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Setting Financial Boundaries at Your Therapy Practice | STP23

Welcome back to the Scaling Therapy Practice Podcast! In this episode, we tackle the importance of establishing financial boundaries with clients and implementing effective policies and procedures. Money conversations can be uncomfortable, but they are crucial for creating a thriving therapy practice. Join us as we explore the reasons behind financial boundaries and share practical tips for a smoother financial process.

Why Set Up Boundaries?

Setting financial boundaries with clients serves multiple purposes. It not only helps scale your practice but also frees up mental space to focus on therapy. As David Hall emphasizes, "It helps scale, which is what we're about in this company." Well-defined policies, procedures, and boundaries streamline financial processes, prevent exploitation, and protect therapists from future difficulties. James Marland adds, "Having these policies makes the policies the bad guy, not the therapist."

Financial Boundaries: Protecting Yourself and Your Future

Implementing financial boundaries safeguards therapists against potential exploitation and ensures a smoother workflow. Being kind to your future self, as David Hall suggests, means thinking ahead and making life easier down the line. By addressing uncomfortable financial conversations head-on, therapists avoid creating more work for themselves. James Marland uses an insightful metaphor, "If you've got to eat a frog, go on and get it done." Promptly and effectively dealing with financial boundaries prevents problems from piling up, allowing therapists to focus on their main objective—providing therapy.

Establishing Financial Boundaries Examples

To make financial interactions smoother and more efficient, we provide practical tips for therapists:

1. Collect Credit Card Information at Registration

By obtaining clients' credit card details during registration, therapists can avoid missed copayments or declined payments. As David Hall suggests, using modern electronic healthcare record systems securely saves credit card information, streamlining the payment process. However, it's crucial to ensure clients have an easy way to update their credit card information if needed.

2. Charge for Paperwork

Implementing a policy to charge for paperwork allows therapists to account for their time spent outside of therapy sessions. David Hall emphasizes the importance of having a written policy to inform clients and manage expectations. By establishing a fee structure for paperwork, therapists can avoid the frustration of unpaid administrative work.

The Value of Time

In therapy practices, therapists' time is valuable, but so is everyone else's. It's important to account for everyone's work time and avoid elitism. Having a clear cancellation policy in place ensures that time is not wasted. As David Hall's cancellation policy includes, a 24-hour notice is required for cancellations. Failure to provide sufficient notice results in a 50% session fee charge. Extending grace can be done while still maintaining a hard policy.

Relationship Building

A clear cancellation policy helps build a healthy relationship between therapists and clients. It demonstrates that the therapist values their time while setting expectations and boundaries, which are essential in building trust. As a client, being responsible and respectful of the therapist's time is essential. Give notice as soon as possible for cancellations and be mindful of the policy in place. As a therapist, having a clear cancellation policy is crucial for maintaining professionalism and building trust with clients.

The Challenge of Communication

Managing outstanding balances in therapy practices can be a sensitive issue, especially when dealing with clients who have their parents' credit card on file. Direct communication with parents may not always be possible, requiring careful navigation and effective communication with the client. Having a well-defined policy regarding outstanding balances is crucial to set expectations and preventing confusion and misunderstandings.

Ensuring Accountability

Managing outstanding balances involves ensuring accountability within the practice. Therapists are typically paid based on money received, not money billed. This creates an incentive to stay on top of collecting payments and monitoring outstanding balances. David Hall highlights the importance of therapists diligently noting if they have collected payment to catch any discrepancies or lapses in billing.

Creating an Effective System

Establishing an efficient system for managing outstanding balances is vital. Conducting a monthly audit of the books helps catch any outstanding balances, ensuring open lines of communication between practice management and therapists. Timely detection of outstanding balances prevents financial complications and maintains a healthy practice.

  • Review your current financial policies and procedures with clients.
  • Consider implementing a system to collect credit card information at registration.
  • Create a written policy for charging fees related to paperwork and communicate it clearly to your clients.
  • Evaluate your current system for handling financial matters and ensure it is user-friendly and efficient.
  • Stay informed about resources, such as books, podcasts, and other materials, that can help you further develop.

The Importance of Timely Detection

Without a reliable system in place, outstanding balances can go unnoticed for extended periods, leading to financial issues and disputes. Establishing a consistent system ensures that no outstanding balance slips through the cracks. James Marland emphasizes, "Having a system in place is crucial to prevent financial surprises and maintain a healthy practice."

In conclusion, setting financial boundaries and implementing effective policies and procedures are essential for a smoother therapy practice. By having clear guidelines, therapists protect themselves, streamline processes, and focus on therapy. Remember, respect each other's time, communicate effectively, and establish accountability to create a thriving therapeutic environment.

Remember, you can listen to the full episode of the Scaling Therapy Practice Podcast for more insights and tips. Stay tuned for the next episode where we explore more topics related to scaling your therapy practice.

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