There’s no way around it; life is getting expensive. As the cost of housing, education, healthcare, and just being alive skyrocket, in many areas, a six-figure salary doesn’t mean you’re rich. It means you’re getting by.
You didn’t go into the psychotherapy field to get wealthy. You became a therapist because you love helping people overcome their mental health challenges and live their best lives. Or because you’re fascinated by how the human brain shapes our experiences and wellbeing. Or because of your entrepreneurial spirit and independent nature.
But none of that matters if you can’t make a living. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, mental health counselors make a median annual salary of $46,050. For many of us, that’s simply not enough.
Can you make six figures as a therapist?
Crunching the Numbers
Writing for the American Counseling Association, counselor and consultant Anthony Centore laments that professionals making $40,000 or less can hardly afford to live in high-rent areas such as Cambridge, Mass. “That’s beyond bleak,” he writes.
But doing some number crunching (factoring in expenses like office supplies, rent, and billing fees), Centore estimates that a Cambridge-area counselor can easily clear six figures with a caseload of 35 sessions per week.
But here’s the caveat: Centore’s estimate assumes you’re in the second year of your practice and have built up to a full caseload. But how to get there?
To build a profitable private practice, focus your efforts on three main areas:
- Getting the word out.
- Finding your niche.
- Delivering results.
1. Getting the Word Out
Word of mouth about great therapists often spreads like wildfire through a community. But sometimes, you have to nurture the spark before it triggers an explosion. Especially if you’re just starting out, you’ll need to engage in a little marketing to announce your presence to the world.
Tried and true practices like networking with doctors and other local therapists are always a good idea and can lead to a steady stream of referrals. But nowadays, most clients start their search for a therapist online. That’s where you need to be, too.
- Start by setting up your practice website. With tools like WordPress and Squarespace, it’s never been easier to build a website. Various designers and web hosts also offer their services specifically to therapists or healthcare professionals.
- List your practice on online therapy registries like Psychology Today and GoodTherapy.org. Here are some useful tips on how to optimize your listing. Make sure you’re listed on Yelp and Google, as well.
- Create a social media presence for your practice (especially on Facebook) and use it to connect with a community of followers interested in mental health and living a better life. Share articles you find interesting and generate discussions on trending topics. Just don’t share any private client information online.
- Attract visitors to your website by posting your own articles.
2. Finding Your Niche
Centore says: “If demand for your services outweighs supply (that’s you!), you can raise your cash-pay rates to $99, or higher.”
What he means by that is if there are more potential clients in your area than the local pool of therapists can support, you can charge more. It also means you can build up to a full caseload rapidly.
But what if there are already plenty of therapists practicing in your area? Find a way to set yourself apart.
Almost every successful business got that way by discovering and catering to an untapped community of customers. In therapy, that could mean:
- Serving specific groups of clients, such as couples, adolescents, military members, or seniors.
- Practicing an underrepresented methodology, such as hypnotherapy, art therapy, or EMDR.
- Focusing on specific mental health issues, such as PTSD or eating disorders.
To differentiate your practice like this may require additional training. But in your quest to make six figures as a therapist, training may be an investment worth making.
3. Delivering Results
To state the obvious: You won’t reach six figures as a therapist if you’re not very good at what you do.
When clients come to you with their mental health challenges, they expect to find relief and healing. Many of them are desperate to live a functional, satisfying life. And as we wrote recently, increasingly, they expect results sooner rather than later.
Unfortunately, some issues, such as depression, can be rooted deep in the subconscious and can take months or years of traditional talk therapy to resolve. Clients can become frustrated and leave your practice in search of quicker results.
If you find yourself struggling to retain clients with stubborn mental health challenges, consider hypnotherapy training.
Hypnotherapy is a direct conduit to a client’s subconscious. Rather than skating along the surface for years with talk therapy, hypnotherapy lets you and your clients tunnel into the deepest recesses of their minds, root out emotional blockages, and resolve problems in only a few sessions.
It’s no surprise, then, that many hypnotherapists easily surpass $100,000 in annual profit. To learn more about the earning potential of hypnotherapists, read our latest report, “How Much Do Hypnotherapists Make?” Click below for your free copy.