During COVID your counseling practice may have experienced challenges with marketing and referrals. You may have noticed a reduction in those that you serve or a struggle to build consistency with the impact of COVID.
During this podcast episode, I share strategies that you can implement to help your counseling private practice during COVID.
Structuring a counseling private practice during COVID requires that counselors understand what is taking place in the community. In my community, I notice that people are not going out as much and that there is an increase in anxiety. These points that I share are vital to take into account in private practice for counselors.
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST EPISODE
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PODCAST EPISODE TRANSCRIPT
Welcome to the counselor’s journey to private practice. I’m your host, Juan, and this podcast teaches mental health professionals to cultivate curiosity and build ambition in their journey to starting growing and scaling private practice. Let’s dive into the episode.
You know, how are you doing today? I want to start with that. And I wish you were here with me. You know, hopefully, you are doing well. I am sharing space with you right now, in the midst of this COVID crisis. And my practice, my private practice, Santos Counseling PLLC, in Greensboro, NC has been affected by it.
The clinicians and the group practice have been affected by it. And it looks like the entire community, you know, all the way from the US to all the other countries around us and nations. We are affected. So I wanted to take time today before we dive into the episode looking at you know, how do we structure our counseling practice so that it’s COVID friendly, if you will, or so that it strives in a successful during COVID?
I wanted to thank you.
I listen to podcasts, maybe too much, and I know that it’s time that I donate to someone else. So right now you’re donating time to me, you’re sharing space with me. And I know that you’re here because you’re building your life, you’re building nuggets, you’re looking for those key pieces to connect the dots so that you can grow, scale and transform your private practice. So that maybe you can go from 50,000 to 200,000. So maybe you can go from serving clients in the office to transform your practice where you’re creating courses and ebooks, and in passive income.
Whatever the reason, maybe, you’re in this journey, I am on this journey. Thank you for doing that. Thank you for being here. As I’m saying this, I stick my hand out because I wish that you were here I would shake it. So let’s do a virtual shake with each other, give you a virtual hug too. With the topic of today, you know, maybe we should start it a little bit differently.
Instead of just jumping right into, here’s marketing, here’s this, here’s that. Let’s slow the ball down, look at self-care. Some of you out there you may be parents like me or you know you’re navigating life and your anxiety is up. My worry is up.
It’s a weird thing, you know, being distant from people. I grew up in the Dominican Republic, and we’re probably way too close, like our physical proximity to each other. I know my wife, she’s American, she was born here in the US. And she’ll joke with me at times because I’m a very close person, I love the closeness. So now being distant from others. It tickles me the wrong way, if you will, the six-foot distance, and maybe it does to affect you in that way. I want to have this conversation before we dive deeper into strategies to build a practice because I think self-care is essential. You know, if we are not doing well as clinicians, and business owners with our self-care, it doesn’t matter what marketing strategy or what manner we should restructure our business.
We’re going to be too tired to function and we need to function. We need to be able to eat well sleep well and take care of ourselves. So, I want to share a couple of strategies with you when it comes to self-care, one of them is movement. I find myself now being behind the mic or behind the video doing sessions and it’s different than in the past, you know, the past I would be in my chair, working with a patient or doing a podcast episode and then I would step out and go out there mingle, say what’s up to one of my neighbors John, who’s an awesome guy. And my back is like, dude, you got to get up, you got to do some movement. So movement is the first thing I want to share with you. Take time to, do yoga, there’s a free yoga channel called yoga with Adrian, no affiliation here. But Adrian, if you’re listening to your stuff is on point. My wife and I, we love doing that. Whenever we do our business meetings, we will find some time and sit down or not sit down with a yoga mat. Kids are in bed, and we’ll do some movement there. We’ll do yoga. It’s a special time. It’s like our date day, slash Yoga Day, slash day, Movement Day.
Something else you know, aside from movement is be able to engage in self-awareness as clinicians out there, you’re probably very good with self-awareness. So be able to acknowledge that if you’re sitting behind the screen, maybe your eyes hurt a little bit more than in the past.
I know my eyes now or like, Man, this pain, Where’s it coming from? It’s a very different thing, staring through a screen working with a patient, you know, we’re still able to help and transform and aid individuals, but my eyes are like, wow, you’re hurting me. Some humor there for you. But my eyes do hurt and then my back will hurt.
What about you?
What do you notice in your body, be able to take time to notice that your back’s hurting that your eyes are hurting, treat those areas?
