Private Practice Strategies

Mental health professionals have a wealth of valuable, even crucial, information and expertise in which many people are in need.

One-on-one therapy is only one way we can deliver this expertise and help.

There are a number of possible ways therapists can create revenue streams while sharing their talents, expertise and skills with people in need.

Some of these ways are traditional and common, but others are rather innovative ways therapists are beginning to put their abilities to good use. In doing so, they are creating revenue streams.

Traditional Services

Although its time for therapists to think out of the box and develop new services that creatively meet the felt needs of niche markets, there is a place for the traditional therapeutic services.

These include psychotherapy for the DSM diagnoses, psychological testing and evaluation, marriage and family therapy and behavioral health care.

And, yes, people will forgo managed-care reimbursement and pay out of pocket for services that are of higher value because they are higher quality, offer real privacy and are truly customized for the individual needs.

One of the frustrations I hear from mental health care service consumers is that they can not find a specialized therapist in their managed-care insurance network.

It's as if managed care's philosophy is, "We'll help you obtain access to psychotherapy, but we do not care whether the therapist we connect you with is a specialist. A generalist is fine."

Set yourself apart and demonstrate your true value in the marketplace through specialization. Many people in the market for therapy value specialization.

Getting Published

A book is a powerful way to affect lives. It is also a good way to establish credibility, highlight your practice and services and position yourself in your niche.

And, it's easier than you think if you self-publish. It has become very affordable to do so, and it puts you in charge of the content, price and reprints.

It can actually be more profitable, too. You keep every dollar above your costs. If you went through a major publisher who sells a few thousand books, you would only receive the author's fee. You can make as much selling a few hundred copies of a self-published book yourself.

If your book is successful, you may even attract a large publisher to take over your book.

Writing a book opens doors to speaking engagements, media opportunities and a reputation in your niche market.

It also helps you to crystallize your thinking and enhances your effectiveness as a practitioner; it's a great exercise in that sense. You will learn a lot both in breadth and depth.

Take the opportunity now to brainstorm ideas for a book that's inside you.

It does not have to be long. One hundred pages is plenty.

Teaching

Teaching courses part-time at a local college or university can be an attractive stream of income.

I have been teaching as adjunct faculty in the Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) program at Widener University outside Philadelphia for several years and find it both rewarding and enjoyable.

Think about areas of special interest on which you could teach a course. Courses that adjunct faculty teach can be core curriculum in a graduate program, an undergraduate course or an elective.

I find that part-time professors who are practitioners have a lot to offer because they are immersed in what they teach. Students seem to appreciate this as well.

E-books

E-books are another medium in which you can package and share specialized information.

And e-book is a written piece of information that is distributed via the internet electronically. It is offered free or for a cost (typically $ 10 to $ 30) on a web site.

You can also submit an e-book to web sites that list hundreds of e-books to make them available to the public.

Tens of thousands of e-books are downloaded each year, and are changing lives for the better.

Perhaps you can make yours one of them.

Do you have a solution to a specific problem or can you research the answers?

The best e-books share answers to a specific problem.

E-book topics I have heard of recently include: how to write a eulogy, how to cope with a hysterectomy and the topic of recovering from fibromyalgia.

These are e-books written by non-mental health professionals. Imagine what information psychotherapists can offer in this just-in-time format.

E-books cost very little to produce and nothing to distribute. You can attach the file for an e-book to an email or make it downloadable from a web site.

A great e-book is not long. Many of the best are 10 to 35 pages long.

E-books offer short answers to problems readers want to solve, and are available to people quickly.

Good e-books are specific and do not contain general information. The key to marketability is communicating your precise answer to a specific problem.

E-Courses

E-Courses are similar to e-books, but they may be lengthier and delivered to readers one segment at a time. As the name implies, these can be formatted as guided self-study programs.

E-courses allow for the content to be integrated over a specific period of time. Each lesson can be a simple article or more in-depth with guided self-study. Write between five and 10 lessons, and you have a good e-course.

Written by a professional, a good e-course can bridge the gap between a reader learning new information and the reader applying that information to his / her life and making a behavioral change.

Personal Coaching

In sports, coaching is important to help an athlete develop a winning strategy, develop skills and execute the plan. The coach knows how the athlete can progress and move forward. He / she urges the athlete to set high goals and provides motivation, support, focus and encouragement.

Over the past 10 years, the field of professional coaching in personal development and business arenas has grown tremendously.

What is coaching? Personal coaching is a one-on-one professional relationship in which a client is assisted in achieving a personal, business or career goal.

What is the difference between coaching and therapy? Although coaches sometimes assist people with challenges and problems of various kinds, they do not try to help people overcome problems related to diagnosable conditions as found in the DSM.

Rather, coaches assist well-functioning people to attain greater levels of achievement and satisfaction in their personal lives, businesses or careers.

While therapy is remedial and restorative, coaching is developmental and growth-oriented.

Therapy heals mental and emotional infirmities, while coaching helps healthy individuals achieve more or reach important goals.

Personal coaches work with clients on a wide range of issues, such as coping with a problem or crisis, focusing their efforts on achievement, making career transitions, living more fulfilled lives, achieving life goals and building better relationships.

Other coaches assist people with business development or managerial or leadership development. These coaches are called business coaches or executive coaches.

While coaching is not always based on psychology, it often is. And many of the skills a coach uses are the skills in which therapists are trained. So, there is considerable overlap between coaching and therapy.

This is why many psychologists, counselors and therapists have found coaching attractive and transitioned into coaching either entirely or as a part of their practice mix. I am one of them.
In many ways, therapists have an ideal background to be coaches. But the differences between coaching and therapy are significant and important to keep in mind.

Therapists can make great coaches because of their insights into human motivation and behavior, their understanding of human development and life transitions, their communication and relationship skill and their sense of professional ethics, knowledge base and experience in helping people.

Live Workshops, Retreats, Trainings

Presenting live events such as seminars, workshops, retreats and training programs can be a very lucrative stream of income.

And, it can be a powerful way to affect peoples' lives.

The group setting allows learners to engage with your material and benefit from the collective knowledge and experience of the group.

Live programs can also be an introduction to your other services. Brief programs, such as a "lunch and learn," can be delivered for free as a solid marketing vehicle for your practice.

As a therapist, if you have developed and packaged your message into a program as recommended earlier, you have the makings of a great seminar or workshop.

Why not kill two birds with one stone?

Promoting a workshop or retreat is promoting your practice at the same time – and may be psychologically easier to do.

Consider adding a post-training element to your program. It could be a follow-up mini-workshop, a series of workshops or one-on-one work.

You can leverage the energy of a live event in many ways for additional revenue streams.

And, it is likely that some participants will choose to work with you after the event is over.

You will want to casually present your other offerings at the event. You may make it easier for them by having a sign-up sheet.

Teleseminars

A teleseminar (also called a teleclass) is a seminar held over the telephone, like a conference call.

The advantage of a teleseminar is the convenience. No one has to commute and the consumers dial to a bridge line at the specified time. No physical accommodations need be arranged; you only need to rent a telephone bridgeline.

Teleseminars can include people from all over the country, even internationally, at the same time.

Classes are typically 60 minutes long, but can vary. Often teleseminars are offered in a multi-class series.

Teleseminars are another way to offer your packaged content and introduce people to your services. Teleseminars can be offered for free to attract prospective clients and let them sample your services.

See [http://www.teleclass.com] for examples of what various professionals are offering. Or, do a search on Google for teleseminars or teleclasses. There are hundreds to browse and attend.

To get a better feel for how to conduct a teleseminar, attend some yourself.

Consulting

The goal of this book is to help mental health practitioners build thriving managed-care free private practices.
One of the themes I hope I have conveyed is that psychology is not just for DSM diagnoses.
While we have discussed ways to market traditional services, diversification is important, as it increases the chances we can generate sufficient income to operate outside of managed care.
Multiple streams of psychotherapy income can be developed in one's practice.

When I decided to build a manage-care free practice, I gave considerable thought to how

I could provide private-pay services. I explored how I could use my skills in ways that people would readily pay.

Many psychologists and other mental health professionals are successful in consulting in the workplace for the benefit of employees and employers. Business consulting can be a very lucrative income stream.

Like many practitioners, I found my skills could be applied in the business arena. Today, through a business I started called Leadership Concepts, I offer services in the areas of business consulting, executive, business and career coaching and seminars and workshops for businesses. This has proven to be a solid and growing income stream for me, and it is work I really enjoy.

Other ways to diversify into consulting include behavioral medicine, forensics and sports psychology.

Consulting is a very broad and diverse area, so I will not scrape the surface of the possibilities here. But perhaps I can give you good directions for exploration.

If this area is new for you, you will be surprised to find out the many valuable ways our psychology and mental health expertise can be of benefit to people in the workplace.
Our background makes us capable of assisting businesses with many different barriers to productivity.

To familiarize yourself with this terrain, I suggest you do a Google search using the keywords "business," "consulting" and "psychologist" and browse the web sites that come up.

Forensic Consulting

Another specific type of consulting is worth considering separately.

Forensic consulting has to do with psychological or mental health service specifically related to the court system.

Often times, a court has to deal with issues that impinge on mental health issues.

