As psychotherapists in private practice, we are relied upon by the public and our clients to be leaders in the discourse around coping with the COVID-19 pandemic and to offer support to some of the most vulnerable during this time of uncertainty.
We take our jobs seriously and care deeply about our clients.
For most of us, our work has primarily been focused on in-person therapy sessions which is a format we know and love. Our clients too love that focused time of connection and face-to-face contact. We are now in a situation where we need a new way of working.
Switching to an online practice including phone or video therapy doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as it can initially seem.
Here are my top six resources to help with moving your practice to a virtual model. If you are in the midst of the transition, I hope these are helpful for you.
Purchase a PHIPAA compliant software solution. We use Zoom for our business and purchase the healthcare compliant package. This is an important distinction versus using their free or even lower-tiered paid plans. Zoom support staff are helpful and able to walk you through how to access the PHIPAA compliant package. For a more local solution, we also love OnCall Health. Based in Toronto, OnCall Health offers exceptional customer service and supports big companies in the delivery of virtual support meaning they can also support solo or group practitioners in the same vein. Both companies are leaders in video solutions and the bonus of OnCall Health is that it comes with built-in practice management software.
Explore your current practice management systems. Have you been waiting to implement a virtual or cloud-based solution for your business? Now is the time. Our clients and therapists love Jane, and it makes for a simple and seamless online booking, charting, and billing experience, allowing you to focus on delivering those virtual sessions and helping your clients. Another favourite of Canadian practitioners is Owl Practice, located in Toronto and offering great customer service and pricing package for therapists to expand their virtual practice needs.
Remember that video is an adjustment for everyone. While you may feel uncomfortable or self-conscious at first, remember that our clients do too. Here are some helpful tips on how to make video work for you. Be prepared to encourage your clients to be creative in how they complete their sessions (for example, a partner takes their children to the park for the hour or client does the session from the privacy of their walk-in closets). I’ve compiled some strategies for feeling comfortable and successful on video sessions.
Stay on top of communication with clients. And that doesn’t mean being proactive with session reminders. Our clients are facing many uncertainties in their lives apart from a change in therapy format. Remember that for some, it means a completely new routine including working from home, caring for children who are no longer able to attend a school or caring for an ill loved one. This means that reminders of session times and even offering flexible solutions are important. Send an update email with each client BCC’d as you know more about your switch to virtual work. Send out reminder emails or set clients up for an additional text reminder in Jane or Owl Practice. We can all do our part.
Marketing still matters. Remember the simple gestures that clients appreciate and take some time to focus on what can make an impact on ensuring your practice is sustainable in the months to come. For more helpful articles on this front, visit here.
Be grateful. Remember that we are fortunate to have this option to ensure the viability of our businesses. Other small business owners are not so lucky, and this includes some of our clients. Be kind and remember that we are all in this together.
Bonus: As adjunct support, if you or your clients need to seek health care and are unsure of what to do, our virtual healthcare partner Maple has you covered. We are still seeking MSW RSW psychotherapists across the country for our partnership with Maple. If you have been considering providing online therapy, please visit our job posting here.