Therapy Practice Solutions

Crushing Your Consultation Calls

Crushing Your Consultation Calls


Written by Kelsey Someliana-Lauer, Therapy Practice Solutions Virtual Assistant

Many mental health clinicians who work in private practice offer some form of consultation before their initial session with a new client. These consultations are usually free, within 10-15 minutes long, and can be scheduled if the client doesn’t feel ready to jump right into an intake session. Some clinicians host these calls over the phone, while others may have a Zoom interview to screen a new client.

Regardless of how your consultation calls look logistically, the purpose is usually the same: to give the mental health clinician and client seeking services a brief chance to talk and ensure goodness of fit. However, clinicians may have some hesitation about consultation calls: where am I supposed to fit a free call into my schedule when I have so much other administrative work to do? What if the client tries to turn a free ten minute call into an impromptu session? What am I even supposed to say during an intake call?

We get it - consultation calls can be confusing, or even frustrating! Luckily, the pros at Therapy Practice Solutions are here to help. Here are our top three tips on crushing consultation calls with potential new clients!

Have an Outline Ready

While we wouldn’t suggest having your consultation call totally scripted - this could take away warmth and personality - there’s nothing wrong with having some notes going into your call. For example, if the potential client has emailed you already and stated they want to see if you’re a fit to help them with their anxiety, you may want to include a brief statement about what modalities you’ve used with anxious clients in the past. You may also want to have what insurances, if any, you accept written down, along with your private pay fee. You should also have a general idea of what spots you have open - if you only have a 12pm Monday slot open, this is certainly important for the client to know.

Set Firm Boundaries with Time

We’ve heard from many clinicians that clients may try to turn their consultation call into a surprise free first session. One way to avoid this is to set a firm boundary with your time. Including a statement such as “I have ten minutes before I’ll have to go to my next session, so any questions we don’t get to I’d be happy to cover in an email or in your first session.” This makes it clear you’re not willing to get too “therapist-y” over the phone.


Additionally, having a Virtual Assistant return phone calls to host consultations is one way to avoid having a free session altogether. A Virtual Assistant can still answer questions about your typical client demographics, fees, availability, training, and credentials, while not falling into the trap of giving out free therapy. Many times when potential clients hear they’re talking to an administrative assistant, they’ll understand the consultation is just for general questions and not to ask specific life circumstance questions.


Instill Hope


Sure, the point of a consultation call is to answer logistical questions, like availability and insurance concerns. However, potential new clients want to hear that you can help them. Use your chance at a first impression with the client to instill hope. Even a phrase such as “I think we could do some great work together,” or “I’ve had many clients in the same boat that I’ve been able to help on their journey” can help a client feel more at ease.


We hope these tips help you crush your consultation calls! If you’d like a Virtual Assistant to handle all calls for you, we can help. We can also help with your blog writing, social media posts, scheduling, insurance billing, and more! Reach out today to be paired with a Virtual Assistant that can do it all. We look forward to hearing from you!


Credentialing Checklist for Mental Health Clinicians

 Written by Kelsey Someliana-Lauer, Therapy Practice Solutions Virtual Assistant


You’ve weighed your options on whether you’d like to be a private pay only practice or accept insurance (and if you haven’t done this yet, check out our blog post here). You’ve decided you’d like to accept insurance on top of accepting private pay clients. Great! … Now what?

Many mental health clinicians who operate a private practice may feel lost when it comes to credentialing. Chances are, you weren’t taught how to become credentialed with insurance panels in graduate school! There are tons of options you can use to learn how to credential - you can call and ask the insurance company the steps, hire a credentialing business or Virtual Assistant to do it for you, watch a webinar, and so on.

No matter your choice for becoming credentialed, one thing will remain the same - all avenues will need the same basic preparation work done, whether you’re credentialing yourself or requesting help from a company or Virtual Assistant. Check out three tips from the pros at Therapy Practice Solutions to lay the foundation for your credentialing process!

Research Who You Want, and Who Wants You

The first step - pick which insurance panels you’d like to become in-network with! You can research which insurance panels have the most members in your state (it’s likely the big five: United Healthcare, Aetna, BlueCross BlueShield, Cigna, or Kaiser). While insurance companies don’t publicly post their reimbursement rates and many even ask members to not share their rates, you may be able to get an idea by emailing the insurance panel’s contracting department and asking for an estimate based on your license.

That brings up another point - even if you decide you’d like to become paneled with an insurance company, they may not accept your credentials, such as your license type. This is information many insurance companies have posted on their website. Before going through all the trouble of filling out an application or hiring someone to do so, ensure you can actually be paneled with the insurance company.

