How much do private practice therapists earn per year?

earnings financial goals private practice therapists earn salary therapist salary Mar 24, 2022

How much do private practice therapists earn?

Can you guess what question I get asked the most? If you thought, "how much do therapists make in private practice?" you would be correct. However, every time someone asks me this question, tiny alarm bells go off in my head. Let me explain why.

When I was in graduate school to become a licensed MFT, one of my peers asked a professor, "how much can I expect to earn as a licensed psychotherapist?"

Being the research and data type, the professor promptly pulled out the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics for that year and informed us that therapists could expect to earn an average of $52,00 per year. When I heard this, my heart sank. I was attending a private university. I had massive student loans. And I had dreams of owning a home, having a family, and being able to retire one day. After all, I decided to invest in a graduate school education to increase my career prospects in the mental health space. At $52,000 per year, I would barely be able to pay my apartment rent, expenses, and student loan payments….let alone begin saving money toward my financial goals.

If you search the internet, you will get plenty of statistics answering, "how much do psychotherapists earn per year?" And if you are interested in the national average statistics, you can find those here.

But I believe that a better question for therapists to ask is,

"Is it possible to meet my financial goals while loving my job and maintaining a work-life balance?"

The answer to that question is a wholehearted YES!

I feature an entire video module dedicated to reaching your financial goals in my online course. Those videos get into the nitty-gritty details of setting your therapy fee, paying taxes, and managing your overhead.

However, you must know it is very possible to earn six figures (or more) in private practice while maintaining a work-life balance and loving your practice.

Here are three tips for how to earn 6 figures as a private practice therapist: 

1. Set financial goals for your private practice.  Determine how many clients you need to see at your current fee to reach that goal. Remember that small changes can have a significant impact on your yearly total. If you're not on track to reach your financial goals, calculate how much you would earn per year if you just increased your fee by $20. You might be surprised by the difference small changes make in private practice.

2. Get clear on your business expenses. Don't overspend. One of the biggest mistakes I see therapists making is overspending on office decor, CEU's, or "therapist" clothing. Make a budget for your private practice and stick to it.

3. Hold your boundaries around your private practice fee. Be clear on how many sliding scale spots you can offer while still meeting your financial goals, and then stick to that. I have 4 very-low fee spots in my practice and have earned over six figures for the last 7 years in private practice. How is that possible? Boundaries. I hold those four spots for individuals who would not be able to afford my services otherwise, but I don't slide on any cases beyond those four.

4. Surround yourself with ethical, entrepreneurial, and like-minded therapists. Learn from them! This is an undervalued but essential part of meeting your financial goals.

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