Tag Archive for: building a private practice

A guest post by Amanda Jeans

Imagine this. You’ve been building your private practice for a few years, you’re onboarding new clients every week, you’re continuing to educate yourself and become an expert in your field.

The only problem? Time.

As a therapist, you feel there isn’t enough of it to go around. You feel yourself crumbling and you can’t seem to get ahead. If ONLY you could get some help! Ahhh sweet relief. But how?

Surely good help is hard to find AND expensive, right?

Think again.

You may find the right help at an affordable price if you consider hiring a virtual assistant for your private practice.

‘Virtual Assistants’ are the new “It” girl in the world of therapy and private practice. VA’s, as they are called, provide administrative help, marketing help, calendar help and can even sift through your endless amounts of email. Scheduling and client calls? That too. SERIOUSLY. Sounds like a dream come true right?

Though the idea of having a VA makes any therapist giddy from the toes up, I am generally met with 6 cold, hard pushbacks. I’m going to address these myths and provide you with the fear-crushing information you need to take the leap of faith into ‘letting go’for the sake of your practice.

Myth 1: I can’t afford a virtual assistant in my private practice

I am addressing price first. Usually, this is the number one concern when hiring your private practice support team. Will you be able to afford the overhead? Traditionally, hiring someone to sit with you at the office daily, for 4 to 8 hours a day meant a solid salary, employee taxes, and benefits.

When you hire a VA you’re getting billed by the hour FOR ONLY THE WORK DONE in a day. This is magic! You can hire a VA to do the exact same jobs as an in-house employee for a fraction of the cost.

In my agency, we bill to the minute. We don’t round, so you only pay for what you get. You aren’t paying us to sit around the watercooler or chat with other employees.

Myth 2: Virtual assistants are hard to find

Admittedly, VA’s are kind of like four leaf clovers. We know they exist, are pretty awesome when you find one, but rarely do you physically see them. I’ll give you a tip: ask your therapy colleagues first. Ask the people in your Mastermind groups, and ask the people in your Facebook groups. Our small agency, thus far, has worked entirely on referrals!

So what happens when you Google “find a virtual assistant for my private practice”? I’m willing to bet a big name staffing agency pops up.  This agency is perfectly fine to use. But, if you want a more personal, one-on-one relationship with your VA, scroll down a little further in the search and possibly to page two (GASP).

Be cautious, however, of anyone and everyone claiming to be a VA. While this might technically be true, ask to see references, samples of work, and have them fill out a questionnaire that asks specific questions to you and your private practice. This early vetting will save you time, stress and money later on.

Myth 3: They’re hard to communicate with when working remotely

We sometimes think because we’re working in an office with fancy telephones and a conference room we are engaging in productive communication 24/7. You can’t possibly have this type of relationship with your VA right? Not so.  Because VA’s work remotely, they tend to be extra sensitive to communication. A properly trained (or experienced) VA attends regular check-ins, utilizes project management software, text messages (at the clients’ discretion), phone calls and zoom meetings.  

Here’s a little VA secret: communication and efficiency are our top priorities! We don’t like to waste time, but we do like to ask questions.

Myth 4: Virtual assistants are lazy

If you could see a VA’s project boards in Asana your brain would spin and you might need to lie down. We are the queens and kings of multi-tasking and keeping things in order during an entire workday. The sheer mental compartmentalizing is grueling and frankly makes me kind of sweaty. Generally speaking, VA’s seek remote work for various reasons, but in my experience, they are usually juggling life just like everyone else.

Myth 5: They don’t do specialized private practice tasks or anything outside of administrative tasks

The good news? VA’s are Jacks and Janes of all trades.

There isn’t much we can’t or won’t do for a client. Because we’re also good communicators, you can be assured we will tell you if we’re comfortable doing other tasks for your private practice like social media management, graphic design, blog writing, sales,  or therapist website design or management.

The possibilities are endless. Some VA’s specialize in mental health or private practice work! This is even better news.

The bad news? Your VA might not know how to do a specialized task. That’s ok. They will either learn or find someone that can. Either way, you win.

Searching for a VA to support you in your private practice shouldn’t be another task you simply can’t find time for. There is an entire sea of highly efficient, organized and talented VA’s out there ready to help you gain productive hours back into your work or personal life. These amazing individuals will prioritize you and your business. When you succeed, WE succeed.

So if you’re a therapist thinking about hiring a virtual assistant for your private practice, consider these five myths and what the truth means for you. As a therapist, more time means helping more people but it also means helping yourself.

About Amanda

Amanda is passionate to help others gain productive work (or personal) hours back into their lives. She and her small team of VA’s work with therapists (and related fileds), entrepreneurs, small businesses, and non-profits. She has degree from the University of Houston, and received her BS in Psychology and Business (graduated Magna Cum Laude). During her time at U of H, she became interested in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and started independent research on leadership, work-life balance and multicultural issues. Fast forward to today, she ultimately took her love of people and puzzles, her skill in efficient organization, and the practicality of being a flexible entrepreneur to serve others in their businesses. You can learn more about booking therapist VA and Social Media services here, or you can email Amanda at amanda@quietcougar.com

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to join Simple Practice. Please understand that I only recommend Simple Practice because my wife uses it and we’ve seen how their platform has truly simplified her processes. Please only purchase them if you truly feel that they will help you achieve your goals.

Coordinating your schedule with your clients schedule can often be a headache. It often involves a lot of back and forth and wasted time communicating. But with the rise many online scheduling systems have helped many a therapist simplify their process.

Coordinating your schedule with your clients schedule can often be a headache. It often involves a lot of back and forth and wasted time communicating. But with the rise many online scheduling systems have helped many a therapist simplify their process.  In this article I’ll share a glimpse into my wife’s journey with Simple Practice and how online booking has helped simplify her process and book more clients.

In this article I’ll share a glimpse into my wife’s journey with Simple Practice and how online booking has helped simplify her process and book more clients.

Why My Wife Chose To Go With Simple Practice

There’s nothing like owning your own business AND being a mom to cause you to really identify what’s not efficient in your life.

For my wife, she was getting increasingly frustrated with back-and-forth emailing or texting with clients to figure out time slots for them to book sessions.

Another time-suck in her practice was the note-writing process. Since she was not on an electronic, HIPAA compliant system, she had to write each therapy note, print it, delete it from her computer and then file the hard copy.

Talk about a process!

Because of these time-sucking tasks and the fact that the world is moving to electronic records anyway, she knew she had to find a system that would work for her well into the future.

After looking into a few electronic client management systems, she decided that the features and, well, the simplicity of Simple Practice would best suit her needs.

While the process of switching her current clients at the time over to electronic records took some time and could probably fill its own blog post, getting her forms and schedule integrated in the system was rather easy.

One feature we were eager to get her using was the online booking functionality.

We’re both obsessed with efficiency and we knew this would help her save a ton of time and possibly even help her book more sessions.

