Private Practice Just another Psych Central Professional Sites site2015-08-27T06:55:54Z http://pro.psychcentral.com/private-practice/feed/atom/ Dr. Julie Hanks, LCSW http://www.privatepracticetoolbox.net <![CDATA[4 Common Marketing Mistakes of New Private Practitioners]]> http://pro.psychcentral.com/private-practice/?p=7311 2015-08-25T21:56:13Z 2015-08-27T06:55:54Z Marketing Mistakes

Creating a private practice is an ambitious and brave endeavor, particularly because our training as clinicians more than likely didn’t include any business education. When beginning a practice, new therapists sometimes struggle with how exactly to “market themselves” (read here for my suggestion on rethinking marketing as instead creating relationships, educating and serving the public, and building trust). What strategies work…and what ones don’t? James Joyce wrote that “mistakes are the portal of discovery,” so we opened up a discussion on this topic to see where some of our Facebook community went wrong in the specific aspect of marketing. Here are 4 common marketing mishaps to avoid:

money down the drain1) Wasting Time and Money on Advertisements  

By far, the most common response we heard from those who chimed in had to do with the waste and inefficiency of paid advertisements, particularly Google Adwords and pay-per-click marketing. Unless you’re an expert, navigating the technicalities of these campaigns can be confusing, time-consuming, and expensive. Also, it seems that (at least in the experience of those in our conversation) therapy is not something that individuals seek out through browsing ads, either online or print, and there is simply not a good enough return on investment for you to pay a newspaper or site to promote your services. Not to worry, though; there are much more efficient ways for you to create a thriving practice.

2) Not Having a Functioning, Optimized Website  

While paid advertisements are generally not a successful strategy for attracting clients, an informative and frequently updated website is a proven way to build a flourishing practice. Neglecting to have a website or blog that is aesthetically pleasing, well-kept, and optimized toward one’s ideal client can cost you business. A clinician in our Facebook group explained that she made the mistake of promoting her practice before she had even finished putting together her website. You do not want potential clients to come across a 404 Error Page or “Coming Soon!” reading when they view your site, so make sure it is complete! Remember that your website is your storefront and should clearly and confidently declare your message, expertise, and how you can help your clientele.

One therapist recalls how she initially wanted to be as cost-efficient as possible, so she built a website that was free but was not particularly attractive or professional-looking. Fortunately, she was able to recreate her site into something better with the help of a web specialist (unlike paying someone to create and maintain an ad campaign, hiring an expert to help with your site is a valuable investment).

3) Seeing Anyone as a Client    

This is something that comes up over and over again. Working with “mismatched clients” doesn’t benefit anyone. While it may be initially tempting to agree to see any individual who inquires about your services, you will be much happier and successful in your work if you first identify your ideal client (and create an “elevator speech” that you can use to communicate who he/she is), then graciously refer out to colleagues those who are a better fit for someone else.

4) Not Seeking Out the Right Mentor or Community of Support

Many therapists responded that they wish they had found a community of like-minded, experienced professionals to help them on their journey. Remember that others have been in your shoes, just starting out in private practice, learning by trial-and-error, and having to navigate new responsibilities and challenges (related to marketing and business),  and you don’t have to go it alone!

One clinician described how she did frequently talk with others in the field, but they were negative and discouraging. Finding the right support, individuals who energize, inspire, and educate you, will be critical to your success.

Rock the Media School for Therapists

If you’re looking for ways to increase the number of clients you see, check out my Rock the Media School to learn more about attracting individuals through social media.

What marketing mistakes have YOU made?

Join my Private Practice Toolbox Facebook group and connect with 3100 therapists around the globe in 2 simple steps: 1) Click request to join the group and 2) Fill out this brief questionnaire before you’ll be added to the group.Get practice tips and blog updates in your inbox.

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Dr. Julie Hanks, LCSW http://www.privatepracticetoolbox.net <![CDATA[How Media Marketing Can Build Your Practice: Podcast Interview]]> http://pro.psychcentral.com/private-practice/?p=7438 2015-08-25T22:20:50Z 2015-08-25T22:20:50Z ROCK THE MEDIA podast interview with Dr. Julie Hanks One of my favorite colleagues and friends, Joe Sanok from Practice of the Practice, invited me to join him for a podcast interview on how to get media coverage for your private practice and maximize it to build your online presence, build trust with potential clients who are willing to pay your full fee. We had a great time chatting about my journey to build a media presence and how it’s directly correlated with the growth of my private practice. After intentionally doing media interviews my practice grew from a few people to 3 locations and 20 therapists!

