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In this episode of the Practice of Therapy Podcast, Gordon has a conversation with Rob Reinhardt, LPCS of “Tame Your Practice”.  Rob and Gordon talk about EHR (Electronic Health Records) and how clinicians might decide which EHR might be the best fit for them in their practices. EHRs can be one of the most important investments a clinician can make in their practice. Rob’s expertise is in doing EHR reviews and looking in detail at the features the various EHR’s available for practitioners. Meet Rob Reinhardt Rob Reinhardt, LPCS, M.Ed., NCC has his own successful counseling practice and is CEO of Tame Your Practice.  Known for his expertise in reviewing and recommending EHRs for therapists, Rob previously worked in Information Technology for over ten years and has lived around technology his entire life. With a comprehensive mix of technology, clinical, and business experience he can provide consultation and coaching regarding all facets of private practice.  Rob is the creator of Describe, the popular deck of cards and activities that can be used with individuals, families, and groups of all ages. He's also co-host of the popular podcast, TherapyTech with Rob and Roy and a column editor for Counseling Today, the professional magazine published by the American Counseling Association.  Rob is also a fan of board gaming, ultimate frisbee, travel, and quality time with his family. Deciding On The Best EHR The place to start is to think about what you want an EHR to do for you. Rob talks about the importance of thinking ahead and being able to have a vision of your future practice.  For example, if you plan to move toward group practice, you need to pick an EHR that can accommodate that group practices. One of the main features that many people look for with an EHR is the ability for it to be integrated with several different private functions. Some examples of this would be things like, securely storing client records,  the ability for clients to schedule online, sending appointment reminders, filing insurance claims electronically, etc. EHRs Might Just Save You Money Rob talks about one of the areas of concern that some people have about EHR’s is that see them as too costly for their practices. He says you really need to look at it from the perspective of ROI (return on investment). For example, if you were to have just one client that came to an appointment because they got an automated reminder from the EHR, the system has paid for itself. The other way that EHRs can save your money would be in terms of the time savings.  An example of this would be if the EHR was filing your insurance claims for you. If you could have one or two additional sessions each week because you weren’t having to spend that time on filing claims, again, the system pays for itself. Using EHRs To File Insurance (Tech Stuff) One feature that many EHR’s have is the ability to file insurance claims electronically.  And on the tech side of things, there is any number of ways that this can be done. One of the more efficient ways to do this is when the EHR using a Clearinghouse to file the claims. Clearinghouses are companies that act as an intermediary between the clinician and the insurance companies. Clearinghouses contract with insurance companies to handle the claims and submit them electronically. One of the big advantages of using a Clearinghouse is they typically “scrub” the claims to make sure there are not any mistakes on the claim before it is sent to the insurance company. Another feature to look for is if the EHR is fully integrated with the Clearinghouse.  In other words, it has the ability for two-way communication in that you get notified if there are problems with claim and it lets you know when the claim is paid (or not). Rob’s EHR Reviews One of the great things that Rob does at “Tame Your Practice” is do EHR reviews,  He takes a pretty broad overview and has checklists he uses to make recommendations.
In this episode, Gordon talks with Samara Stone, LCSW about having a pro-insurance private practice. Samara is a person you need to know in the private practice realm. Samara teaches so much about work-life balance and is an innovative and inspiring leader in the field of behavioral health. Gordon and Samara share their journeys into private practice and how they came to the decision to be on insurance panels instead of being strictly private pay. Samara’s approach is inspirational and encouraging to those of us in this field. Meet Samara Stone Samara is a sunny California native with a bright infectious smile. Her natural ability to connect with people and her strong entrepreneurial spirit led her to start her first business during her college days at Hampton University and has carried over to her unique career in social work. After graduating from the School Social Work at the University of Maryland in 1998, Samara went on to found a behavioral health firm, The Stone Foundation in Towson, Maryland in 2005. There her diverse staff offer services to the community and serves as a partner with local and state organizations on innovative behavioral health projects. Samara is also the force behind, Perfected Practice, a nationwide mentoring program established in 2013 that supports mental health entrepreneurs in building business savvy, pro-insurance private practices that make money and make a difference. Known for her wealth of knowledge and dynamic presentation style, she naturally inspires others towards a personal and professional achievement. Why choose to be pro-insurance? One area that many people struggle with in private practice is deciding if they are going to accept insurance or be strictly private pay.  The good news is that there is no “right answer” to that question. Samara and Gordon talked about how much of their decision to be pro-insurance was to around their personal convictions and knowing the demographics of their area. For Samara (and Gordon) offering services to people who are struggling financially was a big determinant for their decisions to go on insurance panels. “People who are struggling financially depend on their insurance in order to receive services…” Both Samara and Gordon serve in areas that have lower socioeconomic demographics.  In order to get the volume of clients they need to stay in business, they needed to accept insurance so those people and families could get the services they need. But the truth of the matter is that it is a “win-win” proposition.  They are able to serve the people who are their ideal clients along with being available to people who need the most help.  They also get the volume they need to make it profitable. Insurance practices are some of the most successful One point that Samara makes, is that by accepting insurance and offering that to potential clients ensures consistency and profitability.  If a person that is coming to therapy gets into a financial bind they will stop coming. But if they know that their insurance is covering their sessions, they will continue to come.  It's a “win” clinically for the client and also a “win” for the therapist in getting paid. In essence, accepting insurance creates a steady flow of clients and money for the clinician. Myths About Taking Insurance There are a lot of “myths” around taking insurance in private practice. Some people think it is too hard or complicated to take insurance. Or think they have to struggle to get paid for their services from insurance companies. The truth of the matter is that it is really not that complicated.  In many ways, it's easier to get clients and get paid more consistently when you are on insurance panels. It is true there are some steps you need to take on the front end in order to be credentialed with insurance companies. But once you do get those things in place and get the right systems in place, accepting insurance is not really any more work.