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Integrating Online Booking With Her Website

Simple Practice offers two ways you could integrate online booking into any website:

  • Link directly to a client portal mini-site
  • Or use their booking widget and have the booking feature popup on your website

Linking Directly to The Client Portal

A client portal is a link that you can send any current or potential client to.

It’s their ground-zero for interacting with your process and doing business with you. They can book appointments, fill out intake forms or access their current information if they are already a client.

It looks like this:

simple practice online booking scheduling portal

Once you’ve turned on your client portal and activated online booking for your services, the feature will be part of your portal.

You can set it do only existing clients can schedule with you, or allow new clients to schedule appointments as well.

Simple Practice lets you customize part of the URL for your client portal and once you do that, this will be the link that you can then use on your website or send to clients in an email or text.

 simple practice help client portal url

To connect your client portal and give your website visitors access to it, you can simple use that link throughout your website.

You could create a button in a call to action section that says “Schedule An Appointment” and send people over to your client portal.

Or include the link in your website’s menu so it appears in the same spot on each page and users can easily navigate to it.

Using Simple Practice’s Booking Widget

The other option that Simple Practice gives you to integrate online booking on your website is what they call the “Booking Widget”.

What this is is a piece of HTML code that you can copy and then paste into the code on your website.

What your visitors will see is a button like this:

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And when they click said button, a popup appears with your services to allow clients to book:

simple practice booking widget popup

This option works great for those who don’t want their website visitor to leave their website but be able to stay right there and book an appointment.

While copying and pasting the code into your website is mostly straightforward (Simple Practice gives you instructions in their support documentation) it does get a bit more complicated when you want to customize the button’s color to match your website.

So some basic knowledge of HTML or having someone help you is ideal to make sure it works and looks good.

Which Option Worked Best for My Wife’s Practice?

When my wife and I looked into integrating online booking into her website, we tested out which way would work best: sending visitors to the online portal, or having using the booking widget that pops up on her website.

We decided that just sending people to the portal was the best way to do it.

The reason we went with this approach was because we liked how, when a user goes to the client portal link, they are first asked whether they are an existing client or new client.

My wife prefers to talk to people on the phone before their first session, so she offers a free phone consultation.

When a user chooses “I’m a new client”, the online booking will default to that initial phone consultation so they can book a time to have their phone call.

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People can still book an appointment without ever talking to my wife, which does happen, but she prefers to have the first connection.

If they’re an existing client, they’ll sign in and they can schedule their appointment.

When using the Booking Widget popup however, there is nothing to indicate whether the user is a new or existing client, so the widget defaults to a standard counseling session.

If a new client sees the popup, they’d have to know to click the dropdown and find that initial consultation call option and choose it.

Knowing that she converts well on those phone consults meant that we didn’t want to lose potential clients to this extra step.

So, sending people to her client portal link made the most sense to my wife and how she operates.

So you’ll want to think through your own onboarding process and decide what makes the most sense to you.

How Online Booking Has Helped My Wife Save Time and Book More Clients

Using Simple Practice’s online booking has been a game changer for my wife.

Before, she’d have to email each new or existing client to work out a date and time for them to work together.

Now, it’s as simple as saying “go to my website and find a time that works for you.”

It’s helped provide a better service to her clients because it saves them time as well and eliminates all the back and forth communication.

Now, because her clients have the power to schedule whenever they like, my wife has been able to book more sessions.

She’s had many clients want to see her before their next scheduled session as things come up in her life.

So they’ll just go to her website and book away!

It’s been exciting for my wife to see more sessions get booked on her calendar without having to do any extra work.


Online booking may not work for everyone.

It really comes down to how you like to communicate with your existing clients and how you onboard new ones.

For my wife, her move to Simple Practice has been wonderful.

While it took some time to switch everything over, it now saves her tons of time and has allowed her to book more sessions and keep track of everything going on her practice.

Online booking has been one of the many benefits of using Simple Practice.

If you’re curious how Simple Practice’s online booking and other tools can help you streamline your entire business, they offer a free 30-day trial that you can check out here.

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A guest post by Melody Wilding

You’ve created an awesome website for your private practice. You’ve identified who your ideal client is and refined your niche. You’re even blogging on a consistent basis!


A guest post by Melody Wilding You’ve created an awesome website for your private practice. You’ve identified who your ideal client is and refined your niche. You’re even blogging on a consistent basis! The only problem is, no one is reading your content or signing up to work with you because they don’t know your practice exists.

The only problem is, no one is reading your content or signing up to work with you because they don’t know your practice exists.

Creating a thriving therapy practice requires that people know about your business and trust you.

But how do you stand out in a crowded marketplace and attract more people to your website?

One of the most powerful ways to stand out, connect with potential clients, and create instant credibility is by leveraging the power of free publicity.

You might be stumped at how to go about getting a slew of shiny “As Seen On” logos on your website. Maybe you feel nervous at the thought of giving media interviews. It’s understandable, but if you can put your doubts aside for a second,

I’ll show you how to get free PR right now, whether you are a seasoned clinician or just starting out in private practice.

Why Psychotherapists Need Media Exposure

Your public profile and platform are keys to your success, regardless of what your business goals are. By getting featured in the media you:

Become easier to find online through Google.

Media exposure is one of the best ways to drive more traffic to your website. It also helps you rank higher on Google by boosting your SEO.

When large, reputable news sites link back to your therapy website, it makes it more likely you’ll show up high in Google search results.

Connect with ideal clients.

You’ve probably heard that you should “go where your ideal clients are hanging out”.

Giving interviews and getting featured in the media is a shortcut to showing up exactly where your ideal customers are consuming content and looking for solutions.

It gives you an opportunity to speak directly to them by providing advice that solves the pain points they’re experiencing.

Gain powerful social proof

Social proof is a powerful marketing tactic that helps potential clients see you more positively.

It legitimizes your expertise in the outside world. When potential clients see you’ve been featured in the media, they come to regard you as an expert.

They trust you more. Having credibility indicators like press logos on your website can mean the difference between a website visitor choosing to book a consultation with you over your competition.

How to Get Free Publicity for Your Private Practice

The simplest, fastest to get media exposure without spending a penny is by using a powerful, free PR service called Help A Reporter Out or HARO.

HARO is a free service that connects journalists with experts. Through HARO, you can get featured in over 55,000 media outlets including top publications like TIME, USA Today, and The Washington Post.

I used HARO to go from zero clients and credibility to being featured in major publications like New York Magazine, Fast Company, Forbes, Shape, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and Mashable, within one year of starting my business. 

Working with the media is what’s allowed me to build a six-figure business and be booked out with a wait list.

Publicity has also helped me pursue other opportunities like paid writing, speaking, and building courses.

How HARO Works

After you sign up at helpareporter.com, you will start getting three emails every weekday with a list of requests (called “queries”) from reporters looking for experts to comment on topics ranging from health and wellness to relationships and career development.

Each HARO email contains about 50-75 different requests from reporters. This adds up to over 150 more opportunities to get featured in the media every single day, delivered straight to your inbox at no cost.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Scan the HARO emails every day. When you see a query that fits your expertise, act quickly. Journalists get hundreds of emails from HARO, so time is of the essence.
  2. Next, compose a new email to the reporter. Make sure your response is concise, adheres to the reporter’s requirements, and most importantly, provides helpful advice for readers.
  3. If the reporter opens your email and is interested in what you have to say, then you may be quoted in an article or be interviewed. When that happens, you get exposure to the thousands or millions of readers of that publication.
  4. Share it! You worked hard to earn this media exposure, so celebrate. For example, post the article on social media, send it to your email list, and put the publication’s logo on your website. Make sure to follow up with the journalist and thank them, as well.

HARO gives you a great opportunity to drive more traffic to your website and boost your credibility so that more people want to engage your services. It’s also a powerful tool that can help grow your business, your reputation, and your impact.

Discover How to Have Success with HARO

Sign up for my free training, Media Made Easy: The Secrets To Getting Press Coverage (Even When You Have No Connections) and discover the top 3 tips to use HARO successfully and get featured in the media.

About the Author


Melody Wilding is a licensed social worker and coach who help high achievers mentally and emotionally thrive in their careers. When Melody started her practice a few years ago, she had zero clients and no credibility. Today she runs a six-figure business, has a client waitlist, has given a TEDx talk with over 20,000 views, and has been featured in dozens of top media publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Inc, Forbes, and Fast Company, Cosmo, Shape, Glamour, and dozens more. Melody is also the creator of The Media Darling Method, an online course that teaches therapists how to land major publicity that grows their private practice and personal brands.

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Have you ever heard someone say how you need a ‘marketing funnel’ in your private practice? If you’re confused as to what that means, please read on.

Have you ever heard someone say how you need a ‘marketing funnel’ in your private practice? If you’re confused as to what that means, please read on. In this article I’ll break down what it means to have a private practice marketing funnel and how it can be applied to your business.

In this article I’ll break down what it means to have a private practice marketing funnel and how it can be applied to your business.

The Private Practice Marketing Funnel Explained

When someone talks about having a marketing funnel, they’re actually referring to a series of steps a website visitor would take to go from a general prospect to becoming your next client.

For example, someone who doesn’t know you may land on your website for the first time.

Then, perhaps they join your email list and receive some more information from you.

They get to know you over time and get more familiar with you.

Then they click a link in an email and schedule that first session with you.

That’s it! That’s what a marketing funnel may look like in a private practice.

To help you visualize, here’s a great depiction of a marketing funnel:

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Source: Vendasta

Let’s break this down a bit, shall we?

Lead Attraction: Increasing Traffic Made Up Of Potential Clients

The first phase of any marketing funnel in your private practice starts with attracting new potential clients, or leads.

These are folks that are new to your world.

They may be doing a bit of research for a therapist so they visit your website and view your content in an attempt to learn more about what you do and if you can help them.

So your first step in creating a marketing funnel is to provide content that serves your ideal client.

This could be in the form of relevant blog posts on topics your ideal clients are concerned about.

It could also be an informational page on your website that focuses on your areas of expertise.

Whatever it is, it should be jam-packed with helpful info that speaks to the type of client you want to attract, as that’s your best way of growing more traffic from those most likely to work with you.

This type of content can help you grow your SEO potential too, which can increase traffic to your private practice website over time.

So, once all that traffic shows up to your website, then what?

Let’s continue.

Lead Engagement: Turning Traffic into New Leads

Ok, so you’ve got some great content on your therapy website and people are showing up to read it.

The next step is to give your visitors a chance to go a little deeper with you and receive even more value from you.

This is where you ask them for their email address in exchange for some high-value content related to what they’ve already read on your website or something you know would really benefit your clients.

What this does is it allows people to put their hand up and say they want to learn more from you.

It serves your potential client in a deeper way.

On your end, it gives you a chance to follow up with them later via email.

Think of some extra content you can create that would help a potential client solve a specific problem.

It could be a PDF guide or maybe a link to an instructional video on YouTube.

This is what people call a “lead magnet”. You may have heard the term.

Most email service providers, like Mailchimp, allow you to create a form you can paste into a page on your website where people can put in their name and email address.

Then, once they sign up, you can send them the free special content.

Here’s an example from another CMTW blog post:

private practice marketing funnel optimized

Once someone fills that form out, they’ll get an email confirming their subscription and giving them a link to download their free checklist.

Onto the next phase!

Lead Nurturing: Staying Connected to Potential Clients and Converting Them Into Paying Ones

Ok, so someone has visited your website and decided they’d like more from you so they join your email list, then what?

Well, the first step is to welcome the new lead (potential client) to your email list and deliver the content you promised.

If it’s a PDF, you’ll have your email service provider send out a link to the file so they can download it.

Your next goal is to stay connected to this person so they not only get to know you but – if they’re your ideal client – educate them on how you are uniquely qualified to help them overcome their challenges.

They showed enough interest in your work that they gave you their email address so let’s not take that lightly. You want to serve them well!

You’ll want to continue to provide them with great content on a regular basis to keep your practice top of mind as they’re deciding whether to work with you or not.

A great way to do this is to create a sequence of emails that continues to provide valuable content.

This would be your “welcome series” or “onboarding” email sequence.

Here’s some ideas of the types of emails you can send them, starting with delivering your lead magnet:

  1. Welcome them to your email list and give them the link to your PDF download or other free content you promised
  2. Send an “about me” email that tells your story and how/why you help your clients get results in their lives
  3. Expand upon the free content by diving deep into how they can apply it to their situation
  4. Send an email that showcases your best blog posts
  5. Use your most-visited blog post as content for an email
  6. Send an email that reminds them of the services you offer

The number of emails you send is up to you. I’d recommend not overwhelming the recipient with too many emails though.

Space them out a bit and give more time in between emails as time goes on.

What’s great about this method is that you can send 6 emails over the course of 3 months, which allows you to serve your ideal client, educate them on your services and get to know you on a deeper level.

Going Forward: What To Do With Your Email List

Beyond sending an onboarding or welcome series of emails to your email list you’ll want to keep in touch with them consistently over time.

If you’ve got upcoming workshops, classes or webinars that you’re offering, you can send an email to your list to let them know.

Maybe there’s a book that you’ve seen greatly impact your clients’ lives. You can write an email about it and send them the link.

Or maybe you’ve found or created other great resources that may help your clients. Share that with your email list.

If you’re writing blog posts on a regular basis, you can use that as a way to send new and relevant content to your email list.

If you’re on the CMTW email list, you’ll often get emails that let you know about new articles to help you with your private practice website.

This approach is great because you don’t have to come up with ideas for both blog posts AND emails to send.

Remember: your services and content CAN help people. Use your email list as way to generously give to your ideal client.

Do this and you’ll hopefully remain top of mind so that when they’re ready to start therapy, you’ll be the one they call.


Creating a marketing funnel for your private practice can be a great way to serve your ideal client beyond just visiting your website.

To recap, there are three main steps to any marketing funnel:

  1. Lead Attraction is where you get traffic to your website by writing great content aimed at your ideal client
  2. Lead Engagement is where you offer that traffic some extra valuable content, such as a PDF
  3. Lead Nurturing is where you continue to connect with your potential clients by sending them relevant emails

Since many people may not reach out to you the first time they visit your website, having them go through these steps is a great way to stay connected.

You can use a marketing funnel in your private practice to serve your potential clients so that when they ARE ready to begin therapy, they’ll be able to respond to your emails and get started right away.

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A quest post by Katie May

So you have an idea for an awesome group and you just KNOW it’s going to benefit the clients that you serve. In fact, a few of them may have even mentioned that they wish something like it already exists.

A quest post by Katie May So you have an idea for an awesome group and you just KNOW it’s going to benefit the clients that you serve. In fact, a few of them may have even mentioned that they wish something like it already exists.

You create a flyer, open enrollment AND… Crickets.

Why does it feel so hard to fill a group when you know your clients will benefit from it (and they’ve even expressed interest and excitement?)

It’s because group enrollment actually starts way before you open the doors. There’s pre-launch work that needs to be done.

And what’s cool about this is that you actually get to offer a LOT of value and content to help your local community before they even connect with you for a group screening.

Step 0: Your Therapy Group Pre-Launch

I like to think of the pre-launch as “step 0.” It’s what prospective clients can start to do to help themselves before they decide they know, like and trust you enough to reach out for help.

Think about it… that first step of asking for help (or admitting you need help) can be the hardest one.

When you follow a process that moves your prospective clients through a journey, you’re moving the relationship with them from complete strangers to one where you position yourself as the go-to expert that they NEED to see.

You’ll want to give yourself about eight weeks prior to the start of your group to set yourself up for full group success.

This gives you enough time to be able to effectively market, but also to recognize that life happens and that work, family and/or sickness can get in the way.

You want to plan for hiccups so that you’re not scrambling at the last minute to fill those last few seats.

Start by really fleshing out your ideal group client, even if you think you already know them.

Understand what their pain points are and what relief they are looking for by reaching out to you. This should be easy for you if you work with this specific type of client in your practice already.

You’ve likely fielded tons of calls, had tons of intake sessions and serve multiple clients per week on this very issue that you can use as your “market research.”

Make a List of Potential Group Clients

Make a list of clients that you already see that could be a good fit for your group. You may even want to think about “pre-selling” them. This is easy peasy!

As you wrap up a session (or in an email between sessions) you can simply say, “Hey, I’m thinking about running a group for women with anxiety in the next few months. If I run it, would you be interested?”

This will give you a good idea of the potential for your group and whether clients like yours will be interested in it.

You want to be sure that those who are interested have a place to get more information. Create a page on your website that is fully dedicated to your group.

Be sure to talk about who it’s for, what this person experiences and have specific and bullet-pointed outcomes that this person will achieve when they join your group.

You don’t even need to have a specific date or time for group yet.

Create a Contact Form For People Interested in Your Group

The most important part of this group page is having a contact form for those who are interested to fill out their name, email address and phone number.

This will allow you to follow up with them further in the launch process to share more about the group and invite them to connect with you.

Create a flyer using the same information you used on your group page.

Be mindful to not overcrowd the flyer with details and understand that the goal of the flyer is to drive people to your group page to complete a contact form so you can gather their information for further use.

Share this flyer in your waiting room and with any colleagues who support a similar population.

Formulate Your Therapy Group Goals

Finally, start to formulate some really concrete goals for your group.

How many clients would you like to ideally have signed up to start the group? What is the minimum amount of income you’d like to make to run the group successfully?

When you can set clear goals to know exactly what you’re working towards, it will motivate you and guide you in the whole group filling process.

Write down your goals and really visualize that full and profitable group every single day.

Once your ideal client and group goals are clear, the rest becomes a numbers game.

It’s about driving targeted traffic to your group web page and using a phone conversation to screen members to enroll those who are a perfect fit.

For more information on how to market and fill your group once you’re clear on the who and what, visit ​www.becomeagroupguru.com​ and watch the free webinar to Fill Your Therapy Group in 6 weeks.

​Stop wishing and waiting to get enough clients interested all at once and learn the 3 step process for creating group clients on demand with a fool-proof marketing process that brings group members to you in 6 weeks or less.

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About Katie

Katie helps therapists market, fill and run group programs so that they can make a massive positive impact on the world (and their bank account) at the same time.

Visit www.becomeagroupguru.com to learn the fastest and most effective way to go from zero to full group, even if you hate marketing and you have no idea where to start.

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A guest post by Sarah Leitschuh

As many therapists do, I found the leap into private practice to be an overwhelming experience. I built my clinical skills in an agency setting where I felt so confident. But, in the early days of private practice I found myself doubting even my most foundational skills as a therapist.


There was so much to learn, so much to do and so much to keep track of! I tried to do it all and found myself pulled in a million directions.

As you can imagine, this left me exhausted and frustrated.

Eventually, I realized that the practice I had been creating didn’t meet my needs and wasn’t in alignment with my goals for going into private practice.

Although I was building a profitable practice and doing good work with my clients, I wasn’t showing up in the way that I wanted to in any of my relationships inside or outside of my office.

I gave myself permission to slow down and re-vision my approach to my work and how my work would fit with my life outside of work.

As I’ve worked on fine tuning the way in which I approach my work, I have also supported other therapists in doing the same.

After reflecting on my conversations with therapists from across the country, I found that most often issues that contribute to therapist overwhelm are often linked to therapists’ struggle to maintain boundaries around their time.

4 Ways Therapists Can Reduce Overwhelm By Maintaining Boundaries

1. Clearly Define and Communicate Your Work Schedule

First and foremost, it is essential to clearly define your schedule for yourself.

You must be committed to the schedule that you create, so you can avoid the temptation to create regular “exceptions” to your schedule in order to accomodate to others’ wishes.

When you have a clearly defined schedule that you are able to commit to, you are able to confidently communicate this to your clients and let them know when you are available to see them and what they can expect from you in terms of timeframes for returned calls/emails, written reports and any other information they may need from you.

When you know exactly when you will be working you are able to map out the tasks that you need to do and avoid the spill-over of work into your personal time.

A clearly defined schedule with time blocked out for all practice related tasks allows therapists to feel less anxious about finding the time needed to see clients and complete administrative tasks.

2. Create Systems and Set Aside Dedicated Time For Regular Tasks.

Clearly defined systems help therapists complete their work in an efficient way and eliminate the uncertainty of not knowing when or how tasks will be completed.

Systems address the who, what, when, where and how of the work we do as therapists, specifically as it relates to tasks we do often.

Therapists should look at creating systems for many areas in their practices including; welcoming new clients, communications, documentation, billing/financial matters and scheduling.

Additionally, I suggest that when possible, therapists batch similar tasks together.

For example, designate set times/days for routine tasks such as checking email or writing session notes instead of randomly doing them whenever you have a few minutes to spare.

Avoid temptations to frequently deviate from the systems and structures that you create.