Don’t just keep going. Because if you keep going at some point, you’re going to get too tired. And then if you’re too tired, when you’re trying to transform your practice you won’t be able to.
So those are two that I share with you. And then the last ones that I share have just to do a little bit more with sleep and with your diet. A little bit of a funny story with COVID. One of the things that I’ll do is I will snack like one of my kids. My son, Alex is four, and he will, I don’t know how he eats so much food, I’ll tell, we had a food truck come to the neighborhood, and he ate a whole cheeseburger. I’m being serious.
He ate the whole cheeseburger and all the fries. And that’s not it. He finishes that. And then he goes into the fridge and he gets a yogurt. And then after that, he gets two cheeses, and he gets those two cheeses and he goes, look, I got a cheeseburger. And I’m like, where does this food go? I don’t I don’t know. Maybe he’s got a crazy metabolism. But now I find myself snacking all the time, the refrigerator there.
So I have to be very mindful of that and I share it with you because you may find yourself snacking a lot too. So I’ve been mindful of what do I snack on. What don’t I snack on? Got to eat the greens or the orange stuff like the carrots, the kale. Not too much of that beautiful Doritos.
The other one is, sleep, I try to make sure that I’m getting adequate sleep, you know, getting my six to eight hours. If you are already doing well with sleep, then keep going.
You’re here with me. And it’s a very beautiful thing that you’re here with me, it means that to an extent you trust, this process that we’re doing to trust a counselor during your private practices, the information you’re going to receive is useful and essential, and allows you to do all the things that you want to do in life. And because of that, I care about you and, and I care that you’re okay, and that you’re well and that you’re breathing fine and that your family’s fine and that your friends are okay and all those that you love and care and serve are doing well. So I hope that those strategies there are useful in your life.
So now let’s dive into the area of structuring your counseling practice with COVID. And there’s a couple of components. I’m going to share it with you in no particular order. We’ll start with HIPAA compliance security.
You know, whenever you’re changing a practice, from face to face, security and HIPAA and privacy, they educate us on locking doors, locking our filing cabinet, password protect things right. And you know the gist of that. Now, one of the changes is that you’re going into video sessions or maybe you’re doing emails and text messaging, whatever you may be doing, I use simple practice no affiliation here as far as payment or anything like that. Maybe one-day simple practice, you’ll connect with me. But regardless, I love your system. I use it religiously. And on there, you know they are HIPAA compliant, they follow all the rules regulations.
So one of the things that I think is vital to do in your private practice when you’re transitioning over is to make sure that you’re using a system that abides by those regulations that are HIPAA compliant, secure, private, etc. The other area that we want you to look at is to make sure to educate your patients, the staff in your office on the transition. I find if we have information, it allows us to feel more comfortable about what’s going to happen tomorrow. So I’ll share what I mean here, whenever my practice transitioned over and some of the clinicians that I provide consultation for, this is the system that we went into.
I encourage them to create just like myself a template, a template, set exactly what your practice is doing. And then in the template, you’re going to put what it’s like to have an online session.
You can go above and beyond like I did, where you create a video to let your patients know, you know, this is us the practice and we’re going to go into online counseling and walk them through what the process is like. Here are the buttons that you click, here’s how you get into the system. Here’s what happens if there are lags like if the screen buffer or whatever it may do and then go into the security of the system. You know, as far as using first name, last name, what type of information we will use on there.
All of those details, what they do is they allow you the people that you serve, to just be ready. And I’ve seen it work beautiful, where I’ll sit down with a patient, and we’re doing this session. And it can be the first session. And then they’ll say something like, you know, it was really helpful that you had that document because I was able to go to the email, I saw what you were talking about, and it was easy to click, and oh, for some individuals out there, you know, they’re tech-savvy, but maybe some of the ones that you’re serving are not. Or maybe some of the people that want to see your services are like, Whoa, that’s, I don’t know if I can do it. I don’t know if I can go on there and do an online session. And video. That’s odd. It’s different. I’m not sure if that’s for me.
Well, if you create this template, and you do like, let’s say a video where it walks them through the process, it eases the individual into it. And then reality is no different than what we see when it comes to videos that you see on YouTube as far as you know, what’s a therapy session like? Or what is relationship counseling look like a lot of websites out there?
Maybe yours is Where you already educate you to know, users allowing your website to learn what a typical session looks like, from the mind, nosy. So I’ll go on different people’s websites to kind of just check out the same. I see there’s a lot of beautiful work out there, where some of you are right things as far as your first session, I expect paperwork, and there’ll be a lot of forms assigned. So it was great, because the lesson now, and we want to do the same thing with the online space so that it walks them through that process.
