I know that in a few weeks we will be spending 5 weeks together LIVE talking about the many ways that you can improve clinical outcomes while also increasing your private practice income. But, I wanted to talk about something amazing and tangible that you can start doing TODAY in private practice. While you can do this ANYTIME (and you should do it regularly), this is something that is lovely to do at the close/start of a year.
Ask For Feedback From Your Clients
Anyone who has heard Kelly Higdon and I speak, has read this blog consistently over the last 10 years, or has been through our Business School Bootcamp for Therapists has been challenged to integrate an outcomes process into this work. Why? Because tracking outcomes is powerful, both clinically, and financially.
Scott Miller was involved in some great research and has written extensively about what really is associated with great clinical outcomes, and it isn’t what people think. If you haven’t read his article SuperShrinks yet (or lately), I HIGHLY recommend clicking here to give it a read.
What Makes Some Therapists Great?
It isn’t years of experience, it isn’t years of education, it isn’t a special license designation, it isn’t age, it isn’t the latest and greatest therapy certification… “In what amounts to a quantum difference between themselves and average therapists, they’re much more likely to ask for and receive negative feedback about the quality of the work and their contribution to the alliance.”
While I want you to read the entire article because there is SO much juicy information in there… think about that statement “they much more likely to ask for and receive negative feedback about the quality of the work.”
What Can You Start Doing With Every Client Today to Improve Clinical Outcomes?
Ask them for feedback. Give them space to give you real feedback. What could we have done today to make this better? Is there anything we missed? If something isn’t working, please let me know.
Right now is a great space to check in regarding progress with questions that could look something like this:
Do you remember how you felt when you first called for therapy?
What were you hoping for?
What has changed?
What else would need to change for you to feel like this was truly a success?
What are your favorite moments that you’d like more of?
What hasn’t worked as well for you, or that you’d like less of?
Why Therapists Don’t Integrate Clinical Outcomes
We have a whole training on integrating outcomes into private practice in our Business School Bootcamp for Therapists and people are often REALLY nervous about asking these questions. Or, they were exposed to such a cumbersome outcomes measurement process in an agency job that it soured the whole experience. But guess what? When our bootcampers integrate outcomes work It usually turns out to be one of their favorite parts of bootcamp (and they wish they had started doing it sooner!)
Why Integrating Outcomes Into Private Practice is Awesome!
They get to see their client make realizations about the progress they’ve made that they might not have fully realized until they took a moment to assess. They get to learn more about what is and isn’t working with this particular client so they can use that in the treatment planning process. They get to reach the client beaming with pride about the progress they’ve made. And, they get to go deeper into making plans and getting clarity about the work that is really left to be done. Therapists also often learn more about what they bring to the clinical relationship while helps increase their clinical confidence. Therapists can also use this information to more fully align their business model and marketing to give potential clients a clearer picture of what working with them will be like.
But Does Integrating Outcomes Actually Improve Your Income?
While I don’t think there has been any specific research about it yet (Hey Scott Miller- we have an idea for your next research study!)... I will ask you a few questions:
Do people refer to something that they don’t feel good about?
How often have you simply faded away from a relationship that wasn’t working because you didn’t feel brave enough, or that there was space to ask for what you needed?
Have you ever made AWESOME progress with a client and then gotten to a place where therapy becomes more of a friendly check-in?
If you can engage, re-engage, or prevent an early drop out from therapy- how does that impact your income?
If you can get clear about who you get great outcomes with, you can focus on getting more of those clients, and getting great outcomes.
Marketing is Harder When You Aren’t Retaining Clients or Getting Good Outcomes
At the end of the day, if you are attracting clients that aren’t getting good outcomes, they aren’t going to stay long in therapy, they aren’t going to refer your friends, or if they do stay- it will not be good for either of you! Clinicians who get focused on being really great at their craft have an opportunity to build a private practice with less effort and more reward!