This content is provided by zynnyme, an affinity partner of AAMFT. This information is not necessarily the view of AAMFT and should not be interpreted as official policy.
Make More and Work Less as a Marriage and Family Therapist
As a marriage and family therapist, you’re too often expected to accept low-paying opportunities with long working hours and few areas to improve your income. In fact, Monster.com posted the top ten worst-paid jobs requiring a master’s degree… and 50% of them were related to our counseling, psychology, and social work!
We know how much you work — especially as trained MFTs ourselves — and you deserve more than having to do free work for nonprofits and agencies while pre-licensed, only to continue getting paid so low as an MFT that you consider doubling your hours or getting a second job.
The bottom line: You DON’T have to listen to what professors, supervisors, and fellow therapists claim you “should” be doing when it comes to working hours and pay. There’s nothing unethical or illegal about being paid a sustainable wage or working sustainable hours!
So, are you suggesting MFTs should start a solo or group practice?
If you’re looking to build a sustainable, fulfilling career where your schedule is flexible and your income allows you to pay off your student loan balances, start saving, and maybe even purchase your own home, then private practice is definitely worth considering!
But we’ve noticed a lot of problematic trends since becoming private practice business coaches back in 2010, and a survey we sent out to private practice therapists in 2023 really emphasized what we found to be true for many of the people coming to us for guidance.
When you consider the average of the 400 responses we received, private practice therapists expect to be working 47 weeks a year while supporting 18 clients every one of those weeks and charging an average of $155 per session. That doesn’t sound so bad to many of you. But, let’s look at the reality of what can often happen when we take what we learned in underpaid and overworked positions.
Therapists are out there with session fees as $50. Some therapists aren’t charging for sessions at all. Some therapists are going over on every session they provide. And many therapists are still drowning in paperwork and struggling to find what works for them. Let’s look at what that all translates to based on the average person who responded to our survey.
Going over clinical sessions, survey respondents were unknowingly working an extra 4.3 clinical weeks per year unpaid by not ending sessions on time or charging for going over in sessions. In other words, you could be losing more than $11,000 per year to client sessions where you’re working overtime and not charging for it.
And, to make things worse, therapists who aren’t immediately completing their documentation (and instead procrastinating — because who really enjoys writing out progress notes?) work an average of nine extra unpaid 32-hour workweeks per year!
Oh, and did we forget to mention the average policy of not charging for no-shows and late cancellations, even though you said you would? Well, that’s another $5,500 per year of income lost.
Here’s what this all means: