The beginning of the year is always the time for resolutions. This year everywhere I go money is on is on therapist’s minds and in their New Year’s Resolutions. The top resolutions mental health professionals tell me they’re making this year are about money—mainly increasing their income so it covers the rising costs they’re facing in their practice and at home.
Here are five tips for increasing your practice income. To make it interesting, these tips are selected from some of the articles I’ve been recommending to the therapists I’ve been doing practice coaching with. I’ve included links to the articles they’re from.
Tip 1: How to Set Your Fee to Make Your Private Practice Profitable and Sustainable
Overall, to know how to set your fees you need to be able to look at the big picture and what you need to cover your expenses and make a profit. Do your research. Find out what your actual expenses will be. Also keep in mind where you need to be financially. Then set your fees based on the cost of doing business, what the market will bear along with knowing what you need to make in order to be profitable and stay in practice.
By doing these things, you can make your private practice as a counselor or therapist successful, profitable and sustainable over time.
Article: Fees and Knowing What to Charge
Tip 2: The Mistake Therapists Make When They Set Their Hourly Rate
There is a mistake I see so many early career therapists make when they set their hourly rate in private practice: undercharging.
In reality, here’s what actually happens with this strategy: when potential clients see that you charge much less than the other local therapists, they take it as a sign that you’re having trouble getting business. Most people then make the further assumption that you must not be a very good therapist if you’re unable to fill up your practice.
Article: Set Your Hourly Rate in Psychotherapy Private Practice
Tip 3: When to Offer Sliding Scale
In a self-pay practice, sliding scales are a great way to help people who can’t afford your full fees. However, if you always offer it most prospective clients will take you up on it even if they don’t need one.
In order to rectify this problem, I recommend only offering your scale when a client clearly demonstrates need. Always explore all of their potential resources with them before jumping to the conclusion they need a sliding scale. The client will take the easiest solution, however, there may be a mutually beneficial solution that takes a little exploration in order to get there.
Article: 5 Ways to Earning More Money With Sliding Scales
Tip 4: How to Set Private Practice Fees So Your Fee Allows . . .
How to set private practice fees as a social worker, therapist, psychologist, or counselor means looking at what you need to earn to thrive. I teach my clients to look at what is sustainable, aligned, and values-based for them. That means making sure your private practice fee can cover the following things.
Ask yourself, does my fee allow me to . . .
Consider how much money you need to be making annually to account for the above questions, then reverse-engineer your way there.
Article: How To Set Fees In Private Practice
Tip 5: Missed Session Fees
In my consultations with therapists nationwide, we strategize on how to keep more of their hard-earned money—without working harder. While there are many factors we can’t control, I am struck by how often these therapists are leaving thousands of dollars on the table each year due to one thing they can control: their cancellation policy.
It’s true, insurance generally won’t cover missed/late-cancelled sessions, and shouldn’t be billed for them. EAPs also don’t usually allow you to charge for a no-show, or it may count as one session (some EAPs will pay for part or all of the first no-show—check your contract).
However, if you are in-network with the client’s insurance, you can usually charge the client for a missed or late-cancelled session. You may only charge your insurance session rate, and you must have gotten the client to sign your cancellation policy in advance. Out-of-network therapists can charge clients up to their full fee.
So why aren’t we charging clients regularly for missed sessions?
Article: Missed Sessions: Being Nice Can Cost You Thousands
Hope you enjoyed the food for thought in these 5 tips for increasing your income—and found some inspiration and support for ways to increase your income in this next year.
Lynne Azpeitia, LMFT, AAMFT Approved Supervisor, is in private practice in Santa Monica where she works with Couples and Gifted, Talented, and Creative Adults across the lifespan. Lynne’s been doing business and clinical coaching with mental health professionals for more than 15 years, helping professionals develop even more successful careers and practices. To learn more about her in-person and online services, workshops or monthly no-cost Online Networking & Practice Development Lunch visit www.Gifted-Adults.com or www.LAPracticeDevelopment.com.
Lynne Azpeitia, LMFT
For 10+ years Lynne Azpeitia has helped therapists to live richer and happier lives through her workshops, private practice and career coaching, and her practice consultation groups which train, support, and coach licensed therapists, interns & students how to create and maintain a successful, thriving clinical practice and a profitable career