When I formed EWN I had a clear idea that I wanted it to be the kind of place I always wanted to work. It was important to me that it be of high-quality yet comfortable, in its surroundings and in the people who worked there. I wanted creativity, a place that invited new ideas based on sound research based outcomes. I wanted lifelong learning built into the EWN culture as well. EWN is a place where therapists are free from the mundane, encouraged to be confident in their professional discipline and work in positive, supportive, collegial environment. Plus, I love teaching and sharing what I know. Here, for instance, are a few things you might want to know if you are thinking of starting a private practice yourself:
Tips for Therapists #1
The good energy you give out will come back to you. That’s how karma works. Join an association, group or organization of like minded professionals. Most communities, towns and states have not-for-profit professional organizations for your discipline. For many years now I’ve been involved in my region’s Psychological Association, PAWNY. After a year as President, I was asked to be the region’s representative on the New York State Governing Council (NYSPA). Get involved, join a committee, volunteer to take an office or help out at an event. You will be noticed by your peers, your service will be appreciated and referrals will follow.
Tips for Therapists #2
Keep your focus on the people you want to serve. Who is your ideal client? Do you have a specialty? What is your niche? Let people know about your favorite type of client and others will come. For example, I started Explore What’s Next to serve older women during vulnerable times in their lives. Women in transition can become depressed or anxious, so of course I specialize in these mood disorders. What I didn’t predict was that because I targeted this population, middle-aged and older men found and called me for help with difficult times of change in their lives. * if you really love working with adolescents, before you know it, parents of adolescents are calling you for appointments.
Tips for Therapists #3
Find a mentor/supervisor. * My relationship with the therapists in my office includes mentoring and supervision. Dr. Amy Brook at EWN also supports our early career therapists with clinical supervision. Even as a seasoned therapist, I still have my own advisor and mentor to go to when I need guidance. No matter how much experience you have you can always use more wisdom. A good mentor will tell you the good and the bad straight up which allows you to hone your craft. Being a professional is like being a top athlete or ballet dancer, you never stop taking lessons from the masters.
Tips for Therapists #4
Be a resource. Be generous with your time and knowledge to anyone who approaches you with a question. If you can, I advise making it a policy to make your first session with a person a free consultation. People appreciate your taking the time answering their questions, meeting you face to face, seeing the environment they will be returning to, assuring them you are the right fit for them. Sometimes the fit isn’t right and I provide referrals to therapists I believe would work well for them, A free consult kind of circles back to #1 in that by investing a little of your time helping someone out, you will get dividends back in the form of good will, if not a paying client. *
Tips for Therapists #5
Learn to love the admin stuff. Pick out a good way to keep your records. There are choices out there for electronic everything, billing, process notes, other data. Make sure it suits you and financially makes sense. Ask the people you meet in Tip #1 for advice. New therapists must master not only all the psychological stuff but payroll taxes, lease agreements, insurance policies, security, 1099s, IRS tax filings, marketing, supplies, printers, Internet and phone connections, forms, I mean it can go on and on. Another way to handle this admin work, if it isn’t your favorite, is to join a group. It took me years of experience, trial and error, experimentation and testing to create the nurturing eco-system at EWN where therapists can just focus on doing the therapy, groups and outreach they love, and let me and my marketing team, bookkeepers, attorneys, office cleaners, insurance brokers and other professionals and connections, take care of the rest.
Tips for Therapists #6
Think about what kind of practice you want to be. Take insurance? Fee for service? Full time? Part time? More comfortable in a group of like minded colleagues or completely solo? There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, only what fits you best. Because what suits you will probably suit your clients best, too. * If you do decide to take insurance, though, I want you to be aware that you will be under contract to have multiple bosses in the form of insurance executives. Insurance companies not only set your fee, they also have the right to review your progress notes, judge what type of service you provide and whether or not it is “medically necessary”. While HMOs, traditional insurance companies appear to be less intrusive than before, they can still surprise you with time consuming demands. That is why, when I founded EWN, I knew it would be a fee for service practice. It is totally liberating to be free of insurance company rules.
Tips for Therapists #7
Be patient. Private practice is not for wimps.*
Contact me if you’d like to learn more about joining the EWN team.