Please subscribe on iTunes! In this episode, Gordon talks about marketing strategies for your counseling and therapy private practices. Ultimately, marketing is about helping people find you and helping you connect with your ideal client.  Marketing can be done in two ways, online and offline.  Gordon talks about the strategies of doing both and focusing on the ways that fit you and your personality best. A few weeks ago, I did a survey of with the Practice of Therapy followers and listeners.  The purpose of the survey was to find out what people want the most help with in their practices.  The number one response was help with knowing how to market their private practices. I think the reason for this is that there so many people that go into private practice that feel a sense of anxiety and pressure by not having the volume of clients they had hoped for when first starting out.  Then there are also those people who maybe started out in private practice with some established clients that they transferred from another practice they were working in, only to have the “well run dry” after a few months. Then there are those that hit a “dry spell” in their practice and they are not sure when the phone is going to ring again with their next new client. They know they need to market their practice but they are not sure where to start or the best way to go about it. Marketing is not selling “Marketing” is something, for many therapists and counselors, that we tend to get a little bit nervous about.    We are naturally very polite people and would never do anything to come across as pushy or underhanded.  But there is something about “marketing” that, for many, feels a bit sleazy. The fear is that we think it requires use to “sell something”. We would much rather have people ask US to come to therapy, than us ask THEM to come to therapy! But it really does not need to be that way... There are people out there that truly need and want our services. My friend and fellow private practice consultant Allison Puryear put it this way, “marketing is simply helping your potential clients find you..”  I think it is so helpful to think of marketing your practice in that way! Referrals come in 2 ways In the counseling and therapy, fields referrals can come from any number of sources.  But at a very basic level, people are either referred by someone else or they self-refer. What I have noticed in my own practice is that self-referral is usually the way most people come in the door.  They are having some sort of personal or family difficulty and it occurs to them that they might benefit from some counseling. The other way referrals come is through the recommendation of others. Doctors, clergy, family, and friends might encourage a person to talk with a professional about what is going on for them. The key is to know where you are most likely to get your ideal client... Branding and Referrals Ultimately, marketing is about developing relationships with people on several different levels;  relationship with you individually and/or a relationship with your “brand”.  The individual relationship is an easy one to understand. Your “brand” though, has the potential to be a little broader and have a farther reach. When I think about good branding, I think of some of the more popular ones.  A good brand is something that we identify with a particular product or service.  For example, GEICO.  When you see that brand name we think of the funny commercials but we also know what it is and what it does. It’s an insurance company that “saves you money”. Another brand I think of is Nike.  When you see the Nike “swoosh” you know the name of the company and know what it is; sportswear and equipment.  That’s good branding. So if you think about your private practice, do you have a brand?  And if someone sees that brand on a website or sees your name, do they know what you do and how you can help them with their problems?
In this episode, Gordon talks with Maureen Werrbach, LCPC about starting a group private practice and how she grown and approached building a large group practice in Chicago, IL. Gordon and Maureen talk about how sharted the Facebook Group, “Group Practice Exchange” and some of the questions that come up for the members of that group. They also talk about the advantages and disadvantages of having 1099 (contractors) vs. W2 (employees). Meet Maureen Werrbach Maureen Werrbach, LCPC  is a therapist and group practice owner in Chicago. She is also a group practice coach.  As a therapist, she helps adults with trauma histories and also individuals improve their relationships personally + professionally.  As a coach she helps entrepreneurs/professionals learn to manage the stresses of leadership. She started a group practice (Urban Wellness) in 2012 and which has grown into a multi-location, 20+ staff.  They provide counseling, psychological testing, and medication management. Their mission is to provide care to as many people in my community as possible. As a group practice coach, Maureen has The Group Practice Exchange.  She loves helping solo practice owners start and grow their group practices, as well as helping established group practice owners scale their group practice. Maureen loves talking about marketing, organizational structuring, scaling, leadership, and everything in between. You can find more about Maureen and find tons of resources on starting and scaling a group practice at www.thegrouppracticeexchange.com. Why Start A Group Practice Moving from a solo private practice to owning a group practice is one of the quickest ways to scale your practice.  Essentially, by moving from solo to group you are duplicating your efforts and your earning potential. And depending on how you set up the relationship with the people in your group, there is the possibility of creating “passive income” for yourself. Group practices can take many forms.  From a simple “co-op” style practice, in which a group of solo practitioners simply share the cost of running the practice to a full fledge “agency” style practice in which the clinicians are employees of the group. 1099 vs. W2 The terms “1099” and “W2” are simply employment classifications given by the IRS (for those of us operating within the United States). The difference between the two types has everything to do with the relationship you have established with the clinician. 1099 Contractors Group owner has less oversight and supervision They provide their own “tools” and methods to what they do They set their own schedule and operate independently There is, of course, a contract with the clinician with the specifics about how and when they will complete the job they have been hired and how they will be paid. The key is, they work independently and are unsupervised A way to think about it is if you hired someone to add a room to your house.  You would agree on a price and when it was completed, but you would not tell them how to complete the job or supervise how it was done. W2 Employees Group owner has oversight and supervises the clinician They usually have set hours they work and have to meet minimum wage requirements The group owner is responsible for following local, state and federal employment laws. The owner has to provide required benefits such as unemployment insurance Usually, there is some sort of time off policy and benefits such as sick time, vacation time, etc. You could also provide other benefits like health insurance, profit sharing and retirement benefits like a 401(K) For the group owner, they have complete oversight as to how the employee does their job Which Way Is Better? Maureen talks about some of the things you need to decide when thinking about using 1099’s or  W2’s in a group practice. She breaks it down into behavioral, financial and relational.
In this episode, Gordon talks about the balance between the clinical vs. business side of running a private practice. Even though there are some overlaps of clinical processes and business processes, it is usually helpful to keep things separate. Gordon talks about having a good handle on how you spend your time and having processes in place to manage the various aspects of operating a private practice as a counselor, therapist, psychologist or social worker. One of the top things that clinicians in private practice struggle with is having the knowledge they need to run the business side of a practice.  I found this out in a recent survey I did with the counselors and therapists that follow the Practice of Therapy. Of course, this is no real big surprise.   Choosing a career as a counselor or therapist usually comes from deep personal convictions.  Most of us in the helping professions do it because we truly want to help people and make a difference in their lives.  Our professions are focused on helping people through emotional difficulties and relationship struggles in life. The work is both rewarding and hard. Our training as mental health professionals prepares us for our work with clients in the therapy room.  What it doesn’t prepare us for, is the management of the business side of being in practice.  And this is especially true for those practitioners that choose to go into private practice. Like it or not, when you are in private practice you are running a business. You not only have to focus on the clinical side of practice management (the documentation, treatment plans, coordination of care, etc)  but the business processes that will give you the cash flow you need to stay in practice.  A lot of times it can be overwhelming and feel like the paperwork takes more of our time than the actual clinical work. Business vs. Clinical Processes One of the things that anyone in private practice needs to figure out is the overlap between the business and clinical sides. For the most part, they do need to be kept separate. And so understanding the different things we do to run a private practice. Most doctors and large medical practices have this figured out.  All of the business stuff is handled by the receptionist or billing person.  You pay them and they collect all of your insurance information etc.  They really do not talk with you about what you are seeing the doctor for.  It’s all done out front or in a business office. The clinical side of things is handled in the exam room with the nurses and doctors.  You never really talk to them about how you are paying for things.  All that was handled by the other people. For clinicians running a solo or small private practice, we don’t really have the luxury of having a large staff to handle the business side of things.  We have to do both business and clinical, and a lot of times, all in the same room!  (Here’s another article I wrote for the folks at “Better”, that talks more about collections and the money conversation with clients.) Keeping the Processes Separate Despite the fact that there is some overlap between your clinical and business processes, it is a good idea to keep separate documentation for each.  For example, an accounting system that does not use client names.  Here’s what I mean by that. I have both a practice management system I use (TherapyAppointment.com) and an accounting system application.  The practice management system tracks and keeps individual client clinical records and what they have paid and their insurance information. It can also generate individual bills for me to send to clients.  But it does not track any of my business expenses. The accounting system does track when I get paid by a client but just records it as “session income” without a name attached.  It also tracks my business expenses and bills I need to pay. Here’s a short list of clinical vs. business processes Clinical Session notes