Now, something else that we can look at too, has to do with life insurance. Now I know that we’re not insurance agents, but being able to give those that you serve just some comfort that you’re going to be there with them. It could be a statement that you put on your website or you put on that template, you know, you could let them know that you’re still accepting insurance and during this process with a transition to telehealth, you’re going to be there with them.
You’re going to walk with them hold their hand and allow the process to be as you know, as fluid and as comfortable as possible. Doing these small little tweets that go a long way. You know, it’s like going into a store and it’s well lit or going into a store and it’s really dark and gloomy. Most of us the one that’s well lit, we’re going to stay there a little bit longer. And it’s going to give us a better experience. Even if they sell the same thing. I want you to think about that a little bit, even if they sell the same thing. So experience goes a long way.
And I don’t know why. But that reminds me of like, you know, growing up, and maybe you heard this in a different episode I shared, but whenever I’ll go to my dad’s alterations shop to he has a business that he sews and repairs clothes. I as an adult, I get that there’s like a whole bunch of other tailors around town. But growing up, I would sit there and I’d be like, man, he’s doing a good job of giving people a good experience. He would remember people’s names and ask them questions. You know, what’s going on with this? What’s going on with that? And I think that makes people feel really good. I know. It makes me feel really good when someone you know remembers who I am. And there’s no difference here what you’re doing. You’re working To give those that you serve the best experience possible, whether it’s your patients or the staff in your office.
So now let’s kind of get a little bit away from the simple practice if you use them or your privacy security systems, and let’s get into social media. I know some of us out there like, oh, man, why do you get to mention social media?
Now, there are different avenues of social media. You know, there’s Pinterest. There’s Tick Tock. And I know some of my younger patients are into that. But it looks pretty cool. I see a lot of images on it.
There’s Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, not Twitter. That’s like, sometimes I’m getting too old or I’m like, man, it is not tweeter. My wife. she’ll pick on me. She’s a little more tech-savvy, if you will, or social media savvy. Now for yourself, you know, when we’re looking at this transition of being impacted by COVID.
I think it’s important to look at moving to that space. And what I mean by moving to that space is being able to communicate the same messages that you were prior to. Previously communicating, maybe you weren’t communicating and now you’re going to on the online space. So as an example, if in the past, I was going around town shaking hands saying,
Hey guys, my name is Juan have a counseling practice here in Greensboro, and I help you know, people that feel stuck go from stuck to deeply connected in the relationship, right to some degree, that’s my elevator speech, but I do it with close proximity, with COVID. Now’s like, Whoa, Juan, you better get six feet back. You know, put your message on a paper airplane and throw it. Now that’d be kind of funny. So we need to, we need to stand up, which means be curious, Curiously, what do I do? And what you can do is you can create a social media account.
Now let’s say you use Instagram, on Instagram, you can just remove a lot of your content from your websites or just start from scratch. If you don’t have any on to the Instagram account, make a business Instagram account. And I will make this whole episode on how to do that just more of the gist, right? So then from there, you’re going to be able to communicate with your ideal clients on there. So if you’re in your ideal client couples, you can have your private practice on there. Let’s say your private practice is called Bob’s counseling.
You can even throw in a little bit of a couple of terms into the highlight couples, like Bob’s counseling specializing in helping couples just so that people who belong down there, they get to know it a little bit better, and it makes sense to them. And then all of the images that you post on there, or the content that you post on there is related to those elevator speeches that you would do. And if you go to an amazing site called Canva, CANVA mentioned on other episodes on the podcast, you’re able to get tons of free artwork and there are paid content on there too.
But they have things on there for your Facebook, for your Instagram. For your LinkedIn, pretty much any artwork You may need, it’s on there. And it’s beautiful. It’s amazing. I don’t know why more people are not using it. But hopefully, you’re going to write it down and you’re going to be like, I’m gonna go check it out. If you get stuck, I’m here, you know, let me know, reach out to me, email, whatever it may be. And then let’s connect, let’s break bread, I’ll guide you as much as I’m, you know, in any direction that you want to go. So kind of going back a little bit with a social media account, what I really encourage people to look at is to a creative content that helps and then we create content that connects to your website. So if on your website, you have a page that serves couples, then on your social media account, you’re posting about that, you know, you could post five ways to help couples build intimacy. And then on the bottom, you could put For more information, visit Bob’s counseling calm, so then people can just be directed in that direction. And most social media accounts allow you to click where you just basically click On the image and it takes you to your website or the person can read the URL such as Bob’s counseling, they can type it in and go there on their own.
