Online Counseling Jobs vs Operating Your Own Online Practice

Have you been looking for an online counseling job?

One where you could work from home and make money for helping people. You’re looking at working for BetterHelp, TalkSpace, or a smaller practice that has remote therapists, aren’t you?

But have you considered launching your own practice? You could work from home and make money for helping people, but you would set the rules; your price points, clients of your choice, and your hours. 

If that sounds interesting but way too overwhelming keep reading because in the next few paragraphs I’m gonna break down exactly what you need to have your own online therapy practice and it’s not as complicated as you think.

If you’re still on the fence about starting your own online practice, here are three more reasons it’s a good idea

Ethical Considerations

Inevitably, one of the first concerns a licensed therapist has about launching their own online practice is ethics. We get it, you’ve worked hard for your licensing, the last thing you want is for it to be revoked because you overlooked legality. 

Half of the problem is knowing where to start. Like, what does being an online therapist with a compliant practice look like?! Not too long ago we had a conversation with one of our clients, Jessica, about exactly what is needed to set up a compliant telehealth practice. Here’s what she recommended:

#1 What can you do in YOUR state? Online therapy is a relatively new addition to the field of counseling. While it’s powerful many states are still figuring out their regulations regarding online therapy because it’s so new. Instead of being intimidated, educate yourself. Make sure you know: 1) The policies and procedures for practicing therapy online in YOUR state, and 2) Your rights as a provider.

#2 What should be included in an Informed Consent? You’ve probably already asked yourself this question before. But today, we want you to do more than just wonder and hyperventilate because you don’t know, or worse procrastinate. Make a list of everything you THINK should be included. Then research. I know, we already said it in this post, but doing your own homework is key to feeling confident about starting an ethical practice.

#3 What should you do in the case of an emergency? Suicide prevention is a heavy topic and a reality in our line of work. But it’s not the moment to throw in the towel and abandon helping people, it’s a moment to get educated and make a plan. Just because online therapy is, in many ways, a new field with uncharted territory doesn’t make it impassable.

Don’t put off providing online therapy to help others just because your brain goes crazy with all the ethical jargon. There are people who need the help you provide. For a list of specific questions for getting your ethical considerations in order, check out this post.

Marketing Strategy

If you’re going to enter the online counseling world you need a way to get clients, right?! That’s probably why you were looking into getting hired by one of those companies we listed earlier. But finding clients doesn’t have to be impossibly hard. It takes work, but most of our clients would tell you the work they put into finding clients is totally worth the life they get to live. 

Here are three ways you can market your online counseling practice and attract clients:

#1 Network with other therapists and local practices. Carol O’Saben, one of our clients, said she grew her online practice through networking with local practices. When she met with other therapists she had two goals: 1) To ask about insurances they accepted and typically worked with. 2) To build a referral list. Before she knew it she was getting referrals from the therapists she had met with because she had built a relationship with them. Now she is referring clients to them. Talk about a win-win!

#2 Optimize Your Psychology Today Profile. Start by including a clear and professional image of yourself. Next up is your header. Make sure it includes these three things: 1) Your name, 2) our credentials, 3) and a statement that will resonate with someone you want to work with (ie, “Life should be about happiness.” “Sometimes we just need someone we can confide in.” “You deserve to live a life free from physical challenges.”). Finally, you want to include a “call to action” where you actually invite a visitor to your page to schedule a free consultation with you. For more ideas on optimizing your Psychology Today Profile for online counseling check out this post!

#3 Make your self visible and relevant by leveraging REDDIT. REDDIT is one of the top 20 websites on the web. In other words, a LOT of people are using it and seeing content that is posted there. What that means for you is, you can be seen by a LOT of people if you use REDDIT, too. Reddit is similar to a collection of online forums. The big opportunity here is one particular “forum” that you can use as a virtual press conference via text. Sign up for this FREE course that’s already helping therapists fill their caseload using REDDIT.

Business Logistics + Tech

Having an online therapy practice is one of the lowest barriers of entry for operating independently. You’ll be thrilled to find that you can be all in your first month right around $1000. Why? Because you don’t have to pay a lease or utilities. There are however a few things you do need to make sure you have:

  1. Good WiFi. As long as your WiFi streams youtube and Netflix videos with glitching and loading mid viewing your WiFi is strong enough. You can read some hacks up getting better WiFi here.
  2. Laptop. We recommend laptops because they have a built-in camera and audio. Of course, you can use a desktop, but then you would need to purchase a webcam separately.
  3. Payment Processor. Preferably one that saves payment information as well, so you don’t have to take credit card information every time. You can read more about how to choose a payment processor here.
  4. Client Management Platform. This is where you will store client records, session notes, and insurance information. 
  5. HIPAA Compliant Communication Platform. This includes everything from email, text, phone calls, voicemail, and video chat.

If your brain is spinning and finding all those pieces feels absolutely overwhelming, we have a solution. We are on a mission to make owning and operating online therapy practices simple and easy. So we put together a customizable package with everything you need to run the back end of your online counseling business. We even provide live tech support. 

Our clients call us their virtual office. If you need a virtual office schedule a demo to find out what the best package would be for you!

Having an online counseling job doesn’t have to look like you working for someone else. It can look like you working for yourself, setting your own hours and rates, and working with clients you choose. Working for yourself can feel like a big scary step. We hope this post, not only gave you some things to think about but also gave you solutions to some of the roadblocks keeping you from serving the world on your own terms.