In this episode of the Practice of Therapy Podcast, Gordon talks with Mel K. Whaley about advocacy and how to help make mental health services more readily available to the people that need it most. Most of us in the mental health field has gone into our professions out of a sense of “calling” or greater purpose.  We genuinely want to help people.   Mel talks about several of the projects she has been working on in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors to help providers have better support and improve their performance in the way they run their practices.  Mel’s main focus has been to use her business background to help clinicians work more efficiently and improve business processes. Meet Mel K. Whaley Mel K. Whaley, OBM, MBA is the president of Tennessee Advocacy Talk: A nonprofit formed last year with the belief education is the key to success. They offer skill set training for people in need and mentoring to workers in the mental health fields to help raise their efficiency and positively strengthen the environment in which they work. They also act as a consulting firm to help business in the industry become more efficient. Mel is also CEO of iBehavioral aka ibhealthlist.com: A search engine for professionals in the mental health fields and for people needing services. They are setting up contracts for Telehealth for professionals in the Mental Health and Substance Abuse fields. Mel formed the nonprofit Tennessee Advocacy Talk and iBHealthlist, as a result of her experiences in performance improvement.  When she began working in the mental health field, she recognized there was a huge need for reform. She recognized there needed to be better the working conditions of our professionals. Many of the processes for delivering services are in need of updating. Mel believes that there is a need to make operations more efficient for the lives of clients and patients who depend on us. Mel says, “I want to help transform this industry to be a flourishing and unified industry. Right now there is a lot of politics, bullying, and a high turnover rate of mental health clinicians. I want to help change that”. Multiple layers of services in the mental health field. Gordon and Mel talk about all the many layers and “moving parts” of services that are being provided in the mental health field.  They talk about the influence of politics and funding has for clients being able to access services. There are so many different ways in which people can get access to services, but there is still no central way of doing that. There are a lot of pressures that many workers in the field feel, especially when working for agencies. There is pressure to meet quotas and attending to the business side of the field. The high turnover rates and the fact that people will constantly change jobs has an effect on clients and patients. The quality of care suffers and people find it hard to access services. Mel feels that communication is the key to making the changes that are needed. Not only communication to potential clients but also communications between providers. Mel has created a database called iBHealth List to help clients and providers connect and streamline the process of people seeking services. It also has a telehealth feature so that clients can connect with providers online saving time and the headache of trying to connect. Moving toward virtual access Mel believes that there is a movement toward “tele-mental-health” and that this is something that needs to be embraced and ultimately give clients greater access to our services. One of the difficulties for clients, especially in rural areas, is not only access but continuity in care. Telehealth options can help bridge this gap. Advocacy One area of our professions that we can delve into, on many different levels, is advocacy.  Not only advocating for our clients and their individual needs but also advocating for changes needed in our profession.
In this episode, Gordon talks about using your time and money resources and when to “bootstrap” vs.outsource in private practice.  There is a relationship between our time and money assets.  The biggest commodity as counselors and therapists have is our time. We trade our time for money.  Gordon talks about getting the best ROI for your money by developing a mindset and understanding of your time and its value. Knowing where to focus your efforts depends on which phase of private practice you are in. Time and Money Most all of us like to save money... And it would be fair to say that most of us also like to save time… Time and money… we seem to lump those two things together.  And everyone seems to never have enough of either... I remember going to a workshop several years ago that had something to do with financial planning or money management.  The presenter asked, “If you had all the money you wanted PLUS all the time in the world, what would you do with it?” I also remember the comedian Stephen Wright saying, “You can’t have everything.  Where would you put it?!” But I digress… The Time/Money Dilemma in Private Practice In the counseling and therapy professions, our livelihood depends on trading our time and expertise for money.  It’s fairly simple economics in that people pay us a fee for spending time in conversation with them and offering some sort of expertise and direction.   So when you think about it, your time is very much a commodity.  Your time is what you have that is of great value.  Your time is what brings you your income. How you spend your time is important… Being in sessions with clients is, of course, at the core of what we think of when it comes to being in the counseling/therapy business. There is also the clinical work that is done outside of sessions.  For example, writing session and progress notes and writing treatment plans. Then there are all the other ancillary things we have to do like billing and dealing with third-party payers (insurance).  Not to mention networking, marketing and all the other business things that need to be done. Not all of these activities will bring you any money for the time spent on them.  Many of them are necessary, but not things that will increase your income. Depending on what phase of private practice you might be in, has a lot to do with how you spend your time.  In the beginning stages of starting a private practice, you are going to be spending your time building a client base and referral sources. It is a great use of your time. It is time spent that can be seen as an investment in your practice.  It is also a phase of practice where “bootstrapping” is needed and sometimes necessary.   Bootstrapping The term “bootstrapping” is a business term that describes stretching your resources and finances as far as you can.  It loosely comes from the idea of “being on a shoestring budget”.  It is a way of keeping costs down. In private practice, we tend to think of bootstrapping as the therapist or counselor doing all of the administrative functions of their practice; doing intakes, returning phone calls, marketing, bookkeeping, filing taxes - all the things necessary to keep the practice running smooth So in the beginning stages of private practice, that is until you have the cash flow and income needed to outsource, it is a good idea and probably a best practice to bootstrap.  But how do you know when it is time to switch to outsourcing? Knowing the value of your time First of all, you really need to understand the value of your time.  Think about it in terms of what you get paid for a session.  So for example, if you charge $100 per session, simply put, 45-50 minutes of your time is worth $100.   Assume you work a 40 hour week charging $100 per session: 10 clients = $25 per hour 15 clients =  $37.5 per hour 20 clients =  $50 per hour It’s pretty simple math but the more time you spend during a 40 hour week seeing ...
In this episode, Gordon talks with Dr. Maelisa Hall from QA Prep about documentation and the common problems clinicians in private practice run into with their paperwork.  Maelisa discusses some strategies around staying current with your documentation and getting caught up when you have fallen behind. “Session notes should be thought of as a part of your therapy session”. Gordon and Maelisa also talk about some of the challenges of starting a new business/practice and the importance of sticking things out and being persistent with what you do to build a practice. Meet Dr. Maelisa Hall Dr. Maelisa Hall is a licensed clinical psychologist and her passion is to help therapists create rock-solid documentation so they can spend more time with their clients and less time worrying about paperwork.  After eight years working in mental health agencies, she started her own company to help therapists learn how to make documentation flow naturally, decrease their workload and be confident in all their paperwork. She shows clinicians that paperwork is a valuable part of therapy and that it doesn't have to be slow and painful! You'll have more time to work with clients because you'll know you can take on the paperwork no problem. Maelisa consults with psychotherapists in private practice, agencies and group practices to teach them things like how to write great notes, what to consider if insurance is involved, how to document high-risk issues and what forms they actually need for their clientele. Training is her passion so she has created online programs that help connect therapists so they can learn from any place at any time. Her goal is make everything she does serve a real need so she makes sure to include plenty of real-life examples and interactive exercises in every workshop she creates. Documentation “Hacks” Create a mindset of your documentation being an extension of the therapeutic work you do Think of documentation as an extension of your therapeutic work If you get behind with your documentation, FIRST create a plan and consistent schedule to keep your current documentation on track. THEN work on getting caught up. Put a time for doing your documentation on your calendar.  Create a schedule and a time specifically for that each week (or day). For most clinicians, writing notes immediately following sessions is not realistic.  That is why you need to have a specific time set aside for notes and documentation. Know how long it takes you to write a session note.  This will help you know how to budget your time for completing notes better If you are taking more than 15 minutes to write a note, you probably need to figure out what is going on. Set a timer for 10 minutes and try to keep your note writing at that time. When writing session notes, spend time thinking about what happened during the session. What is the theme of the session? You really do not need to write a whole transcript of your session.  Use your clinical judgment to only include what is necessary. (For example, if a client spends 30 minutes of the session recalling what happened for them over a weekend, you probably do not need to record all of that.) Create templates for your various documentation to help streamline the process. Use a format that resonates and makes sense to you.  Know why you are doing it the way you are doing it. When you can connect meaning to your documentation, it makes it much less of a chore. Also, good documentation is simply the “story” of a client’s journey with you. Transitioning Into Private Practice Both Maelisa and Gordon talked about how they transitioned from agency work into private practice.  Maelisa said, “I regret not allowing myself to enjoy the transition period”.  Moving into private practice while working for an agency does take a lot of extra time and a willingness to endure some “discomfort”.  But by embracing that time and not putting too much pressure on yours...
