So You Want To Start Your Own Practice? Here are some steps to bear in mind…

There seems to be a number of enquiries across the Social Work groups on Facebook and although Mthobisi Nene  started a valuable post on this important subject in the Facebook Group Social Workers for Better Salaries, I would like to expand on some of the steps.

First Things First

Do you have the minimum of 5 years experience to be able to start a practice?

Do you have a good support system?

Have you identified a supervisor?

Have you started networking for support and clients?

These questions are important to explore and the answers should all be “Yes!” before you pursue any of the other steps.

Step 1: Apply to the SACSSP to obtain your Certificate of Status Report and the Personal Particulars form which is also attached to the link. It costs R220.00 and note the following:

NB** Please note that your request form must be returned to council either by fax, email or post, together with your proof of payment . This extract will be issued within 30 to 45 working days   from date of receipt.   ALL AnnNo automatic alt text available.ual fees payments must be paid up to current! ATTACH your  proof of the payment for the request of a status report on return to continue for processing – attach proof of payment for the requested document/s as well as the  annual fees for 2017/2018 NOW DUE!!!  



Step 2: You can download the forms from the Board of Health Funders website (BHF). The application fee is R500.00 for 2017.

You will need the following:

  • Certified copy of ID. 
  • Certified copy of the passport and proof of permanent residence permit, where the applicant is not a South African citizen. 
  • Certified copy of Marriage Certificate or Divorce Decree (where applicable).
  • Certified copy of the Registration Certificate from the South African Council for Social Service Professions. 
  • Certified Copy of the South African Council for Social Service Professions receipt for the current year. 
  • Certified Copy of the Certificate for Good Standing or Status report from the South African Council for Social Service Professions. 
  • If you are an employee of a Government Department or NGO, please forward documentation confirming that you have the necessary permission to practice outside of your conditions of employment.

The following are attached to the application form:

  • Form providing details of a Commissioner of Oaths 
  • Form providing details of the practice/facility/service/business 
  • Signed Declaration 
  • Banking details verification form 
  • OPTIONAL: The bank debit order instruction form for PCNS annual renewal fees


1. Faxed or Emailed Applications will not be accepted. Applications must be submitted by way of Registered Mail or Hand Delivered to the BHF Office

2. Should your Registration change from a General Practitioner to a Specialist, a New Practice Code Number will be issued, and the GP Practice Code Number will be closed.

3. The Compliance and Risk Unit has been established to monitor adherence to the PCN System’s Terms and Conditions.

Should you have any Queries regarding this Application, please contact Client Services on 0861-30-20-10, by facsimile on (011) 880-5959 or 086-607-3703, or e-mail

Step 3: If you hand deliver it, you will get a reference number immediately and the practice number within a few hours via email.  Delivery via courier can take up to 2 weeks and the BHF will send you a document with your practice number. Once you have your practice number, you have to contact each of the medical aid companies who cover Social Work services in order to register with them. This is a time consuming administrative activity but will allow you to claim directly from the Medical Aid on behalf of your clients.  If you do not do this, clients will pay you upfront and can still claim back from their Medical Aid but you will have to supply the appropriate ICD-10 code to your invoice.

Step 4: If you are unfamiliar with ICD-10 codes, it is useful to consider registering with The South African Association for Social Workers in Private Practice SAASWIPP as they assist their members with training on the appropriate codes and how to run an ethical practice. New registration, ONCE OFF – R340 and Membership fee 2017 – R800.  Please note that the annual membership fee each year is payable from the 1st of January to the 31st of March.

This is a bit steep but consider whether it will be valuable to you if you do not have other support.

Do I Register My Practice as a Company?

Another important consideration is whether you are going to run the practice as a sole proprietorship or a business – this will depend on your scope of practice.  if you wish to work in the Wellness field and register with companies on their databases, it is better to have a registered company as one needs various documents such as BEEE certificates; Tax Clearance Certificates and ….  Many companies will not utilise your services as a sole proprietor.

cipc-logoThe good thing is that registration is not a difficult or expensive process and you can do it all online at the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission CIPC. A name reservation application costs R50. A company registration may vary between R125 and R475 (R125 for a private company, R475 for a non-profit company registered without members).  For more information on whether you should register your business, you can read more about it here.

