An Overview Of Part-Time Therapist Jobs

Medically reviewed by Nikki Ciletti, M.Ed, LPC
Updated March 29, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Being a therapist is often assumed to be a full-time job, but this is not always the case. As interest in flexible work continues to increase, so does interest in part-time therapist jobs. These unique work opportunities may provide more freedom and flexibility than traditional, full-time jobs. But what does becoming a part-time therapist actually involve, and how can you get started? 

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Being a therapist can have its own challenges

What are part-time therapist jobs?

When you think of a typical therapist job, you might immediately picture a full-time schedule. Many therapists do work full-time, usually around 40 hours per week, during which they might see an average of 20 to 40 clients. 

That said, practicing therapy full-time may not be for everyone. If you have a busy home life, dedicating 40 hours a week to work might not be sustainable. Some counselors may also find that they do their best work when they are able to see fewer clients each week, allowing them more mental rest in between. Part-time therapists typically work around 30 hours per week or less, often seeing around 10 to 30 clients during this time. They may work shorter shifts or take extra days off each week.

Part-time therapists may choose to work in a range of professional settings, such as:

  • Group practices
  • Individual practices
  • Mental health clinics
  • Community health centers
  • Hospitals
  • Schools

While some part-time therapists may choose to take more time off each week, others may spend the time they aren’t practicing therapy working on other projects, like research, publishing, or even a second part-time job. 

The pros and cons of practicing therapy part-time

The decision to become a part-time therapist tends to involve a range of factors. Considering all of these can help you make an informed decision about the career path that best suits your needs. 

Those who practice therapy part-time may enjoy the following benefits:

  • A less demanding schedule
  • More time and energy to dedicate to each client
  • More time and energy for networking and professional development
  • The ability to more easily work in multiple settings
  • A reduced risk of burnout and stress

That said, there may also be downsides to opting out of a full-time schedule, such as:

  • A potentially lower income
  • Fewer benefits, such as retirement funds and health insurance plans
  • More limited availability
  • Challenges building relationships with coworkers
  • Potentially lower job security
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As you can see, being a part-time therapist can present both positives and negatives. While there is no right or wrong answer, it can be helpful to give some thought to each of these points. It may be worth reflecting on your current schedule, family obligations, stress levels, and professional goals as you consider whether part-time therapy is right for you. 

How to get started as a part-time therapist

If you’ve decided you want to explore a career as a part-time therapist, it can sometimes be difficult to know where to start. If you find the process intimidating, it may help to begin with the following steps:

Review the requirements in your state: Different states may have different licensing requirements and job titles for part-time therapists. Make sure you’re familiar with your state’s criteria, which may include specific degrees, continuing education, or supervised training hours. 

Make sure your license is up to date: Some states may require counselors to renew their license every few years. If you are already a licensed therapist, it can be a good idea to make sure your credentials are up to date for the state where you plan to practice.

Decide on a specialty: If you’ve already been practicing therapy for a while, you may already know what you want to specialize in as a part-time therapist. If not, it may be worth reflecting on the types of clients and mental health concerns you want to focus on. Some examples include: 

  • Addiction counseling
  • Marriage and family counseling
  • Grief counseling
  • Educational counseling
  • Trauma counseling

Picking a specialty may make the process of finding clients easier once you start your practice.

Reduce your current hours: If you already work full-time as a therapist, one method for shifting to part-time is to cut back your current number of hours. Consider discussing your career goals with your manager and see if you can reduce your current workload. Keep in mind that this may mean rearranging your schedule.  

Look for local opportunities: If you can’t switch to a part-time schedule or you don’t already have a job lined up, looking for part-time roles in your area may be another important step. Community centers, hospitals, and schools often have part-time counseling openings, while group practices may also be looking for part-time therapists to add to their teams. 

Consider online therapy platforms: Remote, website-based therapy is gaining popularity among therapists who want more flexibility in their schedules and work environments. Online platforms often allow therapists to pick their number of clients and decide their own availability, making them another potential path to starting a part-time therapy practice. 

Although becoming a part-time therapist can be intimidating, these tips may give you some clarity about where to start. 

Taking care of yourself as a part-time therapist

Practicing therapy part-time can be a flexible and fulfilling way to help people improve their mental health. That said, being a therapist can also bring challenges. Talking to people about difficult events can be stressful, and when you’re passionate about helping others feel better, it can be easy to forget to tend to your own needs. Counselors may sometimes face their own mental health concerns, such as stress, anxiety, depression, or compassion fatigue. 

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Being a therapist can have its own challenges

If you’re starting as a part-time therapist, attending therapy yourself can be a helpful way to get support from someone who understands the unique challenges of the job. Online therapy platforms like BetterHelp can allow you to get support from the comfort of home, without having to commute to a therapist’s office while also juggling appointments of your own. 

Research suggests online therapy can be an effective treatment for mental illnesses that may be common among therapists and other helping professions. For example, in 2021, researchers gave a brief online psychological intervention to 63 medical residents experiencing burnout, stress, and other mental health symptoms. After they finished the program, participants showed reductions in anxiety, depression, emotional exhaustion, and burnout.   

Takeaway

Many therapists find success with full-time schedules, but this is not the only option. Part-time therapy jobs allow therapists to work 30 hours or less per week. While this can have certain downsides, such as reduced benefits, it may also have upsides, like greater flexibility in scheduling. By making sure your professional requirements are met, exploring a diverse range of opportunities, and seeking mental health support when you need it, you may be able to find a part-time therapy job that lets you take advantage of these benefits.

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