 

I also give nitty-gritty details about my Rock the Media School for therapists online e-course that begins in 2 weeks. The 6 week e-course will walk you through how to identify who you want to reach, how to gain local and/or national media exposure, and how to use those interviews to build trust, boost your credibility, and attract clients who are willing to pay your full fee.
Listen to the podcast here

Are you ready to grow your media and social media presence? My first cohort of Rock the Media School for Therapists starts Sept. 7! Get details and sign up here

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Dr. Julie Hanks, LCSW http://www.privatepracticetoolbox.net <![CDATA[4 Questions To Ask Yourself When Hiring a New Therapist]]> http://pro.psychcentral.com/private-practice/?p=7355 2015-07-31T20:39:40Z 2015-07-31T17:14:38Z Hire Me!One of the wonderful challenges that comes from having an abundance of business is the need to add new additional clinicians to your practice. But how exactly do you know who will be a good fit? How can you be sure to make the best choice that will benefit both the clients and your practice?

Not too long after opening Wasatch Family Therapy, I had created relationships in my community and built my online presence to the point that the demand for my services exceeded the supply I could provide. In other words, I needed to hire new therapists! Since I do not have a background in business, the process was entirely new to me, but thankfully I found that it happened quite naturally. I identified a few key criteria (beyond simply having required credentials and experience) that a candidate must possess in order for me to feel like he/she was a good enough match to hire. Here are 4 questions to ask yourself when meeting with an applicant who you may potentially bring in to your practice:

  • Do I like him/her?  

It may seem obvious, but it’s critical that you feel comfortable with an individual who may be working for you. If you do not like to be in his/her presence, why would a client? It goes without saying that people skills are invaluable in this profession; it’s what we do! Look for someone who puts you at ease, is warm and inviting, and who you find yourself attaching with. Be mindful of the emotional climate of your practice; you want to bring someone in who will work well with others, avoid drama, and of course help clients through their emotional struggles. Whether or not I genuinely like someone is the most important factor determining if I hire him/her (interestingly, this same criteria is also usually first on the list of what a client looks for in a therapist).

  • Were they born to be a therapist?   

When looking to add to my practice, I look for individuals who I can sense were born to do therapy. It’s common for practitioners to work with a lot of graduate level interns, and there are a select few who truly stand out; people who are naturally thoughtful, reflective, and sensitive to others’ needs and feelings. I want someone who’s always had the intuition and instinct of a therapist who just had to go through the official training to actually become one.

  • Are they emotionally stable?  

This question is admittedly a bit delicate. While no one has it all together all the time, it naturally follows that someone who has a handle on his/her emotional issues can better assist clients in managing their own. Good therapists often use difficult past life experiences to relate to and help clients, so being “emotionally stable” doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve never struggled mental health or relationship problems; quite the opposite can be true! To use an analogy, you cannot be a tour guide for other people to places you’ve never traveled. Still, I need my therapists to be healthy in order to best serve our clients.

  • Do they reflect the values of my practice?

As the owner of my practice, I need therapists who work for me to be similar to me in many ways. This is not to say, of course, that I am wanting someone with the exact personality, training, and expertise that I have. Still, there needs to be a continuity of approach and therapy style common to our clinicians. Throughout the years, we’ve had inquiring individuals wanting to see me specifically after hearing me speak or learning about me through social media. When I don’t have an available opening to see someone new, I like to be able to state my confidence in another therapist and tell the prospective client that I’ve hand-selected a particular counselor that I wholeheartedly trust to do good work. I suggest that practitioners looking to hire new therapists identify a few specific values that are key to the philosophy and setting of their private practice to look for in applicants.

What do YOU look for when hiring new clinicians?

Let me know!

This post was adapted from an interview I did with Joe Sanok, LPC on” Practice of the Practice.” Click here for access to the full podcast.

Join my Private Practice Toolbox Facebook group and connect with over 3100 therapists around the globe in 2 simple steps:
1) Click request to join the group and
2) Fill out this brief questionnaire before you’ll be added to the group.Get practice tips and blog updates in your inbox.

Get 52 FREE Blog Topics and prompts when you sign up for the PPT Newsletter (that’s a year’s worth of weekly blog posts!)

Rock the Media School for TherapistsWant to grow your practice and make a difference beyond the therapy office? Check out my NEW Rock The Media School for Therapists – a 6-week online media + social media training designed for health and mental health practitioners. Learn how to build your media and your online presence so you can share your passion and practice with thousands of people! I hope you’ll join me. Fall cohort begins Sept. 7, 2015.

 

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Dr. Julie Hanks, LCSW http://www.privatepracticetoolbox.net <![CDATA[HIPAA Security Rule Compliance for Private Practitioners]]> http://pro.psychcentral.com/private-practice/?p=7331 2015-07-28T15:19:55Z 2015-07-28T06:59:55Z HIPAA Security Rule Compliance for

Guest Post by Rob Reinhardt, LPCS, Technology Consultant for Mental Health Professionals, CEO of Tame Your Practice

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone would provide us with a brief checklist of things we need to do in order to comply with HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)? I strongly recommend that you not wait for that to happen. HIPAA was purposely constructed to be flexible so that both large hospitals and solo practitioners would be able to comply. You wouldn’t want to follow the same checklist as a hospital would you? Further, because HIPAA now covers electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI), it’s important that it be flexible since technology continually evolves.

