Therapy Practice Solutions

Private Pay Versus Insurance: What Works For Your Mental Health Private Practice?

 Private Pay Versus Insurance: What Works For Your Mental Health Private Practice?


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



Opening up a private practice to perform mental health therapy is a big deal. There are so many details to sort out - many of them fun, like picking a name, designing a logo, browsing color palettes, and launching a website. Some other details, however, may be a little more anxiety-inducing. One big detail many mental health counselors starting their own practice struggle with is the decision to accept insurance or be an out-of-network, or private pay, practice only.

Each therapist has their own reason for their choice to accept insurance or not. For example, many therapists choose to accept insurance to promote opportunities for those who could otherwise not afford to attend therapy. Other practices choose to only accept private pay clients because insurance needs major reform in their reimbursement for providers.

If you haven’t picked if you’d like to accept insurance or go totally private pay in your practice, check out these considerations:

Do You Need More Referral Sources?

One major advantage of accepting insurance is being listed in insurance directories. Not only do insurance panels themselves use these directories to recommend providers for inquiring insurance members, but other helping professionals utilize them when performing case management to make referrals.  If you accept insurance, you’re likely to have more potential clients off the bat due to being referred by more people. However, you can still utilize other directories, like Psychology Today or Inclusive Therapists, even if you choose not to accept insurance.

Are Private Pay Clients Available in Your Area?

Not every therapist works in an area overflowing with available clients, and there are generally less private pay clients available across the board! There are some areas where income is typically higher and clients may be more willing to pay out of pocket for care. There are other areas, however, where individuals are depending on their insurance to cover their mental health expenses as high out of pocket rates are simply out of reach. One way you can assess the likelihood of obtaining private pay clients is by checking the median billed rate for common CPT codes near you. Here is a map that can help you out with that!  Simply put, areas that can charge higher rates are generally those with more private pay clients available.  If you’re not in an area with many private pay clients, you may want to accept some insurances to fill your caseload.


Are You Prepared for the Credentialing Process?

I have yet to hear of a counseling or social work program that shows clinicians, step by step, how to become credentialed. Chances are, you’ll need to do some research: what insurance panels will accept your license and level of licensing? What panels pay a rate that you’ll accept? What panels are taking on new practitioners? What information will you need to gather to apply for credentialing in your state?

Insurance panels vary greatly on how long credentialing takes, with some panels being able to credential you in one or two months and other panels taking six months to a year to finish the process. To become credentialed, most insurance panels will have their form and process posted on their website. If you’re unclear on the steps, most insurance panels have a provider services number you can call to ask for clarification.

If these steps sound like more trouble than they’re worth, private pay may be a good option for you. If you have time to wait for credentialing to be completed and have the appropriate licensing to be accepted, insurance may be a good route.

At the end of the day, the decision to become credentialed with insurance panels or to instead be completely private pay is up to you. The good news is: you can always change your mind later! If you start out with private pay and aren’t getting enough clients, simply apply for credentialing. If you are unhappy with the insurance you accept, you can always decide to de-credential yourself. Whatever your choice, Therapy Practice Solutions is here to help with credentialing, billing, insurance verification, and more. Reach out today to get paired with your new teammate. We look forward to hearing from you!




Marketing for Your Mental Health Niche

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

You’ve finally found your niche - and if you haven’t, check out our last blog here.  You have a clear idea of who you want to serve and what presenting concerns they have. You’ve even done a training or two to make sure you have marketable skills in treating that population. Now, there’s only one thing left - it’s time to get some of your niche clients!


If you’re unsure of where to even start when it comes to marketing for your mental health niche, check out these tips below on marketing for your niche.


Utilize Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

One of our best tools in marketing in Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. Unfortunately, one of the things that is least understood is also SEO. For a primer on Search Engine Optimization, check out one of our favorite guides here. As a rundown, SEO is how search engines, like Google, Bing, or Yahoo, direct searchers to the correct site. If your site has the proper SEO in place, you’re more likely to come up when someone searches the relevant keywords.

To market for your niche, you’ll need to determine what keywords your niche client is using. One of the best ways to see what people are searching is by using a tool like Keywords Everywhere. This tool shows you how many people a month are searching for keywords relevant to you. If you know what your clients are searching, you can put those keywords both on your webpage and in the settings of your webpage to show up in more searches and therefore attract more clients.