In this episode Gordon talks with Rachael Norman about helping self-paying clients who want to use their health insurance to pay for your services.  The easiest way for practitioners to help people collect out-of-network health insurance benefits is to offer a “superbill”.  Rachael talks about how and why her company developed an app called “Better” that helps clients easily get paid back for their out-of-pocket expenses, using a superbill, from their health insurance. Meet Rachael Norman Rachael Norman is the founder and CEO of Better, an app that makes it simple for patients to get paid back by their health insurance when they visit a cash pay private practice. She studied Biochemistry and Biophysics at Stanford University. At Better, she has combined her health background and tech experience to tackle hard problems in healthcare. Rachael is an expert on health insurance, medical billing, and coding. Learn more at getbetter.co Health Insurance is Complicated Needless to say, health insurance is both necessary and it is also can be very complicated.  Health insurance plans vary so much not only between insurance companies, but the various plans within the individual companies vary.  It’s not only complicated for practitioners but for the clients as well. The decision to accept insurance and be credentialed with insurance companies can be tough choice for a lot of clinicians.  Many choose not to.  And others either go “all in” and their whole practice is insurance based.  Still others do a combination of the two; credentialled with a few insurances and the rest of the practice if private pay. (This is what I do in my practice). The problem for many clinicians is that they can lose potential clients because they are not in network or don’t accept insurance.  A solution though is to offer clients a way to use their out-of-network benefits to fully or partially pay for their sessions. Superbills are the easier solution For clinicians, offering a superbill is one of the easiest ways to help patients/clients get reimbursed for their out-of-pocket expenses for therapy sessions.  A superbill is a form or “invoice” that contains all the codes and financial information needed by insurance companies to reimburse the client for services they have received. The way it works is that the clinician provides their services and the client pays for those services up front.  The clinician gives the client a “superbill” which is simply an invoice or receipt with all of the coding and information necessary to file a claim with the insurance company.  The client then gives the superbill to their insurance company to be reimbursed. Solving the problem of superbills The problem for clients is having to solve all the logistics around submitting the superbill to their insurance company, Where to submit it… how to submit it...and then actually collecting the money. Better solves the problem! All of these problems are exactly why Rachael started Better was because of her own struggles with these logistics. Better takes the hassle for the client out of it. Here’s how it works: The client sees their therapist and pays for their session out-of-pocket The therapist/clinician then gives the client a superbill for what they have paid for the session The client downloads the Better app and uses the app to enter their insurance information The client then just takes a picture of the superbill using the Better app. The folks at Better do the rest of the work by contacting the insurance company and filing the claim for reimbursement. When the insurance company pays the claim, Better keeps 10% and pays the rest to the client. If for any reason the client does not get paid for the claim, there is no cost to the client. It’s a true “win win” for everyone involved! The bottom line is it simplifies the whole process for both the clinician and the client. Better’s support for the client and the clinician
In this episode, Gordon talks about 11 things therapists, counselors and other mental health clinicians can do to help their private practices succeed in the coming year.  From being action oriented to planning and preparing for the long haul, private practice success depends as much as anything on being persistent and consistent. Owning and running a small business takes a lot of knowledge and skill.  Gordon discusses these top things he has learned in his years as a private practice owner. Being in private practice as a therapist has been, so far, one of the most rewarding and challenging things I have ever done.  I never would have dreamed that my practice would have evolved and grown to the place it is today. This past year, 2017, has been a year of significant growth.  The major piece being moving into my own building.  The second being adding 3 new therapists to the practice.  And as a result of these things, it has caused me to evaluate and look at what I need to do to continue the growth. What I have learned... When going into private practice there is so much you need to know.  The truth is that what you learn about being in practice is never ending.  I have not only learned to be a better clinician, but I have also learned how to be a better business person and learn what it takes to run small business. Private practice not only takes a certain mindset for you to succeed. It takes consistency and being persistent in your efforts. Be a constant learner and don't be afraid to take some risks and try new things. 11 Things you can do to find success   1. Put things into action The first thing anyone going into private practice does is to simply act and start.  In other words, having a mindset of action rather than sitting around waiting for the timing to be right. This can happen in any number of ways. 2. Learn about business One of the biggest detractors for clinicians going into private practice is that they just never learned about business.  We have all hopefully received great clinical training and have the skill set to be an effective clinician.  But do you have the skill set you need for knowing how to run a business?   Business basics encompass several areas.  For example, basic accounting knowledge, marketing knowledge, financial management, people management skills, budgeting, business plans, profit margins, return on investment, daily operations knowledge...just to name a few… All of this can be learned and built upon as you grow. 3. Learn how to market A big part of having a private practice is learning how to market your practice to ensure you get the clients you need to stay in business.  Marketing comes in many forms.  Having a website, being active on social media, and networking within your community are just a few of the ways to market a private practice. Your private practice website will be your number one marketing tool.  In fact, investing in a good website design with great SEO (search engine optimization) will absolutely pay for itself.  After all, the first place people go to find anything is of course the internet. And having a good website that is easy to find will pretty much guarantee having the clients you need. If you are looking for a "turn-key" solution to having a website for you private practice, I recommend you check out BrighterVision**.  BrighterVision specializes in therapist and counselor websites. They will take care of the design and SEO to help you get your message out there and be noticed.. **This is an affiliate link which means Practice of Therapy gets paid a commission at no extra cost to you by purchasing from them. 4. Create a network of referral sources This is tied to the marketing piece but is somewhat different.  Marketing your practice helps you build this network.  Having a network of multiple referral sources is what will bring stability to your practice. But more specifically, having a network of referral sources is simply havi...