That said, there are some basic parameters and processes to be aware of. Once these concepts are understood, HIPAA no longer seems to be this overwhelming, unintelligible, monstrosity. It takes on a role similar to progress notes and other paperwork; that stuff that gets in the way of our client time, but we know we need to do it.

Here then, is a brief summary of the most important things to know about HIPAA:

It’s More Than Just the HIPAA Privacy Notices

HIPAA started out in 1996 with the Privacy Rule, which regulates the use and disclosure of Protected Health Information (PHI) by Covered Entities (CEs). Protected Health Information is any data about health care that can be linked to a specific individual. Covered Entities are health plans/insurers, clearinghouses, and providers who engage in “Covered Transactions”. For most mental health clinicians, that means filing electronic insurance claims (even if you don’t, be sure to read on). This is the part of HIPAA that brought us the HIPAA Notice of Privacy Practices, where providers detail for clients how and when they will use and/or disclose their PHI.

In 2003, the Security Rule was added in order to set standards for securing ePHI. It requires that CEs establish Administrative, Technical, and Physical safeguards to ensure the privacy of client data. This was further enhanced by the HITECH Act (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act) in 2009 and the Final (Omnibus) Rule in 2013.

I’ve found that most therapists have the Privacy Rule down pat, so in the following sections, I’ll focus on clarifying information from the Security Rule.

HIPAA Security Compliance Is An Ongoing Process

One of the primary components of complying with the Security Rule is completing a Risk Analysis and Management Plan. This is a process of documenting reasonably anticipated threats to the security of ePHI (i.e. theft, loss, fire) and a plan for dealing with those threats. This is required to be reinforced through a documented set of Policies and Procedures (yes, even if you’re a solo practitioner). Therapists wouldn’t dream of assessing a client at intake and then never re-visiting that assessment. Similarly this Risk Analysis process needs to be re-visited on a regular basis. This ensures that new technologies and threats are addressed appropriately.

Software and Devices Can’t Be HIPAA Compliant

If you listen to the marketing speak, you might get the impression that a CE can be in compliance as long as they choose software and devices that are “HIPAA Compliant”. The problem is that such things do not exist!

Only Covered Entities or Business Associates can be compliant with HIPAA by engaging in the processes described above. A Business Associate (BA) is any third party that a CE shares PHI with. This could be a billing agent, an EHR vendor, or a telehealth application vendor. In creating this relationship, the CE is required to establish a Business Associate Agreement with the BA, outlining the responsibilities of each. The good news is that, due to the Omnibus Rule, this requires that the BA is held to the same standards for compliance as the CE. To be clear, this doesn’t release the CE from all responsibility. They still need to conduct a Risk Assessment. However, it’s often the case (especially with EHR) that using a third party vendor will greatly decrease the scope of (read: amount of work involved in) the CEs process.

(Side Note: It’s important to note that financial transactions are exempt from HIPAA, so typically financial institutions don’t fit the definition of Business Associate. However, there are some circumstances to be aware of, such as some of the features offered by services like Square).

But I Don’t Take Insurance So I Don’t Have To Worry About HIPAA

It’s true that, if you (or your billing representative) are not filing electronic insurance claims, you likely don’t fit the definition of Covered Entity. Technically then, you don’t have to comply with HIPAA. You should be aware of and consider the following, however:

  • Standard of Care – HIPAA is becoming recognized as a “Standard of Care” when it comes to Privacy and Security. If how you handle privacy and security ever comes into question, there’s a solid chance that HIPAA will be the measuring stick for whether you’re doing a good job.
  • Ethics – Our codes of ethics require that we keep client information confidential. In line with the first point, what standards can we use to prove that we are doing so, especially with ePHI?
  • State Law – Be sure to understand your state laws regarding client privacy. If you’re in Texas, for example, your state laws are in some cases even more stringent than HIPAA.
  • Best Practices – Similar to the idea of Standard of Care, the set of requirements in HIPAA are considered “Best Practices” for securing client data. While HIPAA may seem bloated and overdone in parts, the core requirements make sense and are a good path for significantly reducing the risks to privacy.

Rob Reinhardt is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor in North Carolina and CEO of Tame Your Practice. In addition to helping therapists integrate technology into their practice, he is the column editor for Counseling Today magazine and creator of Describe, a therapy tool appropriate for individuals and families of all ages!

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Dr. Julie Hanks, LCSW http://www.privatepracticetoolbox.net <![CDATA[Therapist Blog Challenge #21: Maintaining Space in a Relationship]]> http://pro.psychcentral.com/private-practice/?p=7201 2015-07-27T22:37:45Z 2015-07-27T22:37:45Z Blogging

I’m excited to present a blog challenge that has to do with one of my favorite topics: relationships. Specifically, you’ll have the chance to explore the idea of how a person can maintain his/her own space (physically and emotionally) while also being in a relationship.