We think you’re a rockstar for going through all the school you did so that you can help people and we’re cheering you on. If you ever have a question feel free to leave in the comments or reach out to us on Facebook

Pre Session Checklist for Online Therapists

Have you ever felt frazzled five minutes before a teletherapy session? Like, you don’t know where you’re gonna set up your computer. Once you finally find a place you can’t find your charging cord. By the time the session is supposed to start, you can’t even remember what you’re supposed to be talking to the client about!

With a simple system, you can show up to each of your appointments on time and prepared to walk your client through a healing conversation.

After working with countless online therapists these are what we have found to be the five primary building blocks to a pre-session checklist:

Set up your location

Knowing where you’re going to have your session and having previously tested the lighting and internet connection can save you a lot of time and help you be present for your client. When choosing or creating a spot to meet with your client here are the things you want to include:

  • Minimalist background
  • Good internet connection (anything that will stream youtube videos or Netflix)
  • Good lighting (pro tip: anywhere near a window usually works well)
  • Desk to set your computer on
  • A private setting where other people will not overhear your conversation

If you don’t have one place you meet with your clients all the time, pack a bag with everything you need so that when it’s time to have a session you can grab the bag and go to a quiet and undisturbed place.

Session Scheduling

You’re not just a therapist when you work online and operate your own practice. You have a life, physical needs, and administrative tasks to keep your practice going. Not only that you’re a human and deserve to be taken care of in the same way you would encourage your clients to care for themselves. Here are a few things a lot of therapists wish they had considered before creating their first schedule:

  • When and how often do I want to eat?
  • How much time do I need to eat?
  • When am I going to enter my notes for each session?
  • How much time does it take for me to record session notes?
  • Do I want to walk around and stretch my legs between sessions?
  • How much time does it take for me to prepare for each session?
  • When will I prepare for each session?
  • About how much time does it take to take care of administrative tasks? 
  • When do I want to do my administrative tasks?

Just because you can schedule your sessions back to back or at 5-minute intervals doesn’t mean you need to. What if you scheduled them fifteen minutes or even thirty minutes apart? How much mental space would that give you to show up for your next client with even more to offer them?

Remember you are in charge of your energy and your schedule. Don’t give it all away because you scheduled your appointments too close together.  

Outline for session

Being prepared for a session helps you guide your client and also provides a framework to follow tangents as your client needs. 

  • Review past client notes.
  • Be prepared to ask about progress on previous conversations.
  • Set a goal for the conversation.
  • Prepare a few questions to walk toward the goal.
  • Be prepared with worksheets or homework.
  • What videos, activities, or teaching points might you want to incorporate.
  • Have tabs or resources prepared for an activity you might want to walk through.

A lot of therapists find that having a simple structure for each conversation helps them guide the conversation, stay on time, and provide a safe space for their clients. This can be as simple as beginning the conversation discussing homework or goals set at the previous session, digging into any blockers, moving understanding new challenges, and finally setting new goals.

You have the power and opportunity to show up to your sessions feeling peaceful and prepared. Thinking ahead and making a system so that you aren’t reinventing the wheel every time you meet with a client will help you do that, not to mention save time and help you stay on time. 

If you need a reliable online telehealth video platform or a secure platform for client notes and processing payment schedule a call with us! We’re in the business of making your practice simple and are happy to customize a package that supports you as you support others.

Everything You Need for a Successful Online Practice

Having an online therapy practice is one of the lowest barriers of entry for operating independently. You’ll be thrilled to find that you can be all in your first month right around $1000. Why? Because you’re footing the bill for a building and utilities. 

In this post, we’re giving you the ultimate shopping list for getting your telehealth practice furnished. We’re going to start with the bare minimum — 5 things, 4 of which are all online subscriptions. And then we’ll cover 4 more things you can add to the list if you want to start super strong and professional.

Required #1: Good Wifi

Most of your communication with clients will happen online and your video calls certainly will. Make sure you have strong fast WiFi. If you can stream Netflix or YouTube without having to wait for the videos to load, you have strong WiFi. If your WiFi needs a boost here’s 6 things you can try:

  1. Select a good place for your router, away from metal objects, and in a central location.
  2. Get a stronger antenna
  3. Cut off WiFi leeches by encrypting your WiFi and choosing a strong password. This limits the number of people who can randomly hop off and use up your WiFi strength. 
  4. Buy a WiFi Repeater/ Booster/ Extender which amplifies the signal you already have. You should expect to spend about $100.
  5. Switch to 5 GHz. This provides much faster internet and your router might already support it, all you’ll have to do is switch to it.
  6. Don’t forget to reboot. When in doubt a reboot clears a router’s memory and allows updates to install. 

NETSPOT: Ten Ways to Boost Your WiFi

Required #2: Laptop

If most of your professional life happens online in the telehealth world that means you’ll need a laptop to have all that online activity. When looking for a laptop considering the one you already have here are two things it needs:

  1. Integrated webcam
  2. Integrated microphone

Technically, a desktop computer can get you by. However, we recommend most modern laptops because they will have an integrated webcam and microphone. This will make your session experience and taking clinical notes the most effortless and positive. 

Best World says that these are The Best 5 Laptops for Skype in 2020

Required #3: Payment Processor 

If you’re going to be getting paid for the work that you do AND everything is happening online cash and checks don’t really work as a form of payment. So, you’ll need a payment processor. When choosing a payment processor, be sure to read the fine print so that you’re not surprised by any extra fees.

We recommend asking these 5 questions before you select a payment processor. 

Required #4: Client Management Platform

This is where you are able to store all of your client information and clinical notes. Some client management platforms even process payments and allow you to store credit card information.

