Eleven years ago I ventured briefly into the world of providing online counseling services. It was short-lived because there was not enough interest from potential clients in online counseling. At the time, there was a sense that online interventions would revolutionize counseling, and that it might even become a preferred method of treatment for many.
While online counseling, also known as telemental health, and e-therapy, hasn’t “taken over” the field of therapy in the past decade, electronic delivery methods have steadily grown.
Whether you like it or not, when you’re in private practice you are a business person. A common complaint I hear from new private practitioners is “I had no idea how much time (and money) it takes to run a business!” I nod my head in agreement.
With no business background, I ventured into private practice nearly 10 years ago. Starting out as a solo practitioner, I have learned how to maximize my time. Over the years I learned the importance of automating as many business systems as possible in order to decreases stress, and free up mental and emotional energy for the things I’d rather be doing…like therapy.
Here are 6 suggestions for automating your business systems in private practice:
1) Automate social media posts
While actual human conversation is the point of social media, I do automate some of my posts, tweets and status updates. The two social media management platforms I use are Hootsuite and Socialoomph. I use both because they have different strengths. Hootsuite allows me to manage multiple social media accounts from it’s dashboard and respond to them in one place. SocialOomph is great for posting recurring tweets and updates because you can set the frequency of the recurrence and alter the text slightly.
I also use SocialOomph to set up auto-responders to thank new Twitter followers. SocialOomph also sends me daily digest email of keywords I’ve chosen to follow on Twitter so I can see who’s tweeting about relevant topics and I can find new and interesting people to follow.
Today’s guest post is by Christina G. Hibbert, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist and expert on Postpartum Mental Health, Women’s Emotional Health, Grief & Loss, Motherhood and Parenting. Dr. Hibbert runs a successful private practice in Flagstaff, Arizona, housed in the same location as her husband’s dental practice.
A few years back, after I had my fourth baby and we inherited our two nephews (that’s a long story for another day!), I quit working in the group practice I’d been with for four years. After staying home for two years to put our new family together, I felt it might be time to open a practice of my own. Being a mom of six, I was very nervous about adding a private practice to my already jam-packed “to-do” list. Thank goodness my husband was thinking for me.
“Why don’t we build you an office behind mine?” he suggested one day. My husband has a dental practice in downtown Flagstaff, Arizona. The office is a little historic home that was converted years ago. It has a white picket fence and a hand-painted sign hanging from a shingle out front. Very quaint. Flagstaff is known for its interesting combination of businesses (airport/beauty salon; antique shop/physician), so why not dentist/psychologist? It seemed to make sense.
I love sleep. I need sleep. Very few things can get me to happily wake up at 3:00am, especially on a Sunday morning. The only one I can think of right now is going to the hospital to have a baby. But last week, I added another reason I’d sacrifice my precious sleep—the invitation to interview live on the national Fox News Channel.
Last Wednesday I received an email from Fox and Friends Weekend inviting me to interview live on Sunday morning at 7:20am to give tips on how to stop whining. They’d seen my interview in The Wall Street Journal a week ago in the article “A Nation of Whining: Therapists Try Tough Love.” I called the show booker to discuss the interview details and confirm my availability.
What do you think of when you think of professional networking? Private practice therapists who I’ve worked with in business consultations usually consider networking to be meeting with other like-minded professionals for lunch or handing out business cards to physicians offices.
While those are important ways to make connections that build your therapy practice, there are other ways to get the word to thousands and thousands of people in one shot, instead of just a few folks at a time. Rarely do shrinks think of networking with reporters.
An interesting theme emerged in my private practice consultation group last week. It may seem like an odd theme for a business group – resentment. As I shared a few of my own experiences in private practice it became very clear that I had used my feelings of resentment as a guide to lead me to my ideal private practice.
Q: “A few months ago me and my best friends ex boyfriend (who still cares a lot about her) went to our school guidance councilors and told them how my best friend was suicidal. they told her parents and she had to get an evaluation from a therapist. they cleared her and she was allowed back in school. however now school isn’t in session and she’s suicidal again. I know this because she told me that I’m the only thing keeping her alive. a few years ago she was raped by a close friend and then a few days after the rape walked in on him killing himself. she never dealt with this traumatic event and I think it’s one of the reasons she’s suicidal now. we talked a little about it and she told me she feels like she messes everything up and all she does is make things worse. I tried to show her how that’s not true and how a lot of people care about her but she doesn’t believe me. I don’t want to go to her parents again because I dont think they’d believe me a second time. I want her to get help and talk to someone but I don’t know how to do it. please help me.”
A: Thank you for your email. I can feel your concern for your friend through this letter. Even though you might be putting your friendship at risk, I suggest you go talk to her parents. They need to know about the rape and that she walked in on the person who raped her committing suicide. Those are horrific traumas for a teenager to witness and she is in serious danger. Please watch the video response for more tools to handle this painful situation.
Developing multiple income streams is crucial to maintaining income stability in private practice. “Having different income sources allows me to be a bit less stressed when my main funding source, private practice, takes a dip,” shares Jill Kristal, President of Transitional Learning Curves.
Reducing financial anxiety is not the only benefit of developing additional income avenues. Multiple income streams allow therapists to fully express their many talents, gifts, and passions.
Writing and speaking provides former actor Frank J. Sileo, PhD with creative fulfillment as well. “I used to be an actor in a past life so getting up in front of others has helped get that need met, ” Sileo adds. Additionally, multiple income streams allow therapists to make a difference on a larger scale, reaching far beyond the therapy office. “I had a desire to have more impact on troubled eaters than one-to-one sessions or even workshops and talks could provide,” shares therapist and healthy eating expert Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed.