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  • Writer's pictureAmber McCormack

Finding Your Balance: 5 Tips to manage demand for Equine or Animal-assisted Therapy

For those in the mental health profession, it comes as no surprise that equine and animal-assisted therapy is more popular than ever... and with increased popularity comes increased demand.

Too high a demand for your services can make it difficult for therapists to keep on top of treatment schedules, administration and client files while ensuring compliance with Medicare and NDIS... and somehow finding time for family, friends and life!

To keep your practice running long into the future, you need to balance providing the best care to your clients with your own well-being. Use my top 5 ways to manage the demand for sessions... but be sure to choose the one most suited to you, your practice and your clients.


Tip #1 - Work more

Have you been running your practice as a 'side hustle'? Then it might be time to go all in. You can offer multiple sessions each day or increase the number of days you are available to clients.

For example, some of my clients only work half days and still see five (5) clients, while others working full-time in their practice can see up to (and over) 10 clients in a day.

Tip #2 - Work less

Didn't you just say to work more? Well, another option is to reduce the number of sessions you offer.

If you find yourself nearing burnout, or losing your passion it's time to reassess. Are you working crazy hours? Are you trying to help everyone that calls? If so, you are supporting your clients at the expense of your own wellbeing.

One way to lessen your workload is by reducing your hours. Offer sessions on fewer days, work half days, or schedule (and stick to!) breaks between clients.

Tip #3 - Increase your prices

I know, this one could be hard to swallow. You became a therapist to HELP people, not to take their money. I get it but hear me out...

If you are charging different rates for each of your clients, you are using an immense amount of time and mental capacity to keep on top of it all... Not to mention, if you have long term clients at the same rate for over a year, are you truly valuing your expertise?

Raising your prices can help manage the demand in two ways, the first is harsh... some people simply won't be able to afford your new rates and will need to move along. This will make their appointment available for self-care, family time or another higher-paying client.

The second is, that by charging a higher rate you will NEED to work less to cover expenses, meaning you will be happier and more rested. This allows you to provide your remaining clients with a higher level of support.

Tip #4 - Outsource your admin

(Yes, there's a shameless plug coming). I will ALWAYS recommend outsourcing the parts of your business you don't love... Why? Read on.

At the time of writing, the NDIS scheduled rate for Equine Therapy in Australia is $193.99 per hour. Why then waste your own time on admin tasks you can outsource for a fraction of that rate? A specialist online practice manager or administration team such as IVY Business Services can complete your admin tasks in less time... Saving you money, increasing your earning capacity and reducing your mental burden.

As an example, if you were to outsource only 2hrs of admin each day (think emails, document uploading, client files, returned enquiries), then you would have an extra 10 hours EVERY week! Just think what you could do... pick your kids up from school? Have a relaxing day bath? or even, just sleep in.

Tip #5 - Subcontract

A final option (and this will not suit everyone), is to engage another equine-assisted therapist as a subcontractor to your business.

For example, if you were only available (or only wanted) to see clients three days each week, that leaves between two and four days each week your horses are available to work with clients. If you engage a subcontractor you are confident in and trust to treat your horses with respect, care and love, you can earn a percentage of their client fees, without needing to see more clients directly. Administration and software costs could also be shared in this way, depending on your particular agreement.

I'll cover the potential benefits and pitfalls of engaging a subcontract equine-assisted therapist in a future post.

To keep your practice running long into the future, you need to balance providing the best care to your clients and your own wellbeing.

Final thoughts

The animal-assisted therapy industry is a booming and exciting one. With this growth comes the need for professionals to enter and remain in the field. The only way this can happen is by preventing burnout, overwork and overwhelm.

Achieving work-life balance is the dream of most private practice owners so take the opportunity to make changes where needed. Take care of yourself. Your clients, horses, family and friends need you.

Book a Discovery Call with IVY Business Services to chat about how we can help ease your admin burden!

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Amber McCormack is an Online Practice Manager and Business Coach as well as the CEO

and Founder of IVY Business Services. She is an avid mental health advocate, wife, and mother to three young girls. Amber specialises in supporting mental health professionals, with a particular interest in Equine and Animal Assisted Therapies. Her passion is helping her clients reach their goals in life and business with her honest, no-nonsense approach. Amber has over 20 years of corporate administration experience and holds qualifications in Management, Project Management and Recordkeeping.


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