Update Your CAQH Information

CAQH is a website that almost all insurance companies utilize to complete your credentialing process. Your CAQH profile stores your license information, employment history, liability insurance, and more. It’s vital that this directory is updated with the following at minimum:


  • Your current workplace (where you’re trying to become credentialed at!)

  • Your last 5-10 years of employment history

  • Your most current license in the state you’re trying to become credentialed in

  • Your updated liability insurance


You should ensure your CAQH is up to date and accurate for insurance companies to be able to credential you without any delays.


Gather Your Records

Insurance panels, or at least your CAQH, will ask for several records. You’ll need either a picture of your license or a license verification printout and a copy of your current liability insurance, at minimum. You’ll also need your W9 for almost all insurance applications. If you don’t have copies of these records on hand, you’ll need to get them before you start your credentialing process!


We hope this blog post provided you some tips for getting started on your insurance credentialing journey as a mental health clinician! One of the easiest ways to get credentialed is to hire a professional to do it for you. At Therapy Practice Solutions, we can get you credentialed - and then take care of your emails, phone calls, social media, progress notes, and website design! You’ll have a hard time finding another credentialing company that does all of that, trust us! If you’re interested in meeting your new teammate, reach out today. We look forward to hearing from you!

Making Progress on Your Progress Notes

 Making Progress on Your Progress Notes

Written by Kelsey Someliana-Lauer, Virtual Assistant at Therapy Practice Solutions



Take a moment for reflection - what is your favorite part of being a mental health therapist? Chances are, you likely thought something along the lines of helping others, doing what I love, supporting a community, and so on. Now take a moment - what administrative task do you like the most? This is probably a harder answer. Maybe you like making your own social media, or writing your own blogs. Perhaps emails aren’t the bane of your existence. Out of all these answers - were progress notes on the list?


Not many mental health clinicians jump for joy over writing their progress notes. There are many reasons progress notes end up on the bottom of our “fun” list - they may feel tedious to write, you may be writing extremely long notes, or you may feel too busy in other aspects of your life. Regardless, writing progress notes is important for multiple reasons, including:


  • Being a refresher for your next session to remember what you discussed with your client

  • Keeping detailed records for higher-risk clients, such as those with severe depression

  • Maintaining HIPAA compliance by being able to produce notes if requested

Since progress notes are so important, what can be done to ease the burden of writing them? Here are three tips from the pros at Therapy Practice Solutions!

Use a Template

A template for note-taking is a huge time saver. If you use an EHR like SimplePractice or Theranest, there are note templates built into the library. If you don’t use an EHR or want to write hand-written notes, there are still templates available for you. It’s important to remember - progress notes should have some standard elements, such as a description of what was discussed, the therapeutic intervention used, what time the session was, a suicidality assessment, and so on.

Schedule Sessions 15 Minutes Apart

Picture this - you’ve worked eight hours today, and you’ve seen eight clients for one hour each. You’ve had back-to-back-to-back clients recounting their concerns, traumas, and week. At the end of the day, the last thing you want to do is write eight progress notes.


Instead of writing all of your progress notes at the end of the day, try scheduling fifteen minutes in-between clients to give yourself time to write your note. Even if you don’t get the whole note done in that time, it should give you a head start! While this may seemingly extend your workday, you’ll only have to write one progress note at the end of the day and be done.

Hire a Virtual Assistant

While writing a progress note feels daunting, dictating a progress note may not feel so bad! If you hire a HIPAA-informed Virtual Assistant, like those at Therapy Practice Solutions, you can record your note using a voice memo and send it securely to your assistant. The assistant can then enter the note into your template or EHR. Voila - your note is done, and you didn’t have to write at all! Of course, we always suggest you review and sign the note. Pairing this strategy with scheduling sessions 10-15 minutes apart means nearly nothing to do at the end of your day.


The folx at Therapy Practice Solutions would love to help you with your progress notes! Our Virtual Assistants can transcribe your audio versions of your notes. If this feels like a step you wouldn’t like to do, Assistants can instead offload your other administrative tasks, like returning calls and emails, insurance billing, and marketing, so you have more time in your day to complete your notes. Reach out today to see how we can help!

Goals for Mental Health Therapists in the Last Quarter

Written by Kelsey Someliana-Lauer, Therapy Practice Solutions Virtual Assistant

For mental health therapists, August tends to be a busier time: kids are returning to school, vacations are ending, and the holidays aren’t too far away, which all amounts to more clients at mental health practices. August is also the final month of the third quarter of the year. Aside from third quarter taxes being due on September 15th (you’re welcome, small business owners!), the beginning of the fourth quarter marks the final chunk of the year to achieve your 2022 goals.

