It’s been a few weeks since the official dive into summer break for our students across the country. In Florida, the sun is bearing down on our shoulders cultivating the predictable afternoon storms that roll in to cool off the scorching ground. Typically, I would see routine travel plans followed by quick adjustments to client’s scheduling needs. Yet, this year, I am left sitting with the sounds of crickets as the masses flee any resemblance of routines.
Everyone is kicking up their heels and packing their bags, yet where does that leave me?
Do I add more clientele, risking the scheduling consequences for those actively seeking their joy? Do I wait for the chaotic drive for freedom to die down, twiddling my thumbs and watching my financial income dwindle? Of course, I will always hope for healing, and that the quest for peace is long lasting for those whom I was humbly apart of their healing journeys. Yet, I struggle to fully embrace the lull and wrestle with the urge to sink into disarray at the look of my spotty schedule.
There are disparities within the business realm of the mental health world. Take a peek into the logistics of working in a community mental health setting, and you will choke at the insulting pay rates and demand to meet idealistic client quotas. Yet there is a “steady” paycheck, however discrediting it may be, and there are higher potentials for traditional benefits. Most of the time, these “perks” are hardly worth the demands to put aside our humanness as clinicians and serve as robots dressed in human outfits.
If you're wickedly blessed like I am and find opportunity to work as a clinician in a private practice setting, the flexibility to attend to the human parts of you is far more attainable. Private practice allows for therapists to construct schedules and caseloads that are realistically doable, so burnout is not at the forefront of our minds. We are able to adjust rates that are fitting for our skillsets, and we are better able to embrace the quality of our abilities to best serve our clients. Yet, if I do not see clients or foster “billable” hours, there is no method of generating income. Pursuing benefits such as insurance or retirement saving plans fall on my shoulders. All are of which completely understandable. Yet, these “cons” to the private practice sector carry their own weight in what can keep me up at night.
Life carries onto its tempo in the form of seasons, and I am leaning into the discomfort that this suspension in caseload predictability has a promise of non-permanence. It is good practice to store away income when business is bustling, and budget responsibility when interludes in therapy sessions and high cancellation rates are abundant. It’s a reality that therapists in our current stagnant system must face.
I am tipping my hat to those soaking up the good times away from the rigor of their typical responsibilities, knowing the challenges I am facing are not their burden to carry.
This is merely a snapshot into the realities of the business side of mental health therapy. Our associations and organizations are tirelessly advocating for shifts within the macrocosm that runs the systems we exist in. License portability, wider insurance recognition of the importance of creating a smoother pathway to mental health accessibility, and generating more attention to the realistic needs of clinicians are just a few things on the forefront of the discussion points.