Jul 13, 2020
In this Best Of Telehealth episode, we feature four previous guests who know about running a successful virtual private practice. You will hear from Clay Cockrell, Jonathan Van Viegen, Jeremy Zug, and Danielle Blessing Taylor. The four speak about various topics like the importance of having a website and how to work with clients internationally. Plus, they give tips and tricks on making your virtual private practice run smoothly. As COVID is still among us, now is the time to think about how we will continue to serve clients virtually.
Clay Cockrell, LCSW is a therapist based in New York City and is the founder of several counseling oriented endeavors. Most recently he is the founder of Onlinecounselling.com – a listing directory with the mission of helping clients all over the world to find the therapist or life coach that will best meet their needs. The site also works through their educational resources and podcasts to help counselors work online in an ethical, responsible, and legal manner. A majority of proceeds from the site are donated to non-profit arts. Clay started his career as the creator of Walk and Talk Therapy (www.walkandtalk.com).
The first question therapists will have licensure. Who can you work with? Back in the day, there weren’t a lot of regulations. People will think if you’re sitting in New York, then the therapy is happening in New York. However, that’s not how it works. The only thing that matters is where your client is sitting. Is your client sitting in Nebraska? Then that’s where you need to be licensed.
There is a caveat. What about people outside of the United States? There is a massive mental health need all over the world. It would be best if you did some investigation on this. Think about your ethics and the different regulations around the globe. With the exception of Canada, no countries regulate virtual therapy. Clay says that he has clients all over the world. It’s a personal choice. Clay has the ability to work with people who need his services; therefore, he works internationally.
Your private practice needs a website. On that website, you will need to explain that you provide this service. Make sure it’s on your homepage. Plus, make sure you have another page about online therapy. On this page, make sure you describe the benefits of online therapy. Advertising is also essential. You can have your ad only show in a specific area. That way, people who are looking for you will find you. Find out where your target audience is and advertise to them. This is where the importance of having a niche comes in. Make sure you know who your ideal client is!
Husband, Father of 2, Marriage and Family Therapist, Entrepreneur, and Coach, Jonathan Van Viegen, MA, MFT, CCC is the Founder and CEO of the Online Therapist Academy.
“Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” -Winston Churchill
It took about twelve months for Jonathan to get momentum. Jonathan learned everything himself using webinars and training. Today, Jonathan has three sales calls. People show up to book calls with Jonathan; he doesn’t have to go out and find people. It took a lot of work and effort. If it were too easy, then everyone would do it.
With therapy, your client will come to you with the content. With coaching, we go to our clients with the content. We are teaching them skills that will help with their daily lives. We aren’t supposed to label our clients – why are we labeling how we assist them? Psychotherapy isn’t the be-all and end-all intervention for our clients. We can offer people coaching or therapy – you do not need to mix the two. There is no reason that we can’t provide both.
Jeremy grew up in the Pacific Northwest where he discovered his passion for people. He decided to go to college in Chicago to further develop his skills working with people and pursue a degree in counseling. While in Chicago he worked for a group practice as a practice biller and marketing manager. This initiated his desire to pursue learning about the business of private practice, particularly medical billing. He now lives in Michigan with his wife of 3 years. They both are pursuing their passion for helping helpers maintain sustainable and compliant billing practices. In his free time, Jeremy loves reading, fishing, biking, hiking, and camping.
How can you determine whether your patient’s copay will be waived? There are some excellent resources, but the best way to do that right now is to call the insurance companies. You’re going to want to say: is telemental health covered on an outpatient basis for this patient? Then, give them the insurance information and the date of birth because that will lead the provider representative to tell you what they have. What we’re seeing as a trend is if the patient had telehealth benefits into their benefits before COVID-19, they are covered at one-hundred percent. If they didn’t have those benefits, the patients still have copays and deductibles applying through this time. It’s confusing for many people, but as providers, we can do the best job we can by being as clear as possible. We want to be as transparent as possible with that.
Providers can do a good job as far as lobbying with their government officials on telehealth being the new normal. Telemedicine is effective, and you can reach more people. Jeremy knows that insurance companies often get a bad rep, but this has been an enormous agenda item for them for a long time. Please send a letter to your governor, your senator, and congress members to push for it. Telehealth can also make the lives of the private practice owner easier too. Telehealth will make it more convenient to choose your hours, and therapists can even be available for clients who are overseas.
Danielle Blessing Taylor is a Licensed Marital and Family Therapist in DC, MD, VA, and PA who has been providing therapy since 2010 and has built her ever-growing private practice which was created in 2015. In addition to specializing in Telehealth, she also specializes in helping individuals, families, and couples to cultivate healthy relationships. She helps people to make sense of their past and create healthy changes for a happier life within themselves and in relationships with others.
Danielle shows private practice owners how to position the camera at the top of the screen and put their head at the top of the screen. That way, it looks like you’re making more eye contact. If the internet goes out, Danielle encourages therapists to restart their computers and update their browsers. Also, clearing the cache in the browser and updating the actual computer system will help with any audio issues.
Danielle gives a tips and tricks sheet to her clients for the initial set up, which also explains how to troubleshoot if they have issues. Also, think about where you will be practicing therapy virtually. You need to be comfortable at home in a private space, where nobody can hear you. Do not be in a moving car. Danielle says it’s important to know where your clients are. If the client is in a different place, you need to be licensed in that state. Especially in the summer, clients will be on vacation all over the place, and not even realize that it will affect their therapy.
Gordon was surprised how smooth the transition was for telehealth. However, some clients did not want to do it. Gordon is seeing 1/3rd of his clients online. At first, telehealth can be uncomfortable. Therapists are used to seeing people in person. It’s a little weird not being able to see people from the waist down. So, Danielle has started asking specific questions on her questionnaire. For instance, now, Danielle asks: do you have any physical limitations? Sometimes, you can’t even tell if someone is in a wheelchair when you’re talking online. Telehealth has become second nature for Danielle. Plus, her clients are so open when they are in the comfort of their own home.
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Gordon is the person behind The Practice of Therapy Podcast & Blog. He is also President and Founder of Kingsport Counseling Associates, PLLC. He is a therapist, consultant, business mentor, trainer, and writer. PLEASE Subscribe to The Practice of Therapy Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Google Play. Follow us on Twitter @therapistlearn and Pinterest “Like” us on Facebook