Don’t Make These 3 Common Mistakes with Your Clients
Do you remember when you first set up your practice? You probably didn’t know if you would be able to get any therapy clients and once you did you wondered if they would stay. Eventually, clients streamed in either through your marketing efforts or through referrals and now that your schedule is full, you’ve noticed that not every client is the same. Some clients show up early and prepared for every appointment, some show up late, and some don’t show up at all. You know that life happens, but you don’t want one client’s ‘bad behavior’ in and out of appointments to continue and affect your work or your other clients. While managing clients and client expectations can be a difficult task it is something that’s necessary to your practice. Whether you’re new to practicing or not there are a few common management mistakes you should avoid making with each and every one of your clients to make sure your valuable time goes where it’s needed most.
Mistake #1: Letting Them Off the Hook
There is such a thing as being too nice. Don’t get in the habit of letting therapy clients who don’t seem to care about your practice or other patients off the hook. While you want to create an environment where clients can make mistakes and grow from them, you don’t want to hurt them or yourself by brushing everything under the rug and ignoring it. Be on the lookout for patterns in your clients’ behavior. Are they always late for appointments? Have they ignored conversations about how their tardiness affects you and your other clients? Start to set expectations about these things from the beginning. Most offices have a policy regarding cancelled appointments that can include items like a fee if appointments aren’t canceled 24 hours in advance and will let patients know of these policies before they make an appointment. Decide what you want your standard to be and stick to it. There may even come a time when you have to fire a client and you’ll want to have a plan and policy in place for this as well.
Mistake #2: Not Keeping Up with Technology
If you’re trying to understand your clients and their patterns, you want to have the tools available to help you. While you may be comfortable taking handwritten notes during sessions, this may not be the best strategy when it comes to tardiness or inconsiderate behavior. Use the technology around you to make your life easier. How are patients able to cancel appointments at your practice? If you have a receptionist who simply notates this on a sheet of paper, you may want to move to notating this information in an electronic file for your therapy client or even a calendar for yourself. You can take things a step further by having a system that allows your clients to communicate and cancel appointments electronically so everything is automatically noted.
Consider using a well-designed psychotherapy practice management software program like Theranest. This software can text, call, or e-mail your clients with appointment reminders, organize your notes, and handle the schedules of multiple therapists in one office, as well as streamline insurance paperwork.
Mistake #3: Satisfaction with the Status Quo
As a psychotherapist, you spend your days taking care of other people and your nights and weekends worrying about them. But it’s important to spend some time thinking about yourself. Where do you see yourself and your practice in the future? If you’re like most therapists, you recognize the weaknesses in your business and you can see opportunities for growth and improvement. You don’t have to settle. You can help your clients and grow at the same time. Do you need to become more niche? If there are clients who don’t fit your focus that’s okay. You can refer these clients to a specialist that can help them or continue their care while you notate that you will only be accepting therapy clients within your niche in the future. Want to grow your practice, but don’t believe you have the time? Simple things like using psychotherapy notes software, coordinating your appointments schedule with others in your practice, organizing your notes and insurance claims, and providing reminders for your patients can make you more productive, more efficient, and perhaps ready to take on additional clients for additional revenue.
As a therapist, you have been highly trained to provide others with a mirror so they can objectively examine their choices and the consequences of their actions. You’ll know when it’s time to turn the mirror towards yourself and your management of your therapy clients. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, maybe it’s time to consider ways to become more efficient. Plenty of sleep, exercise and eating right are important. But you may want to sell your practice one day, so why not take steps to grow your practice and run it more efficiently right now?
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