Some of these include:

Criminal cases

  • Competency to stand trial
  • Mental status at time of offense
  • Mitigating factors in offenses
  • Risk assessments, violence

Civil cases

  • Emotional damages in personal injuries
  • Assessments for malingering

Family cases and other

  • Child custody evaluations
  • Court-ordered psychological evaluations

In addition, attorneys often need help sorting out the issues when questions of a psychological nature occur in their cases. They retain psychologists and other experts to review files and help them prepare for depositions or cross-examination of experts.

Psychologists and other professionals can inform the court on issues, perform assessments and testify as experts.

Consultants in this area testifying as experts typically receive $ 1,000 to $ 2,000 for their testimony.

I find that this niche is an attractive one for several reasons:

  • It is completely managed-care free
  • It is interesting work
  • It makes good use of our background
  • It is lucrative
  • It is a specialized area that many professionals find intimidating, which means less competition

If you find this an interesting prospect as a part of your practice, then I encourage you to begin taking some training workshops to familiarize yourself with the terrain.

Web sites

Revenue streams can be active or passive. Therapy sessions, therapy groups, workshops and consulting services are all active forms of revenue streams. You exchange your time and skills for a fee.

Passive revenue is revenue from streams that do not involve service delivery, but once set up, occur automatically 24/7. A common form of passive revenue is income from products sold on a web site.

Can you see the advantages of passive revenue? Can therapists develop passive revenue streams? You bet!

Therapists can productize their most useful expertise and offer information products to benefit others.

Some of these we already looked at, like books, e-books and e-courses. These can all be offered on a web site for web seekers to obtain and utilize to fill their needs.

There are other possibilities as well, such as licensing programs.

As an example of a passive revenue web site effectively offering information products to a specific niche, see TeachMeTeamwork.com.

Passive income streams utilizing the internet via web sites are a burgeoning area for many service professionals, but few mental health professionals are taking advantage of the potential so far.

This will be changing soon.

Active income streams can also be marketed on the internet.

Web sites can also be effectively used as a marketing tool for your fee-for-service practice. More and more therapists are putting up web sites and for good reasons.

A web site is your practice brochure, available any time, day or night, to seekers on the internet. People you meet, people who hear you give a presentation and people referred to you by another professional, can be directed to view your web site, find out more about you and, hopefully, be stimulated to contact you.

A simple, attractive, intriguing postcard sent to a mailing list can direct your niche market to your web site. Or, your yellow page ad in the phone book can include your web address.

A web site is much more than a brochure. It is also a potentially powerful marketing vehicle, when combined with internet marketing strategies.

If you decide to have a web site for your practice, or for a particular niche service, make it full of resources (articles and free information) that will attract people to it and make them want to spread the word.

Although beyond the scope of this article, internet marketing strategies can be developed to drive people to your web site.

Increasingly, people are beginning their search for products and services on the internet.

The yellow pages are not the first choice for many.

Are you effectively represented on the Internet?

Licensing Programs

After you have developed effective structured programs for your niches, you can license the use of these programs to other professionals.

Other therapists have been doing this for years. Psychologist Dr. Daniel Dana, a conflict resolution specialist, certifies mediators and licenses his program at MediationWorks.com.

Another example can be found at DifficultChild.com, as we mentioned previously. Howard Glasser, MA offers a parenting approach and program, as well as other materials, for ADHD children. His program involves a book, a training program for parents and a training and certification program for therapists.

His program is called "Transforming the Difficult Child: The Nurtured Heart Approach."

One of my coaching clients is certified in this program and speaks highly of it.

Howard Glasser's web site actually models several streams of income, including a book, workshops, training other professionals, licensing or certification and internet marketing for all the above including his practice.

These "programs in a box" are typically complete turnkey therapy, counseling or consulting programs that therapists can purchase. They are usually complete, including the structured program itself, instructor materials, workbooks and also include marketing pieces you can use to generate business.

For those of you who want to do niche marketing but prefer not to do the creating part, you may want to find out whether someone has developed a program you can utilize to serve your niche.

Someone may have done the work for you.

If you can find a program suitable for your niche market, you could be a few days away from having a marketable service in your repertoire.

Training Other Professionals

When you have developed an effective program, you can leverage it by training others in your approach and methods.

Innovators in therapy have been training others for years. If you develop a specialization, program or niche service in a growing area, you may find many other therapists would like to learn from you.

Sometimes the innovation is mainly in how a service is packaged.

You can train other professionals via live workshops, self-study program packages and teleseminars.

Diversification by developing a number of streams of psychotherapy income increases the chances you can create sustainable income and can be rewarding in other ways too.