I love the flexibility of private practice as much as the next person, but know that too much flexibility leads to incomplete work and the spillover of work into my personal time.

3. Say No To Opportunities (Including Potential Clients) That Are Not In Alignment With Your Practice Goals

In our eagerness to start seeing clients and build our practices, it is easy to accept almost every opportunity that presents itself to us (think things like new client inquiries, invitations to speak to a group or a potential collaboration with a colleague) without really considering how the opportunity fits with the ultimate vision for our practice.

This is a habit that can carry into practices that are decades old.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen many therapists (including myself) inadvertently end up saying yes to opportunities that suck time and energy because they are not in alignment with our practice goals or vision.

Therapists need to allow ourselves the space and time to reflect on and evaluate opportunities before saying yes.

Ultimately, we want to save our time, energy and focus for the work that we are most passionate about.

I’ve found it helpful to build in a buffer of time before I officially respond to opportunities that present themselves by saying things like “Let me think about that and get back to you.”

4.  Create Rituals and Routines to Turn Off Work at the End Of The Day and Week

As a therapist and entrepreneur, I find it is important to be intentional in planning for how we wrap up our work at the end of the day and week.

The tasks that we need to complete will never be 100% complete and we need to be able to tolerate tabling unfinished work for the next day or the following week instead of pushing ourselves to work unreasonable numbers of hours each week.

Therapists who struggle to turn off work tend to find themselves more overwhelmed and burnt out.

The therapists who I have spoken to who are the least overwhelmed by their work are those who have made the time to reflect on and consistently implement the rituals and practices that they find most effective to turn off work and allow themselves the time and space to recharge.

About SarahBaby Love Sarah 2 S 1 768x509 1

Sarah Leitschuh is a Minnesota-based therapist and coach who is on a mission to help reduce therapist overwhelm. Sarah works with therapists who are ready to find a way to approach their work that leaves them energized at the end of the week instead of burnout and depleted.  You can learn more about Sarah’s work at www.sarahleitschuhcounseling.com.

The Overwhelm Assessment for Stressed Out Therapists is a tool that allows therapists to take inventory of all the areas contributing to their overwhelm and develop an action plan to reduce their overwhelm today.  Claim your complimentary copy of the Assessment.

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Recently, one of my blog readers asked me, “What’s been the most surprising thing for you as you’ve been in business for yourself?” I spent a couple weeks noodling on that question and the lessons I’ve learned over the past two years. And now, let’s get vulnerable.

In this post I’ll share 5 things I’ve struggled with as an entrepreneur. I hope it inspires you as you work to build your private practice and know you’re certainly not alone.

Recently, one of my blog readers asked me, “What’s been the most surprising thing for you as you’ve been in business for yourself?” I spent a couple weeks noodling on that question and the lessons I’ve learned over the past two years. And now, let’s get vulnerable. In this post I’ll share 5 things I’ve struggled with as an entrepreneur. I hope it inspires you as you work to build your private practice and know you’re certainly not alone.

What Surprised Me The Most: I’ve Had to Work Harder on Myself Than on The Business

I like to consider myself a pretty emotionally intelligent person.

I’m married to a therapist and so we often find ourselves in deep conversations unpacking emotions and experiences.

To answer that question – “what has surprised you the most about starting/running my business?” – is that, man, I’m way more insecure than I thought I was!


Now, I’m one who constantly seeks to be a better human. Things come up and I try and deal with it. I know I don’t have it together by any stretch of the imagination.

But what I didn’t realize was the depth of my own insecurities. Things I’ve thought I’ve dealt with before come into a whole new light as the responsibility of making a business work has rested on my own shoulders.

So let’s dive into 5 areas where I thought I had it more together than I really did.

1: Comparison

How many times have I heard the quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”?

Too many to count!

I know that comparing where my business is to where someone else’s business is at is a total dead end.

The thing is, in this social media world we get a glimpse of friends, colleagues and others’ lives.

We see these curated photos of someone’s best life and it’s so easy to think, “Man, they have it all together. I wish I could go there. I wish I could do that.”

We use other people’s lives to make up stories about our own – some good stories, but usually bad ones.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve struggled at times to silence that inner voice that says things like:

  • “I’m not good enough at what I do”
  • “Who am I to serve this community?”
  • “I’m not doing enough to help my business grow”

Especially during that first year of business. I constantly was putting myself down!

While it takes actively choosing the best thoughts when those moments happen, I’m in process.

But after two years of practice, I’m happy to report I’m doing so much better on this topic.

I’ve learned that whatever someone ELSE is doing in their life or business has absolutely nothing to do with me and my worth.

Those not-good-enough thoughts are just that. Thoughts.

They have ZERO basis in reality. I can actually choose to think better thoughts. Ones that serve me and bring me joy over my business and life.

Now when I see someone doing something amazing or hear of other’s success, I’m choosing to remind myself of what’s possible for ME.

I try and say, “Wow! That’s amazing that person has grown in their business so much. I wonder what my story will look like and where my business will take ME?”

Over time, this has gotten easier and easier. But it does take work.

2: Lack & Abundance

Sometimes it seems like there’s never enough time or money.

At least that’s a story I struggle not to tell myself.

This was something I didn’t have to really worry about too much when I worked a 9-5. That paycheck just kept coming.

Then, I left that job to start my own business. Throw in a baby and it’s been a struggle not to feel tight on funds and the time to keep the family going, let alone a business!

Much of this, I realize has been handed down through my parents and my grandparents to them.

Growing up, I admit we had plenty. My parents worked super hard to provide for me and my brother and I’m where I am today because of their sacrifice.

There were, however, those messages I received growing up.

Things like ‘money is a finite resource’… so you have to hold on tight to it, spend it sparingly and when you do let go of it, it better be worth it.

So when those inevitable slow months come up in my business, I can so easily resort to thinking the worst case scenario.

“This is it! Gotta close the business and get a 9-5 desk job AGAIN because we won’t have enough money to put food on the table and clothes on my son’s back. It’s finally happened!”


While yes, there have been tough months and we’d have to be very intentional with our budget, we’ve always had enough.

Enough food. Enough clothes. Enough shelter. And enough to even have a little fun!

My wife and I decided early in our marriage that money is something we get to use… like any other tool.

We use it to provide for ourselves and to have amazing experiences and we also get to use it to bless others and give it away.

We recently started a giving fund where we put a percentage of income from our business each month.

When we see others with a need or want to give to some of our favorite charities or organizations we can do so without the worry of there not being enough.

It’s there to be given away! And it’s been SO much fun to give money away! That not-enough feeling subsides.

And the crazy thing is, since we’ve been giving more money away, we’ve actually seen our income grow.

I don’t get it but generosity actually works!

I’ve had a similar relationship with time.

And I never struggled so much as those first months we had our son with us. Just being honest.

My wife and I share the duties pretty evenly. I watch him when she’s with clients a couple days a week.

But those first months I often had this feeling like I’ll never get work done again.

“There’s just not enough time to grow my business or even just get my current projects done!!”

