Creating a Successful Private Practice in 2017: People NEED You!

Creating a Successful Private Practice in 2017: People NEED You!

Do you believe that your community needs you in private practice? I do. Start to look around as you go about your day and you will see lots of people who could benefit from the work that you do. Or, you could dig into some of the data out in the world! And while non-profits and agencies can meet some of the need, a lot of people would benefit from private practice services. 

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The Process of Transformation in Your Business

You started your practice from scratch. You feel a passion about the work you do and how you help others. As your practice starts to grow, what worked when you started may not be what is working now. Join in with me as I talk with Howard Spector from SimplePractice as we discuss how to deal with changes in your business even positive changes that can be stressful.

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Starting a Counseling Practice - A Beginner's Guide

Starting a Counseling Practice - A Beginner's Guide

"Give me anything you can to help me start my private practice."

Every week we receive emails from therapists asking about how to get started in their practices. There is great value in getting information from someone who has been there and done that. Yet, we all have our own unique journey. What works for one person, may not work for another. This is why we created a 10 part series that was featured on Pro Psych Central. It is a great compliment to our free trainings and most articles come with a free download to help you integrate what is taught.

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Quiz: Should I Go Paperless? (Updated)

Quiz: Should I Go Paperless? (Updated)

Here is a quiz to find out if going paperless might be the right decision for you: Are you a therapist, counselor, or psychologist trying to wade through all of the options for going paperless? Here is a quiz to find out if going paperless might be the right decision for you: 

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Passwords for Therapists: Security for You and Your Clients

HIPAA COMPLIANCE FOR THERAPISTS

HIPAA COMPLIANCE FOR THERAPISTS

Therapists are keepers of our clients secrets, and private information. Security and privacy and incredibly important to us. In fact, many therapists have avoided computers and electronic health records all together because of a desire to keep their client's information safe.

Today we are going to show you a way to keep your information safe online. It is a simple change you can make today to make the online world safer for your clients. Why? Because the truth is, I can probably get into your metal filing cabinet with a hammer and about 4 minutes. Just because something feels safe, doesn't make it safe! Watch the following video and learn a small change you can make today!

What did you learn today? Will you make a change in your passwords? If so, we want to see you say "Yes!" in the comments section below. Let's show the world and our clients that we will make the simple change of developing some wonderful, strong passwords to keep safe online!

Miranda Palmer

I have successfully built a cash pay psychotherapy practice from scratch on a shoestring budget. I have also failed a licensed exam by 1 point (only to have the licensing board send me a later months later saying I passed), started an online study group to ease my own isolation and have now reached thousands of therapists across the country, helped other therapists market their psychotherapy practices, and helped awesome business owners move from close to closing their doors, to being profitable in less than 6 weeks. I've failed at launching online programs. I've had wild success at launching online programs. I've made mistakes in private practice I've taught others how to avoid my mistakes. You can do this. You were called to this work. Now- go do it! Find some help or inspiration as you need it- but do the work!

What is a practice management system?

While there are a few people in life inspired to run a business because they love the idea of doing profit and losses, tracking expenses, and doing taxes- unless you are a CPA- that probably isn't why you went in to business. 

Most people go into business because they are passionate about meeting a need or helping people in some way (even if it is just selling their product they think is awesome). Or, I should say, we hope that anyone who is reading this blog is actually passionate about they do- if you aren't, we recommend finding what we let you get your passion back or getting a new job! 

So, what does all of this have to do with the idea of a practice management system?

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Have you gone paperless yet?

You should. Seriously. 

Ok. Here is the deal. Most of you are solo business owners who are trying to do it all and be it all. And guess what, if you want to be really effective, you have to find a way to outsource some activities. 

I've talked with hundreds of therapists across the world, so I know that many of you do NOT have the budget to hire administrative staff. And guess what? With a great paperless office, you probably don't need to! 

When I was in graduate school, my professor told me to prepare to spend 2 hours on administrative tasks for every 1 hour I spent with clients. For someone who loves helping people, but doesn't love adminstrative ridiculousness, this made me sad. I was also determined to get as much face time in with clients as possible, without sacrificing my legal and ethical obligations. (This might be why I finished gathering my 3,000 hours so quickly.) 

When I developed my own private practice process, I was determined to go paperless. And guess what, there wasn't much out there. I was actually a beta tester for two of the first programs that rolled onto the market back in 2007. Initially, I hobbled together a solution using a Word Processing Program and IronKeys that was secure, but still cumbersome. 

The software they have on the market today is progressing my leaps and bounds. Every month programs are rolling out new services that are all meant to make your life easier, and your clients happier! What does that mean for you? It means that there are people who WANT your business and are determined to make your life easier, save you time, and save you money. 