Required #5: HIPAA Compliant Communication Platforms

When scheduling meetings with your clients or discussing concerns and progress between sessions it’s important that you’re compliant with HIPAA regulations. There are secure email, text, phone, voicemail, and fax software that allow you to communicate with your clients while remaining HIPAA compliant. You will also want to find a secure video platform so that you can have HIPAA compliant sessions.

Does that already sound like a lot? Don’t worry. We’re here to make your practice as simple as possible so we created a monthly membership that includes a client management platform with a payment processor that saves credit card information, HIPAA compliant communication channels (email, text, phone, voicemail, and fax), secure video platform, and live support! If that sounds something you could use schedule a demo here!

Extra #1: Background

Whether or not you get all fancy with your background be sure to create a therapeutic space. You can start by finding a blank wall to stand in front of. Make sure the fan is turned off and clear distractions. If you want to take it a step further you can add simple decorations. Healthcare providers tend to stick with neutral colors and live plants. Stay away from words and detailed pictures. 

Extra #2: Lighting

A simple way to come across as professional when on a video call is to make sure your lighting is on point. Pro tip: stand next to a window, there’s nothing better than natural light when you’re on camera. If you’re having sessions in the evening it might get a little dark so a simple ring light can make a HUGE difference. 

Extra #3: Microphone

A high-quality microphone can decrease static, increase voice clarity, and decrease background noise. Decent microphones typically run between $15-$50. Here’s one we recommend. 

Extra #4: Webcam

If you decided not to upgrade your laptop when you jumped into telehealth you might want to get a better webcam. These will improve clarity, depth, and color. Here’s one that won’t disappoint and is at a comfortable price point. 

If you’re considering starting an online practice we want to know that it is in your reach. Carol O’Saben, one of our clients, started her online practice little by little after she got burned out working as a therapist in university centers. She started her own online practice because it was the lowest barrier of entry. Today she’s earning more than she’s ever earned and working fewer hours than she’s ever worked. You can read her story here.

If you’re ready to go all-in on this online therapy practice of yours we’d love to help or answer any questions that you have. Schedule a call with us here!

Psypact and What It Allows You To Do

Psypact allows psychologists to work in multiple states with their current licenseAdvancements for telehealth have been taking place. But between the fancy words, certifications, and ‘who does this apply to anyway’ it can be confusing. You may have heard of Psypact, but you’d be forgiven if you weren’t sure about all the details like which states are now Psypact states.

The itherapy team did some digging to answer the most common questions, demystify elaborate explanations, and clarify what these advancements mean to you and your practice. 

Let’s get started!

What is Psypact?

Psypact stands for “Psychology Compact”. This legislation has been in the works since the 1990’s to allow psychologists to practice in any state that participates in Psypact (aka. across state lines). In July of 2020 it was finally ready for applications.

Psypact States

At the time of writing this post, 15 states have enacted Psypact. They are: 

  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • Nevada
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia (Effective 1/1/2021)
  • North Carolina (Effective 3/1/2021)

Who can apply?

At the moment, Psypact only accepts applications from Psychologists. Applying Psychologists need to define their home state, be credited and certified in their home state, and follow their home state guidelines. 

What does the approval process look like?

Psychologists can apply for approval in two ways:

  1. Telepsychology. This would allow a Psychologists to practice online therapy across state lines. This approval requires meeting the exam requirement for the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology from ASPPB and then obtaining an “E.Passport” from ASPPB as well as an Authority to Practice Interjurisdictional Telepsychology from the PSYPACT commission.
  2. Temporary, In-Person Psychology Practice. This would allow you to practice in-person across state lines and requires an Interjurisdictional Practice Certificate from ASPPB as well as a Temporary Authorization to Practice from the PSYPACT commission

When practicing across state lines under either approval the Psychologist must adhere to the guidelines of the state the client is from. 

Psypact opens the door for psychologists to work across state lines. What does this mean if I’m not a Psychologist?

Unfortunately, Psypact specifically covers Psychologists and does not cover LCSWs, Lactation Consultants, or any other kind of therapist or counselor. This can seem discouraging and frustrating, however, it is a huge step in the right direction for telehealth. While all practicing therapists are not yet covered, even if they’re in a Psypact state, if the door is opened for Psychologists there is hope for the door opening wide enough for other therapists to practice across state lines.

If you’re a Psychologist (or know a Psychologist) who wants to jump into Psypact to serve more people but doesn’t have telehealth set up yet, that’s exactly what we do. Read some iTherapy reviews and you’ll see, we make your practice simple. Schedule a call with us to get your questions answered or the whole setup handed to you ready to roll (just let us know what your preference is).

If you want to learn more, here are some resources that we found helpful as we were doing our research:

Our previous post on International Teletherapy.

Thorough Overview of Psypact with Q&A

A short summary from TeleBehavioral Health Insitute 

Details for approval and allowances under Psypact 

 

Three expert tips you can use to market your private practice online

COVID-19 has changed the way we live and the way we do business. This change can motivate us to try everything to market our private practice so that we keep things as normal as possible, or it can discourage us and make us wonder if it’s ever going to get back to normal. In a way, we will be forever changed by the events of the past few months – history has been made. 

iTherapy exists to make your practice simple and help it thrive – pandemic or not. So, we asked a few experts what the most important thing to focus on to keep your practice thriving during these crazy times. Here’s three expert tips to market your private practice online. 

