Monthly Archives: September 2015

How to Start A Private Practice Part 3 – Getting Organized

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Now that you have read in Part 1 about finding a location and office, and in Part 2 about what state, local or county licenses you may need and where to find that information, let’s talk about some free and nifty tools that will help you get organized and begin branding your private practice.

Establish Your Online Presence

Do you know how easy it is to establish an online presence? Establishing an online presence does not have to cost you a cent. If you plan to do fee for service work (as opposed to managed care) you definitely need to establish an online presence. Let your friends and contacts do the marketing work for you in a viral way. If people like your services, believe in you and you demonstrate online that you have valuable things to say and to offer people, they will spread the word for you…it’s called viral marketing. Before the age of the internet and social media we called it word of mouth marketing.

Starting a professional Facebook page is the easiest way to establish an online presence. You can also connect your Facebook page to a free blogging platform like WordPress. Of course you can also upgrade to a paid WordPress blog for pennies a day. Of course there may be other costs like purchasing your own domain name. But again it’s all rather simple and very cost effective. Our ebook on how to get referrals explains all of this in an easy to read and well organized format.

Share What You Know Far and Wide

Facebook is a very powerful and free social media platform…use it. If you have a Facebook page, just add a “page” to your already existing personal profile. Then ask all your friends to like it. But don’t send out those invites to “like” until you have a plan for how you will use your professional page and you have propagated it with numerous posts so that when you do invite people to check out and like your page they will see an already established Facebook Page with lot’s of helpful and uplifting information.

You will also need a plan for posting: ie how often and what will you post. One of the items that people love to like and share (and BTW that is the goal of your page to get your audience to share and like your posts to spread and brand your business name) are memes – those pictures with cute, inspiring and thought provoking comments.

Sometimes you can share memes from other sites and FB pages (as long as they get the credit) or make your own. At some point you will want to make your own and it’s easy to do if you get familiar with free online software like Pixlr and grab pictures from FREEIMAGES. They even offer free Facebook headers: just do a search on FREEIMAGES for “facebook header”. For free WordPress headers go here.

Use An Online Scheduler

Also, get organized by using a free online scheduler like ClickBook. I’ve used it myself for years and can’t say enough good things about it. It is one of the most straightforward online schedulers and the interface for clients is very user friendly. A scheduler like this allows both you and your clients to schedule, cancel or reschedule appointments seamlessly. There are many added features as well…too many to describe here.

Plan The Work – Work The Plan

Having your own private practice means having initiative to learn some new skills, create a business and marketing plan, and diligently work it. This entire process can not only make you a more successful business person, having had to work through the process yourself can make you a much better therapist. Why? Because much like you expect your clients to work the plan…you must develop and work your private practice marketing plan to get the results you want!

Please take advantage of our ebook that goes into much greater depth about how to develop your business and marketing plan and get more referrals.

How To Start A Private Practice Part 2 – Taxes, Permits and Licenses

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You’ve had a dream to own your own private practice and now the time has come to begin the research. In our first article on what it costs to start a private practice we also shared important information about deciding upon a location and securing an office space for your practice. In this article we will clear up some myths and misconceptions about the necessary certifications, permits or licenses you may need. I emphasize “may need” because it all depends on your venue and specific geographical locale for seeing clients.

Is A State License Required? Yes and No

First, let’s clear up a myth about what credentials a person needs to do private practice work. Well, in all honesty, you don’t need credentials depending on how you promote yourself, not that I am recommending or supporting that idea. And, you certainly do not need a state license in order to practice mental health counseling.

However, if you plan to have a professional practice and attract professional people to your office a state license may be very helpful. And certainly real professionals have credentials in the way of advanced degrees and extensive training and sometimes additional certifications in specialty areas and are able to collect professional level fees for their services.

If you plan to bill behavioral health insurance companies for reimbursable services you will need a license as the insurance companies want to see those state licenses before they will reimburse you for your services.

City And County Licenses

Next, you need to have the proper receipts or licenses from your city or county. Most of this information is now online at your city or county website.

What use to commonly be called an Occupational License and issued by your local city clerks office is now called a business tax receipt in most venues. You may pay anywhere from $25 a year to $150/year or more depending on the location. Generally, the business tax receipt fee amount also varies depending on the type of business you own, i.e. what profession you are in.

Speaking of which, make sure you read the article about selecting a name and business structure that is right for you.

In some county’s you may also be responsible for paying business property taxes. You can find that out by contacting your county’s property tax collector’s office. In some county’s they offer an exemption if your business property value is under a certain amount. This makes owning a small business easier in some locales.

Also, you may need to register with your state and it is possible that you may need to collect sales taxes on your services, so check with your states department of revenue.

Getting A Tax ID Number

For tax purposes you may decide to get an EIN number (aka an employer identification number). You will need an EIN if you decide to incorporate (S or C corp) or register as an LLC. If you are simply going to file a schedule C (business profit and loss schedule attached to your personal 1040) then you can use either your social security number (SSN) or you can get an EIN. If you are planning on filing insurance paperwork for or by your clients, it is recommended that you get an EIN. This will protect your privacy as you will use your EIN and not your personal social security number on your insurance filing forms and receipts. For more information on an EIN or to apply for your own EIN go here.

Naming Your Private Practice

When you go to file for an EIN or if you choose to create a formal business entity such as  an S corp or an LLC, then you may want to have a DBA – “doing business as” name. It may be as simple as using your name and credentials, i.e. Jane Doe, LCSW or you may prefer a business name that makes you sound larger than life or carries with it some sense of your mission or why people need your services – Whole Life Coaching, All Life Stages Social Services, or Catch A Falling Star Counseling.

Professional Counseling Forms

Start your private practice with all the necessary counseling forms with this top notch professional private practice starter kit you can down load immediately.

How to Start A Private Practice Part 3 – Getting Organized and Free Tools

How Does Stopping Smoking Affect Mental Health?

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When working with client’s who are dealing with mental health issues, whether it be emotional, cognitive, or relational and they have a nicotine addiction how do you address that? As a professional mental health therapist do you address your client’s holistically? Do you consider that overall physical health also may be having an impact on mental and relational health? Do you recommend that the client not add stress to their life by trying to quit smoking at the same time as working on other, seemingly, more important issues?

The BMJ, British Medical Journal published an article based on a study that looked at the mental health changes that took place as they analyzed the results of 26 studies dealing with smoking and mental health

The study essentially looked at:

Measures of mental health included anxiety, depression, positivity, psychological quality of life, and stress. Participants had an average age of 44, smoked around 20 cigarettes a day, and were followed up for an average of six months.

The researchers concluded that:

The effect sizes are equal or larger than those of antidepressant treatment for mood and anxiety disorders.

Click here to read more about this important study in an article published by Science Daily.

Make assessment of nicotine addiction a regular part of your intake interview by using a comprehensive intake form that you can download immediately.

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