The monthly costs can range from under $30 to over $100. That monthly cost might stop you in your tracks. But, let me ask you this, can you hire an administrative staff for less than $100 a month? I'd be willing to bet the average clinician (if they choose wisely), saves at minimum 10 hours per month. 

For me, I not only spent MUCH less time on billing, note-taking, and treatment planning, I also had less anxiety. I could also check on my files, ensure payments were tracked, print out receipts, and so much more.

I recently moved from California to Washington and it was ah-mazing to know that there were no files to securely transport! I can still easily access files, past clients can complete releases of information as needed, and I don't have a locked down filing cabinet in my new home office. 

It made running a business so easy- I even started a second business on my off days- because although I didn't want to burn out doing trauma work- running a business was easy and fun! 

Have you gone paperless yet? I think it is time to stop putting it off! You can enter to win 1-year of Simple Practice (one of our personal favorites on the market right now) here

p.s. 

Are you struggling with this, and other aspects of enjoying the business side of your private practice? We are going to be launching a 1-week private practice bootcamp that is all about the nuts and bolts of running a private practice at the end of March. If you would like to chat about whether this program would benefit your practice, drop us a line at help@zynnyme.com (We will send out the big announcement at some point-but for now an e-mail works). 

Want more articles about therapists going paperless? Here is just one I've written. It is interesting how quickly things are changing. Like, today- the practice management system I recommend does look great and integrate securely with my calendar! 

My Requirements for a Practice Management System

Social Media is a Worthless Time Suck

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I got invited to talk about social media to a group of psychotherapists. Guess what the majority of therapists think about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Social Media in general- that's right: Time Suck!

And I will be honest- for many business owners I see using social media- it is a time suck and a distraction from running their business. While for others, it makes them hundreds of thousands of dollars. Are some business owners just lucky?

No. While they may have stumbled on to how to do socially media effectively- it isn't luck. So what is it?

I have the secret that turns social media from a time suck to business building. And it isn't rocket science. Any business owner can do it! How cool is that?

#1. Know Your Client

#2. Be Intentional

Let's tackle "know your client" first. I know on the surface this sounds simple. However, I talk to business owners everyday that are stumped. Why is all this time I'm putting in not doing anything?

Again and again, I find passionate, inspired business owners being bland online. They want to be as inviting and inclusive to everyone- so they speak to no one.

Do you really know why your clients choose you when you get them on the phone or in person? Do you understand what makes them call YOU in the first place? If you don't, it is hard to be authentic and "you" when using social media. And bringing that authentic, professional out to the community is what people need to see. 

Second thing that gets missed? Be intentional. It is really important for you to understand your potential client's experience and make the process as easy as possible for them. In other words, you need to understand deeply the "conversion" process. What takes someone from "looking" to "buying" or from "maybe" to "scheduling?" 

I have done trainings for years. I have a great reputation as a speaker. People remember me. Sometimes years later those people purchase my services. Years. Later. 

At the close of a session with 38 people registered this last Saturday- I had  about 33 people sign-up for my newsletter- over 25 signed up an upcoming free training. Twenty asked for information about a free consultation. 

As people came forward to hand me their "sign-up" sheets an attendee came up and said "so this is what you mean by conversion?" Yes. Yes it is.

While my training style has probably improved over the years- the most striking difference is that Kelly and I have been more intentional about understanding the conversion process and making it easier for us to get to know potential clients.

Getting potential clients calling us and wanting to work with us is really fun. And, it means we get to pick the best and brightest clients to work with. We don't feel like we are desperate or chasing- and that means we only work with people we absolutely adore! 

Do you know what that translates to? Clients who are passionate, ready for change, and who get intentional with getting their vision out there fast. 

We just started one of our 8 week marketing bootcamps- and 4 days in we have clients signing up full fee clients and one selling an amazing program at the pricetag of $3,000-something this person hadn't even dreamed of being possible. How cool is that? We are so proud of the way our clients dig in and are ready to rock- and that isn't an accident! More than half of the people in our current program found us through our social media strategy! What would it mean for you if you could have twice as many clients? Or, if all of your clients were awesome and passionate?

It is in these moments that the vision of my life becomes more and more clear. Who are you passionate about helping? And no, "anybody who will give me money" isn't a good answer. Or at least, it isn't an answer that is going to make social media worth your investment of time, energy, or money. ONLY use social media if you are truly passionate, have a clear audience, and you are ready to be intentional. 

Social media is as powerful and effective as the person who is using it. Tap into your power! Share below who you are truly passionate about helping. Share the most important thing you can teach these individuals. 

Your Practice Building Tip of the Week!

Have you gone paperless yet? If you haven't you should really consider it!  There are many benefits to moving into electronic health records. A few of my favorites? Security, Time Savings, and Money Making. 