Make your website relevant

You may think websites are outdated. Does anybody check them anymore? Does anyone really read everything on a website? But as a professional, they carry more weight than you may think. The first of our three expert tips to market your private practice online is to keep your website updated. According to Allison Puryear keeping your website updated with relevant and applicable information may give you an edge that other therapists don’t have.

“Your website and other marketing strategies don’t need to be treated like a museum. Keep it updated with relevant information. It’s so helpful to speak to the specific struggles your ideal clients are having as they consider staying home for even longer. 

Are you specialized in social anxiety? Talk about the unexpected desire to connect with people and the dread of when things fully open back up. 

Do you work with eating disorders? Write about the very complicated relationship to food when the fridge is RIGHT THERE ALL DAY. 

Don’t just talk about the ennui or boredom or overwhelm or anxiety in general ways. Think about what your clients are experiencing. The more specific, the more likely potential clients will be to be like, ‘This therapist is already in my head and I haven’t even seen them yet.’” – Allison Puryear

Sharing relevant and applicable information on your website will also improve your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – another great benefit when marketing your private practice. Meaning, if someone googles a topic you have written about there’s a possibility your website will show up as an answer to their search. Think about what your ideal clients are experiencing right now and share practical tips to help them get through this season with strength.

Update your Psychology Today Profile

There’s a second piece of online content we shouldn’t treat like a museum – your Psychology Today (PT) profile.
Here’s Laura Long’s second of our three expert tips to market your private practice online:

“Love it or hate, Psychology Today is a platform that is widely used by prospective clients, especially now that many of them are stuck at home and searching for a therapist online. Here are some tips to make your PT profile stand out during the pandemic:

  1. PT currently has a new feature called a “COVID Statement,” which is a box at the top of your profile that informs prospective clients about how you’re handling sessions during this time of social distancing. Be sure to keep that section updated with information about how you’re seeing clients and, if you’re seeing clients in person, what measures you’re taking to protect the health of your clients.
  2. PT also recently unveiled a new 20-second intro video feature so that prospective clients can get a sense of who you are and what you’re like prior to scheduling an appointment. DEFINITELY take advantage of this feature by recording a friendly intro. I’ve included a bonus section in my free PT course that includes sample scripts and a quickstart guide to recording your 20-second intro video. (Note: Laura’s FREE course is fantastic! We HIGHLY recommend it.)
  3. Take some time to reflect on what your ideal client may be going through during this time, and speak directly to that person in your first paragraph. If your ideal client is a parent with young children, for example, openly address their fears of possible homeschooling in the Fall, trying to work while having children at home, or just the fear of the unknown and how that is impacting their mental health. Update this first paragraph as often as you want to reflect the changes happening in your community as a result of the pandemic.
  4. Use the third paragraph to explain the value of online sessions. For example, instead of saying “All sessions are currently being conducted online through secure video,” you could say something like, “As a way to help protect the health and safety of my clients, I’m happy to offer online sessions that are secure, convenient, and easy to use.” 
  5. Be clear about your niche and speciality areas. It can be tempting during such an unpredictable time in our businesses to cast a large net and attempt to cater to as many populations as possible. This fear often leads therapists to check many different specialities on their PT profile, and the results can actually have a negative effect on your business. Clients and referral sources may become confused when they see that you claim to treat so many different issues, and they will often go elsewhere seeking a true expert. Instead, remain confident in your top speciality areas and craft a profile that is clear and articulate.” –Laura Long

Laura went above and beyond to provide us with much more insight than we asked for, but it’s all so good, we had to include it all. (Thanks Laura!) A good PT profile will get you clients. If your PT profile isn’t working for you, follow these tips!

Market your private practice by connecting with your clients

Staying in touch with your existing AND former clients is one of the most powerful things you can do right now. Everyone is struggling. We’re all impacted by the stay-at-home and wear-mask orders of this pandemic. 

Even if you haven’t realized it yet, you are a database of information that your clients need. You just need to turn your knowledge into checklists, top ten tips, or action steps and then get them in the hands of your past and present clients. Marketing your private practice should always start by being helpful.

Nicholas Fuller of iTherapy and Shire Digital Solutions says, “Reaching out to these people doesn’t have to be hard,” in fact:

“Now is a great time to build a mailing list of new and existing clients. It’s free, it’s easy to use, and it will allow you to send emails to an entire list all at once.

For existing and former clients, you can send them an email directly, asking whether you can add them to your mailing list. (This kind of communication can be especially effective with former in-person clients who had been hesitant to switch to online when the stay at home orders started.) We also recommend adding a sign-up button on your website for new/potential clients. This is important because, with that, you will be able to say it is not exclusively a list of current and former clients, which is an important distinction for HIPAA compliance.

Email is a great form of communication. Most people check their emails every day. Don’t overdo emails by sending them too frequently and irritating your clients – once a week should be enough.” Nicholas Fuller

BONUS – Build multiple streams of income

If you’ve done all these things and still find yourself with time on your hands, it may be a good time to think of a new way to use your skills to earn money. You may have lost clients simply because they couldn’t afford your services. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t people in the world who need your service and can afford to pay for what you do. This might be your moment to build a name for yourself by intentionally serving the clients you currently have and sharing your expertise with the world through podcasts or online courses. Here’s what Joe Sanok, Founder of Podcast Launch School, has to say:

“My biggest advice for thriving during a pandemic is to continue to meet your basic client needs but to look for opportunities to build multiple streams of income through podcasts, eCourses, and other expert talks. The world needs your voice more than ever, don’t limit it to an individual session.” Joe Sanok

In other words, don’t think of this time as a season where you have fewer clients or less work. Think of this season as an opportunity to serve people in different ways with the knowledge you already have. Who knows, you might end up tapping into a whole new audience?!