Thus far in the year, you may have established your mental health practice’s brand and vision for the year. You most likely set goals for the number of clients seen per week and income. You’ve probably already made a budget and are more or less sticking to it. So, what’s left to do in the final quarter of the year?

If you are looking for some new goals to set for the last quarter, check out these three final quarter goals for mental health private practice owners!

Get Content Prepared for the Holidays

Though November and December seem so far away, it’s not too early to make a social media calendar for the holidays! The beginning of the fourth quarter is a great time to make social media content regarding seasonal depression, social anxiety related to holiday gatherings, family conflict, and so on. You can make your blog posts and social media graphics now, and just hold on to them until the months of November and December. You can also schedule them using a program like Facebook/Meta Business Suite and just forget about them!

Make a Plan for Caring for Clients During Holidays

If your mental health practice is like most medical offices during the holidays, you can anticipate tons of

cancellations as families are traveling, having their own celebrations, and taking vacations towards the

end of the year. September is the perfect time to make a game plan on how to deal with reduced income

due to those cancellations.


Similarly, you may be taking off time during the holiday! It’s better to begin sooner than later with your

holiday planning. Will you ask another therapist to be on call in case a client needs crisis help? You’ll

need to connect with a colleague, sign a BAA, and communicate with your clients regarding what

situations they can reach out to this trusted therapist for. Will you only check your email and phone at

certain hours of the day, or only once a week? You’ll need to let your clients know that. Will you be

canceling two weeks worth of sessions? Clients will need to know far enough in advance so they have a

chance to reschedule if necessary.


Think Ahead to the New Year


In the fourth quarter, one of your goals should be to write down what you did achieve this year and

what you didn’t quite get around to. Your wins and losses for 2022 should inform your goals for 2023!

It will be far easier in January for you as a mental health practice owner to set some Q1 goals if you

already have written reflections about what you need to aim for. Do yourself a favor in Q4 of 2022 by

writing down achievements as well as wishes as you notice them.


We hope this blog helps you begin thinking ahead to the fourth quarter of the year for goal setting as a

mental health practice owner! If you want some help achieving your goals, a Therapy Practice Solutions

Virtual Assistant is the perfect teammate. Virtual Assistants can help with social media content creations,

scheduling clients, returning phone calls/emails while you’re on vacation, and so much more. If you’d

like a teammate to help you make the most out of the fourth quarter, reach out today.We look forward to hearing from you!

Setting a Private Pay Rate in Your Practice

Written by Kelsey Someliana-Lauer, Therapy Practice Solutions Virtual Assistant


 Last month, we talked about the differences between an insurance-based practice and a private

pay only practice for mental health practitioners (if you missed that blog, check it out here!). If

you’ve got enough referral sources and are in an area with enough paying clients, private pay

could be a great way to make more money and keep your caseload down. Once you’ve decided

you’d like to have a private pay mental health private practice, the next step is to decide on your

rates.

Lost on what the first step is to decide what to charge your current and potential clients? Check

out these three tips on how to set your private pay rate as a mental health clinician!


Set A Rate That Supports You

One of the reasons many mental health therapists decide to go private pay is because

insurance companies can pay abysmally low rates (no offense, insurance companies). You may

find as an insurance-accepting provider that you have to accept twice as many clients just to

support yourself. The good news is, you can set your private pay rate to support yourself,

keeping your caseload manageable in the process!


Making a budget for both your personal finances and your business finances is the first big step

here. To know how much you need to make, you should know how much you spend! You’ll want

to account for:


● Monthly expenses of running your business (your EHR fees, rent, payroll for other

employees, your Virtual Assistant, etc.)

● Taxes to set aside for quarterly tax payments (likely between 25% and 35% of your

income)

● Personal monthly expenses (like your home mortgage/rent, health insurance, groceries,

utilities, etc.)


After you determine how much you need to make monthly, determine how many clients you’d

like to see. If you feel most supported by seeing 20 clients a week versus 35, set your rate

accordingly. Divide your overall monthly expenses by how many clients you’d like to see a

week, and you’ve got a clearer idea of what your private pay rate should be.


Set a Rate Similar to Local Mental Health Therapists

One element to consider is how much your competition (we’d like to think of them as allies!)

around you are charging. If most mental health practitioners are charging $150 per hour, clients

are likely going to find $300 per hour unappealing. There are multiple maps, like this one, that

show the median billed rate for clinicians in your surrounding area. Keep in mind some practices

are insurance-based and may be billing closer to their contracted rate with insurance, thus it

may be a little lower than private practices surrounding them.


