Salary Negotiation Guide for Therapists:

6 Ways To Get That Raise

This is the guide for Therapists and Counselors who are looking to negotiate their salary!

So if you want to learn the “art of negotiation” and stay informed on how to get the salary you deserve, you’ll enjoy the actionable tips and information in this new guide.

Let’s dive right in!

Launch Counseling Private Practice

Are you a mental health clinician who is looking to get a salary increase? Or a mental health clinician just starting out who wants to make sure they are getting a fair salary package?

If so, you’re in luck! Salary negotiation is a skill that can be learned, and in this article, we will provide some tips and strategies that will help you get the salary that you deserve

Keep in mind that salary negotiation is a process, and it may take some time to get the salary that you want. However, if you are persistent and prepared, you can negotiate a salary that meets your needs and exceeds your expectations.

This article was inspired by this podcast by the negotiation episode on the Founder’s Journal. 


Here’s a Quick Summary of Our Key Findings:

    • Be clear about what you want.
    • Make sure what you want aligns with what is good for the company.
    • Tell a compelling story about why you deserve what you want.
    • If in doubt, always negotiate.

1. Ask for the salary you want

One of the most important things you can do when negotiating your salary is to ask for what you want. This may seem like an obvious tip, but it is one that is often overlooked. 

You will be better than 99% of others if you are straight forward and just say: “Hey, I want this one thing.” 

When you are preparing for a salary negotiation, take some time to think about what salary would be ideal for you.

The best place to start would be to total up your personal expenses: car payment, student loans, rent, groceries, retirement savings. etc. You then have a baseline of what you necessarily need.

When it comes time to actually negotiate your salary, be sure to come prepared with what you are looking for by communicating your salary requirements clearly and confidently. 


KEEP IN MIND: DO NOT justify your salary or raise to your boss based on your personal expenses. There’s a more persuasive way (see point number 3).

At the end of the day your goal should be to be tight, simple and candid.

2. Should you highball or lowball your salary?

Negotiation is a sensitive game and it can be hard to know what is appropriate at the moment. This is why it’s important to write a letter of intent with a range of values for your ideal salary. 

This way, you don’t dramatically highball or lowball your offer. You can go about writing a letter of intent by keeping this in mind:


“I do Z for you. If we increase sales by X because I do Y activities, the business will make Z. And thus I would love to figure out how to get more of that Z – here’s my ideas on that process.”

For example, “My main role is to see clients and generate revenue for the practice. If I increase my productive hours by 5% or by seeing 3 more clients per week, the practice will make an extra $16,000 per year. If I’m able to demonstrate this productivity increase over the next two months, I would like a salary of _______ (or raise of $15 per client hour).” 

Obviously, you can tailor it to however you are compensated (salary, hourly, percentage split). 

Another popular negotiation strategy is the “Deal Breaker.” 

You could say:


“Here’s my deal breaker. Can you match that?” 

This could be salary, hours, benefits, vacation days, etc. But by having a deal breaker, you raise the stakes and are more likely to get what you want in the end if you have done your research. 

Doing your research means checking your assumptions about what the company will pay by seeing what other clinicians make elsewhere or at your same company with similar experience to you.

4. Prep, Prep, Prep

Negotiation is often unpleasant and full of tension, so the more prepared you are beforehand, the easier it will be for you. 

Take some time before your meeting to organize a coherent and convincing story. Fill your story with your “wins” and how they have benefited the company.

This will help you communicate your value to the employer and show them why you deserve a salary increase. Telling a compelling story will also show you truly are incentive aligned with you boss. 

Be sure to practice your story beforehand so that you can deliver it confidently and effectively during the negotiation. This will also help set the right expectations going forward.


Fill your story with your “wins” and how they have benefited the company!

5. Be firm and final about your salary

When it comes time to actually negotiate your salary, it is important to be firm and final. This means that you should have a salary range in mind that you are not willing to budge on.

By being firm and final, you are less likely to be taken advantage of during the negotiation process (although I hope that doesn’t happen). Be sure of what you want and don’t feel like you need to over-explain yourself.

Don’t drag out the meeting or let your anxiety get the best of you and word vomit all over.

Get the deal done as quickly as possible.

6. Know when to negotiate at the right time

The answer is, you should always negotiate. If you are debating whether you should negotiate: negotiate. 

Start to get comfortable asking for the things you want so that resentment doesn’t build up.

Plus, if you have an incentive-aligned, open mindset, negotiation can be a win-win. 

In some situations, it might actually be better for your boss. By coming prepared with what you want, your boss will not need to draft up a completely new compensation plan for you. If you have already done the work for them, it will be much easier for your boss to sign off on it.


Negotiation can feel hard. It takes a lot of preparation and practice to be good at it. But if you can get the basics down, like asking for what you want, being incentive aligned, prepared and firm, you’ll be on your way to getting better deals in life. 

So put these tips into practice the next time you need to negotiate something important to you – we promise it will make the process a little bit easier.