1.What are some of your favorite systems and ways that you keep your practice running smoothly/organized?
Having an electronic medical record seriously changed my practice. I was able to keep track of my notes and all patient information in a secure place. I also was able to store credit card info so there was not the awkward payment exchange that most therapists dread. Finally, I could bill for insurance through my EMR which saves so much time and energy! I use Theranest but I have heard good things about Simple Practice as well.
2. What do you outsource in your practice?
I outsourced my website to Brighter Vision. I am not tech savvy at all. I was able to participate in the artistic process of building the website without having to know how it all worked! They have great customer service and give me tutorials on how to use WordPress. I email them about things I would like to change and usually it is done by the end of the day.
3. How did you learn how to effectively run your business? Did you have a mentor ?
I had no idea how to run a business when I started my practice. I had worked in outpatient clinics and a few hospital programs before I decided I wanted to start my practice. I had a few sessions with a private practice coach. I also joined an online Business School Bootcamp through Zynnyme, which I felt was well worth the investment. Lastly (and this is the free one), I contacted several private practice therapists in the community who I had been in touch with over the years and reached out to people through LinkedIn. People were so kind and willing to help. I would ask any question no matter how silly I felt it was. It truly was amazing.
4. If you could go back and do something differently in terms of business management and organization, what would you have started right away?
I would have invested in an EMR and website right away. Without these two things, I would have a very different practice and would feel lost most of the time!
5. How many clients do you typically see in a day and how did you make this decision?
I usually see five or six, however, there have been days where I have seven or more on the schedule.
For my own sanity, I try to make six my max and I try my best not to schedule back to back. Summer is much slower so I typically will see fewer clients on any given day.
6. What are your boundaries around answering work email?
I used to get email alerts on my phone when I first started my practice. I felt like if I did not answer right away I was going to lose clients. I quickly realized that I was creating too much anxiety for myself. Now, I will check my work email a few times a day but try not to look on weekends. I have a message/ signature that informs patients that email is not 100% secure, and letting them know that I will typically take 24 hours to respond to an email. I also note that email is not a place to share clinical information. This message also advises clients to go to the ER or call 911 if this is an emergency.
One helpful tool for email has been Boomerang- you can schedule your emails ahead of time in case you want to compose an email but not respond right away.
7. Tell me about some of your favorite self-care practices during your workday and on the weekend.
Essential oils, yoga, music, talking to other therapists or psychiatrists in private practice. I love spending time with family. I also am part of wo peer supervision groups which I find immensely helpful.
8. What are some of your best tips for work/life balance as a self-employed therapist?
I must admit I am still learning. Sometimes, I get super excited about revamping my website or putting on a workshop. I have to remember that I do not have to do everything right now. I teach my clients mindfulness practices and I often have to remember the power of pausing and recognizing when I need a break myself.
Meghan Renzi, is a therapist in private practice in Bethesda, Maryland, who offers therapy and mindfulness services for teens and adults. Check out her website.