Now you are ready to print those business cards; create your website and start your marketing.

How Will I Secure Work/Referrals?

Forethought to this important question is vital to explore before taking the leap into private practice as this is where you will make you money.  Bear in mind that you want to remain ethical in your practice and should only focus on that which you are familiar and comfortable with – do not accept a case that you are not 100% comfortable with as this just lends itself to ethical risks.  You need to have a network of resources to whom you can refer those clients that you cannot assist.

You should also explore linking with Wellness organisations who get referrals from other sources and who use social workers in private practice to render services on their behalf.  There are a number of such organisations out there and seeking them out is a good way of networking and a vital step in getting your business off the ground.

Remember: The more you put in, the more you will get out!  Good luck with your venture!

For more information please contact Ayesha Malagas on 0837304556 or email at Visit my website at and



About the author: Ayesha Malagas

50 comments to “So You Want To Start Your Own Practice? Here are some steps to bear in mind…”

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  1. Thamsanqa Alphios Gwala - November 1, 2017 at 6:36 pm Reply

    I am a qualified Social Worker with an experience of eleven years of practice. I would love to have my own private practice and l am greatful that l am this far the help from my former colleague l now see the light at the end of the tunnel. Thank

  2. Ramanee Hira - December 11, 2017 at 8:46 am Reply

    Hi Ayesha

    Thanks for the information.

    Really do appreciate it.


  3. Nondumiso Dludla - March 3, 2018 at 11:56 pm Reply

    Dear Ayesha

    I am Nondumiso Dludla a qualified Social Worker, Honours in Clinical Social Worker and qualified EAP as well. I am currently studying Master of Philosophy specialising in Human Rights Law. I am in beggining phase of starting Private Practise, i have learnt from the information you have published.

    • admin - April 24, 2018 at 7:05 pm Reply

      Hi Nondumiso

      Good luck with your journey and get yourself an excellent supervisor to guide you.

      Ayesha from Stars Wellness

  4. Harry Diamond - March 23, 2018 at 11:17 am Reply

    Thank you for the information…it’s exceedingly helpful to some of us who want to contribute positively to the social well-being of our country and to play a meaningful role in entrepreneurial movement of 2018 and beyond.

  5. ludwe mafa - March 27, 2018 at 2:07 pm Reply

    hi admin i am a also a qualified Social Worker with vast experience. i started to practice in 2005 with various NGOs. I am currently working for Department and my intention is to open my own practice. Could u assist me please

    • admin - April 24, 2018 at 7:02 pm Reply

      Hi Ludwe

      Good luck with the process. Please consider the steps highlighted in the two blogs on the website and ensure that you get yourself an excellent supervisor,

      Ayesha from Stars Wellness

      • Zoliswa Monica Mtelekiso - June 27, 2018 at 6:15 pm Reply

        Helo. My name is Lizalise; I would like to start practising Social Worket private. I.obtained my Degree in 2004 and start practising. I have EAP profession nd Honours in Probation and Correctional Practise, currently I am Social Work Supervisor. Due some personal reasons I want to be fulltime with my family . Please guide me.

        • admin - July 25, 2018 at 7:48 am Reply

          Good day

          Wonderful to hear that you are qualified and by the looks of it, with more than 5yrs experience in the field. I offer supervision for Private Practice in Pretoria, so if you are nearby, please contact me on 083 7304 556 or email

          “Helping you to see the stars in the darkness”

  6. VELILE - April 12, 2018 at 6:56 am Reply

    I am a qualified Social worker with 4 years experience. I have started the process to register my own private practice, still waiting for status report ,however I’m anxious at the same time I’m excited to embark this journey.
    Thank you

    • admin - April 24, 2018 at 7:00 pm Reply

      Hi Velile

      Good luck with your venture and keep following my posts on Facebook and here.