In this episode, Gordon talks with Jim Turner about collections and getting paid in your private practice as a therapist, counselor or other mental health provider.  They discuss having client credit cards on file and how to have a system that is secure and reduces liability for the clinician.  They talk about how to set this up and then how to present it to clients.  Jim talks about having a clear and simple financial policy with clients so that there very few questions about payment expectations. Meet Jim Turner Jim Turner is a guy who loves what he does but finds himself doing a lot of different things.  He is the VP of Marketing for Easy Pay Solutions and as such, is an expert at helping healthcare practices get paid. He writes weekly posts at www.easypaycollect.com to help medical and counseling practices implement policies and daily habits that ensure payment. He is also a published author who writes about relationships from a faith-based perspective. His latest book The Disconnected Man: Breaking Down Walls and Restoring Intimacy With Him has a December 12th release date. You can learn more about his writing at www.jimturnerauthor.com . His greatest joy is being married to his amazing wife Tanya. They have ten children aged 16 – 29 in their blended family. Not a week, hardly a day, goes by that something incredibly interesting isn’t happening in their family! He has also created a short publication called The Busy Counselor and Psychotherapists Guide to Getting Paid: 7 Keys to On-Time, Every Time Payments. Which is available at no charge to anyone who listens to the podcast. Get your copy here. Having a Clear Financial Policy The biggest barrier for most folks is getting past the mindset around collections and how to communicate this with our clients. Jim mentions that most financial policies tend to be overly complicated.  Most people in the United States read at about a 5th grade level.  If you put a lot of “legalese” in your policy, people are not going to read nor will they understand it. It is important, especially with people that want to use their insurance, that they know that most health insurances do not cover the entire cost of a session. So having them understand all of this is an important piece. The key to all of this is having a conversation with clients on the front end, in the first session, about the money.  Also being able to talk about your no show and cancellation policy.   One tip is to have the “money conversation” outside of the therapy room if possible. No Show and Cancellation Policies No shows and cancellations are one of the most frustrating parts about running a private practice.  When people do not show, we don’t get paid and we lose revenue. By having a clear policy AND a way to collect on no shows greatly reduces this frustration and cut your losses. Credit Cards on File If you think about it, most all of us are used to having our credit cards on file in a lot of different situations.  For example, if you have an Amazon Prime account, your credit card is on file with them.  And nearly everything we do online in terms of purchases and services that have repeat payments, requires a credit card to be on file. By having a credit card on file you enable yourself a way to collect on what is owed to you without having to do the billing piece. It also gives you the ability to collect co-pays and deductibles from clients automatically without having to process their credit card each time they come. If you think about it, it really provides better customer service by having the credit card on file. The client knows that their therapy sessions are paid for and all of that is handled for them.  Jim’s company, Easy Pay Solutions offers a secure platform for do this.   Mindset As A Barrier One of the biggest barriers to using credit card on file is not the client, but the therapist.  In many ways we let our own mindset get in the way of having a sound collection policy.
In this episode of the Practice of Therapy Podcast, Gordon talks about how to plan and prepare for private practice growth.   Knowing your “numbers”, getting the support you need, outsourcing and automating tasks are essential parts of having successful growth and taking your practice to the next level. Whether you are just starting into private practice or already have a practice and thinking about adding other clinicians, it is important to understand the costs or overhead of being in practice. Gordon talks about value of drawing on the support of a mastermind group or coaching.  Gordon also discusses why outsourcing and learning to automate things more will give a better return on your time investment. Your Time is Your #1 Asset As therapists, our time and expertise are our most important assets.  So it is a good idea to have a good idea and handle on how you spend your time.   Hack: Create a simple spreadsheet broken down into 15 min intervals for each day of the week.  You can download a free copy of that time tracker here.  You could also color code each task just to give more of a visual of how you are spending your time. Ideally, you want to be able to get the maximum amount of money for your time. Typically the way we do this in private practice is to charge as much as you can for sessions.  Also, having the client base to get the number of sessions you want to have. Know Your Numbers You need to know what to charge for your time and you need to take the cost of being in business into consideration.  In setting fees, it is helpful to “work backwards”.  The place that makes sense to start is to first look at where you need to be financially to have a comfortable salary AND cover your expenses (overhead). Assume you want to make $50,000 salary a year.   So let’s start with that figure and work backwards. $50,000 ÷ 52 weeks = $961.54 income per week needed. But you would probably want to take some vacation time in there.  So let’s divide by 48 weeks of course which gives  you four weeks off. $1041.00 income per week needed. So, you also need to think about overhead or expenses. Here are some hypothetical monthly expenses to think about: Rent  $500 Phone, Internet, and Electric $200 Advertising $100 Insurance, Licensing, etc. $130 Other office expense $300 Self-Employment Tax (15.3%) $637 Total Monthly Expenses $1867.00   x  12 = $22,404.00 yearly expense. What this means is that you will need to bring in a total of $72,404.00 (gross income) to have a salary (take home pay or net income) of $50,000.00. How this translates into session rates $72,404.00 divided by 48 weeks is $1508.42 per needed.  Say you set a session rate of $100 per session.  You would need to have around 15 sessions per week ($1508.42 divided by $100).  So in this example in order to make $50,000.00 a year you would need to charge: $150 per session and have 10 sessions per week, or $90 per session and have 17 sessions per week, or $70 per session and have 22 sessions per week As you can see, the more you charge the fewer number of sessions it takes to meet your targeted income.  And conversely, the more sessions you have the more you will bring in regardless of what you charge.   Hidden Costs One area that many clinicians overlook are the hidden costs of running a practice.  Things like, health insurance, disability insurance, and taxes can really catch people off-guard.  Here’s a blog post on that mentioned in the podcast: https://practiceoftherapy.com/hidden-costs-private-practice/ Outsourcing Is Key To Growth Learn to hand-off tasks and things to others so that you can spend your time doing things that will actually bring in money.  Hiring a virtual assistant is a good way to maximize your time. Thought:  If you are spending an hour or more returning phone calls and following up with referrals, a virtual assistant would absolutely pay for themselves.
