Common Mindset Traps + Pivots for Therapists
"I'M A HELPER. I SHOULD BE UNDERSTANDING AND FLEXIBLE."
Pivot: Supporting myself first helps me support others.
- Helping others doesn't mean you need to price your services so low that you can't make a decent income, or that you should slide your fees farther than you are comfortable.
- Make a plan for how you want to give back with your practice. For example, you might decide on a number of sliding scale or pro bono slots you are comfortable taking after filling all your full fee slots, or choose a charitable cause to donate a small portion of your profits.
"IF I CHARGE MY LATE FEE, I'LL LOSE THIS CLIENT."
Pivot: Clients benefit from clear and predictable policies as well as healthy boundaries.
- Review your late cancellation policy and make sure you feel comfortable with it. Then make sure to clearly review the policy with your clients in the intake session, or for established clients consider providing a routine "review of office policies" every 3-6 months.
- Remember that many healthcare providers have cancellation policies, from dentists to acupuncturists. Holding to your established policy models healthy professional boundaries to your clients.
"THERAPY SHOULD BE ACCESSIBLE TO ALL, SO I SHOULD KEEP RATES LOW."
Pivot: Your services are immensely valuable. Your rates demonstrate the value you place in them to your potential clients and referral sources.
- There are many ways to make therapy accessible beyond keeping rates low (e.g. sliding scale slots).
- Remember that an hour long deep tissue massage costs around $150-200, getting hair professionally cut , colored, and styled can cost $100-$300. People are willing to pay for services that help make their lives better. And arguably therapy is one of the most valuable investments one can make!
Stepping Into An Entrepreneurial Mindset
IF YOU HAVE A PRIVATE PRACTICE, YOU ARE A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER.
Thinking about your practice as a business will help you set your rates, hold to your policies, plan ahead, and invest in services that support the growth of your practice.
ENTREPRENEURS KNOW THAT BUSINESS GROWTH IS RARELY LINEAR.
Keep track of your trends, such as months you tend to get more/fewer intakes. Be prepared for some months to be busy and some months to be slow. Plan and save ahead accordingly.
YOU ARE AN EMPLOYEE OF YOUR BUSINESS - REMEMBER TO PAY YOURSELF.
If you find yourself investing almost everything you make back into the business and paying yourself only for essentials, try thinking of yourself as a separate employee. Decide on what you want your own paycheck to be each month and pay yourself - you earned it!
About the Author: Dr. Asha Bauer is a psychologist in private practice, and a health science specialist with the National Center for PTSD, where she studies telehealth and web-based delivery of evidence-based interventions for trauma-exposed veterans. She completed her doctorate degree in clinical psychology at Indiana State University and her post-doctoral training at the Long Beach VA Medical Center. Dr. Bauer serves as a clinical advisor to Heard, a mission-driven start-up aiming to help therapists thrive in private practice.
Heard is a bookkeeping and tax platform for therapists, intended to ease the financial burdens of mental health therapy services and track the financial health of your practice. Schedule your first consultation at joinheard.com.