Why I Switched From Traditional Private Practice to Remote Practice

I’ve dreamt of becoming a Psychologist ever since I took Psych 101 in college.

I remember saying to myself back then, in total disbelief, “You mean I could get paid to talk to people?!” To me, becoming a psychologist, specifically a private practice therapist, was a total dream come true.

And in many ways, it is a dream come true. There are so many perks to being a therapist. Being a psychologist is consistently ranked one of the best jobs in the world (US News & World Report) as well as one of the best paying jobs for women specifically (Forbes). Private practice clinicians have lots of flexibility to choose their own schedule and how they run their business. Plus, we have the satisfaction of knowing that the work we do helps people, because we have the research to prove it.

There are some downsides, however. There’s the stress of running your own business - the admin headaches, the challenges of managing people, the need for marketing and sales (most psychologist friends I know would acknowledge that they don’t feel particularly well equipped in these areas.) One of the frustrations that was particularly difficult for me starting out as a solo entrepreneur was the absence of comprehensive health insurance packages usually included as part of a benefits package working for a larger company.

When you are a private practice therapist, there is no HR department, there are no sick days, and there is no paid vacation.

The latter is part of the big reason I was motivated to explore options to practice remotely. I love to travel, and I felt like vacationing as a private practice psychologist was always a double edged sword. Sure I can take time off whenever I want to, technically. But, vacation of course has costs associated with it, and every minute not seeing clients is also lost income. This all seemed pretty lame to me, but I didn’t have a solution when I was early in my psychologist career 10 years ago.

Thankfully, practicing remotely has become more and more commonplace. Clients are seeking out the convenience of telemental health and they aren’t as weirded out with the idea of talking to someone on a screen anymore. Most of my clients under 40 actually prefer therapy this way. (Why would I want to drive to an office when I can just video conference with someone on my phone?) But even my non-millennial clients have quickly learned to appreciate the convenience that telemental health offers.

It’s been four years since I started doing remote therapy and I haven’t looked back.

I have a full (honestly, very full) practice of motivated, amazing clients (a mental health professional’s dream). As a full time digital nomad I’m able to travel from place to place as I like. Last summer I spent 3 months in Europe and I loved it so much that I applied for and received residency status in Portugal.

One of the most unbelievable parts about this lifestyle of full time travel is that I actually save money compared to when I live in the US full time. I live in Santa Monica, one of the highest rent zones in Los Angeles, and for the price I pay for my apartment each month, I’m told I can pay a mortgage on 2-3 homes elsewhere in the country. Cringe.

To me, I can’t imagine going back to a traditional brick and mortar office. I am happier and healthier with a fully remote practice, and I have to believe that the healthier I am, the better it is for the clients I serve as well.

I love this life so much that I created a course specifically for mental health professionals on the essentials of telemental health. It’s designed specifically for the busy solopreneur who wants to start their telehealth practice ASAP and doesn’t want to listen to hours of really boring legal jargon. It answers questions such as “What equipment do I need to get started?” “What are the legal and ethical considerations of telemental health” and “What are best practices or telemental health?”

If you’d like to sign up for the waitlist for the course, click here.

What would you do and where would you go if you could work 100% remote? And if this is something you’re interested in, what’s been the biggest hurdle to making the switch?

Therese MascardoComment