One of the most challenging, alluring, aspects of private practice is constructing your own schedule. On the one hand, being able to control your schedule allows for flexibility that cannot be attained in more structured work settings. On the other hand, the temptation to meet everyone’s scheduling needs can lead to working long hours and sometimes with major gaps of time between each client.
“The more, the better,” you might think, especially if you’re new to private practice or business ownership. Worries about not having enough sessions to keep your practice running, let alone make a profit, might lead you to accept everyone who contacts you. Before you know it, you have a bigger workload that becomes impossible to handle.
Therapists often find themselves in this situation because there aren’t any specific rules or hard-and-fast guidelines around setting a client load. Rather, your ideal client load depends on more individualized factors, which we’ll tackle in this post!
First things first, think about your own schedule.
Set hours of operation for your practice that work for you and your lifestyle. This includes allotting time for self-care and family. Remember that your schedule should not be overly demanding and should allow you to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Plus, let’s not forget about the other responsibilities you have in your practice like paperwork and admin tasks (you know, those responsibilities we all love!).
Make sure you schedule enough time for those too and to not overbook yourself. This ensures that you have the ability to complete all of your responsibilities without feeling overwhelmed by your workload (which only leads to burnout!)
Next, think about your clients.
You’ll need to take into account the type of clients you’re working with. If you work with kids and teens, you’ll need appointment times after school hours. If you work with adults, you may need to offer availability on nights and weekends.
Another thing to consider is the type of therapy you provide. For example, if you provide long-term therapy, you may schedule appointments with the same client at the same time each week. On the other hand, if you provide short-term or crisis therapy, your schedule may be more dynamic and change frequently.
Lastly, consider how much money you want to make.
Are you working full-time or part-time? Is this the household’s primary income or supplemental?
The amount of money you need to make certainly factors into the workload you want. If your therapy practice represents your only source of income, you’ll need to do detailed calculations on the amount of money you need to make in order to stay in business.
These calculations can help you decide how many clients you need to see each week and how much you want to charge per session. Making these calculations before you start out in private practice can help you develop a realistic picture of what your typical workweek will look like. You can then use this information to create a working schedule.
You’ll also want to factor in how many clients you need to see to cover your business expenses, such as rent for an office and insurance fees!
At the end of the day, setting a schedule as a therapist is all about finding the right balance.
It’s about considering your own needs, your client’s needs, and your financial needs.
It’s important to be mindful of the demands of your profession and schedule your appointments accordingly so that you can provide the best care possible for your clients, while also taking care of yourself.
One tool to help you do that is Ravel Mental Health!
It’s an online platform that works with your available schedule and allows clients to book appointments directly from their phone or computer. For you, that means not having to take time out of your schedule to play email or phone tag to book an appointment with a client or hold a spot for someone that never books!
Without these administrative tasks hanging over your head, you can find more time in your schedule to spend treating clients (and less time stressing over everything you need to get done!)
To learn more about Ravel Mental Health, click here.