[Headline] Come up with a headline to give your readers an idea of what is to come. Here are a few examples:

“‘Give Me Some Space!’ Maintaining Healthy Boundaries in Relationships”

“Creating an Appropriate Amount of (Emotional) Space With Your Significant Other”

“Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder; How Spending Time Away From Your Spouse Can Strengthen Your Connection”

“Preserve Your Relationship By Taking Time For Yourself!”

[Strong Intro] Write an introductory paragraph to explain the topic more and lay the scene for your main points. You may write your own or use the following:

Movies and pop culture often portray two people in love as inseparable and completely enamored with one another. Some struggle when they realize that the experience of real life can be quite different. The truth is that almost everyone in a relationship needs a little personal space and even time away. But how can you get a breather while still maintaining your relationship? Here are some reasons why space is important and also ways to create boundaries and still keep your connection strong:

[Scanable Content] Break up your content to make it more digestible and easy to read. Under each point, flesh out your idea by elaborating on your thoughts.

1. Tune In To Your Feelings

Acknowledging your emotions that you need a little space in your relationship is the first step. Maybe you’re feeling a bit cut off from other people or are even feeling a bit smothered. Some may be inclined to ignore such feelings or consider them “bad,” but instead express to yourself if you are wanting a bit of a breather from your significant other.

2. Communicate About Your Needs

It may be a bit tricky, but tactfully communicate that you would like to branch out a bit. Be careful to let the other person know that you are not ending the relationship, but just want to find ways to enrich your life and experience. Express how you are feeling, and listen to your love’s response; it’s possible that he/ she is wanting the same thing!

3. Pursue Your Individual Passions

Take time to “get to know yourself” and do something that you enjoy (but perhaps have been neglecting). Go ahead and sign up for that pottery class, or recommit yourself to your exercise regimen that has suffered a bit. Encourage the other person to likewise engage in activities that he/ she likes.

4. Nourish Your Friendships

Although your spouse or significant other is likely your “number one,” remember that no single person can fulfill all of your needs. We as humans are wired to connect, and we have something to learn from different people in our lives. Moreover, there is likely someone in your circle of influence who needs you, so take a break for a day or two and spend an evening with a friend.

5. Come Back Together Stronger Than Before 

If you need some space and give yourself permission to take it, you’re practicing self-care and can become even closer to your significant other. Famed German psychologist Erik Erikson explained that “identity precedes intimacy.” Paradoxically, your relationship can be strengthened by developing your self and then creating and maintaining space!

[Strong ending paragraph] Wrap up your post by summarizing your main points to conclude and then possibly offering a further idea or two for readers or a call to action. Here’s an example:

Relationships need a lot to thrive: time, love, honesty, and connection. But each person taking time for him/ herself is an important (and sometimes overlooked) component in creating and maintaining a strong and healthy relationship. Tune in to your feelings, communicate, spend time with your friends and doing what you like, and come back together stronger than before.

Additional reminders about the 2015 blog challenge

  • Write and post your blog article in the next 2 weeks. If you miss the deadline or you read this article months later, that’s OK too. Post a link for this blog challenge in the comment section of this blog post.
  • Read, comment, and share other therapist’s articles.
  • Tweet your post using hashtag #therapistblog and tag @drjuliehanks so I can retweet it.
  • Pin it on the challenge Pinterest Board. I’ve invited everyone who posted a comment on the initial blog challenge post as collaborators so you can pin onto the group board.
  • Spread the word and invite mental health colleagues to join the challenge. Articles can be added anytime throughout the year.
  • Write no more than 600 words, make it easy to read, use a conversational tone, and gear your articles toward your ideal client (not other professionals).
  • The goal of a professional blog is to provide value to your website visitors, help them get to know your professional perspective, increase traffic to your private practice website, and build your practice.

Join my Private Practice Toolbox Facebook group and connect with 3100 therapists around the globe in 2 simple steps: 1) Click request to join the group and 2) Fill out this brief questionnaire before you’ll be added to the group.Get practice tips and blog updates in your inbox.

Sign up for the Private Practice Toolbox Newsletter here.

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Get 52 FREE Blog Topics and prompts when you sign up for the PPT Newsletter (that’s a year’s worth of weekly blog posts!)

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Dr. Julie Hanks, LCSW http://www.privatepracticetoolbox.net <![CDATA[10 Media Interview Mistakes Therapists Make]]> http://pro.psychcentral.com/private-practice/?p=7258 2015-07-29T05:06:10Z 2015-06-30T21:38:10Z 10 media interview mistakes

I’ve written before about how media interviews (television, podcasts, speaking engagements etc.) can be helpful in educating your community about critical mental health issues, establishing yourself as an expert in your field, and perhaps even gaining new clients (click here to learn more benefits of participating in media interviews). But our expertise is as clinical counselors, and many therapists have little to no experience with a cameraman, bright lights, and the general “show-biz” aspect of the process. Over the years, I’ve noticed a few common mishaps that some individuals (including myself) have made. In hopes of preventing our readers from making these same mistake, here are 10 common interview mistakes therapists make:

10 Media Interviews mistakes therapists(2)

1. They don’t see the value in media presence

Some clinicians may not see the purpose or value of sitting down with someone and having a formal interview about a topic concerning mental health, relationships, or some other aspect relating to their niche. “Wouldn’t my time be better spent doing clinical work or working to attract new prospects?” they may wonder. While it’s true that you must work to balance your responsibilities, participating in the occasional interview is worth your time. And there is also the possibility that interviews become more frequent and perhaps even becomes a paid opportunity for you. Then it will certainly be valuable as an income stream.