Confront the moment and speak to your ideal clients

Whatever it is, staying in touch with the people you already have or had a working relationship with while they are going through these challenging times will be performing an act of service AND keeping you in the front of their minds if they decide to get more help.

Did you catch the theme? All of our three expert tips to market your private practice online are about using the knowledge you already have to serve people. Serving people is powerful because it builds a relationship. As you build a relationship you are slowly building trust. Trust is crucial in a client-therapist relationship. 

If you want to talk with a real live human about what it looks like to run a practice online during COVID-19, schedule an iTherapy demo and we’ll show you all iTherapy has to offer. This may be new to you, but it’s not new to us! We’ve been doing this for years and we can help you do it too.

What knowledge do you have that is relevant to what your ideal clients are experiencing right now and that you can turn into a resource? Share in the comments your helpful suggestions that your clients are finding helpful!

CASE STUDY: How a therapist started an online practice part time and went full time a year later by outsourcing the tech side of their business.

Are you ready to leave your group practice but feel overwhelmed by the nuts and bolts of running a private practice? Dr. Jamie Howard, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, was in the same boat. After years of working as a therapist in many capacities, she had a specific desire to serve veterans and their family members, but no time or brain space to learn the back-end of running a practice and business. By delegating the technical side of her practice, she was able to start a private practice part time which became her full time gig a year later. 

Her story proves that hard work, long term thinking, and taking the time to start right can pave the way for a thriving, money-making private practice (both online and in an office).

How we met

Jamie was concerned with long term growth from the get-go. She was not looking for a fast and easy way to start an online private practice. She was looking for the best way to start an online private practice that could shift and grow to support her dreams of having a brick-and-mortar practice.

Being a proud military wife, joyful mother of two, and working full time, made finding a resource, or system, that Jamie could outsource the back-end of her practice a priority. While the desire to start a private practice and fulfill her calling was bursting in her heart, there was not enough time in a her day to learn the tech side of things. She also knew that her plans to one day offer group coaching, as well as open a brick-and-mortar building, would require a scalable system.

Instead of bootstrapping her practice (getting by with all the free resources), Jamie was out to start right. So, she worked full time and kept a lookout for the right program to help her get her practice off the ground. When her friend, Dr. Amber Lyda, connected her with iTherapy, three features stood out to her:

  1. Customizable packages
  2. High quality support for both the therapist and their clients
  3. HIPAA compliant video features for group sessions

The price was also right. When Jamie did the cost breakdown, this is what she said, “If you think about it, starting a business with an overhead of less than $200 a month is almost unimaginable. And if I do one family session a month, I cover the entire cost!”.

Because Jamie felt confident that iTherapy would support her as she served clients and as her business grew, becoming an iTherapy provider was a no-brainer. She joined in late 2018. By January 2019, she officially opened for business!

The solid + scalable system we built together

Jamie said, “iTherapy made starting a practice so easy. So many things you sign up for send you a welcome email with links to all the stuff you now have access to. Not iTherapy. They hold your hand every step of the way. They even host live videos walking you through everything so that you feel well trained and confident navigating the systems needed to run your business efficiently.”

Even now, with a growing practice, Jamie says that she calls with problems and questions and gets a quick response. Because iTherapy goes above and beyond to provide tech support to both her and her clients, she’s able to spend more time and energy marketing her practice and serving more clients. 

For example, when Jamie stepped out of her day job to pursue her private practice full time, she also brought on a student therapist. That’s when Jamie worked with iTherapy to upgrade her package so that she could create a student profile. This feature allows Jamie to set student rates, assign projects, limit access (to protect sensitive information and stay HIPAA compliant), and review notes. She said, “Even though it was a crazy time, iTherapy made the transition seamless for my student therapist and kept me looking professional.” iTherapy made it possible to expand Jamie’s capacity to serve clients during what could have been a very stressful time.

Recently, Jamie opened a brick-and-mortar facility, and guess what? All the systems Jamie used for her online practice are the same systems she’s using for her brick-and-mortar practice. But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves…

The results

Let’s recap Jamie’s timeline:

  • 2018 – working full time, joined iTherapy, getting all the pieces together
  • January 2019 – started her online private practice part time 
  • January 2020 – left full time job working about 20 hours a week
  • June 2020 (at the time of writing and recording) – a full caseload of clients, opened a brick-and-mortar practice, added an Intern to her team

In two years, Jamie was able to start an online practice, leave her full time job, and open a brick-and-mortar practice as well. I think we can all agree that that’s incredible growth! But get this, Jamie said, “I’m able to manage everything just fine within iTherapy.” 

Even with all this tremendous growth, Jamie has been able to stay sane and organized using the same support system she started with. She hasn’t had to put anything on hold as she moved all her data from a free system to a more elaborate system that allowed her to have additional practitioners. All that said, she didn’t even skip a beat during COVID-19.

Your turn

If you’re looking for a system, or program, to help you handle the back-end of your practice, take Jamie’s advice (which is the advice she followed for herself): “Know where you want to go. Then, find something that can get you from where you are now to where you want to be.” 

If what you need is a solid and scalable system that is HIPAA compliant and grants you access to a hands-on support team, schedule a call here to see that we’ve got all the pieces you’re looking for.  

Who’s ready to outsource the tech side of their practice so that they can focus on marketing and serving more clients?