For example, let’s say your niche client is millennials navigating their gender identity. With a keywords tool, you may discover that clients are searching “gender affirmative counseling near me,” “LGBTQ counselors,” “inclusive therapist,” and “gender identity counseling.” With this information, you can make sure your website’s “About” page mentions you’re a gender-affirming, inclusive therapist who loves working with LGBTQ+ clients. Now, search engines are picking up on those keywords and directing relevant clients to your site.

Make Marketing Material For Your Niche

Mental health clinicians should have an online presence - more on those benefits here. Since you’re already running an Instagram and/or a Facebook to cultivate that online presence, you might as well make material specifically for your niche population.

For example, if your niche is individuals with chronic pain and a co-occurring disorder, you may want to make material covering depression in the chronic pain community, holistic wellness, rates of substance use among those with chronic pain, and more. You probably don’t want to make a post about the benefits of crossfit, or how much you don’t like pain management medications.

Network with Other Professionals in Your Niche

Networking is a great and underutilized way to find referrals! If you have a private practice, one of the first things you should do is search for other providers in the same niche in your area. Although it’s easy to view other mental health counselors as competition, it’s far better to have a mindset shift and view fellow providers as referral sources for when you’re on a waitlist and vice versa.


Aside from other therapists, medical offices are great places to network. If your niche is children with ADHD, pediatricians are great to meet. If your niche is women with postpartum depression, OBGYN offices are the place to be. See other medical professionals as friends!


We hope this blog helps you market for your ideal client! If you’d like help making marketing materials, adding SEO to your webpage, or sending out flyers to local doctor’s offices, our niche is helping you. A Therapy Practice Solutions’s Virtual Assistant would love to schedule some of your ideal clients with you. Reach out today using our contact page to schedule a consultation and meet your new teammate. We look forward to hearing from you!


Finding Your Mental Health Niche

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


When May rolls around, mental health therapists rejoice: it’s Mental Health Awareness Month!  May is all about eliminating the mental health stigma, showing those who need support that help is out there, and an extra-focused effort on marketing.  If you’re extra-excited about offering support to others this month and want to market your services to them, it may help to have a niche.

In the mental health world, a niche means choosing 1 or 2 treatment areas that you’ve decided you want to specialize in serving.  There are a variety of niches to choose from - childhood trauma, eating disorders, millennials making life transitions, gamer girls, Baby Boomers experiencing addiction … if you can think of it (and if someone experiences it), it can be a niche.

Do you know your niche? If not, here are some tips on how to find your niche, just in time for Mental Health Awareness Month.

Name What You’re Passionate About Treating

If you’re a brand new therapist, this may be a little more difficult.  However, if you’ve had a little time to see a variety of clients with numerous presenting problems, you may begin to get an idea about who you’re passionate about serving.  Maybe you’ve decided trauma cases hit too close to home, but you get so excited to talk to your clients with personality disorders.  Or maybe you don’t feel that spark from treating anxiety or depression, but really feel a fire for helping those with eating disorders. 

Name Who You’re Passionate About Serving

After you have a clear idea on what presenting problems really make you excited, think about the demographic you enjoy serving.  Do you like working with children, or are you more of an adults-only kind of clinician? Is there a certain spiritual, ethnic/racial, gender, or sexual orientation you feel especially equipped to treat? Maybe you enjoy clients with multiple marginalized identities and want to focus on intersectionality?  Try to determine what age range and cultural factors you really click with to get an idea of your ideal client.


*Please note - we definitely aren’t suggesting turning someone away based on their cultural identity; this

is just to help you identify your ideal client to help with marketing efforts!


Name What You’re Qualified For


Let’s say you have a clear idea of what presenting problem you feel comfortable treating, and who your ideal client is.  Now - are you trained in that area?  For example, if your ideal client is a teenage female-identified person with an eating disorder, are you equipped to treat eating disorders and work with teenagers?  If you enjoy coaching biracial married couples through conflict, do you have any special marriage counseling qualifications, and are you trained in multicultural competencies?  If you have a clear idea of who and what you want to serve, make sure you’re trained and qualified to do so!