Or you can direct them to a certain place on your account, like an Instagram, you can direct the person to go to your bio, and then on there, they’re able to see the information. And then follow the link. Pretty straightforward. Again, if you are kind of like Whoa, that is not pretty straightforward. Take a deep breath, right? Deep breaths.
I’m here, reach out, you know, walk with you. It’s a journey. You know, the point of a journey is for us to be together, and then to overcome to address issues to connect the dots. As far as helpful content, you know, I do think that’s important. Just like creating a free product or sitting down with a patient and helping them taming anxiety or you know, build calmness and, and some of those anxious moments. You’re there and you being effective, and you’re doing the best job that you can do. So whenever you create your content, work to do the same thing there. Alright, so, so far we’ve covered for the COVID restructuring of the practice, moving to the online space, right?
We covered social media.
And then I want to share a little bit about SEO, Search Engine Optimization. So search engine optimization, I like to think about it as how people can find you online. Now, let’s say that you and I went to a shopping center and we’re driving in my car, which is a Ford white truck. Man, I’ll tell you, I was excited when I got my first truck. I don’t know if it’s a guy thing or what. I always wanted one. And I got one. And then I was like, Yes, I got my truck. And now I just throw random stuff in the back as if I’m like a farmer, but I’m not really a farmer. Though. If you want to know that’s one of my small goals or dreams. At some point, I’d like to be able to have a little farm. And I know I went on a tangent, but hey, at least now you know that at some point, I want to have a little farm.
So with SEO, I like to think about that, like you me in that white truck, and we’re driving into a shopping center. And in the parking area of the shopping center, right? There’s this guy holding a taco sign, and he’s waving in. But instead of a taco sign, it’s your counseling practice. And this is Bob’s counseling. But there’s like a whole bunch of other people out there holding different signs. Jack’s counseling, camps, counseling, wants counseling. And then you and I are like, Man, it’s kind of crowded out here.
What are we going to do? So then our buddy in the backseat goes, Hey, guys, search engine optimization, SEO. I’m getting so nerdy here. And what he’s meaning to say is we need to put more, more guys out there that are like Bob’s counseling. So then we start creating content.
We start may be paying for ads and Google ads, right we get someone to do our marketing and then they pay for it and we got ads account, or keywords are on there. Like counseling. Hear me. So then that makes more of those guys out there holding the sign for about counseling. And maybe we create blog posts, or maybe you have a podcast, or maybe you have books that you’ve written, and all of these actions that you’re taking, right? Because you’re curious about it, and you’re very ambitious about it, they start to replicate all of these Bob’s. So then we look at each other, we go, Hey, you know, we’re sitting in a truck.
Pretty cool, huh? It’s pretty cool that there’s still a lot of other, you know, counseling offices around here. But the one that sticks out the most is Bob’s counseling. So that’s what people mean, whenever they say they want to be at the top of Google page, you know, they want to be able to rank for a keyword, they want to be able to effectively utilize search engine optimization, SEO, and hopefully, that makes sense to you. And there’s a lot of beautiful avenues to do that. today. You know, we’re looking at the COVID crisis and how to restructure your practice. So one of the areas I think that we have to look at is transition and the Key Words that you’re using, if you have a marketing team that you’re working with, you know, communicate with them. But if you’re not, let’s do this together.
Or we’ll walk through this journey, you know, we’ll figure it out. Now, one of the easy shifts that I like to look at is just throwing the Word Online. Online, meaning that if you’re currently using keywords like marriage counseling, or marriage counseling near me, or relationship counseling, or relationship advice, right, so those are your keywords.
And there’s a lot of information online like shorter, short tail, long tail, or shorter ones, longer ones. Overall, what that means is a short one is like relationship counseling a long one is, you know how to help my relationship after the conflict, right? So it’s just more words, making it longer. And then you always want to keep the people that you serve in mind because that gives you an idea of what they’re looking for. I like to think about what people are looking for just like if you and I were hungry, right, and we’re like, man, I can go for some pizza.
