One of the biggest fears of nearly every private practice therapist is:
What if I don’t make enough money in private practice??
I hear ya! I felt this way for the longest time as well. But it turns out that it’s more than possible to generate six figures as a private practice therapist.
In this article, I’m going to take it a step further and share how I generate six figures a year while working part-time as a private practice therapist.
…it can be done!
As of 2021, I’ve been fortunate enough to work part-time and still earn over six figures a year. In this article, I’ll give you the behind-the-curtain peek so you can see exactly how I did it. Hopefully, you find it inspiring or helpful in some way.
Keep in mind that there are a million ways to earn six figures a year as a private practice therapist, and this is just the way I’m doing it right now.
why I only work part-time in private practice
As of February 2021, my toddler is in daycare just two days a week. During the other five days of the week, it’s just me at home with my daughter wearing my mom hat all the time (while also wearing pajamas all the time).
I work part-time because my priority right now is being at home with my daughter as much as possible.
But even if someday I bump my work week back up to full-time, I’d likely still only devote a fraction of that time to private practice.
(btw, that day is not likely to be anytime soon because baby number two is on the way. At which point, I’ll likely be working even less!)
I shared all the details of why I choose to work part-time in private practice in my video: Why Full-Time Private Practice isn’t for me.
As a quick overview, some reasons why part-time private practice fits me best include: I’m a highly sensitive person (HSP), I have TONS of interests outside of being a therapist, and I enjoy the extremely flexible work hours that generating passive income offers me. Feel free to check out the video to learn all the details.
how I earn six figures as a part-time private practice therapist
So to be clear: right now I work two days a week. Not two days a week in private practice and then the other days are spent working somewhere else. I just work two days a week in total.
Well okay, let’s be honest: being a mom is hard work. So technically, I work seven days a week 🙂 But I think you get what I mean! I spend only two of those days doing income-generating activities.
But I still earn over $100,000 a year as a private practice therapist, even though I only see around eight clients a week right now, and I have no employees or contractors working for me.
And my income keeps going up!
You might be wondering: Marie, how is that possible?
You’re right, if my income came exclusively from seeing eight clients a week, it would be pretty hard to arrive at six figures.
Just for funsies, I did the math. Assuming I saw eight clients per week and took four weeks’ vacation per year, I’d have to charge $260 per session to reach six figures. And that’s not even accounting for any overhead expenses!
For the record: I charge far less than that for therapy sessions. And I even offer a sliding scale!
So how the heck do I still earn six figures?
Simple: through passive income!
Okay, it’s not quite that simple. A couple of months ago I posted a video sharing how I tripled my private practice salary with passive income. It took LOTS of hard (and unpaid) work to get here. Feel free to check out that video if you want to hear all the details of how I built Private Practice Skills from zero to profit in two years
In this article, I’ll focus more on the basic mindset shift in realizing that I didn’t have to always directly trade my time for money.
The phrase “passive income” is a bit of a misnomer. I’m not spending my daughter’s daycare days sipping piña coladas by the beach while cash flows freely into my bank account. I’m definitely grinding out hard work, week in and week out, to keep this passive income coming.
So passive income is very much an active process.
But what makes it passive is that after an initial building phase, the work hours I put in now are about scaling my income higher for the same amount of work that I put in.
And over time, I’ve even been able to scale back my hours while my income still goes up.
Seeing therapy clients is a form of active income
This wouldn’t be possible to do seeing therapy clients.
To some extent, yes. If I started out in private practice charging $120 a session and over the years I raised my rate to eventually charge $200 a session, then my income would scale up with it.
But at some point, this strategy would hit a wall. Could I scale to $400 a session? $1000? What about $5000 per session???
No way! At some point, one hour of work with a therapy client has an income cap.
This is why therapy work is a form of active income. One hour of work equals a certain amount of pay. And at some point, there is a ceiling for how high that pay can go.
This is also why people refer to active income as “trading time for money.”
