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Showing posts from February, 2018

Incorporating Animal Assisted Services

Animal assisted therapy is gaining in popularity due to its effectiveness with clients. Having an animal at the office increases calm for the staff and clients. Be sure that you have a clear plan for how the animal will be incorporated into your practice. Always provide a quiet, safe and private space for the animal to go while he/she is finished working or needs a break. Important details before bringing an animal onsite include

Screening for appropriate temperament Writing policies about animals at workProfessional training for obediencePosting certifications Having evidence of current vaccines onsiteCreating a tolieting routine Discussing a supervision protocol (animal should be supervised at all times)If additional animals are onsite, plan for them to meet and greet each other safelyOutline times when the animal will be removed from a situation for his/her safety or that of the client/staff. 

Retaining Clients

Keep clients coming back to you. Even after they have completed their treatment goals, maintain a positive relationship. You never know when they may need support with a new goal or a loved one of theirs needs services. Retaining clients will increase your word of mouth marketing. Consider this when retaining clients


Greet clients with warmnessCheck up after challenging sessionsOffer an environment that is calming and comfortingFocus on building a therapeutic relationshipRemedy client issues quickly in regards to scheduling, billing, parking, etcMake appropriate referrals quickly when the client's challenges are outside of your scopeListen to the input of clients as you grow your business

Federal Tax Payments

Federal taxes as a self employed individual and for a business operate differently then other employment arrangements. You will pay your typical percentage of tax withholding plus an additional self employment tax. Self employment tax is currently about 15%. The rate consists of two parts: 12% for social security (old-age, survivors, and disability insurance) and 3% for Medicare (hospital insurance). Essentially self employment tax is the amount a company pays on your behalf when you work for them. Since you are now self employed, you are responsible for both chunks of the payment. Depending on how you established your practice as a legal entity alters how the business is taxed.  Remember that the legislators of the country reform tax law often and your tax liability may change with new laws.


Consider having an CPA in your community complete your taxes rather than an online service. This can maximize your deductions. Keep accurate logs and books throughout the year for income and expe…

State Tax Payments

Each state has its own laws for state taxes. Contact your local state department of revenue for details on your area. For example, Wyoming does not have any state income tax. However, individuals who work in Wyoming but live in Colorado must still pay Colorado State income tax.

Ongoing Advertising for Small Practices

Marketing is an essential part of your practice. Consistently getting your business' name and expertise into the community increases the clients that "self refer" to you. Word of mouth advertising is an excellent way to begin. Contact your professional and personal contacts at let them know you are accepting referrals. Let current clients know of your appreciation for new referrals and possibly offer $10.00 off their bill for each new referral. Listed below are additional avenues to consider in marketing your private practice.

Online Directory ListingBusiness Facebook PageInstagram PageGoogle AdWordsWebsite (pay for SEO upgrade)Sponsor local events- bowling team, little league teamOffer trainings to professional entities such as State workersOffer a free workshop once a month to the community

Billing Considerations

Cash flow can easily be the bane of private practice. Your accounts receivables can be thousands of dollars while you are struggling to pay rent because the cash has not came in yet. This is especially true with private insurance companies that can take several months to pay. Be sure that you understand billing criteria, forms and timelines clearly if you are doing your own billing. Various software programs can integrate your notes, treatment plans and billing. You can also employ a business platform service or private mental health billing company. Whichever you choose, cash will need to be flowing as freely as possible into the coffers. Here are some tips as you set out to collect money for services


Carefully read the contracts offered by the insurance companies and EAPs before signing up. Counter with an offer addressing any concerns. You may be able to negotiate higher reimbursement rate. Understand the specific pros and cons about signing up as in network vs out of network. Some…

Scheduling Clients

Offering flexible hours to your clients may help to set you apart from other clinicians. Evening and weekend appointments allow families to access services without altering school and work schedules. Consider which scheduling mechanism is best for your needs. Of course there is the traditional paper planner, and online planners such as google calendar. Texting clients the morning of their appointment as a reminder can decrease the rate of missed appointments. There are also practice management programs that integrate scheduling, progress notes, treatment plans and billing. Many of these programs offer free trials. Such programs include


Simple PracticeTherapy NotesTheraNest

Letting People Know You are Taking New Referrals

Since the time you began your internship, you have began making connections and networking with professionals. It is now time to call them and let them know you are opening your own practice and you are accepting new clients. Think about everyone that you have a positive relationship with and let them know where you are located, what kind of clients you are accepting, what insurances you accept and to feel free to contact you with any potential referrals. Be sure they have your correct contact info. When possible send a follow up email with a recap of your conversation.

Getting Your Name into the Community

It is never to soon to begin getting your name into the community as private practice practitioner. Think about who your ideal clients are and where they gather to shop, go for medial care, take their children for education, go for entertainment, etc. Think about professional offices that treat clients with unmet mental health care needs: doctors offices, laboratories, occupational therapists, counselors at schools and colleges etc. Then start calling and setting up short meetings with the staff to "pitch" your practice. Remember to illustrate what sets your practice apart from others. If a meeting with the staff is not possible, ask to leave information about your business at the front or hang a flyer on the wall. Follow up with the businesses several weeks later to check in. Also discuss the possibility about cross referrals with the businesses you visit. Be sure to take these items with you to the "pitch" meeting

Business CardsBrochuresFlyersSnacks or lunch to s…

Business Insurance

One purchase to consider for your new business is the proper type of insurance. Many companies that offer personal home, car and life insurance also have commercial plans. You may receive a discount by adding another insurance plan under your established carrier. All clinicians must have malpractice insurance but other types exist as well including


General liability AKA "slip and fall" coverageProfessional Liability- group policies typically include liability insurance for the business and the individual Business Property InsuranceErrors and Omissions Auto Coverage- to cover driving clients around townDog Bite Coverage- if animal assisted therapy is used in the practiceComprehensive Equine Liability- if equine therapy is used in the practice
Some of these policies are offered by specialized companies so be sure to understand the policy and get several quotes before committing to a carrier. Insurance companies that offer commercial services may "bundle" several serv…

Choosing Office Space

Choosing office space can be both exciting and excruciating. Set a budget and stay within it. You can always upgrade your space later. Think of your audience. If you conduct play therapy you need more floor space. If you provide many group services you need access to room that can accommodate 10 people comfortably. Ideally, you want to create a peaceful environment from the time the clients enter the office. Warm greetings with cold water or hot coffee on a stressful day can go along way with clients. Consider these things when you are selecting office space for lease or purchase:

Amenities such as included internet, printing, faxing, front desk staff, IT support can aide your budgetParkingZoningAccessibility from other areas of townUse of other rooms in the building including group, kitchens and conference roomsADA compliance for clients with mobility challengesSnow removal and lawn care servicesBus route proximityWaiting room layout  As you decorate your office be mindful that the s…