In this podcast episode Gordon interviews private practice coach and consultant Kelly Higdon, LMFT.  They talk about therapists and counselors making the transition into private practice and some of the common barriers people run into in knowing the business side of things. They also talk about the importance of mindset and knowing your numbers (money) and being able to have an honest look at your finances. Gordon and Kelly talk too about the importance of knowing your “why” and your own motivation behind going into private practice. They discuss the importance of having a plan and breaking things down into manageable steps and being aware of your time management. Meet Kelly Higdon Kelly Higdon, LMFT is the co-founder of ZynnyMe and co-creator of The Business School Bootcamp for Therapists, a flagship course that helps therapists in all parts of their private practice journey solidify their business foundation and growth. When she isn't coaching or hosting retreats for her clients, you can find her playing roller derby or spending time with her family. To learn more about Kelly check out kellyhigdon.com and zynnyme.com Making the Transition Into Private Practice Gordon and Kelly both made the transition into private practice from agency work. Making that transition is sometimes a challenge for clinicians.  There is a lot of fear around giving up a full-time job with benefits to go into solo private practice.  Some therapists will make a gradual transition into private practice. That is, start doing part-time private practice and build the practice before going full time. Others, as Kelly said, will “rip the bandaid off” and jump in full swing. Either way, it is important to get a handle on the business side of things and truly know your numbers.  Being self-employed does require more than making a lateral move salary wise.  There are the “hidden costs” of private practice that many times get overlooked. Knowing Your Numbers One of the major sticking points for therapists and counselors going into private practice is not having a full grasp on their money situation. Things like cost of running the practice, health insurance, taxes and the like can easily cause a practice to fail.  The “fix” for all this is having a good plan on the front end. Don’t Go It Alone Kelly talks about the importance to spend some time with experts.  Consult with financial experts and get a good understanding of your personal financial goals and situation. Secondly, invest in getting some coaching and mentoring from someone who has “been there before”. Investing in coaching and mentoring is nearly always well worth the money your spend. Being in solo private practice can be isolating at times. So it is important to make those professional contacts in your community and in your specific professional space. It not only gives you support, but also can help a lot with building referral sources. Tips For Making The Transition From Agency to Private Practice Know your “why”.  Have a clear understanding for yourself about why you want to be in private practice. Imagine and think about your long-term goals.  Where do you see yourself 5-10 years from now? Write out your long-term goals.  Then plan toward those goals. What do you need to do over the next year... next 3 months... next month...next week... to get you where you want to be with your practice and financial goals? Invest in some expertise. Talk with an accountant or financial planner about your financial goals. Consider investing in some private practice coaching and mentoring.  Nearly always, it is a good return on your investment. It lets you learn from those that have been there before. Create a business and marketing plan.  Learn about these things so that you are not going into private practice without a plan. And if you are already in private practice, it is a good idea to always assess and revisit your long term goals and your business plans.
In this podcast episode Gordon talks about productivity and time management in private practice. One of the main things that seperates really successful private practice owners from those that struggle the most, is how they manage their time and get things done. How many times have you felt overwhelmed with the shear volume of stuff that needs your attention? For me, it happened a lot!  So I decided to get a handle on it and look at how I was spending my time and what I could do to better manage not only my time but my productivity. I have never been a very organized person.  It is something I have to work at a lot! What I have found though is by putting the right systems in place and spending time each week (and daily) planning out my time, I can get much more done and see much more progress in what I am doing to build and grow my private practice. One of the main productivity “hacks” for most people in private practice is to hire a virtual assistant.  One of the biggest time killers for anyone in practice is doing follow-ups and answering phone calls. So Gordon has a conversation with his virtual assistant and intake coordinator, Nikki Carey, about what they have learned together about managing intakes and helping Gordon spend his time on things that truly need his attention and expertise.   Meet Nikki Carey Nikki is the Intake Coordinator for Kingsport Counseling Associates, PLLC where she as served for the past year.  Nikki works remotely and is able to have a lot of flexibility in her schedule because of this.  She and her husband Nick also work together as business partners in a marketing company they started this past year. Nikki has been an integral part of Gordon’s growth and success in private practice. Nikki is the “front desk” face of Kingsport Counseling Associates. Time Management There is only so much time in a day.  We have a constant flow of things coming at us.  Emails, phone calls, projects, new clients to see, and documentation are just a few of the things that keep us busy as counselors and therapists. The key to productivity and good time management is to focus and plan.  Also it is important to learn how to delegate and say no.  But a good place to start with changing your time management and productivity habits is to take a look at how you are actually spending your time. The way I have done that is to simply begin tracking how I am actually spending my time over several weeks.  I created a simple spreadsheet broken down into 15 min intervals for each day of the week.  You can download a free copy of that time tracker here.  I would also color code each task just to give more of a visual of how I was spending my time. What I realized, I was spending a lot of time on things that I could actually pass off to Nikki which freed me up to focus on the things that were much more meaningful and important for me to be doing. Productivity and Time Management Hacks: Learn to batch your time.  Block off time to work on the things that require your undivided attention and focus. Turn off phones and distractions when you are doing those things that are most important. Check email only a couple of times a day. Create “theme” days to help you focus on what you have batched. In other words create a schedule for doing certain tasks on specific days. Break things down into smaller action steps.  Know the difference between a project and actions steps. (Projects are the bigger things that move us forward; action steps are the small things done to complete those projects) Spend time each week (or daily) in planning out how you will use your time each day. Schedule everything. Move towards “inbox zero”. When something new comes in: Do it immediately if it will take less than 2 min. OR Defer to later if it will take longer to do. Put it on your schedule or have a tickler/ to-do file you look at often OR Delegate it to someone else OR
In this podcast episode Gordon has a conversation with Cecilia Briseno, LCSW and her unique niche of working with clients who are navigating the immigration process.  In particular the difficulty of families being separated during this whole process.  Gordon and Cecilia talk about making the transition from working for an agency to private practice. Cecilia tells about how she started into private practice and doing it in a cost effective way. They discuss being able to prepare financially for that transition. Cecilia also talks about how she has been able to diversify her income streams in her practice through providing evaluations. Meet Cecilia Briseno, LCSW Cecilia Briseno is a bilingual Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a private practice, Bright Side Family Therapy, in Arlington, TX. Cecilia has a total of 17 years of experience in social work in a variety of settings and roles. Cecilia received her BSW and MSSW from the University of Texas at Arlington. It was during her graduate internship that she studied the model of therapy that she still uses today, Solution Focused Therapy (SFT). Following the completion of her Master’s program, Cecilia went on to study Marriage and Family Therapy in a doctoral program at Texas Woman’s University, which helped her to broaden her knowledge of SFT and family systems. Cecilia has found her niche in working with couples primarily while also working with families navigating through the immigration process. When appropriate, Cecilia provides evaluations explaining the hardships they face when separated from their loved ones. She is now also providing training for clinicians interested in working with immigrants. By first having her client’s paint a detailed picture of their desired future, Cecilia is then able to help them explore past and present successes, no matter how small, in order to start attaining the future they desire. The beauty of the approach Cecilia uses is that this process often times helps the client to see that they are closer to their desired future than they realized, increasing hope and motivation. Transitioning from Agency to Private Practice A good start for many people is to begin private practice work is to start by “moonlighting” and continue to work a part-time or full-time job somewhere else. It is also important to prepare financially before moving into private practice full-time Cecilia talks about how when she was starting out in private practice, she took all the money she made from the practice and saved it.  This created a financial cushion for her when she did make that transition into full-time private practice. Private Practice Freedom Cecilia and Gordon talk about some of the reasons they made the decision to go into private practice and the freedom it brings Being able to set your own schedule Taking time off for family and events Flexibility of scheduling Simply being your own boss! The Importance of Niches By identifying a niche, it helps your practice stand out People also tend to search for therapists based on specific problems Niches can either be around a specific problem OR around a specific demographic.  This is what Cecilia was able to do by identifying the unique needs of the immigrant populations in her area. Private Practice Packages Cecilia has been successful in setting up some packages that she offers to clients.  It creates a positive cash flow for her practice and, it helps clients by offering a bit of a discount for the services. It also has the added benefit of helping them stay motivated in the therapeutic process. Resources Mentioned Cecilia’s practice website:  http://www.brightsidefamilytherapy.com/ Cecilia’s Hardship Evaluation Training:  http://hardshipevaluationtraining.com Other resources: G-Suite for Therapists Course: practiceoftherapy.com/gsuitecourse Pre-register to get 50% off the full price of the course! Meet Gordon Brewer, MEd, LMFT
