We psychotherapists (social workers, counselors, marriage & family therapists and psychologists) in private practice didn’t come into this field of work to become millionaires. Most therapists decided to study psychology and train to be a licensed therapist out of a fascination for human behavior and a desire to help others.
But let’s face it. . . we gotta eat. And there are far too many psychotherapists barely getting by.
It doesn’t have to be this way. I have had a fruitful career as a licensed professional counselor and I now mentor and coach therapists who work with children and families in private practice. I offer practice building training and consultation for therapists who provide play therapy in helping them with the process of building their dream practice. In this article I’m going to share 9 ways to make more money as a psychotherapist, borrowing from what I teach my mentoring clients.
9 Ways to Make More Money as Psychotherapist:
- Make Friends with Money. I find it ironic that we who are trained in understanding the power of cognitive structures and the subconscious mind are often the most uncomfortable or shy around the subject of making money. We want to make money but we have a shadow of shame that shows up as soon as we admit it. Worse than that, I see therapists with poor money mindset shaming other therapists for expressing a desire to make more money. Let’s stop that cycle and be okay with wanting wealth. Yes. Wealth. There are ways to clear out the deficit mentality and open the spillway to allow money to flow into your career and life. Get some training in money mindset. Read Napolean Hill’s book Think and Grow Rich. Learn how to love money and money will love you.
- Be Systematic with your Time. Someone once said, “Time is money.” and that is the absolute truth for psychotherapists in private practice. Get a good time management system in place utilizing “time blocking” and honor the how and the why you are spending your time. If you are spending 3 hours per day working on case-notes and you’re only being paid $80 per 50 minute hour seeing 5 clients per day, it’s time to make some changes. If you haven’t already moved to a simple electronic system for record-keeping and appointment setting, it’s time. In this day and age you should be able to hammer out a progress note in 5 minutes between clients. Shave your 50 minute sessions down to 45 and make use of that extra 5 minutes between sessions. Utilize the timer on your phone to keep you on track when you are doing non-clinical tasks. Watch out for the black hole of social media. Put a cap on your clicking and browsing time.
- Create a Treatment Plan for Your Business. If you can write up an effective treatment plan for a client (and I know you can and do every day in your practice) you can create an effective plan for your business. Just as you conceptualize what is happening for your client when they enter therapy with you and envision where you’d like to help them be through the process of therapy, you can do the same for your business. Private practice is a business and yet so many psychotherapists have zero business training. Start by creating a vision for your ideal private practice? How much money do you want to make each month? How many days and hours do you want to work? What kinds of clients do you love working with? Do you want to find way to be outdoors more? Do you prefer having other professionals nearby or do you like being solo? After you create your vision, what’s your mission? What are your goals? And what action steps do you need (interventions) to reach those goals? When will those action steps be taken? If you don’t have a plan, you’re simply wandering through life taking what comes rather than mindfully pursuing with a specific aim. You wouldn’t fly by the seat of your pants with a client so why are you doing so with your business? You will make more money if you have a plan as to when and how you will do so.
- Be Social. Authentic relationships are the bedrock of success as a psychotherapist in private practice. Networking need not be shallow conversations and simply passing out business cards. Building a network that reaches far and wide has never been easier now that we have social media. Utilize social media strategically. Create a system for time spent in social media building authentic connections with your local community as a community member in groups on Facebook. Share meaningful resources with others far and wide and establish yourself as an expert. This will create a magnet for referrals and open doors for the next 6 suggestions I have for you.
- Create and Sell a Product. A product is anything you create that delivers a helpful use to others. Create a recording of your voice guiding someone through a progressive muscle relaxation. Write a short guide about relationship communication. Even better is to have a library of similar products and sell them from your website for a reasonable fee to create passive income.
- Create a Continuing Education Workshop. Chances are you have something to teach other therapists. Therapists need continuing education hours. So do nurses and lawyers. I bet you have something that you could teach nurses and lawyers too. You’ll have to invest some money in the process of qualifying as a continuing education provider with various boards but you’ll be guaranteed a return on that investment once you market your workshop appropriately.
- Be Paid to Blog. Not everyone is a natural writer but I’m going to bet you have some really helpful information you could share with others in a blog article. Paid blogging gigs are out there. You can find them. Just google paid blogging gigs. I have one I write for every month that pays $150 per article. Learning how to write blog-style may take a bit of research and training but it’s not rocket science.
- Speak and Teach for Money. Many civic organizations pay professionals to come and speak at their meetings. There are all sorts of professional association conferences that seek key note speakers. Universities and local colleges often hire professionals to teach at the adjunct level.
- Write and Publish a Book. Easier said than done, I know. You might need to hire a ghost-writer and it can be a bit tricky to find a publisher who is willing to put your book out on the market. There are plenty of ways to self-publish these days, however. Do your research first and don’t invest a pile of money in a self publication racket without a plan. All that said, writing and publishing a book can be a way to leverage other paying gigs. The book itself can be sold from your website, on a marketplace such as Amazon, or sold at conferences or continuing education workshops you lead.
You went to school and received a masters or maybe a doctorate. You’ve been helping clients heal, grow and change. You can continue to work with clients AND leverage your expertise and time to make more money as a psychotherapist. With a little planning, a lot of creativity and some know-how it is more than possible to have a highly profitable career. Start with ensuring your financial literacy and money mindset are healthy! Check out my Money Matters two hour workshop for psychotherapists and other helping professionals.