2. They begin by promoting their practice

While media interviews are a great way to get the word out about your therapy practice, avoid being pushy or overly promotional. Don’t mention your services first thing. Instead, present your message, then end by giving the name and contact information (usually the website) of your practice. Viewers and listeners will want to hear your thoughts before they are interested in taking the next step. So let your work speak for itself, then close the interview by concisely talking about your practice.

3. They prepare too much material         

Time is of the essence in interviews, and you’ll have a very specific time allotted to communicate your message. Some therapists may fear running out of things to say, so they prepare an abundance of material. But this technique can backfire, as it may cause you to be too long-winded, neglect valuable pieces of your message, rush to try to fit everything in, or cause you to run out of time. As your prepare your talking points, be mindful of your time limit and even practice your interview in that same time frame.

4. They expect those in production to help them manage nerves   

There are many individuals who work together to make sure the interview goes smoothly. The person conducting the interview, the camera operators, sound techs, etc. Everyone has a designated job and are usually very busy in their own responsibilities. If you are feeling nervous about an interview (particularly if it is your first one), know that you probably can’t expect these people to be able to help calm your worry. Trust your own self and perhaps bring a friend along if you think you may need moral support.

5. They don’t switch out of therapist mode to sound byte mode  

The way we speak in an interview is quite different than the way we speak to a client (it’s interesting that when we are in the therapist chair, we are the ones asking questions, but in an interview, we are being asked the questions). Good therapists often speak slowly, reflect back, pause often, and go deeper. However, good TV interview skills require the opposite: speak quickly, don’t reflect back, keep the interview moving, and stay on target. Someone may take something you say as a quote to use in an article or to simply remember, so try to make the things you say somewhat “digestible” and even catchy (while not being gimmicky, of course). Read here for specific ways to keep your message clear, concise, and effective.

6. They don’t ask to be invited to interview again     

If your interview goes well, there’s no reason to not do one again in the future! Building that relationship takes time and will not happen in a single media exposure. Self-advocate and ask to be interviewed again by a certain outlet or production crew. The worst they can say is no! Simply asking to be interviewed again has helped me secure and maintain ongoing interview gigs.

7. They don’t maximize their interview  

An interview is worthless if others do not view/ listen to/ read it. Be sure to maximize it by sharing it via your social media outlets. For example, when I am interviewed for a television segment, I always obtain the link, share it on Facebook and Twitter, then upload the video to my Youtube account and my blog. I want to make sure others know about it. Don’t be shy about letting your followers know that you’ve given your professional insight in a formal setting. Remember, they are interested in what you have to say!

8. They speak in psychobabble    

As mentioned previously, in an interview, you’re not speaking to a client, but you’re not speaking to a psychology professor, either. Make sure you phrase your ideas in ways that others can understand. There’s nothing worse than a pretentious expert talking over others’ heads. Though you want to establish credibility, your point is not to prove how smart you are, but instead to educate viewers on a specific topic. Don’t “dumb down” your message, but avoid using too many theoretical terms.

9. They don’t do their homework

It’s important to do some research about the media outlet before your interview. Ask yourself: 1) Who is the audience?, 2) What is the tone? 3) What is the format? 4) Who is the host or interviewer? 5) How can I best serve their audience? Once you’ve gathered this information, use it to inform the content that you prepare and deliver in the interview.

10. They don’t specify how they would like to be introduced

Prior to your interview, be very specific about how you would like to be introduced and referred to during the interview. Make sure to include the full name of your private practice. Also, make sure you request that they mention your website, and if it’s a TV interview, ask them to display your website address in a visual banner. You are donating your time in exchange for the opportunity to talk about your passion, and in exchange, you get to build trust with your community. So be very clear about who you are, what you do, and how the audience can find out more about your work.

What are some media interview mistakes that YOU’VE experienced? 

If you’d like to build your media skills and develop a strong media and social media presence hop on over and check out my new media training just for therapists! Enrollment just opened today and there are a limited number of early bird spots offered at a reduced fee RockTheMediaSchool.com
Rock the Media School for Therapists

Join my Private Practice Toolbox Facebook group and connect with over 3100 therapists around the globe in 2 simple steps: 1) Click request to join the group and 2) Fill out this brief questionnaire before you’ll be added to the group.Get practice tips and blog updates in your inbox.

Get 52 FREE Blog Topics and prompts when you sign up for the PPT Newsletter (that’s a year’s worth of weekly blog posts!)

