to become qualified. You will likely need to gain the necessary experience before you qualify for your study programme, and this can be time-consuming. It often takes up to five years to become a fully qualified counsellor in the UK.

Setting up a counselling business can be challenging

Making your business succeed can be difficult, especially if there are already established counselling businesses operating in your area. Clients may be more likely to choose a counsellor who has been recommended to them or already has a good reputation. This can make it difficult for you to build your client base and make your business succeed.

High liability

Because you will be dealing with sensitive issues and people who are facing difficulties, you may occasionally have a patient who self-harms or tries to end their life. In this situation, your counselling services are likely to be highly scrutinised and you may be held liable.

It can be competitive

Not only will you be competing with other private counselling businesses, but you also need to consider the competition you will face from NHS counselling services. High competition can make it difficult for your business to succeed.

Your working hours can be erratic

You will have to ensure your sessions are at a time that is advantageous to your clients. This could mean you are scheduling around their working hours or their family commitments. You may have stretches of time with no appointments and then be busier in the evenings, which could be inconvenient for you.

It can be lonely

Although you will be meeting with your clients every day, you may be operating as the only counsellor in your business. Because of confidentiality, you will also be unable to discuss much of your work with your family or friends or with other professionals. This can make counselling a lonely career choice.

Strict laws and regulations

The counselling and mental health industries are highly regulated and there are many laws and regulations you will need to abide by. You will need to research your legal requirements and ensure your business is operating in line with the law. Failure to do so could result in a fine, the forced closure of your business or even prosecution.

No benefits

As you are self-employed, you won’t receive benefits such as pension contributions. You will also be responsible for doing your own taxes and organising your National Insurance contributions.

Planning Your Counselling Business

An effective and well-designed business plan is essential to the success of your counselling business. A business plan can help you to focus on the specific steps that will help your business succeed, plan your short-term and long-term goals, determine your financial needs and help your business to grow.

When creating your business plan, ensure it contains information such as:

  • Your company information.
  • Your company description.
  • The services you will provide.
  • Your branding, marketing and advertising plan.
  • The structure of your business.
  • The operational plan for your business.
  • The financial plan for your business.


Some of the factors you will need to consider when planning your counselling business are:

Are you going to focus on a specific type of client?

You may choose to work with a variety of different clients or specialise in a particular type of counselling. For example, marriage counselling or sexual identity counselling. Consider your own knowledge, skills and experience, client demand and your local competition when determining what to specialise in.

What type of counselling are you going to offer?

Will you offer face-to-face or distance counselling? Will you specialise in individual sessions or group sessions? You may opt to offer different types of counselling or specialise in one particular type, for example, only in-person, group sessions.

Where will your counselling take place?

If your offer in-person counselling, you will need to decide where your sessions will take place. This could be from your own counselling office or from another premises, such as a GP surgery, a school or a community centre.

What training and qualifications do you require?

There are multiple ways you can become a qualified counsellor and you must decide which is the best option for you. Consider the pros and cons of each qualification, for example, by considering the course materials, the length of time your training will take, and which qualifications are likely to be most desirable to your clients. You should also consider whether you need additional training to specialise in a specific type of counselling.

Do you have any local competition?

Look at other counselling businesses that operate in your area. What types of counselling sessions do they run? Do they specialise in a specific type of counselling? Where do they operate their businesses? You must ensure there is space in the market for your business and consider ways to make your business stand out.

What are your equipment requirements?

Consult the list above to determine your equipment requirements. Once you have determined your equipment requirements, you can then calculate the initial costs of purchasing the equipment and the monthly replenishment costs.

What are your initial set-up costs and running costs?

You need to determine your approximate start-up costs and running costs to enable you to calculate your initial investment, determine how you will fund this investment and what your monthly or annual costs will be. Creating a budget is a key part of your business plan. It can also help you to determine whether you can finance the business yourself or whether you require outside investment or a business loan. Consult the list above to help you calculate the approximate costs associated with setting up and running your business.

What will your fees be?

Your fees will depend on several factors, including your experience and training and the type of counselling you offer. You will likely have different fees for face-to-face sessions, compared to telephone and online sessions, and individual sessions will be more expensive than group sessions.

How many clients can you see per day and week?

This will depend on your working hours, the length of your sessions and where you conduct your sessions from. Determining your client capacity can help you determine how much advertising you need to engage in and what your profit forecast is likely to be.

What will your advertising and marketing strategies be?

Advertising is key to your business’s success, especially in your first year of operation. Consider how you can appeal to your target clients and how you will ensure they encounter your business.

What are your business objectives?

Your business objectives are crucial for creating a successful business plan. Your business objectives highlight the targets and goals of your counselling business and help you to create a one-year, three-year, and five-year business plan to help you grow your business.

Your business objectives should be SMART:

  • S = Specific
  • M = Measurable
  • A = Achievable
  • R = Realistic
  • T = Time-bound


Have you complied with all legal requirements?

Consult the list above and ensure you have complied with all legal requirements before opening your counselling business. Failure to comply with the legal requirements could negatively affect your business and your profits.


Download our business plan