#1. While most therapists cite fears regarding going paperless related to fears about security- the truth is, your filing cabinet system  probably isn't as secure as you think it is. In fact, as an intern, our receptionist locked the keys in the filing cabinet. Miranda to the rescue! I grabbed a butter knife, bent it open, then bent it back, and we went on our merry way... until I started my own private practice and had a big "doh" facepalm moment of: "I can't believe it was THAT easy to break into the filing cabinet!" 

And for the clients I was working with at the time, their Protected Health Information (PHI) wasn't just private or confidential- it was a matter of their life and their safety! We were primarily working with domestic violence victims. 

A great, HIPAA compliant computer system protects your information in ways that you don't even know. Also, the people most likely to want access to that information (family members, exes, etc.) won't be able to just strong-arm their way into your office and access it. 

#2. Time savings. This is the other things that therapist expect- going paperless will take too much time! I will admit, there is a learning curve with anything! But, a good paperless office system (also called a practice management system) should SAVE you time and energy. I recommend that you transition new clients initially as you "get the hang of it." And then, once you feel more comfortable, move the rest of your people as if you were starting a "file 2 of 2." Make a note in your paper file that the file continues in the online portal. Keep those in your filing cabinet for reference for the next 6 months- and then great a VERY solid filing cabinet to keep those guys in for the duration. I don't recommend that most therapists take the time to scan their old files page by page. It just isn't cost or time effective. In 7 years, (or years until 18 + 7 if you have kids) you can shred those bad boys! 

#3. Money Making. Many therapists are concerned about having another expense added to their practice. However, a great practice management system should help you save time, energy, and make back money in your practice. I saved easily 15 hours per month in private practice time by having a paperless office. It also made it easy to ensure that I got paid at the time of each session, or easily paid for a no-show or late-cancellation. Having a clear boundary about these issues made life easy and gave me a consistent paycheck. And, truth be told, I would rather spend 15 hours with clients than do filing or paperwork ANY DAY of the WEEK! 

For me, going paperless was tied into my aversion to paperwork. I knew long term it would be easy to get side-tracked on paper files and that I worked better typing things online. I also LOVED that my program made printing a CMS-1500 for clients to get reimbursed as easy as printing a receipt. 

What about you? Any plans to go paperless in 2014? We have tentatively planned a webinar in the beginning of January about paperless best practices and highlighting how to choose which program or software program. 

What is our current favorite? The makers of www.trackyourhours.com who built an awesome platform for pre-licensed therapists collecting hours for licensure in California has developed www.simplepractice.com Our clients are loving its simple interface and awesome customer service. We also working with them to get a little somethin' somethin' for our subscribers ;0) How cool is that? 

The "M" Word: Talking to Therapists about Money

So this weekend Kelly and I presented at the 2013 Annual California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) conference. We go to present for 1 hour on Top Tips for Going Paperless. And while we did our best to pack as much in as we could in such a small amount of time- it wasn't enough! (We had sent in a 4 or 6 hour proposal for this topic and they gave us a 1-hour slot! (Which we are SO glad we got to talk and meet some awesome therapists!) 

So... as we were agonizing about what we include on our slides, I noticed how uncomfortable I was with the idea of putting any words up that related to money or profits. Why? Because I knew that it would set off alarm bells in our audience. 

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Encrypted Computer Syncing

So we are big fans of DropBox which allows you to have a folder that you can share between computers, and even access any of the files via a login on the dropbox website. 

We use it ALL the time, but NOT for our private practice or any sensitive data! Why? Because there are some security holes with that awesome free product that make us a bit nervous about trusting medical data (like mental health records) to this cloud storage. However, this new one put some security in place that just might make it viable to have syncing between a work laptop and your home desktop. 

Note: I do not store ANYTHING of mental health records on my laptop or desktop. Everything is stored securely in my paperless office. But, I know a lot of therapists who are storing information on their laptop or desktop and not encrypted... 

Here is a wonderful article (that isn't too terribly techy) that also gives you a link to get 50GB of free encrypted storage (that is a LOT of free storage) that is only good until the end of the month. 

So get your free 50gb of free encrypted storage (in case you ever need it). And, if we get enough comments asking for it- we will post a quick video tutorial showing you exactly how to use it. 

 

Video Tutorial: Websites, Email, and Time-Saving Oh My!

We have been having SO much fun with our free Website 101 E-Course for Therapists, Helpers, and Healers. We have been getting comments and emails flooding in that tell us what we made is actually helping people! In fact, we got feedback that we crystallized weeks of one therapists website research into one 30 minute video! Woohoo!!!!! 

We are all about saving time! So today, we are going to help you with an e-mail time-saver!

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