In this podcast episode Gordon has a conversation with John Clarke from Private Practice Workshop and Unconditional Media.  Gordon and John talk about online marketing for your private practice and some of the strategies and ways to market.  John talks about some of the different philosophies of marketing and how these can be applied to private practice. John and Gordon also talk about branding and how that differs from advertising and some strategies for creating a private practice “brand”. They talk about the importance of being able to connect with potential clients and communicate to them about how you can help them with their problems. Ultimately marketing is about getting you and your private practice in front of potential clients and communicating to them about how you will help them. Meet John Clarke John Clarke is a licensed psychotherapist and a private practice expert at PrivatePracticeWorkshop. After learning a lot of things the hard way while building his first practice in San Francisco, he started a blog to share with others the lessons he had learned. Private Practice Workshop was born, and this blog eventually evolved into so much more: a thriving Facebook community, a successful podcast, online courses, and coaching/consulting. Some therapists want to learn how to use digital marketing to grow their audience and get more clients, but the majority just want to leave it to the pros. John founded Unconditional Media, the digital marketing team for therapists, to meet the biggest need of private practitioners: getting more clients! When he's not nerding out over all things private practice, he's playing jazz drums, practicing Muay Thai martial arts, and talking to his pets like they're humans. John Clarke Knows Marketing John talks about having a well balanced approach between both digital and in-person marketing. Therapists can tend to lean more toward one or the other. John talks about the importance of having a marketing plan.  Even something as simple as document that outlines what you plan to do. Also it is important to have a way to track what works. Gordon mentioned simply asking clients how they found out about your practice. A good place to start with a marketing plan is to do some networking and find out from other therapists in your area what’s working for them. Do some research by finding out who is ranking high on Google when you do a search for therapists in your area. Give them a call and find out where they are getting their clients and what is working for well for them. Keep it simple.  John suggests just focusing on just 2 things at a time and learn to do them really well. John talks about “fast acting” vs. “slow burning” marketing strategies.  In other words, marketing to clients with an immediate need vs. focusing on name recognition. Branding is a part of using a “slow burning” approach; it is name recognition  You want for people to think of your practice first when they are in need of your services. It is important to really find what works best for your area and knowing where your potential clients “hang-out”. Knowing where people go to find a therapist when they are in crisis is also very important. John mentioned being able to convey to people something about yourself other than your credentials.  What potential clients really want to know is that you will be able to help them with your problems.  Your approach and credentials just do not matter that much to people. John and Gordon mention and talk about the “Storybrand Podcast” and concepts behind that marketing approach. Storybrand was founded by author Donald Miller and teaches companies how to use the power of stories to promote their brands. The Storybrand formula is the hero of the story has a problem.  They find a guide to help them solve their problem and overcome what they are struggling with. Your clients are the hero... “Like it or not, you are the product...
In this podcast episode Gordon has a conversation with Joe Sanok from the Practice of the Practice Podcast.  Joe and Gordon talk about scaling and “leveling up” your private practice and the ways the counselors, therapists and mental health clinicians can take their practices to the next level. They talk about the importance of having mentors and coaching in helping with growth and scaling your private practice. Joe and Gordon also talk about making the transition from agency work into private practice and the different phases of starting, growing and scaling your practice.Joe speaks to how a person should be spending their time and resources during these different stages. They discuss learning how to maximize your time by learning to spend it on things that will move you forward rather than hold you down. By focusing on your ROI (return on investment) of both your time and money will help you take your practice to the next level. Joe and Gordon also talk about mindset in private practice and not letting yourself get "petrified by perfection".  Meet Joseph Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC Joe is the person behind The Practice of the Practice Podcast and Blog, www.practiceofthepractice.com.  Joe is a speaker, mental health counselor, business consultant and podcaster. Joe started the Practice of the Practice Podcast in 2012 and it has become the #1 podcast for counselors on the ins and outs private practice. Joe has been featured in Huffington Post, PsychCentral, Readers Digest, Bustle and Yahoo News. He is keynote speaker and author of five books. Joe is also the owner and founder of a group practice, Mental Wellness Counseling in Traverse City, Michigan. Leveling Up Joe has identified 3 distinct phases of private practice.  There is a correlation between financial level or gross income of a practice and the 3 phases. Here are the 3 distinct levels of private practice that Joe has identified: Start-up- less than $60k per year Growing- $60k to $100k per year Scaling- $100+ per year ROI and Outsourcing Depending on which phase of growth you are in, will determine where and how a clinician in private practice should spend their time and money resources to get the best ROI. In the start-up phase, your greatest asset is the time you spend. In this phase attention should be spent on bootstrapping and marketing your practice. Spend time making those community contacts and developing relationships with other professionals in your business In the growing phase, clinicians would focus on bringing in others to help duplicate their efforts.  For example, adding other clinicians to their practice. Begin outsourcing things that really do not require your time and expertise. Hire a virtual assistant to handle things like scheduling. In the scaling phase, private practice owners really need to concentrate on where they are going to get the most for their time. At this phase, most practice owners are looking to maximize the ROI with their time and resources. They will outsource as much as possible and hand-off as much of the mundane tasks of running a practice as possible. Mentoring and Coaching One of the most important aspects of leveling up and growing is surrounding yourself with as much knowledge and expertise as possible. This is where finding a mentor and a coach comes into play. Learn as much as you can from people that have “been there before” and know the landscape. Joe talks about listening to podcasts and reading blogs in those first stages of private practice to gain the knowledge you need. Then as a practice grow, it is important to invest in some coaching and mentoring in order to level up and get a focused plan of action.  This is where either individual or mastermind group consulting comes in.  It is absolutely one of the best ROI’s for growing and scaling. Resources Mentioned in the Podcast Get Joe’s Free 28-Step Checklist- www.practiceofthepractice.com/start
In the podcast interview, Gordon talks with Danielle Kepler, LCPC about insurance credentialing and billing in private practice as a therapist, counselor, social worker or other mental health clinicians. Danielle speaks to some of the advantages and disadvantages of being credentialed with insurance companies and accepting insurance in your private practice.Gordon and Danielle talk about how they decided to be on insurance panels and why they did not go strictly private pay in their practices.  Danielle also talks about being your own biller and how to make the process simpler and less intimidating. They discuss how to start the process of becoming credentialed with insurance companies and some strategies around getting on insurance panels. Meet Danielle Kepler Danielle Kepler, LCPC is the founder and “head insurance guru” at Be Your Own Biller, LLC, where she offers consultation to business owners, solo practitioners, and non-profits local to Chicago and across the nation. Be Your Own Biller’s mission is to empower clinicians and demystify the insurance credentialing and billing world so they do not need to hire a long-term credentialing or billing service. She co-hosts a podcast dedicated to insurance credentialing and billing called Insurance Answers Podcast. In addition to consulting, she is a clinical therapist and has a private practice in downtown Chicago. In her private practice, she primarily sees adults who are struggling with anxiety and depression as well as couples. She is paneled with over 30 private insurance companies/EAPs and does her own credentialing and billing. Learn more at www.beyourownbiller.com. Listeners can sign up for a free CPT Cheat Sheet when signing up for my e-mail list via my website. I just came out with a bunch of useful products, one including Ins and Outs of Insurance Verification E-Book™ and another a Credentialing Starter Kit™ www.beyourownbiller.com/products. I am now offering free Be Your Own Biller Quick Tips via my FB page and group and am in the process of developing courses on insurance credentialing and billing. One of the big decisions of being in private practice is deciding if you want to be on insurance panels (in network) or simply be private pay only.  And there is no right answer for this.  Either way you do it, there are some advantages and disadvantages. A few factors to take into consideration are: Personal preference and your practice business model The demographics of your practice area; could you get the referrals you needed to sustain your practice without insurance? Your practice niche and the clients you serve; are they dependent on insurance to receive services? A willingness to trade off lower per session rates for the volume of being on insurance panels.   Pros and Cons of Accepting Insurance in Your Private Practice Pros Usually means more referrals Makes your services available to people that really prefer to use their insurance Sometimes gives you more “clout” with people in that they know you have been vetted by their insurance company Will give you more diversity of clients The out-of-pocket costs for the client are lower Cons Does take a lot of work on the front end. Credentialing process does take around 2-3 months before you can see people on those insurance panels What you are paid per session is determined by the insurance company which tends to be lower than what you could get being strictly private pay You need systems in place track claims and billing with the insurance companies The Credentialing Process First go to CAQH which it universal credentialing service used by most insurance companies and enter your information there. Second, research which insurance companies will be the best for you to  be credentialed with based on your local demographics Third, begin making applications with the insurance companies you have identified.
