Finding a Paid MFT Internship or Private Practice Internship

Are you looking to get a paid internship? Well, in many areas of the country the competition is fierce and the jobs are scarce. And you know what that leads to? A lot of of fear, frustration, and hopelessness. 

Calling all pre-licensed therapists! You CAN be successful- even in this economy! I'm going to give you some tips to finding a paid internship as a MFT Intern, ACSW, Associate LPC, etc. today.

Ok, so let's starts simply: 

1. Be professional. 

I think it is crazy that I should even have to write this one down. It seems so obvious. And yet, I talk to therapists who are searching high and low to hire pre-licensed therapists for private practice internships. What do I hear about? 


  • Unprofessional clothing
  • Interns who aren't taking care of their own mental health
  • Unprepared therapists
  • Entitled therapists
  • Angry therapists


While I know that none of you would ever do this. I want you to take a moment to think about this. A private practice internship is someone's baby. It is a licensed professional's small business that they built from scratch. It is should (hopefully) be successful if they are looking to hire someone to come to work for them. 

However, an unprofessional therapist who dresses poorly and doesn't know how to carry themselves could lead to more than just a headache for the supervisor. It can lead to a loss of new clients, a loss of income, and even the loss of the business. It is a VERY big deal for someone to trust you with their practice. Their business will be judged by your actions. 

So, put a little extra oomph into your dressing choices. Dress as you would if you were presenting at a state conference, or you were going to be on Television. If you find the position is more casual- great. But never assume. And prepare for that interview! 

2. Understand the position

One of the key tips i describe in my job interviewing 101 podcast are ways to gather information about the position you are interviewing for. Understanding the position more completely prepares you beautifully for an interview. You need to know what they are looking for,  and, you need to know whether this is even a position you want! 

Private practice internships are not like traditional agency jobs. In 95% of cases you don't show up and see clients. In fact, if you find an internship where you show up and see clients- chances are the pay will be low, or non-existent. 

A successful private practice internship gives you an opportunity to legally market your psychotherapy services. It is a chance to present yourself to the world, start to build your reputation online (and offline), and it can be the foundation with which you launch your own private practice after you get licensed. 

You want a therapist who is going to give you freedom to develop your own website, market in the community, etc. If you get an internship where you aren't allowed to do these things, you are going to have difficulty finding clients- either now- or when you launch on your own. 

A private practice internship that includes the responsibility to market your practice isn't a minus- it is a plus. It is a perk! Having a clinical supervisor who expects you to get clients means having a supervisor who understands how business works and will have more support for you as you move forward. 

A private practitioneer is looking for someone who doesn't just "want to go into private practice someday" but someone who is "preparing to launch a successful private practice in the future by taking specific steps today." Are you passionate about starting a private practice? Are you willing, and ready to learn about marketing, business planning, business boundaries, clinical boundaries, and more? 

3. Don't wait for things to "happen." 

I see many therapists who are complaining that there are "no jobs." While therapists in the exact same places are getting offers from multiple positions. How can this happen? Are some therapists just "lucky?" Maybe. However, every pre-licensed therapist I've seen experience this has made some very specific choices. They make time for trainings and networking early and often in their careers. They are well known by licensed and pre-licensed therapists alike. They are strategic in their thinking and have a bigger plan in mind. 

Do you have a goal of starting a private practice once licensed? Start developing your specialty today. Start your blog today. Start building a contact list today. If you wrote even 1 blog per month, and got even 30 new subscribers per month, in 3 years you would have over 1000 people on your e-mail list. Google would know who you are, 1000 people would know your name. Let's say 50% of those people unsubscribed, and only 1% of those that were left wanted to become your client when you opened your private practice. Do you know what that means? Five new clients when you open the doors. 

Pre-licensed therapists, you can be successful! Think outside of the box. You have (or are getting a master's degree). Build your reputation, make connections, and choose to be successful. You can do this! 

(Are you on the list? If not, get on the list and you'll get the Job Interviewing 101 podcast send out to you after a few days).