      Ayesha from Stars Wellness

  7. Nothando - April 21, 2018 at 11:59 am Reply

    I’m a qualified social worker,obtained my degree in 4 years back.I am currently unemployed..I have two years experience,one of social work and grant administration. Do I qualify to open my own private practice?

    • admin - April 24, 2018 at 6:59 pm Reply

      Hi Nothando

      There are no minimum requirements to start a practice but it is hard work and can be very trying out there. It is suggested that one have at least 5yrs experience in the field, but also an excellent supervisor who will be able to keep you on track.

      If you are still keen to start, at least get the latter in place.

      Ayesha from Stars Wellness

  8. Nokuphila - April 28, 2018 at 9:03 pm Reply

    Good Evening. I Nokuphila who just completed a Degree in Social worker.Wish to be clarified on one think. Am I be able to open my practice using knowledge and skills I learnt from University? I’m little confused when the statement says there is no minimum requirements of experience all of the sudden it says it must be three/five years experience.Kindly clarify for me please

    • admin - May 20, 2018 at 6:40 pm Reply

      It is not recommended to start private practice straight out of varsity as one’s liability is high. For this to work, one must have an excellent supervisor and a load of courage. Contact SAASWIPP for more information.

    • admin - July 25, 2018 at 7:45 am Reply

      Hi there

      It was initially not an issue but recent legislation and policy changes has led to the minimum requirements. Personally I believe that it is safer to practice having a strong background and good experience. you would still have to find a supervisor in private practice to guide you so that you remain ethical and current. I hope that this explanation helps.

      “Helping you to see the stars in the darkness”

  9. Zodwa - May 15, 2018 at 6:06 pm Reply

    Hello, and thank you for the information I am intending to start a private practice, am having masters in social work, currently doing clinical social work substance abuse programme with 9 years work experience. do I still need a supervisor? also am registers with the council, is there any other registration needed?

    • admin - May 20, 2018 at 6:42 pm Reply

      Good evening Zodwa

      One always needs a supervisor!! Your liability while in private practice cannot be denied. You need to register for a practice number with BHF if you wish to contract and claim from the medical aids.

  10. Shared - June 9, 2018 at 2:27 am Reply

    Hi. This article is a God sent. Thank you so much. Some advice on how to get a supervisor. Can Supervisors working within an welfare organisation also supervise someone on private practise or where do I look for one?

    • admin - June 19, 2018 at 10:30 am Reply

      Hi there

      I would suggest that you find someone in the private sector as it will be someone who understands the dynamics of private practice. Join some of the Facebook groups to find someone in your area. Contact me should you not find assistance at

      “Helping you to see the stars in the darkness…”

  11. Margie - June 13, 2018 at 6:56 am Reply

    Thanks to the wonderful guide

    • admin - June 19, 2018 at 10:28 am Reply

      You are welcome, Margie. All the best with your venture.

      “Helping you to see the stars in the darkness…”

      • Faith Ngaki - July 4, 2019 at 8:33 am Reply

        Morning am Faith who has a degree in Social Worker I have been employed for 11 years and on the process of registration for private practice. .am more motivated after I have read all your comments and concerns…

        • admin - November 6, 2019 at 6:37 pm Reply

          This is great news, but not an easy road. You will need a good supervisor who understands private practice to guide you. Read my blogs and let me know if your need my help. I charge R500 an hour for supervision via Skype or video call

  12. Demetria - August 17, 2018 at 4:14 pm Reply

    Thanks for the terrific post

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  14. - November 15, 2018 at 12:55 pm Reply

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you penning this article and also the rest of the website is really good.

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  16. FAMILY DOCTOR MIAmI - April 12, 2019 at 11:31 pm Reply

    Good day! Would you mind if I share your blog with my facebook group?
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  17. financiële administratie breda - May 2, 2019 at 9:58 am Reply

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  18. Angel - June 4, 2019 at 8:30 am Reply

    Hello Ayesha, I’m Angel. Do you know of anyone in Private practice in Nelspruit I can contact? I need to register but dont have a supervisor in mind.