I’ve had to really step back and think about what’s actually important in my life.

I practice gratitude daily as I get to just BE with my son, taking trips to the park or just playing in the living room.

He’ll never be this age again and as I put him first, with gratitude in my heart, I’ve found I’ve got more than enough time to get done exactly what I need to get done.

And I can be more present with my family because of it.

3: Believing and Accepting My Role in The Business

“If you want to go quickly, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.”

This quote is something I’ve been pondering for months now.

When I first started Create My Therapist Website, it was ALL me. I did EVERYTHING.

But I learned quickly that if I want to serve my clients and students well and give them the service and guidance that will truly impact their practices, then I need help.

To be honest, bringing on help in the business has been a very slow process for me.

I often get so hung up on HOW it will all work: where will I find this person? What if they don’t do well? What if they screw it up?!

And I’ve learned that it really all comes down to believing in myself as a leader.

I drag my feet because I sometimes doubt whether I can lead people well and create the business that I’ve dreamed of creating.

That’s it really.

Even though it’s been a slow process, I continue to move forward.

I’ve learned that slow isn’t necessarily bad, especially when it comes to hiring people to help in your business.

I want to invest in people and make sure they are a benefit to the business and to my clients, so taking my time ensures I find the right person.

And sometimes, you just gotta take the leap, push into the fear and believe that things will fall into place as you learn through each step.

4: Knowing What To Do To Grow The Business

You ever just get so overwhelmed by thinking about what the heck you should work on to impact your business favorably?

Yeah. That’s me.

I love to plan out projects and marketing tasks, but until I get all the pieces on the table, I sometimes find myself just staring at my computer.

This JUST happened to me last week!

That feeling of, “what do I DO?”

This is another one of those things that I especially struggled with in the beginning with my business.

I put so much pressure on myself, thinking that I needed to know all the answers right away.

But you know what? I’ve never built a business before!

So I’ve learned to give myself so much grace as I take small steps toward the future.

And I’ve also adopted some practical things along the way, like:

  • At the end of each day I plan my next day and block out the tasks I’m going to work on. This keeps me from getting overwhelmed and wondering what to do when I start work the next day.
  • I work in 90 day increments, setting goals and projects before each quarter begins.
  • I’ve learned that “action creates clarity,” so when I don’t know what to do I remind myself that’s ok and just pick something to work on. As time goes on, I can recognize what I should do.

I’m learning to trust myself and my instincts and give myself time as I let my business and actions tell me what I need to focus on.

5: Fear – The Granddaddy of Them All

There it is… FEAR.

It’s the underlying current I can see has had a negative impact on the way I view myself and my business.

It’s really the one thing I can point to that leads to all the other struggles I’ve had to (and continue to) overcome in my business and life.

Maybe you can relate:

  • Sometimes I fear I’m not capable or a fraud
  • Sometimes I fear that my business won’t be able to provide for my son’s future
  • Sometimes I fear that I’m not DOING enough
  • Sometimes I fear that I’M not enough
  • Sometimes I fear that giving others control in my business may break something

So here’s what I’ve learned…

Fear is an indicator that you’re on the right path.

If something doesn’t scare me, that means it’s easy.

That means that there’s no lesson to come from it and no growth – be it personal or in my business.

The fear is OK. Fear is the guidepost on the way to your dreams.

So lean in, friend.


I hope my vulnerable ramblings have in some way inspired you as you journey toward building the private practice and life of your dreams.

I really thought I had myself mostly together… and then I started a business!

But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

While it’s been an emotional rollercoaster at times, it’s also brought about the most growth in me these last few years, and for that, I’m thankful.

I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below. What have been some things you’ve had to overcome as you run your private practice?

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Rhythm is a pivotal part of our bodies, our relationships and our lives.

Rhythm is more than a drum beat, more than a conversation – it’s in the way we walk, talk, breathe, interact, push ourselves, and soften into stillness.

In many ways, therapy is about rhythm – helping people regulate, helping them communicate, and helping them slow down meaningfully.

Private practice can keep you in your head a lot of the time – figuring out technology, putting systems in place, blogging, networking, tracking client numbers and income, and much more.

All of this is important. All of this matters.

But so does rhythm.

Rhythm is in the packed client days, and the empty hours to fill. It’s in the days when you do too much, and the days when you get mad at yourself for not doing enough.

Internal vs. external rhythms

Tuning into rhythm is a way to come back into your body, to re-inhabit your breath, to ground into yourself a creative being.

As rhythmic beings, we are constantly being influenced by both internal and external rhythms.

Internal rhythms are those that originate within ourselves and affect how we show up in the world. These include: breathing, walking, talking, energy levels, our thoughts and so many more.

External rhythms are those that originate from outside ourselves and affect our internal state and rhythms. These can include: other people’s energy levels, seasonal shifts, the news cycle, collective stress/trauma and much more.

Take a moment and notice one internal rhythm and one external rhythm that’s present in your life, right now.

Try to notice without judging or criticizing. Rhythm is information.

Do your internal rhythms tend to be slow, medium, or fast? Do the external rhythms that surround you (including clients!) tend to be slow, medium, or fast?

Take this opportunity to get curious about the rhythms that both surround you and are expressed through you.

Rhythm and self-care

You may already have self-care practices in place that connect you to rhythm. Yoga, meditation, exercise, art-making and so many more can connect us to rhythmic flow, to a give and take energy.

These (and other) self-care practices are an important way to come back to yourself and back to your own rhythms.

Remember that connecting to rhythm through self-care can also look like going out with friends, a group hike or other collective experiences.

Find what self-care practices work for you – remember that rhythm can be both an exuberant and subtle experience, so your self-care practices can mirror that range.

Tuning into your practice, right now

It can be easy (too easy some days!) to just power through without slowing down. My personal experiences and my work with helpers & healers has taught me how deeply helping, hustling and doing are ingrained in many of us.

There’s nothing wrong with any of those qualities.

But I bet there’s some part of you that wants to feel a different way. To find the sweet spot in between hustling/pushing and checked out/burned out.

Either you’d like to feel that building your practice could be just a teensy-bit less hard, or that you’re finally where you’d like to be practice-wise, but you’re feeling a little tapped out.

In order to shift anything, tuning it has to come first.

A quick mindfulness exercise

So, pause. Take a moment to tune into your breath, your body, and your thoughts.

Notice anything there may be to notice, with as much gentleness as possible.

Now turn your attention to your practice. Notice how your body feels and if anything has shifted.

The rhythm of your practice

Ask yourself – what’s the rhythm of my practice? Of my days?
You might tap out a gentle rhythm, tune into a body sensation, or think of a color or image.

Notice anything that may have come up – in thoughts or in physical sensation – when you get curious about your practice in this way.

The rhythm of your ideal practice

Now, tune into the rhythm of your ideal practice.

Notice if that pragmatic voice comes up inside with protests over how many more clients you need, or how you’ll pay this month’s office rent, or some other practical concern.

Kindly ask that voice to step aside for a moment (while still honoring that it showed up).

