Spoiler alert: my best suggestion for how to make more money in private practice is to charge your worth. Sure, you can boost your marketing strategy, see more clients, and find ways to incorporate passive income into your practice. And don’t get me wrong, I fully endorse all those strategies and use them myself. But if you’re not charging your worth, you’ll be contending with an uphill battle to make more money in private practice.
Why am I focusing on charging your worth? Because this topic seems to come up over and over. The conversation sounds something like this:
Colleague: Marie, I’m working so hard at private practice, but I’m just not earning the income I want.
Me: How many clients are you seeing each week?
Colleague: 25 (or 30, or 40, or more…!)
Me: Wait, that’s a lot! Why don’t you raise your rates?
Colleague: [insert excuse for why it’s not okay to charge their worth]
Listen, if you’re afraid to raise your rates: this message is for you!
Why Therapists Don’t Charge their Worth
Here are some of the primary reasons I’ve seen for why therapists charge less than they’re worth:
1. Emotional reasons
I think this is hands-down the main barrier keeping therapists from charging what they’re worth. This is such an important topic that I teamed up with financial therapy expert Lindsay Bryan-Podvin of Mind Money Balance to dive deeper. She posted an entire video on her YouTube channel with tools to help you tackle the emotional barriers that are keeping you from charging what you’re worth. You can watch it here:
Keep up with Lindsay on her Instagram page here: Mind Money Balance
2. Lack of Financial Education
Sometimes we see the rate we’re charging and assume we get to take that entire amount home in our paycheck. If that were the case, I’d be charging $60 per session.
In reality, if I only charged $60 per session, my take-home pay would be less than the minimum wage. So it’s important to understand your expenses and break down the math before you get sticker shock at the seemingly high amount your charging.
I suggest that when you set your rate, you factor in all your expenses before you arrive at your gross pay per session. More on how to do this later. As an example, my current rate is $175 per session, but when I subtract all my expenses as well as the time I spend on documentation and other work, my hourly pay comes out to something closer to $60 an hour.
Both in my graduate school training as well as when I taught graduate-level MFT students, there was a HUGE stigma around therapists and others in the helping profession earning income higher than a basic living wage. Somehow in our culture, we’ve fostered a belief that if we truly desire to help people, we shouldn’t be earning more than a bare minimum for it to be genuine. But there are two major issues that this mindset brings up:
- If we have to constantly grind in order to put food on the table, we inevitably burn out. And burned out therapists make for bad therapists. We also then model this unhealthy behavior for our clients.
- If we charge less than we’re worth, people may question our capacity to help them. They might assume we’re charging less because we’re not good enough to charge more. This will either leave empty slots on your calendar or cause your caseload to be full of people who are less invested in therapy and more interested in landing a deal.
4. Gender socialization
This message is for us ladies. I know many of us are taught to believe that we shouldn’t be big earners. This can run deep, whether we believe that we shouldn’t earn as much as the men in our lives, or if we believe that we’re genuinely less capable of being as skillful as men. I think also sometimes we’re just not taught to have a mindset that earning a higher income is something worth pursuing. Whatever the case may be, I think we have much ground to cover on this front.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I think many of us can relate to at least one of the items on this list.
How to Make More Money in Private Practice by Charging Your Worth
If you’re not sure how to go about setting your rate so you can make more money in private practice, I have an article covering the practical side of setting your rate, so you know exactly how much income you can expect to earn before ever getting started: Set Your Hourly Rate in Psychotherapy Private Practice
You might also find my article all about raising your rates helpful (includes a free sample rate increase letter!): Sample Rate Increase Letter to Clients in Private Practice
A huge thank you to Lindsay Bryan-Podvin of Mind Money Balance for teaming up with me! Go check out her channel: Lindsay Bryan-Podvin’s Youtube Channel. It’s full of helpful tools to navigate money in a way that removes the stigma we often carry around it, and many of her tips expand on the topics I cover here.
I hope you find this article helpful in encouraging you to make more money in private practice by charging your worth. Until next time, from one therapist to another: I wish you well!