Managing a practice is hard work. Let's be honest, most of the process can seem complicated. However, it doesn't have to be. There are many ways to take your practice from overwhelming to smooth sailing. Working with numerous practices has given me the privilege to experience many methods to manage a practice. Below you will find just a few tips that I think are the best to achieve a well-managed practice effortlessly.
Taking the Right Clients - I have worked with practices that take every client that calls in as well as practices that require consults before they determine if the client is a good fit. What works best for you will vary on many levels. However making a decision on what direction you want to go in will also require some follow up work. If you decide to take every client that calls is fine, but track the results to determine if that is the best option for you.
Pro's for Taking Every Client That Calls In - If you have a group practice, you will fill the practice quickly. You will also be more likely to be referred by your referral sources as well as being the option for clients in crisis.
Con's for Taking Every Client That Calls In - You may only see those types of clients for a few sessions. You may not be the best fit for the client and leave a bad taste in their mouth about therapy in general. You may see a lot of client turnaround that will end up costing you more in administrative hours.
Let's go over what it means to have a consult before you schedule a new client for your practice. My definition of a consult is spending about 15 minutes with the client to get to know them and their mental health situation. It is also a great opportunity to tell the potential clients about your practice and to build a relationship with them before they even decide to schedule an appointment. This consult does not need to be performed by the therapist. It also doesn't have to be done over the phone. It can be done through forms or a call by the practice manager. What you think is best will vary and can even change over time.
Here are a few things that could be beneficial to ask when deciding if the client is a good fit for your practice. You can add to this list and make it your own as needed. The goal for these questions is to get to know the client and see if your therapy approach would be the right fit for their mental health journey.
Have you ever been to therapy before? If yes tell me a little bit about your past therapy experience.
What has prompted you to want to attend therapy?
Do you have any history of trauma?
Are you currently struggling with any substance abuse?
What are your mental health goals?
Pro's for Client Consultations - You will be less likely to take on a client that you will need to refer out in the future. You will set the tone for your practice and the therapy process in general. You will build a relationship with the client causing the client to trust the therapeutic process. You will give the client a positive therapy experience causing them to become your best referral source. Remember keeping a client is a less financial burden than finding new clients.
Con's for Client Consultations - The process is a bit more time-consuming. They may not be a good fit and you will need to refer them to someone else who may be a better fit.
Cancellation Policy - Having and enforcing a cancellation policy is important for many reasons. The most important reason is accountability. Your clients need to be committed to their therapy process and to be committed they need to show up. If there is a consequence for not showing up chances are they will understand that if they are not committed they will need to learn to be committed. This will also make sure that everyone has a fair chance at therapy and will weed out those who are not serious about their mental health journey.
It also provides the ability for others to get the therapy they need. If they cancel within the cancellation period that allows you the time to reach out to other people looking to schedule an appointment. You will also be able to keep track of your finances better allowing you to be able to track your potential income.
Great Practice Procedures - It all starts with knowing exactly how to run your practice. Having the right procedures in place can help you run your practice effortlessly. Without those procedures in place, you may feel like things are out of your control and start to feel the effects of burnout sink in. If you do not have any procedures in place start slow by creating the most common procedures first. If you already have procedures in place go over them and make sure you do not need to make any edits. As you become an expert at managing your practice procedures over time will start to change.
Most Common Procedures -
You are not meant to know it all when managing a practice and learning as you go is typical. However, learning from those who are experts in practice management will give you an advantage. If you ever feel like you need future guidance with your practice feel free to join our Practice Management Q&A group. It is only $20 and you will be able to ask questions specific to your practice. Come once or every week to stay connected to the experts in private practice.