Some of our
CASE STUDY: How a therapist started an online practice part time and went full time a year later by outsourcing the tech side of their business. Counselors

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CASE STUDY: How one therapist increased her salary by 150% starting an online practice

If you’re a therapist who feels unfulfilled by your job and are looking to take a leap into having your own practice, you will love the story of our client Dr. Carol O’Saben. After working more than 25 years in university counseling centers, Carol decided to start a private practice. Less than a year later, she was fully booked. Now, about two years later, Carol is making 150% of her previous salary while working fewer hours, taking more vacations, and feeling fulfilled by her work!

Carol’s story proves that it’s possible to create a fulfilling life, both emotionally and financially, for yourself through starting a private practice and prioritizing your personal values.

How we met

After working for more than 25 years in university counseling centers, Carol found herself clocking 50+ hour weeks filled mostly by paperwork and very little client contact. Driven by her value to work to live and not live to work, Carol began exploring the possibility of having her own private practice. As she was crunching numbers for a brick-and-mortar practice, she began researching what it would take to have an online practice. 

The overhead of a brick-and-mortar practice was staggering, not to mention that Carol lived in a very small town and wondered if she would be able to find enough clients to stay in business. Having an online practice would allow Carol to serve clients from across the state and not just in her small town. 

As Carol decided owning and operating an online practice was the route she wanted to take, she kept three things at the forefront of her mind:

  • Start strong, even if it means growing slow.
  • Talk about what you do and network.
  • Build a life that supports your values.

Starting strong meant researching thoroughly and getting certifications that would make her feel confident about serving clients online. This led her to iTherapy in October of 2017.

The launching pad Carol and iTherapy made together

When Carol first heard about iTherapy’s pricing, she thought, “Ah! That’s a lot per month for a tool suite to operate my business online!!”. Yet, when she realized the monthly cost of working with iTherapy could be covered by one session each month, she was ready to jump in. 

Carol started with the smallest package iTherapy offers: client management platform and secure video platform. That’s all she needed to get started, so that’s all she got. This allowed her to keep track of all her client information, schedule appointments, file their payment/insurance information, as well as confidently hold appointments knowing her telehealth appointments were HIPPA compliant. 

The first month that Carol worked with iTherapy consisted mostly of training and getting familiar with each platform. Starting slow, but strong. During this time, Carol was also able to network and grow her connections. 

By the end of February 2018, she had 8-10 clients per week. That’s when Carol called iTherapy and upgraded to the second packaged, which included secure email, phone, and fax services. This allowed her to communicate with her clients, receive invoices, send emails and faxes, without worrying about whether or not she was remaining compliant. 

Before she was twelve months into having her private practice, she needed a website. Who did Carol call? iTherapy. While iTherapy does not build websites, they are connected with a company who does and got the ball rolling. Carol had a beautiful and functional website in no time!

iTherapy’s unique ability to scale allowed Carol to start where she was and upgrade as her practice grew. Everytime she was ready for more, she had a point of contact at iTherapy that she was able to call and discuss what the best package would be for her and her business. 

The Results

Today, Carol works 4 days a week. She starts her work day between 10 and 11am instead of 430 when she works in university counseling centers. For a few days a week, she’ll work into the evening in order to serve her professional clients when they get off of work. She schedules her clients 15-30 min between sessions so that she can take a few minutes to walk her dogs, do some yoga on her back deck, or respond to email and phone calls.

In September, she was able to take a whole month off for a two week vacation and to recover from a hip replacement. She took another two weeks off in December for the second hip. Both times, her income did not suffer. 

See how Carol’s work is supporting the lifestyle she wants to live?

Not too long ago, when her client management platform had glitches, she called iTherapy and explained the problem. iTherapy got on the phone with the client management software to troubleshoot and discounted Carol’s subscription for the month for the hassle. Together, they were able to resolve the issue by end of week!

Instead of spending valuable time on hold with the client management software, trying to understand technical lingo and solve html problems, Carol was able to leave that up to iTherapy (who does understand technical lingo and html), serve her clients, and enjoy her life. 

Carol now calls iTherapy her personal administrative team. Working with iTherapy allowed her to start strong and build a life that supports her values.

Your turn

If you’re on a mission to feel fulfilled, both emotionally and financially by the work you’re doing, online therapy might be the right answer for you. Just keep in mind the steps Carol took:

  • Know that you can make a living, but be patient. Let the business grow.
  • Talk about what you do and connect with others in your community.
  • Know your values and build a life that supports them. 

If your values include less admin, more client calls, and more free time, iTherapy would be happy to help you simplify the back-end of your business. Reach out here for more info!

Who’s ready to have a fulfilling life, both emotionally and financially, by starting an online practice and prioritizing personal values?

 

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Are you ready to re-open?

Anyone else ready for things to return to normal – or as normal as possible?

If I had five hands they would all be in the air right now!

While I have enjoyed the slower pace of things and less packed restaurants as they’re gradually re-opening (FL resident writing) I’m ready for rhythms, and parties, and concerts, and being able to see my clients face-to-face.

Restaurants will gradually increase their capacity. 

Stores will continue to reopen.

Concerts will reschedule.

Party invitations will be sent once again.

But the question we can’t get away from is: What does it look like to reopen our practices in a way that makes our clients feel physically safe?

As clinicians we spend a lot of time creating an emotionally safe space, which includes communicating that they are physically safe, but in the midst of Covid-19 physical safety is taking a new spin.