    • admin - November 6, 2019 at 6:39 pm Reply

      This is great news, but not an easy road. You will need a good supervisor who understands private practice to guide you. Read my blogs and let me know if your need my help. I charge R500 an hour for supervision via Skype or video call

  19. Betrice - July 24, 2019 at 8:57 am Reply

    Hi Ayesha, I’m a qualified Social worker with 5 years working experience from NGO.s, but currently unemployed.Can I get a supervisor who’s based in Limpopo as I intend to register my private practice. Or should it be only social workers or maybe Psychologist who can mentor?

    • admin - November 6, 2019 at 6:36 pm Reply

      This is great news, but not an easy road. You will need a good supervisor who understands private practice to guide you. Read my blogs and let me know if your need my help. I charge R500 an hour for supervision via Skype or video call

  20. Akhona Mbata - August 14, 2019 at 9:31 pm Reply

    I am 7 years experience SW and all of a sudden I am craving for more. I want to start my own practice. Thanks for the information above, because I’m still reading to colecy data for my exit plan to work.

    Am excited, thanks

    • admin - November 6, 2019 at 6:35 pm Reply

      This is great news, but not an easy road. You will need a good supervisor who understands private practice to guide you. Read my blogs and let me know if your need my help. I charge R500 an hour for supervision via Skype or video call

  21. Buthelezi - August 19, 2019 at 8:52 pm Reply

    Hi I have been out of the country for three years and I dont have any supervisor here in South Africa. I recently came back from UK. How to go about getting a good Supervisor.

    • admin - November 6, 2019 at 6:35 pm Reply

      This is great news, but not an easy road. You will need a good supervisor who understands private practice to guide you. Read my blogs and let me know if your need my help. I charge R500 an hour for supervision via Skype or video call

  22. Ishmael Kapa - August 28, 2019 at 6:36 pm Reply

    Hi Ayesha
    I have been trying to open my own private practice since 2017 before the review from the council and bhf that to qualify one must have 5 years experience as by the time I already started with the applications and as a result of their review they told me that I should have 3 to 5 years practice experience and that they could not refund me my application fee for status report by then but that they will convert it to my annual payment to the council with additional money to cover the annual fee until I reach 3 to 5 years experience of practice. Now I have four full years of practice and would like to ask if they will stay deny me the opportunity to practice privately or not?

    • admin - November 6, 2019 at 6:19 pm Reply

      The best practice is 5 years. BHF and SAASWIPP will not provide you with practice number or support. Hang in there. IT is not an easy road to chose

  23. Pumla Bassie - September 25, 2019 at 1:19 pm Reply

    Hi Ayesha

    I am Pumla, I’m a social worker with many years of social work experience, though half these i have been and still practising abroad(UK). I want to start private practise in SA and since been away,I have not been paying annual subs with SACSSP though I am registered here with a local council of social workers. I am in the process of restoration with SAcssp.
    My question is will I need to get the status report from the council I am currently registered with or do i need to wait until i am fully restored with the SACSSP.


  24. Nomathemba Dube - November 6, 2019 at 9:28 am Reply

    I am Nomathemba Dube a social worker with 5 years experience in different fields.I’m currently unemployed and will like to open my own practice can i please have an advice of what to do.

    • admin - November 6, 2019 at 6:33 pm Reply

      Hi Nomathemba

      This is great news, but not an easy road. You will need a good supervisor who understands private practice to guide you. Read my blogs and let me know if your need my help. I charge R500 an hour for supervision via Skype or video call

  25. Zanele. Molo-Mampunye - December 16, 2019 at 2:31 pm Reply

    I’m Zanele Mampunye, with 4years Social Science in Worker degree. Practicing for 5as a Social Worker. Specializing in community Development for 11years being a community development supervisor for 8years.

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