Set a Rate that Considers Your Experience

Mental health clinicians in particular are uber empathetic people. We have a tendency to

accommodate clients even at the risk of putting ourselves at a disadvantage. This could look

like charging super low rates for all of our clients, regardless of ability to pay a higher rate (this

would be a great reason to utilize a sliding scale).


Remember - you’re a highly trained individual. You likely have a Master’s degree, years of

experience, and perhaps some extra training and credentials along the way. Consider your level

of experience and certifications when setting a rate! You may be able to charge higher if you:


● Have been in the field over 10 years

● Have EMDR, Brainspotting, or similar certification

● Have specialty training such as in eating disorder treatment

● Have expertise in a particular area that you can show


If you already have clients paying a certain rate and you receive a new certification, don’t be shy

about raising those rates! Explain to clients you’ve recently received a new certification and are

raising your rate by X amount accordingly. They’ll understand!


We hope this blog provided some clarity on how to set a private pay rate! If you’d like some

assistance in billing, client communication, advertising, and more, a Therapy Practice Solutions

Virtual Assistant would be happy to help! With all your new profit coming in, why not try out

someone who can offload all those administrative tasks for you? Reach out today to meet one

of our amazing VAs!

Treatment Barriers in the Mental Health Field

 Written by Kelsey Someliana-Lauer, Therapy Practice Solutions Virtual Assistant


July is BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month, founded by Bebe Moore Campbell after witnessing the treatment barriers her daughter faced while trying to seek out mental health treatment. While Campbell highlighted inadequate care in the BIPOC community specifically, difficulty accessing mental health treatment exists for all cultural groups in varying degrees. Why is that?

Treatment barriers are the main cause of individuals not receiving the care they need. A treatment barrier is any condition or factor that stands in the way of an individual receiving care. In the mental health field, there are multiple treatment barriers that can prevent an individual from even seeking out care, let alone receiving it. Across American communities, the percent of individuals who do not receive care due to barriers ranges from 44% to 70%.

As mental health clinicians, what treatment barriers should we look out for, and what can we do to increase accessibility? Check out just three examples and possible solutions below!

Mental Health Stigma

Mental health stigma, or the idea that seeking or receiving care is undesirable, exists across generations as well as cultural groups. For BIPOC individuals, stigma can be weaponized. Since 50% of those jailed display symptoms of a mental health condition and BIPOC individuals are jailed at disproportionately high rates, this leads many BIPOC individuals to fear legal repercussions if they seek mental health treatment. In other cultural groups, stigma still exists with the perception that receiving help makes someone “crazy.”

To reduce this barrier, clinicians and clients alike can work together to reduce mental health stigma. We can normalize going to therapy. We should also watch our use of language - for example, diagnoses like schizophrenia are so often portrayed as making someone a criminal or insane, so we should ensure we are not stigmatizing particular diagnoses.

Finance and Insurance Barriers

In America, 8.6% of people have no insurance coverage at all. Today, BIPOC individuals are less likely to be insured than their white counterparts. Even with insurance, 33% of individuals reported they could not find a provider that accepts their insurance coverage. While out of network services are usually an option, this usually requires clients to fulfill deductibles first, which could be thousands of dollars in fees.

As mental health clinicians, we can join insurance panels to increase accessibility. Additionally, we may consider providing a sliding scale for out of network clients - if a client cannot afford our private pay rate but also has no insurance, a sliding scale fee can reduce the budget burden on the client and make mental health support accessible for them.

Lack of Representation in the Field

86% of mental health providers currently in the workforce are white, meaning many cultural groups are lacking representation by providers. While clients can choose to see anyone they want, many who already feel stigmatized prefer to see someone in their own cultural group who may already understand beliefs, values, and traditions they hold. Additionally, not all providers are trained in multicultural care, thus we may cause more harm than good even unintentionally when providing care for someone outside of our cultural group.

One way to increase representation in the mental health field is to amplify BIPOC therapist voices. The more people who see themselves in the field, the more they may want to join the field themselves. If you are a BIPOC clinician yourself, creating content such as starting an Instagram page may be a way to increase exposure and content for potential BIPOC clients who otherwise would not seek out mental health therapy.

We hope this blog helps highlight some prevalent treatment barriers in the mental health field as well as provides some potential strategies to reduce those barriers! If you are a clinician passionate about increasing accessibility for all clients, let us help you. By offboarding your administrative, social media, and billing tasks, you’ll have more time to devote to destigmatizing mental health, consider your rates and insurance accessibility, and making or promoting content from others. If you’re interested in getting some free time and helping some folks along the way, reach out today. We look forward to hearing from you!