Here are four things we recommend (and that clinicians we work closely with are working on) to prepare the practice for a smooth and successful reopening:

Set up your digital forms

You know how you hand clients papers to fill out when they come in and a pen to fill out the paper with. Don’t forget the clipboard the paper is attached to. That’s a lot of things people are touching and should be sanitized after use.

Skip all that by setting up your digital forms. This does a couple of things:

  1. Each person can use their own device. Your clients can use their own device to fill out the form and you can use your own device to review the information they provide. 
  2. Less things to sanitize. If emailing the form isn’t your “cup of tea”, having your client fill out the form on your computer still reduces the amount of things you need to sanitize and provides for the clinician to review the forms on their own devices instead of endlessly shuffling and filing papers.
  3. Fewer people have contact. When you use digital forms not only are you cutting down on the amount of things you have to sanitize but you’re also reducing the amount of people who have to come in contact with the papers because you aren’t having to pass the papers or file them for safe keeping.

If you’re like “YES, I need to set up digital forms, but don’t know where to start” schedule a call with us. Making your practice as simple as possible is why we exist! We’re happy to answer your questions and even get you set up with a completely digital system if that’s what you want.

Set up SMS Texting 

Have you noticed how many restaurants and stores have taken this time to renovate or repaint during this time? Being out of routine and having fewer sessions isn’t exactly ideal, but we can capitalize on this time by updating our systems and automating as much as possible. 

Aside from implementing a system for digital forms we highly recommend setting up SMS Texting via a secure platform. This way you can notify your clients about their upcoming session without ever having to pick up a phone to call them. 

If you’ve ever used scheduling software for social media SMS Texting functions a lot like that. It auto texts your prewritten and scheduled texts. You can also enable features that allow your clients to confirm, cancel, or reschedule their appointments as needed.

Masks

This is where making your clients feel physically safe comes in. Lots of people are making masks these days. Most people own masks by now, too. And you can have disposable masks prepared for your clients as they walk in. 

SMS Texting could be super handy to quickly and automatically remind your clients to bring masks for their sessions (can you tell we’re huge fans of the SMS Texting?!).

Personally wearing a mask during sessions or at least asking a client if that would make them feel more comfortable, is highly recommended. So, find yourself a mask you don’t hate wearing!

Barrier

We’ve seen these applied in a few fashions. Simply by creating significant space between where you are sitting in your clients is sitting either by moving chairs further apart or turning a coffee table long ways. Plexi glass whether hanging from the ceiling, a trifold, or a stand is a great (and our favorite) option. It could also remove the need to wear masks which would make talking much easier and less awkward.

When you and your client are not concerned about getting each other sick it will allow for more open conversation and rapport.

This is a challenging season. Not only have our lives been rocked with closures and precautions such as masks and stay-at-home mandates but they continue to be rocked as we’re working towards a new normal without promoting another peak. With compassion, intention, and alertness we can navigate these transitions in a way that moves us forward and empowers us to provide premium care for clients.

If you have any questions or want help setting up digital forms and SMS Texting please feel free to reach out or schedule a call with us. We’re here for you!

3 reasons you should start online therapy as a side hustle in 2020

Have you ever wished for a simple and easy way to help more people through therapy?

Are you looking for a simple and easy way to get the ball rolling as a newly licensed clinician?

Do you need an additional stream of income that doesn’t require you to learn a whole new craft?

That’s what starting online therapy as a side hustle has been to countless therapists before you.

Here are three reasons we recommend starting online therapy as a side hustle if you’re looking for a simple way to expand your reach, get your feet wet, and find new clients:

If you’re worried about the ethical side of online therapy check out this post!

Time

You know how kids often start out wearing life vests in the water? It’s so they (and their parents) don’t have to worry about drowning. They can enjoy the water without having to fully commit wondering if they’re gonna go under because they’re not a strong enough swimmer yet.

Whether you’ve had an in-person practice for some time and are wanting the flexibility that online therapy offers or you’re ready to start signing your own clients, starting online therapy as a side hustle is like a life vest. It allows you to have a gradual transition into providing therapy without having to jump in with two feet and wondering if you’ll survive.

Starting online therapy as a side hustle buys you time to grow slowly. 

Having a brick-and-mortar practice is extremely expensive. Online therapy bridges this gap buying you time to grow slowly. You can work your day job and sign a few clients until you feel confident about the online thing and are sure you have what it takes to replace your full time income. 

Overhead

Have you ever had to decide between taking a trip to Mexico or England? 

Your pro and con lists might go a little bit like this:

Pro List for Mexico: Stay in super fancy resorts, take all the excursions, have a couple hundred bucks left in the bank when I get home.

Pro list for England: Afternoon tea every day, visit Scotland, bragging rights, take selfies with Uncle Ben.

Con list for Mexico: Could be “sketch” in some places.

Con list for England: Have no money left in the bank when I get home.

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to Mexico – all those fancy extras and not having to worry about money!! BRING IT.

Having an online practice is like taking the trip to Mexico because your overhead is SO much less. A smaller overhead means you don’t have to make as much money to stay viable each month and if you do make a LOT of money, you get to keep it, instead of keeping up with all your brick-and-mortar costs.

An online therapy practice allows you to have a REAL practice just like you had a REAL vacation to Mexico – it just doesn’t break the bank. 

If you are ready to take the leap into online therapy, we’d love to help! Our providers have called us “the one-stop shop for all online therapy practice needs”. Schedule a call here to get your practice up and going!

Growth

Have you ever thrown a party and told your friends (the ones you originally invited) that they could bring their friends?

All of the sudden you had like a mega party, right?!

