Online Counseling Jobs vs Operating Your Own Online Practice

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

September 16, 2020 / iTherapy Blog, Mental Health

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