How did this pandemic impact you as a therapist?
We are all being thrown for a loop right now: therapists everywhere are being challenged in more ways than ever before. COVID has caused much harm, but, as with any negative, we have to be able to look for the positives. And as therapists, there are many positives if we look for them!
I have been doing teletherapy for years. I myself am even a client of an online therapist! I’m passionate about helping people find the right teletherapist (I even wrote an article for US News and World Report on the subject). I believe in the opportunities online therapy provides in making your services more accessible, and in expanding your reach farther than you ever thought possible.
COVID has opened up your opportunities to expand online
Clients are more interested in teletherapy, stress rates are higher than ever, and insurance companies are becoming more eager to reimburse for teletherapy. The stars are, in a weird way, aligning for therapists. That’s why I’ve written this two-part blog to help you take advantage of these opportunities, and help more people by doing what you love!
How To Expand Your Practice During Covid
1. Call Your Clients
Phone your clients whose cases are still open! You might feel hesitant to do this: will you come across as pushy, or desperate?
|But remember that patient care is a priority. It is good, ethical practice, especially during stressful times, to reach out and check in on your clients.|
Offer them the opportunity to start teletherapy with you: even if they’ve been resistant to the idea before, this is the best way you’ll be able to help them.
You might notice that a lot of your clients are afraid that video therapy won’t be covered by their insurance. I recommend starting a new program, but only if your practice has a biller that files claims every day. Reassure your clients that your office is filing every day. Let them know that if their claim is not getting reimbursed at the normal rate because it was for a video session, you will not pursue them for any out-of-pocket responsibility on that session, or any session that they've had up until the point you learned this information.
Remind them that 99% of insurance companies are now paying telehealth claims, so it’s most likely they’ll discover the claims are paid. If for any reason, it’s not, your client will know you have this program in place. This is a great way to motivate clients to start teletherapy by practically addressing their concerns, allowing them to continue the important work they’ve been doing with you.
|Helpful Tip: This is an example of why I always recommend having a biller on staff-even if your clients are all out of network, private pay like mine. This would make it easier for you to make this reassurance because you know you have someone filing every day.
I also have a biller to help clients get their out-of-network insurance benefits, because high functioning, private pay clients are financially savvy. They like to get their benefits. Wondering how to get a good biller? You can read my advice in my blog post about it!
2. Consider an Online Summit
An online summit can be a great chance to connect with people outside of your network by speaking alongside other professionals. Format your summit so that each of your guests will have 15 minutes to speak. Look for anyone who has something interesting to say about COVID (or whatever topic you choose!):
- Personal trainers can give fitness tips for staying fit and reducing stress.
- Interior designers can provide design tips for making your space feel fresh. By rearranging your space, you can even trick your brain into thinking you are somewhere new!
- Even divorce attorneys can talk about the rising rates of divorce during quarantine.
- School professionals can discuss returning to work
- Parents can talk about the difficulties of living with kids during the pandemic
- Online tutors
The goal of this summit is to connect with people who have their own networks outside of your practice: have guest speakers agree that they will share your event with their networks, and you’ll be spreading your name and information to an entirely new community!
Another option is to hold an online open house event. Invite old clients, current clients, family, friends, even your manicurist! The point is to get as many people to register as possible, and you can simultaneously collect emails for your mailing list and spread the word about your awesome services. Another bonus? Your clients who might be nervous about online therapy get the chance to connect with you online and get a feel for what it might be like to be on video with you.
3. Expand your Network
The current pandemic is an extraordinarily unfortunate event, and I wouldn’t want anyone to think that I am happy that it happened. I do, however, think that one way we can collectively get through this is to continually look for the positives.
Normally, we are bound by the constraints of location: typically our only pool for clients would be those within driving distance. Now, we have so many opportunities to meet with more people from our entire zone of licensure.
With teletherapy, we can meet with someone within the same state who lives hours away from our physical practice.
|We are able to help and assist more people than ever before,
in a time where having positive mental health is as important as ever.
Once you’ve committed to expanding your virtual practice, congratulate yourself for taking a step forward! It’s an exciting, and, at times, nerve-wracking process, but the benefits you and your clients will reap far outweigh any anxiety.