The perfect schedule for you and your practice. Have you found it?
As a result of a year of providing therapy to clients through video and phone sessions, the structure of private practice is changing. The widespread use of teletherapy during this time of stay-at-home orders has brought with it many new opportunities, ideas, and possibilities for therapists as well as an increase in clients and income—and for many, the first time they’ve had a full practice.
Providing teletherapy certainly has had its learning curve and challenges, however, one of the main gifts it’s brought to psychotherapists who have exclusively been doing therapy with phone and video sessions, is that of more scheduling flexibility.
No longer bound by office hours, location, driving time or taking the time to park or find a place to park, practitioners have offered earlier sessions and later sessions in the day and evening. This small change has allowed professionals to accommodate a wider variety of clients than they normally would—and both therapists and clients have benefitted from this increased range of times available to book for therapy appointments, and clients have responded by booking them.
Another surprising benefit from teletherapy turns out to be that therapists are now routinely working with clients out of their local area but still within the state. The result? Most have full caseloads and are having to refer clients to other therapists. Who knew that a full practice would be the result of teletherapy and stay-at-home orders!
After the past year of providing teletherapy, mental health professionals understand that virtual services are now part of the psychotherapy universe—in both private practice and agency work.
While teletherapy isn’t for everyone, all the time, what’s emerging is that about 15 percent of therapists who previously only worked with clients in person are planning to continue exclusively working with clients virtually using video and phone platforms. Yes, their offices will only be virtual.
Another 15 percent of psychotherapists are declaring that when the widespread need for teletherapy ends they will exclusively work in person from their offices and will rarely, if ever, utilize video or the phone for client sessions. The remaining 70 percent of mental health professionals are making it known that their practices will be hybrid ones—offering in-person in office therapy as well as video and phone sessions. These practitioners like the best of both worlds.
Those therapists who report that they’ll continue to provide teletherapy services state that they like the convenience of working from home or in any location, the ability to choose from more flexible windows of time during which they can schedule client sessions, the extra time saved from not commuting along with lower business overhead expenses.
It’s also important to mention the benefit of working virtually with clients who live in the state but not within driving distance to the therapist’s locale. These additional clients have added a new segment to the people that therapists can now work with in their practice since the available technology makes providing services possible.
It’s also become apparent to therapists that the use of teletherapy has also made counseling and psychotherapy services accessible to a whole new group of clients who weren’t previously utilizing therapy—those who weren’t willing or able to travel to an office location whether it be for lack of time or transportation or for physical or emotional or psychological reasons.
It’s opened up a whole new population for therapists to serve. Needless to say, these clients are filling spaces in therapy practices. This population is one of the reasons that psychotherapists have had full practices for most of the past year. Therapists don’t want to stop providing services to this client population both for the clients’ sake as well as that of their practice.
Another gift from providing teletherapy services besides an increased number of referrals and clients, is increased therapist confidence. Since more people have been calling about therapy services and have become clients, therapists have experienced an increase in confidence that their practice can be, and might possibly continue to be, filled. This also translates to an increase in income for the practitioner who is seeing more clients, and a willingness to make minor changes in scheduling that benefit their quality of life and work life balance.
Have you changed any of your session time availability? Do you work earlier or later than you would if you were seeing clients solely in office? Do you take breaks or longer breaks in between client sessions? Would you like to change the days or number of hours you see clients now that you’ve had a year to experience teletherapy and having a full practice? If you could have your perfect schedule of days and hours seeing clients without any loss of income what would it be? How many clients would you see each day? Each week?
These are all things that are worth thinking about. Allow yourself to consider your perfect schedule, your perfect practice, your perfect number of clients, your perfect day, your perfect week, your perfect month, your perfect year. Your perfect life.
Let’s see what the next year brings as we harvest the opportunities that come to us through our practice of therapy. Stay tuned!
Lynne Azpeitia, LMFT, AAMFT Approved Supervisor, is in private practice in Santa Monica where she works with Couples and Gifted, Talented, and Creative Adults across the lifespan. Lynne’s been doing business and clinical coaching with mental health professionals for more than 15 years, helping them develop even more successful careers and practices. To learn more about her in-person and online services, workshops or monthly no-cost Online Networking & Practice Development Lunch visit www.Gifted-Adults.com orwww.LAPracticeDevelopment.com.
Lynne Azpeitia, LMFT
For 10+ years Lynne Azpeitia has helped therapists to live richer and happier lives through her workshops, private practice and career coaching, and her practice consultation groups which train, support, and coach licensed therapists, interns & students how to create and maintain a successful, thriving clinical practice and a profitable career