In this episode of the Practice of Therapy Podcast, Gordon talks with Daniel Fava about building private practice websites and how to create an effective design that is user friendly and attracts your ideal client.  Gordon and Daniel also talk about why someone might want to build their own website verses having a web designer do the work.  They also cover common website design mistakes and how to increase SEO (search engine optimization) Meet Daniel Fava Daniel Fava is a web designer and founder of CreateMyTherapistWebsite.com. Daniel teaches therapists how to create websites and attract more clients online. After building a website for his wife’s private practice and seeing the impact it had on her business, he became passionate about helping others achieve the same. Daniel offers web design services, consultations and online training to help therapists overcome tech-fears and grow their business through online marketing. You can get free access to his library of PDFs, cheat sheets, and e-books by clicking here. Your #1 Marketing Tool Your private practice website really is the MOST important marketing tool. When people are seeking help and looking to find a counselor or therapist, they are going to search online first.   Your website should be a reflection of who you are as therapist and something about you and your personality. It should help your ideal client find you and begin to make that personal connection that is so important to therapeutic work. Why Build It Yourself? Daniel talks about some of the advantages of building your own website and why someone would want to do that. Some of these things are: More control of the website Much less expensive Lets you understand the tech side of your website You have more control over the updates and design Website Design Tips Daniel also talked about the importance of website design and some tips for making your website more user friendly. “Less is more” - your website design needs to be simple and easy to navigate.  People need to know what to do when they come to your website.  Have a “call to action” that is obvious; for example, “call today for your free 15 min. phone consultation”. Be sure your contact information is front and center.  In other words, make it easy for people to find your phone number and how to contact you “About” pages are usually the second most visited page of most therapist’s websites.  The message there should focus how you help clients and the specific problems you help with. Speak in a way that the average person can understand.  Using a lot of clinical language will cause you to lose people. Avoid using too much of that. (ex., “sad” instead of “depressed” or “worried” instead of “anxiety”). Ultimately, the copy and way in which you write on your website needs to speak to the client and struggles they are having. Getting Your Website Found Daniel and Gordon talk about SEO (search engine optimization) and some tips on helping your website move up in its Google ranking. Blogging regularly is one of the most effective ways for your website to improve in rankings.  Especially if you are writing about topics that are relevant to your potential and ideal clients. Blogging does not need to be terribly difficult.  An optimal blog length is going to be between 700 and 1200 words. Blog posts need to be scannable since that is the way most people read blogs. Use section headers and bullet points to make it easier for people to read. The content of your website should contain the keywords (search terms) that people would use find your services.  Words like “counseling”, “therapy” or “help with _____” are good keywords to keep in mind.  Also having your location (city and state) in the copy helps with SEO and search terms.  People will search based on location (ex., “counselors in Yourtown”) Take Home Points for Building and Designing Your Website
In this episode of the Practice of Therapy podcast Gordon talks with Clay Cockrell about online counseling and building a private practice using online services. Gordon and Clay discuss how being able to add online therapy as an option for clients, can be a great way to reach people who need our services but find it difficult to reach our offices. Gordon and Clay talk some about the logistics of providing online therapy and some of its limitations due to state regulations. They also discuss how providing online counseling can have global reach and give people a way to connect with professionals in some of the remote areas of the world. Meet Clay Cockrell Clay Cockrell, LCSW is a therapist based in New York City and is the founder of several counseling oriented endeavors. Most recently he is the founder of Onlinecounselling.com – a listing directory with the mission of helping clients all over the world to find the therapist or life coach that will best meet their needs.  The site also works through their educational resources and podcasts to help counselors work online in an ethical, responsible and legal manner.  A majority of proceeds from the site are donated to non-profit arts.   Clay started his career as the creator of Walk and Talk Therapy (www.walkandtalk.com).  Instead of meeting in a traditional office, he conducts counseling sessions while walking through Central Park in NY.  He has found that movement when associated with therapy is incredibly effective in allowing the healing and growth process that is so critical to the therapeutic journey.  He consults with therapists all over the world to bring this innovative approach to their own practices.   Six years ago, Clay began his journey into the online world by the creation of Online Marital Counseling (www.maritalcounseling.com)  He works with couples all over the world via online counseling to improve and /or salvage their broken relationships.  It is incredibly valuable when the couple is living apart or having scheduling issues that prevent them from engaging in traditional couples counseling.  Clay also has a podcast, The Online Counselling Podcast. Originally from Kentucky, Clay moved to New York City with his wife in 1997.  He has been featured on ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN and National Public Radio as well as in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, WebMD, and The Times of London.  Most recently he was featured on CBS’s “The Doctor’s” where they were able to explore his specialty of counseling for the Ultra Wealthy and how to raise children in a money’ed envirornment. www.onlinecounselling.com www.walkandtalk.com www.maritalcounseling.com “... there’s a world in need of your services and this is a way for you to reach that world…” - Clay Cockrell, LCSW Start a Private Practice Using Online Therapy  If someone is wanting to start a private practice but might still working somewhere else, for example working for an agency,providing online counseling after hours would be a great way to possibly get started into private practice using the online space. It is important though that your start website has an emphasis on your online services and explains for clients how it all works. Education of potential clients is key. To effectively market your online counseling services have it listed as a service your homepage. Also have a specific page about online therapy in your website. Focus on help educate potential clients on its use and how it can help them with their specific problems. Clay talks about investing in some online advertising.  For example, Facebook ads to help boost the ability for people to find you and your website. People seeking online therapy will obviously be online and searching for you there.   As part of this online marketing effort, directories like the Online Counseling Directory and Psychology Today can be a big boost in promoting your online therapy services.
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