Los Angeles Chapter  California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists

Los Angeles Chapter — CAMFT

Editor's Note

05/31/2022 9:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

Lynne Azpeitia, LMFT
Voices Editor

Getting Paid: For Sustainable Practice & Career Success Make These 6 Things Convenient For Clients, Referrers & Employers

People looking for therapy are not going to look very hard to find you or find out more about your services. To sustain private practice and career success, online or in person, convenience is the top priority for prospective clients, referral sources, and employers—so make the following six things convenient.

1. Make it convenient for people and your community to find out about you and your services.

When people listen to your introduction, go to your website, look at an ad, directory listing, email signature, business card, or social media page, make sure you make it easy for them to find out
      Who you are
      What you can do for them
      Whether you see people online or in person
      What services you offer
      How they can contact you

When looking for a position, make it easy to find needed information on your resume. 

In any interaction, conversation, listing or shared practice information, make sure you have made people aware that

  • Your practice is open
  • You see clients in person (or not)
  • You are accepting new clients (or not) and/or have a waiting list (or not)
  • And you offer telehealth services (or not) 

Since the pandemic began, many things have changed about counseling—some practices closed, others moved, some are now only telehealth. Currently these four things are what people want to know right away when they are considering you as a therapist or referring. 

When you make it convenient for prospective clients, referral sources, and employers to access this information right away, people have the feeling you’re helpful, responsive to their needs, and are taking care of them. This also gives people the sense that you are the best person to hire or refer to as a therapist. 

2. Make it convenient for people to realize the value you provide.

People want to consult with a therapist who has expertise in their specific condition, problem, challenge or issue. When that is you, make it easy for people to see that you are that therapist. 

Speak, write, connect, communicate, have conversations—online and in person—in a way that demonstrates your knowledge and experience, and builds trust, belief, and familiarity BUT MAKE SURE the information does not overwhelm or confuse people with technical jargon or all your credentials. 

Give Information—written or spoken, in print, online or in person—that responds to people’s interest and questions. Remember, the best information is tailored to people’s interest and curiosity—and connects them to you, informs them about their challenges or problems, and says, “I know what you’re going through, and I know how to help.” 

Your perceived value grows when your words, phrases, and presentation show that YOU have intimate knowledge, sensitivity, experience, training or certification—and you increase people’s awareness and perception of your expertise. This provides them with insight into who you are and why you are the professional they should choose for therapy or refer to or hire. 

3. Make it convenient for prospective clients, referrers, and employers to contact you.

Making it convenient to contact you so you have private practice and career success depends on four things:

  • Getting in front of your people,
  • Being visible to your people and community
  • Being known to your people and in your community
  • Being accessible to your people and community

—And giving them your contact information and how to best contact you—including hours, days, and platform or format. 

Make sure this information is on—and easily visible and accessible—your website, directory listing, email signature, business card, Linked In, Tik Tok, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and more—depending what platform is best for you and your prospective clients, colleagues, referrers or employers. 

Depending on your preference and or your clientele’s, this could mean making sure your contact information includes any or all of the following: email, text, phone, dm, website form, video or audio message, etc. 

4. Make it convenient for prospective clients, referrers, and employers to hear back from you.

Many clients still report that therapists aren’t getting back to them. While most therapists with successful practices do return most calls, emails, and texts, many do not. It’s not a new phenomenon, however, a therapist’s practice can suffer if it becomes known they aren’t responding to calls, texts or emails from prospective clients and referrers.

For sustainable practice and career success, it’s important for therapists to figure out methods for getting back to those who contact them by phone, email, and text. Here are some that therapists can use to briefly let the person know their message was received, and, if and when, there’s a time available for speaking:

  • If your caseload is full, put it on your voice mail. No callback needed.
  • If you respond quicker by email, put it on your voice mail along with your email address.
  • You may be able to text callers back if they call you.
  • Use apps, like SlyDial to return calls—leave a message directly to a caller’s voice mail. You can briefly let the person know their message was received and if there’s a time available to speak with them.
5. Make it convenient for prospective clients, referrers, and employers to get to you.

This means to talk, have a text or email exchange, or make an appointment; drive and park, Uber/Lyft, or take the bus to the session. Or it can mean getting connected to you for a session by phone or through a video platform (Zoom, Doxy, VSee, Simple Practice or other EHR, etc.). 

Again, if it’s too complicated to make an appointment or to connect online for a session or the video or audio keeps failing, the call keeps dropping, clients are unlikely to continue therapy. When it just takes a few clicks to start or end the session, the line or feed is good, appointment times are doable, with their schedule, clients continue. 

6. Make it convenient for clients to pay you for your services.

Therapists today have many choices for accepting payment—debit, credit cards (Square, Stripe, Ivy, PayPal, ApplePay…), Zelle, Venmo, cash, handwritten or bank bill pay checks, and more. 

Which do your clients prefer? If paying for services is too many steps or cumbersome to clients, they may not book another session. 

Most clients prefer a very quick payment platform, this is why Zelle and Venmo are so popular. Clients pay with a click or two through an app—no work for the therapist and very little for the client. 

Some clients prefer that their credit card is on file with automatic billing after a session—many therapists prefer this, too. Some clients don’t like to do this, however, so it’s important to assess. 

Other clients like to receive a digital invoice and pay online. This can be before or after a session or a number of sessions. Sometimes, for convenience, clients will request an invoice to pay 4, 5, or 10 or more sessions in advance. 

As you can see, convenience for both clients and therapists—and always within legal and ethical and treatment guidelines—result in sustainable practice and career success. Remember you can ignore everything written here and still be successful. Discover what works for you—and your clients.

Lynne Azpeitia, LMFT, AAMFT Approved Supervisor, is in private practice in Santa Monica where she works with Couples and Gifted, Talented, and Creative Adults across the lifespan. Lynne’s been doing business and clinical coaching with mental health professionals for more than 15 years, helping professionals develop even more successful careers and practices. To learn more about her in-person and online services, workshops or monthly no-cost Online Networking & Practice Development Lunch visit www.Gifted-Adults.com or www.LAPracticeDevelopment.com.

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