Path works with exceptional licensed therapists from all backgrounds. In this Therapist Spotlight, we chatted with Nichole Prince, LMFT. She reflects on her first three years with Path, how working with Path differs from her experience of starting out in private practice on her own, and why quality of life is essential for making a sustainable career as a therapist.
How did you decide to become a therapist?
In college, I started out as a business major. But honestly, I kept falling asleep in my business classes. They just weren’t interesting to me. My psychology classes, on the other hand, had me wide awake.
I’ve always been curious about why people do the things they do. So I finally gave in to that interest and changed my degree to psychology. After college, I got my master’s degree and became a therapist.
What’s the most rewarding part of your work?
Sometimes you get lucky enough to see a former client later in their journey after you’re no longer working together. It’s incredibly fulfilling to see what kind of people they’ve become, even when their progression looks different than what you imagined.
Tell us about your career journey.
I’m someone who loves getting a diverse set of experiences from my career. So I’ve worked in a lot of settings: youth shelters, group homes, school districts, LGBTQ centers, and more.
I got a lot of my training at an inpatient residential treatment facility for substance abuse. I worked there for around nine years, and eventually became a clinical supervisor.
What led you to Path?
Originally, I was interested in going into private practice because having multiple streams of income was one of my goals. Toward the end of my time as a clinical supervisor at the rehab center, I was approaching burnout. I’d been working with crisis and high-needs clients for a long time, and I was curious to get a feel for working with people with mild to moderate symptoms.
I launched into private practice on my own for a few months, and it was around that time that I learned about Path. I signed on to work with Path because most of all, I dreaded doing my own billing. I was always behind on it and was never getting paid correctly.
Keeping up with all that extra administrative work didn’t feel sustainable. So when I learned that Path could do my billing for me and take care of finding clients, I was in.
What expectations did you have when you were joining Path?
At the time, I had a full-time job and was thinking of private practice as a way to supplement my income. And honestly, my expectations were pretty low. I didn’t have the best perception of online therapy companies, and wasn’t sure if I’d really get enough support from Path.
I was intrigued by Path because it was started by people who really know the business side of therapy. So it wasn’t therapists trying to create a business with no actual business experience. A company needs expertise in both areas to make it work.
But in the three years that I’ve been with Path, I can say that my expectations have been totally surpassed. Path has been consistent, and I’ve seen the company grow in really meaningful ways.
My experience was so good that I actually quit my full-time job to work for Path. It took me a while to fully trust that I could replace my income with Path, but it turned out to be a great decision.
What does your weekly schedule look like with Path?
I see a couple of clients in the evenings and on Saturdays. And that’s it. I don’t have to do any extra work. I’m not on call or thinking about work more than I need to. It’s the first time in my career I’ve experienced being able to bring in the income I need without a hectic schedule.
That flexibility also allows me to set up my schedule in a way that works best for my family. I have a five-year-old and I’m currently expecting, so being able to choose my own hours is essential.
If my kid is sick, I can adjust my schedule — I don’t have to choose between being there for her or bringing in income. And since I’m pregnant, the flexibility in my schedule means I can go to my appointments without negotiating with my employer to get time off.
How has your experience been with Path’s client matching process?
Every client I’ve gotten through Path has been a great fit for me. I consistently receive clients who need the level of care I can provide through telehealth, which sets me up for success.
When I was in private practice before Path, vetting my clients was much more difficult. I did my best to make sure clients were a good match for me, but it didn’t always work out. At Path, I have a dedicated team who does client vetting and care coordination — and that means I don’t have to.
I’ve also been able to retain clients and work with them to termination in a way that I feel has been really productive. With Path, I’ve terminated more clients in a successful way than I ever have before in the other settings where I’ve worked. I think Path’s client matching process is a huge part of achieving these kinds of outcomes.
How else has working with Path differed from your experience being in private practice alone?
Business has never been my specialty. And if you’re in private practice by yourself, that essentially means you’re a business owner. You either have to know how to run a business, or be interested in learning. And I wasn’t.
There’s a ton of upfront work when setting up your own private practice: negotiating rates and getting paneled with insurance companies, figuring out how to do billing so you get paid for the work that you do, and finding and vetting clients. And every system is different, so it can be pretty hectic.
For me, doing it alone didn’t feel sustainable. I couldn’t expect to thrive while juggling seeing clients and also managing all of the admin and billing work. Path took all the things I didn’t want to do off my plate so I could focus on providing therapy, which is what I do best.
What’s been your favorite part about working with Path?
Path has enabled me to figure out a balance of work and life that I truly enjoy. When life is quieter or if I want more income, I can just increase my caseload. If I’m feeling overwhelmed and I’m starting to terminate clients, I can keep my caseload lower. Whatever life throws at me, I’m able to make adjustments.
I’m very devoted to my work. But I don’t want to be devoted to it in a way that’s toxic for me, or creates a lot of mental burdens — which I’ve absolutely experienced in the past.
What advice would you give to therapists who are just starting out in the field?
I believe that your quality of life is really important to the work that you do. I can’t tell my clients that they should be striving for a healthy life when I’m not living one. And I think a lot of therapists do that. A lot of folks come into this profession expecting that they’re going to have to give of themselves to their detriment, and not get much in return. And that doesn’t have to be true.
I make a really nice living with Path, and I also have a great quality of life. There are plenty of opportunities out there — you just have to find them. For me, I’m so glad I found Path. It’s absolutely changed my life over the past three years.