 

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Dr. Julie Hanks, LCSW http://www.privatepracticetoolbox.net <![CDATA[10 Reasons to Become a Media-Savvy Therapist]]> http://pro.psychcentral.com/private-practice/?p=7160 2015-06-14T04:30:28Z 2015-06-14T04:30:28Z About 8-9 years ago, I felt a pull toward gaining media and social media skills and expertise. At the time, I wasn’t sure why...or how. In hindsight, I now see the clear benefits of my media visibility for my private practice and for me as a professional. I also had no idea how fun it would be to build relationships (with producers, journalists, reporters, TV hosts, etc.), educate my community, and share my message and expertise with thousands of people.

This decision to become media-savvy has altered the course of my professional life in exciting and new ways. Because my practice has grown so much (3 locations, 20 employees) and requires more management, because I’m increasingly involved in media work and content creation, and because it felt like the right thing to do, I have retired from clinical work. I now focus on writing, private practice business consulting, earning my PhD, and spending time with my family. These opportunities would not have been possible had I not acquired social media skills.

Reflecting on my career (thus far), I want to share with you some tangible benefits of becoming proficient with (social) media and maintaining an online presence. Here are 10 things you can do by becoming a media-savvy therapist:

1) Educate Your Community; Educate The World

The mental health field is by nature a helping profession. We became therapists to help people who are struggling in some aspect of their lives, right? One of the biggest ways to do is this by educating individuals. No matter your area of expertise (marriage therapy, addiction, depression, etc.), you have valuable insight that you can share with your community to serve them and better their lives. By embracing media (TV, radio, print) and newer technologies (blogging, podcasts, social media), your message can be amplified exponentially, causing you to reach a greater audience.

2) Grow Your Practice (even during an economic downturn!

I founded my private practice (Wasatch Family Therapy) in 2002 and consider myself an early adopter of technology. We created a website not long after we opened and have fully embraced and utilized social media as the years have gone by. To say that this has grown our practice is an understatement: maintaining a strong online presence has been our number one strategy in acquiring new clients. What’s more is that we now refer out over half of the individuals who seek our services (click here to read more about how our practice grew even in the economic downturn of 2008).

3) Increase Your Credibility Through Social Proof of Expertise

As you use your platform(s) of choice (blog, Facebook, Google+, etc.) to create content and build your body of work, you will in time gain followers who are interested in what you have to say. This will establish your social relevance and up your credibility. Others now view you as an expert and someone to be trusted. This can open up doors for you professionally, just like it has done for me! (read here about how gaining a social media following has brought me valuable career opportunities).

4) Employ a Fee-for-Service Model 

Because I am familiar to more people, I have been able build a fee-for-service practice. This has led to increased income and has kept my clinicians from having to deal with the stress and burden of insurance companies. A private pay model also helps provide better quality therapy for clients. And once again, it’s due in large part to our strong media presence that we were able to “break up with managed care.”

5) Raise Visibility For Your Profession 

We as therapists often lament the fact that mental health issues don’t receive as much airtime as they deserve (though thankfully, this seems to be changing). Your media skills can help bring these topics to the forefront for your friends, family, and followers. For example, NASW has featured my work in their media news and even invited me to do national webinars. Good media interviews add visibility and educate the public about your profession in general and also about your specific expertise.

6) Create Additional Income Streams (book deals, paid blogging, consulting, etc.) 

There is so much more to being in this field than seeing clients. My online presence has afforded me the opportunities to write for major websites and blogs, consult others about how to best build their practice, and even write a book (currently working on my second one)! By growing your media skills, you too can diversify your professional activities and create multiple streams of income for yourself.

7) Create Content For Your Blog

The information you access through your social media platforms can give you great inspiration for your blog. For example, when I do a TV interview, I then post it on my site, which improves SEO and provides new and engaging content. I’ve found that because of my technology connections, I never am lacking for material to blog or write about.

8) Reach MORE People With Your Message, Passion, & Expertise 

The power that social media provides to reach others is truly unparalleled. I can now talk with hundreds or thousands of people at one time with each interview, not to mention the many more who will watch, listen, or read it online later. You can infinitely expand your outreach and get your message out there by utilizing media and social technologies.

9) Add Incentive for Additional Clinicians To Join Your Practice 

My media presence and relationships have given other clinicians a reason to work for me instead of opening their own practice. So individuals who potentially may have been my competition are now on my team! Your media presence (blog, interviews, Facebook, etc.) can attract new therapists who know about your vision, values, and niche from what they’ve seen online.

10) Gain Recognition by Professional Organizations

My media appearances and online presence has garnered the attention of reputable organizations, and I’m grateful to have received some notable accolades. For example, I was named #1 online influencer for depression, and #2 mental health online influencer by ShareCare (a social media health company founded by Dr. Oz, Discovery Communications, and WebMD’s Jeff Arnold), and received the 2015 National Association of Social Worker Award for my website JulieHanks.com.