How would you like your practice to feel, rhythmically?

Lean into how it would feel in your body, in your breath, in your schedule.

Think of a song or piece of music that expresses the way you’d like your practice to feel.

There’s really no right or wrong – you might think of a song that helps you feel energized, one that connects you to a specific memory, one that relaxes you.

Allow your choice to “bubble up” spontaneously, rather than being a purely cognitive exercise.

Take time to listen to it – feel the rhythm of the song in your body, let it sink down to your bones. Invite your body and breath to shift into a different way of being. Songs can be powerful touchstones, so revisit it often. Let it be a reminder that reconnects you to the rhythm of your ideal practice.


Mindfulness and rhythm go hand in hand with private practice – and life.

When we can drop in the present moment and notice what is, while also holding/embodying the rhythm of how we would like things to feel, we give ourselves permission to build our practices in a way that feels nurturing and satisfying.

Ultimately, this allows us to serve our clients – and ourselves – so much better.

Maya Benattar build a practice that feels good

Maya Benattar, MA, MT-BC, LCAT is a music therapist and psychotherapist in private practice in Midtown Manhattan (NYC).  In addition to her clinical work, Maya offers online and in-person Reclaim Your Rhythm workshops for helpers and healers and individual Reclaim Your Rhythm consultations. She loves supporting helpers and healers in showing up for their clients – and themselves – in bold and clear ways.

For more information about Maya and her work, visit www.mayabenattar.com/professionals/

You can also find her on Instagram and Facebook.

{Instagram}: www.instagram.com/mayabenattar

{Facebook}: www.facebook.com/mayabenattarlcat

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A guest post by Jo Muirhead

Have you noticed that there is a lot of talk about being an Entrepreneur when you are the owner of a private practice?

If you are a clinician in private practice for yourself, do you think of yourself as an Entrepreneur?

I certainly didn’t.  I initially thought of myself as self employed and over the past 7 or so years I have thought of myself as a business owner, but an Entrepreneur, hmmm I didn’t think that fit me.

Isn’t an Entrepreneurs someone who is on Shark Tank, aren’t they people who make a gazillion dollars and have investors? Don’t they take massive risks with other people’s money, time and lives?

Health professionals by training and practice, and because of the incredible importance of the work we do with people, are by nature risk averse and process oriented.  We have many checks, balances and compliances to ensure we maintain standards of patient care.


A guest post by Jo Muirhead Have you noticed that there is a lot of talk about being an Entrepreneur when you are the owner of a private practice? If you are a clinician in private practice for yourself, do you think of yourself as an Entrepreneur? I certainly didn’t. I initially thought of myself as self employed and over the past 7 or so years I have thought of myself as a business owner, but an Entrepreneur, hmmm I didn’t think that fit me. Isn’t an Entrepreneurs someone who is on Shark Tank, aren’t they people who make a gazillion dollars and have investors? Don’t they take massive risks with other people’s money, time and lives?

Entrepreneurs are risk takers.

To be successful in business there must be a level of risk taking which means a level of being ok with failure and making mistakes.

Make mistakes as a clinician and people can be harmed.

Make mistakes as an Entrepreneur and you may end up changing the world for good.

Health professionals and Entrepreneurs appear to be on two different ends of the mindset spectrum.  Being both an Entrepreneur and a clinician at the same time is difficult.  The health professional who is a business owner must bring these two conflicting paradigms together.

We know successful Entrepreneurs and business owners are all risk takers; often throwing caution to the wind and making decisions and taking opportunities quickly.

Successful Entrepreneurs can change in a split second and turn on a dime when new information is presented to them.

Further, successful Entrepreneurs make decisions with maybe 65% of needed information and just work the rest out along the way. This somehow feels incompatible to clinical decision making when we are talking about our client’s. I don’t know about you, but I want a whole lot more certainty than this when making recommendations for my client’s.

What happens when the health professional (the clinician) and the entrepreneur collide?

This appears to be at the core of why some health professionals can become successful Entrepreneurs and business owners and others get so stuck in the process of trying to build a business.  How do we manage the internal conflict between?

  • Risk averse and risk taker?
  • Caution and courage to make change quickly and often?
  • Being conservative and being radical?

This is where I see many health professionals give up and get it wrong – they apply their clinical decision-making model to their business, to Entrepreneurship.

It simply can’t work for long.  It will get them so far, but it’s terribly limited.

They will be limited to selling time for money or training sessions for a fee.  They will be stuck in transactional service delivery.  I don’t want this for you, because you have more in you than that!

How do you learn to be an Entrepreneur? 

To get good at this you need to practice.

You need to hang out with people who think differently, who don’t make clinical decisions all day long.

You need to place yourself in an environment where you can learn to take risks in your business; where problems can be solved as they arise, because problems will come. It’s just what you do to solve them is the difference between success now and success later.

You need to learn to take risks and learn that risk taking is not bad. However, you need to know what you can risk and what you shouldn’t risk. This is where having the right supports around you is imperative.

Myself, and many of my clients are examples of how health professionals can become successful Entrepreneurs and business owners.  Now, I will admit not all my clients have made it.  There have been a couple who have become stuck in the need to be safe – and that’s OK.  Being a business owner or in private practice isn’t for everyone.  But there are a lot more of us who could be successful in business.

It’s time for us to stop thinking old school.

Like the old school clinician. I am NOT saying it’s time to stop practicing clinical decision making, nor am I saying it’s time to stop being professional or ethical. No in fact we need to be all these things, AND more.

We need to understand that Entrepreneurial thinking in western workplaces is a new literacy.

Just like reading, writing, clinical knowledge and the use of digital technologies, Entrepreneurial thinking is now an expected mindset for employees as well as business owners.

Entrepreneurial thinking is not just for those internet business owners’ who dream of a laptop lifestyle.

I’ve been working through the concepts of being a clinician and an Entrepreneur as I write my Book, The Entrepreneurial Clinician (working title?).

Here are 5 of the 10 mindset shifts I think we can make to help us be more Entrepreneurial while maintaining our clinical integrity.

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When we engage in entrepreneurial thinking we will notice some incredible results:

  1. We will become confident in differentiating ourselves in the market, allowing the client’s we are best suited to work with to find us and engage with us.
  2. We will feel happy and fulfilled in our work because we are doing work we love, the way we love to do it, while helping the people we are best positioned to serve.
  3. We will start to experience the FREEDOM and flexibility that we have dreamed of for so long.

If we are going to be different and make a difference in the lives of our client’s and their communities, we all need to start thinking differently. We can’t solve the problems we are facing, with old thinking.  What is exciting is that all of us know how to think and think critically. That was one of the most powerful gifts we received through graduation.

It’s time for the change, and you can do it, one mindset shift at a time.

Go back over that list of five I’ve included in this blog post, choose one, and have a go at practicing it for the next month. Just 1, for a month. You won’t always get it “right” and you won’t always get it wrong, that’s way we call it practice.

