How to maximize the low season in your private practice

low season, low season for therapists

‘Tis the season that gives many therapists in private practice extra stress and worries. The inquiries from new clients have slowed. Your clients are not scheduling appointments at their usual frequency. They may be canceling. Or, not showing up for their appointments. So, as a therapist, what do you do during the low seasons? 

When does business slow down in a therapy practice?

Many therapists in private practice notice two low seasons. The first slow season typically occurs at the beginning of summer. The second slow down occurs during the winter holiday season. The low seasons can mean different things for different practices. The difference usually reflects the niche and client population that the practice serves. For example, an in-office practice that serves younger children or corporate professionals may notice a larger slow down than a practice that treats adults using telehealth.

Business slows for many reasons during these times. People travel. Kids do not have school. Family comes to visit. People have time off work and prefer to relax or take care of other things. And, you cannot forget those big holidays (Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s) that usually result in clients pausing many things, including therapy.

Don’t panic during low season

Watching your earnings drop as clients do not schedule, cancel, and new intakes slow is scary. You may question how long this slump in your business will last. Will things ever pick up again? You may even question your worth as a therapist. Aren’t people depressed and stressed during the holidays? Don’t my clients need their sessions to get through this time?

Try to remind yourself, that this low season is very normal for therapy practices. Also, remind yourself, that this slow time is temporary and that business will resume at your typical pace very soon. You may even notice a spike in new clients as the new season begins.

When schedules get full with holiday parties, shopping, and planning for events, people feel overwhelmed and tend to cancel other obligations, such as therapy appointments. People thinking about starting therapy may think “I’ll just wait for the new year when things slow down for me.” When the kids do not have school, some clients may need to stay home with their children due to a lack of childcare or a preference to spend time with their children.

What to do during low seasons

With fewer appointments on your calendar, you have more open time to focus on other parts of your life and your business. Take advantage of these gaps in your schedule during the low seasons.

Download free private practice checklist

Professional development

Consider scheduling some time to work on professional development opportunities or streamline your practice. With less cognitive and emotional energy dedicated to therapy sessions, you may have more energy to expand your knowledge and resources.

You can schedule time to:
  • Take continuing education courses
  • Finish that training your purchased but never finished
  • Read business-building, therapy-related, or niche-related books
  • Listen to relevant podcasts
  • Find and read blogs that can help you in your practice
  • Create worksheets or other resources for your practice
  • Research and test tools like EHRs that help you simplify private practice administrative tasks

Learn a new skill: Sign up for our free telehealth course!
Take me to the academy

Marketing time

With more open time on your calendar during the low seasons, consider revising or expanding your marketing practices. If you do not feel knowledgeable or confident about marketing, you can take this time for consultation, webinars, research, or other courses related to marketing in private practice.

Some ideas to consider exploring during this time include:

Blogging: Blogs can help to promote your practice, add content to your website or social media page, and provide important information to your client population. Use this time to learn about blogging, creating your content, and reaching out to other sites for guest blogging.

Social media: Some therapists love it. Some therapists hate it. This slower time can allow you the space to learn more about social media and private practice, create content for your pages, and find relevant pages to follow.

Plan and hold an educational event: With some extra time on your hands, why not use this opportunity to educate and support your client population and get the word out about your practice? You can schedule a workshop, an online program, a retreat, or a class. You might want to consider holiday theme-related topics such as “How to beat the holiday blues?” or “Self-care during the holiday season.”

Host a networking get-together: Most likely you are not the only practice with a slower schedule at this time. Take advantage of this festive time and host a holiday-themed networking event. You can get to know your professional community while hosting a holiday cookie exchange or a summertime “Beat the Heat” event.

Schedule one-on-one networking meetings: Since other professionals likely have gaps in their schedules as well, this slow season is a great time to reach out and schedule a coffee with another provider. Consider reaching out to someone you would like to get to know better or a follow-up with someone you already do know.

Download our free worksheet on marketing your private practice

Self-care time

How many times have you found yourself thinking, “If only I had more free time I would…”? Or, “I would love to go take some time off from my busy schedule but I cannot afford to miss all those appointments?” Well, with a slower-paced schedule during the low seasons, why not take some self-care time?

Use this time for:
  • Vacation and travel
  • Quiet, restful time at home
  • Catching up on appointments that you do not time for with a full schedule
  • Reading for pleasure
  • Listening to podcasts
  • Journaling
  • Learning a new hobby
  • Taking a fun class or workshop
  • Enjoying family time

Start 30-day Free Trial and explore TheraPlatform. HIPAA Compliant Video and Practice Management Software for Therapists.

How to financially protect yourself for this slow time

Running a business that has predictable low seasons allows you the opportunity to plan for it. You can get a better understanding of the specific patterns for your practice by running some analyses and comparing them over the past several years.

Some data to review include:
  • Tracking visitors using an analytics program such as Google Analytics (if you have a website.)
  • Comparing your financial reports to find trends in income
  • Reviewing your tracking data on new client inquiries
  • Reviewing your no-show and cancelation trends
  • Reviewing your scheduled appointments

When you know the patterns and can predict the low seasons of your practice, then you can plan for it.

A few ideas are as follows: 
  • Create a savings account so that you save money for the slower income-earning periods
  • Look for any recurring subscriptions that you can pause during this time
  • Strictly adhere to your cancelation and no-show policy and charge accordingly
  • If you have the infrastructure and training, offer telehealth sessions as an option
  • Take advantage of any offers for other income-earning opportunities such as presenting, teaching, or providing coverage for another therapist

Low seasons in private practice are an inevitable part of the business. Preparing for it, using that time wisely, and giving yourself permission to take advantage of some quiet downtime will help you to make the most of it.

Also, understanding how EHRs like TheraPlatform can help you cut down on the busy work of private practice like scheduling, documentation and billing can save you a lot of time when your practice picks up again. TheraPlatform, an all-in-one EHR, practice management and teletherapy tool was built for therapists to help them save time on admin tasks. TheraPlatform offers a 30-day free trial. No credit card required. Cancel anytime.

More resources
Free video classes

Practice Management, EHR/EMR and Teletherapy Platform

Exclusive therapy apps and games

Start 30 Day FREE TRIAL
private practice marketing, marketing strategies for therapists, private practice in counseling, private speech therapy practice, private psychotherapy practice, teletherapy, teletherapy markeing
Private practice marketing

Private practice marketing isn't taught in grad school to psychotherapists, counselors and therapists. Check out these marketing strategies and close the gap.

privatepracticetherapist, privatepracticetherapy
Private practice therapist: identifying your ideal client

Making the leap into private practice therapy? Great! Learn how to identify the ideal client for your business.

Subscribe to our newsletter