How can YOU improve your media-savviness?

And what great opportunities await you as you do? 

Join my upcoming media training. Click the graphic below to get on the list!

Visit the new PrivatePracticeToolbox.net for webinars and consulting services

FREE Download Get 52 Blog Post Topics & prompts when you sign up for PPT list

Join my Private Practice Toolbox Facebook group and connect with 3200 therapists around the globe in 2 simple steps:
1) Click request to join the group and
2) Fill out this brief questionnaire before you’ll be added to the group.

 

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Dr. Julie Hanks, LCSW http://www.privatepracticetoolbox.net <![CDATA[Multiple Income Stream Success Story #3: Teaching]]> http://blogs.psychcentral.com/private-practice/?p=5428 2015-06-13T22:23:29Z 2015-05-31T06:49:50Z Multiple Income Streams Success Stories(5)As we highlight more opportunities to use things that you enjoy doing and instances where others request your services to generate multiple income streams, I am sharing stories of other practitioners who have found ways to do just that:

We often forget that we have achieved at least a master’s level education that can qualify us to teach others. There are many opportunities out there for teaching. Consider these options if teaching others is a passion for you. Teaching university or college courses, online courses or webinars, community workshops, or professional trainings.

Getting started with teaching can be very easy; start with who you know. Contact your alma mater or other nearby colleges and universities. Many universities have positions available for adjunct faculty to teach entry level classes or to offer professional trainings to students in your field. Keep in mind, these types of teaching commitments usually last for extended periods, so be sure that they work for your timeline and make sense financially.

Presenting or developing online courses or webinars can be an easy, passive source of income. Once a training has been developed, you can easily record it and make it available for download or schedule various presentation times to virtually present it to others. This is an excellent area where your expertise can lead you to topics or needed courses. It also allows you the opportunity
to reach well beyond the scope of your geographical location.

Starting small can often lead you to bigger opportunities and income growth. Consider providing small trainings at your practice for continuing education credits. Pam Dyson, MA, LPC, did just that when starting her play therapy trainings. When Pam originally started with trainings, it worked out to about 25% of her income. As those trainings became more successful Pam grew those trainings to the point where they provide 75% of her income. Pam shares this about her experience in growing teaching as an income stream.2202435

“In 2010, I became an Approved Provider for the Association for Play Therapy. I began by offering a day long play therapy training, once a month, out of my private practice office, where attendees could earn the clock hours needed to become an RPT. I set up a website to promote the trainings, and within a year I was at capacity for each training. To meet the demand, I began offering four day-long trainings per month.”

If you would like to learn more about Pam Dyson and the trainings that she offers, please visit DFW Play Therapy Training.

Community workshops are another area where teaching can be a beneficial source of income. Workshops are excellent because they often don’t take much time to develop and also only last for brief periods. In my practice, we have sometimes taken areas or groups of individuals who have a need for instruction in a particular area and turned that into a workshop. I have done this when I see a consistent or similar problem in my clientele. At one point, I was working with many women who were suffering from a lack of sex drive. I developed a workshop for cultivating desire in marriage that I would present for a few hours every few months.

I encourage you to keep in mind doing those things that you are passionate about. Teaching may not be your cup of tea, but there are plenty of other ways to generate multiple streams of income. If you’re still having trouble coming up with something, refer back to my 5 Key Questions to help you get started.

Visit the new PrivatePracticeToolbox.net for webinars and consulting services

 

Visit the new PrivatePracticeToolbox.net for webinars and consulting services

FREE Download Get 52 Blog Post Topics & prompts when you sign up for PPT list

Join my Private Practice Toolbox Facebook group and connect with 3200 therapists around the globe in 2 simple steps:
1) Click request to join the group and
2) Fill out this brief questionnaire before you’ll be added to the group.

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Dr. Julie Hanks, LCSW http://www.privatepracticetoolbox.net <![CDATA[Therapist Blog Challenge #20: Athletes and Mental Health]]> http://pro.psychcentral.com/private-practice/?p=7074 2015-06-05T22:14:07Z 2015-05-30T06:00:10Z challenge_20

Therapist Blog Challenge #20 deals with the sometimes misunderstood topic of the mental challenges that athletes may experience.

[Headline] Come up with a headline to give your readers an idea of what is to come. Here are a few examples:

Athletes’ Unique Struggles With Mental Illness

Why Athletes Are Not Immune to Mental Health Challenges

Depression and Anxiety in Athletic Competitors

[Strong Intro] Write an introductory paragraph to explain more the topic and lay the scene for your main points. You may write your own or use the following:

Athletes are the envy of many in our society. Whether they’re professionals, college players, or even high schoolers who excel in sports, it’s not uncommon to desire their physical strength, attractive appearance, and mental grit. But what some may not understand is that athletes are just as vulnerable to mental health problems as the rest of the population. In fact, they often face unique struggles concerning their psychological well-being. According to some estimates, as many as 1 in 5 athletes experiences some form of a mood disorder. Here are 4 common reasons why athletes may struggle with mental illness:

[Scanable Content] Break up your content to make it more digestible and easy to read. Under each point, flesh out your idea by elaborating on your thoughts.

