Therapy Practice Solutions
Crushing Your Consultation Calls
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.
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!
Written by Kelsey Someliana-Lauer, Therapy Practice Solutions Virtual Assistant
Research Who You Want, and Who Wants You
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!
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
Use a TemplateA 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.
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.
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!
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
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
● Personal monthly expenses (like your home mortgage/rent, health insurance, groceries,
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!
Written by Kelsey Someliana-Lauer, Therapy Practice Solutions Virtual Assistant
Mental Health StigmaMental 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.”
Finance and Insurance BarriersIn 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.
Lack of Representation in the Field86% 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.