If you are managing your own marriage and family therapy practice or you are considering starting one, you know there is more to it than simply counseling patients. Private practice marriage and family therapists need to also be business savvy when it comes to managing their practice.
These are some things to consider for MFTs starting a private practice and a reminder for those who already have one.
Invest in a Good Website Design
Since a growing number of people research goods and services online before making any kind of purchasing decision, it is important that you have a professional website for your MFT practice. Take the time to develop a professional site so that it positively represents you as a professional. There are a number of free website templates you can use, or consider hiring a professional to develop your site if you have the budget.
So you want to help individuals, couples, families and other groups struggling with mental, emotional, behavioral or relationship problems, but where are these people and how do you let them know you’re here to help? Once you establish your practice, you need to attract people to it. You can either do it yourself or hire someone with marketing experience such as an individual consultant or a marketing agency. Depending on your budget, it may make sense to hire an experienced marketer so that your attention can be solely focused on your patients; however, that may not be feasible initially.
There are a number of DIY marketing campaigns you can manage yourself that allow you to set your own budget. One of the easiest and most effective marketing channels you can take advantage of is Pay-Per-Click advertising on Google and Bing. You can identify keywords prospective patients would likely search for on search engines, bid on how much you’re willing to pay for a click for those keywords, and then create ads that send users to your site to fill out a contact form for more information. Be sure to list your business address and website domain on local directory sites like Yellowpages and Yelp. Also, consider taking a free course online or attending a seminar in your area on small business marketing. Sites like Coursera and Udacity offer free online courses in a number of disciplines.
Licensure: A Therapist and Business License
In addition to keeping your professional credentials up to date, NCU’s Dean of the School of Marriage and Family Sciences, Dr. Branden Henline, notes a good therapist must “commit to continuous improvement and be willing to keep learning.” The number of continuing education credits may vary by state so be sure to adhere to your state’s MFT standards. The type of business license you need also varies by state. Check the U.S. Small Business Administration website to help you determine what kind of license is required for your state.
Insurance can be a bit tricky. You’ll likely need some type of liability insurance to cover yourself as a professional, and you’ll also need to determine what kind of patient insurance you will accept as payment for your services. Do your homework on both of these areas to ensure you’re protected financially.
Investing in Staff and Software
Once you’ve maintained a certain client threshold, it may make sense to hire administrative staff to help you manage your practice. In addition, you may want to invest in software to help you schedule patients and reconcile the financial aspects of your practice like billing.
Keeping the business side of your practice organized can enable you to spend most of your energy on helping your clients.
Do you have tips for managing an MFT practice? If so, please leave them in the comments section below!