Preparing for Your Future

by Lynn Grodzki, Private Practice Success Newsletter, May 2015

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In March 2015, I presented at the prestigious Psychotherapy Networker Symposium as part of a panel titled “The Future of Private Practice.” LISTEN TO FREE AUDIO

Each of the 4 experts gave a Ted-style talk: a 20-minute focused snapshot of their take on the most critical economic and social forces shaping today’s practices.

When I wasn’t on stage, I listened and took careful notes to pass along to you. Here is what I heard, in the order of the speakers on the panel (my talk was second and I have added the link to audio there as promised):

1. “Therapy on the Run”by Ofer Zur

Ofer Zur, whom many readers may know from his workshops and writings (http://www.zurinstitute.com) offered a checklist of 68 business “key ingredients” — in rapid pace during the 20 minutes he had to speak! Her is making his checklist available to my readers, see it HERE.

He started by asking if people felt like business owners or just clinicians; then he asked the audience to identify their areas of expertise. He differentiated between passion—where your heart is—versus your areas of expertise, because these are not always the same.

His checklist included the need for budgeting money, tracking data, getting office help, maintaining secure records, and risk avoidance in terms of ethical violations.

The last topic is one near and dear to Ofer, who works as a forensic psychologist concerning ethics. To avoid risk, he recommends that you have forms (ones that you create for this purpose) covering any unusual practices (willingness to see family members of an individual client, ability to confer with outside therapists on a case, etc.) and get them signed, to eliminate any misunderstandings between you and your primary clients. Explain how you work, set your boundaries and policies, and then back it all up with written forms.

He said that one of the top risk management issues that land therapists in court are those that push a therapist outside of the scope of work –writing custody letters to support one parent over another tops the list. “Don’t write any letters or documents putting you in a role outside of the normal scope of your work.”

Ofer strongly advises therapists go back to basics and balance online marketing with tried and true community outreach. Early in his career, he built a full practice quickly after giving a series of public talks on an issue that was affecting families and children in his locale—domestic violence. His first talk was on “Fighting and Loving.” Even though his talk was somewhat controversial because he addressed the role of the woman in domestic violence, this immediately helped establish him as an expert in the community, led to other talks, and eventually filled his practice.

2. “Navigating the New Psychotherapy Marketplace” by Lynn Grodzki

For my 20-minute talk, I first gave an overview of the change in the therapy market and some promising news: The numbers of people needing therapy is growing, due to Obamacare, a growing acceptance of therapy, and mental health parity.

A big, new, expanding market is opening up right now for helping professionals. But most of these new clients are finding their therapist from the Internet and as such, present some new challenges for their providers.

I talked about both the opportunities and challenges this market presents, and for the bulk of my talk I focused on the 3 top skills you need to reach and retain these new clients and make your work relevant.

The skills I outlined are:
• Negotiation
• Persuasion
• Anticipation

I showed how these are both business and clinical skills –and gave case examples to explain and highlight the application of each skill. You can hear it all, I have posted my 20-minute talk right here: LISTEN TO FREE AUDIO

3. “Creating a Brand for Your Practice” by Joe Bavonese

Joe Bavonese (www.uncommonpractices.com) is a specialist in Internet marketing and also consults on group practices. In this talk, which he immediately said would be less about branding and more about business essentials, he traced his own route in private practice from uncertainty to prosperity.

Joe became a model of a therapist who embraces a business mindset and skillset, using organizational systems to streamline his group practice. He spent considerable time and money learning how to market online effectively. Along the way, he also learned how to manage others and be a boss.

He was willing to try anything that might work and see opportunities and abundance. Joe admitted that not everything he has tried succeeds, but it is his willingness to respond to change.

One application was his ability to learn about Internet marketing. He studied business, and was willing to capitalize his business in a way that many therapists will not (many believe that a private practice should be run on a shoestring.) He spoke about the “lifetime value of a referral” how much the average client brings to a practice and what would you be willing to pay for this. He developed systems for every aspect of his practice.

Joe emphasized that Internet marketing is about getting found. Most searches are now happening by cell phones and to help your website get found, it must be mobile friendly. Google will now penalize your ranking if it is not.

How to be mobile friendly: Go to this Google link:
https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/
and put in your website domain to analyze if your website is mobile friendly. If it is not, don’t despair. It might be an easy fix, just installing a “plug-in” or at most, you may need to get some help from a web designer to shift the template to make it work with a phone format.

4. “Learning the Language of Integrative Health” by Rubin Naiman

Rubin’s message about the future was clear: Therapists need to stay part of medical care, now more than ever since so many illnesses have a psychological component.

We have to develop a shared language of health and wellness to be able to talk with and educate physicians. Rubin should know, he is a member of an Arizona Center for Integrated Medicine with Dr. Andrew Weil.

Rubin makes a distinction between illness and disease. Disease is a measure, illness is the experience. Therapists speak to the personal, subjective experience of feeling sick. Psychotherapy brings to healthcare the concept that patients “can be sick in a healthy way.”

He encourages a dialogue between therapists and physicians about body and mind experience. Most psychotherapy is symptom expressive, where medicine is symptom suppressive.

Therapists need to learn the language of medicine, attend grand rounds at the hospital, read medical literature, and call clients “patients”. We need to help doctors understand our needed role in health and wellness.

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Hope this is helpful, to hear more from the Networker Symposium, go to the recordings at their website:

http://www.psychotherapynetworker.org/symposium/2015/workshops/#loaded

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