Athletes Often Tie Their Self-Worth To Their Performance

Athletes may experience feelings of worthlessness or extreme disappointment if they lose a game or match or otherwise do not perform at the level they desire. As losing (and even failing) is an inherent part of sports, this can occur quite frequently and therefore take an emotional toll that may leave these individuals prone to situational depression.

Frequent Injuries

Depending on the specific sport of event, some athletes may get hurt quite regularly. Head injuries (particularly concussions) sometimes seen with football players can lead to depression. Also, injuries that sideline athletes can cause them to feel incomplete or incompetent, which may further trouble them emotionally; if sports is what an individual excels at, he/she may feel like there is nothing else without them.

Associate Mental Illness With Weakness

As athletics emphasizes strength, having an “off-day” or being otherwise psychologically low may come off as weakness. Coaches and players may exacerbate this idea, and athletes can feel even worse about themselves if they are experiencing extreme sadness, anxiety, or other uncomfortable emotions resulting from a mental illness. There is already enough societal stigma concerning this topic, and this may even be more so in the world of athletics.

High Stress and Pressure

Everyone experiences the stress of everyday life, but that felt during an athletic event is even more intense. As an athlete’s paycheck (and pride) depends on their performance, the stress and anxiety can sometimes prove too much and create a heavy psychological burden.

[Strong ending paragraph] 

Wrap up your post by summarizing your main points to conclude and then possibly offering a further idea or two for readers to investigate on their own. Here’s an example:

The nature of sports and competitiveness presents unique challenges for athletes. Thankfully, we can raise awareness of this issue in the hopes or reaching more individuals who may need professional help. Visit the International Society for Sports Psychiatry (ISSP) for more information.

Additional reminders about the 2015 blog challenge

  • Write and post your blog article in the next 2 weeks. If you miss the deadline or you read this article months later, that’s OK too. Post a link for this blog challenge in the comment section of this blog post.
  • Read, comment, and share other therapist’s articles.
  • Tweet your post using hashtag #therapistblog and tag @julie_hanks so I can retweet it.
  • Pin it on the challenge Pinterest Board. I’ve invited everyone who posted a comment on the initial blog challenge post as collaborators so you can pin onto the group board.
  • Spread the word and invite mental health colleagues to join the challenge. Articles can be added anytime throughout the year.
  • Write no more than 600 words, make it easy to read, use a conversational tone, and gear your articles toward your ideal client (not other professionals).
  • The goal of a professional blog is to provide value to your website visitors, help them get to know your professional perspective, increase traffic to your private practice website, and build your practice.

Join my Private Practice Toolbox Facebook group and connect with 3200 therapists around the globe in 2 simple steps: 1) Click request to join the group and 2) Fill out this brief questionnaire before you’ll be added to the group.Get practice tips and blog updates in your inbox.

Get 52 FREE Blog Topics and prompts when you sign up for the PPT Newsletter (that’s a years worth of weekly blog posts!)

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Dr. Julie Hanks, LCSW http://www.privatepracticetoolbox.net <![CDATA[Multiple Income Stream Success Story #2: Consulting]]> http://blogs.psychcentral.com/private-practice/?p=5425 2015-05-24T00:55:00Z 2015-05-28T07:42:59Z Multiple Income Streams Success Stories(4)We are continuing our Success Stories of multiple income streams using the six areas I’ve previously highlighted: supervising, consulting, teaching, publishing, speaking, and writing.

Today we’re looking at number two on this list, Consulting. There are many ways a private practitioner can offer their knowledge for consulting purposes. These include: consulting with professionals, mental health agencies, corporate trainings, media contributing, and forensic consulting.

This success story is my own.

I love helping therapists create a practice that is energizing, fun, and profitable. After I had been in private practice for about 7 years and had grown from a solo to a private clinic, other private practitioners started asking me to share how I developed a clinic that didn’t rely on managed care, how to build a social media presence, and how to land media interviews. I started this blog Private Practice Toolbox on PsychCentral.com in July 2011 and started presenting on practice building strategies and began a consulting business Julie Hanks, LLC.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself if you’d like to add consulting as an additional income stream:

1) In what areas are other mental health professionals asking me for feedback, training, and information?

2) List 3 areas of expertise and professional passions. Which businesses, groups, or individuals people are looking for information related to my specialty area?

3) Which topics are you constantly researching, reading, and talking about simply because you enjoy learning more?

My hope is that these questions prompt you to brainstorm some ways that you could incorporate consulting into your professional life. If you are currently providing consulting, please let me know about it by posting about your consulting services! Feel free to add a link, too.

To learn more about my private practice consulting services visit PrivatePracticeToolbox.net

Get 52 FREE Mental Health Blog Prompts when you sign up for PPT list

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