Running a successful private practice requires much more than just clinical experience.
You also need to know how to manage an ideal client load.
One that is neither so full that it eventually leads to burnout, or so empty that it can’t sustain the practice.
Finding this delicate balance in caseload management can feel like a daunting task.
We’re going to show that with the right strategy (and a few helpful tools), it can be a simple and stress-free process.
How do you effectively manage your caseload?
1. Identify what your ideal schedule would look like
There’s no correct answer to “How many clients should a therapist have per week?”
You will have a situation that is as unique as the clients that you see and treat.
An effective caseload management method like caseload analysis and workload delegation isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, so a recommended caseload for a mental health therapist would be completely different to one for a physiotherapist.
So what the term “ideal” means in the context of an effective caseload management is up to you to define.
It can depend on:
- Your goals
- Your experience
- Your ideal schedule and availability
- Your obligations outside of work
- The income you’d like to be making.
A private practice owner seeing 5 clients per week would have a different ideal caseload size from a therapist seeing 30 clients per week.
That clinician would also have a different ideal individual caseload from someone who has just returned from parental leave and is learning to balance work and childcare.
A great first step towards optimising your caseload would be to let go of what you think you “should” be doing based on other external standards or expectations, and to become aware of your own unique needs and circumstances.
What would your ideal schedule actually look like?
Imagine you live in an ideal world.
Make a list of your non-negotiable responsibilities for every day of the week and then try to determine how many hours you need to fulfil each responsibility.
To get you started, you could consider things like:
- Personal responsibilities outside of client work
- Professional responsibilities outside of client work
- Time required for management and admin
- Time needed between sessions
- Time needed to ensure proper self-care and personal well-being
Now figure out how much time you realistically have available for client work, and map out a schedule for when you would be able to allocate that time to clients on each day of the week.
2. Based on your ideal schedule, determine your ideal caseload
Once you know how much time you have available to see clients, you can roughly work out how many clients you could see each week by doing a simple calculation:
Ideal # of clients per week =
# of hours available
# of hours per client
With that number in mind, you should be able to determine if your ideal caseload also allows you to reach your income goals.
It’s important to remember that ideally, your caseload shouldn’t be driven by maximising your income.
It should be driven by how many clients you can see while providing high-quality and effective care.
Squeezing in as many clients as possible for the sake of money will likely make you feel stressed out and reduce the quality of your care.
Remember: there is no average caseload for therapists. It really does depend on your own personal circumstances.
Similarly, if you fill your day with too much client work and neglect any admin work or your own personal care, you will likely end up spending more time dealing with the effects of burnout.
If you’re concerned about your income, set yourself a monthly salary goal, divide it by the amount of clients you can realistically treat, and decide if that is the right price to charge.
You can find out more on how to price your treatments here.
If it isn’t, consider supplementing your income by expanding beyond just client work and offering workshops, corporate consultation, products, events or online courses.
3. Set up an efficient management system that allows you to streamline as many tasks as possible
After determining your ideal number of therapy clients per day, one of the most impactful things you can do is to implement a practice management system.
By automating many of the admin tasks related to client management, you’ll free up time which will allow you to manage your caseload more efficiently.
A good client management software can allow you to do just that (and much more!).
Most importantly, it allows you to use an online booking system that clients can independently use to book/reschedule/cancel appointments during pre-determined time.
You’ll never run the risk of double booking or taking on more clients than you can handle.
Additionally, you can also update your online booking availability to block out specific time slots that you might need for admin work or personal reasons.
Aside from allowing you to automate the appointment booking process, a good practice management system can also provide a variety of other time-saving benefits such as:
- An automated client database
- Online in-take and assessment forms
- Integrated client notes and records
- Automated reminders and SMS/email communication
- Streamlined invoicing and financial reporting
4. Stick to your boundaries, but don’t be too inflexible in the long-term either
If you’re setting up a new schedule that is very different from your past working schedules then you (and perhaps your clients!) might need some time to adjust to the new routine.
It’s important that you learn to say no when something is pushing you past your boundaries or you are being asked to do something that makes you uncomfortable.
Based on the ideal client load you’ve defined, you should have a clear idea of what you are and aren’t comfortable with and you should only make exceptions in situations when you know there won’t be negative consequences to the overall schedule, time management and your own well-being.
Make sure that you have a strong no-show policy in place that works for both you and for your clients.
By ensuring that your clients take their appointments seriously and always show up at the right time, you’ll be able to keep your scheduling on track and avoid costly disruptions.
That being said, remember that it can take some time to find your caseload sweet spot and even once you’ve found it, it might change over time.
So it’s a good idea to sit down regularly and reassess what is and isn’t working and readjust your schedule accordingly.
5. If all else fails, consider that it might be the right time to hire someone
After you’ve implemented all of the above tips and still feel like you can’t seem to get a handle on managing your caseload, then you just might have more work than one person can realistically handle.
Perhaps you’ve reached the point when it’s time to consider hiring someone to share the workload with you!
For many solo practitioners, this can be a huge step in their professional journey and quite a daunting transition.
Want to get started right away?
If you’re stressed out as a result of your current caseload and are eager to get started on improving it as soon as possible, then we highly recommend considering a free 30-day WriteUpp trial!
Private practice software like WriteUpp is designed to be easy-to-use and affordable, and it can help you manage your client load, drastically cut down on admin time and improve your overall client experience.
With the click of a few buttons, you’ll be able to benefit from a wide variety of features that will allow you to:
- Eradicate repetitive & time-consuming tasks
- Free up “wasted time” so that you can:
- spend more time with your existing clients or
- take on new clients and generate more income or
- enjoy more down-time away from your practice
- Eliminate paper
- Improve your client’s experience
- Simplify your compliance with key regulations like GDPR
- Reduce the threat of virus transmission
If you have any questions, or just want to chat to us about what an integrated practice management solution could do for you and your practice, just grab us for a live chat.
The button is just there in the bottom right corner of your screen.