Having a niche is a great way to ensure you’re providing excellent service to your clients.  At Therapy Practice Solutions, our niche is therapists who don’t want to do all the admin work anymore!  If you’re looking for a professional to take over insurance billing, social media marketing, communication with clients, scheduling, website design, and more, reach out to us today using our website www.therapypracticesolutions.com.  We look forward to hearing from you!

Types of Stress Impacting Mental Health Therapists

 

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



As a mental health therapist, you’re more than familiar with stress. Chances are, you talk about stress all day long - stress due to work, stress in a marriage, stress from a family situation, stress about identity … the list goes on! You’re also familiar with the best strategies to relieve stress - you’ve told clients about self-care, shared your knowledge about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and taught a healthy coping mechanism or two (or a hundred).  You feel you should be the most prepared to deal with stress - but what happens when you yourself feel the pressure?

Mental health practitioners experience stress from multiple sides.  Some types of stress practitioners experience are unique to a helping field, meaning others outside of a health and wellness field may not be experiencing it.  Check out the rest of this blog to see what kind of stress may be impacting you.

Compassion Fatigue

Compassion fatigue, or vicarious stress, occurs when we are constantly exposed to the stress of others and we take on that burden ourselves.  Mental health therapists are prime targets of compassion fatigue - we sit all day taking on the emotional impact of our clients.  This is especially true of clinicians that work with clients that experience high levels of trauma.  Just some of the impacts of compassion fatigue include sleep disturbances, PTSD, existential despair, identity confusion, impaired judgment, isolation, and more.

Burnout

If you’ve been in the field for awhile and are in a fast-paced, large caseload, exhausting environment, you’re likely to have experienced burnout.  Even if you aren’t in an anxiety-inducing environment, you’re likely to have experienced the symptoms of burnout at some time if your self-care isn’t on point.  Burnout, as compared to compassion fatigue, is the gradual process where enthusiasm turns to apathy and we no longer feel excited to come into work.  Burnout still has some nasty consequences - we experience exhaustion, lack of emotions, isolation, and reduced sense of importance or joy in work.

Stress from Balancing Roles

Though this kind of stress may not be unique to the mental health field, counselors are far more than just people who sit and talk to clients all day.  Mental health therapists not only have face-to-face client interactions, but are responsible for case management such as connecting clients to other resources.  Clinicians also fill out documentation such as treatment plans, assessments, and progress notes.  If you’re a therapist that runs their own practice all alone, you’re a clinician, a business owner, an office manager, a tax preparer, a professional cleaner, a marketer, a graphic designer, and more.  Whew - did you get tired just reading that list?

If you’re experiencing stress from managing multiple roles, from not having enough self-care, or from never getting a break, we can help. Reach out to Therapy Practice Solutions today so you can offload tax prep, reading emails and answering phones, making social media graphics, writing blogs, scheduling clients, verifying insurance, billing, and more - so you’re one step closer to just being a business owner and a clinician. Check us out at https://www.therapypracticesolutions.com/services today. We look forward to hearing from you!





Stress Awareness Month: Reducing the Stress in Your Private Practice

Written by Kelsey Someliana-Lauer, Therapy Practice Solutions VA 


While April may be Stress Awareness Month, many small business owners feel stress all year round.  Business owners, compared to other employees, report higher levels of both stress and worry.  Among mental health clinicians specifically, up to 61% of clinicians show signs of burnout - one of which is intense stress (if you want to learn more about burnout, check out our blog about it here).  With these stats, it’s no wonder why you may be feeling some stress - or a lot of stress - if you’re a mental health clinician running your own private practice.



How can mental health professionals who run their own practice cope with stress? Check out three of our top tips below on how to shift from stress away from managing your private practice.

Utilize an Electronic Health Record (EHR)

An Electronic Health Record, or EHR, is a key way to organize your practice and reduce stress.  An EHR is a software that typically assists with storing client files, keeping documentation neat, insurance billing, client payments, scheduling, and more.  There are a variety of EHRs on the market currently - just some examples are Theranest, SimplePractice, TherapyNotes, and TherapyAppointment.  Utilizing an EHR cuts down on stress as EHRs streamline the less-fun features of running your own practice (hello, filling out insurance claims!).