Passive income can scale up continuously
With passive income, though it does require that I keep working, there’s no cap for how much income I can generate for one hour of work. And I do believe that if I wanted to, I could keep working part-time and scale to seven figures.
There is just absolutely no way that could ever happen seeing eight therapy clients per week.
For funsies, I did that math too. To earn a million a year seeing eight clients per week I’d have to charge over $2500 per therapy session.
…not gonna happen!
But between seeing therapy clients and the income generated from Private Practice Skills, I’m able to generate over five figures in income every month.
How I generate passive income as a private practice therapist
In my earlier video where I talked about tripling my private practice income, I shared that building an audience has been the key component to scaling my income.
For Private Practice Skills, once the revenue streams are in place, my work hours are focused on creating content that will continue to grow my audience. The income is on autopilot and I just need to help more people come through the door.
This is in contrast with private practice, where I’ve built a system that brings a steady stream of clients through the door on autopilot, and the hard work is spending quality time with each of my clients. (Which, by the way, I absolutely love. But I just can’t do it full-time and still love it!)
My passive income streams
I remember when I first heard about passive income, I didn’t really understand how it worked until I learned more about specific examples of passive income.
So to paint a picture of how this can work, here is a list of my 11 streams of income right now:
Private practice income
- Private practice therapy revenue (active income)
- Subletting my therapy office (passive income)
These account for about $4000 of my monthly income.
Passive income generated from Private Practice Skills
- YouTube sponsors
- YouTube ad revenue
- Course sales
- Affiliate marketing (six affiliate income streams)
Currently, these account for anywhere between $7,000 and $10,000 of my monthly income. And they keep scaling up as I keep growing my audience!
How passive income helps my private practice
One huge benefit that I love about generating passive income through my “side hustle,” is it takes all the pressure off of my private practice to generate income. There’s more freedom to offer a sliding scale or to take breaks from private practice without seeing much of a drop in my income.
Case in point: I am currently expecting my second child this June. Once she comes, I’ll be taking several months off from seeing therapy clients, but the bulk of my income streams will still be intact and paying the bills, all while I’ll be busy with two kids under two.
Passive income opens new opportunities for private practice
I also have dreams for the future of my practice that wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for having additional revenue streams.
For example, I have a dream to supervise therapist interns someday when my kids are a little bit older, and I’d love for the trainees I supervise to take a much larger cut of the rate than is typical. I remember as a therapist intern I took a 50-60 percent cut of the session rate, whereas I’d love for my interns to be able to keep 80 percent or more of what their clients are charged. And that’s possible because there isn’t any pressure on them to generate profits for me.
Similarly, there are far more opportunities to offer low-fee or pro bono services, without feeling bitter about it, getting overworked, or being at risk of going broke over it. All because of the financial security that comes from additional income streams.
I have lots of other similar dreams for how passive income can help fund generosity like this. It is possible to give back while being able to comfortably pay the bills or support your family.
I hope you found this helpful if you’re looking for ways to generate more income while still doing the work that you love of seeing clients as a private practice therapist.
And if even a few folks are inspired to find ways to give back while not having to sacrifice their capacity to pay the bills after reading this, I’d count that as a huge win!
Wherever you might be at in your private practice journey, from one therapist to another: I wish you well!
Thank you so much! This was so informative. Definitely convinced me to take the road of studying psychology
Kristina Shimokawa says
This is incredible and so stoked for you. I’m in a group private practice and want to create more passive income but have no interest in youtubing/influencing because I want to limit my exposure out there. Any tips on creating more passive income without social media? Maybe courses?
Marie Fang says
Yes! There are lots of passive income opportunities. If you go the route of building a course, you may still be putting yourself “out there” as you’ll need to build an audience to sell it to. It is possible to build an audience for a brand without showing much of yourself and without using social media, but it’s just a bit more challenging. You could definitely build that income through ads and/or SEO. Alternatively, you could explore passive income investments outside of the field as well (e.g., real estate investing). I hope this helps!