Stars Wellness

So You Want To Start Your Own Practice

There seem to be several enquiries across the Social Work groups on Facebook and I would like to expand on some of the steps.


First Things First

Do you have a minimum of 5 years of 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 R600.00 and note the following:


NB** Please note that your request form must be returned to the 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 the date of receipt.   ALL Annual 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 2021/2022 NOW DUE!!!  




Step 2: You can download the forms from the Board of Health Funders website (BHF).

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 but might have changed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is advisable to contact the office or check the website for updates. 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 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. Please note that the annual membership fee each year is payable from the 1st of January to the 31st of March.


This fee is a bit steep but consider whether it will be valuable to you if you do not have support from such a body. It is NOT compulsory to join SAASWIPP if you are in private practice.


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.


End of year closure dates for CIPC - Tech4LawThe 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 your 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.


Referral, Business, Communication


You should also explore linking with Wellness organisations that 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


53 thoughts on “So You Want To Start Your Own Practice”

  1. 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. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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?

  7. 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. Hi Velile

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

    Ayesha from Stars Wellness

  9. 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

  10. Hi Nondumiso

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

    Ayesha from Stars Wellness

  11. 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

  12. 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?

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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?

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

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

  17. 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…”

  18. 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.

  19. 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”

  20. 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”

  21. Thanks for the information it so worthy. I gained a lot of insight about specializing in Social Work.

  22. 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.

  23. 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…

  24. 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?

  25. 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

  26. 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.

  27. 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?

  28. 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.


  29. 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.

  30. 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

  31. 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

  32. 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

  33. 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

  34. 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

  35. 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

  36. 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

  37. 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.

  38. Morning. I have three years of experience as a Social Worker. I want to start a private practice. Please guide me

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