Wondering what are the ethics of side hustles for therapists and why you need one? Think side hustles for therapists are extra? That they aren't necessary for a successful practice? How can a counselor make extra income? I'll tell you why a side hustle is the key to your successful, ethical, profitable, and enjoyable private practice.
TCCBB #9 The Ethics of Side Hustles for Therapists and Why You Need One
How to Make Money as a Therapist
As small business owners, we take money for our services. As counselors in private practice, if we don't work, we don't get paid.
This presents an ethical dilemma.
You start to look at your clients like dollar signs. It’s the nature of the business. It would happen if you were a plumber. It would happen if you were an electrician.
In any dollar-per-hour profession, if you don’t work, you don’t take home any cash. So you start looking at your schedule, and you start worrying.
Even if you start with a full schedule, you have to subtract about 10 percent for no shows, people getting better and completing treatment, and brand new people who don’t show up for a first session.
So a full schedule is never really a full schedule; it’s a full schedule minus 10 or 15 percent.
Then you start calculating reimbursements and you begin to worry again. You think, Tuesday is a pretty good day because Magellan pays well but Wednesdays are full of these Blue Cross Blue Shield people, and they only reimburse $10.
The Ethics of Passive Income
Starting a practice without a plan for passive income is kind of irresponsible. Now, hold that space for me for a second; don’t fight me yet.
Remember is that in Texas, we are number 50. We do a terrible job of serving our population that needs our services. YOU my badass friend, are going to do an amazing job. Now combine those two facts and the fact that there are always going to be mental health issues and family issues, and you see the obvious.
You will be busy. And you are too important to lose to burning out.
Too often when counselors are not worrying about money, they worry about how their absence will affect their clients.
“I can't take a sick day! What if they need me?”
“I can't take a vacation! What if they have an emergency?”
That’s when we start working ourselves too hard to the point of burnout. We forget about all of those things that can make us healthy and happy like hobbies, time with our family, and eating right.
I’m talking to you, entrepreneur who won’t take a sick day.
The piece that I hate for you, especially if you are virtual, is fewer of you are taking sick days now.
You’re like, “Well, it’s virtual. I’ll just wrap a blanket over my lower half, I’ve got my coffee, and I can still do these sessions.”
Not to mention the fact that I don’t know if you do your best work when you don’t feel well.
I know I don’t.
So not feeling well, powering through, all of those things are great if you’re playing for UT football, and you beat Alabama last week. No so great for counselors.
How can a counselor make extra income?
I've discussed the ethical issues surrounding your performance, ethical issues surrounding burnout, ethical issues surrounding dollar per hour, and it’s hard to know what to do.
In my book “My Next Steps: Create A Counseling Career You’ll Love,” I talk about a financial bridge.
So let’s talk about reasonable passive streams of income.
Last summer I interviewed yoga therapists, podcasters, walk-talk therapy counselors, and public speakers. I asked them how they did it. Was it scary expanding outside the therapy room? Were they able to do the things? Was it too much?
What I found is you must do your practice FIRST. Get it going. Work until you have three months’ salary in a bank account.
Now, let’s add the side hustle.
- Take the 40 Hour Training to become a LPC or LMFT Supervisor
- Create online courses
- If you are a school counselor add private practice
- If you are able to teach, online universities are always looking for adjunct instructors
With your side hustle, you don't need to make a ton of money. Let's say your rent is $800/month and you charge $200 per month for supervision. Four supervisees pay your rent.
You’re not trying to be a billionaire off your side hustle, you’re just trying to have a passive stream of income so you can pay your bills if you need to take a sick day.
At the end of the month, if you don’t need the $800, you can invest it back into your business.
So your side hustle is not only going to give you peace of mind, it’s going to keep the lights on so you can take a sick day.
Schedule Your Side Hustle
You must think ethically about side hustles. They are not extra; they are necessary. Side hustles help you avoid burnout and keep your lights on.
How can a counselor make extra income? I challenge you to take a day and devote it to your side hustle.
It’s not fair to your side hustle, to you, to your mental health, or to your clients, to try do an amazing job in between sessions.
So take the schedule challenge. Take one day a week, no clients, no kids, no partner, no nothing. On that day, and don’t make it a Saturday, take the challenge, and develop your side hustle.
Ready to develop your private practice into a Badass Business? Grab your free step-by-step guide!
Blog post by Kate Walker Ph.D., LPC/LMFT Supervisor