If you’re keen to be one of the first people to know when my book is completed and available, head on over the JoMuirhead.com and sign up for the guide “ How to Find Freedom in your private practice”. Once I have your email I will be able to let you know how you can be one of the first people to get your hands on this book when its done.

As always, here’s to your success!


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Who is Jo Muirhead?

Jo is a Consultant, speaker and business mentor for the health and wellness industry. As the owner and principal rehabilitation consultant at Purple Co (www.PurpleCo.com.auhttp://www.purpleco.com.au/), Jo understands the challenges and obstacles faced by health and wellness business owners first hand. She applies the learnings and successes she has had in her own business to that of her clients, showing them that they can effectively market their business, increase their revenue, and enjoy the work they do. For more information visit www.jomuirhead.com.

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A guest post by Maelisa Hall

Many therapists say that the paperwork related to the client intake process takes twice as long as other therapy sessions, but here’s a secret: It doesn’t need to.

A guest post by Maelisa Hall Many therapists say that the paperwork related to the client intake process takes twice as long as other therapy sessions, but here’s a secret: It doesn’t need to.

There are some key things you can do to simplify and organize your client intake process so that you save yourself time before and after the first session with your clients.

And when implemented well, these strategies will actually help you build rapport with clients more quickly and more easily, all while improving your professional perception within the community.

1: Have clients fill out an assessment before you meet

One of the best ways to save time AND get some amazing clinical information is to have your clients fill out the intake assessment form, not you. Right when their appointment is scheduled, make sure they know there is some paperwork they need to fill out beforehand.

Explain the paperwork in layman’s terms and keep the questions simple, but don’t be afraid to go deep. For example, in my intake assessment form I have questions/sections like:

“Reason for contacting me about therapy”

“Goals you want to accomplish in working together”

“Who currently lives in your home?”

There are a lot more questions diving into all biopsychosocial areas and including the basic demographic information you need, but there aren’t so many questions that the form is overwhelming to complete.

There are a couple huge benefits to having your clients fill out the form. First, you get to see how they phrase the problem and what language they use to describe themselves. This gives you a kickstart to building rapport and getting to know your client.

Second, you are able to focus on what is most important during the intake session… actually getting to know your client! You can ask follow up questions based on what they already wrote and you don’t waste time on things like writing family member’s names and phone numbers.

Lastly, you save yourself time. Most of the intake paperwork is already done before your client even walks in the office.

2: Send automated reminders

Yes, some clients will forget to fill out paperwork before an appointment. That’s reality.

But we have these awesome tools like text reminders, email reminders and calendar invites that can help your clients avoid this problem.

Some therapists have strong opinions about these reminders and believe that clients should take responsibility for their treatment and that it is not the therapist’s job to send reminders.

While I agree with the responsibility part, I also encourage you to consider that clients rarely begin therapy at a time when things are going well in life and they feel organized and on top of their game.

Clients usually start therapy when they are feeling stressed, overwhelmed or like things are spiraling out of control.

Automated reminders are cheap and easy to set up… and they’re automated! These things weren’t readily available 10 years ago but today it’s a great resource for both clients and therapists.

3: Keep your forms with you during intakes

Have that intake form your client filled out with you during the whole intake session and add your notes to it as you ask about details. Since your client has already written a lot of the base information, you won’t be writing (or typing) during the whole session.

This can take some getting used to but is one of the most important things I recommend doing during intake sessions… because your intake is done when the client walks out the door.

And trust me, your intakes will have much better information than they normally do.

Most therapists grossly overestimate how much they’ll remember about their clients. Combine that with the fact that many therapists avoid completing intakes after a session because they are so time-consuming and you have a recipe to create mediocre intakes that miss a lot of the important nuances your client shared or presented.

4: Talk to your clients about the process

One of the common responses I get about about #3 is that therapists are worried they will be too focused writing and not able to establish rapport with clients.

The key to building rapport is communicating with your clients about the whole process.

Let them know if you need a minute to finish writing something because you think it’s important. Tell them what you’re writing and why.

Most importantly, set the expectations from the beginning that this first session is a bit different. You want to get to know them and make sure you’re a good fit to work together. Explain that you don’t usually take notes during sessions (unless you actually do) but since you’re just getting to know one another, you’ll be jotting some things down.

I have done this dozens, if not hundreds of times and I’ve never had a client complain. In fact, most clients seem to appreciate that I’m taking their information seriously and genuinely want to help them.

5: Create (or copy) templates for notes and treatment plans

Yes, there are things you want to include in an intake note that you don’t normally include in other notes. Things like obtaining consent for treatment and reviewing potential limits to confidentiality.

Having a template so you don’t recreate these with each client is very helpful. Many electronic health records (EHRs) will allow you to create your own templates so you can save time on common things you write.

Even if your EHR doesn’t have this ability, you can create a template on your computer and then copy and paste that information in to your intake notes. And if you use paper records, just print it out and have some copies ready to use.

6: Use a practice management system

A practice management system (also commonly called an EHR) serves as your filing cabinet, payment processor, automated reminder service, email provider, shared drive, scheduling service, calendar, template holder, task reminder and so much more.

This is a whole other blog post in itself, but using a practice management system can help you save a huge amount of time… as long as you make sure to invest time up front setting it up with all your preferences and templates.

At this point, most systems offer a client portal, which makes things like sending forms to complete and accepting payments a very easy process. In the long run, this is one of the most affordable and effective ways to improve your intake process.

7: Get a non-therapist friend’s opinion

The best way to find out what doesn’t make sense or needs improvement is having a non-therapist friend go through your entire intake process.

Yes, if you have good friends they will gladly do this for you! Of course, you might want to offer to pay the next time you have lunch together.

Here are some questions you want them to answer:

  • What did you think of the whole process?
  • How did it compare with going to a doctor’s office the first time?
  • Does everything on the forms make sense?
  • Was any part of filling out the forms confusing?
  • Were there any words you didn’t recognize?
  • Did you feel like you knew exactly what was expected before the appointment?
  • Did you know how to get a hold of me if you needed to reschedule or were running late?
  • Did you know exactly how to get to the office for an appointment?
  • What parts felt time-consuming or “clunky?”
  • How much time did it take you to complete everything?

You will get so much valuable information from this task! Yes, this takes a bit more work (and might cost you a lunch), but it will help you see your blind spots in a way no other task can.

What to do next…

Implementing all of these things might seem overwhelming, so pick one thing to do this week and put it in your calendar. Evaluate how that works, and then try another strategy.

A lot of these things will be trial and error to see what process works best for you and your clients so be open to feedback and don’t expect that everything will work on the first try. It’s a process but it is so worth it to save yourself time and stress.

Plus, having a streamlined and easy-to-complete intake process will ultimately benefit the people it should- your clients.

maelisa hall

About Maelisa Hall

Maelisa Hall, Psy.D. specializes in teaching therapists how to connect with their paperwork so it’s more simple and more meaningful. The result? Rock solid documentation every therapist can be proud of! Check out her free online Private Practice Paperwork Crash Course, and get templates, cheat sheets and tips on improving your documentation today.

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