Online therapy is similar to that in the way it extends your reach to help others. 

When your friends brought their friends they brought some people who weren’t in your network. When you provide therapy online you’re able to help people who aren’t in your usual network; people who might not feel comfortable in an office setting, are not willing to make the trek to an office, or just don’t have the flexibility of time/schedule to show up to a specific place. 

Wola! Helping people through online therapy just extended your reach.

Whether you have an in-person practice, are just starting out as a therapist, or are a seasoned and established therapist, every once in a while it’s hard to find clients. Offering online therapy as a side hustle has the potential to significantly increase your ability to help people and make more money without working harder.

If you have any questions or are just looking to the final piece – a compliant way to run your practice online – reach out. You can respond in the comments or schedule time to talk with one of our experts HERE.

The Ultimate Resource Library for Therapists

Ever hit a wall in your practice and thought, “If only I had someone with a little bit of experience in this particular area I would feel a lot better about myself right now?”.     

If you’re a private practice or online therapist peer groups can be great for this.

If you’re a traditional therapist you probably work at a group practice and have access to someone who can answer your question or at least point you in the right direction.

But what about when you just don’t want to wait or the person you would ask isn’t available?

Ili River Walter, PhD, LMFT – as well as a consultant, supervisor, professor, and wellness warrior for mental health professionals – has created a resource library with over 18,000 eager subscribers. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

As a licensed marriage and family therapist, Ili started her own private practice in 2011. Before too long she began looking into becoming a group practice. Then her daughter was born. It was then that she knew she couldn’t commit more hours away from her. So, her online therapy journey began.

While running her online practice and writing her dissertation she kept asking herself, “What can I do while I’m writing my dissertation to keep my skills strong, but also see if what I know is helpful for others?”. 

That’s when familytherapybasics.com was born.

A few months later, when her very first pin on pinterest went viral, Ili knew she had created something special that was indeed helpful for others.

For the last three years she has continued to pour immense time and energy into creating checklists, templates, and guides for therapists in all walks of their journey.

Here’s a sneak peak into the six most downloaded resources in her library (and the links to get your hands on them, too):

THE FIRST SESSION CHECKLIST

If you want to be sure you’re nailing your first session, asking all the right questions, making your client feel comfortable, and providing premium care this six-page checklist just became your new best friend!

The first session checklist covers the five essential components of a successful first session. It is best suited for individuals who are new to therapy or are just starting a solo or group practice and want a consistent structure for sessions within their practice. 

Get access to this resource and the ENTIRE library HERE.

CASE SUMMARY TEMPLATE

Whether you’re a new or seasoned therapist, writing a case summary can feel daunting. That’s why The Case Summary Template was created. Not quite “drag and drop” but a far cry away from staring at a blank page for hours, this three page template walks therapists through writing a case study for academic, documentation, and supervision purposes. 

This is also a good resource for professors and supervisors who are teaching students how to write case studies.

For a quick how-to and to grab the template for yourself click HERE. 

SUPERVISEE ONBOARDING CHECKLIST (specifically for supervisors)

If you’re a therapist who serves as a supervisor either within an agency or your own practice, this checklist will be your lifesaver. It’s designed to keep you on track and to make sure you don’t forget a thing while mentoring a therapist.

Learn more or download the checklist HERE.

CHILDREN AND FAMILY THERAPY SERIES

NOTE: While not a downloadable pdf, this is an invaluable resource and one of the most viewed pages on the Family Therapy Basics website, so we didn’t want to not include it. 

The Children + Family Therapy Series is a three part series that covers six general guidelines for working with families from a systemic perspective. You will learn how to engage every member of the family, stay mindful of their triggers, and support childrens’ voices through therapy.

Read it all here: 

Part 1 

Part 2

Part 3

SYSTEMIC CONVERSATIONS ABOUT A CHILD’S DIAGNOSIS CHECKLIST

How do you help a family walk with their child(ren) through a diagnosis? What words do you use? What do you focus on? This three page checklist covers an integrative approach to speaking with families and provides therapists with guidelines on how to talk to the family whether the child is present or just the parents. 

It’s easy for therapists to get stuck using the terminology of the diagnosis to refer to an actual experience, but it’s very important that therapists assess, address, and deepen how the diagnosis is a unique experience for both the child and the parent. This checklist will help you do just that!

Get the checklist and a brief overview of systemic conversations with children HERE.

HOW TO ETHICALLY OFFER COACHING AS A LICENSED A CLINICIAN

If you’ve ever wondered how to integrate state laws and rules, stay aware of business issues, consider dual relationships, and have an ethical perspective on training and creating a coaching niche this is the check list for you! 

The ethical coaching checklist includes 13 tips on how to move in the direction of offering coaching in your business and walks therapists through necessary tasks to get there.

Read the blog post and get your own copy of the checklist HERE.

If you’re like, “Mmmmm nice resources! But can I have a real person?” listen up!

Ili Rivera Walter has more stuff to offer. What?!

  1. Refreshed Therapist Network is an online business and personal growth community for psychotherapists. Founded by Ili in 2017, it’s purpose is to offer therapists a place to grow their business in a way that fits with their values. Learn more or join the network HERE.
  2. City Couples is an online therapy practice specializing in couple therapy. This is where you can find Ili spending her clinician hours. You heard that right. On top of providing top-of-the-line resources to clinicians, she’s on the front-lines serving couples! You can learn more or schedule a session with Ili HERE.
  3. When Ili isn’t running her network, serving clients, or writing for her resource library she’s a Graduate Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy at Nyack College.