Customize Your Schedule and Rates

One of the reasons many mental health clinicians start their own practice is for better hours and better compensation.  However, clinicians often fall into the pattern of compromising schedules and payments in the beginning of their practice to get any and all clients they can.  While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can lead to stress as you suddenly find yourself stuck in the same long days and low wages you left your previous job because of. 

As a mental health clinician, like any other professional, you deserve to be compensated well for your specialized skills and continuous training.  Determine what the going rate is for similarly trained professionals in your area, and don’t be afraid to charge that rate.  Similarly, don’t be afraid to have set hours and stick to them - you’ll rarely, if ever, find a doctor’s office that will come in two hours before opening to accommodate a single client.

Start a Team

Doing it all on your own is stressful! If your practice has grown to the extent you can handle on your own, you can expand in multiple ways.  If you’ve got a waitlist, consider adding another clinician (or two!) to accommodate more clients.  If you already have a group practice but you’re caught up in administrative tasks, consider hiring a practice manager to take care of things for you.  If you just need someone to take over social media, website development, insurance billing, client communication, and scheduling, a virtual assistant would be perfect for you.


We get it - starting a practice or just keeping it going can be extremely stressful.  This April, don’t let stress be your enemy - offload some of that worry!  A Therapy Practice Solutions Virtual Assistant can help you transfer your paper files to a new EHR, keep your schedule and billing in check, and so much more.  If you want to build your team by adding someone who can take all those administrative tasks without being added to your payroll (not to mention, who doesn’t require benefits), reach out today to meet your perfect match.  We look forward to hearing from you!

Websites and More: Do Therapists Need an Online Presence?

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


Picture this: you’ve graduated from your Mental Health Counseling Master’s program.  You’ve spent a few years in agency-type settings and felt it wasn’t for you.  You’ve even tried your hand in someone else’s group practice, but you feel like you have some ideas and specialty areas that would really work well in a solo setting.  It’s finally time - you want to take the leap to a solo mental health therapy private practice!  After Googling endlessly about PLLC’s and taxes and business bank accounts, you’re left with one thing - making your social media presence.  Uh oh.


The idea of making weekly social media graphics and designing a whole website may have you thinking - do I even need a website? What does social media even do for me?  Is it worth it as a mental health therapist?  Therapy Practice Solutions is here to tell you - an online presence is everything!  Check out these three ways having a presence online will drive clients to your practice:


Websites Make Everything More Official … And More Findable!

Websites are just one way to make your practice look not only more established, but more present when a client searches you on Google.  Let’s face it - if you only have a Psychology Today page, you’re not likely to pop up when someone searches for “mental health counseling near me”.  However, having a website, especially one with your specialty area in the title, can help clients find you far easier.  For example, if you specialize in counseling for women with anxiety, having a website called “The Anxious Woman Counselor” is almost sure to pop up when someone Googles “counseling for women anxiety” in their search bar.  If you need some website inspiration, check out these examples.


Blogs Boost your Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

If you want to add more keywords to your website, having a blog is the way to go.  Blogs boost your rankings in Google, especially when they’re loaded for keywords.  For example, if you’re a relationship counselor, having a blog with the words “relationship counseling,” “fighting,” “conflict,” “marriage,” and “spouse” will key in Google to include you in searches about relationship counseling.  If you’re interested in learning more about Search Engine Optimization and what that could look like for you, check this out.


Instagram, Facebook, and Podcasts, Oh My!

While social media doesn’t tend to be clinician’s number one source of gaining referrals, these modes of communication, just like blogs and websites, help you to get found online.  Podcasts or videos on YouTube are especially findable when a potential client Googles your name or subject area.  Infographics can be used on other forms of social media to further prove your expertise in an area, not to mention to reach a wider audience than just counseling would provide.  Visual social media, like Instagram and Facebook, are most effective when hashtags are properly employed.  For the best chance of reaching potential clients, you should include about 30 hashtags at the bottom of your posts.  If hashtags make you #confused, check out this post about maximizing your social media efforts.


Regardless of your chosen form of social media (we suggest all three!), it’s important to cultivate your social media presence in a day and age when most clients are finding their mental health therapist online.  At Therapy Practice Solutions, we are offering free website mockups in the month of March.  If this is what you’ve been waiting for, don’t hesitate to reach out to us about your free website mockup.  We can also help with blogs and social media - after we get that website up and running, that is!  We look forward to hearing from you!