So then we will get on Google or whatever search engine you use Google Bing, Yahoo, and then we will just write a piece in near me. Right pizza near me. So that’s three words not too long. Or we can write there. You know, really good Italian pizza, or, you know, authentic Italian pizza for a good price, right? So those are a little bit longer. And I’m, I’m playing with this with you so that it makes sense. So that when you look at, you know, the COVID crisis transitioning over, or you’re wanting to do is you want to toss in more of those online words, online telehealth teletherapy.
There are tools that you can use on there. And then there is something that worked for me, and what I share with those that I serve when I’m providing consultation, go on Google. Google has experts that go way beyond my skills as far as how to utilize keyword finders. Google in itself has a keyword finder where it’s able to tell you what keywords are doing well. And what keywords can populate a little bit higher in your area. But if you get stuck, you know, reach out to me, reach out to me via email, connect with me on social media, and then we’ll get the ball rolling in the right direction overall from this conversation as far as SEO, I find it important for us to shift those keywords that throw in either teletherapy telehealth online, so that you’re ranking for people are looking for. And the point of that is that when people are looking for counseling right now, people know that, well, most places are closed, right? So instead of you and I, and you know, here’s, here’s a great example, I don’t know where to insert earlier.
You and I right now, if we’re in a COVID crisis, or epidemic of life, we know that we can go somewhere out to eat so we wouldn’t write good restaurants to go to, right we would write places that deliver. So deliver is that new keyword. Makes sense? And that would be on that like restaurant SEO section. So for us, it’s count Verse, the new keyword will be online telehealth teletherapy online counseling counselors that work online, etc keep playing with him.
The other area and I think about this. And it’s interesting because COVID in a way, it changes the ballgame. It changes how we provide services. It changes how we connect with referrals. It changes the I think it really changes the entire system of how business is done. But change is not always bad. change. Change can be good, you know, change can allow us to look at things from a different perspective. And I think as clinicians that’s where that Curiosity has to come in.
If you think for a moment, how can I utilize curiosity and ambition to support my counseling practice during this covert crisis, and we talked about that today, I can use curiosity to use different keywords like online counseling. can be ambitious, and you know, connect to referrals. I can connect to them on a social media platform to make sure they’re doing okay, and to see how I can continue to serve those that they refer to the online space. So as you walk away from today, you know, I hope you walk away with guidance.
I hope you walk away with calmness to there’s different clinicians that I’ve been working with during just COVID crisis. And I’ve noticed that, you know, when, when they’re reaching out is often is often with some sort of crisis, which I get, you know, I totally get whenever my practice was transitioning, I was freaking out to and I’ll be very authentic and genuine with you. AKA, I just lost her name, who is the amazing clinician, that’s all about vulnerability. It is not coming out. Brene Brown. There it is.
That one took a while to come out. But her work is amazing.
And I’ll be authentic. I’ll be vulnerable with you, my practice we got hit with a hard curveball that we didn’t see coming. But I think being able to practice your calmness and taking those deep breaths, and then looking at the question, you know.
How can I be curious during this process?
How can I continue to be ambitious towards this process, you know, as COVID is happening?
How can I make sure that you know the practice is going in the right direction?
Today, we went over some key points, I want you to think about those, I want you to see if you can apply them in your life. before you head off, I want to thank you, I want to thank you for sharing space with me for being here. For you know, for trying, and I use that word trying it’s a very interesting word. I tell it to my kids, I say you know, make sure you try because it means that you’re going to be participating and you’re trying to use use it again, they’re, you’re pushing to overcome challenges.
You’re pushing to see what you’re not seeing, you know, that’s in front of you. And then whenever you see and hopefully you saw it today during the turn this podcast, it clicks and then you go Okay, here we go. I’m gonna I’m Want to hop off this podcast and check out Canva. And I’m going to give a big push to, to the social media content. Or I’m going to communicate with all my patients share a template with them on how to transition to the online space so that they feel comfortable and they feel ready. And then we’re good to go. And I’m going to put all of this information on my website.
So when people land on my site, they know that we are still rolling. We’re here to help. And we are supportive of the online transition. As you head off today, you know if you can find time, reviews, always help reviews help to get the podcast noticed to grow our community. To let people know what we’re doing here. You know, we’re on this journey, but we’re on together, and the more of us that can be here. The stronger we are, the more knowledge that we have, the more curious we can be. And the more ambitious we can be.
Have a beautiful day. Have an amazing day and your journey of private practice. I want to thank you for listening to the podcast.
Please leave an awesome review and share this podcast with any counselor you think is working towards starting growing and scaling a counseling practice.
Let’s grow together in our journey. I’ll see you in the next episode.