Setting a Private Pay Rate in Your Practice

Written by Kelsey Someliana-Lauer, Therapy Practice Solutions Virtual Assistant

 Last month, we talked about the differences between an insurance-based practice and a private

pay only practice for mental health practitioners (if you missed that blog, check it out here!). If

you’ve got enough referral sources and are in an area with enough paying clients, private pay

could be a great way to make more money and keep your caseload down. Once you’ve decided

you’d like to have a private pay mental health private practice, the next step is to decide on your


Lost on what the first step is to decide what to charge your current and potential clients? Check

out these three tips on how to set your private pay rate as a mental health clinician!

Set A Rate That Supports You

One of the reasons many mental health therapists decide to go private pay is because

insurance companies can pay abysmally low rates (no offense, insurance companies). You may

find as an insurance-accepting provider that you have to accept twice as many clients just to

support yourself. The good news is, you can set your private pay rate to support yourself,

keeping your caseload manageable in the process!

Making a budget for both your personal finances and your business finances is the first big step

here. To know how much you need to make, you should know how much you spend! You’ll want

to account for:

● Monthly expenses of running your business (your EHR fees, rent, payroll for other

employees, your Virtual Assistant, etc.)

● Taxes to set aside for quarterly tax payments (likely between 25% and 35% of your


● Personal monthly expenses (like your home mortgage/rent, health insurance, groceries,

utilities, etc.)

After you determine how much you need to make monthly, determine how many clients you’d

like to see. If you feel most supported by seeing 20 clients a week versus 35, set your rate

accordingly. Divide your overall monthly expenses by how many clients you’d like to see a

week, and you’ve got a clearer idea of what your private pay rate should be.

Set a Rate Similar to Local Mental Health Therapists

One element to consider is how much your competition (we’d like to think of them as allies!)

around you are charging. If most mental health practitioners are charging $150 per hour, clients

are likely going to find $300 per hour unappealing. There are multiple maps, like this one, that

show the median billed rate for clinicians in your surrounding area. Keep in mind some practices

are insurance-based and may be billing closer to their contracted rate with insurance, thus it

may be a little lower than private practices surrounding them.

Set a Rate that Considers Your Experience

Mental health clinicians in particular are uber empathetic people. We have a tendency to

accommodate clients even at the risk of putting ourselves at a disadvantage. This could look

like charging super low rates for all of our clients, regardless of ability to pay a higher rate (this

would be a great reason to utilize a sliding scale).

Remember - you’re a highly trained individual. You likely have a Master’s degree, years of

experience, and perhaps some extra training and credentials along the way. Consider your level

of experience and certifications when setting a rate! You may be able to charge higher if you:

● Have been in the field over 10 years

● Have EMDR, Brainspotting, or similar certification

● Have specialty training such as in eating disorder treatment

● Have expertise in a particular area that you can show

If you already have clients paying a certain rate and you receive a new certification, don’t be shy

about raising those rates! Explain to clients you’ve recently received a new certification and are

raising your rate by X amount accordingly. They’ll understand!

We hope this blog provided some clarity on how to set a private pay rate! If you’d like some

assistance in billing, client communication, advertising, and more, a Therapy Practice Solutions

Virtual Assistant would be happy to help! With all your new profit coming in, why not try out

someone who can offload all those administrative tasks for you? Reach out today to meet one

of our amazing VAs!


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