Responding to a Yelp review can cost you

Woman using mobile app / Burst via Creative Commons Zero licenseSites like Yelp, HealthGrades, and Angie’s List present problems for mental health professionals. We typically cannot solicit testimonials from clients, so most clients do not write reviews. When someone does, though, any response risks breaching confidentiality. So therapists usually stay away from review sites. But that leaves us with little recourse in the event that an online review is harsh, incorrect, or even fake.

These concerns are not merely theoretical. In a 2015 disciplinary case out of California, a therapist attempted to defend himself against what he considered false accusations in a Yelp review from an angry client. The therapist responded to the review, but then changed his mind, and took the response down. By the therapist’s report — and there is no evidence that either the client or the licensing board disputes this — his response to the client was online for no more than three to five minutes.

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What single-payer health care would mean for California therapists

California flagThe Healthy California Act — California’s single-payer bill — continues to make progress through the state legislature. If signed into law, it would make California the first state to have a statewide single-payer health care system, even as the federal Affordable Care Act may be scaled back. How would single-payer health care impact therapists, counselors, and related mental health providers?

Here, I’ll do a quick review of what we know so far. It’s broken down into three questions providers rightly ask about the bill: How would it impact my client load? How would it impact my rates? And, How would it impact how I run my practice?

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Four reasons to move your practice online

USMC videoconferencing familyAs I’ve outlined in the past two weeks, there is a lot we know and a lot we don’t know about online therapy. If you’re considering moving part or all of your practice online, there are a lot of things to consider. Do you have the appropriate technology, and are you comfortable using it? Do you have policies and practices ready for online work? Have you ensured that your online work will be fully legally and ethically compliant, and consistent with best practices like those outlined in the new AAMFT Online Therapy Best Practices guide? Are your clients appropriate for online therapy?

Many therapists wrestle with the choice of whether to practice online. While these are not determining factors — in other words, I’m not saying your final decision should be to practice online, as there’s more to consider than what’s below — here are four good reasons to consider making the move.

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Four ways therapists waste their marketing budgets

Two arrows in archery target by Casito. Used under GFDL license.Therapists in private practice often set aside money for marketing. Those in agencies or group practices may also have some control over how and where the business is advertised. But as therapists, we don’t usually get much training in marketing. As a result, it’s easy to be tricked into wasting that money. Here are four ways that can happen.

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The problem with life coaching

wooden-chestBecoming a therapist isn’t the only way you can put a psychology or counseling degree to work. You can also become a “life coach,” a growing profession that involves helping people come closer to reaching their life goals. Some clients who would resist going to therapy will happily visit with a life coach, as receiving coaching does not carry the same implications that going to therapy might. And some therapists see coaching as a way to diversify their practice, allowing them to market to clients who simply wouldn’t attend counseling or therapy.

Life coaching is a perfectly respectable and well-defined profession. The problem with life coaching isn’t the work itself, for which there clearly is a market. It’s with the people providing it.

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