Why Every Therapist in Private Practice Needs a Telehealth Option
July 10, 2018
Today we have Evan Center of The Center Institute weighing in on why every provider should use telemental health. Evan has a successful practice in Bozeman, MT counseling adolescents and also coaches other therapists on how to optimize and grow their practices through her Institute.
Why Every Therapist in Private Practice Needs a Tele-therapy Option.
By Evan Center,
I was recently talking with Harrison Tyner of Wecounsel, a tele-health software provider, about the applications of tele-health and I realized that most the therapists I know probably have never even thought about adding tele-therapy services to their menu of offerings. Maybe this is because many therapists don’t know how to incorporate this relatively new technology into their practices, or they are unsure of how to use it. But either way, with therapists I know who are not using tele-therapy, and it’s not just because they are all doing just fine in their in-person practice. Tele-therapy can make a difference in both new and established practices.
Now, I am not a tele-therapist strictly speaking. I have an in-person private practice in Bozeman, Montana. But other than that, my practice is not traditional.
Just like most other therapists, I started without tele-therapy services too. But my practice also didn’t do much for the first year or two that I was running it. And I am not saying that you just need tele-therapy offerings and then you’ll take off – that is decidedly not the case. Rather, if you do what you need to do in order to have a thriving practice, you will get to a point where you realize that many of your clients are going to have times when they need to work with you remotely. Or you are going to have times when you need to work with them remotely. As you develop and understand your niche better, there may be other services that you realize you’d like to offer in order to promote healthy outcomes. For me, tele-therapy was a piece of the practice puzzle, along with sound practice management, that has allowed my practice to thrive and for my clients to report feeling really supported through the process.
For me, the tele-therapy turning point was when I got really clear on my client population. I’d stopped accepting insurance and I’d decided that my ideal clients were teens and young adults whose parents were wanting to be a part of the process. That led me to consider how exactly to involve the parents. While I continued to meet with the adolescents one-on-one much of the time, I began to think about ways that I could share information and provide support to the parents in a way that made sense for them – they are working adults for the most part, and I wanted a way to reach them that was anonymous for them, convenient, and useful. I had also identified a common theme: the parents felt like they were the only ones going through these challenges and yet I found myself conveying the same information over and over again to many families. So a few years ago, I began offering a monthly parent support group that is run virtually. Once a month I share a bit of developmental or parenting information with the parents on the line and then I open it up for discussion and Q&A. Parents can be as anonymous as they’d like with each other (though I know who is on the line), but they also get to hear what other parents are asking, what they’re struggling with, what is coming up with their teens. It ends up being tremendously normalizing. This simple telehealth method added a whole other level to my practice and made my client engagements more dynamic.
In the practices of the therapists I’ve coached, the tele-therapy offerings have differed widely. But generally, once therapists begin to think outside the insurance-dictated bounds and consider what they believe will be most clinically beneficial to their clients, supports outside weekly session are on the list. Tele-therapy is one way to make that happen. That said, there are now at least 22 states that require private insurers to cover tele-health services and the number of states has been rising in the last several years.
Getting really clear on who you serve and then offering them the best care available will make you a stand out in your community (or even in your state — I have clients from communities hours away who work with me both in person and using tele-therapy). That is how I have a full practice of private pay clients. Simply having tele-therapy offerings won’t do that for you, but being the best AND having tele-therapy options as a part of that will fill your practice.
So, if you’ve got the tele-therapy tech in place already, you are on the right track. There is a lot to consider and a lot to learn. Now make sure you have a plan to bring in clients and keep them coming in. If you’re not sure how to do that, start here http://centerinstitute.com/overview, with Center Institute’s free Referral System Template.
Evan Center, LCPC is a therapist and business coach based in Bozeman, MT. She has a thriving private practice working part time and grossing over 5-figures every month. Wish you could do that too? Evan teaches therapists around the country how to do what she’s done in their own practices. Learn more at www.centerinstitute.com