I remember for the first several years that I had my own business, I would wonder what my private practice client load was supposed to be per week.
Was it 20? 25? Was I supposed to be seeing more than 30 clients per week?
Is There A Magic Number of Clients?
The mentality I had was that there was a certain number of clients per week that I needed to see in order to be considered “full.”
I think for me part of this boiled down to feeling like I needed to see a certain amount of weekly clients in order for my practice to be legit. This just simply isn’t how it works.
Your practice is full whenever you decide your practice is full. Period. Whether that’s with 30 weekly clients or 2 weekly clients. Your practice is your practice and you get to decide what your client load is per week.
With that said, I thought it might be helpful to name some signs that your practice might be full.
Have The Right Private Practice Client Load? 2 Ways To Tell
1) You’re Happy With Your Client Load
- Plain and simple. If you’re happy with where you’re at, there’s no need to make any changes.
- I see a lot of folks who are happy with their current setup but simply feel that they’re “supposed” to be seeing more clients. Who says?
2) You Have Enough Emotional Margin For Your Clients
- If your weekly caseload starts getting too full, you start to lose emotional abundance.
- And from that space, things like burnout, bitterness, and lack of empathy can start to take root. Which, if the thing we’re selling to our clients is a healthy relationship with us, then that formula simply doesn’t add up.
- The client load that allows you to have emotional margin can vary greatly from person to person. It also changes from one season of life to another. I used to be able to see 20+ clients per week when I was in my 20’s. But now in my 30’s, with two kids and little sleep, I’m happy capping my practice at 8 clients per week.
What About Income?
Notice that I didn’t mention income as one of the items. I don’t think your weekly private practice case load should entirely be dictated by the income you want to earn.
I’m all about empowering you to earn the income you want, but you can adjust your hourly rate to accommodate the income you desire. If you want help determining how much to charge, I created a video that goes over how to calculate your rates.
And if it turns out you thrive most by seeing a very small number of clients per week, then it may make sense for you to generate the rest of your income through another means that allows you to feel balanced. This is what I do, and I explain more in this article about how I earn six figures while only seeing 8 clients a week.
White knuckling it to see more clients than you want to for the sake of earning more income can work okay for a little while, but it’s not sustainable and in time will allow more dangerous mental health impacts to take root. And I believe it will eventually impact the quality of your therapy work.
Still Not Feeling Happy Or Fulfilled?
Of course, it’s possible that you might be seeing your ideal number of clients but you’re not feeling happy and you aren’t experiencing emotional abundance because of other important factors.
It may be that you’re just in a tough season in your personal life, or you’re not as interested in working with your current population and you’re ready to pivot specialties. Or maybe you are feeling burned out. If you are wondering if that’s you, I have a video that helps you spot the early signs of burnout.
Regardless, it’s a great idea to take an inventory of your practice and ask yourself whether you’re practicing from a place of abundance.
And if you’re not, I encourage you to explore the reasons that might be contributing to that experience so you can tend to those needs, whether it’s simply a matter of seeing fewer clients and increasing your rate, or if there’s something else going on.
Whatever it might be, it’s worth giving it some of your attention so you can work towards feeling happier with the life you’ve built.
I hope you found this helpful, whether you’re working on filling your practice or whether you’re needing to dial back how many clients you’re seeing.
Until next time, from one therapist to another: I wish you well!
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